I know I can count on you lot to give me honest feedback. Brutal, you are, sometimes. But I need your opinion on something.
As I wait for what seems like forever for my Sands book to be published (how much can you hassle a charity for an update?), I’m itching to write another book, as well as doing the odd magazine feature from time to time. And I’d actually like to publish this one through the ‘proper’ channels, as opposed to self-publishing. I want an agent, and everything. Silly, I know, but a man can dream.
Part of me wants to move away from writing about fatherhood or parenting, but another part of me knows that at the moment this is the circle I move in, and I have been advised to try and improve my standing as a parenting writer before moving on to anything else. So I’ve made a start on another fatherhood book, but – in a stray from many of the books in the marketplace at the moment – this will be written more as a humorous novel, as opposed to a guide or an anecdotal book.
But I need to know that it’s worth continuing with: and so, with that in mind, I’m putting the short amount I’ve written so far online in order to get your feedback. You can either vote anonymously in the poll at the bottom of this post, or leave a comment, or both. So here goes.
To the untrained eye I must look like I don’t care that my wife is in pain.
“She doesn’t like me touching her,” I bleat weakly as the Ethiopian woman with the tea trolley pokes her head around the curtain. She looks bemused for a second before trundling away to the bed next door.
At a loss at what to do, I scrabble in a nearby bag, retrieve a Digestive biscuit, break it into quarters and lay the crumbly segments on the pillow beside my wife’s head; the idea being that if she gets hungry between each contraction she can simply turn and eat, chameleon-like. Later, she would tell me that this was the single most annoying thing I had ever done in my life, ever.
But hold on a minute. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind nine months.
I would like to apologise to the old lady walking down Red Lane. I’m sorry that, in the early hours of the morning, I nearly killed you. I’m sorry that your huge dog almost leapt into your arms, Scooby-Doo style, knocking you backwards. And I’m sorry I didn’t even raise a hand to acknowledge the fact that I’d just mounted the kerb in my Ford Focus and almost brought your life to an end: although, to be fair, judging by your frailty the sweet embrace of death was already closing in fast.
I am genuinely sorry for those things, but hope that you’ll forgive me when I explain that I’d just received a message which would change my life forever. Yes, I know that reading messages on my phone is illegal, but what’s done is done. You’re still alive, aren’t you?
Let’s get back to the point. My phone is still sat on the passenger seat where I’d laid it a few seconds earlier, and it slides around the black upholstery as I weave my way through the countryside. On the screen is displayed a photo of a pregnancy test and a little blue cross, with the caption ‘Ready to be a dad?’
I can’t feel my face. My eyes stare wildly, flitting from side to side, much like the expression a rabbit wears just before getting mown down by a speeding motorist.