A writer I am
“We’ll need an article from you introducing yourself to the world.” That’s what they told me.
I thought it was a bit bizarre. Most of the world takes one look and promptly decides it wants nothing more to do with me. However, it’s not up to me to argue, so here it is.
There’s not much to tell. I’m over 60 and I live in the blue half of Manchester (City) while supporting the red team (United). From my front windows I enjoy a spectacular view of open moorland, yet I’m only three miles from the centre of Oldham. That’s often irrelevant; when the fog descends, I can’t see across the street.
What else can I tell you?
I don’t drink… well, not much. A bottle of brown ale (served at room temperature) now and then, but no more.
It means that when I go to parties I’m usually the only one sober enough to be aware of what’s going on. It also gives everyone the impression that I’m an old curmudgeon. I’m cool with that. As far as I’m concerned, advancing years and declining health lend themselves quite naturally to political incorrectness, irritability and candour. My favourite two words are, “sod off.”
There’s another consequence to my comparative sobriety: I get into some weird conversations, especially after someone asks the inevitable, “What do you do for a living, David?”
“I’m a writer.”
The announcement is usually greeting with open-mouthed stares and I’m left feeling like the newby attending his first AA meeting. “Hello, my name is David, and I’m a (sob) writer.” Or, let’s be truthful and say, I would feel like that if I gave a toss what other people think.
When the initial shock has sunk in, the various cliques return to their chatter, the men comparing salaries, the women comparing hysterectomies, and I go back to checking the time, calculating how much longer I have to wait before I can slope off home.
Then the sceptics begin to filter back one by one, glancing cautiously over their shoulder to ensure that no one is watching them approaching the old loon.
A drunken 20-something in a skirt too short by several feet, and a top showing enough cleavage to put me off chicken for life buttonholed me. “I, y’know, like, wannabe a, like, writer, y’know. How do I, like, y’know, write my book?”
“Learn to speak proper English before you try writing it,” I advised her.
Then there was the woman who, when she learned I was working on the biography of a pre-op transsexual, asked, “Would you write my life story?”
“What have you done that would interest the reader?” I asked.
“We-ell… I worked at a lap-dancing club once.”
“You were a stripper?”
“No. A barmaid.”
One chap, determined to stamp his bookstore knowledge and authority on me, declared, “A well known author once ran a competition and the winner was written into the author’s next book.”
I looked him up and down. About 40, and if you translated that to minutes, it would equal the time needed to get round his waistline. His face reminded me of my daughter’s dog (a pug) and he had less hair than my son, who shaves his head once every six weeks.
“Would you write me into your next book?” he demanded.
“Yes,” I replied, “but I’d probably kill you off in chapter two.”
My all time favourite was a young man who when he learned I was a writer sounded as if he didn’t believe I could write a Christmas card, never mind a novel. “You write? What? Books and stuff?”
“No,” I replied. “Grafitti.”