Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Happy Hooker

Yesterday evening a reader of this blog expressed polite frustration at what can only be described as my ceaseless self-promotion of late. I told her that I know exactly how she feels. And I swear I do. Sadly, my hands are tied. My hands are tied by a rapacious desire for bags and bags of money. I have changed. I have foresworn myself. I have broken every law I have sworn to uphold. I am become a starving flea, suckling at the tiny teats of Jabba Mammon...



But without meaning to jerk your tears, it’s a case of needs viciously musting. I am a popinjay in penury, teetering on the slippery rim of actually accepting hand-outs from my grandmother. ‘Call it a loan,’ she says, toasting my genitals over the emasculating flames of her kindness. Do you see now? You see how my hands are tied?

It’s time now to stand up, to grow up, and to be a man. And if that means I have to do a little whoring along the way… then so be it. As long as I believe in the product, I can sleep. All day if necessary.

Besides which, it is worth remembering, whoring can actually be fun! That’s what people forget. It’s not just a case of being forced into it because of financial difficulties and drug dependency. Na-ah. Part of me actually enjoys it too.

For example, I was positively crack-high with glee at being offered the opportunity to write something over at the blog of renowned bookman, Scott Pack. I like to think I was accorded this very special honour because of the delightfully winsome comment I left here over a year ago, rather than merely because Mr P happens to work for the same company that just a month ago published my book. That’s what I like to think. And you can't stop me.

Here is what I wrote:


As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a writer. To me, being a writer was better than being President of Real Madrid. Better than managing a branch of Nat-West in Dartford or Orpington. Better than being trapped in a chocolate shop with a cloak of irresistibility and Audrey Tautou. Maybe.

Then a couple of weeks ago, it finally happened. My dream came true and a book, a real-life, flesh-and-blood, tough-bodied book, full to gushing with words from my very own fingers and heart hit the shops and shelves like something from an outlandish daydream being dreamt by somebody else. I don’t mind telling you, for a while there I think I felt a little of what Susan Boyle must have felt, shortly before it destroyed her.

And so I did all the things I imagine first-time authors do: I developed a fleeting obsession with the Amazon Sales Rank; I skulked into Waterstone’s, located my beautiful memoir wedged uncomfortably between Belle de Jour and Les Dennis, took a surreptitious photograph and skulked out; I became briefly obsessed with the fate of my book, much like a mother fearing for her first-born – what was going to happen to her? Would she be loved? Would Les Dennis jostle her to the floor of the shop and do her a mischief? Why was my book a lady?; I discovered insomnia – I was either up all night rehearsing award speeches or else repeatedly throttled awake by cruel nightmares in which I was writhing in human ordure, trapped in the base of the portaloos at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival, with both Martin Amis and Margaret Drabble above me, in adjoining cabins, voiding themselves vigorously into my eyes. I also did a few interviews, sent a few emails and flounced about like the whore one automatically becomes when one has a book to hawk. But without the sex.

This week things have gone a little quiet. And apart from the sempiternal dread of the book disappearing like sunburn – flare, fade, peel, pillow – and the failure fuelling thirty years of abject misery, I’m actually rather relieved. My life is the calmest it’s been for about a year. And despite the fact that it’s become like something out of one of Alan Bennett’s rejected monologues, I like it.

Yesterday afternoon, for example, I was lazing in the living room, watching the tennis like a lump of lard whilst Grandmother peeled turnips and carrots in the kitchen. ‘There’s no need for that,’ she said, as one of the Russian girls grunted like a scalded cat with every stroke of the ball. Then she shuffled into the living room brandishing her peeler, spits and spots of carrot skin stuck to the bandages on her hands. She shook her head and despaired. ‘Is nothing sacred?’ she said. I said I didn’t think so. Not these days... Then last night I crept through to the kitchen to find – amongst the shadows and the silence and the silverfish – that Grandmother had put some new jellies to set.

I smiled.

So this is my life. This is the life of a writer. A proper writer with a book in Waterstone’s. Just like Les Dennis. And all the other whores.

My book by the way, is called ‘The Intimate Adventures Of An Ugly Man’ and I want you to buy it. It has its roots in a blog I’ve been writing for the last 18 months. The blog is about me – face like a bag of elbows, gut like a pastry parade, bed like a beached windsock – trying to sort myself out and find someone to love. The book is about my life in general: my trials, my tribulations, my triumphs, my hilarious neuroses and my recent family upheaval.

