The company She Who Must Be Picked Up When She’s Had A Skinfull works for had it’s annual client party on Thursday. And for once I got invited! Hurrah! But I had to drive. Not hurrah, especially as there was an open bar all night. And a buffet too. (It has to be said that She Who Must’s employers do their staff and clients proud– instead of the penny pinching that’s become an oil industry standard these days – they’re a very welcome slice of the good old days.) So I could have got stuffed and plastered all in one easy sitting. But being Mr Designated Driver I was on orange juice and lemonade all night - *sigh* - watching as everyone else got progressively drunkener and more loud than I had thought humanly possible.
The room was probably about half as big as it needed to be, so everyone is standing shoulder to shoulder, shouting to be heard over everyone else’s shouting. I imagine it’s what penguins feel like when you see them on the Discovery Channel, cheek-and-jowl black and white shouting about how Squeaky McGrath got himself eaten by a killer whale and isn’t it horrible having to sit on snow the whole time. Getting a frozen arse.
One of my fellow penguins was a large man in a Starsky and Hutch cardigan, who asked what I did. “I write crime novels.” Shouts I, modestly. He thinks about this for a second, then bellows back, “Have you had any luck?”
Now this is something I’ve come across a couple of times recently when people hear what I do – “Have you had any luck?” ... Er... yes. That’s why when you asked what I did I said ‘I write crime novels’. I didn’t say, ‘I’m an accountant’ or ‘I’m a project manager’ or ‘I work in the sewage reclamation business’ – writing crime novels is what I do for a living. Do they really think that I’m talking about a hobby?
“What do you do?”
“Oh, I’m a quantity surveyor, how about you?”
“I collect interestingly stuffed weasels and suffer from ‘feminine itching’.”
“That’s nice: does it pay well?”
“I make most of my money from the ‘feminine itching’ side of things.” Scratch, scratch, scratch...
Maybe they think it’s a bit like waiting on tables in LA, where everyone is actually an actor. They just wait on tables for something to do between auditions and trips to the casting couch. “I work as builder’s mate, but really I’m a crime writer.”
Next time I’m just going to tell every one I’m a lobotomist, then spend the rest of the evening staring at their forehead and telling them how you can barely see the stitches. That’ll teach ‘em.