Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One too many threesomes

It's funny how different the future is from what you expected when it finally arrives.

When I set out to change the face of publishing eighteen months ago with my novel A Half Life of One I sort of expected that the end result, along with all the acclaim and adulation, would be a life-transforming series of bumper royalty cheques. Instead, I'm going to give away one hundred copies of the book at a cost of £800.

That's not all that has turned out differently to what I expected. Along with massive sales would have come the bragging rights that would allow me to rub shoulders over the canapes with the likes of Dan Brown and J. K. Rowling at the various literary soirees I was expecting to attend. Instead, as my fame slowly spreads and I do eventually get invited to these literary beanfeasts, I'll have to steer the conversation away from crude sales towards the instrinsic merits of the books we have all written if I'm going to maintain my air of literary superiority.

Then there's the groupies. Originally, I expected to be a best-selling author by the age of twenty-five (I'm now fifty-eight so the timescale has already slipped a little) embarking on my first lecture tour of America There I dreamed of descending upon a string of University towns whose lecture halls would be packed with earnest and eager young students all of whom would be desperate to be touched by my literary genius. "Touched" in the sense of "shagged", to be more precise.

If things had gone to plan this carnal vision might have reached its apogee, about fifteen years from now, in a luxurious New York apartment overlooking Central Park. Picture the scene...

Great Aunt Dorothy, stiff-backed and still-beautiful despite her great age, sits with her hands folded demurely on her lap as she observes her five grandchildren spread out in a semi-circle in front of her on the luxurious astrakhan rug, each with their various picture books opened on their knees.

"Great Aunt Dorothy," pipes up Britney, a winsome child of barely six years old, "Why did you never marry? Don't you like men?"

Aunt Dorothy is surprised by the question. She hesitates. It is a painful subject. Eventually she says, "I did have a love affair, many years ago. When it ended I never found anyone else to replace him"

Little Tom's eyes widen. "Wow! What happened to the guy? Did he die?"

Aunt Dorothy lowerd her head. These memories are intensely painful. Indeed, she's never spoken of them to anyone before. She speaks slowly and haltingly, measuring every haunting word. "He was a famous author. And yes, he did die, a couple of years later. He was very young at the time. As was I."

Ciceley stares up at her Great Aunt, open-mouthed. It seems impossible to believe that this frail old lady has ever been young, never mind having had a love affair. She says softly, a slight lisp occasioned by the braces on her gleaning white teeth, "Tell us what happened, please, Great Aunt Dorothy."

"Yes, please, please," echo the other children. As we all know, love affairs are such fun!

"Well," says Great Aunt Dorothy, "I was at Vassar, in my final year, when the famous novelist Bill Pundy..."

"Wow," interjects Wayne, who is the eldest child there and knows more than everybody else,"Not the guy who wrote 'A Half Life of One'?"

"The same," whispers Great Aunt Dorothy, "Any way, Bill - oh, how can I ever forget those masses of blond hair tumbling over his collar, that wild Romantic look in his eyes - gave a lecture about how he had struggled for nearly two years to become a famous writer. It was such a touching story that he brought tears to my eyes. Indeed, the whole auditorium was snuffling and wailing when he finally sat down. Afterwards, some of us were invited backstage to meet him and , well, that's where it happened."

"What did?" asks Ciceley, here tiny freckled nose wrinkling up in bemusement.

"Our love affair, darling."

Wayne too looks puzzled."That was it? Backstage? How long did it last?"

Great Aunt Dorothy thinks for another infinite, terrifying moment. It was all such a long time ago. "About twenty minutes I believe, dear. I didn't look at my watch, as you can imagine."

"Twenty minutes!" the children cry in unison.

"There was a queue," explains Great Aunt Dorothy patiently, "His publicist liked to keep things moving. We did it standing up. She told me later that sometimes the other groupies became impatient and on one campus a fight had even broken out."

"What did he die off?" demands Wayne, who feels the story isn't as tragic as he'd been hoping.

"Let me see. The coroner said that his heart had given out. All that sex had, literally, killed him. 'One two many threesomes' was the official verdict, I believe."

Ciceley stares wide-eyed at her Great Aunt Dorothy. "That's such a SAD story," she says eventually.

Great Aunt Dorothy extracts a silk handkerchief from the sleeve of her angora sweater and blows her nose daintily. "Yes," she says huskily, "Isn't it."


Back in the real world however I believe my story will have a happier ending. I read somewhere recently that an old and somewhat raddled rock star had revealed that groupies aren't quite what they're cracked up to be. Apparently all the good-looking fans have boyfriends and what you're actually left with are the acned, the overweight, the sad and the downright unhygenic.

None of which attributes, of course, occur in cyberspace.

8 comments:

  1. Oh Pund, such vision, such imagination, such fantasy, such wonderful bollocks - love it!

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  2. I can see it all.

    Bollocks, Minx? What do you mean?

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  3. Pundy,
    Nice to read so many posts at once! I'd missed your return to form over the past week or so ... I had a good NZ giggle when I read your post about my homeland. I sympathise and understand. That's why I'm here; great for a holiday but not to live.
    Good luck with your book developments and we look forward to updates, naturally. :)

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  4. I like your new colours by the way!:)

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  5. Had a springclean in here Pundy? I like it - it's very spacious!

    I like your wish fulfilment story. Great Aunt Dorothy - reminds me of a story my outlaws tell of a mad maiden aunt they had. On her death bed, the conversation turned to whether she had ever seen action in the bedroom department.
    Her reply was 'Well, I won't die wanting.'

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  6. No, you're right John, silly me. Pund is going to become the silk pyjama wearing 'Hef' of the lit world.
    Umm, I have a photo - think you can do anything with it?

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  7. A fine read, Pundy. From the heart.

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