I have been completely on my own in the house for last week (it is half term and everyone has gone skiing, freaks). I had high hopes for this time as an uninterrupted sabbatical of white hot creativity.
Now, I have done some work. I had a bit of legal work to do too, so I did that too, but mainly I sat grimly in front of my .. whatever you'd call it ("shite" has been my preferred term over the past week) and tried to make it better. When I got stuck, I watched Grey's Anatomy on Amazon Prime, to which I accidentally subscribe (free next-day delivery doesn't apply in Belgium, so I am paying 75 quid to give my son access to back episodes of Top Gear, basically). So far I have watched 2.5 series of between 22 and 24 40-minute episodes of this utterly ludicrous medical drama which gives you some idea of how well the work has been going. In my defence I have not actually left the house except to walk the dog, so there have been a lot of potential getting stuck hours. I have made some progress. (I have to put that because my editor reads this. This is also why I am not here every day, wailing incoherently at you.) I could probably also clip an aortic aneurysm pretty competently too, so there's that (I totally couldn't, I've read Do No Harm).
During the week I have become progressively weirder as is usually the case when I spend prolonged periods alone. I long for this time, then when it comes around, it turns out I can't really hack it. I get bored with food preparation after about 36 hours and only eat things you can put on toast or which can be delivered by obliging Belgians on mopeds. I have insanely long baths with oils with weird names whilst reading so many domestic noir thrillers I have started to believe I have probably killed someone with a 5L tin of Farrow & Ball Elephant's Breath. My aesthetics default to "that old woman in the village everyone is scared of". This time round, I have developed an unhealthy relationship with my furry slippers and an even unhealthier relationship with the dog, who has decided he is now allowed to sit in my office staring at me every minute of every day, except for the odd thirty seconds he takes to luxuriantly lick his genitals. I have been picking at tiny blemishes on my face until they become vast wounds that I then have to repair with Laura Mercier products. When the neighbour has one of his episodes and starts shouting ENCULÉ repeatedly I have considered joining in.
ANYWAY. That is not the point of this story. The point of this story is the following: yesterday I got one of those pieces of paper the postman leaves you saying I had a registered envoi (this ambiguity is important). Firstly I was furious because I HAVE NOT LEFT THE HOUSE FOR DAYS, so of course I was there at 10:41 when you purportedly rang the bell, you duplicitous post-bastard. But then secondly, I entered a state of demented anxiety. What could it be? I ran through the options over and over again in my head.
- Someone I have written about trying to sue me (I genuinely gave this credence for many many hours, even though I mainly write gushingly complimentary hotel and restaurant reviews. I actually thought that perhaps someone was suing me because I spelled their name wrong in my food truck article. I am a lawyer. Just imagine if I was still employed as a lawyer! On second thoughts, best not imagine that.)
- Tax investigation.
- Other Bad Thing I Could Not Even Imagine. Perhaps those dreams where I am trying to dispose of a corpse are actual real, suppressed memories. Perhaps I .. I dunno. Fleeced widows and orphans and gave their money to ISIS. Killed a man just to watch him die. Killed a GOAT just to watch it die. Something terrible.
From 4pm yesterday I entered a state of total all-consuming anxiety from which not Grey's Anatomy nor red wine, nor Aromatherapy Associates "Inner Strength" oil (I chose this one carefully from my box of mini oils, since it seemed more practically useful than "Deep Relax", tempting as that state sounded) could extract me. I bargained with a deity I did not believe in. "I WILL GIVE UP EVERYTHING," I told him/her. "GOATS, WRITING, MALTEASTER BUNNIES if this can just be an overdue bill. Please let it be an overdue bill (for less than €1000, ideally, thx)." I did not sleep.
This morning, my heart was beating at approximately 700 bpm and I sat hunched in misery, waiting for 10am for the Post Office to open. I read several long scholarly articles in the LRB that I did not understand (not sure if this was due to their complexity or my raddled state). The minutes passed agonisingly slowly. "Most things that arrive by registered letter can be resolved by money," I told myself. Then I tried to work out how much I could raise by selling all my paintings. I considered the black market for human organs.
Finally, 10am arrived and I ran to the Post Office. I cried as I ran. Actually cried. I reached the Post Office, snotty and miserable and took a ticket and waited, then I went to the desk and showed them my passport and signed my name and waited again, with dread in my heart.
This is what the woman brought back:
A FUCKING RUBIK'S CUBE. AND 20ML OF "CUBE LUBE".
So that is how it is going, for the kind people who have emailed and asked and sent me pictures of capybaras in hot springs (oh, to be a capybara at the Saitama Children's Zoo). Really great. Now I must go and do some work, because the family will be back in 2 hours and I have just wasted 18 hours promising to forswear goats because of a Rubik's Cube.