Omigod, it’s been weeks since I posted anything but the reason is that this was meant to be a kind-of diarised record of an unknown writer getting published, and that’s why I’ve been so stumm. On 5 March, I send the submission to 16 agents, following all of their individual rules as listed on their respective websites. I wrote to individuals by name, as I was recommended to do, played the game and followed the rules. Now I know that there is a Jubilee going on and some fun and games, Olympic-style, but you’d have thought that, after almost three months, more than 6 would have responded, wouldn’t you? That’s where I stand. The book is a year old and having been messed around by Peter Buckman I am back where all unpublished writers are: waiting for an agent to have the courtesy to get back to me. Oh, BTW, the 6 were in the form of: ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ Actually, some of them were complimentary as well, which is nice to hear but it doesn’t pay the rent. I’m currently reading some Elmore Leonard. Now there’s a writer with pulp fiction style. I wonder if I could try something like that? It might be fun.
So much for the writing. Lots more has been happening but maybe I’d better just sum it up by stating that my experience of retirement has actually been extremely stressful. OK, I admit that I made life difficult for myself by giving up a high-stress, influential job to do nothing, to leave my favorite country to live in Paradise, to live full-time with a lovely partner with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and to try to get a book published. Changing status, house and country at the same time is not a recipe for blissful sleep.
Like Mr Micawber, I always worry about money and it took until February to sort my pension out. Then I got mugged for car tax but you know that story. When I worked, I survived by getting things done NOW. I knew that there would always be more problems to deal with tomorrow, so I never put off ’till tomorrow what I could do today. Now, when you’re retired, things don’t work like that, especially in Portugal. Especially in Portugal. Couple that with entering a house with three rowdy, undisciplined dogs and a blind cat to be joined three months later by Luis’s 82-year old mother and you are starting to get the picture. In short, I was never so stressed-out in my life.
Overall, I’m only just settling into the routine of retirement. If I had expected that the guesthouse would run itself, of course, I was 180 degrees wrong. There are things to do every day. My role is to fix things, do the shopping, sort out the finances and do the laundry. So much for spending my twilight years making model aircraft! Writing is but a memory. I barely have time to read.
Then there’s the apartment in Lisbon. Oh? I didn’t mention that before? Well, we’ve taken advantage of the property slump by buying a place in the centre of the big city. Lisbon is cheap. I barely knew the place before, but it is truly a beautiful city, historic, sophisticated, with good public transport and, of course, great weather. Actually, it is the perfect antidote to the Algarve. After almost a year, I’ve realised that expats who live here develop a village mentality because there’s little to do except sit in the sun and get pissed. Now, that’s great for two weeks a year but, full-time, it’s a short cut to skin cancer and a liver transplant. So, the apartment will be good, not only to rent out as part of Casa Luiz but as an occasional retreat from Paradise.
Now I know why the Greek gods caused so much trouble; there they were, in Arcadia, sipping ambrosia, doing not-very-much, when they realised that they were actually a bit bored. Can you imagine what it must be like in heaven? Yuucch. And to spend eternity with Christians…… I think that Christopher Hitchens had some good stuff to say about that. I could believe in him.
Now, where’s my ambrosia?