Suddenly the blocked drain that is Second Hand freed itself and in six weeks I wrote 10,000 words. Any good? You be the judge:
Unemployed in London, Alan Pratt, Francine's erstwhile squeeze, becomes news editor of a weekly in Plymouth (the original Plymouth! - see above). Francine visits him.
He spread the newspaper out on the table. “They’re mostly kids, you know. Often nothing more than media studies, but they’re here for the right reasons. That front-page lead – Planning dept. admits ‘stupidity’ – was put together by a nineteen-year-old from Woking. I thought her plummy accent would hold her back but on the phone she sounds like a middle-aged barrister. People quiver and give her the goods.”
“How hard did you sub her?” she asked. “I see a couple of Prattisms in the second para.”
“Insinuated instead of alleged, for one.”
He stared. “Is that one of mine?”
“Don’t look at me like that. As you used to say: I’m only telling you because I love you. An outright lie but you seemed to think it softened harsh editing.”
“Actually, it did.”
“Now who’s fibbing?”
But she wasn’t. Those were the early days when it pained her to see 350 words she’d slaved over reduced to a brief. He’d said it unselfconsciously, dismissively even, and somehow it had worked. Kept the sentiment going during the shared BFI visits but brought it to a close, for good and all, the first time they kissed each other good night. How mechanical of him. But then men, in return, often insisted women were flibbertigibbets so she supposed it was tit for tat.
Men! They could be desired, manipulated or detested but often they seemed too crude, too obvious to be worth understanding.