Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Object Writing 17

Today’s word - ‘Genre’

The dame running the writing workshop sat on the desk, eyeing me up like she knew I’d be trouble, nose wrinkled in distaste at the stench of our collective wannabe desperation.

I stared at her hair, piled so loosely on top of her head that it threatened at any moment to tumble down. It put me in mind of a haystack after the rain.

“You are going to write a detective story in the genre of Mickey Spillane.” She lisped the last name, sending a fine spray of spittle over the front row.

I licked my lips. It was going to be a long, dry hour. My tongue already felt as if it had been baked on a rock somewhere in the Australian outback.

A ringing phone, way off in the distance, dragged my mind away from the blank page in front of me. It screamed at me, disrupting my thoughts like an irritating child in a supermarket queue.

The tutor dame began to tap the desk with her pen, sending staccato bursts of gunfire pelting my brain, creating a spiral of ragged holes through which all ideas fled like water through a colander.

Who the hell was Mickey Spillane?


I’m shorter than short – standing at exactly five foot nothing – so I put ‘small kitchen step stool’ on my Christmas list, to allow access to the highest reaches of my shelves. What he bought me was a vintage step-ladder, with a wobbly leg and a precarious list to the right that makes it unfit for purpose. I don’t know what panic sets in as he goes shopping for gifts, but he has a remarkable skill for choosing just the wrong thing with such care and love that I cannot do anything but show gratitude, and it is a beautiful ladder. A small metal label, tacked onto the warm oak, is embossed with the date of its hand-crafted birth, 1925, an age when someone cared about the smallest of design details. It cantilevers open with the complex grace of a greyhound rising from a sofa. I cannot use it. I have tried, but the stress as I listen for that creak of impending disaster is too much to bear, and so it languishes in the shed, dingy with stranded cobwebs, awaiting re-use as a shabby chic towel rail, or bedside bookshelves.