I might as well have been a surgeon, for all the good it's done me. An early-morning Q-Tip accident and now there's blood on the telephone. If I'd been a surgeon, it would be a sign of prowess, achievement, superiority. "Oh yes, he's a surgeon's surgeon. Dedicated? God, yes. There's even blood on his telephone." As it is, though, they just say, "Ugh."
Who? There's nobody to see it. I could be one of those corpses. You know: found. "The body had apparently lain for several days before it was ... found. Police refused to confirm rumours that a heavily bloodstained telephone was found near the corpse."
I suppose I should get a damp rag and clean the blood off, but, listen, why don't you just shut up? Get off my back, with your smug, sanctimonious, pecker-up exhortations. It's all right for you, but for some of us a damp rag could be the last straw. The one that breaks the camel's back. Only a damp rag, you say? Yes indeed. But here's a good rule: never mind the straws; watch the camel.
Sorry to offend, but, listen, do you want a smack in the head or what? Can't you tell when somebody is having a bad day, a real barking, corking stinker of a crunchy-Pot-Noodle, blood-on-the-telephone day?
Prozac. Lovely Prozac. That would be the thing, but it takes three weeks to kick in and I'll be right as rain by Thursday. They use it recreationally in America, did you know that? "Hey, guys, let's drop some P, then we can have a real blast on ... hang on ... yeah, on 11 August. Way to go!"
What I need is self-sufficiency. I imagine myself as one of those Victorian literary types, shady apartments somewhere opposite the British Museum, a calm orderly life of composition in the morning, luncheon at the club, the afternoon snooze, congenial evenings and home to a narrow blameless bed. "Given the chance ..." I muse. But the trouble is, I am frequently given the chance, and all I do is itch and pine. It's a question of personality, the dark green sock in the whites wash of life.
I'm not going to the office any more. Perhaps that's the trouble. I had been going to the office, but the script is finished now, and they are all very disappointed in it, and now I am not going to the office any more. It shouldn't bother me. I should be relieved. The office was becoming a dangerous place for me. Not only was I becoming clearly institutionalised, but I was nurturing a potentially lethal passion for one of the clever women there, a crop-headed Tank Girl with skin like Yucatan honey and the dirtiest laugh since Sid James. No good. No chance. Won't do. Rats.
But I miss the office. I sort of miss the script, too (post-natal depression, all its life ahead of it and I won't be there to watch it grow up), but mostly it's the office. It's wonderful being interested in people just for the hell of it. I mean, there they are, perfect strangers whose lives and histories and tastes and inclinations are a closed book, and yet, just by virtue of sharing the same building, they suddenly become the objects of intense, speculative fascination. It's as though, in the office, the actual work is only a pretext, and we are really all just there for each other's entertainment, a collective mutual sideshow without guilt or obligation.
It's possible that the answer is to be rich. I am seriously considering being rich, so far as one can seriously consider anything on a day like this, sweating uneasily beneath a heaving, sultry cloudbase which keeps threatening to break but never does, like a reluctant or grudging lover: "More! More!" but it's never enough and in the end all you can do is roll over and sulk. Rich would be nice. Rich would be an 18th-century townhouse, something garish at St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, something simple in the Maine backwoods and a Left Bank atelier for those moments marginals (six freshly pressed suits of bleu de travail in the sandalwood wardrobe, and a ruined Mexican aristocrat to cook the dinner). Rich would be tantrums, because who could tell me to stop it? Rich would be girls with wren-bone wrists and ingenious eyes, blue as a bruise, whose idea of fun was to be tied to a tree with fetters of torn linen, and they're not pretending! They're not doing it to shut me up, or for the money! No! It's because I'm rich! Rich would be a custom-made portable collapsible Hermes tree, and a hereditary Moldavian linen-tearer, on 24-hour call.
The trouble is, to get rich like that, you have to be a bastard. That's where I fall down. I think bastard - dear God, I think bastard all the time - but somehow I can't bring myself to do bastard. I want to. But I can't.
And yet I know a chap who can. We're worried about him. Not just a bastard; a Nazi, womanising bastard. A Nazi, womanising, rich bastard, and do you know what? No wren-bones or tantrums for him; no houses, no Lear Jets, gold watches or collapsible trees. The rich Nazi womanising bastard lives modestly in a rented flat, millions accruing in the bank, and what he wants above all else is a wife. A wife! And miserable as sin because he doesn't have one.
He's quite wrong, of course. A wife would make him even more miserable. He's one of nature's bachelors, but you're not allowed to be a bachelor any more. And here am I, wanting to be a rich bachelor. Maybe if I sent the rich Nazi womanising bastard up to my ex-office while I stayed at home with his money, and then I could... no. No. What I want is to clean the blood off the telephone. What we all want is for the storm to break. An inch and a half of rain, and a clean fresh start. Is it too much to ask? !