Susy and David had warned me that it would be very big, and that it came in two parts currently standing in their corridor, wrapped, and that I might have nowhere to put it, so I went over to their place in Hampstead a couple of nights ago to take it home with me in a people carrier. It was a lovely evening. David was making his television debut in "History of the World Backwards" so we all sat and watched that and I showed them some of my scars from work and spilt the Chinese on the carpet. He was playing a George Harrison tribute act who crash-lands in the Amazon inadvertently inspiring the indigenous peoples' pudding bowl haircuts. (He's in the Bootleg Beatles in real life. Only he's Paul. I didn't know he could do George as well. I'm told he also does an excellent Syd.) On the way home the driver asked me if I'd ever been in prison, and then told me about a fight he'd witnessed the night before where someone had had his ear chewed off in the street. The driver told me, because I asked him, that he worked twelve hours a day six days a week and actually lived in Luton with his family. I think he was Indian. Seeing a man get his ear bitten off had clearly got him thinking about prison. He made about four hundred pounds a week.
Outside my house we unloaded the present, and I saw that on the former-pub-now-boarded-up-hole-in-the-ground on the corner Morgan from next-door had drawn a big picture of Leonardo da Vinci. He had lobster-claws instead of hands and the words "THE WORLD NEEDS A PAINT BRUSH AND A HUG!" coming out of him. It took two trips to get the present upstairs. I set it up in my room as an interim measure and then went online. I'd warned Susy and David that I would probably have to keep it in the attic until I had more space but it was too late now. What they'd given me was a large, white drawing table. A cast-iron cartoonist's drawing table and four pilot pens and a pad of A2. I had set it up as a sort of easel because of space. It looked really good. And hunched over my laptop I began to think about Heather, who when given a pair of boxing gloves for her birthday had decided she might as well learn how to box... I got up and stretched my legs... Outside of painting my face I hadn't held a brush in ages...
Of course it was a drawing table, not actually an easel, so there was nothing to stop the paper occasionally slipping off, or the paint, but I had a lot of fun that night. I was up until six. As I have been every night since.
Hence the lie-in.