After a Stakhanovist long weekend putting the garden in order this bag of bones that claims to be a body finally gave out on me and I spent the evening slumped, like a misshapen jelly, on the sofa. It’s at times like these, unguarded moments, when my alter egos rise up and take over. Last night it was RSS (rational sensible self) and flaky, pie-in-the-sky, it’ll-be-alright-on-the-night self – FLIP for short.
As usual RSS started it.
“It’s your own fault; you had your chances; you were good at your job you could’ve had a great career and the fat inflation-linked pension that went with it.”
FLIP groans. “Here we go, same old, same old.”
RSS continues to harangue. “But no, you just had to blow it. Chuck it all away to write and follow your crackpot self-sufficiency ideas. I mean who, in their right mind that is, would go to live 1000 feet up a barren hillside in an old stone quarry with not an inch of cultivable land in sight? And then,” RSS is getting worked up now “and then,” she squeaks, “import and pay for tons of top soil to be brought in just to grow your own carrots.”
“Actually” FLIP replies haughtily, “I grew all our own veg; most of our fruit as well as eggs, lamb, pork and beef for the freezer. And you stuffed you face with all of it and never complained. It was not my fault that the world wasn’t ready for organic food and preferred a supermarket lettuce that tasted like wet flannel.”
“Yes but you never had any money; never saved anything. Never put anything aside for your old age and infirmity. You always said it’d come right somehow. But look at you now, dining on nicked rhubarb and custard.”
“It wasn’t nicked. I liberated it from the nettles and brambles next door. The house is empty and it was going to waste. Besides I like rhubarb and custard.”
RSS heaves a sigh. “Irrelevant. The point is you’re at it again.”
“Pipe dreams. You’ve bought this cottage to renovate just because you always wanted to. Now you’re scrabbling up and down ladders splashing paint all over yourself and, knowing you, it’ll never be finished and Heaven only knows if you’ll ever pay off the mortagage. Now you want to buy a place in France and write full time. How’s that going to pay for your old age?
“It’s not. That’s what the day job’s for. The point is that instead of actually living the adventures I dream about which admittedly sometimes have cost a great deal, I write about them instead. It’s a whole lot safer and costs a lot less. I can roam worlds, in any guise or persona, having all the adventures…
“and romance” pipes up Little Romantic Self “don’t forget the romance. You seem to have forgotten about it these days.”
“…OK and having all the adventures and romance I want” FLIP continues. “Don’t you get it? That’s the beauty of writing. The buzz of creating. The fulfillment of…”
“I get it, I get it.” RSS is getting tired and testy. “But you’re still the grasshopper and it’ll never come right. You’ve left it too late.”
“And you’re still the ant and a boring old fart to boot. I mean look at you in those silly fluffy slippers, hugging your mug of cocoa as though your life depends on it.”
“I am not.”
“You are so.”
Finally I step in to shut up my alter egos.
“Enough already” – I shout. “I’m trying to get to sleep.”