No.66: Eat

Eating is a man-made emergency exit from a productivity impasse. Food exists to fill the hole where ideas should be. In fact, according to Wikipedia, ideas are KitKat-shaped*. Have a block? Have a KitKat. Two – no – four delicious fingers to plug the yawning chasm of inspirationlessness.**

But enough of this Wordsworthian nonsense. The urge to down the fridge in one is a very common urge for the flancer. Because inside every flancer there is a feeder gene. And inside every flancer cupboard is a family pack of KitKats. And inside every family pack of KitKats is quite often nothing as you ate four of the damn things last night because you were clean out of Jaffa Cakes due to Monday afternoon’s deadline crisis.

‘I really must finish this hideous feature because if not EDITOR-WHO-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED will execute a premiership spazz-out down my mobile…

But first I will have a Jaffa Cake.’

‘No, I’ll just –’

– Jaffa Cake.

‘No. Its best if –’

 – Jaffa Cake.

RING RING

‘Shit!’ Etc.

The flancer – whose workspace wastepaper bin permanently resembles Cadbury’s smoking area -finds it impossible to work, knowing that there is even a singular uneaten chocolate item anywhere in the house – nay – postal district. It’s like being in a quiet room with someone and hearing an inexplicable clicking sound that the other person can’t hear but is driving you nuts. You have to know what that clicking is!

Can’t you hear it?! Pause…’there! No?’ …‘There!’

At this point the other person is so bored of this nonsense they suggest you have an ear problem/pretend they can/leave. Whereas you are convinced it’s them surreptitiously unwrapping a KitKat. Bastards!

Remember that late 80s TV show You Bet? It was hosted by gurning, smarm-peddler, Bruce Forsyth (Sir) and showcased kids being lauded for their pointless ability to identify what 258 different car doors sounded like when slammed shut. Nowadays they’d be stuck straight on the Autism register.

Forsyth: Nice to see you...! No, actually, it really isn't.

Anyway, if you’re actually still following the blog at this point which seems to have spiralled of into pointless and rather over-detailed scene-setting, I was actually going somewhere with this. Namely, that if you are a friend of a flancer you could probably identify what 258 different chocolate bars sound like if being chewed on at the other end of a telephone.

Hmm. Momentum has been somewhat lost. …Ooh! KitKat Time! Woop!

 TODAY’S FOOTNOTES

*This is more than definitely a total fabrication.

** Never mind the Greek economy, the burning question everyone should be attempting to solve is: how can we force Rowntree’s of York to make a four-finger KatKat Chunky?

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No.65: Visit the Corner Shop

For the flancer, ANY reason to exit the house is a viable reason.  The smoke alarm won’t stop bleeping because the batteries are low. A pigeon spontaneously catching  fire in the garden. An in-progress mugging that demands intervention – anything really that means you’re not sitting in front of that laptop deciding whether tearfully inhaling another crème egg before 8.30am constitutes a borderline emo-psychological eating disorder.

As most people don’t really know what to do with a burning pigeon* (or for that matter, what to do when standing between a youth wielding something they found in a toolbox and an old person who still hasn’t twigged that this isn’t someone trying to help them cross the road) the corner shop constitutes a safer option. A nice, straightforward getting-out-of-the-houseness that doesn’t give rise to third-degree burns or an eyesocket full of Phillips screwdriver.**

The Corner shop is a Godsend. It’s a journey short enough to  make in house slippers. There’s never anyone there you recognise and therefore have to communicate with (despite having lived in this area for ten years) so you needn’t put a bra on.  It also provides a quick fix of what you need so you can get on with your day feeling more alive, without having to get out of your Florence & Fred work wear (ie pyjamas).

There are only a limited range of essentials on offer, so you are also exonerated from the guilt of being a bad person who puts bad things into their ruined body because – hey – is it your fault if all there is here are E-Numbers, high fructose corn syrup, nicotine, aspartame and salt? Would a drowning human turn their nose up at a Tesco Value life buoy?   This is an emergency!

On second-thoughts, the Corner shop’s not really a Godsend is it? It is a Crackhouse.

Feral faced, teenage guttersnipes lounge around outside smoking joints and sitting on stolen bikes. Your paranoia heightens as you pull your outsize belted cardi even further around you and clutch your front door keys to your chest. You suddenly remember that you are braless under that 1996 charity fun run tee-shirt. You feel horribly vulnerable.

