Friday, September 18, 2020

Rebel Without A Clue

 By Abir Mukherjee

In these times, how do you stay positive so that you can focus on what you write?


Right, well the question rather assumes that I have stayed positive and focussed on my writing.


I’m not going to lie to you. Since about June my writing regime has been an utter farce, a crap-shoot, a veritable s*%t show. Sure, I could blame this on Covid, and sure, Covid is probably partly responsible, but a lot of it is down to my own sheer incompetence, laziness and general inability to concentrate on anything for longer than oh look! A puppy!


As for staying positive – that’s not really been a problem, cos if there’s one thing I don’t suffer from, it’s a lack of positivity. Some people see the glass half empty, some half full. Me, I don’t care how much is in it, I’m drinking the contents and stealing the glass. I think I get it from my dad. Now there was a man who had supreme self-confidence in the face of a Himalayan mountain range of evidence to the contrary. He taught me that hard work and diligence were no substitute for charm, good looks and a pig-headed sense of self-belief. I am grateful to him for that.


Yeah, so I’m still positive, because, well why wouldn’t I be? I’ve got so much to be thankful for.


That’s not to say the whole Covid business hasn’t wrought its effects on me and mine. As I’ve said here before, I’ve not really been allowed out of the house much cos my wife thinks I’m the sort of idiot who, at the first whiff of freedom, is going to go out and lick people in the street. That’s rubbish, of course. I probably wouldn’t lick anybody, but try telling her that.


The forced incarceration though has had some peculiar results. I spent most of June and July buying clothes online. Millions of clothes. Jeans, shirts, jumpers, shoes, sneakers, t shirts – you name it, I bought it. I don’t even know why. It’s not as if I need them and I can’t exactly wear them anywhere. So I wear them round the house. I swear I’m the smartest bum you’ve ever seen. Some people do Zoom calls in their boxer shorts. Not me. I’m wearing a three piece suit.


And a cravat.


Maybe it’s my way of looking forward to the day we’ll finally get let out. If there’s a shrink out there, I’d be glad for your opinion on this (but I’m not paying, I’ve spent all my money on clothes).


My wife thinks it’s a mid-life crisis, and maybe she’s right. Last month I bought a biker jacket. I’m forty six and I don’t have a bike. I’m probably never going to get one. Still, I love the jacket. It makes me look tough. I’m looking forward to wearing it to the pub with the rest of my forty something crew - Steve and Alan and Jim (not their real names - I asked them but they said that when it came to being friends with me, they'd rather maintain an air of mystery). Strictly speaking, Alan is still in his thirties and is technically a millennial, so his opinion on most matters is suspect, though he’s useful in the music rounds at the pub quiz because none of the rest of us have any clue about music post 1997. Talking of the pub quiz, I can’t wait to wear my jacket to it – I imagine the other teams will stare at me in awe as I strut in. They’ll be like, ‘Wow, look at that jacket. He’s obviously hard as nails, and he knows the capital of Venezuela.’


But by the start of August, there was no more space in any of our wardrobes and so I had to stop buying clothes. So I started buying electrical items instead. I bought a laser printer. It’s a thing of beauty with its clean white lines and touch screen, and it’s whirring is like the sound of angels bickering. But then I found out the price of a new toner cartridge and nearly had a heart attack. How can toner cost more than my car?! It’s insane. So now the beautiful printer just sits there, a white elephant which I admire wistfully, from a distance, and imagine what wonderful stuff we might have printed together if I’d been a millionaire. 

Beauty, thy name is HP ColorLaserjet MFP M282-M285

I've also bought a microphone for a ridiculous amount of money. I thought it might help on Zoom calls and for my podcast (the Red Hot Chilli Writers) if I bought one. And this has been a good purchase. Before, my recorded voice used to sound like a cat being strangled. Now I sound like the love child of Billy Connolly and Barry White. 


It’s not just me though. I think my wife has caught whatever madness this is. On Sunday she went out to buy milk and ended up buying an unbelievably huge mirror. I’m not joking. The thing has doors. It’s less a mirror and more like the entrance to Narnia. She says it’s the kind of mirror you don’t actually hang up, but leave standing on the floor – which suits me fine because it means I won’t have to risk being crushed to death trying to get it up on the wall. But there is nowhere in our house with enough space for it to stand without looking ridiculous. We are literally going to have to move to a bigger house so that we’ve got space for this mirror. 

What’s more, the delivery guy left it outside our house and I was the one who had to bring it in and put it up against every wall to test where it looked best. That was fine, but later that night we were sitting on the sofa watching the final episode of Cormoran Strike, and just as things were reaching a crescendo, I sat up a bit straighter, just to catch the denouement, and promptly put my back out. I’m pretty sure it was because of all the mirror carrying earlier. I was in agony for the rest of the night, and I still don’t know what happened at the end of the programme. I’ve spent the last few days with a hot water bottle pressed up to my back. But as I say, I’m a positive guy, I look on the bright side. The good news is, the hot water bottle fits perfectly under my new biker jacket.

Mirror? Or portal to another dimension?


Wait, before you go, there's one more thing. 

The Bloody Scotland Crime Festival is on this weekend, and because it's virtual this year, it's allowed it to be truly global and feature the best of British and international crime writers such as Lynwood Barclay, Ann Cleeves, Jeffrey Deaver, Peter May, Ian Rankin, Steve Cavanagh, Lawrence Block, Val McDermid, Adrian McKinty, Yrsa Sigardursdottir, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Lou Berney, Denise Mina, Mark Billingham John Connelly to name a few.

 It starts today and runs all weekend, and best of all, it’s free. Just click on the link below:

Have a good weekend, and stay safe.



Dietrich Kalteis said...

Great post, Abir. I picture you standing before the giant mirror deciding what to wear to virtual Bloody Scotland, the biker jacket or the three-piece suit.

Abir said...

Cheers Dietrich! You'll have to tune in to find out!

Susan C Shea said...

Didn't know you were so funny. Maybe you will add a new series, kind of like Carl Hiasson. Why not? Eminently enjoyable post, Abir.

James W. Ziskin said...

Great post, Abir!