So I’m two months in and half the money’s gone and I spend most evenings now slumped on my sofa in stoned bafflement at the way it’s all turned out. I think I made it as far as day seven or eight before it all started to shift and shake, and by day 20 I was hiding beneath the duvet til tea time, waking only to sorrowfully revisit the undiminished hangover and cast a bleary eye on the wreckage around me. At day 60, I rise like an unlovely phoenix from the woven tinder of my betrayed and burning dreams as the sun is still steeling itself to cast a milky eye over the misty street outside. I take an inordinately long time to start pissing, spend a half moment wondering if it’ll be the prostate that takes me down, think of Javier Bardem, dying in a nappy. Roll a cigarette from an open pouch of tobacco, desiccated by the central heating. Cough over my coffee. Tell myself today is the day. I got that money and my first thought, after deciding to quit my job which was such an instinctual reaction that it doesn’t merit being called a thought, was ‘I can write a book. Or do something. I could buy back a chunk of my time and use it to do something astonishing. This is such a singular and blessed opportunity.’ There’d always been something hobbling me, penning me in, backing my rearing creativity into a cave like a bunch of hooting cave people hectoring a mammoth with spears. It was work – I was too busy to sit down and write, I only had enough time to sit down with a spliff and have a wank. It was relationships – I didn’t have the time to write because I was too busy with my wife, but when she left me I had to spend all my time getting a job, which lead me back into the work trap. It was parenting – I was too busy spending quality time with my son, but when my second wife took him and moved to the other end of the country there still wasn’t time because then I needed to distract myself with all manner of other madnesses. But now I’ve got nothing and no-one and, if I’m sensible with the money that I’ve not already pissed up the wall, I’ve got about a year’s worth of time where I don’t need to work. I can sit down and write that novel. Or something. Paint a picture. Make music. Do SOMETHING with one of the unrealised talents I’ve been quietly patting myself on the back for all my life. Initial signs have not been promising. I’ve still not started writing my book. I’ve started smoking again and have spent most of my free time hunched over the laptop in the kitchen, dribbling ash over the keyboard and arguing with strangers about things I know nothing about on Twitter. I have, over the last couple of months, come to believe that I do, in fact, know a great many things about all sorts of things – immigration, Brexit, race, religion, transgender issues. I surely know enough things now to begin writing my book. Today is the day. I finish my cigarette. The sun is up and doing its thing. It’s going to be one of those days where the light is so flat that world appears two dimensional – a day to leave the blinds down and stay inside with the familiar shadows, unjudged and unchallenged.
I fire up my software and I stare at the screen.