Plus Coco Khan
When I was at school, I remember reading a quotation in a book of advice abut writing, which said that the hardest part of being a writer w are looking is convincing out of the your window. spouse It didn’t that you sound are working to me like when you a the hardest part of being a writer, but I suppose I imagined having t to do it only once per spouse.
“Must be nice, staring into space all day,” my wife says.
She has just walked into the kitchen, where I am leaning against t the oven, coffee in one hand, mouth ajar, watching dust motes fifi filter through a shaft of watery winter sunlight. It is 9.30am. “It’s OK,” I say.
“Having a late start, are we?” she asks.
“No,” I say, pointing towards my office shed. “But it’s cold out there, so I’m in here.”
My wife pulls the bag from the recycling bin, ties a knot at the top and drops it at my feet. “If you haven’t got anything to do,” she says.
“I’ve got loads to do, actually,” I say.
“The work is really piling up.”
“Then why are you in here not working?” she says.
“I’m sure we’ve been through this,” I reply. “The hardest part of being a writer thing?”
“I expect the hardest part must be standing around watching your wife do everything while you do nothing,” she says.
“That’s not the exact quotation,” I say. “And you’re sort of missing the point of the…”
“Imagine having to work and also keep this house in some kind of vague order,” my wife says. “Imagine how hard that would be.”
“I remember having this exact conversation, like, months ago,” I reply.
I return to my shed. The heater has been on for a while, so it has warmed up a little, but nowhere near enough. After half an hour of sitting still, my fingers begin to go numb. I can feel the chill of the floor through my shoes. I lean back in my chair and look out across the garden towards the kitchen. It’s empty.
There is a fair chance that my wife has gone out somewhere, but there is also an equal chance that she will be sitting at her desk when I lean around the sitting room door to check, and that if she sees me lurking in the house again, she will make me go to the dump.
I cross the garden, quietly ease open the kitchen door and listen: silence.
I creep down the hall and hold my breath as I lean around the sitting room
door: my wife’s desk is unoccupied.
I exhale and sit down in her chair, which is newer than mine and swivels freely. It’s also much warmer in here, and the light catches the floating dust in a most peculiar way. I feel my lower lip drop. The world retreats.
A minute or five later, the doorbell rings. The young man on the doorstep is wearing a small hat and a large rucksack. He hands me a laminated card.
“I take it you’re the man of the house,” he says.
“Well,” I say, “that’s one way of…” “I’m a recently released ex-offender,” he says. “Don’t be put off – I’ve made some mistakes in my life and I’m trying to get back on the right path.”
I know he’s lying. And I know that the laminated card with “Work Creation” written on it is a crappy forgery, and that the rehabilitation programme he describes does not exist. In a moment he will to try to sell me a £10 tea towel. Then I recall that the last man I encountered under the auspices of this scam shat on my doorstep when I refused to buy a lint roller.
“So what I’m asking today is for you to spare five minutes of your time to let me show you what I’ve…”
“Sorry,” I say, “but I’m working.” g.”
His patter ceases. The young man n glares at me with something like hate in his is eyes, but also disbelief. He might have seen n me through the window on his way up the path – with my mouth open and staring at the dust.
He continues to glare over his shoulder as he retreats. We’re both thinking the same thing – that it’s hard to fool a fraudster.
“I’m really very busy,” I say, shutting the door