New beginnings, or unintended consequences

This week, I expect there will be some new readers of this blog. Welcome. Pull up a pew*. Although if you really believe that this is a church you are sorely misguided. But now I mention it, the Cult of Monk Quixote has a certain ring to it. So on second thoughts, pull up a pew, give me all your cash and start wearing odd clothes (you’ll soon discover that I believe the concept of things matching to be vastly over-rated). Anyhoo, welcome one and all. Or as is infinitely more probably, one.

* I have just attempted to find ‘pull up a pew’ in my new Allen’s Dictionary of Modern Phrases, hoping to discover some hidden reference to the Reformation in my sub-conscious, or perhaps some deep aversion to acanthus wood, but no such joy. I have, however, discovered that ‘go phut’ is a Hindi expression meaning to ‘burst or split’. I think it should be my duty to be more educational from now on. Ahem, I digress…

Ok. So where was I? New beginnings, yes. As of about 17.54 on Friday I am wife-employed. I have new objectives set in the lunch-making, parcel-collecting and general repairs and maintenance departments. Ok, ok, I mainly have objectives in the ‘being happy and please hurry up and finish the books’ kind of way. I have also been told that excessive lying outdoors in the garden is a disciplinary offence, and that while the pub across the road does have wi-fi, antipodeans and armchairs, it is not an office.

I think this is a little short-sighted of her, as my hollow legs could ensure I negotiate top dollar on the business that comes my way while dilly-dallying my way through a bowl of mixed nuts (£2.50) and a ginger ale (£1.10). That’s all I’d have, darling. Once I’ve sorted out the nod and the wink with Darren-barman and a clear view of your approach path from the house. I could maybe write another script for the guy from Gimme Gimme Gimme who seems to spend most evenings ‘walking his dog’ there (using the time-honoured method of tying said excrement-production-operative to a table and downing enormo glasses of Sauvignon blanc while smoking. A fag.). Or maybe I could write some pithier sales pitches for the refugee estate agents who wander the streets of Chiswick at night, having spent the day screaming silently into their oversized mugs and staring moodily out of their respective plate-glass windows. (We don’t get Big Issue sellers here, we get zombies from Foxton’s muttering ‘corporate let, corporate let sir’ into their shiny lapels, scuffing their flimsy designer shoes on the smallest of kerbs and wafting Lynx Unpleasant in a fug of desperation). That’s unfair, we do get BI sellers here, they like to patrol the street outside the supermarkets on the High Street like charity quarterbacks. Cheerful sods, the BI sellers in Chiswick. I guess they don’t have to deal with commuter misery.

Anyhoo, the Roebuck will not be my office. Sadly. There are a bazillion cafes here, any number of which are populated by people avoiding being creative because you know, the sun’s out, and well, we’re not estate agents are we, and the recession will end eventually, and no-one really believes the BBC will stop employing Nigel Havers. It’s quite a reassuring world, really.

So I will potter away in the study instead, as I harry my characters (and yes, that’s a little in-JK joke. Twice over.). People have been asking me what I’m going to do. And the simple answer is I really don’t know. For the most part I intend to occupy other people’s heads, and let their voices type for me. I want to spend a little time crafting and practising some shorter bits and bobs. And then I will plunge off into novel-land. Every now and then I will surface to do some paid-for copywriting, and build better, smaller, more effective websites, with people I like.

But for the most part I simply get to be ‘me’. It feels amazing. I mean, for most of my adult life I have had to temper my ‘me-ness’ through the vision of others – brands, customers, bosses, corporate and personal ideologies. And somewhere along the line I stopped fighting back. I stopped wearing nail varnish to work or telling the Board they were wrong. I stopped believing in myself. I stopped having the big ideas because they weren’t soundbite-friendly. I stopped dreaming. I became frustrated, and tired. And drunk. I withdrew into a specialised world of jargon and, to all intents and purposes, inanimate structures who wouldn’t talk back. Hello data-modelling. Ok computer. I tried to live in the matrix. But the matrix never lived in me. And yes, I’ve never actually seen Mssrs Neo et al. I hate modernity as much as the next suit. But computers are the cars of today, n’est-ce pas. Knowing something about them is what passes for being practical…but I digress.

I stopped dreaming. I think it’s as simple as that. Michael Marshall (Smith) wrote an amazing book about the power of dreams (Only Forward) – part Douglas Adams, part horror – perhaps a little ‘young’ for me now. It was the book I felt I should have written at the time. It was the book that made me call HarperCollins marketing folk and enquire about his sales. And I thought – there are others like me. There are others who make this dreaming… work. And yet. I didn’t have the self-confidence. I’ve never understood that, as I’ve always considered myself arrogant at heart – part of the Spanish psyche that won’t die, no matter how many times I laugh at the Stephen Fry or the word ‘tuckbox’. And in the intervening time, Mr Marshall has written another eight bestsellers, several scripts and had options on films from Dreamworks for as long as I’ve been reading the small print in the prelims of his books. This being the modern age, I get to follow him on twitter (@ememess). He does not follow me. Yet.

So this is a new beginning. My wife has been amazing. She smiles at me, and tells when I’m being self-indulgent. Occasionally she tells me I’m brilliant. It’s the best feeling. The best. And I will write for her, and for our future children (fingers crossed). And I am thankful to her, most of all, for believing in ‘me’. For letting me out of my box.

And so, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the new me. It looks a lot like the old me. But with added oddness, sentimentality and shiny things. Bring your thought-tweezers (and your towels), and let’s go tilt at electronic windmills.

Wish me luck….

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