There is a bottle of Claret on Clare’s desk that she has carried with her from office to office for months. I can’t remember where she got it from. I think it might have been a gift. All I know is that I’m under strict instructions not to drink it, so I haven’t.
Instead I’m working my way through a share-sized bottle of Diet Coke. Alone. In the office. On a Saturday night. Anyone want to guess why this Valentine’s day was the first since my schooldays that I was bereft of a date? It’s tragic – and frankly I blame my new-found high-flying corporate life. Last week, New York, this week Barcelona. Alone. On Valentine’s day. Still if my brief visit to Catalonia taught me anything it was this…
1) Barcelona is in Catalonia
2) Hosting the Olympics is great boon for the fuck-off-huge public sculpture industry
3) Barcelona restaurants are very cheap, and the food is outstanding
4) Toblerone still have the duty free shop market sewn up
5) One-in-three people in Barcelona wears a Bluetooth headset which they use to talk loudly to their wives about how they’re really sorry they had to be away on business
…but admittedly that last statistic may have been skewed by the fact that it was Valentine’s day and Barcelona was hosting the world’s biggest mobile phone trade show. Or not.
So, yes, that was Barcelona. And you’ll be pleased to hear I returned home to find my doormat literally awash in Valentine’s cards. Two of them to be precise – one delivered to my house, one to the office. Thank you whoever you are. Unless you’re a loon in which case leave me alone, you loon.
What else is going on in the romantic void that is my life? Oh yes, Pond and I are writing a book, with a little help from The Friday Thing’s team of crack satirists. It’s called What’s The Beef and it is (I quote) ‘a complete history of the world, as told through its greatest conflicts’. Israel vs Palestine, The Greeks vs The Romans, Pepsi vs Coke – that kind of thing.
This evening I’m working on the chapter about Jesus, provisionally titled either ‘Being the Messiah vs a career in carpentry’ or ‘Jesus vs the Romans and the Jews’ (because if history has taught us anything it’s that the two groups you should never fuck with are the Jews or the Italians).
It’s good fun, writing books again rather than simply publishing them, but it’s also a bit odd. For the last few years, everything I’ve written has been published virtually instantly – journalism for newspapers or online stuff. The idea of writing something that no one is going to read until October is really, really strange and it makes me understand why so many of our authors have described the switch from blogs/sites to books as such an extreme culture shock.
We’ve all got so used to instant feedback and gratification that a wait of eight months might as well be a life time. Jeez – some of the web’s premiere bloggers haven’t even been writing for eight months.
Book writing also allows for constant editing and re-editing which carries with it the risk of lines – particularly jokes – being revised and revised until they are mere shadows of their former self. Something to be avoided like the Plague (which, incidentally, we deal with in a chapter entitled Humanity vs Killer Rats).
Still, at least we’ve chosen the right time to be writing a book – just as I’m up to my eyeballs in this public offering malarkey and Pond is trying to (almost) single-handedly revolutionise our online publishing activities. Oh, and then there’s the London Book Fair in a week or so. And we’re supposed to be publishing a book or two this year too. In fact, unless I can find a girl for whom eating pizza in an office or watching ‘Nanny McPhee’ at 38,000 feet constitutes a successful date, I reckon I’m pretty much Cliff Richard until Valentine’s day 2009.
And to make matters worse, Adam Kay (who is, incidentally, currently guest-editing Haiknews) just phoned to make me feel worse. To think he claims to be a doctor. He’s working nights and has another five-and-a-half hours of his shift to go so, to make the time go quicker, he phoned me – in the office – to tell me a story involving quite a lot of blood. The fact that he knew for sure that I’d be in the office at 3:21 on a Sunday morning says everything you need to know about my work/life balance at the moment.
Sod it, I’ve finished all the Diet Coke, and all that talk of blood has made me thirsty. I’m opening the Claret.