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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

All change - and 'a penny for the guy?'

I suppose it's very apt at this time of year, what with the clocks being altered, that I should be changing direction too. This week I have started the new Mike Pannett book, and it's proving far from easy to make the necessary adjustments.  Here I am, partway through Day 2 and what have I got? 724 words.

It's London, it's the 1980s - and it's a long, long way from the kind of thing I've been composing over the past few months. I've also taken a little time to sit down and look at my finances. Ouch! I really wish I hadn't. After working on a succession of books for which we've been paid advances - latterly rather generous advances -  we now find ourselves working with no up-front payment at all.  Quite how I will survive I do not know, but when you have a history of pulling rabbits out of the hat, people - especially friends, who've seen it all before - blithely expect you to keep doing it.  I've taken the first step, which was to get onto the literary consultancy I've worked for over the past ten or twelve years and shout "SEND ME WORK!" very loudly. It's not the best frame of mind in which to tackle a new book, but it's the only frame of mind available to me at present. It would help if my late agents, Pollinger Ltd, would pass on the royalites they received from Hodder on the 27th - not of October, but of September.

However, Halloween. What a lot of nonsense. I have spent most of my adult life reading about America, studying America and visiting America. There's a great deal about America that I like, but their rampant consumerism is not on the list. Halloween is completely unnecessary - except, of course, for the manufacturers of Halloween paraphernalia. When I was growing up we enlivened the autumn in two ways (three, if you include stealing apples from our neighbours' orchards). I refer to the conker season - threading horse-chestnuts on a string and seeing how many of your friends' conkers you could smash - and of course Guy Fawkes night. Guy Fawkes, November 5th, is an orgy (or ought to be) of explosions and the destruction of all things flammable. Yep, there have always been lots of fun things to do in the gap between summertime and Christmas. I do not need, or want, Halloween.

However....  I have succumbed tamely to the will of the majority and will tonight cook my share of a Halloween supper. Bangers (sausages) and mash (potato) with onion gravy. A. will produce a pumpkin soup, and I may produce a photo-montage report of the event tomorrow. Depends how grumpy I feel....