I need to start this blog post by volunteering that I’m currently reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.
I’m sitting in an upstairs room doing one of the things I do best in life – staring out of the window. I’m awaiting a delivery of building materials for the garden shed I’m going to be constructing over the next couple of weeks. (For tax purposes the ‘garden shed’ will hereinafter be referred to as my writer’s retreat.)
‘Why don’t you just buy one?’ said mum, with that way she has of making everything I announce I’m going to do sound dumb and pointless.’Why give yourself all that extra work and bother when you’ve got enough to be getting on with? My gutters still need clearing out, you know? And there’s all that bird crap over the conservatory roof that someone needs to get up there and clean off. And did I say the handle broke on my cistern, again?’
(Through gritted teeth.) ‘Because, mother, I’m a man with a hammer. Real men like hammering things. Anything. It’s a primitive urge. We like to bash and make a noise and construct and destruct and sometimes, just sometimes, we like to fantasise that the piece of two by four we are smashing six inch nails into is the brittle skull of an elderly relative who is sitting on the kind of inheritance that could make life a good deal more comfortable for a struggling CWAP son.’
Did I mention I’m reading American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis at the moment?
I’m getting a little anxious. I told them; I said if you don’t deliver early in the day the public car park that he’s going to have to drive his great big lorry through to get to my back passage (?) is going to be crammed with day-trippers’ vehicles. It’s nearly one o’clock and the car park is crammed with day-trippers’ vehicles. I can’t wait to tell them I told you so. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to steer a medium-sized pram through the idiotically parked motors. What were they thinking? God knows how anyone is going to get a ten tonne lorry down there. Not my problem.
While I’m waiting, I thought I could use the time to begin a blog post. It’s been a little while. But when you’ve got nothing to say it’s often better to say nothing, as granny Tidy used to say. (Usually when I started talking.)
As followers of this blog will know, I’m on an enforced break from writing at the moment. Owing to ever-changing personal circumstances, that doesn’t look like ending anytime soon. Can’t be helped. I’m not crying about it. Lots of other things to be getting on with here and life is often about making pragmatic decisions for the greater good. Prioritising.
While I might not be writing much (I have penned a couple of short stories) I’ve been reading regularly, something that I understand is universally considered to be useful to an author. I may have mentioned that I’m currently reading and thoroughly enjoying American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. It’s bloody and bloody good, actually. I just looked up how old he was when he wrote it – there must be something wrong with my maths because I make him 27. Sad face.
Anyway, on the bright side I think I finally know what I want to write. By that I mean the kind of book I want to write. Really want to write. My literary goal. My holy grail of CWAPmanship. I just don’t know how to write it or what to write about, yet. That makes things… difficult.
I want to write one of those books that gets banned, that gets people up on their back legs because it is considered, in some circles, to be too offensive, too disturbing to be published. The kind of book that has a cult following of supporters that include a number of respected literary critics. Aim high granny Tidy said, especially when she was talking to me. (I was a bit short as a child.) I’m thinking along the lines of Fight Club, A Clockwork Orange, American Psycho. (I haven’t actually been able to get past the first few pages of A Clockwork Orange, but I enjoyed Fight Club and, did I mention, I’m reading American Psycho.) Original is the word I think I’m looking for. Yes, that’s what I aspire to write one day – something original and good and disturbing.
In other news – two Sundays ago I ran in my first, and possibly last, competitive running race as an adult. It only took me a week to get over it physically. I’m still not fully recovered mentally after my bitter lesson in racing etiquette.
If I said, what’s the difference between ‘gun time’ and ‘chip time’ would you know what I was referring to? Neither did I when I got under starter’s orders.
I took part in the Romney Marsh 10k run. And I learned something about running races which I wished someone had told me before I took up my start position at the back of the grid. Yes, the back of the grid. I thought that because I was an absolute novice it would be wise for me to start right at the back of the nearly two hundred strong field. Right at the back. By choice. The last person in fact.
I took part in this race for two reasons. Firstly, because after being a regular runner for quite a while I was really curious to see what kind of time I could manage and how I’d compare with everyone else. Secondly, because I have an idea for a Booker & Cash that involves a running event, so my participation also comes under the heading of research. (And for tax purposes so does my entry fee. Where the hell did I put my receipt?)
Regarding the timing of my personal performance: I had no qualms about starting at the back because all runners were equipped with a chip tied around the laces of one running shoe so that when they crossed the start line the machine beeped and the runner’s ‘chip time’ began. Likewise when the runner crossed the finish line the machine beeped and the ‘chip time’ is stopped. Simple. What I didn’t know was that while the ‘chip time’ might be a personal record for a contestant the only time that matters for the organisers is the ‘gun time’. In other words, when the race starts the race clock starts ticking for everyone, regardless of whether one gets a flyer from the front or one is stuck behind all the ‘runners’ in ridiculous over-sized, over-stuffed novelty outfits, cluttering up the road, people who insist on dawdling along and waving at everyone cheering them on. To be honest, I couldn’t give a flying f**k what f**king charity you’re running for ‘Mr F**king Blobby’ just get out the f**k out of my way.
If only I’d thought to run in a Bob the Builder costume. I’d have had a bona fide excuse to carry a hammer – or two. Maybe a nail gun. I could have got through all the dithering, meandering, shuffling old people and ‘fun runners’ a lot quicker if I’d been slashing left and right with my trusty ball pein and claw hammers. (Did I mention that I’m reading American Psycho? It’s really getting to me.)
The upshot of it all was that it took me twenty-nine seconds to get from the back of the pack to the start line after the race had officially started. Let me say that again: it took almost half-a-flipping minute after the the starter had fired his gun (air horn) for me to actually start the race, by which time all the serious runners had disappeared over the horizon and I was left punching and kicking my way through riduculously unstable cartoon characters shaking empty buckets for change at confused looking specatators. Gun time/chip time. Lesson learned. It was very frustrating and really not the best way to settle my race nerves. I never really found my stride after that.
Of course, the sixty-four-thousand dollar question is, would twenty-nine seconds really have made that much difference? Seeing as I finished last anyway – three minutes eleven seconds behind Mickey and Minnie Mouse running chained together at the ankles – probably not. I did think it was a tad rude of the organisers to have packed everything up, including the finishing line, before everyone had completed the course. After all, I had paid the full entry price. Their excuse was it was getting dark. I found that a bit lame.