My book is finished, except for a final professional readthrough from a professional proof-reader. Those of you that have been following my journey from the start (you deserve a reward!) will appreciate what a long journey this has been. It took me a few months to write what I thought was a decent book. It took my editor a month to compile her comments and it has just taken me a month to respond to them.
I am now really proud of the (virtually) final manuscript.
What happens next? Well, I will no doubt have to wait a while to get the final proofed version back. I am also doing some work on my author website. I am paying someone to develop and work with me on implementing a marketing strategy. We shall see whether this is value for money or not in due course.
The ultimate aim is to publish the book early in the new year.
I thought I would share another extract from the book with you all. Feel free to tell me what you think.
Living with my parents isn’t easy. Having your old bedroom back more than twenty years after you left home and sharing the house with your parents is a big change from having your own kids, house, garden, telly and wife (yes, in that order). This significant step backwards in my life has taken some getting used to. I have to remind myself to abide by my parents’ rules while in their house. Rules like washing up straight after a meal rather than when there aren’t any clean dishes left in the cupboard and cutting my toenails in the bathroom not in front of the telly. Talking of the telly, I also have to make sure that the next time I watch playboy tv when everyone else has gone to bed, I turn the channel back to BBC before I turn the tv off. Mum is still getting over the embarrassment of having her women’s institute friends thinking she watches porn.
Having me as a lodger isn’t easy for my parents either, especially at their age. They are both approaching their seventies. They are physically fit but my dad had a hip replacement last year and needs the other one doing too so he is temporarily less mobile than he would want to be. Mum could probably still climb a mountain faster than me and both of them can drink faster than me.
Before I moved in, they were very set in their ways. They had a routine for what rooms in the house they would sit in at different times of the day (kitchen in the morning, conservatory in the afternoon, front room in the evening). Meals were served at 1 o’clock and 6 o’clock and after dinner they would listen to The Archers then move from the radio to the telly in time to watch the soaps. They would go to bed straight after the 10 o’clock news.
Except for a short but explosive teenage stroppy period, I have always got on with my parents. We don’t do cuddles and all that stuff, but pre divorce, I used to go round there once a week with the family, have dinner, play board games and generally drink too much London Pride. I made another of my vows when I moved in with them. I wouldn’t just use their house as a hotel. I would make the effort to continue spending quality time with them. This isn’t proving easy.
‘Quality time’ these days seems to mean sitting around a kitchen table littered with empty London Pride cans and Prosecco bottles, picking my life apart. Now anyone over the age of two would probably be capable of picking my life apart. But my mum and dad consider themselves uniquely qualified to do the job with a forensic precision. They were both social workers in their former lives. My mum used to do something worthy with the parents of children with disabilities and my dad used to manage a ‘family services unit’, whatever that means.
There is only so much frowning over my previous life choices or suggestions about future life choices that a man can take. I reached my limit today. Mum cooked a traditional Sunday roast, beef and all the trimmings. We washed it down with our usual beverages. Our plates were empty, our stomachs full and our tongues alcoholically lubricated when mum asked me where it all went wrong.
‘What do you mean ‘where did it all go wrong’?’ I asked.
‘With your life, Graham. How did it come to this?’ She even did that palms up, arms outstretched hand gesture thing when she said ‘my life’, presumably meaning everything. Where did everything go wrong? Thanks mum, build me up, bolster my confidence.
I thought about going for a glib response but the earnest look on mum’s face made me change track.
‘I don’t know mum, I guess my marriage just wasn’t meant to last.’ Ok so it wasn’t exactly an insightful answer but it was the best I could do.
‘That’s nonsense and you know it Graham.’ mum continued. ‘Marriages need to be worked at. It wasn’t as if either of you had an affair or anything that drastic. Surely you could have worked through your differences?’
‘You didn’t even see a marriage guidance counsellor.’ dad chimed in. We did actually but I hadn’t told them about it because they would have had a go at me for walking out in the middle of a session.
And so it went on, two against one, tag-team wrestling. My parents still seem to think the sun shines out of my ex’s backside. They act as if she is their daughter rather than me their son. They still hold out a hope that my perfect ex will have me back. I wouldn’t go back even if she would have me back. Which she wouldn’t.
I have told my parents time and again that my ex and I split up because of our terminal irritability with each other, our mutual intolerance of each other, our irreconcilable tv viewing schedules. We just didn’t like each other. I tried to explain that to my parents but, to them, not liking your other half doesn’t constitute grounds for divorce.
‘You should have paid more attention to her when you had her.’ dad advised. Why didn’t I think of that?
‘Those poor children.’ mum offered. Why didn’t I think of them too? I was on the ropes by this point, being seriously double-teamed by my parents, but wasn’t about to submit.
‘Bloody hell, will the two of you just leave me alone. I have had it with your sniping at me. You might have been married for ever but all you ever do is sit on your arses watching crap on the telly. I’d prefer to be single and living than married and dead.’ The ‘atomic drop’, the ‘full nelson’ and the ‘gorilla press’ all combined in to one move. That told them.
‘Happy mother’s day.’ mum muttered as I was heading for the door. Shit.
At this point, I think I should make a confession. Being divorced, separated from my kids and my marital home (not to mention my ex) is quite stressful. It is quite a large upheaval in my life and may just have caused a slight emotional imbalance in my otherwise rock-solid equilibrium. In other words, I may be a bit self-centered at the moment, even a bit emotionally unstable. Not to the extent that I am about to charge around Morden with a lethal weapon killing random strangers, but enough that I may snap at my parents from time to time.
I need to put an end to alcohol-influenced conversations about my life.