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How not to work

8 April 2005

Ah, hubris, hubris... Remind me never to say again that the work is going well, or even going.

Sometimes I look back at days or weeks of not writing, and just canít understand why that happened (and sometimes the reverse is true, I can look back at weeks or months of solid work and just not understand how ever I kept it up so long, but thatís another issue). Other times, itís absolutely clear.

Like yesterday, three separate clarities in one, like one of those cocktails where each element floats at a different level and nothing mingles.

Mífriend Stephen was coming for lunch, so the morning was shopping and cooking and tidying up (then I cooked him pipérade, not knowing that he cannot abide peppers; but that again is another issue). Once he'd left I cleared up, I wound down, I started thinking about work - and my central heating failed. On the coldest day weíve had for weeks and weeks.

Another man would have phoned the plumber, turned on a gas fire and got on with the day. If I were another man, I would not be here now; being me, being here, being entirely thrown out of kilter by any minor domestic catastrophe (especially if it involves phone-calls, and doubly so if it's going to necessitate somebody coming here to fix things), I ran away. To the pub, and so there went any chance of working in the afternoon.

And so the evening came, and I had a steaming hot bath (the boilerís working, the waterís hot, only the radiators arenít: pump? control switch? how would I know?) and felt warm and worky, so came to the computer late, and checked my e-mail as ever before settling down to a session - and found this message from a kind lady who has known my mother for ever, and so hence knew my father too, to the point where my parents were married from her house. And there was a photo too, of my mother as a schoolgirl at this ladyís christening...

So there went any hope of working, as I had to pass that around the family and then somehow find a way to reply. I donít think I made much sense, except that I hope a general delighted gratitude was conveyed.

So that was the day, with no work done. Today I am a little more focused. There are gas fires burning, I have phoned the plumber (well, his voicemail, naturally), thereís a vast pot of chicken stock simmering in the kitchen to provide a little heat that end of the house, itís snowing outside so I can hope for a little insulation, and I have actually done a little work. Not much, though, and Iím still shivering. And distracting myself, of course, with things like this.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2005
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.