Once inside, to blend in, you shuffle over the peeling lino under the flickering strip lights. You feel dirty but excited. After all what choice was there? Tescos is at least a half hours drive away and that would mean getting dressed and removing the scrunchie. You slink past the ancient hair-dye, the long plastic tubes filled with Kiddie-Madness powder, the packets of Skips (only Corner shops still sell these along with Discos and spicy Nik-Naks) and toilet roll with a thick, grey layer of dust on the top.

The chilled counter houses what can only be described as items you might find if you go poking about in the local hospital’s amputee ward wheeliebins.  It is lit like a scene from a David Lynch film in which they hang someone up and do horrible graphic things to them with a Ladyshave and simply being near it is hugely depressing.

Your pupils dilate as they settle on that gigantic bag of orange-coloured cheesy snacks that glow in the dark – which you know are going to be like chewing wool –  and a treacle tart by some baked goods consortium that has Mr. Kipling up at night screaming. No, even a devoted Greggs fan would not touch that de-devilled treacle tart.

You pay, you leave. You hear Genesis playing gently on the corner shop radio.

No.  No-one must know of what happened here.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES

*Gordon Ramsey might.

**Unless you live in Clapton, E5.

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No. 64: Go To A Festival

The British are good at festivals because they were good at wars. We as a nation possesses the robustness of spirit required for excreting in a non-lockable plastic cabinet, seeing anything as potential bog roll and trying to get comfy in a puddle whilst people who have consumed an oil drum full of 31p cider caper about twanging guy ropes and bellowing to an associate who has passed out wearing a piece of plastic sheeting.

Because it always fucking rains at festivals. And as useful as it would be, it’s unlikely Gore-Tex will be in sponsorship talks with Reading any time soon. Not least because the organisers couldn’t be sure that it wouldn’t be mistaken for some new-fangled energy drink and create a health scandal the likes of which would have The Daily Mail in raptures of orgasmicly morbid delight for literally, years. 

As such, it is traditional to resort to the age old solution: ‘if everything else is shit – get smashed.’  Because the more hammered *you* are, the less likely you are to mind when you return to your tent after watching British Sea Power to discover that where your bed used to be there is now the Gulf Stream.

Toilet obsessing and rain moaning aside – but not *too* aside as this would remove all British peoples’ reason for living – Festivals are happy places. They remind us that working, eating and working again aren’t necessarily the only state of being and that you can feel surprisingly brilliant in the crappiest of situations if you are within dripping and filthy earshot of Guy Garvey. Everything is ok because you  can pass out to the strains of Arcade Fire.  You’ve woken up on a pile of beer cans with some hair missing but who cares?  Lemmy is 200 meters away husking painfully into a microphone.

So you've lost the sight in one eye and your kidneys have failed. It's ok. Elbow are on next.

 There’s something wholesome about it being perfectly natural to see three young men dragging a tin bath along behind then bearing the legend ‘PuSsy WAgOn’ which contains the most overweight of their friends asleep and covered in stickers. Or duct tape being used as clothing. Or a person with such mad-crazy sunburn he appears have been blowtorched whilst wrapped in a  scramble net.

Yes, happy even for women with a screaming bladder standing in the midst of five thousand people slightly distracted from whatever it is that Neil Tennant is singing because they wish more than anything they’d had a penis fitted before they arrived.   

Even if you’ve lost all your mates and appear to be listening to a man hitting a suitcase with a cucumber who calls himself ‘The Stratford Bed & Furniture Centre Band.’ And really rather enjoying it.

First rule of the festival: there will always be noodles nearby.

Second rule of the festival: If you’re not 100% sure – it’s generally best to decide that it’s  mud.

No. 63: Spend at least 3 hours deciding how to word an ‘Email of Rage’*

Sitting at a desk being eaten up slowly by dark hatred is a state not unfamiliar to the majority of flancers on planet earth.

‘I have no money. The bleeding milk’s off. The Broadband’s running slower than Adrian Chiles in a Herve Leger bandage dress. The Guardian loathes me and my pitiful ideas more than a Neo-Nazi child pornographer that lists their musical influences as Nickleback and Andrew Lloyd-Webber.’

