22 March 2009
Following my 24-month communion with the planet Earth and 12-month shed-based drafting of a manual for better understanding its civilisation; last June I moved back to London, and into the digs of my now landlord: the legendary Tony “The Tiger” Bowers.
In terms of poshness, I’ve gone up a notch. Back in the north-London years it was all bohemian grunge. Nowadays we’re pretty swish with modern art on the walls and a 50-inch flat screen TV.
People who get in touch ask what I’m up to nowadays (“When are you getting married? Blah blah blah”). The truth is: I ain’t got nothing going on. During the evenings and weekends I do my book. During the week, I work.
That work is in a team which – apart from me – is all female. This suits my preference for being surrounded by chicks. I dig the attention, although sometimes they bully me. They are:
- Claire “The Hutch” Hutchinson (kick boxer, giggles a lot, huge smile)
- Ella-Louise “Fitzgerald” Robinson (awesome knitting skills, arty, a bit gothic)
- Claire “Lady Claire” Russell (normal on the outside, reviews my stuff, married to a high-powered Shell executive)
- Charlene “The Silent Treatment” Murray (part-time radio host, can’t relate to vegetarians, occasionally ignores me)
Here’s the deal: I am Charlie; they are my angels. We have weekly meetings during which we retire to a room and talk business. That involves me saying profound things in a deep and gravely voice, while they laugh at me and act all effeminate.
As for the writing, I press on. By November 2008, I was ready to go public with my mission statement, so I started up the learning curve that is web technology. It’s a steep curve.
Then, on New Years Day, at 6am, Tony and I met a bloke called Norge outside our building. We sat down with him, drank some beer and got to know about his life. Norge turned out to be an undercover graffiti artists, going on late-night guerrilla missions to add colour and zing to London’s transport infrastructure. He’s also – guess what – a web designer.
Meanwhile, in the big wide world, there’s a credit crisis. Charlie and his angels work at the coal face of the economy. Right now, it feels like we’re clinging onto a life raft. Occasionally, someone gets washed overboard.
Behind the commotion, if you look closely, there’s a once-in-four-billion-year drama unfolding: a tool-using species learning (from scratch) how to orchestrate a global economy. No one ever said working out how to run a planetary civilisation would be straight forward. Yet, right now, if you turn on the TV, you can watch it taking place, in real time.
Days since leaving my shed: 284
Years it took Robert M. Pirsig to write ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’: Four years
Time it took him to undertake the trip described: 17 days