Once upon a time I threw Standpipe’s clothes out of the window.
It was Friday night, we had one child and we were having friends round. I didn’t need help cooking but in my mind I had pencilled him in for a bit of help tidying up.
At 7.30pm he was in the bath with the child. I stomped around with the broom listening to them laugh. That’s when I threw his clothes out of the bedroom window, onto the front scrub.
Our first guest, Hydrangea, was early, half an hour early. Standpipe had put the child to bed and then decided to get back into the bath and wash his hair. We could hear the bath groan and the water belch and splash when he moved.
I gave Hydrangea a glass of wine and we sat in the living room chatting.
At about 8 o’ clock Standpipe came downstairs in his bathrobe, said hello to Hydrangea, and crossed the room to the staircase which led to our bedroom.
I said, ‘If you are looking for your clothes, they’re in the front garden.’ I decided not to look at Hydrangea.
Standpipe stopped. He looked at both of us.
He said, ‘All my clothes, or just the ones I was planning to wear tonight?’
I said, to the floor, ‘Just the ones you were planning to wear.’
If only I’d thrown out all his clothes. There was something so ignominious about the admission that I’d just taken the trousers and T-shirt he’d laid out for the evening and pushed them out of the window. All the clothes would have been grand, dramatic and a real pain in the arse. Just his trousers and T-shirt made me look petty, if not spiteful and rather unambitious.
Live and learn.
I think I’ve learnt something similar about writing. While I deeply admire those who can write stuff where nothing happens but everything happens, like Hemingway’s story about the cat and lots of Chekhov, when I attempt these kinds of narratives, it’s just really boring. There’s a reason it’s great when Hemingway and Chekhov do it: they’re really great writers.
My stuff, my learner stuff, needs a bit of help from an interesting setting and some unexpected, even exciting, events.
Standpipe has a lock on his wardrobe now.