Etcetera. 

Or the ultimate – literally the biggest pokey stick you can poke the rage monster with – ‘I’ve snagged my dressing gown sleeve on a door handle en route to the living room and all I can now do is stand here breathing deeply through the mouth trying to decide which item of furniture to insert into the cat first.’  

It is in such a state as this that the flancer will decide that now, clearly, is the perfect time to send that long overdue email to (a) the bank for charging them twenty-seven pounds to receive a payment from Venezuelan ‘Chat’ (see post No.31: Pitch To Someone Totally Random) which meant that your total income from that particular piece of work was £2.83 pence (b) the complaints department of whatever manufacturer was responsible for their bad-bad horrible useless laptop computer (c) a person that sent them a huffy email about something vastly insignificant about a month ago (d) the frontal-lobe donor that commissioned ‘Geordie Shores’.

They will sit at their computer. They will decide that today, the bank gets it. Then the computer won’t load Internet Explorer so perhaps Dell with get a roasting instead. But you can’t write in Urdu so this plan is scrapped. The cat limps nervously from the room, shedding footstool everywhere. Come to think of it, maybe a SIMPLE round-robin of ‘FUCK YOU ALL YOU BASTARDS’ would save time and energy, but then that could result in some sort of legal action or (yet another) police visit.

A vitriolic email of eye-bleeding proportions, dripping with sarcasm and riddled with hate is thusly written. It is three pages long. In the distance a raven screeches and a cloud passes over the sun. The flancer sits back, twitching, cruel fingers steepled like a Bond-Villain about to press the big red button…

…marked ‘Save as Draft’

Somewhere in the house, a cat yowls.

 TODAY’S FOOTNOTES:

*not an emo band.

No. 62: Learn to Drive

Stand and observe at the side of any road these days and you will comprehend why anyone who doesn’t drive is reluctant to do so.

Stand and observe at the side of any French road these days and you will likely be mown down by some loaded night-clubber in a Twingo on their drive home, looking for a cigarette lighter in the central reservation.

But I am not here to slag off French drivers. No indeed. Driving is extremely dangerous even before you set foot on their blood-soaked and windscreen-glass strewn Gallic soil.  And so we non-drivers say ‘we understand’ to anyone that would rather suffer the unwashed and mentally ill on public transport – and their passengers – when you see what sort of lunacy passes for ‘driving’ on the main road into any UK city between 6am and 8.30am.

That said, there comes a point in a flancer’s pointless existence life when they think, ‘shit, I’m thirty whatever and I should really learn to drive…PLUS I could always live in my car when my parents kick me out.’

They share this thought (up to the ‘living in the car’ bit) with Friends With Benefits* who can drive. These friends promptly enthuse their faces off.  ‘Oooh it just gives you such freedom!’ they gush, when they are actually engaging in the far more prosaic fantasy of loading their horrible  children into their tasteless Citroen Picasso and binning them tout suite  at the nursery in order to get some quality daytime drinking in.

People Carrier: A wondrous machine that takes your children away

Meanwhile, the flancer is thinking of how driving would open up a whole new world of alternative branches of Majestic Wine in which they can load up on gin unmolested and flirt with the teenage staff.

Hmm. Perhaps this is why roads are so dangerous.

Many flancers cannot already drive because at some time they traded their soul in part-exchange for an in-house stint in the Big Smoke and decided that (a) it was too expensive to learn and (b) there wasn’t really any point due to the expansive public transport system. Which actually meant (a) ‘That’s good beer and shoe money I’m squandering there’ and (b) ‘I can’t be fagged.’    In addition, not driving is characteristic of Flancers who – in most other life respects – emo-psychologically resemble a sixteen year-old: i.e spends most of the time in Primark , can’t hold down a decent relationship, will drink whatever they can get their hands on – even if it’s Baileys flavoured with mint, are regularly spotted crying into a phone for some mysterious reason and sees nothing wrong with spending four whole days trying to buy Take That tickets on eBay.

And so not driving just ‘fits the profile’ as that blonde woman from CSI: Miami might mumble  through some new post-procedural facial swelling, apparent every other episode.

Nevertheless this Blogger is actually engaging in said expensive farce at the moment. Driving, that is, not cosmetic enhancement surgery.

