The big reveal: will I make it to 2019?

I’m standing at the foot of a bed and giving Paul Dante a tattoo.

I’ve just finished having my left ear tattooed with my partner’s hair and face. Well, pretty much.

I have a tattoo of outtakes from a Paul Danelski pilot video, chosen because I was a bit bored. That’s where Paul took off on our eight-month drinking binge which led to me spending two months in a drink and drug rehab clinic. The tattooist promises he’ll have it finished in time for Christmas but he says I can go out and leave on an EMTS train when I’m ready. My partner has said she’ll be sick, but Paul said he wouldn’t mind. “Just for a day. If you stay too long you’ll miss us Christmas shopping.” She’s supposed to be the one who has time-keeping down, not me.

I’m as lucky as my daughter is cursed. She gave me 20 characters to write. She didn’t want my account number. I spent four hours writing so that at least I get some. Next year it might not be so easy. She’s bringing in friends from the Rainshurst Nights Project to be my friends.

An essay like this can be as fraught as a sea exercise. You might remember Greg Tate but I bet most of you don’t. He’s a writer. That’s what he does. I’ve been reading his book about being a writer. I like it a lot. I’m a book writer and he’s a book writer so we couldn’t be more different.

Illustration by Nick Beecroft.

I’m thinking about my six-week Falklands tour in 2017 and your seven-week tour of the Falklands in 2008. We are joined by a few of our friends from the Wales and Ireland playwrights group and we plan to have the tour to the Falklands. The trouble is I can’t remember much of the book about being a playwright because I was six hours a day drunk and strung out on morphine. The minute I’m done writing this essay I want to play David Bowie for St Piran’s church outside Warrington.

The new year will be a testing time for me. I’m proposing that everyone stop being fat. Fuck everyone fat. I’m really trying to be aspirational. I’m trying to be impossibly perfect.

For a moment I was considering getting someone to pay for an electric bike but I think that would be going too far. I mean, what’s a bike for if it can only run you over? What’s a bike for if it can only get you out of town and a doctor will call in an ambulance from the nursing home? What’s a bike for if you have to hold on to its handlebars in a road and you can only walk 10ft?

This week has been a very hard one. We’ve had a particularly awful day. There’s a point about the end of a year that almost feels like it’s never coming again. I think my limits are catching up with me and I’m trying to convince myself I’m better than a clapped-out right-wing writer. I’m starting to imagine a new career, as an ambassador for the Gay Pride carnival.

This afternoon I’m on the bus to Swansea and we’re past Swansea City football stadium and I’m thinking I really ought to sit down but I’m counting my hops. Waiting at the bottom of the steps, there’s a group of lads sitting on a bench. They’re playing darts. There’s no choice but to roll them over and dunk their heads in a bowl of brown sauce with Paddy McGuinness.

• This essay was first published in the Bookseller.com column Small is the New Big. Small is the New Big is a series of semi-regular, quasi-academic essays on writers published as part of the Bookseller’s Joy of Reading series.

Leave a Comment