Thursday 17 April 2008

Perhaps the ultimate writing challenge

13st 10lb (which surprised me, I have to admit, after yesterday’s lunch: it must have been banoffee roulade lite); 6.0 units of alcohol (because there are three units in a pint of Guinness, at least according to the University of Dundee student medical service; it’s funny where Google can take you, as several luckless readers of this blog can testify); 1,387 days left to try and put things right; on the final approach to Loveland International, with the runway lights having just failed and the engines refusing to respond to the throttle.

So far two people have e-mailed me to say that they have read this blog from beginning to end, and fallen in love with me as a result. One of them was a Bloke, unfortunately. And the other one, to be fair, has not actually used the words “fallen in love”, though the symptoms she describes as a result of our subsequent correspondence (particularly the distractedness and the big silly grin) are symptomatic of little else. I feel the same when I read her e-mails to me. But then I remembered a piece in the Telegraph agony column a couple of weeks ago, from a Bloke who had fallen in love with someone he had encountered on an Internet dating site, just because of her wonderful way with e-mails. He’d fired off one saying “I adore you”, and couldn’t understand why she then refused to meet him in person. “I can, you sad loser,” I thought. Which was pretty much what the agony aunt said, too, suggesting a new career opportunity for me when I fail to sell my book idea about very mature (like a 1954 Gorgonzola, frankly) dating.

I caught myself typing “I ado…” yesterday, but luckily I caught it in time and managed to turn it into “I, Adonis? Don’t make me laugh!” Which sounds uncannily like a clue from a cryptic crossword. Another career opening, perhaps? Though not the opening that is foremost in my mind as I write.

Anyway, all this falling in love stuff constitutes further powerful testimony to the redemptive power of blogging. It represents an infinite increase in the number of people who might have fallen in love with me if I hadn’t started writing it. Added to which, since I started I have lost two stone, apparently seen off the curses of depression and superstition (though I am touching wood as I type that) and significantly increased my writing productivity (not just here, either).

I’ve even started thinking that I might not actually want to die in early 2012. I checked deathclock again today, putting in my new Body Mass Index of 26.0, and it offered me an extension to 2031 if I remained “pessimistic” (which means realistic, in my view), or 2047 if I upgraded my attitude to “normal”. I didn’t check the prospects if I claimed to be “optimistic”, but presumably I would be as near immortal as makes no difference.

However, sadly it’s not on as my male admirer wrote that he is really enjoying the countdown and hoping that, by February 2012, the blog will have built up enough of a following to form a Bloke in the North Fan Club, who could all get together for a fantastic piss-up after my funeral.

I struggle to see what’s in that for me, for some reason.

Meanwhile I have spent the whole afternoon trying to respond to a closely argued, seven page, handwritten letter from the Tall Cheshire Blonde, comprehensively demolishing my detailed analysis of our incompatibility. She gets big ticks for effort, wit, the quality of her writing paper and the fact that she looks very attractive in the enclosed photograph. In fact, my fundamental problem is that I can’t for the life of me work out what she is doing writing to a sad old git like me in search of love, marriage and babies. I’d have thought she would be fending off admirers with the proverbial shitty stick. What is wrong with the men of Cheshire? Surely they can’t all be gay?

If I have any viable sperm left at all, which I rather doubt, they will be lolling by the pool on the testicular equivalent of sun loungers, not training hard for a Mark Spitz-like sprint finish in the race towards someone’s cervix. And the fact that my correspondent will be thinking “Who the hell is Mark Spitz?” (because his Olympic triumphs took place before she was even born) rather underlines the gulf in age and experience that lies between us. Still, it makes me think about how I would cope with fatherhood. Not well, I fear, mainly because I’ve always hated kids. But then I had lunch not long ago with my lovely former PA, who has three of them, and she said that she had always hated kids, too; and indeed still hated other people’s. But, as everyone says, “Your own are different.”

I can just about understand that, because I adore my Border terrier but dislike dogs in general.

Still, it would clearly be mad for me to start a family at my age, not least because I’d have to go back to full time work until I was at least 75 in order to finance it (overlooking, for the moment, the fact that I am going to die when I am 57).

On the other hand, the dream of a happy home life with a loving younger partner is remarkably seductive. No wonder that, even though I make a living of sorts as a professional writer, I find it quite impossible to finish my letter.

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