Worryingly, the finger did hesitate over one question on the DVLA online test:

Q 24: What should you do if you have an argument with someone before you have to drive?

(a) have an alcoholic drink to calm down.

And that’s only after looking for the real answer which, as every Flancer knows is (e) Scream abuse at them before wheel spinning out of the drive in a huff.

 TODAY’S FOOTNOTES

* not the ones you call up for no-strings sex but the ones you call up when  hammered at a house party, having lost one of your shoes and all you can see are fields.

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No. 61: Regularly indulge in a crap Rewards Scheme

‘Oooh, lucky old me!’ shrieks the flancer, like some kind of badly closeted local MP who has just successfully inveigled his entire year’s sadobeauties.net bill through his tax books. And why such camp joy? Because you, the flancer, have just managed to get a microscopic bit of work done. And as a consequence you may now hang the washing out. *score*

To be fair, this level of patheticness is in keeping with the tradition of Rewards Schemes, this being the biggest misnomer since ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.  As anyone whose entire bag collection has at least one antiquated ‘Computers for Schools’ voucher in it knows, Rewards Schemes are  just another way for organisations (who make it their business to rape you of every penny you have) to, in some way, polish this exploitational turd.  And the bottying doesn’t end there. Supermarket vouchers in particular are fundamentally Rohypnol in paper form, luring you into aisles you have no business being in with the promise of something you really don’t want – for cheap!   And before you know it you’re blinking dazedly in the car park clutching 100 dashboard wipes for a car you don’t have, feeling dirty and desperately wanting to report what happened to the police.

‘You reluctantly spent seventy pounds on this thing you needed anyway and so we will give you 5p off these panty liners!’ Yes, Mr Keith Franklin of Worksop – that means you too you lucky old bastard. On the plus side, they will probably double up nicely as dashboard wipes.

However, flancer-based rewards make even slightly cheaper panty liners seem like the ultimate in Corporate generosity. If flancers were put in charge of supermarket Reward Schemes, bemused shoppers would be wondering why, having gone to Iceland for their boxes of frozen misery all month they receive a coupon telling them they can pop into the store any time for a faceful of abuse from their teenage checkout assistant. The one with the ear-stretcher and flickr account called #crazy shit I do with dead birds#

This is because flancers consider anything a ‘reward.’  Well, anything that isn’t having to sit at your computer seeing how much work you don’t have or having an aneurism about how on earth you are going to find a dead case study who came back to life thinking she was Joan Collins  (see post No. 14 ‘Accept The Commission from Hell’).  And so would you if you were someone who officially forgot what joy was in 1999.

At least putting the bins out means the part of you that makes vitamin D won’t entirely atrophy.

Recent extracts from the Flancer Rewards Scheme catalogue include:

Untangling that cluster of necklaces clumped in the underwear drawer

Looking at online pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge

Shaving your toes

For a full catalogue, please contact the blogger direct. Although she may be away from her computer unblocking the holes of the salt-cellar with a toothpick.

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No. 60: Read Celebrity Gossip

Every flancer knows the same 3 things: (1) you find out most stuff from the Daily Mail* but you must never, ever, ever admit it. Except to another freelancer and only then in the same, hushed tones  you use to talk about female intimate wipes (2) you can never get WiFi in a crisis  and (3) any brief that drops into your inbox is going to ask you for a ‘celebrity angle’.

Indeed, if lumpen pitch tuber, W. Rooney received one pound for every time a flancer was asked to incorporate this angle (as opposed to the Manchester United contractual agreement reality which seems to be every time he breathes in) he would have more new hair than even an entire squad of 1976 footballers would know what to do with.

Rooney: after opening a bank statement yesterday

As such, reading about celebrities – particularly the ones who enjoy paying people for sex and then paying other people so that the people they paid to have sex with them can’t get paid by anyone to talk about it**  – which used to be what flancers did to avoid work, is now actually work. Which is somewhat like finding out as a male teenager that relentless masturbating is now the only requirement on the G.C.S.E syllabus.

Therefore, any flancer worth their bobbled, jersey-fabric working clothes makes it their business to know more about what going on with the likes of Kim Kardashian that they do with their own family.

‘How’s your mum after the big op?’

‘I don’t know, but I can tell you that SamCam bought a gilet from M&S this morning’

‘You’re a fucking disgrace’

‘I know. I’m Sorry.’