Because the blog was highly confessional in nature, and genital-warts-and-all in its approach, and because I still had the remnants of a fairly ordinary life that I didn’t want to entirely besmirch, I decided I would write anonymously. So I became Stan Cattermole.

In eighteen months then, my life has changed substantially. I still haven’t found the everlasting wholly reciprocated love I was seeking. I still haven’t lost all of the weight I was hoping to lose. And if I’m honest, I still struggle with tobacco consumption. But at least now I have a ridiculous fake name and I eat a lot of jelly. Oh, and I have a book in Waterstone’s. Next to Les Dennis.

Whatever happens to my book – whether it becomes the bestseller it thoroughly deserves to be or disappears like a toddler in the Algarve – I decided today that I’m going to try and write another one. This one will be a novel, however. I’m going to write it as much of it as I can over the next two months, then move back to London in September and have a party. Anyone who’s ever left a comment on my blog will be invited. And Audrey Tautou. She’ll be invited too.

So here’s to the future. Feel free to buy my book, won’t you? And if you fancy coming to my party, you’d better go make your presence felt at my blog.

There will be jelly.

Goodbye.


Then I washed, put on my clothes and left.



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29 comments:

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

I want to come to your party!

I'm a bit worried I might not be invited. But I did call you erudite, ascerbic, funny and engaging...

[licks comment box engagingly]

(and if I were Scott Pack I would give you a guest post based on that blood-on-the-kitchen-floor comment alone).

La Bête said...

Please don't lick my comment box.

Kirses said...

A party - Brilliant!

I'm on holiday in Suffolk next week and need a good book, think I might just buy yours, so it looks like your self promotion - actually works....

Nicky said...

Your gran's bandages? Have I missed a blog entry? Or are you saving that story for your novel?

Vodka jelly for me please.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

[lick lick]

Anonymous said...

The line, 'disappears like a toddler in the Algarve' made me wince. And not in a good way.

I get rather upset at any mention of or reference to that incident.

Wellington

La Bête said...

Sorry I made you wince, Wellington. I'm going to go and look at the sea now and think about what I've done.

Catofstripes said...

I think that's very funny ;-)

Anonymous said...

By the way, isn't it odd that the number of comments seems to have decreased significantly recently? Why is that, do you think?

Apart from the 40 comments after you posted the link to your first radio interview, you're barely scraping double figures these days.

I'm sure you were regularly getting up towards 30 comments per post in the pre-book days.

Is it linked to the "does he really exist" business? Or maybe by moderating/stalker blocking, you've somehow (inadvertently) discouraged commenters?

What do you make of it all? Maybe you don't care, as long as your hit count is still climbing (which I assume it is).

Wellington

Antipo Déesse said...

I'll bet some of us will not only be invited to your party, but will also receive an exceptionally gracious permission to lick your comment box (just the once, mind).

Our Glamorous Heroine said...

The line, 'disappears like a toddler in the Algarve' made me snort. But I expect that's because I'm a bit of a cunt.

I think that not everyone realises how much promotion of a new book falls on the author themselves (I say, having been roped in to pushing wine at people tonight as they attend the first of two book launches for my mother's latest piece of deathless prose). Whore away, I reckon!

Carnalis said...

i sniggered at the 'toddler ..' line even tho' i *have* a toddler, and snorted at the 'toasting my genitals over the emasculating flames of her kindness" (and i definitely don't have a pair of *those*).

Good Luck with the novel.

Rose said...

There will be jelly involved?
Count me in!

La Bête said...

Sorry for the selective responses here - I'm frankly too busy whoring myself to respond to everyone. Wellington, I think there are two reasons: one is that comments come and go, like tides of herpes; the other is that people tend to comment more about emotional stories involving other people and, you know, interesting things - I'm not really doing much lately, so there's none of that. That's what I think.

Or maybe you think it's more a case of this. Could be.

lilianavonk said...

Please tell folks who think you're doing too much self-promotion to go sod themselves, as it never even would have occurred to me to think that--your blog is about you and what you're currently going through, and promoting your book is part of your life these days, after all.

For that matter, sod anyone who thinks your blog "should" be about anything except what you want it to be. Fuggem, with extreme prejudice.

And though the chances of me getting back to the UK anytime in the near future are approximately slim to none, I will certainly be there at your party in spirit...in all likelihood to be found hanging out with Gran in the kitchen (Jona Lewie knew my ilk entirely too well).

