No, wreally! Those of you unfamiliar with the word, ‘wrotten’ shouldn’t feel too badly because I made it up. (I shall be covering made-up words in a blob futuredatedly). Wrotten, as you’ve probably guessed, is a cross between written and rotten. And, like many accommodating particles it allows itself to be used as an adjective. But, haven’t we all at some time or another?
I have recently returned from a horrible place where I locked my door and windows against the awful Thai New Year water abuse festival. I filled my refrigerator with microwave dinners (Only to discover the place didn’t have a microwave. Warning! Those little plastic trays do not, I repeat do not retain their shape in a gas oven.) I had the owner remove the television and I ran in intravenous drip from a five-liter box of South African red. And there I sat, wrotting away for three weeks only to emerge onto the damp, talcum powder-stained streets with my hand-wrotten book under my arm in four Tesco notebooks. The book is, I don’t hesitate to say, truly awful. But I love it anyway.
It reminds me of a day in 1961 when I was walking home from school and I bumped into Hilary Swank. No. Not that Hilary Swank. That Hilary Swank wasn’t even born yet. This Hilary Swank was 16 and I was surprised to see her pushing a pram along the pavement. Hilary had vanished from our street a year earlier and nobody seemed to know where she’d gone. She was a sixteen-year-old girl so I expected her pram to contain a pretty porcelain dolly with chubby cheeks. But, no. Snarling and burping in that old perambulator was the ugliest baby I’d ever seen in my short life. It had all the charm of a squid.
‘Hello, Colin,’ she said. ‘Look what I did?’
There. She admitted it. I was wondering whether I should call George the local bobby because that child had obviously been abused. But Hilary yanked the little crustacean out of its mobile crypt and held it to her miraculously expanded bosoms. And it was quite obvious that she loved that child despite its deformities.
‘Well, done, Hil,’ I said, not yet realizing how a child came into being. I was nine, and gooseberry bushes still featured in my concept of human reproduction. I even thought she might have picked it up cheap at a seconds store in London.
Both the child and Hilary grew up and we later learned that George the bobby had been more than a little complicit in the manufacture of the ugly baby. The moustache should have been a dead giveaway. He was sacked and he and Hilary and Nosferatu Jr. moved to a nearby suburb. I saw them from time to time on Wimbledon Broadway. Hilary went to great lengths to disguise her child who, to my surprise, turned out to be a female. Hilary dressed her daughter in pink ribbons in the summer and pink bobble hats in the winter and I imagine she spent a good deal of money on facial reconstruction because, year by year, the child started to resemble a normal human being. In fact, by the time she was sixteen all that plastic surgery had turned her into a real looker.
I met her in a pub when I was home from my last year at college. To the amazement of my old football teammates, she swaggered over to our table, smiled, wiggled a little bit, and said, ‘Hello, Colin. Do you remember me?’
No, wait. There was a point to this. What was it again? Oh, right. The book I’ve wrotten. You see, my book is really ugly. It’s stupid and badly wrotten and is fully of mistakes and embarrassing bits and characters get killed then come back to life again, and I keep giving everyone the wrong names, etcetera, etcetera. There’s nothing good about it at all. If anyone could decipher my horrible handwrotting, they’d be dismayed by my rapid decline, my fall from crime-writing superstar to doggy doodoo. They might even call into question my IQ and ethnic background.
But, you see? All my books look like that when I bring them home. They’re all wrotten. I know with a pink ribbon here, a good deal of facial reconstruction, an Oprah makeover and a workout, that my book will stroll up to me one evening and say, ‘Hello Colin. Remember me?’ And she’ll be a beauty. And my mates will dig me in the ribs and go, ‘Whoooa!’
Hopefully it won’t get pregnant when it’s sixteen.