Shocking news on the news this morning. Well, there was the Brussels stuff. That wasn’t really shocking, though. There was also the short-list for the big comedy novel competition. I wasn’t on it. Same people who are always on it were on it. Seven women and this guy.
I could just sit here and be bitter about it. You know? Sit here and think that it’s all the same people who have somehow wormed their way into the consciousness of the judges by living in London and there’s no point stewing. Or I could do something about it.
Imma do something about it and I’m going to do it now.
Hold up there, Jamie! Isn’t that selling out?
You fucking bet it is. Look, Van Gogh just painted what he wanted to paint and he ended dead, ginger, unknown and with one ear. Everybody thinks he’s great now but what good is that to his bones? Dick all. I’m not going out like that. Fortunately writing a successful comedy novel seems like a piece of piss. The formula is out there.
First we need the main protagonist. And it needs to be a woman because only women read comedy novels. Mine is Samantha. Samantha’s a good name because it can be shortened to Sam and that’s easy to type. Sam is kinda kooky and she’s also fat. But good fat, not bad fat. Not lumpy fat. She’s smooth fat, her belly is like a Tongan’s. Firm and smooth and pleasantly round. Sam stresses about her weight, but in an amusing fashion that will make the readers LOL on a train. Like, for example, she’ll join a gym and there’ll be a bit of a farce with her trying to get a chocolate bar out of a vending machine. She’ll be running around trying to get the correct change or something. It’ll be a whole chapter and it’s funny because she’ll actually get a decent work-out. And then she’ll eventually get the Twix and she’ll be sitting there, towel around her neck, flushed with exertion and a horribly thin woman who has just spent an hour on the treadmill will see her. The thin woman will register her disgust with a snide look and Sam will say, “do you want some?” And they’ll nearly fight because the thin woman thought Sam was asking for a fight! Sam will explain that she was asking if the thin woman wanted some Twix and we’ll all laugh. It will then become apparent that the thin woman is desperately unhappy. She’s probably just been divorced. And now she can’t eat chocolate. Her life isn’t worth living. Unlike Sam’s. Sam’s a normal woman. A normal fat woman but that’s okay. In the book she’s happy. “Mmmm, that’s better!” says Sam balling up the Twix wrapper and throwing it accurately into a bin. Score!
Sam wears trousers.
Sam’s job is something that’s stifling her creativity. She hasn’t got a shit job, by any means. She doesn’t work in a bar. She works at a… something to do with books. Books have to have jobs about books in them. She works in a publishing house. This is a great move because people who work in publishing houses enjoy reading about people who work in publishing houses. So I stick that in a book and it’s more likely to get published. Quid pro quo. Sam reads the slush pile.
Should Google what quid pro quo means. And also how you spell it. I’ll do that later, when I’m trying to find a name for Sam’s friend, Tuk Tuk. Tuk Tuk is a Somali. I don’t know what Somali names are. Are they the people who talk in clicks and that? For now she’s Tuk Tuk. I’ll Google popular Somali names later. It’s about getting it down, first. Stephen King has a load of people working on stuff like that. I don’t.
Sam’s friend is Somali because Sam is a great person and having a black friend is not even a thing for her. She hasn’t even noticed Tuk Tuk is black! Is she? I don’t know! It doesn’t even matter! Tuk Tuk is humourless, a great foil. She’s the Tommy Cannon to Sam’s Bobby Ball. She’s thin but eats like a horse, much to Sam’s bemusement. Typical line after Sunday brunch at the cool London cafe where Sam has only had an omelette while Tuk Tuk has demolished a pile of pancakes bigger than her head. “No wonder you lot are always starving if you have to eat that much!” Oh Sam! You can’t say that! LOL! Nah, Tuk Tuk doesn’t mind, she knows it’s just Sam being kooky. Tuk Tuk never talks about what life was like in Somalia even though Sam tries to get her to open up. It was obviously tough, going by the scars which adorn her arms.
Actually the cafe isn’t cool. It’s grimy but the food is great, it’s somewhere only those in the know would go.
They go to the cafe every Sunday even though Sam is far from wealthy. She gets by, though. Shops in Primark and New Look because designer labels aren’t for her. The cafe is run by men. Foreign men. I’m thinking Muslims but I worry about a fatwa. Got to walk on eggshells around Muslims or you type something offensive and the next minute you’ll be kneeling in an orange jumpsuit in the desert! Not worth the risk. No, the cafe is run by sort of Greeks. Are Greeks Muslims? I need to start making a list of stuff to research. Gruff Greeks, though if it turns out Greeks are actually Muslims then I’ll make the cafe owners from part of the old Soviet Union. One of those countries where weight lifters come from. Work in progress, boy!
