Yesterday, I did two decorating estimates. The first was for an older couple. As I entered their rather posh house, both immediately apologised for the amount of sneezing and coughing they were doing, stricken as they were by wretched colds. "Don't come near me!" the man cried, waving his tissue in the air.
During the second estimate, the guy happily announced how he was just over 'it', and how he didn't intend to walk out through his front door again until late spring. Later, I went and paid my rent on Church Road, and the woman in the office (usually somewhat disinterested and abrupt) sniffed feebly as I entered before telling me, her nose almost sunk to the desk, how she hadn't even been able to even smell her Christmas dinner.
So after having spent the whole of my Christmas (except for Boxing Day afternoon: Soho, cream cakes, mad art directors, the hovering spirit of Noel Fielding) and the whole of New Year (both days entirely alone with my Kleenex), ill and partially bed-ridden with a cold virus, I've found that the whole world is steeped in tissues and a vague kind of misery.
This has cheered me up no end. I have a small sense of what it might have been like during the Blitz. A kind of snotty camaraderie is forming between people and I can feel an invisible, mucus-y thread binding me to the rest of humanity. It is the groggy, snotty, raucous cough of interconnection.
Bless. Suddenly I realise that probably most people have had a miserable Christmas, most people have got through it as one gets through a very hard day of explosive- detonation-training at Special Forces Unit Camp, and are now crawling their way forward into the new year with dripping noses and a dangerously low bank balance.
Luckily I don't have to worry about the dangerously low bank balance, seeing as mine is perpetually dangerously low anyway, and my spending on New Year's Eve came to, erm now let me see; NOWT. After bathing in a luxurious concoction of self-pity, bitterness and frustration upon my return to Brighton from Yorkshire (propped up in Bob's car, wondering if it is possible for a nose to actually explode on impact from a particularly violent sneezing fit), I moved into New year with the help of crap music from Kylie Minogue (I know she's meant to be majorly talented, but it's such an effort to stay awake during her 'amazing' performances) and Madness on Jools Holland. You could see how that might be a little soul destroying.
However, I also discovered my watercolour pencils, and, following on from some rubbishy sketches I did at Bob's, I immersed myself in painting some characters I'm thinking of featuring in a little story book that's going round my mind at the moment. So I can say, with some satisfaction, that I passed from 2007 to 2008 in the company of small girl-boys, creepy men in top hats, dogs and some singing nuns.
Art has always been a kind of secondary love for me. I've always been quite good at drawing, and particularly sculpture, but have always felt that even if I applied myself to it, though I might get pretty good, I'd never be as good at it as I would be at writing. I am generally more sound and word orientated. But then, maybe this lack of confidence comes from my art teacher in 5th Form hanging my final Art Project over the Home Economics sink and cackling " Ha! Let's see what she thinks of this!" (She was literally a witch, I think, and we did not get on).
I love art and it feels like a little piece of a puzzle has come back for me through getting back in touch with it. I love creating worlds; usually I do that through words and in musical notes, but when that world grows a face - literally, when you can see the face of that world forming, it is so exciting, it's like growing another sense.
Do you remember that Smiths' line from 'Shoplifters of the World Unite'? I tried living in the real world, instead of a shell, but I was bored before I even began. That's how I generally feel about life. I'd rather stick my head up the backside of genius any day; I'd rather fly around my own head or land on the ear of another listening, twinkling soul who is blinking into the darkness than give this world that rules me the credit and attention it so wrongfully steals.
Yes, in some ways to say this is silly and it's vain. But the world takes from me what it will anyway, and the alternative; this crazy un-sensical magic inside my head, ah, it's a ragingly beautiful fiery mess, and I love it.