She answers, and we exchange the usual pleasantries.
Me: Anyway, so it’s been nearly a year since I last spoke to you so just thought I’d check in.
I have what many may think an unappealing habit of completely dropping a person the moment they cease to be immediately useful to me and never making contact with them ever again. My past life is littered with abandoned friends and family members.
The friends – well, I’ve never had any problem making new ones, probably to the amazement of anyone who regularly reads this horrible blog, so big deal. And the family members – well, fuck'em, you know?
But I’m starting - with this phone call to a lady that I used to know quite well and speak to very regularly - to try and feel the spirit of the New Year and the good intentions that are supposed to come with it and that.
Old Client: Oh don’t you know? Of course you don’t. We had to liquidate the business six months ago!
O.C: Yeah yeah had to lay-off twenty-five people. Terrible. No fun, no fun at all.
I’ve been robbed of much of my motivation here, but persevere.
Me: What happened? I mean was it the usual thing with, you know ….
O.C: Oh nonono nothing like that. The accountant was stealing.
Me: Eh? Who? Lesley? [Her name wasn’t Lesley] She seemed really pleasant whenever I spoke to her. [To ask if she was ever going to pay me, as it happens]
O.C: I thought so too. She’s halfway-through a two-year prison sentence for fraud now.
I’m really at a bit of a loss now. Old Client is making no effort to end this conversation, but I’ve nowhere to go. I could ask about her family but knowing her school-age son to have a crippling combination of autism and ADHD and also the trouble she’s had finding a suitable school for him – to the extent that she even tried to create a new one tailored for other children with her son’s special requirements – I don’t really want to go there. I’ve such a low level of natural empathy I could be fucking autistic myself.
Me: Right then. Well. Ok. [Old Client is silent. She’s not making this easy on me] You’re alright yourself though?
O.C: It’s been quite a year to be honest. My sister died ….
O.C: ….and my daughter’s been diagnosed with cancer.
O.C: It’s in her brain.
O.C: So, anyway I’m really not doing much in the way of press advertising these days…
Me: Well, God, no, well, of course…
O.C: I’ve a couple of small clients that I do occasional stuff for so I’ll be in touch, but it’s more a hobby now. Lot’s to do, you know? Good to hear from you again though.
Me: Ah. You too. Er….
O.C: [With remarkable cheeriness] Alright then babes, later yeah? Be good!
I hang up. She always ended a conversation ‘Be good!’ It suggested a mutual naughtiness that rather amused me.
I take the imaginary ‘My Name Is Earl’ – style list of my new good intentions and tear it up. And stamp on it. Then set it alight. Before pissing on it, and then burying it in a field of bastards.