14st 12lb, 1.7 units. Just like old times! I’m definitely feeling better. Indeed, there was a point, sitting at my desk this afternoon, when I was conscious of feeling positively well. Which worried me more than a little, given that in my experience an intense feeling of wellbeing is usually the result of the body’s defences staging a last, hopelessly unsuccessful rally before they succumb to something dreadful. You may recall that the legendarily convivial sometime TV chef Keith Floyd famously remarked that he had never felt better very shortly before he dropped dead the other week.
I read The Boy (previously known as The Baby) a story before bed last night. It’s about the most hands-on bit of parenting I’ve ever done. No-one believes my true story about the number of times I’ve changed a nappy, so I won’t even bother repeating it here. I did have him in the bath with me once but one of us disgraced ourselves by peeing in the water. Luckily Mrs H thought it was him. Even so, I thought it best not to repeat the experiment in case I got to like it, and started wanting to share my bath with young people on a more regular basis. I’m already in enough potential trouble, given the yawning age gap between me and my son. My best hope is that I will be nicknamed “Grandpa” when I come to wait for him at the school gates, and not “The Paedo”.
Anyway, I read him this story, because Mrs H told me to. She also told me, with some exasperation, that I did not need to read him the bit at the front about the author having asserted her intellectual property rights and the thing being printed in China (which made me wonder if there was anything at all we were capable of doing for ourselves any more). The Boy looked very grave as the story unfolded. I’m not sure whether that was because he took it more seriously than I did, or because he thought I was insulting his intelligence. It wasn’t much of a tale, to be honest. All about a puppy that was lost and – you’d never have guessed this – on the last page it turned up again.
Well, blow me down.
I’m now wondering whether writing children’s books might be the way forward. It can’t be that difficult, surely? I’m skint, I can write (after a fashion), and I’ve got a child to support. Maybe I should scrap Wife in the North as my role model and think more along the lines of J.K. Rowling. There’s a café in the high street where I could hang out with my notebook, stretching a single cup of coffee out all morning and looking sorry for myself.
Now all I need to work out is the Next Big Thing in children’s fiction. I had a colleague who wasted months writing this great book, all about a boy wizard, which he genuinely dreamt up before Ms Rowling had her first volume published, but unfortunately ended up touting it around publishers after her sales had started to take off. The word “plagiarism” was bandied about. It was really bad luck, with hindsight, that he had chosen to call his hero Barry Trotter.
On the other hand, I also have a friend who wasted months, at a publisher’s suggestion, converting a film script about a boy visiting an alien spaceship into a children’s novel, only to have it rejected because sci-fi was now dead and all kids wanted to read about was magic.
Maybe I'll just stick to what I know, then. A picture book about a rather sleazy, overweight, 50-something PR man from the North of England trying unsuccessfully to get his leg over with his PA. All I need to work out now is how to make it suitable for age group 5 – 8. Or 25 – 88, for that matter.
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