On being a writer . . .
When I’m away in the summer I tend to spend a lot of time beside and in the sea and as a result, by the time I get home, my feet have grown a protective layer of hard skin. I go to the chiropodist to get this sorted.
This year it was a new guy.
I’m in the chair with my feet up and he looks at me between them with a grin.
“Day off?” he asks.
“Yeah. Kind of. I’ve just come back from holiday.”
There’s a long pause while he carves a sliver of skin off my heel. He makes eye contact again. “You going back to work after this?”
“No. I’ve got some shopping to do then I’m going home. I work from home.”
Raised eyebrows. “What do you do?”
“I write. Novels.”
“I write novels.”
He has a machine, something like a Black and Decker multitool, and he fusses with it. He sticks an abrasive pad on the end and flicks the switch to start it whirring. He runs it over my left heel to smooth down the rough parts left by the scalpel.
When he’s finished he switches it off and I watch his face emerge again between my feet. He says: “What kind of novels is it? Fiction?”
I don’t blink an eye. In the moment it takes to formulate an answer I reflect on the quality of his work and where I’d be without him. “Yeah,” I say. “Mostly. That’s what I write.”