‘…is there a waiting list on the gilet?’

Etc.

If you even take a day off flancing, those pesky celebs take it upon themselves to get up to all sorts of super injunctions and you are left feeling as embarrassingly out of the loop as a Victorian gentleman who has just wandered into a rave party. Or indeed, a footballer’s wife.

Fortunately, when people come round and are poking about on your laptop and see that all your favourites appear to be celebrity trash sites you can brazenly announce that it is 100% work related.

Obviously having already emptied your web cache so that they don’t know you’ve been reading the Daily Mail online.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES:

*Flancers have an interesting relationship with the Daily Maul  Mail – and it is that of the dysfunctional parent/child  – ie  they love it in a messed up way and instinctively go to it for information but then sneeringly reject whatever it has to say to them as narrow-minded and old-fashioned and liberally slag off to their friends.

**NOT  W. Rooney,  if there happen to be any lawyers reading. His picture is here purely because I cannot yet work the ‘image drag’ function, not because I am associating him in any way with the copy immediately to his right. Thank you.

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No.59 Talk to Yourself

Talking to yourself is all we had before Twitter. Fact*: Everything you see Tweeted was more than likely once only a thought that a person would mumble to themselves whilst emptying the washing machine. 

Hang on now, there’s a rum thought**. do serial killers Tweet?  ‘@HARTLEPOOLREAPER guD 2 c hEAd in wShNG mchne not ruStINg drum yEt : ) HaRHaR, etC’

Anyway.  Talking to oneself is an obligatory overflow conduit for Flancers because if not, their head would fill up with shite and yes, this would matter to you if you were the unfortunate bastard that called them after 17.00 on a ‘work’ day – simply to ask about when you were ever going to see that money you owed them in 2007. Instead of a positive response, you would be met with a Wall of Sound impenetrable enough to make you wish you were deaf and/or had written off that twenty spot, as you’d have paid double that not to have to go through this when your shepherd’s pie is in the oven getting burnt.

Let’s just take a moment here to specify what talking to oneself isn’t. It isn’t just you, the flancer,  having two halves of a lengthy conversation, where you apologise for butting in on yourself and change whatever side of the table you’re sitting at depending on who’s turn it is to speak. If you *are* doing this, stop sucking in Haribo, snap your elastic band, call that number the nice lady that smelled of antibacterial hand soap left on a Post-It next to the phone and check the washing machine for heads.

No, indeed, talking to oneself as a flancer predominantly indicates saying things like: ‘now, what was I doing?’ or ‘Fuck you, Microsoft Windows and your inability to cope with doing 2 things at once. Jesus. I only ask you to do 2 things: let me get online and open a Word document. That’s IT.’  Or ‘ok, next this broadsheet feature, then coffee, then that piece for the New York Times’ *** 

Most of the time however, it’s barking: ‘Right!’ in an organised tone at five-minute intervals as if somehow this verbal cue will get you to peel yourself away from Trisha and earn some fucking money. It’s surprising how rousing a well-voiced ‘right!’ can be.

Never trust anyone who doesn’t talk to themselves. If even they can’t stand their own conversation, that doesn’t say much about what they’ve got to share with you, does it? Somehow, it’s not natural. It is possibly worth checking in their washing machine as well.

Do not fret if someone gives you a look for talking to yourself in their presence.  This is because if there’s someone else in the room and you’re talking to you they’re only making a fuss because they’re miffed that you’d rather talk to you than them. 

And for Flancers, they would rather listen to themselves than anyone else, 97% of the time anyway.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES

*If you think about it long enough and drunk enough you’ll soon see that really, it is.

** Proof that you can even talk to yourself whilst blogging.

***Haha. In your DREAMS.

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No.58: ‘Garden’

Old people garden. They garden to fill the time between retiring and dying. It also gets them away from the sickening sight of their grown-up children – who have come home to sponge due to the Recession – shedding biscuit crumbs over the three-piece.

Flancers should in theory garden because they virtually live the same life as old people – stuck in front of the telly, forgetting to go to the toilet,  a burden on their immediate relatives, etc.   But they generally do it because if they spend one more minute indoors, they will start to slam their head in a cupboard door or eat the bread board.

