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As one of my characters in one of my unfinished novels says to another one. It doesn’t matter who or which, so don’t even ask. Anyway, I can’t remember their names. It’s in a box in someone’s rat-infested garage, if you really want to know. Last thing I heard, the rats were really enjoying it.
Anyway, before I go completely off track, it went something like this: the one character says to the other: “Your problem with trying to be a journalist is that you get it the wrong way round. You’re supposed to tell the truth in real life and lie in your articles. That’s why yours are so boring; you tell the truth in your articles and lie in real life.” It’s sound advice. But I never chose to be a journalist. I was chosen by a friend, one drunken night, when he needed someone to run round attempting the impossible task of selling advertising space in a very unpopular periodical. I always wanted to write fiction.
Of course, as you know, fiction is a series of lies put together in a way that makes you think they’re true at the time of reading. I suppose that is like journalism, in a way. It’s all a matter of suspension of disbelief.
I like that: suspension of disbelief. Even though I do have to analyse what it means every time I write it. You just try saying it to someone in a pub after a few pints. It’ll stop them in their tracks. Especially, when it comes to penalty decisions in football matches. “Whether you accept the defender’s excuse that he grabbed the other player by the testicles, as he was about to head the ball into the net, solely in order to stop himself slipping over and soiling his new shorts, is merely a matter of suspension of disbelief.” It works every time.
And that brings me straight onto the journey towards self-knowledge I’ve recently embarked on, to discover the four essential wisdoms. It all started when a man rang our doorbell. He was clutching a handful of leaflets and wearing a beatific smile, while asking me if I wanted to go to heaven. I told him to hang on, while I just got my raincoat. By the time I got back he’d gone without me. And so had our hat stand. Luckily, we haven’t got any hats. Whoever thought that not having a hat would come in lucky one day, eh? Not me, for one.
See, how it works? Suspension of disbelief. He fooled me into believing he was going to wait for me, while in reality he was in such a hurry, he went off on his own. With our hat rack. Must’ve needed one real bad.
When I told my friend about it, he told me I’d been spending too much time in the forest sampling toadstools. He was almost right. About the fungus bit, anyhow. Not that I’ve been licking it off walls. Just give me a chance to explain.
Truth is I’ve actually been spending too much time by myself in the lavatory, meditating over magazines. I’ve done so much meditating recently it’s got all steamed up and mildew has started growing on the walls. You should see it, all furry and black. I keep on having to tell Angelica it’s a new sort of flocking effect that grows while you wait. It’s all the rage in Milan. She asked me if we could get it in red.
And that reminds me, my friend, who got me into journalism when I didn’t want, has threatened to visit us soon. After the last visit we had from the man who invited me to join him on his journey to heaven, before running of with our hat rack without me, I’m not so keen on visitors. My friend told me he’s getting paid for someone breaking his ribs after one of his less successful alcoholic encounters. That doesn’t sound quite right, When I lived in London, back in the good old days, it was the other way round. People used to get paid to come round to your house and break your ribs. It was a sort of door to door service offered by freelance debt collectors and the like. Everything seems to have gone topsy-turvy since I left.
According to my friend, he has to be assessed a Harley Street rib specialist charging £400 an hour before he gets his dosh and books his ticket. I ask you, four hundred smackers? So I asked him if they still do dodgy scripts for amphetamines down in Harley Street, like they used to. I mean for four hundred quid an hour they ought to throw in some dangerous drugs to play with, at the very least.
My friend reckons he’ll get paid out by September. I reckon that might be a good time to slip off somewhere nice and quiet. Get my drift?
Copyright © 2014 Bryan Hemming
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