It may thrill/horrify you to learn that I have been commissioned to write a book.
A real one.
A sort of ‘Diary of a 21st Century Wastrel’ that you can turn to in times of great need (I use the term ‘times of great need’ loosely- use the book to even up a wonky table leg, wipe your arse with or use the pages to wrap up fish. I don’t mind, DO WHAT YOU WILL WITH IT).
The logical solution when faced with the task of writing 80,000 words would be to set aside a few hours each day and calmly write from the safety and confines of ones own flat.
Being mentally unstable, I decided against this plan.
Instead, I chose to rent myself a cottage for a week, ALONE, in a remote fishing town on the outskirts of Cornwall.
It was a good idea, in theory.
Admittedly, the whole thing was greatly inspired by the 2006 romcom ‘The Holiday’.
You know the one.
A highly strung Cameron Diaz swaps houses with Kate Winslet for a week, finding herself in an isolated cottage in the middle of Surrey. Bored shitless after day one, she packs her bags to leave, only to be interrupted by the incredibly dashing Jude Law knocking on her door, who she spends the remainder of the film getting pissed with and shagging.
Although I was more likely to be propositioned by some randy old fisherman and spend the whole week drinking alone, I felt inspired.
Cornwall Day One
4pm- Suitcase packed, I’m all set for a literary adventure! To get myself into the swing of things, I’ve even bought myself an old-fashioned typewriter on Ebay, for the bargain price of £10.99 (having arrived through the letterbox, in an ENVELOPE, it soon became clear that I had accidentally ordered myself a miniature toy typewriter, intended for dolls house enthusiasts. But never mind, the thought was there).
As my train isn’t till 6pm, I decide to pop my head in to wish my friend Cat a happy birthday, seeing as I’m going to be missing her drag-queen themed party tonight.
4.30pm- Just staying for a very small glass of wine, before heading off.
5pm-Having a little top up, still plenty of time to get the station.
11.30pm-(Blur of arse slapping, slut dropping and cries of ‘IF YOU STUFF THE JOCK STRAP WITH LOO ROLL, IT WILL LOOK MORE LIKE A PENIS!)
Cornwall Day Two
2.30pm- Shit. SHIT. I’m not in Cornwall. I’ve instead awoken on Cat’s sofa, wearing a pair of platform heels, a Cleopatra wig and pantomime rainbow eyelashes.
In a blur of pain and determination, I manage to get myself back to the flat, hurl my suitcase onto the tube and board the 3.45 train from Paddington to St Austell, Cornwall.
8.45pm-Where the bloody hell am I?
10pm-Finally, having frightened several locals and located a taxi firm, I arrive at the cottage. I am dimly aware of a searing pain in my back of my mouth but, due to my utter exhaustion, I push the thought aside and collapse into my small and lumpy bed.
Cornwall Day Three
8am- Oh my god. The entire left side of my head has swelled up. I look like The Elephant Man. Or a large piece of ginger.
The pain that I felt in my mouth last night is now off the scale and seems to be coming from my back tooth.
Through a great deal of googling and phone calls, I finally manage to book myself an emergency appointment with a local dentist.
‘You have an impacted wisdom tooth’ the dentist informs me.
‘That’s ironic’ I mumble, my mouth wrapped around his hand.
‘I’m prescribing you a five-day course of Metronidazole. These are very strong antibiotics, so it is vital that you consume no alcohol on them’
‘Of course doctor’ I nod sincerely (‘HA! That old chestnut!’ resounding through my brain) ‘Not a drop shall pass my lips’
Having picked up my pills at the local pharmacy, I head back to cottage.
‘Honestly, these medics’ I chuckle to myself, as I pour myself a large glass of wine to wash down my first antibiotic ‘So overly-cautious. So LILLY LIVERED! No alcohol indeed. It’s health and safety gone mad!’.
Now I am a girl with a frighteningly strong constitution. But if there is one thing I have learned from this whole experience, it is that you should absolutely NOT mix Metronidazole with alcohol.
I am awoken four hours later, face down on the sofa, by the sound of my mobile ringing.
Feeling as though I have been beaten over the head with a large frying pan, I answer.
‘Hello darling!’ says my mother ‘I’ve been trying to get hold of you for hours!’
‘HELLO MOTHER!’ I yell down the phone, ‘Just had a little nap!’
The combination of just one of these pills and a glass of wine had sent me completely off my tits.
‘How’s your tooth? Did you manage to find a dentist?’ she asks, concern ringing in her voice.
‘Mmm, yes’ I reply ‘he’s given me some lovely pills’
‘Right… good. You sound a little, um, tired sweetheart. Perhaps you should pop out of the cottage for a bit? Get some fresh air?’
‘My god, mother… That’s a splendid idea!’ I gasp, as if she has just come up with some life-changing scientific discovery.
Like some half tranquillised rhino, I rear up from the sofa and scrabble around to find my bag.
‘Ok just remember to keep your phone on and call me if-‘
‘BYEEE!’ I cry, hanging up.
Two seconds later, my phone rings again.
‘Hello darling’ my mother begins for the second time ‘not sure what happened there, did you accidentally hang up on me?’
