That an arts column as loosely themed and drunkenly implemented as The Menstruum should survive for the twelve months that it did is to me a great source of amusement if not solace. It died via email on a Tuesday mid-morning.
History would once take the particular heroics of a death as some measure of the greatness of a life. I think of Lord Nelson on deck at the Battle of Trafalgar, shot through to the backbone, a handkerchief draped over his face to spare the crew from alarm; “Kiss me, Hardy.” Flash forward 206 years and I’m on the third floor of an irregularly air-conditioned building, my lower back a bit sore from a wonky office chair, having just written an email to my Editor suggesting we call it a day on the column; Gmail eulogising “Your message has been sent.”
I wonder what quantity of the world’s affairs are now terminated via email on a Tuesday mid-morning – the end of contracts; governments, marriages; “Your message has been sent.”
The email gone, and being struck by a sickness of regret, I think it’s time to go home. Catching the 96 tram out of the city at 10:55 am is peculiar sensation but it’s one I would like to get used to. And now I’m home, now what? On my desk is a stack of recently arrived reading – another book on Hitler, on Napoleon, on Pink Floyd, and Margaret Thatcher. I consider how many books on Hitler, Napoleon, Pink Floyd, and Margaret Thatcher I’m going to have to read to be satisfied, why it is exactly that I’m so attracted to understanding the interior lives of imperial despots and neo-Victorian societal botty whackers and why indeed I feel compelled to do so to a constant soundtrack of 1973 undergraduate whinge-prog.
Perhaps it is time to push these things to the side, just for now. Perhaps it is time to stop being so afraid all the time and so worried; I have been writing a book, a novel, and it is a source of joy for me. I have written books before and they have been serious, unhappy things, and they live in an unpublished and unread stack, as they should. But this new one, this new one is different – it is untempered and it is happy and it is positively chockas with poo gags.
Unburdened by mock gravitas, it seems I am writing just a love story with toilet humour and it feels the most natural thing in the world.
And it seems no coincidence that I have refound a love, a love for writing and for life, since I was found by another’s, so to Paige (who still so hates being named in this column), thank you. To Daniel Crichton-Rouse, you are a lionhearted Editor, a true gentleman in an ungentle universe, thank you.
And to anyone that’s ever bothered to read this column, for you I reserve my most unconditional high five, cheers.
This afternoon I will write, I will run, and then learn to play a serviceable rendition of Elliott Smith’s ‘Baby Britain’ on ukulele, and really, what else can a person hope for from a day?
|Casa del Lukins, second room, 23 Nov 2011.|