I carry a notebook around with me at all times. Often, I can be found scribbling little pieces down, recording something that has happened to me in my day, or, as is the case here, writing something that means nothing to anybody but myself, yet perfect for posting to my blog to cover for the fact that I’m exhausted with travel, running around the house waiting on a woman with a gammy knee, and hosting a TV show on the day I traveled to Manchester to proofread scripts for ‘Eye of the Storm 7’.
So there he is: Madeley about town. A prime example of masculine real estate, untouched by portliness but dappled by the handsome. The bookshop is not unknown to him, nor he to it. In the doorway, He stares down at Himself; the latter detecting a trace of recognition in the former’s cardboard lips set at a pleased yet pleasing angle. Beside him, a woman browsing the Richard&Judy Book Club racks hitches up her blouse, her own rack a grocery bag with no handles. The only thing to grip is the g-string that sits that sits high on her hip where her sweatpants have run low. A ripple of cellulite reminds him of a beach after the tide.
She doesn’t recognise Madeley watching her from behind his thick sunglasses. His hair is swept across his forehead at a foreign angle, the large comedy pimple adequate disguise for this lunchtime in Manchester. Nobody would expect to see him here in Waterstone’s in the Arndale , dressed all in black, liberated from his fame. He browses the staff picks and wonders if any of the faces really match real flesh, blood and critical opinion. He wants to question them on their selection. Are the shelf-stackers and bar-code swipers any better judges of literary merit than he? He doubts it.
The cool of the shop is a mild salvation from the noonday sun and like a animal, hot from the chase but now scalded by the refrigerated air, he wanders the shelves, a mist of condensed sweat coming off his body like clouds from a mountain. He recognises the books of rivals and wonders what he must do to join these choired ranks for the great, the good, the chosen, the insufferingly lucky.
It’s all too much. He has a flight to catch. He leaves the shop empty handed. Perhaps he’ll buy something tomorrow when he again flies North. There was a F. Scott Fitzgerald that caught his eye, a Dostoyevsky for which he’s never had time, but then, Jeffery Deaver’s also in town in the morning. He might try his comedy pimple out in W.H. Smiths on the floor below. Stand in line with other desperate people hoping to breath in the stale but talented air of a real writer.
So there he is: Madeley about town. And nobody recognises him.