‘I don’t know’ I reply ‘did it sound like THIS?’ To which I hang up the phone again.
Chortling at my humdinger of a joke (god, mother would find that ever so funny) I cavort around the cottage and out the door.
In hindsight, by ‘get some fresh air’ my worried mother clearly meant that I should go for a gentle walk by the harbour, where I was in crawling distance of the cottage and under the watchful eye of the local fishermen.
Instead, in my irrational state of mind, I decide to pay a visit to the local tourist attraction-The Lost Gardens Of Heligan.
For those that don’t know, The Lost Gardens of Heligan is compiled of 200 acres of woodlands, including Victorian gardens, a bamboo tunnel and an ‘outdoor jungle garden’. A place so utterly huge and disorienting that even the keenest of boy scouts would get lost.
I arrive at the ticket office.
‘Hello!’ I cry, walking straight into an incredibly clean, closed glass door.
‘Gosh, are you ok?’ the young girl behind the desk asks, hurrying to open it for me.
‘Fine, fine’ I smile, seeing an assortment of black spots ‘One adult ticket please’
‘Well it’s 4.30pm now and we shut in an hour’ the girl informs me ‘You’ll have to make it round quickly, but you’re just in time’
‘A stitch in time saves nine!’ I reply, giving her a horrifically flirtatious wink, like some sexually promiscuous grandma.
‘Um.. right. Well here’s your ticket and here’s a map of the grounds’.
‘I need not a map’ I declare, batting it away dismissively ‘I shall use my finely tuned sense of direction’.
I spend the first ten minutes walking round in a daze of shapes and colours, before standing stock still for a further five minutes, laughing uproariously at a sign pointing towards the ‘Insect Hotel’.
It is then that I come across a cluster of small children, stood around a blue placard.
‘What animal am I?’ says the placard ‘Follow the clues to find out!’
‘Ooo goody!!!’ I cry, beside myself with excitement ‘A treasure hunt!’
I follow the swarm of children to the next sign.
‘I’m a mammal with big claws…’ it reads.
‘What could it be? A tiger? A BEAR?’ I gasp in anticipation, batting aside several children in my haste to get to the next sign.
‘I have long whiskers and love being underwater…’
‘A fish? A hairy crab?!’ I gabble, barely able to contain myself by this point.
I reach the final sign.
‘It’s an otter!’ cries a small boy, pointing to a pond up ahead.
‘DO YOU HAVE TO SPOIL IT FOR THE REST OF US?’ I thunder, turning on him in rage.
In a delirious strop, I ramble further into the grounds.
It is then, inevitably, that I get lost.
Completely and utterly lost.
Sweating and panting, I run up and down little mud tracks, realising in horror that the whole place will be closed in 15 minute and I am most likely going to be locked in for the night.
‘HELP ME!!!’ I wail, scrambling over a fence and landing ankle-deep in mud.
Seeing movement up ahead, I wade across the boggy field and unexpectedly find myself on a pig farm.
I have since visited The Lost Garden of Heligan website and realised that there is no pig farm. Meaning that I had either managed to wander onto someone else’s land or, rather more worryingly, hallucinated the pigs altogether.
‘Please help me’ I whimper, reaching out to stroke a large sow ‘I’m lost and completely off my tits. Or teets in your case’
Help eventually arrives in the form of a rather perturbed farmer, coming to give the pigs their evening sack of corn.
Faced with the terrifying sight of some insane, tear-stained girl, arm in arm with his prize sow, he very kindly doesn’t call the police and instead gives me a lift back on his tractor.
‘Don’t worry love’ he reassures me ‘I find young lasses up here all the time’
It is a blatant lie, but one which I am immensely grateful for.
Cornwall Day Three
Things reach somewhat of a head today.
Three antibiotics down and still feeling completely pole-axed, I take a solitary walk down by the harbour.
It is then that my best friend Henry calls, dropping the utter bombshell that he may be moving to LA for eight months in September.
‘That’s… fabulous!’ I croak, trying not to projectile vomit in horror.
‘How’s the writing going?’ he asks.
‘Oh swell thank you, absolutely swimmingly’ I nod, skirting over the impacted wisdom tooth, pig farm visit and the fact that I have yet been able to put pen to paper.
‘Getting lots done. In fact, I’m in the middle of a very important chapter right now, so I’d best be off. Fabulous news about LA. Byee!!’
I hang up, sway back and forth for several seconds, before bursting into self-pitying sobs.
‘OH GOD!!!’ I cry, sinking down to sit on a large log by the water and wallow in my own misery.
It is then that an elderly couple, clearly alarmed by this melancholic sight, walk up the path to join me.
‘What’s that you’ve found there, love?’ asks the man, pointing to the log beneath me.
‘What?’ I stammer, somewhat thrown by this question ‘I don’t know. Just a bit of wood’
‘No’ he persists ‘The thing you’re sat on’
In a hideous moment of shock and disgust, I realise that I am not sat on a log. Far from it. I am instead sat upon a large, decaying fish carcass. One that has clearly been washed up on the sea front and left to fester for several weeks.
‘Looks like it was some sort of shark’ chimes in his wife, cheerfully.
I decide that it may be best to write from the flat after all.