Sunday, 24 October 2010

Now what?

Another lengthy gap between posts, proving I cannot be trusted, my promises empty and meaningless. I could have just told you that. There is a sort of half-decent reason since I handed in my manuscript on Friday at midday, keeping to an entirely self-imposed deadline. I treat my manuscript like a sort of shameful secret, cannot bear to talk about it, wish to disown it, feel faintly nauseous when I think about it. That's promising, isn't it? Imagine if it were ever to get to the point of being published, and I had to promote it?

What's your book about?

I can't really talk about that, I feel funny about it.

Why should we read it?

You shouldn't, it's AWFUL, it makes me feel sick to my stomach.

So. I am currently 45% anxiety, 20% relief, 20% pessisism, 10% holy fuck, now what? and 5% eery calm. In a gesture of great stupidity and empty symbolism, I decided to set myself a deadline to complete it simultaneously with my last day in the office, so as of now I am doubly unemployed. Brilliant. That won't be at all psychologically challenging, will it? There is absolutely no way that I will be spending tomorrow curled in a ball at the bottom of the wardrobe shaking and keening and drinking cooking sherry. Nope. It should be good for blogging though, what with me having fuck all else to do except worry myself into an early grave, so that's something to look forward to. Maybe you could suggest an amusing project for me? My sanity may depend on this, but no pressure, obviously.

In order to delay the onset of yet another self-induced life crisis, I went to London for the past couple of days and had a variety of rather brilliant times. Mrs Trefusis and I played truant, trying on clothes and hats (Mrs Trefusis looked AMAZING in every hat she tried on), admiring dog shaped handbags and going to the Savoy for cocktails (actually neither of us was playing truant, but cocktails at 4pm on a weekday must always feel like truancy). Several observations about the Savoy:

1. The refurb, although accomplished and rather brilliant in parts (there is a rather glossy black lacquered teashop type thing that I liked a great deal), is sadly soulless and theme park-esque. The frontage remains heartbreakingly beautiful, but the inside is a bit generic, deep pile swirly carpets and a great deal of gilt. Also, many many people, milling around gormlessly, like the whole of Charing Cross station has disgorged into the lobby.

2. The American Bar, in particular appears to be staffed by YTS trainees, who, whilst amiable, were completely lacking in gravitas or the kind of weary, knowing acceptance I want in a cocktail barman. You got the feeling that the louchest thing any of them had seen was a Christian youth club disco. One particularly eager teenage trainee described a cocktail to Mrs Trefusis as "like a party in your mouth", which is a phrase so full of wrongness we were both floored by it for about ten minutes.

3. There was a distinct theme of weepetty/greyhoundy bibelots, many of which looked like they had come from the specialist shops along Wigmore Street that cater to the tastes of African and South American dictators (full sized gold puma, anyone?).

I love Wigmore Street for this, incidentally. The exiled dictator can see his various Harley Street practitioners, pick up esoteric medication at the wonderful John Bell & Croyden, buy a pair of double life size bronze antelopes and select a natty outfit involving cravats and opulent silk at that shop opposite the sports shop on the corner of James Street. I am getting distracted by my dictator shopping itinerary, what I meant to say was, the weepette (greyhound really, mais on ne va pas se formaliser) is having a decorative moment, there were also several in the Guardian magazine yesterday:

Excellent. If things continue in their current apocalyptic vein, I can have mine stuffed, and possibly flocked, then place him in an East End interiors shop with a rapacious mark up.

Apart from that, I:

- lusted after a £12 Christmas tree owl:

(look at his claws!)

- ate so much Mexican food I had indigestion for 48 hours

- went on a pathetic nostalgia trip for breakfast at my old Patisserie Valerie and took a wistful photo of my old flat:


- laughed until it hurt about dweeby teenage hobbies. Mine: creating a minutely accurate model stable on the floor of my wardrobe, filled with straw and chaff, wearing a Pony Club tie at all times, spending my pocket money on single pieces of plastic fencing from the Monk Bar Model Shop to complete the tableau.

- Went to the Diaghilev exhibition (again with Mrs Trefusis) and wished I had £75 to buy a beautiful petrol set of green feathery ears. I'm not explaining that well, but they were beautiful. So was the exhibition.

