Sometimes, when I’m next to my girlfriend (who’s about my height), I stand on tip-toes and say ‘Imagine the possibilities!’ This is like a little mantra for me; an acknowledgement of her sacrifice in taking on a dwarf spouse, and a reminder to me that if I don’t behave, she will leave me for a man who can reach the shelf in Tesco that has the Quaker’s Porridge Oats on it.
What has this got to do with writing? I hear you scream. Why are you doing that “Well, I Tricked You Into Reading This By Tagging It With ‘Writing’ And ‘Humour’, But Now I’m Going To Enthral You With Anecdotes About My Fat, Pointless Life” thing? I see you groan. Why have you forsaken us? I smell you lament. Well, it actually has lots to do with writing, so settle the fuck down.
I’ve done a lot of jobs. That’s a lie, I’ve done a few jobs; they were just so pointless, unsatisfying and soul-destroying that it felt like lots of jobs. This is important, if you want to be a writer. You have to fail at everything else, because the experience makes you a great writer. Doesn’t work the other way round, though. You can’t try being a novelist for eight years, and then quit to become an accountant. You’d have to do some sort of accounting training, I’d imagine. I’m not a doctor. You need to fail at being a novelist for at least twelve years to be a doctor. Read the notes! I haven’t got time to cover everything in class.
I’m ostensibly self-employed. I make less money than you do. I make less money than people on welfare do. I make less money than crack-addicted prostitutes do (after tax, outgoings and crack needles). I do know what the word ‘ostensibly’ means, though; and I have a handsome penis. So,
Why ‘Imagine The Possibilities’ though, in this context? Well, I’ll tell ya. I was walking to the bus stop this morning, mulling things over, as your early morning brain is wont to do. I was contemplating a lean financial year, the possibility of rejection and the fear that I’ll never actually ‘make it’ at the only thing I have ever wanted to do for a living. I was thinking that maybe I should reconsider, and get a proper job, for a little while at least; something to pay the bills; an honest crust.
And then I looked up from my daydream, and saw a man. He was at least sixty, and wearing a high-visibility vest. I wasn’t sure exactly what his job was, but it clearly involved getting up at dawn to lug a bunch of shit around, breaking his back for some twat of a boss. I thought about how he probably says things like ‘Nothing wrong with a hard day’s work!’, while he’s been in the same position, either with one company or several, for his whole life. He’s never had advancement, nor has he sought it.
He’s old fashioned, and he thinks The Country’s Gone To The Dogs since all these immigrants and gays started getting Human Rights. All his friends respect his hard working attitude, and they think it’s a shame that he can barely afford the rent on his council bungalow, on the hours that the boss can give him these days. It’s the Poles, you see; they come over and do the jobs for half the cash, but it’s shoddy workmanship. Then people like him have to come in and clean up afterwards. It’s political correctness gone mad, Richard Littlejohn says.
So, I looked at him, in his day-glow orange, covered in cement dust and the coffee stains caused by the shaking hands that he’s tried so hard to hide from the boss; I gave him my best Wednesday Morning Smile as I passed, said ‘All right, mate?’ and carried on walking. I knew at that moment that writing is what I am going to do for the rest of my life; because I’m reasonably good at it, and Reasonably Good is at least 60% better than I’ve ever been at any other Job-job that society deemed fit to roundhole my square peg into. I’m not saying I’m better than people who make an honest living from waiting tables or shovelling pigshit. God, no! I grew up with those people all around me. I’m from good, working class stock. I’m salt of the earth, me. I understand the meaning of respect. No, I’m saying I’m more cleverer than them. And also better than them, if you’re going to twist my fucking arm.
I’ve done those sorts of jobs, and I was always surrounded by people who were either doing it as a way to put themselves through university, or people who were fucking idiots. (check needed on mutual exclusiveness) None of them were actually there because they chose to be, or because they wanted to be. If I or they had had an opportunity to do something we actually liked, we’d have been out the door faster than you can say ‘THIS ISN’T THE FRAPPUCCINO I ORDERED!’ So fuck that shit, sorry. I’ll never again wear an orange vest; ask someone would they like a bag with that; or clean Hen Night vomit from a nightclub toilet. Respect to everyone who does an unskilled, menial job, but I’m going to do all my hard working with my brain, from now on. Because I don’t want to Imagine The Possibility of being that poor old fucker when I’m sixty. Not for all the tea in ChinkLand.
(Fully expect to see me in a Café Nero apron by Christmas.)