Man, I feel old. I hurt everywhere – the kitchen, the dining room, the garden…
Last month, we were walking ten miles a day in howling icy gales, making our foodie five-year plan and laughing that we were more driven and oomphy than most 30-year-olds. Then, on yet another windswept yomp, the beastly dog twizzled me round at high speed and I fell on my twisted knee. I’m too old for unexpected twizzling; I need a little advance notice. So. Torn cartilage. Knee bigger than my head. Bruises forming as I lay on the Felixstowe footpath, crying, with gravel in my hair.
“No need to fuss,” I told the Greek God as he hauled me up. “Let’s go to the pub.”
Never let it be said I’m not a brave soldier. But two weeks on and it’s fair to say I’m a bit down in the dumps. My career options as a downhill skier or knee model have hit the skids. There are no treats to eat and I can’t even drive to the shop because the clutch is too ouchy.
I could sleep for a million years. But there are books to read. Lovely, lovely words that always perk me up. In the absence of being able to shop for/cook food, I’m reading about it instead. Far less fattening. I’m loving Ruby Tandoh’s ‘Eat Up’ – not quite what I expected but I’d go so far as saying her writing has a touch of the Nigel Slater about it. She seems a good egg; I’d invite her round for a natter. So long as eating up doesn’t involve standing up. Did I mention I’ve got a sore knee? No? Oh…
06:45 in the morning. It’s still dark. I’ve been awake since 4:30 with ideas for my novel turning and churning – details on setting, the characters and what sort of food they’ll want to eat.
I used to set my alarm before 5 in the old days; tea in bed with my laptop as I tapped away before real life kicked in. Before emptying the dog and making packed lunches and fighting my way through a fug of Lynx to get the teens off to school and then my own madly busy day job.
It’s years since I wrote properly. It’s scary. Instead of my old Sussex morning silence broken by cockerels crowing murderously, there are empty buses rumbling out of the depot and cars grumbling around the edge of Ipswich. The neighbours have had new pipes and the white noise of traffic is punctuated by what sounds like twenty tons of grain being thrown down a mineshaft. RATTLE TATTLE rattle tattle tattle as they flush their loo. I’m glad they’re not incontinent. Not quite the creative flow I had in mind.
The last novel I wrote, about a billion years ago, was submitted for professional critique as part of some new writers scheme. The Romantic Novelists Association or somesuch. Heaven only knows why I chose them; I haven’t a romantic bone in my body. The feedback was harsh and pretty much put me off trying again. The reviewer lady didn’t like the silk paisley scarf a male character wore. She loathed the almost-sex scene because “a nice girl wouldn’t do that”. But she did say I can write. I’d sort of forgotten that bit. We’ll see.
I still think about that silk paisley scarf. I might buy one and wear it with my woolly socks and dressing gown with some kickarse red lipstick while I conjure up a world for my imperfect characters to cavort in.
There’s long way to go before I become a caped crusader of words, slaying doubt as it chases me about. But I’m here, in my clapped out telephone box, trying to squeeze into the writerly lycra before anyone notices I’ve fallen over and my bare bum’s poking out…