There is no greater solitude than that of the Male Trailing Spouse unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle... Perhaps...
Alan Delon in Le Samourai (1967)
I am paraphrasing from the Hagakure Kikigaki, the Japanese Book of Bushido:
"There is no greater solitude than that of the samurai unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle... Perhaps..."
Anything in the Hagakure about cleaning the fucking kitchen?
Substitute "samurai" for "male trailing spouse" and you, dear blog reader, will get the gist. She Who Must Be Obeyed is overseas on biz and I am alone with the cat, reading ancient macho bullshit from feudal era Japan to compensate for said absence of She Who Must Be Obeyed.
Bags of choice: X3 Sports on Inman Park
But while the cat's away, the mice will play. A lot of male trailing spouses say that going to the gym is one of the few things that keeps them sane at post. I am no exception. My new gymnasium, X3 Sports, is a two mile walk up the Atlanta Beltline from HQ in Virginia Highland. Fresh off the banana boat from Bangkok, what caught the eye was Muay Thai misspelled on the canopy as "Muay Tai". That aside, the place has loads of bags, a big ring and hardly anyone around in the daytime when I go and "work out" (I hate that phrase!) What's eerie is that the space reminds me of Master Toddy's old gym in Manchester (only cleaner).
Back in the day: Master Toddy's gym in Manchester
After PT at the gym, I usually grab a quick scoff at nearby Inman Perk Coffee. It is full of hot young ladies from the universities of the city, and creepy white men who all seem to resemble the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Yet this is what I like about America. The blokes are right minging. The girls girls girls are hot hot hot. However, beyond the starved thin figures, dazzling white teeth and luscious thick hair, colonial gals are not really worth the bother of a red blooded chap from England. I have dated, and made dalliance, with scores of nubile American fillies in halcyon days of gore. They are loud, needy, dramatic, materialistic and bloody hard work. Go figure, as they say out here.
Whilst She Who Must Be Obeyed was in the unknown and unexplored regions of the Dark Continent, I edited 14,000 words of the new book. Being a work in progress, it's a right old mess. But the art of writing, just like the Old Man says, is always in the rewrite. In real terms, this means months, perhaps years, of solitude and late nights hunched over the steel tanker desk in Atlanta. I also need a new agent. Do I seek one here in the USA or back home in the UK? In all honesty, do I really need another fucking literary agent? I seem to be doing quite well without one, it has to be said.
Another thing that grates about post is not knowing the terrain or its natives. Atlanta is a stranger to me, and I to it. All of my American family, and so-called friends, are in different parts of the country. So there is the challenge of making chums with completely strange foreigners. I am not too keen about strange foreigners. Or making friends with them. Other people always bring problems and hang ups, and I have enough of my own to be dealing with those of the American variety. An old Latin phrase, homo homini lupus est, comes to mind -- "man is a wolf to his fellow man." Self preservation and all selfishness aside, man is a social animal, not an island, and this wolf's existence is not one that I would recommend.
On the red carpet: Paul Angunawela