The trouble with training yourself to play the 'What if' game as a writer is that is begins to take up permanent residence in your brain and springs into operation when perhaps it would be better just to stick to the facts.
Early this morning our phone woke us up. Or to be more precise it woke my husband up. I continued with a dream in which Zadie Smith and Michael Douglas was in a post office, there was a big problem about the precise milage to Lancaster and everyone was so worried about it no one would answer the phone. (Don't get all Freudian - I'm reading On Beauty, I need to put in a mileage claim and I forgot to post a pile of letters yesterday. I'm not commenting on the presence of Michael Douglas.) When I twigged that it was a real phone and that Zadie was in fact between two brown covers on the floor, I suddenly woke up and found myself instantly in the 'What if game', encouraged by hearing Dennis say "Why, what's wrong?"
What if my Brother-in-law has split up from his girlfriend again? Or no, what if he is ringing to to say one of my elderly parents in law is ill? Or worse what if one has died? What if I have to get on a plane and go over.... I had proceeded impressively far down the route of forming a contingency plan to deal with my work in my absence by the time Dennis shambled back into the room to explain that my sister needed a favour.
She is a paediatric nurse and was convinced that she was working a late today - until the hospital rang and woke her up too to explain that she was now a quarter of an hour late for her early shift. Her husband had taken her car to his job at the airport and could I please get up quick smart and drive her to work in the next town?
I wanted to say 'What if I don't? What will happen?" but at that time my brain works faster than my mouth so I just mumbled "Onmway" and tumbled into a pair of jeans and the car.
Which brings me onto the question of routines ... or for anyone with confused sisters the lack of them. I'm playing about with the best daily routine for days when I have the whole day free to write. I seem to have a huge afternoon slump and have decided that the best way to deal with it is to go with natural rythms and use it to read instead... worthy novels, books which will serve as role models, works of art that will last all time... or on days when I have been dragged out of bed into fog without even so much as a cup of tea, a copy of Oprah magazine.
Inside the November issue is an advert for VW Beetles. It is a perforated sheet of card comprising nine tear out cards, the middle one of which directs you to the VW site. On one side of the others are photos of eight happy looking people and one ugly and vicious looking cat. On the reverse side there is a potted biog of each person giving their name, job, what they keep in a bud vase, (ranging from Sunflowers to a glittery doll's head) their 'special powers' and their good deeds. The scary cat turns out to be called Armand and have a job as a therapy pet. Instant characters...who said reading O Mag was skiving?
Now, I have to go and figure out what would happen if a 2000 Reflex Silver New Beetle Convertible ran that skinny feline over....?