- received a proposal of marriage from a taxi driver. Well, I hope he was a taxi driver, he might just have been a dangerous lunatic in possession of the oldest, most rickety hansom cab I have ever been in (I was running late, OK, and it was raining and I was among the zombie hordes of South Kensington and desperate). He drove me to St Pancras to the accompaniment of a Michael Bublé medley, sung by him in a winsome, heavily vibrato tenor. The climax, on Euston Road, was a short burst of Liza Minelli numbers, fortissimo. I learnt many things: he is learning sight reading at evening classes, he has been on X-Factor, he eats healthily and loves muesli (this was not immediately obvious to look at him), he thinks Jamie Lee Curtis is very attractive and Camilla Parker Bowles is a "bitch", he has been the subject of a number of complaints to the Licensing Board. I was flattered but declined, citing my need for personal space. Sample conversation:

TD: Do you like Cliff Richard?

E: He's not really to my taste, though obviously I admire his long career and youthful appearance.

TD: He don't look his age. 70 isn't he? Paints his hair though.

E: Does he?

TD: Yes. You think I should paint my hair?

E: Oh, no, I don't think so. It's risky, hair painting. It can go badly wrong.

TD: So you really think I've got a good voice?

E: Lovely. Simon Cowell must be mad.

I cannot imagine how this week can possibly measure up.


Dara said...

I would and will buy your book. I enjoy your writing tremendously.

I was reading quickly and thought you went to St Pancreas.

My mother tells a story about her one and only foray into Greyhound ownership ( before I was born ) which always ended with, "on the second day, I came home to find that he had ate half the TV set." Alas, she gave him away to someone more experienced with the breed. His name was Dominick. I wish I had known him.

Anonymous said...

Do you think it perhaps a little dangerous to encourage him re the singing? Think of the next passenger! Of course it was obviously a matter of survival, so I guess anything goes....

Anonymous said...

Oh, and congratulations re the book - all of us devoted readers will be queuing for it. Of course you're totally repulsed by it now - you've written the damned thing!

Alison said...

There's a taxi driver in Bath whose other job is 'musician' and 'composer' - if you're lucky enough to get into his cab for ride you're treated to a sample of his most recent wobbly electronica and a detailed commentry on the finer moments of wailing vibrato.

Anonymous said...

"On ne va pas se formaliser" has just been adopted as my motto for 2011, but I'm implementing it's use effective immediately!

It will come in handy during the holidays.


the polish chick said...

so, if i asked for your address, would you give it to me? in private, that is? because i have found an owl with your name on it (not, literally, obviously, since who would put the words "belgian" or "waffle" on an owl? and why?)

puncturedbicycle said...

Oh there is truly no aloneness quite as alone as that in the back of a taxi whose driver is of unsound mind.

Well done for finishing your book!

redfox said...

I haven't written any fiction in ages, but I feel about my own academic writing just exactly as you do about your book, which bodes ill for my career in general.

Amusing projects:

- Read some odd books, preferably ones that are simultaneously delightful and awful, and write humorous reports on the reading experience for our delectation. Weird forgotten 19th/early 20th century genre fiction would be good for this, I am thinking for instance of a particular curious Edwardian evangelical novel that was in my room once at Hazlitt's.

- Fête, obviously.

- Surely there must be more changes to be rung on the rude biscuit carillon.

- Raise pigeons.

- Create a minutely accurate model stable on the floor of your wardrobe.

Betty M said...

The dress looks great. Congratulations on completing the book. I suggest the dress as a treat for a job well done however rubbish you think it is and I am sure it isn't.

jessb said...

Amusing project: create unspeakably cute knitted owls (and other wild-life critters) for Christmas-tree garnishing. Perhaps they could be a bit naughty with un-Christmassy words crocheted across their cute furry frontages? I'd buy one...

the polish chick said...

what jessb said, but also: owls with genitalia. it's a niche market, to be certain, but i am sure you'd make a killing.

Longhouse said...

