This is just a short post, in advance of a long rant to come. I had a film crew in my house today, putting together shots for a documentary that may come to fruition over the coming year. They were filming in my office, which was not quite what it might have been, given that my house was up for sale - and was subsequently sold - while I was touring. (It was considerably neater, for a start.) But it did force me to view my workspace through other people's eyes, so I thought I might describe it as, when I move, the space in which I have written at least six books will cease to be . . .
1) Pine desk, with large screen Apple computer, a lamp to the left, a printer to the right.
2) A framed Kinky Friedman display, comprising an 'Elect Kinky Friedman Justice of the Peace, Pct 1, May 3, 1986' poster - signed 'For John - from a Texas Jewboy to an Irish Catholic. See you in hell.' - and a Kinky Friedman handkerchief, both souvenirs of the first author interview I ever conducted. I recall that my friends and I took him out drinking the following night, and made him run for a bus, cigar in mouth. I think it took a toll on his health . . .
3) A framed poster of Akira Kurosawa's 'Ran', his adaptation of 'King Lear'. Fantastic poster - armed riders crossing a battlefield littered with corpses - but the film, like the play, goes on a bit when it comes to Lear's death. (Clearly, I have a limited career as a Shakespeare scholar . . .); and a signed copy of Johnny Cash's album 'At Folsom Prison', because some people are just legends.
4) A signed copy of Thin Lizzy's 'Johnny The Fox', because Phil Lynott was great but blew it in the end.
5 A framed, signed image of Hunter S. Thompson's 1970 campaign poster for sheriff of Aspen, Colorado. (Its companion piece, also signed, is a Woody Creek caucus poster announcing that "There is some shit we won't eat . . .") Hunter S. Thompson made me want to be a journalist, but also made me realize that you can't be a journalist by imitating Hunter S. Thompson.
6) To the left, a bookshelf, filled with assorted paperbacks and greeting cards, as well as a fluffy green Cthulu doll (much more interesting and amusing than the Lovecraft stories that inspired it - sorry, Lovecraft fans); a teddy bear in Liverpool strip from the lovely Jayne, who runs the discussion forum; a masked flying monkey in a cape that screeches when it hits an object; two greeting cards, one of which depicts Lassie attempting to rescue a drowning man, and being told to get help, following which Lassie sees a psychiatrist; assorted notes and research notes for The Reapers, including extensive details of sportsmen who have been accused, or convicted, of crimes; and a shredder, in case the cops or the revenue raid me.
7) Another bookshelf, filled with research books, including enough books on killing and disguising the act to raise the eyebrows of even the most accommodating of cops, should that raid ever happen; a 'PARKER' Mustang license plate from Maine, a gift from the spectacularly decent Jordan clan; and an oar from Eagle Lake, a souvenir of the research for 'The Killing Kind'.
8) A disguised filing cabinet, also in pine, dominated by a TV/ VCR/ DVD that I never use; a Sherlock Holmes chess set from an ex-girlfriend, even though I'm not smart enough to play chess; books on prostitution and human trafficking (research, officer, honest!); a signed Liverpool F.C. jersey (from Gerard Houllier's final, desperately disappointing season); signed photos of Ali and Hank Williams; a signed 'Raging Bull' poster (never hung); a sad painting of a couple in the aftermath of an argument, the girl sitting on the floor with her head in her hands, the boy at his desk, a cat between them, the painting bought in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at a student exhibition.
9) More shelves, these ones containing the only indication in the house that I might be an author, as they hold a copy of each one of my books, whether in English or translation, as well as copies of all of Ross Macdonald's books, to remind me that I'm not really very good after all.
10) Signed vinyl records above the shelf, including a signed Kris Kristofferson album ('Jesus Was A Capricorn'), also signed by Rita Coolidge, and a signed copy of Japan's 'Quiet Life', because I was a teenager once. There is also a signed Willie Nelson/ Merle Haggard album ('Pancho and Lefty') because some other people are also legends.
11) A couch.
12) A rug.
13) An air conditioner, largely unused.
15) A skylight.
16) A lot of books that I haven't read, and some that I have.
Pretty soon, I'm going to have to leave this office. I'll do so with a certain amout of regret. My best work - so far - has been done here and I suppose that I worry, in the superstitious way of writers, that when I move out I will leave my best work behind me. I hope that it isn't so. This room has been good to me. It was the first room that I furnished and equipped to serve as an office, an acknowledgment that, for better or worse, I was going to be a full-time writer, and this would be the space in which I worked. Every book since/ including 'Bad Men', I think, has been written or completed here. I will be sorry to depart. I can only hope that I can make a space for myself in my new house, and that whatever talent I have will accompany me there. After all, it would be rather worrying if the purchaser took occupancy of this space, looked around and thought: "Funny, I suddenly feel like writing a book . . ."
This week John read
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (and wondered why it took him as long to read as Dickens's Our Mutual Friend , without similar rewards . . .)
and listened to
Themependium by John Barry
Fur and Gold by Bat For Lashes