Pad Life: A Submission and Three Falls
Oh, hello, is it nearly the end of February? The Pad has been in its own time zone since about December 21st. It’s always the same in the early part of the year. Christmas comes, Christmas goes, it’s the middle of January, you cry over your bank account for a bit, finally remember where you put X’s original Christmas present, having gone out and bought a new one for X because, obviously, The Borrowers ate the first one. Then you notice everybody buying eggs and milk in Sainsbury’s and you’re thinking, oh come on guys, Brexit hasn’t bitten yet, and then someone says, ‘Want to come round for pancakes?’ and you think, eh? It’s February?
That’s if you’re retired, of course. If you’re working, your year has already lasted a century, and if you’ve got kids, you’re just glad the buggers are back in harness after half term. If your kids are pre-school – I feel your pain, but not as much as you do.
Little Cat and I have been busy. We’ve had two rejection emails for our writing this week – I say ours, because she spends more time on the keyboard than I do. Admittedly she’s mostly got her arse on it, but her arse has as much chance of success as my tapping fingers. The first rejection was a bog standard ‘No. Hey, want to see who’s better than you? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!’ The second was…I suppose encouraging. The story, it said, was ‘very witty and certainly different’, ‘excellently written technically’ the opening paragraph was a ‘real attention-grabber’, but there was ‘too much comedy, not enough plot.’
I will admit, I am shit at plots. But I thought a woman reclaiming her soul from the devil on the toss of a coin was quite a lot of plot for 900 words. This particular story does go down quite well at readings though (those of you who were at the ABC reading in London last year, keep your opinions to yourself) and will be getting another outing at the York Literature Festival next month, so maybe it’s my contribution to keeping the oral tradition alive.
We’ve also been watching out for the York flood alerts. If the deluge comes, the disadvantages of living in a ground floor flat will stick their heads above water and spit. According to the map we are on the fringes of the risky bit, and our bit’s never actually flooded, so we haven’t got the cat box and the documents-you-need-so-they-can’t-deport-you ready yet. If I lose my non-deportation documents, I can’t actually prove I exist. My birth isn’t registered in this country. I was born in what was then the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, where my dad was a government employee. My parents were assured that registration here would be automatic, but it wasn’t, and we were told it couldn’t be done retrospectively in such cases. I did once enquire about getting a proper copy of my birth certificate from the Chinese authorities in Hong Kong, but the email reply was, ‘No. Hey, want to see what you could be doing if you still lived in Hong Kong? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!’
I wasn’t unduly bothered because, come on, the UK would never deport people who worked here all their adult lives, paid taxes here and drew pensions here. Perish the thought. I’m not too worried, though. I’m white. I’m over-educated. I can speak posh if I need to. I’m not saying the Home Office is institutionally racist or class-ridden or anything, just that certain things might come in handy.
I remember once having a lively telephone discussion with what was then the Inland Revenue, who insisted I didn’t exist because they couldn’t find me on the system. I suggested they ring my place of work. They said they couldn’t do that because I didn’t exist and so therefore could not have a place of work. At the time I was friends with someone whose surname was Kafka and who actually was a descendant of the great man. I accused her of channelling the spirit of her relative directly into my life.
Little Cat and I have ditched one of our 2019 pastimes, which was watching every minute and second of the BBC News Channel, and reading every inch of the newspapers. Well, obviously, she stuck her arse on the newsprint, but we all have our own opinions of the media. I think I imagined that if I just kept watching, and reading, at some point it would all make some sort of sense. Then I gave up on the sense, but kept watching to see when the Doctor would arrive to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow and restore us to reality, rather than the alternate universe being dreamt by a Dalek with bad indigestion. But she never came. I know she’s probably off waving her sonic screwdriver at something with lots of heads and fangs and a really complicated history, but there’s an element of responsibility here. Years ago, Doctor, you thought you’d sorted out the problem of The Empty Child, the little boy whose face was part gas mask and who just kept asking, ‘Are you my Mummy?’ He turned everything he touched into a copy of himself, and he wasn’t going to stop until he’d turned the whole world into a copy of himself. But you didn’t sort him out, Doctor. He’s still here. He grew up and, despite your best efforts, he still managed to create a copy of himself. So now there are two big Empty Children, one on each side of the Atlantic.
So, for our own sanity, Little Cat and I have decided to avoid news channels and confine most of our newspaper consumption to the puzzles page. I must admit, I do quite fancy sending the entire world a rejection email at the moment. ‘No. Just, no. Hey, want to see a version of the world that really does make sense? Follow Kafka on Facebook and Twitter!’
Thank you for your submission, world. Too much plot, not enough comedy.
Thanks to Ewan for enquiring after the Pad, and triggering a train of thought. Bet he wishes he hadn't now.