It’s been a while, hasn’t it? In the interim, I got promoted to Commissioning Editor in Language and Linguistics at Continuum Books. It was a wrench leaving SAGE, I’d had two awesome years there. It was two years to the very week when I left; I started on May 16, 2005, I started at Continuum on May 14th, I believe. Continuum is quite different. I’m also about 10x as busy now and laden with responsibility. I feel old, but my new wages hardly reflect the level of oldness that I feel.
I went for a bike ride today, to pick up the bike lock from my cousin. He is taking cyclone supplements now, like my brother, to build muscle. My brother left City Airport, and was then promised a job at Gatwick, which never materialised because of some poor shows on the supplying references front by various rubbish companies. He works at Phones 4 U now, and most people there say he looks like Jack from the TV adverts. I think the bike ride was because I do believe that I’m putting on more and more weight thanks to my boozy publishing life style and generally sedentiary mien. It’s something I need to resolve; the idea of late 20s spread fills the once thin as a rack me with dread. I used to be able to get into jeans that my 12 year old brother would struggle to get into.
I bought a house, with my brother, but I haven’t moved in, because it was in such a state, and we’ve no ready cash to throw at the problem. It’s slow going, and very frustrating.
The world seems to have become a much more unstable and fearsome place. Perhaps it was always like this, but I never took such a vested interest because my life revolved around reading Westerns all day at Robert Hale Ltd and then drinking with publishing friends and seeing my beautiful girlfriend Nicky at weekends. The money I earned went into my pocket so that I could buy things as and when. Bizarrely, even though those days saw me with the most expendable income I’d ever had and probably ever will have, I didn’t feel the need to eat out at nice restaurants like I do now, or buy ever increasingly better gadgets and clothes. I was happy with a pint and my torn denim jacket (girls’ cut, size 8, Eisenegger clearance sale in the Westgate Centre, Oxford, torn on a door handle at Nicky’s flat, a jacket she used to smell when I left it in her room because the aroma of clubs and pubs and faded smoke and beer and aftershave and libraries reminded her of me). A jacket I practically lived in.
She’s long gone, settled down with a guy called Geoff Cox; they have a mortgage on a house in Reading, and she’s considering a move into a new career yet further away from the Physics degree she earned at St Hugh’s. She never showed passion in her subject; never reciprocated the love I showed for mine. There’s another now, but the world seems to have inspired a whole raft of caution in me. The writing is slower, the book commissioning targets are in the hundreds of thousands, and Sons and Fascination fell down because I couldn’t bear the laziness of my band members and fighting on three fronts (job, SYP, music) as well as slowly seeing my writing dry up as I was tired all the time and then becoming embroiled in buying a house.
We’re launching a new SYP Inprint Online minisite. It’s the magazine, taken online, a magazine I helped take from a fairly ragged A4 newsletter to a 32pp A5 magazine. It might be my last contribution to the SYP in any major way – my three years on the committee are up at the end of this year. I guess all the playing at being a youth was fun, playing at being part of a zeitgeist and being part of a gang. But what now? The years of reading T. S. Eliot to a brown-eyed girl in the dreaming spires are gone; the years of going out seven nights a week and running on four hours sleep, desk editing a magazine in the hours I stole from between post-pub and whacked out total sleep are unsustainable. Perhaps now, to paraphrase Wallace Stevens, it is a time to try and behold and grasp a more sublime thing. A thing coming down to the spirit itself. We might ask, ‘What wine does one drink?/ What bread does one eat?’ We might ask, but I’m not sure I’m ready for this.