Wednesday, 9 September 2009
A Hard Day's Write
That’s it! After two weeks of solid work on the Big Project it’s done, polished and sent off into the big wide world looking its very best. My thanks to Tom who, as ever, has kept me fed and watered whilst I’ve been leading my alternative life and put up with my primitive conversational skills whenever I’ve emerged sounding (and looking) like someone who’s been in the dark forest too long. It’s Tom, too, who’s done his Mr Red Pen bit – even when I get scrappy if he challenges a word – and picked up my clumsy mistakes. Best of all it’s Tom who swells my heart when he says nice things about the plot, because I know he’d tell me if he thought it stank. Ta, darlin’, my very own Critical Reader.
Having two weeks to write is a luxury I’m lucky to have at the moment, but I’ve spent years trying to juggle writing with all the other stuff. One of those ‘thrifty’ tips in the paper this weekend reminded me of when I tried to buy myself some writing time with some redundancy pay. It wasn’t exactly a huge sum so I decided to stretch it out, not by returning to another office, but by doing something that would leave me free to think about my work. I became a ‘Treasure’ by morning, doing rounds of housework for nice, middle class people on a nice estate of ‘executive’ homes, which left me afternoons to write.
Well, that was the plan. I hadn’t factored in how knackered I’d be. ‘Doing’ for one family in particular was like the labours of Hercules; every week I’d walk into food-encrusted surfaces as far as the eye could see, pebble-dashed loos, baths with grey, greasy tide-marks and floors totally obscured by discarded clothes and toys. Every week I’d leave it gleaming only to return to repeat the process again. The red mist finally descended when the lady of the house left me a little note asking me to ‘make sure to do the corners of the kitchen floor thoroughly’. I thought it was a bit much in a house where you could use a pig as an air freshener. Even now I get a bit hot thinking about it.
Then there were, oh let’s call them Margo and Jerry, a couple in their early seventies. It was them I thought of when I saw the thrifty tip as Margo, who was rather grand, had embraced the idea a long time ago - unhappily for me. Margo’s money-saver was to recycle Jerry’s baggy white underpants as cleaning cloths. If it wasn’t bad enough doing the dusting with my hand down someone’s old Y fronts, worse still was that their previous occupant loved following me round the house chatting to me. Ewwww!
Actually, Jerry was a dear, dear soul which brings me to the point of this post. Jerry, an engineer, had overseen some exciting projects in many exotic countries so decided to write his autobiography. Tiring of pen and paper he’d bought himself a whizzy new computer, but didn’t know how to use it so I ended up doing less cleaning and giving computer tuition instead. At the end of one morning, Jerry who was sitting with a cup of coffee, looked up and beamed at me. ‘Do you know, Chris,’ he said. ‘I’ve had a very happy, very fulfilling life. It wouldn’t matter if I died tomorrow.’ Two days later Margo phoned to say that Jerry had died in the night. I’m glad that Jerry died peacefully... but I’m still haunted by the thought of the notes of that unfinished autobiography sitting on his desk. Another reminder, I guess, to make the most of the time we have.
Cardiff Half Marathon Training
Runner’s World SmartCoach Programme Week 10 = 16 miles. One 7 mile session missed due to feeling unusually grotty.
Painting is 'Sunset - Bardsey' by Tom Tomos