Today a rare gem: a whole day to myself. In order to take full advantage of seven child free hours, decide to go somewhere extra quiet to work on my thesis and to edit Chapter 1. Arrive at local library at 9.30am. Am pleased to find work room quiet and ‘the best’ table next to power source free. Take out hard copy manuscript; notes made by tutor and course peers; Blackberry; pencil case; USB stick; bottle of water; retrieve circuit breaker from librarians and set up net book. Hurrah! Ready to start work. Begin reading manuscript and ponder over paragraph am having great difficulty editing. Large concentration levels needed. In walk group of people with learning difficulties and seat themselves at computer stations behind me. Much loud talking and hilarity ensues. Continues in this way for around half an hour. Become quite agitated as have now read same sentence seventeen times and it does not seem to be registering. Would very much like to tell them to be quiet ‘as this is a library’ but refrain for fear of coming across as prejudice or unsympathetic and consider that some of them might have hearing difficulties and therefore can not know how loud they are actually talking. Instead try to zone them out and concentrate on editing issues, of which there are many.
Succeed in inserting one comma and the removal of one word (and) from one sentence before another group arrives. Lots of huffing and puffing ensues as many of them are old and have problems with ‘me legs’. After some minutes it becomes apparent that they are a knitting circle as each procures large ball of wool and knitting needles from respective bags. Relief is short lived. Knitters begin to ‘chat’ extremely loudly. Steely glance given by me to no avail. As they are all quite old, there is much repetition of the same sentiment and a good deal of talk about chill blains and the cure for this. One lady refers to her recent holiday to Jersey no less than thirteen times. THIRTEEN TIMES! Conversation then ensues regarding which crime drama was filmed in Jersey. Minder; Howards Way and Morse all mentioned. Meanwhile I am unable to move on with editing because I am screaming ‘BERGERAC!!!’ inwardly. At that moment Librarian comes in and takes orders for tea from knitting group (since when is Library a cafe and why am I not offered one?).
By 11.30am give up hope of getting any work done and retire to local Cafe Nero. Purchase cheese and ham panini and decaf skinny vanilla latte and eat like it is my last meal on earth. Leave cafe having managed to resist white chocolate and raspberry muffin, feeling revived and ready to start work again. Consider where to go as library is clearly unsuitable and feel certain that even if was to return, woman with fur lined hooded gilet who spent the morning sitting behind me eating yoghurt very loudly has stolen my seat. (Q. since when has eating been allowed in library?) Could go home but possibility of becoming distracted by daughter and husband very probable. Eventually retire to own parent’s living room which seems quiet as nobody is home. Take out hard copy manuscript; notes made by tutor and course peers; Blackberry; pencil case; USB stick; bottle of water and set up net book. Phone rings. It is my mother. What am I doing there she wonders? I explain requirement for quiet and issue with library. She understands and says she is on her way home but will not disturb, also father is due back from work as has an appointment, but he will not disturb also. Return to desk and begin editing. Small progress made when phone rings again. PPI Insurance man. Mother then arrives homes and comes in for brief chat. Tells me of recent purchases and morning long struggle to find long white dress with cap sleeves for ten year old girl that is not at least £80. Suggest ebay. Half hour later offers to make cup of tea and leaves me to my work. Turn back to editing once more. In moment of ruthlessness cut one whole paragraph in entirety. Mother returns with tea and asks do I not think the kitchen table would look better in dining room and what should she do with the drop leaf one in the corner. I say no and advise repainting drop leaf for use in dining room thereby saving great sums of money. Mother looks impressed by this idea and relays my advice to my father who has just returned home from work. Father enquires after my health, tells me that he has just secured a hire car for four days for £76 and asks do I think my husband has ever secured such a good deal on hire cars. I tell him that my husband has never needed to hire a car for four days and wonder at the male preoccupation with comparison. My mother then begs my father for an opinion on the table situation and also my advice, to which my father says that he does not understand why I don’t just forget the writing and become an interior designer. I reply that whilst I like interiors, writing is my passion, although it is unlikely to make me any money AS AM NEVER LIKELY TO FINISH ANYTHING!. Mother and father retire from room. Ten minutes later father goes out and mother comes back in with up of tea and enquires why I think it is that one cannot buy smart black trousers during the summer season. I refrain from answering and stare at my manuscript. She continues to talk at me / to herself in manner of Virginia Woolf stream of consciousness. It is now 3pm.
With one hour left I demand last half of it to self. Make series of rash edits that am sure will regret tomorrow and print off. Walk home through town feeling like day has been complete waste of time. On way pop into local charity shop whereupon I buy three books (Evelyn Waugh: Vile Bodies; Rebecca West: The Fountain Overflows; Elizabeth Von Arnim: The Enchanted April) and a small glass vase, which sales assistant drops on floor twice, for £6. Return home anticipating onslaught of family but find daughter is in bed after spending afternoon in swimming pool with Husband and Husband is in front of TV watching football and DOES NOT WANT TO BE DISTURBED.
Consider using unexpected alone time for editing purposes but now not in the mood and find oneself updating blog instead and piddling around on Facebook / Twitter.