Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Farewell Nico.

Tt is five minutes until the grand leaving ceremony for Pepe Le Poilblanc who has been with us some years now, and is now leaving us for another publishing company where he will no doubt wow them with his going down in the lift impressions, and his tales of people with whom he has 'guarded pigs'.  Despite others of his persuasion filling up the hold at Pedantic, he was, truly, the only gay in our village, the nicest, kindest, sweetest and most natural person you could hope to meet anywhere.  I have to keep reminding myself that he's not dead, but only sparkling somewhere else, but the office is indeed very dead without him.

Work, as I've said a few hundred times before, is the new family.  Sad when you're from a broken home.


So it's out there.  Just.  I finally got Maggie off the path of the house in Chelsea and sent her forward to the present. Six months of Wednesdays and my first draft of Asylum is finished. My daughter read it, my ex husband read it, my ex lover read it, and I'm waiting for my office wife, and the all-mighty, all-knowing Publishing Director at Pedantic to read it.  It's nerve-wracking.  I'd rather take my knickers off and walk down the street that take that first step into showing work that someone may or may not like.  My ex was shocked at his own portrayal saying I got him bang to rights, which actually wasn't the intention.  My daughter thought I didn't need the baby or the other sister, which may be Freudian, and my ex lover wondered if he were the taxi driver (he isn't).  But these people either love me or hate me, or a mixture of both and their opinions are all slightly touched by their relationship to me which in some cases is deeply troubled.  At work, it's a professional reading it.  A professional who may not want to hurt your feelings, but may still think it's weak or even bad.  That's a tougher audience to please.  But what's a book if nobody reads it?  I couldn't give a stuff about publishing it, because if working in publishing teaches you anything it's that getting a book to a publisher doesn't mean anyone reads it, often not even most of the people working for the company.  It's not a mark of your worth, but it is the point of doing it - letting it be seen.

So while I'm waiting for comments, I've gone back to Jennifer, whose tale is tame compared to Maggie, and she - like  me - is a bit lost.  In a limbo of not knowing what her story is, where she's going, what's happening to her.  I've taken one of her daughters already and it's up for grabs where her mother is.  I started it with a clear idea but didn't like the first draft - it was too melodramatic, so I'm toning it and her down.  One day it will suddenly take shape and show itself to me, like Maggie's did.  But at the moment, I'm living with the two different women in my head, already missing one, and slightly irritated by the other.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A new term.

There was a commotion on the doorstep as I left for work this morning.  Mr and Mrs Posh-Posh moved in last year and I expected to see their children given that it was their posh dog who was barking but instead it was a woman who I assume is Mrs Posh-Posh's sister, her Scottish husband (Posh Scot obviously) who looked at me as though I were the one standing on 'his' path, rather than the other way around, and three sprogs in too large blazers with fake badges on the pockets.  You know what I mean, the badges for schools that have twee names and were begun in 1993 to cater for the over-entitled classes who are afraid to send their over-priviledged kid to the local state.  The Unicorn, or   - in the case of my own kid - The Harrodian.  Not that I was afraid, no rather it was the other way round.  I don't think the local kids were ready for my martinet of a daughter and feared she might incite a coup.  At The Horrodian (sic) she fit right in.   First thing I did, as with all the other kids, was teach her how to fake my signature.  The next six years passed with only minor events, and one or two visits to the headmaster (smoking, truant, no hard drugs).

But it made me choke, seeing the kids in their square shouldered blazers and summer print dresses, and long shorts.  It's going to be a scorcher of a day, but there was condensation on the windscreen this morning, and I needed to pull the quilt over me in the night.  At seven thirty there was that open fridge door chill, albeit with the promise of sun to come - a slight autumn haze in the sky, and there were these little things obviously going off for their first day of school and nursery.  A new term.  The start of the new year, I always and still think.

Almost thirty years ago, that was me, holding a baby in my arms, with two more bedraggled and beribboned with new clothes and hats on elastic to grow into.  They were my children, off to Bassett House, and Glendower, and Pembridge Hall, carrying lunch boxes and sports bags and apples with stickers on them.  And now I'm the mad old bat next door.  I heard one parent jaw to the other that 'Baudelaire was going to Bassett House' where my children all went.  (Okay not Baudelaire, but Bo which is just as ruddy pretentious)' so I guess he'll be in his blue blazer with the intertwining initials and the cap doing the walk I did myself thousands of times.'  When I moved into our house, we were the aspiring middle classes, gentry-fying the neighbourhood, grabbing it from the Gladyses and the Ernies who skipped happily off to a distant suburb where they could buy a small mansion for the price we paid for their terrace.  But now, it's the upper-classes who can afford it.  The ones with family portraits in oil and furniture 'inherited' along with the money from their upper class parents, who "might as well' go off to India for a month when Mr Posh-posh gets made redunsant, and who  see 'Mummy and Daddy' every weekend in the 'cuntry' after spending millions to do up the house to their standards - mostly plate glass floor to ceiling windows that they hide behind with shutters and curtains and steel grids, which they're rarely there to enjoy.  But you can bet that Daddy doesn't wash their car, cut their grass, or live in a semi-detached in Abingdon, as mine did.  We're the new Gladyses and Ernies.  The Posh-Poshes will eventually push us and our pink staircases out and turn the whole street into Mouse Ear Grey and glass.

I like my life, but oh I miss the old one.  I miss being a young mother with a waist.  I miss my little children even though my big children are great.  I miss being the new girl.

Monday, 2 September 2013

More in the pink

One of my friends saw the covered table with the paper flowers on it and asked if I was having 'children' round.  I guess she thought it looked childish.  Good.  I still want a Barbie Dream House, I guess.  In continuation of the Barbification of the house, I lifted the hideous red carpet and had a man with teeth like pegs in to paint it with a pink stripe up the middle (same colour as the loo floor - seemed a shame to waste the Designers Guild floor paint.  I should have known that a man who doesn't take care of his teeth might be equally slapdash with his idea of 'neat' because this guy does not know how to colour within the lines, nor how to measure distance as the stripe is ever so slightly off to the left.  When I took the tape off it was full of smears and leaks, but by that time he had already disappeared for a week and fitted the carpet to a metal strip that didn't keep it fixed.  Enough.  I decided I could fathom the mysteries of Frog Tape myself and touch it up as and when I feel like it.  Barbie isn't planning on a visit any time soon, and we don't care that much.  I quite like it.  It's fun.  My friends house is a shrine to minimalism and stuff lying around because they're so minimalist that there's no where to put it.  I prefer mine.  I like clutter, I like pink, and I like paper.  The problem is that you do one thing and set off another ten that need doing.  I have more plans than time to do them.  I feel like a kid with a pot of poster paints and a big blank canvas that I can do whatever I like with - cover it with wrapping paper, draw on the walls, nail shoes to the wall and use them for keys.  Oh yes.  You can't see those in the picture.  They're from Nigeria, and I got them from the friend who thinks my house looks like Playschool.

I can only imagine what she's going to think.