Saturday, 8 October 2011

Leaf grief

I do this every year so just bear with me. I actually didn’t mean for it to become a tradition. But here it is. I hate the autumn. I don’t know what it is. Except maybe I do. It’s because September smells funny. And the light is awkward. And my music sounds … off. Is that it? I think I have synaesthesia when September comes around. It’s the weird moon and the weather that changes minute to minute and the sweat and shiver because your clothes are all wrong. The beloved portholes that are the windows of my flat in HMS Lancaster start to look inwards at this time of year and I refuse to look back. My curtains are drawn until March.

More specifically tonight it’s poverty and fomo and all this recycling that I simply can’t face. And Morrissey.

I went to the launch of a book about Morrissey earlier. I’ve organised and introduced an identical event myself so I know it’s not easy. But this was a bit of an ordeal if I’m honest. A mixture of introverted and possibly unenthused academics saying oblique things to an audience who knew better and whose enthusiasm wained in under forty five minutes such that there were barely any questions and in fact one open and lengthy criticism.

Proceedings were lightened considerably by These Charming Men who bookended the discussion with quite lovely acoustic renditions from The Canon. But I went there alone and my questions sounded confrontational in my head (they weren’t) so I didn’t ask them. The people in front of me sniggered and rolled their eyes and left.

Then again, maybe it was me. I’m starting to think pop music might have ruined my life. I’m pretty sure I would have written more than one unpublished novel if not for pop music. I might have written two unpublished novels. Boom-tish. ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ instigated two enormously pivotal moments in my life and I’m a bit annoyed about it now. Although it will sound just right in the autobiography I suppose.

I left the book launch and turned on my iPod and it went straight to ‘Meat Is Murder’. I skipped. It was Robyn, ‘Dancing On My Own’. I could do without the signs and symbols at the moment. I’m pained by the single unbroken martini glass that survived the party here on Saturday night, a party that was terrific fun but that more or less went completely wrong.

I have quit smoking though. For good this time. The last time I quit was on the roof of the Hawley Arms in the sweltering heat of last summer, with cider, when Amy was alive. I don’t miss cigarettes but it seems the world and his husband have taken it up again. I was definitely ready to let it go though. It’s twenty years since I smoked my first one. It was love at first puff. He hit me and it felt like a kiss. But even a kiss shouldn’t last two decades.

Chin up though. September didn’t break me. I managed to skip it with a healthy degree of denial, plus a trip to Berlin which I am going to do every September from now until forever, just to take the edge off. I shall tell all about the final day and night of my German urlaub anon. It will be heavily edited so that we can remain friends.

Anyway, now that I’m a student again September means the start of term. I’m into the second year of a part time MA in Novel Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. I’m actually doing this, and not just talking about doing this. So it’s back to a novel a week until Christmas. What could be lovelier? The reading list looks like this:

Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin

Margaret Drabble, The Millstone

Anthony Burgess, The Malayan Trilogy

V.S. Naipaul, Miguel Street

Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child

J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace

Benjamin Black, Elegy for April

Nicola Barker, Small Holdings

Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question

Beryl Bainbridge, Master Georgie

See? We’re fine.

Coming up shortly: more Berlin, how to stay positive this autumn through retail therapy, and forthcoming exciting cultural events across Manchester.

I think I will buy pyjamas.

This on repeat please.

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