Going For It

My 2011 gets off to a shaky, wary sort of start, to which this late entry pays witness. Still, I’m feeling more hopeful about life than I have done in months. One simple physical act is doing wonders – I air my room every morning. On top of the instant rush of fresh air, there’s the pleasing symbolism of opening a window at the start of a new day. Works better for me than tablets, anyway.

December 30th and 31st: I DJ for the Last Tuesday Society once again. With typical LTS perversity, the event on the 30th under the arches at London Bridge is about ten times the size of the one on New Year’s Eve, with nude people painted gold languishing on banqueting tables, chocolate fountains, orchestras and so on. The latter is a relatively modest do in a restaurant in Bishopsgate. I see in the New Year with LTS types David Piper, Wynd & Suzette. Empty bottles of Bollinger litter the all-night tube home.

I am paid in art: framed drawings by Stephen Tennant. Very lovely and Cocteau-esque they are too. Little pieces of the Bright Young Things on my wall. I look at them and think of the things the hand that drew them did – all those parties, Tennant living the life that inspired characters in Waugh and Mitford. One drawing is on Wilsford Manor notepaper, as in the tastefully crumbling mansion in Salisbury where Tennant spent his later years, mostly in bed. From your mansion to my bedsit, dear Stephen. I’ll look after them.

(More on Stephen Tennant’s effects in this blog by Graham Ward)

On January 1st I cope with a tiresome cliche of an hangover by walking all the way from Highgate to Soho, via Regent’s Park. A gin and tonic in the Coach & Horses and I feel so much better. Memo to self:  hair of the dog works so much better than any attempt to ‘detox’. The pub has just opened when I get there, so while I sit at the bar and sip it’s just me and the ghost of Jeffrey Bernard, there on New Year’s Day 2011, in the middle of the metropolis, silent and serene. But not sober.

My resolution for the year is one I’m sure the Government, the world and I will all be happy with. I resolve to do my utmost to get off the dole and earn a living, this time from freelance work.

Now, I’m all too aware what a ludicrously competitive area this is, and how hard it is to make a living. So I promise to really, properly work at it. Writing arts articles, doing reviews of films & music, delivering talks, popping up on radio & TV – all things I have been paid for before, after all. I’ll also seek out this kind of work abroad. I keep being told by strangers around the world how I’ve featured in their college essay on flaneurs, dandies, diarists, London eccentrics and so on. And kind Proper Writers have pointed me to websites where magazines in lonely English-speaking corners of the earth are paying £100 a time for half-decent articles and reviews. That would suit me to a tee. I can’t do the Everyman style of writing (all those ‘we’s and ‘you’s bandied about like I’m an example of an average, in-touch human being) and have no wish to. But I can do the opposite thing rather well. The Not So Everyman. I just need to find the right place for it. The right place for being professionally out of place. I know I’m fairly good at stringing together connections from diverse worlds, and I always strive to come up with something vaguely original, rather than duplicating what people can get elsewhere.

All I need to earn to get off the dole is £175 weekly. I’m going to contact at least one editor a day until I get somewhere.

So here’s to that. Wish me luck.

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