I want to write about nice things.
I want to write stories with the gentle touch of Beryl Bainbridge or Elizabeth Jane Howard – even my best beloved E.F Benson; who pin people with the accuracy and brilliance of their words with hardly any discernable effort.
I keep writing stories that stray into darker, more dramatic waters – and part of me resents this. Why can I not make a drama out of the arrival of the festive season, or the prospect of the works dinner dance that has all the power and tension of a bank robbery? Don’t tell me that these things lack potential narrative – our lives are made up of these moments, which can loom as large and threatening as the man with gun, and the emotional process of the characters is largely the same. One might even argue that dealing with bit issues, is sometimes easier than the day to day frustrations and grind of life – is that why writing a ‘small issue’ book people will read avidly, is much, much harder than writing a book with ‘big’ issues?
For now, I shall have to content myself with huge narratives peppered with action, until I am strong enough to tackle the really big subjects, like the local flower and produce show, or the politics of the recycling bin collection day.
‘Have you put the glass out yet?’
‘Just doing it now,’ Richard said, though he was bending into the cupboard in the utility room at the time, so his words were tangled in the mess of brooms and the old ironing board.
‘Have you?’ Vanessa said again, her voice anxious behind him.
‘Just doing it now!’
‘What?’ Richard turned to look at her. ‘I thought you wanted me to-’
‘Not yet you idiot,’ she said curtly, ‘I haven’t put these out.’ She brandished two ever-lasting carrier bags. The necks of several dark, green bottles clustered inside.
‘Where’s that lot come from?’ Richard asked, ‘there won’t be room for them in the box, what have you been up to?’
‘Well, take the others out, and put some of these in.’
‘What on earth for?’
‘Oh don’t be dense Richard.’ Vanessa pursed her lips. ‘I got these from the boxes on Fore Street the other week, we can’t afford to drink this stuff.’
‘Vanessa, have you gone mad?’
‘You don’t understand, Margaret was making such a show with those Veuve Cliquot bottles last week, I’ll be blown if she’s going to lord it over me again.’ Vanessa selected one of the fat, green necks and brandished it at him with the air of a victorious poacher. ‘Look, even she wouldn’t run to that for a weekday tipple, the Telegraph gave it four stars.’
‘What the hell column was that in, best bin dives of 2011? Oz Clarke recommends his top picks of rubbish to make your bin the best presented on the block?’
‘Don’t be silly Richard.’ Vanessa dumped the bags and turned on her heel. ‘And make sure you use those Waitrose bags for Gods sake, not those Asda ones.’