Ditto what Kirses said--though I'm presently at the end-of-the-month crisis level with regard to finances, your book is at the top of my Amazon Wish List (I know, I know, I shouldn't patronise gigantic evil corporations & should support local indie bookstores instead--I would if I had one!) and I'm planning to get it once I've got that whole tawdry little money-for-food business sorted.

So see? Whoring yourself works...and quite delightfully in your case, to be honest. Chill already, hon.

Anonymous said...

Mmm, it seems that your book deal has upset some of your fellow blogland creatures. Why could that be, I wonder?

Does anyone really resent you exploiting every promotional opportunity that comes your way? That strikes me as naive in the extreme.

Actually, I don't think you're doing anywhere near enough promotional work. Frankly, you're appearing just a little bit lazy in this regard.

I'm sure you're right about the emotional stories attracting a higher number of comments. But I do reckon that your (necessary) comment moderation is at least partly responsible for the general lack of feedback these days.

Incidentally, didn't you meet a new lady recently? Was that emotional enough to blog about? Or perhaps it was too emotional?

Anyway, who the hell cares, eh? I've now posted 3 comments just this afternoon. Keep this up, and we'll soon be back to the good old days.

Wellington

Canuckian's Evil Twin said...

aw man, you throw a party when i'm about to leave the UK for good. hmpf. :op

notkeith said...

Whore away, sugar, and fuck the naysayers. If people don't like you enjoying some success, then they probably weren't paying attention and this probably isn't the place for them.

Penelope said...

Jelly??? Lovely as that is - I'm not going to any party that doesn't have WINE carved in 18 point font across the invitations!
Would love to be there ;o)

Luka said...

Hello!

Just thought I'd pop by to clarify something - my post, whilst sweary, grumpy and, incidentally, aimed at more than one blogger, was marvellously complimentary. Good writing is missed. Bad writing is not.

It isn't about resenting, begrudging or not liking you enjoying some success. (Indeed, looking back I see I was one of the first to congratulate you - but that *was* on 15 December 2008. I can't maintain that level of support daily, I just can't. I am a cynical old ratbag, not a cheerleader.)

I understand the need to self promote, to sell copies, meet obligations and so forth. If the balance isn't right, however, things start resembling those awful cartoons which are merely prolonged adverts for the associated merchandise. Didn't they just get on your tits?

You are better than Transformers or Pokemon. That's the gist of it all.

Anonymous said...

Gosh! I better leave a comment so I can claim my jelly. Green jelly, please. Hot in the city, innit.

AnnAnon

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

I don't actually htink the comment level has changed. It always varied between posts, and like Bete says there were more comments on the more personal posts. Blogs that maintain comparable identity and content from post to post are rare. People change, have different moods, get bored etc.

As for whoring the book, yes it might be annoying for anyone who wants the blog to stay the same, but there's really no choice for any writer that wants their book to sell. What is he supposed to do, stay quiet and pretend he hasn't just had a book published? This is his livelihood, and everyone needs an income. Things change. It's life.

Anonymous said...

Whore away darling....we'll still love you! See you at the fiesta.
~42

Bea said...

'And so I did all the things I imagine first-time authors do: I developed a fleeting obsession with the Amazon Sales Rank;'

Your post made me smile. As a first time author myself much of it rang true, although I wouldn't have been able to put it as eloquently myself :)

I'm checking Amazon at least 4 times a day! hehe :)

I've just sent you an email and realised that in this post you didn't find lasting love after all! I'm sure it will happen you're clearly building a great fan base, and as of today consider me one :)

Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête,
Whether you write about your book, your faeces or your dates, as long as it's well written, that's good enough for me.

And well done Wellington, commenters always like to comment about the level of comments.
Uncle Did

mispiggy said...

I agree with Uncle Did and others - the whoring is great to read about and I'm overjoyed that it's all happening for you.

What I do miss slightly though, is the breathtaking indiscretion and immediacy of your earlier posts, before you realised that they could actually hurt people (standard disclaimer: assuming that everyone and everything in your blog and book isn't just the product of a very healthy imagination...).

If we do hear about your date, I would imagine that it will be when any risks associated with hasty disclosure are long gone. And that makes me just a little bit sad, for entirely selfish reasons that I'm not sure I can even express properly.

But we still get your excellent writing skills and your wit, both of which are almost as addictive as feeling like we were being taken into your confidence.

Tim Footman said...

You think that's whoring? I've got two books due out in the autumn. Will felch webcams for spare pocket fluff.

Damian said...

Good luck.

isabelle said...

'Then I washed, put on my clothes and left. '

....hmm, good opening, I want to read more.