As I sit down to write this, there are thirty three minutes left of Friday. These are anxious times and a lot can happen in thirty three minutes. Bad deeds are often played out under this old dark moon. They cause the howls you hear just before midnight, the car doors that slam, the drunken arguments that echo across rooftops, the strange shadows that lurk behind curtained windows.
Just there, a cat screamed and set my nerves on edge. I’m anxious because I’ve had what is commonly known as ‘a bad day’. It was that kind of day when everything went wrong, when toast chose to land butter side down, my elbow caught the full glass of juice not the empty one, and when I did dumb things such as eat the S-Pen to the Samsung Note I bought less than a week ago.
It was around 2pm when I realised that I’d eaten the pen. There was no other explanation for why it had gone missing. My PC was four hours into a nine hour After Effects render so I’d been sitting at my desk ready to finish a cartoon on the Note. I had the stylus in my hand but momentarily gripped it between my lips as I typed one last thing on the sluggish PC. I seem to recall needing to type more than I expected so I put the stylus down. When I’d finished, I went to pick the stylus up but it wasn’t there. I hunted on the floor, on my chair, my pockets, through my bin, and I emptied my astonishingly-messy-by-anybody’s-standards desk but I still couldn’t find the stylus. Then I couldn’t recollect if I’d even been holding it in the first place. Perhaps it was a different pen. Perhaps it was a pencil. The S-Pen could be anywhere, so I began to hunt all over the house. A hot hour later, I was smacking my head against a door for having been so naïve earlier this week when I'd believed somebody like me couldn’t possibly lose (or eat) the pen within the first hundred hours. I should have bought a spare when I’d had the chance.
Determined that I wasn’t going to go the entire weekend without a pen, I dashed out and headed into Warrington on a warm moist day unsuited to dashing anywhere. The train was overcrowded with prams and mothers heading off to North Wales for the weekend so I didn’t get a seat but stood at the door, sweating out my misery and wondering why all the signs on our trains are written in both English and Welsh and why the Welsh usually comes first.
Warrington Bank Quay stank of washing powder, the chimneys of Unilever's soap works pumping out a heavy detergent smell that burned my nostrils and lasted until I reached the gardens outside the Parr Hall where large posters proclaimed the arrival of the superstar that is Barbara Dickson. The soap will surely wreak havoc on her vocal chords. I remember her from The Two Ronnies. Back then little Ronnie would introduce her as ‘Miss Barbara Dickson’ and I’d walk across the room to turn down the TV. Those were the days. No remote controls. No S-Pens. Just plastic knobs and two men called Ronnie.
I raced through the Golden Square and over to our ridiculously named Cockhedge Centre, significant because it has no hedges but lots of cocks. One stopped me outside Asda. He was a young go-getter, sharp suit, sharper tongue. I was hot, frustrated, fed up. He wanted me to ‘get down’ with his great ‘offer’ and was full of cheeky banter so I told him ‘no thanks’. He replied with more chirpy banter so I told him to ‘bugger off’. He laughed. I didn’t.
Argos was empty, though everywhere was empty. I wonder how small towns cope. These last few years, the shops are always empty. It’s the curse of Amazon and the government should do something though I don’t know what. Help reduce rents might be a start. It might save Warrington which was already full of pound stores before today when I saw my first 99p store. ‘Everything under a pound’.
At Argos, I bought a new pen but it wasn’t under a pound. It was, however, white, so it wouldn’t be as easy to lose. A quick browse around an empty Maplin and then I headed back, only stopping at Greggs to buy a drink and a cheese pasty. I didn’t have cash but they have a clever system for paying small amounts where you just wave your credit card in front of a black receiver. Or it would be a great system if Greggs accepted credit cards for amounts less than £3. It makes the whole system of waving credit cards for small amounts pretty redundant. In my book, three pounds isn’t a small amount. I can buy three items at a pound shop, fractionally more at a 99p store.
About two hours after leaving home, I got back with my new pen and a bag of doughnuts I didn’t really want and soon gave away. I was shocked to see that there were only three doughnuts in the bag. I remember the days of five doughnuts for a pound.
In my office, I sat down with my brand new white S-Pen to do some cartooning. My PC was still pumping out the heat, hours before the render job would be finished. It was nearly 5pm but at least I could do some work without interruption or anything that would make me scream with frustration.
And that’s when I saw the old black S-Pen sitting on the top of my monitor, almost invisible next to the last of the false moustaches stuck to the corner of my screen. I bought a packet years ago in order to send to celebrities. It’s a long story about limited success. I have one big black moustache left. I was going to send it to Roman Polanski but never got around to it. Now it just sits there, hiding S-Pens.
It’s now only 22 minutes before I welcome in Saturday. I might slip on the moustache. Disguise myself lest Fate has one final trick to end the week. Only then will I do some work with my choice of S-Pens: white or black.