Wednesday, May 14, 2008



Who'd have them?

The situation I'm in now reminds me of when I was living in a tenement block, one of those old brick ones with outside corridors that smell of wee, working as a secretary. Camberwell was a rough but vibrant central area. I loved the huge council flat I shared with two friends, the architecture, the energy, the street markets, the buzz of real London. I got there through a scheme run by the GLC, the London Council of the time, which allowed single people rent their hard to let flats, ie flats that families were turning down. The reason our flat was hard to let, we soon discovered, was crime and the neighbours. It really was bad, there were no knife gangs then, but one woman used to bang on our door and threaten to blow our legs off on a regular basis, things like that. But the rent was cheap, it was a great flat etc etc so we hung on in there. We'd been there about year and a half when I saw a GLC ad offering Victorian conversion flats for sale in west London with a 30% discount to London council tenants. I applied, was accepted, got a mortgage sorted and chose a raised ground floor 1 bed flat on a quiet, leafy street with huge rooms, floor to ceiling windows with shutters etc etc. a five minute walk from my office. i.e. a dream of a flat. But then there were political wranglings about the ethics of selling council properties and I was kept on tenterhooks for many, many months. At the same time I had been applying for promotion at the BBC, had failed twice and again the job had come up. I couldn't see any other way out of the secretarial trap, had been working towards this promotion, as a kind of continuity girl on TV programmes, for years. So there I was wobbling on the knife edge, wondering if I was going to be turned down yet again and remain a frustrated secretary living in a flat too much in the danger zone for my liking, or if I'd soon be a fulfilled programme assistant living in my dream home.

I got through that one on both counts, and for many years I lived in my lovely, leafy old flat doing the job I wanted to do.

Now the stakes seem higher. If the interest that's been shown in my novel does turn into a deal I'll be able to continue writing without wondering what the hell else I can do for a living. More worryingly, serious health problems have continued at home and are now also at a major crossroads. I've had to see the doctor myself about coping and am going into therapy soon to help me deal with it. It's surreal really, living in such a beautiful place, surrounded by so much privilege, the sunshine, the garden, the May trees and flowers, knowing the axe could come crashing down - twice - chop chop, at any moment.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.


Anne Brooke said...

Sending hugs, Amanda - it's such a difficult time, I know. Also sending hugs about the health issues - but huge congrats for getting it sorted. I really got a hell (can I say that?!?) of a lot out of my own recent therapy sessions - they got me through a very difficult year and a half. It's astonishing that things do get better - so hang onto that hope.

In the meantime, and going back to my first thought, it might help to start a fresh piece of writing? It always does me - my agent's had my last completed novel for nearly a year now and we're just - I think! - getting to the "this is nearly ready to go out phase". In that time, I've written another.

Hugs & stuff


Lucy Diamond said...

Hang in there. The waiting is so awful, but no news is good news and all that.
Good luck with the therapy - hope it helps.

womagwriter said...

Hoping it all works out for you, and that the axe falls elsewhere.

Amanda Mann said...

Thank you Lucy and Womagwriter! And all the best with the new submissions, Anne. Even though it's agony it IS exciting, another layer of the cake, and that's the thing really, whatever happens you can still go on writing... I'm still writing, doing nothing but, the last big push of full-time concentration.