Monday, April 27, 2009


Having said I’d have nothing to do with it below, ('vain ... odd ... young') I’ve quickly succumbed. Friends told me it would help sell the book. I’d create an Event, everyone would read it. Salt said the same. Well, maybe some time. At the moment I’m playing Scrabble. That’s what Facebook’s for, as far as I can see. Playing with three friends, keep checking back instead of working, feel it luring me now. Also played UNO with Daughter against Jelena and El Guaro, whoever they might be, which was fun. And have dipped toe in Poker. Games are what life’s for, surely, where we become ourselves and also, occasionally, forget ourselves. I’m sure that should be love, and sex but … no … it’s games.

Then there’s the friends issue. I currently have eight, which I believe is pretty paltry. Eight good friends in the neighbourhood isn’t too bad I think, if you live in a small town, but eight on Facebook is like ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ And one of them isn’t a friend at all, and I sort of wish they’d go away. But two are people I haven’t talked to in years and am enjoying being in contact with, and one of them I instant messaged with/to, which I’ve never done before. And he said he'd buy the book. So that was exciting.

So that’s me surfing the cultural wave then. Although obviously if I’ve finally grabbed my surfboard and stumbled into the sea and climbed on and wobbled my way out of my depth, then the wave is certainly elsewhere and I’m paddling about in yesterday’s stagnant backwash. Still … Scrabble.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Haven’t been anywhere this week, hardly seen anyone, it’s been a week spent entirely on The Show. Two edits and a new episode to work on. Sat at my desk, tussling with the best way to turn a phrase, to convey a story beat without being too on the nose, to find some texture in a plotty scene, to make it funnier. One of the edits has been heavy. No, they said, make it bigger. More twists and turns, more impact. Emotional explosions. Bigger. I may have said before, The Show is all italics and exclamation marks, it’s in bold and capitals. That’s what life is often like on The Show. It’s seldom like that in my stories and novels. It tends to be a more normal typeface, quieter, emotions simmer beneath the surface, only occasionally flare up, explosions are mostly avoided. For me, that’s like life. (Sitting at my desk, working with words. Putting the kettle on is a big event.) But I think we’re both right, me and The Show. Life after all, is a bit of this and also a bit of that, mixed, stirred and heated, with secret ingredients sprinkled in. Close your eyes, inhale the steam, see what happens. It’s mysterious. People, and marriages, turn out not to be what you thought they were. Your own body turns out to be hiding dark secrets, waiting for the right moment to reveal them. Peel back the surface and reveal … something else. That’s what we’re all trying to translate, on to the page, or on to the screen. So not a bad week. And on Sunday I’ll go to LaserZone with Daughter, and shoot people.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


You know the drawing in pencil, or maybe charcoal, by Lowry, of Manchester Central Library? There was a print on the wall of my parents’ house when I was growing up. It’s a lovely picture, very simple, of this elegant, round edifice on St Peter’s Square. A slight hint of a UFO about it, or a wedding cake. I think in the drawing the library is less hedged around by other buildings than it is now, I have a sense of it standing alone. Anyway, that’s where I was last Thursday night, reading from TENDER, launching it, in a room that followed the slow curve of the building. The walls were covered not with pictures, but with wooden notice-boards inscribed with long lists of names in gilt letters. Chair of the Library Committee, Councillor So and So. And above the notice-boards there was a hole in the curved wall with wires sprouting from it, where a clock used to be. It had gone to be mended apparently, which felt appropriate. Time had stepped discreetly out of the door. I read a story (sort of) inspired by my teenage years to (mostly) strangers, sitting inside a picture from childhood, surrounded by the names of the dead. And felt a rare sense of aptness.