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A Serious Occupation

Following publication, save for a day’s frenzied introduction to media-related activities, the sole advice that I received was that  it was now my job ‘to flounce about like a writer.’ No further instructions or specifics were forthcoming. Feeling these were things I should instinctively know how to do, I was too embarrassed to enquire how said flouncing should manifest itself in order to achieve that particular quality of flouncing practiced by writers. Graham Joyce has provided definitive replies to several difficult questions that have pre-occupied me over the past couple of years.

(a) How will people react to the announcement that you are a writer?

‘It was like being forewarned that the person you are about to encounter has a hunched back and a withered hand.’

I have often wondered what the extended ‘Oh!’ is intended to convey. And, encroaching on the subject of image and pre-conceptions, this brings us neatly onto my next burning question.

(b) What style of home decor should a writer favour?

‘He’d anticipated an exhibition of overt bohemianism in the writer’s habitat; at least there should have been a human skull on the mantelpiece or an Egyptian sarcophagus in the hallway.’

Will a silver Buddha and a terracotta lion capable of frightening the godchildren serve as a stand-ins, I wonder?

(c) How should a writer dress to receive company at two o’clock on a Saturday afternoon?

‘…her face was heavily rendered with make-up, she hadn’t yet managed to clamber out of her nightdress. She was reclining on the sofa, sipping white wine from a glass flute. Her bare feet rested on the lap of a young man.’

Frequently fail to clamber out of towelling dressing gown. Found at dining room table, writing, with notable absence of wine and young man. Note to self…

I should perhaps mention that these quotes may not be the actual opinions of Graham Joyce based on his own extensive research (Graham Joyce is pictured on his own website in a crew neck t-shirt and a leather jacket and there is not a hint of bare feet about him). Taken from his award-winning novel, The Tooth Fairy, they are the sentiments and first impressions of Sam on visiting Alice, the object of his pre-teen desire… but they are rather wonderful, nonetheless (as are so many of Joyce’s observations about that rather dark and frightening place called childhood).

“Brilliant and unclassifiable, The Tooth Fairy is by turns tender, nightmarish, and hilarious, with hard-won wisdom and a rare sense of time and place, of lives truly lived.”
–Jonathan Lethem