From my cosy overpriced flat in Brighton I can see a main road. My living room overlooks the road and so when I say I'm writing, what I frequently mean is I'm sat staring out of the window at passers by on the main road. My dreams vary from simple ones where my boyfriend, let's call him Alan, comes home with a winning lottery ticket or a commissioned TV series to far more complicated ones where a helicopter lands and out jumps a publishing company and the owners of a curiously well funded Indie film company. They've found my blog online and like my excerpts for As We Know It and they just have to be able to make it - especially if I agree to maintain complete creative control and star in it too.
"Quick!" They say, "You must finish it... NOW!" And, spurred on by their enthusiasm I finish the book there and then while they feed me mackerel pate on excellent little biscuits. Alan comes home to find me already on the phone to Graham Norton - I'm going on the show this weekend! We do some furious cuddling while the publishing company proof read my flawless grammar in the next room.
Ah, what a dream. If only I were actually writing instead of gazing out of the window there's no reason that dream couldn't morph into a vaguely similar reality.
My little hobbit hole of a residence is in a lovely area where we have many local shops and community centres. It's the sort of place you move to when you've got the time and energy to believe in society again. Or, at least one of you has; one of you probably works in London to afford the time and energy the other one is spending.
Around the corner, just down the hill and slightly to the right there is a community centre that does sport classes and children's dance lessons. I've never been in there but I like the eclectic mix of offers on the hand written posters in the window. If I had children it would be exactly the sort of place I could take them. As children they would hate it: "Why can't we just watch TV instead? I hate ballet." but as young adults they will feel differently, instead of despising the fact that they have to go they will realise they have a choice and feel guilty instead that they choose not to keep it up. But at least it won't be my fault.
One of my favourite things to witness from my porthole into Brighton's events, is the 30-40 minutes before the Samurai class begins. Yes, you heard me right. If you have enough money in the residential parts of Brighton you can pay for your child to become a Samurai... and it only seems to take about 60 minutes a week of their time. I sit in my chair by the window and I watch all the little would-be Ninjas traipsing down the hill in their black pyjamas with a red belt. At first I thought they were having some sort of regular karate or judo lesson (excuse my ignorance in this subject - I do not know the difference) but then I walked past the little building and noticed that it has a new poster up in the window.
"SAMURAI CENTRE - ENROL YOUR CHILD TODAY"
Curse my barren loins that there is no child in my life I can enrol to become a Samurai. I will have to satisfy myself with watching other parents taking their little darlings past my house and down to the classes. I like the mix of children that attend... they are mainly boys but there are a few girls. There are the tall, wiry girls with already terrible hair that you know will struggle for another few years and really only come into their own when they discover hockey and the fact they can drink as much as a man. There is one particular sweet looking little girl whose mother dresses like a barbie herself, and I like to imagine that this Samurai class is the little girls very first act of rebellion against following in her 6 inch heeled footsteps.
There are a few boys that head down the hill together, already practising last week's moves on each other and imaginary foes. They are excited - proud of their pyjamas and pretty sure every week that this will be the week they finally kill someone.
Then there is my favourite little boy. He is a fat little boy who trudges behind his mum and dad, already crying and trying to move his feet slowly enough that he will miss the lesson. Sometimes Mum is carrying him to scupper his plan, sometimes Dad is. Sometimes he's not crying... sometimes he's playing an excellent little game in his mind to distract himself, it seems, from the horrors that lie ahead. I guess that Mum and Dad both take him to the lesson so that he feels better about it, but maybe they drop him off there and go and have time to themselves? I don't know.
He really is a fat little boy. His Mum and Dad are not fat. He is only fat in the way that a young child is... He doesn't look ill and it doesn't look like the fat will last. But he is fat.
I am impressed with his parents for making him go to Samurai classes; for not just plonking him in front of a TV and assuming their job is done because he's eating and the electricity is paid for to power the learning box. It is good that they get him exercise, it makes me not judge them that their boy is tubby. Maybe he's just tubby.
On the other hand... I hate them for making him go.
"Let him be fat and happy!" I sometimes think, when my brain is feeling sorry for me and projecting onto people walking past, "Dear god it is never going to come in handy for this child to be a Samurai. If there was ever a time in history when it was ok for this little boy to wallow in his flesh and be jubilantly ignorant to the ways of the Samurai then it is now! He will get a marvellous job doing computer coding because he never wanted to leave his computer and he will earn more than all the joggers currently lapping Hove Park put together. He doesn't want to be a Samurai... he wants to be a happy lazy fat boy. Let him be!"
Sometimes I day dream well for him. Sometimes I imagine that his walk there is actually awful because he hates cars and he is delighted when he steps inside the sanctuary of the Samurai centre. Sometimes I think he is probably a master of Kung Fu (is that what Samurais do?) and only wears a tiny fat suit to help him train harder and so that he doesn't embarrass the other children at his class. He's really down to earth like that. Sometimes I think he is probably crying because he doesn't like being saddled with all the wisdom of a Samurai at the tender age of... what is he? Maybe 6? What 6 year old is comfortable knowing they have the knowledge and the physical capacity to kill both their parents if the need arises?
Sometimes I daydream badly for him and I'm plummeted into despair. I daydream of the day he finally stands up to the bullies who tease him for his size. He remembers that he is, after all, a Samurai and therefore doesn't need to take this mockery. So he begins to fight. They laugh at him and punch him. He is no match. He falls over. He is not a Samurai.
I daydream that one day I will rescue him. As his daps carry him past my house, beyond the window's gaze in Brighton that day, I will dash out onto the steps.
"Wait!" I'll call after his parents, "Stop that Samurai!"
They turn, confused, wondering if I mean them.
"I mean you!" I call, dashing down my front steps and after them. "Wait!"
They look me up and down, slowly recognising me from my head shots and from the front page of last week's Brighton Argus.
"You're Laura Lexx," they say in disbelief, "That local author who has just signed a multi billion pound deal to have her book published and put in every hotel room instead of the bible. The one who has the film deal too where Sandra Bullock and Dawn French have agreed to work for free because the script is so good? My goodness. What do you want with us?"
"I need your little boy." I say, a little out of breath because I haven't got the most out of the free gym membership I received when they made me honorary Mayoress of every town I wanted to be Mayoress of.
"You can have him..." they say quickly, "Anything you need. We'll pack him a suitcase tonight. Obviously we'll miss him because we love him dearly but we're sure you can give him a better life than we can."
"No, no, no!" I say, laughing and shaking my head. "I need him to be in the film."
"But there isn't a little boy in As We Know It?" the parents say, confused. "We have already read it four times."
"It was only published this morning?" I say.
"We know." They reply, "But we burned all our existing books and cancelled our broadband connection because it's really all we need. There is definitely no little boy in it."
"Ah," I say, kneeling down so my face is the same height as the fat little Samurai's. "But you haven't read the film script. And in the film script there is a little boy. A little boy who looks just like this. Because I wrote in a little boy, just so you could have a part. Because I think you are so special."
The little boy looks at me, hope and a desperate fear of believing too hard in his eyes.
"Is the little boy a Samurai?" he asks nervously, wide eyed.
"Absolutely fucking not." I say.