Oh my god, I know exactly the shop you mean on James Street. I passed by several times last weekend when I was also in London. However I am not sure that they only cater for exiled dictators, I would not be at all surprised if dictators in office actually drop in as I have often seen some spectacular cars hovering outside and am sure they would be smart enough to offer mail-order. This is perhaps more convenient for the 'soon to be' dictator to discretely get their hands on an appropriate outfit before beginning their dictatorship? Just a thought...
Many congratulations on the manuscript, now how about a celebratory pink damask robe with matching necktie? x Oonagh

Jaywalker said...

Oonagh! You are right. I must banish all thoughts of drapey assymetric dresses and instead go right for the plum silk damask robe with matching cravat and hankie. I'm probably not dressing for success, that's half my problem.

Polish Chick, you are disturbed, but in a very enterprising way. Do owls have visible genitalia? Do they have cloaca like ducks? I half need to know, and half would prefer not to know ANYTHING.

Dara - The TV eating greyhound made me snort on a tram.

WrathofDawn said...

Congrats on the book. I hope it makes its way to Canada. I would DEFINITELY buy one. Or more for gifts.

wv is (no shit!) oushicar. Clearly, this is a term for a rickety, old Hansom cab driveng by a singing loonie.

Cary said...

I would totally buy your book. However can you please make sure it is released as a ebook as that way I can justify buying my new obsession the Alex ebook reader.

Sarah L said...

You could make an owl out of a pumpkin. That's what I did this week. Mine has an angry face. Do they have pumpkins in Belgum? Hmm. Well, anyway, you are good at food sculpture, so I think this would be right up your alley.

Anonymous said...

Eh, desolee regarding that bad "it's" in my comment.

Wait, on ne va pas se formaliser maintenant!

What I mean to say is, congratulations for turning over your manuscript. I hope the relief part doubles, at least doubles, very soon.


GingerB said...

Village fete, please! I have done anything as absurd as carve a salami madonna in far too long. Please help me.

JBV said...

Erotic pumpkin. You should make erotic pumpkin.

kath said...

owl pumpkin gets my vote too. Might make my own...

That dress v nice, what and where?

Fugitive Pieces said...

OH MY GOD. They broke the Savoy? The American Bar is staffed by YTS trainees? Kill me now.
There used to be a barman there, exactly as you described - weary, knowing, bald and peculiarly dapper - who watched me walk up to the bar, and remembered unprompted that he had made me a (perfect) whisky sour on my 21st birthday. He hadn't seen me once in the intervening 6 years; I wish I'd just married him, and had done. Or at least presented him with a small knitted owl and a purple flocked greyhound.
PS roll on the book, but may this week be...restful.

Mary said...

I am looking forward to THE BOOK, to reading it ... Please keep the extended blog family up to date on its continuing progress!

and thanks for your current reading list -- The Slap is also on my table....

Looking forward to more of your writing as JW or as EB!

Sewmouse said...

I do so hope your book is published soon. I would also enjoy reading it, I am sure.

I was going to say something about the greyhounds looking more like cats than actual greyhounds, having lived next-door to someone who had a greyhound, but then I remembered that it wasn't a greyhound next-door, but a GREAT big great dane, so I am probably wrong about the cat thing too.

And I see banner ads for this place all the time (this place) and many of the times I think of you, because I have this mental image of you being my next-door neighbor without a greyhound OR a huge and very scary great dane, and wearing some of their less frumpy outfits.

Jessica said...

Congrats on the manuscript! I'm keeping fingers crossed for you... and honestly you could write about anything and it'd be beautiful so they'd be nuts not to go for it.


Possible project: get Brussels equiv of Time Out. Pick the worst sounding exhibition and/or art thing you can find. Go to it. Write about it. I was going to do it in Montreal. (In fact we could do a double-fister, if indeed that's what I mean.)

You'd have loved the first one:

This exhibition studies the circulation of Belgian-made French books."


Jaywalker said...

Ahahahahha. You're on, NWM. I will do exactly that. It will be our Project.

the eejit said...

I remember the hay

the polish chick said...

um, i don't actually know a thing about birds' genitalia, but i was thinking more of a cheeky idea: you know, owls with gigantic penises or voluptuous breasts. that sort of thing.

Fat Controller said...

I, too, love Wigmore street. Last time I was there I bought an opthalmoscope.

You must promise to let us know when the book comes out.