Oh, you like to write…

When meeting someone new, usually in a social and relaxed environment, and I’m asked what I do I tend to skip past the retired comment and the dull conversation it invokes. Instead I mention that I would love to be a full-time author and when I tell them I have published my first books, the conversations can go something like this:

‘Oh, you like to write, what’s the story about?’ they ask as their eyebrows arch and their heads tilt. In the young (and by young I mean anyone through to their mid, no, late thirties), this can be accompanied by a smile and a glimmer of genuine interest as they sip on their chilled beverage of choice and wait for my response. I’m happy to say that usually there follows a genuinely enjoyable conversation of Q and A about Britannica, and I like to reciprocate with interest in their careers, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Mainly though, I ask about them about their music. Over the past couple of years this has resulted in my attending a few diverse concerts (where I am sometimes the oldest but seldom the hairiest one there), because I made a promise to myself a while ago that if I commit to accepting an invitation, I will bloody-well turn up. I have also made a few friends that are a breath of fresh air to this old fart…and purely as a bonus, they sometimes read my books.  The older crowd tend to ask out of politeness and nod as if interested when clearly they are eyeing up the buffet where I am often compelled to lurk. ‘The Roman invasion of Britain in the first century,’ is my usual opener and I am often interrupted, ‘Oh, are you British? I thought I heard an accent…that maybe you were Australian.’ Let me tell you here that I sound like I could have dated Princess Ann at some point, I have very good diction though I say it myself, so this comment is usually met with a suffering smile and, ‘Yes, I’m English.’ For those who were really feigning interest in how I spend my waking hours, this is the point where the subject of my writing is casually swept aside and I hear the list of their friends who have visited, or, shock and amazement, now live in England. I am expected to know every back street and pub they themselves visited in London on their trip around Europe during their back-packing gap year and I have even been asked if I know the Smith’s from Cambridge. I am thankful then, that I no longer have to talk about a subject that is so dear to me with someone who could not care less and as I thoughtfully stroke my beard I look them in the eye and tell them, ‘Yes, but regretfully, after the incident it’s been a while since we corresponded…try a jalapeño popper, they’re very good.’

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