I’m sitting in my, thankfully, waterproof studio writing this with a pencil, glad that we went with tiles for the roof rather than straw thatch. I have a 270 degree vista of mother nature being awesome (that’s awesome as in invoking great awe rather than ‘yeah, like, really good, man’). Ten minutes ago I watched a fifty-year-old coconut tree crash onto the beach as the surf and the sand ganged up on it. My studio’s surrounded by older trees with the same over-confidence as old Nutty along the shore who is now on his way to Vietnam. If this blog stops mid sentence you’ll know wh
The electricity’s been off since Sunday. There’s something sad and pathetic about a computer or a fan or a water pump with no power backing them up. The toilet no longer flushes, the shower no longer spouts, the internet no longer misinforms. We go to bed at seven because that’s when the battery in the lamp runs out and we sweat through the night cause the rain’s coming at us horizontally so we can’t open the windows. Meanwhile, outside in the squall, the dogs forget their personal animosities and huddle together under the truck sharing fleas to keep each other warm.
The monsoons, they said, could start any time after the Loi Gratong festival on November 2nd. Some years they give us a week to put up the plastic fencing and tie up the trees. This year they came at us early with all the fury of pit bulls. But these current onslaughts don’t even crack a mention on the storm watch bulletins. They say we’re having a ‘depression’. You’re telling me. No genius needed to explain how it earned that particular moniker. So, why am I not swinging by the neck from a cross beam? Because I am – heaven be praised – a writer. The water jar beneath the overflow is metaphorically half-full rather than half-empty. (In reality, it’s overflowing and flooding the herb garden, but that’s neither here nor there). Because if you’re a writer, every disaster has a glazed chocolate coating. I am in a state of happy optimism that the misery we are feeling right now can be turned into THE chapter. “Cotterill writes storms with the gritty aplomb of a man who has been washed away in a deluge” (Times Literary Supplement).
And, who can question the wisdom of a man who – apart from allowing himself to be washed away in a deluge for the furtherance of his art – has also set a new mystery series in the very location in which he lives? Every washed-up turtle, exploding transformer, jelly fish allergy, misplaced tourist, funeral poker game, and fish ball dispensing motorcycle side-car. Every flatulent dog, underwear ant, night chorus toad, chili’d squid, visiting monk, boot-lurking snake and ‘if you come around here again with your bloody Amway products I’ll show you why they call it a ‘hoe’’. It’s all coals for the fires of creativity. Why be mad at your wife when she uses your half-completed Sunday crossword puzzle to wrap the putrid corpse of a rat? Run to the studio and write it down. We are self-generating research. We are the inadvertent producers of funny situations. And what we lack in human farce we more than make up for through the vagaries of old Mother Nature. What could be more hilarious than a completely flattened garden? What stand-up comic could compete with a surge of storm ocean poisoning the roots of all our carefully planted flowers and trees? I can barely contain the laughter as I sit here and watch my back fence slide gently into the pummeling surf. See? It’s all material. One man’s misery is another man’s Edgar nomination.
I’ve just put the final full-stop on the first draft of Killed at the Whim of a Hat and posted it off to my editor. Let’s hope she sees the funny side of it before we all drown.
Note: this posting was late because it was sent by donkey.