“My desk. In my office. The one space in the house that is mine. I came home tonight and found that Maria had sandpapered the desktop – “It was looking a bit… tatty,” she said. Gone were seventeen painstakingly accumulated years of cigarette burns and mug rings, scalpel gouges and scribbled notes-to-self in supposedly indelible marker. Imagine the Head Egyptologist at the British Museum turning up to work one morning to find the Rosetta Stone sandblasted to flawlessly smooth granite and imagine my pain.
I almost didn’t notice, mind, so comprehensive was the scatter of debris. As if the desk – my desk – had been carpet-bombed by B-52s, their bomb bays stuffed with school backpacks. This is what I found:
- A gothic horror story. I don’t write horror, gothic or otherwise. Must be Sam.
- A Red Berries Frusli bar. Sam again.
- iTunes looping plays of Michael Bublé – Michael fucking Bublé. Thank you, Holly.
- When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – not a book I’m reading.
- Holly’s maths homework.
- Sam’s report card.
- Satsuma peel – Sam’s or Holly’s.
- Ping-pong paddles. Why?
- Holly’s iPod (pink).
- Sam’s iPod (silver).
- Sam’s phone.
- Sam’s hat.
- A half-eaten Oreo. Oreos are the snack food of Satan, President Ahmedinejad and I are agreed on that much. The culprit? See above.
- Holly’s cigarettes. OK, not hers. She’s eleven. Probably mine then.
- The twatting Jonas Brothers set as my MacBook wallpaper by… oh, guess who.
My desk? My office? My arse.”
Matt Beaumont has written seven novels, starting in 2000 with e and most recently e2. The five intervening books have more expansive titles. He lives and works in London. He has been described by the Daily Express as “one of Britain’s best comedy writers,” by the Guardian as “unflaggingly funny,” and by Maria Beaumont as “a sorry and pathetic mess.”
Email feels like a part of life now, as much as the television and equally unworthy of analysis.
MATT BEAUMONT: I normally smoke Lucky Strike, and Reds when the shop doesn’t have them. To be honest, I can’t tell the difference, but I like the packaging for Luckies and they aren’t so ubiquitous. I’ve smoked for decades, but it’s still about looking cool. And yes, smoking DOES make you look cool. I think light cigarettes are pointless. I just suck on them harder, and end up making the tips unpleasantly moist. No plans to give up. Why would I? Like it’s going to kill me or something.
MB: I love Patti Smith. I have about thirty pictures of her on rotation on my screensaver. I don’t think I have ever seen a bad photo of her, and she looks as cool today as she always did. And has there ever been a better song about pissing in a river than ‘Pissing in the River’? I haven’t read her book, but now maybe I will.
Books I’ve read recently: The Ask by Sam Lipsyte (disappointing), If the Dead Rise Not by Philip Kerr (annoying, but it won’t stop me reading more of his books) and How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely (OK, I read that last year, but I just want to plug it. It is brilliant). Earlier this year I read six Alan Furst espionage novels back to back. They left me giddy with excitement and I just need to calm down a little before I read the rest.
I just suck on them harder, and end up making the tips unpleasantly moist. No plans to give up. Why would I? Like it’s going to kill me or something.
MB: Email feels like a part of life now, as much as the television and equally unworthy of analysis. On the whole I think it has made things better, though I think in an office setting, it’s a poor substitute for getting off your arse, walking down a corridor and talking to someone. A friend just returned from a stint as a TV producer in LA, and he couldn’t believe how much business was conducted on email over there, when in the UK it would be done face to face. So maybe Americans overuse email. Or perhaps it’s just the TV industry in LA that does that.
MB: I love Christmas cake, but I hate Christmas pudding. It leaves an unpleasant coating on my mouth that lingers for days. (Is it just me?) Don’t you have it in the States?
FYD: We do. Our version of course, being the fruitcake. I like the English style and the Victorian implications.
MB: What’s your Christmas dessert?
FYD: My mom will probably serve crème brulée sans the blow torch.