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Friday, 7 September 2012

Well, here we are.  Friday already, and in a couple of hours we'll be leaving home and heading for York to take part in tomorrow's charity bike ride. Out to Easingwold and back, twenty miles each way,  in aid of IDAS, the Independent Domestic Abuse Services. Bad planning, really, as it means I must forgo a visit to Bootham Crescent to watch City play Chesterfield; but there are plenty of home games to look forward to over the next few months. 

It's been a patchy week for work, what with being Phil's labourer on Monday, but I have made progress on Work As Playtime. I've manage to complete a 6500-word chapter on my time as an Immigration Officer in teh early 1970s, and must hope that the revelations therein don't breach the Official Secrets Act, which I signed over forty years ago. I have also done a chapter on my time as a rat-catcher in rural north Lincolnshire, 1982-84. I'm now starting on my railway days.

When I first came up with this idea - which must have been fifteen or twenty years ago - I assumed that writing about those jobs which lasted as long as two, three, four years would be easy, an assumption based on my having plenty of material. It turns out not to be the case. Yes, I have vivid memories, some recorded in tattered notebooks and other jottings, but... how to compress them into one or two chapters? This week I made three or four separate starts on the railway material - and srcapped them all. That sort of thing hasn't happened to me in quite a few years. The problem is that the memories come all at once, in a jumble, and the impulse is to pour it all out in one great stream-of-consciousness rant. What I'm having to do, instead - and the same goes with the rat-catching and immigration memories - is to relate isolated incidents, set them in carefully described scenes, and otherwise ecapsulate the whole history in a brief, expository piece which embraces the anecdote I've selected: here's how I ended up in this job, and here's how I came to quit. I think it's going to work. However, I suspect that whichever of my stories I choose to put in the collection I will end up leaving out some favourites. With that in mind I'm trying to do weave a few personal reflections into the individual stories in order that all the many jobs I've done at least get a mention. 

Still no word from the agent about a possible deal for more Mike Pannett books - and it's making me nervous. My finished accounts for 2011-12 arrived in the post yesterday. I won't have to pay the tax bill until January, but the accountant's invoice will need seeing to within a week or two.

However, the sun is shining and there's fresh bread for lunch. I am smiling.