So the last two weeks have been a bit weird, twatty bloggerwise. An overheard conversation in a pub, a bit of private kvetching, a post about Public Archaeology that went down like a cup of cold sick with some… A bit stung by the response and the barrel of snakes I had unwittingly released, I thought it was probably best to retire from the world of blogging for a bit, and let the dust settle.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t. Because before I wrote about The Public Centipede, I’d had an email, asking if I’d do something. And I had agreed to the request. But the time that I should have spent thinking about how I was going to fulfil the request was instead taken up with peering at twitter through my fingers, and wincing to see various people having a bit of a snipe, swipe and scrap over my post.
So when Thursday dawned… I really hadn’t thought too much about the request. As ever, I’d left it to the last minute. I’d confidently said I’d have it done by twelve. By half ten, the laptop was on. Coffee had been drunk. Cigarettes had been smoked. And I still had no idea how I was going to keep my end of the bargain.
A flicker of alarm, no bigger than a boilers pilot light, began doing a groovy little shimmy in my head. My inner monologue went something like this:
Start writing. I can’t. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. Just DO it. How? I’ve got no ideas, no angle, no corner pieces of the jigsaw. But you’re never going to until you start writing. But I don’t have anything to write! I’ll have another coffee. And another cigarette. Those five minutes will give me the time and space to find the right place to start.
[Long drawn out five minutes. Brain goes into standby mode. Tumbleweed rolls a cross the road of twatty blogger inspiration. A wolf howls, somewhere in the distance. A cold wind whistle past]
Ok… so that didn’t work. NOW WHAT???? Stop faffing about with the washing up! Shit, it’s nearly eleven and not a word have I written… Less than an hour. Shiiiiit… I can’t let them down! Right. You. Laptop. NOW.
And thirty-five minutes later, it was done. An email had been sent. An acknowledgement email had been received. Job done. Nothing to see here, people, move along, go about your business, get on with the rest of the day. Sounds like a plan, right? Oh, how I misjudged myself. The minor alarm of earlier now seemed like a memory of happier, simpler times.
I showered. I dressed. I houseworked. I drank coffee. I smoked cigarettes. I played with my hair. But most of all, I checked my emails obsessively. And when I say obsessively, basically I mean that I sat, hammering F5 like I was playing Lego Star Wars on the Xbox, for four hours, in b between refreshing the email app on my phone too. Every time my phone gave the chirpy little happy ‘ping’ of a new email, I dived onto my phone like a ferret on uncovered human flesh. But never the email I was waiting for. No, no. My inbox was suddenly full of emails from shops, companies, supermarkets, school, twitter notifications. Never in my life has my email address been so popular, and never has it made me fret more. Alone in the house with no one else to turn on, I pounced on myself.
Look. Look – see that? That email you replied to yesterday? THAT’S what they asked you to do. THAT is what you were supposed to do, you blithering idiot. Not serve up some self-indulgent wanky bag of wind and piss that will give everyone brain poisoning. You silly little fool. Twatty blogger? Twatty… TWAT more like (I can be incredibly articulate and eloquent at times)
And then of course, I couldn’t help it. I pictured the scene. The recipient of my email (sorry, so sorry) innocently opening the contents and being confronted with a wave of mawkish sentimentality and overemotional rambling of the most pathetic type. It played out in my head like a scene from Dynasty…
An office, somewhere in central London. A woman sits down at her laptop, and reads a document. As her eyes move down the page, her face changes from expectant, to doubtful, to concerned, to horrified. She calls over a colleague, and asks her to read the document. The same facial expressions follow, and at the end of each paragraph, the colleague looks over to the first woman, who nods each time, as if to say ‘I know.’
Colleague: What are we going to do?
Woman: I don’t know
Colleague: No, but seriously, what are you going to do? You can’t use this!
Woman: Me? Why is it my problem?
Colleague: You bloody asked her to do this! It’s your fault!
Woman: We all talked about it and agreed! It wasn’t just me! And in any case, I had no idea that we were going to get… this.
Colleague: You’ll just have to email her and say we can’t use it Can we just pretend we never got it?
Woman: No, because I emailed her to say that I’d got it. What? Don’t look at me like that! It’s standard. You’ll have to email her – explain that something’s come up, and we can’t run it today.
Colleague: But she’s going to expect it to go up at some time. We can’t keep putting it off forever.
Woman: Nah, it’ll be old news.
Colleague: Not that old.
Woman: Look, are you trying to help here or not? I mean, can you think of anything better?
Colleague: Um… tell her… you’re dead?
Woman: Piss off. [Long silence] Tell her mumsnet’s closed?
Colleague: Plan. You do it.
Woman: No, you do it
[Descends into pitched battle with laptop being used as a weapon, mugs being hurled, bunting everywhere, hair pulled, toes stamped on, tables overturned, swivel chairs being used as battering rams, until the two combatants are on their hands and knees on the floor, panting, surveying the wreckage]
Colleague: You know how to sort this?
Colleague: Start a thread in AIBU.
[Cut to house in Norwich. A 35 year old woman checks her email for the 57th time, sighs, chews her fingers]
I paced the living room floor, occasionally pausing only to log out and back in to my email account. Nothing.
Still more nothing.
Oh god… What had I done? Why had I been so stupid? The Greek Chorus in my head clamoured ever louder. So loud in fact that I nearly rang Norwich City Council to put in a complaint about noise pollution. I sent a panicked message to a friend. Friend replied soothingly. I was off my face on anxiety, surfing the crest of fear and loathing in NR2. I could barely think of my own name. On the school run my feet weren’t working properly, and my knees were unco-operative. And in the midst of the usual shouting, food demands, hanging up coats and sibling low level bickering of our arrival home… ping. An email.
‘You can see your guest blogpost here, and I’ll be putting it on the Mumsnet front page later.’