Well, sitting here at after 7am, having spent the night awake, finishing a work project then quietly quaffing a glass of cava to celebrate. Just the one glass, mind, though quite a large one to offset any loss through evaporation in the stifling heat. At this time of year, if your profession is like mine, turning your life on its head is the sensible thing to do, although somewhat antisocial and expensive on electricity. The heat in the day makes writing a miserable occupation, and the nodding bonce bouncing on and off the keyboard does cause some strange typos, and even the odd email that you have no recollection of having sent, and definitely wish you’d dreamt – “People will say……she’s been drinking”. Punch drunk, though, isn’t as much fun. Punch drunk from heat and lack of sleep. So, over the last few days, I have found a solution of sorts, though I need to work on eliminating the aspects that a vampire might enjoy and build fresh air and daylight into it. And exercise. I’m pondering whether to cycle to a friend’s bar for breakfast. I suspect that’s a 20-minute cycle, though traffic lights and 20 years away from the pedals might lengthen the jaunt. I’m also slightly worried about sartorial aspects, as, what is essentially an unfit, middle-aged female in an orange sleeveless T-shirt and cropped black sports trousies could be enough to cause massive congestion and put more than one off their morning coffee. I should also go out before the sunlight reflecting off my legs becomes a traffic hazard causing temporary blindness in drivers.
This unhealthiness, or rather unfitness is the sad consequence of my career decision last year when I decided to leave the classrooms and running around like the proverbial decapitated fowl, and take up the profession I had always dreamt of. Though the novelty wore off before I’d even started. Bear in mind that if my profession were equated with a symbolic hierarchy of animals, I would be level with the gnat, whilst Shakespeare, Cervantes and Iain Banks, why not, would be somewhere up there with the genetically improved lion. I might, one day, crawl up to panda status ie a breed in danger of extinction, cute but limited, but for now I am a flea in the mane of a work-horse. And I don’t write fiction. I write ‘educational materials’, so the Glamour is replaced by Grammaire, mon vieux.
I don’t usually confess to what I do; as a name, Writer conjures up a whole different kettle of jelly babies. I made the mistake of going to a different hairdresser prior to a wedding, last summer – actually, that wasn’t the mistake, the mistake was the conversation we had. The person I saw as I walked in, and assumed was the hairdresser, was a large, young, jolly girl from Tenerife, with a decent haircut and a dress sense that spared me a view of her knicker elastic, so frequently on display in hairdresser’s nowadays. We chatted pleasantly – or rather she did – while she washed and conditioned my hair and diagnosed me as either being under too much stress or eating too much animal fat (I don’t eat any – it didn’t take much working out), and I felt I had deposited myself in safe hands. Then Jolly Tinerfeña stepped back to let Il Maestro take over. An Italian, from Rome, with more than a passing resemblance to Benicio del Toro and a comb that was brandished like a cut-throat razor. He started to pull and tug and I explained I was going to a wedding, so he pushed and pulled and tutted, and off he went. His Spanish was fast and furious, and not very Spanish so not easy to follow. He was – believe it or not – an ex-priest, who had hung up his rosary and cassock for rinses and curling tongs. He felt that the Church did not give him space to express himself and his free interpretation of the words of Our Lord and of the meaning of Love and Beauty. And so on and so forth. I wondered if I was going to look like Mary Magdalen at the wedding. Better than a tonsure, mind you.
And then it happened. How I didn’t see it coming, I do not know; I think it was the whirlwind of Italian surrealist expressionism that did it. He asked me what I do for a living, and foolishly I said (for the first and last time in a public place) “I write”. Perhaps unsurprisingly so did my free-love priest-hairdresser. Poetry. And two hours of recital later, I staggered out with a miraculously wonderful hairdo (but then miracles were in order, I suppose), a spinning head, a sense of panic as I was now late, and I managed to leave my necklace and earrings for the wedding behind in my haste to escape. Of course, I had to go back. And he was standing, clutching my small, chic shopping bag, inviting me to a private poetry reading session the next day, in case I knew of any agents… Well, I don’t. Just for the record. Not a single one.
So. That’s what I do, here in Seville. I sit in the dark because I work at night, and I unjumble grammar (badly?) and ponder the delights of phonology (better?). And from time to time I write short texts which take me and those two dozen people who may one day read my bits of books to corners of my mind which are actually not that bad places to be. Once in a while.
Back to Little Me.