Gardening is excellent for flancers because it can take up the best part of a morning and brings with it  a deep, physical feeling of satisfaction and new beginnings.  Much like having a good poo.  But hopefully, without the shovel and bin bags.

Gardening arguably put one’s life in perspective. The eternal cycle of life and death inherent in the bushes, insects and flowering shrubs strikes a poignant chord: there is more to life than keening like a Grecian widow at rejection emails or letting out a little barking sound and locking yourself in the airing cupboard when adverts for NatWest Bank come on the telly.

‘It’s only an advert’

‘They know I’m here.’

‘It’s an advert!’

‘They have overdraft radars that can see into your living room. And your  soul. I saw it on Tomorrow’s World.  I’m TELLING you.’

This is of course, based on the premise that you actually own some greenness out the back of your rented boxroom. [TEST: (1) step away from your laptop (2) look out of the window. (3) Can you see a green square covered in dandelions and cat poo? That’s it.]  Even if you do not, a window box or – at a push – carton of cress, can be snipped and shaped to  powerfully calming effect. You could perhaps plant seeds in your cress tub. Or erect a bird table if you were really insane.  

If you do have a garden proper, it’s likely that if the gardening time-wasting bug hits, you will at some juncture desire to grow vegetables. Because that’s what cool,  young, cool people do. It may only be a mint plant that you sit on the windowsill and the direct sunlight burns it to a sorry  handful of miserable straw, but to you (ie. to anyone that asks) it is a “Small Holding”.

‘Really? How small?’

‘A small handful of straw-like, sun-blasted mint.’

‘Oh.’

You will buy the  River Cottage boxsets, nodding sagely as Hugh F-W creates something astounding from one egg and something he found in a puddle by the pig sty, making notes and hoarding used teabags in order to ‘mulch’* them. You will consider buying a chicken.

And then it will start raining and the garden will go back to what it was forever destined to be under the green fingers of the flancer: a place where fag butts and empty bottles go to die.

TODAY’S FOOTNOTES

* Nobody except Alan Titchmarsh actually knows what this is. If a male friend says he’s sure he saw it happen in an ‘Adult Film’ once, he hasn’t heard you correctly.

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No.57: Start a Novel

And the key word here, ladies and gentleman, is ‘start’.

Writing a novel comes in two parts.  ‘Part One’ is the nice part. This consists of bandying about the concept that you, the pointless flancer, are ‘well, as a matter of fact working on my novel right now.’   And by some semantic miracle, this actually means you can claim the title of ‘novelist’ because people who don’t write do not fully understand the inherently laughable premise at work here, merrily accrediting you with this monika with no material evidence of your efforts whatsoever.  [Apart from the fact you always look like shit.]  And this is because most people who do Normal Life  like to put it about that they know people who do exciting things.

People who actually do exciting things, are usually miserable, single and broke all the time.

Interestingly, for no other profession is it possible to claim that you are something, simply by merit of announcing that you intend to commence with it.

 ‘I’m actually starting dentistry.’

‘Oh, really?’

‘May I do some root canal on you now?’

‘Are you fucking joking?’

Admittedly,  writers/novelists never end up in prison for saying they can do something that they can’t actually do. Unless of course you are Jeffrey Archer. 

Archer:Definitely NOT a dentist.

For the first time in ages, you can answer the feared question ‘what are you doing at the moment, then?’ with head erect, confidence in tact and a proud proclamation that:

 ‘Well, writing my book actually.’ *Attempts to look coy*

 As opposed to:

 ‘Trying to find purpose in my day by tidying magazines and obsessing about my weight.’  *Attempts to look sane*

The flancer then buggers off home, pulls out their laptop and works on said tome. IE spends three hours composing a grotesquely florid and self-indulgently generous dedication for the front page of the book. (If you know a flancer well and have ever taken them cake at midnight, rest assured you have had the two words  ‘Chapter One’ dedicated to you at some point. Feel honoured.)

The insane dream of every flancer is to earn whopping great bags of cash and perhaps one day be asked to bandy wits with Mr S. Fry  on Q.I. by writing something like  Harry Potter or  The Bible. Probably sitting at a keyboard, holed up in a Garret-with-a-view, sipping their own prefered version of creativity oil.

Then comes Part Two. Which is the point at which nothing ever happens to this novel ever again.