There is so much writing inspiration to be found in the everyday; things that lie doormat until one day they become useful in our writing lives.
This morning on Twitter, Mathew Tobin shared a carefully crafted sign his five-year-old son had made: Warning. The sign (which featured an artful skull and crossbones) made me smile, as I imagined his little fingers surreptitiously peeling back strips of Sellotape to affix his masterpiece to the door.
So, this afternoon I sat in the sunshine and played around with the possibilities of giving Sellotape a personality. I loved every moment.
Photographs from Wes Naman’s Scotch Tape series.
Crouched unsteadily on the kitchen floor, she dabs at the shards of champagne flute glistening across the cold tiles with her tape-covered fingertips. The accusing r – i – P of the tape before it rescues her from further self-inflicted torture. Another careless mistake with a wedding gift, bought an age ago in celebration of what became the kind of wonderful marriage that has weathered storms that cannot be quelled by a few simple strips of Sellotape.
Comfortably nestled at the back of a kitchen drawer, that imposing beam of perilous daylight has come to invoke an involuntary reaction. I recoil and hold my breath as you continue to voice and scribble your list and rifle through my world for the ‘right’ shopping bags. Just as suddenly, darkness returns. I exhale and the stillness embraces my relief.
(Bad at Keeping a) Secret Sellotape
Becca’s amazing on the verge of fourteen (already!) but this bit was definitely easier when she was little. I had wanted to surprise her with the perfect birthday present but caved in and asked her what she wanted. Not what I would have chosen, to be honest, but I know she’ll be so excited I actually bought it for her.
Anyway, it’s after ten and I know she’s still up. She stopped gossiping on that phone half an hour ago but I know they’re still messaging. I don’t know how she does it, I’m done for the day! If I didn’t turn the wifi off at night, she’d never sleep. I just want to wrap this, so it’s ready for when she wakes – another year wiser, God help me!
I place Becca’s present in a gorgeous holdall I found on asos, before tenderly packing out the space with protective straw and a couple of extra bits I couldn’t resist. She could use the bag for camping or for going away with friends when she’s older, if she still likes it. I hope she does.
Crawling onto the floor, I pull the rolls of wrapping paper from their sleeve and lay them in a jigsaw on the carpet. The radiator hums. I lift her present off the bed and place it along one edge of the paper, move it to the adjacent edge and finally to the centre.
Tiptoeing carefully along the strip of available floor space to the cupboard, I take down the Bits’n’Pieces box. Yes! I have more than enough Sellotape for the mammoth operation ahead. Retracing my tiny steps, I kneel by the edge furthest from the door.
I pick at the edge of the Sellotape and peel off the loudest longest strip, shattering the silence.
Silence. I hear Becca’s door creak and her approaching footsteps.
I am trapped: “Happy (early) Birthday, Becca!”
Forgotten at the back of that same kitchen drawer, an occasional beam of daylight used to offer a fleeting glimpse of the world. It used to offer hope. Hope doesn’t spring eternal. Trust me.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard, “Where’s the Sellotape?” A quick shuffle, my landscape changes beyond recognition and darkness returns. Give it a couple of days and I’m being headbutted by yet another new roll and they’re becoming increasingly cocky.
I know I should relax and enjoy what appears to be retirement, I just can’t help but remember the limelight I enjoyed over Christmas 2006. Believe me I have tried and thought I’d reached a place of acceptance; a couple of celebration-free months holed up next to Shy Sellotape helped me recognise my glory days are probably behind me. I know he’d been an integral part of several legendary Pass the Parcels but you’d never know it. To be honest, my tack is probably not what it was and I’m slowly fading from yellowing to brown.
Yesterday, the new roll on the block arrived; part of a ‘new product launch’ and doesn’t he know it. Looks like Sellotape to me. No point reinventing the wheel or remaining hopeful. He’ll learn.
Closer than anyone has ever been to the computer keyboard, I survey my fate, aghast. Crumbs and specks and hairs and what the …?s Oh the indignity of having my purpose on this planet decided by such a filthy human. I believe that splat used to be part of the food chain, by virtue of its one remaining leg.
My Time Has Come.
I am aligned, pause and bleurgh and down I go! I connect with each and every horror before riiiiiip! Lying on the desk dressed in someone else’s detritus, there is some satisfaction in knowing I have left the keyboard looking like new. Although I would feel less undignified if he’d bother to drop me in the wastepaper basket.
The filthy human is back online, hunched over the pristine keyboard with a latte and … is that a flaky pastry?!