The cafe… why won’t this fucking computer do the little thing over the E? The cafe is where Sam first meets Gregory. Gregory is the love interest. Though, to be accurate, Gregory first sees Sam at the cafe and makes the first move. Because Sam, even though she’s great, doesn’t know it. We know it. She doesn’t. She would think somebody like Gregory was out of her league. Gregory isn’t just a normal human, no, who wants to read about two normal people getting together? He’s well fit. He’s also 100% white English. Interracial friendships are okay but the comedy novel isn’t ready for interracial sex. Maybe in another one hundred years. And there is sex. A lot of it. But funny sex. Women love sex in books. Sample line, “Strap on your helmet, Sam, because you’re going through the headboard!”
Also at one point when they’re doing it Gregory smacks Sam’s bum. When she asks why he did it he explains he saw it on a film and they all laugh.
And also one time Gregory spunks in Sam’s eye. When she complains he retorts, “well you trumped last time and I pretended not to notice.” And everybody laughs. And Sam trumps again. And Gregory spunks in her other eye. And it’s like a funny trumping and spunking battle.
What a perfect match!
So what’s the drama in this story? It’s all going so well. There needs to be some drama. Well, Gregory is rich and wants to move from London to Weybridge. This is great news! Oh no, what about Tuk Tuk? She won’t be able to cope without Sam. Without the brunches. The pancakes. What’s going to happen?
Well, remember the publishing house? Have I said the name of it yet? It’s Goodridge and Browne. It’s been going for years. Mr Goodridge and Mr Browne are kindly old gentlemen but very old-fashioned. They’re like grandfather figures. One day, while she’s mulling the move to Weybridge, Sam is called into the office with all the wood panelling.
Sam is told that they want to pass the company on to her because they are too old. Sam trumps but nobody hears. They tell her that in order to appease the lawyers and shareholders they just need Sam to find an international best-seller. Just one. She does that and the company is hers. Shit! So much for the simple life! Though it’s nice for the reader to know that if you’re a decent person then good things will fall into your lap.
That week, instead of just throwing 95% of manuscripts straight in the bin, she actually reads them all. What a chore! Does she find a good one? No, they’re all fucking shit. That’s it, then. Gregory pulls the trigger on the house in Weybridge. And a Yaris for her. It’s out of her hands! Sunday comes around. She meets Tuk Tuk at the cafe. She’s exhausted from all the reading, cross-eyed almost. She explains everything to Tuk Tuk. Moving to Weybridge. No more Sunday brunches. Tuk Tuk’s eyes moisten but she doesn’t cry. Tuk Tuk is strong. They hug. It’s very moving and sad. The readers will be weeping their eyes off.
Monday morning and Sam is cleaning out her desk. She finds knick-knacks that remind her of good times. That cup, for example. She’s packed everything into a box. Has one last look around and the old guys come in. “We’re so sorry you’re leaving,” they say. Well, one of them says it. The other nods. There are nearly more tears but then…
Sally comes in. Sally does a similar job to Sam but is slightly her junior for some reason. She’s younger, that’s why. “This just came for you.”
“For me?” It’s unusual for a manuscript to be addressed to her. She takes the package, looks at it quizzically and then sits and opens it.
“What is it?” Asks Goodridge or the other one. The one who didn’t speak earlier. Sam has torn it open. It’s not a traditional manuscript. It’s a few notepads. “Well?” asks the old man, his mottled fists clenched.
Sam hold a notebook up and shows him the cover. Tuk Tuk’s Secret Diary. Keep Out! Is written on the front. Sam opens one. Flicks through it. FGM. Being a pirate. Fishing. It’s all in there. Sam gulps. She knows people love depressing stories from foreign countries.
“Print these!” says Sam tossing them at Goodridge who juggles with them a bit before clasping them to his chest and rushing out.
It’s the Big International Book Awards. The BIBAs. Tuk Tuk is collecting her prize and there’s a standing ovation. The old men are clapping Sam on the back. One of them hands her the keys to the company. Before taking them she looks across the table at Gregory who nods and smiles. She’s wearing a gown. A Gorgio Armani one.
She buys a house in Nottinghill. And she buys Gregory a Mercedes. Ha! Seems Sam started wearing the trousers in the relationship just after she stopped wearing trousers in real life! Tuk Tuk buys the house in Weybridge at the same price Gregory paid but doesn’t fit in and soon moves back to London.
The book is called simply, Samantha. Cover will have chocolate on it. Boom!