Fife and I just got off the phone. We chatted for ages like teenagers…well, if teenagers talk about divorce and the best secondary school for your son, then we talked like teenagers.
Fife was quite riled up because Helen’s boyfriend has planned to take her and the kids motor racing this weekend, and now Fife can’t have them on Saturday. I asked if Helen and Dave could reschedule, but evidently it’s been booked for ages. According to Fife, Helen claims she told Fife about it ages ago, but Fife doesn’t believe her and swears she sprung it on him at the last minute. We’re going to try to do something next week with the kids instead’ maybe they can come over to Dundee one night and we’ll go to the cinema or something. Anyway, he’s coming over on his own on Friday night for the weekend.
I asked Fife how all the divorce-y type stuff was going. They’re in discussions about the house. Do they sell the house and split it, or does she buy out his half of the house? I asked why he didn’t buy her out of the house – he’s there more than her anyway – and he just laughed, ‘I can’t afford to buy her out.’
I was confused. Surely, if Fife is a full time writer and doesn’t need to work, he must be doing well with his books. I asked if the divorce would be hard on him financially; would she try to take him ‘for all he’s worth’? He laughed again and said that I’ve been watching too many American films.
‘[Helen] makes a lot more money then I do,’ he added. ‘How do you think we can afford for me to stay home with the kids?’
He was getting glum, and I do feel bad for him. I don’t mean to sound selfish, but I wish I’d met him fifteen years ago (actually that would be weird, because I’d be a child). More accurately, I wish he was fifteen years younger, before he had his kids, or even if his kids were grown. Like if that first kid they didn’t have lived, he (or she) would be like 18 years old or something, and it would all be much easier.
Okay, this is getting alternate universe weird. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t like seeing him go through this, and because of the kids the divorce makes him stressed. But he’s a good father, and he and his wife seem to both want the divorce, so I hope there are no problems. And I kind of feel guilty, because before I came along they were happily living together. Or I guess they were. They couldn’t be too happy if they were separated. I don’t know.
Fife then said that next year his oldest would be going to secondary school, and they were trying to decide where to send him, because they aren’t convinced as to the quality of the comprehensives in his area. They were thinking about sending the boys to a public school next year; there’s one in St Andrews. He said that Helen would have to cover the fees, so she’ll probably have a bigger say in the matter. Then he said, ‘He could go to the High (the local term for Dundee High). If you’re going to be inDundee, maybe I should look for a place in…’
What the fuck! Me? What do I have to do with where his kids go to school? I cut him off, ‘Do not plan your kid’s life around me.’
He back tracked a little and said it had nothing to do with me. Helen and he had been considering Dundee High anyway. I didn’t like where this conversation was going, so I changed the subject and asked him about the edits to his book.
He told me that he’s having problems editing his most recent book, because he’s already started writing another book, and when he’s writing one book, he can’t concentrate on another. I said that he should just put the new one aside for a bit, but he said he couldn’t. The idea has just come to his head, and he wants to get it all down before he loses the momentum.
Then he confessed something. The new book he’s writing is not historic fiction. It’s literary fiction, and he’s so excited by this new project. He doesn’t know what his agent and editor are going to say. Fife then asked if I would read it.
I’m really flattered. Very much so. But I don’t know if I want to read it. This is a major change to his career, and I don’t want to encourage him if I shouldn’t. And I don’t want to discourage him if this is something that could really take off. He’s got enough change in his life at the moment, so should he be writing something new? Or is this actually the perfect time for him to start writing literary fiction? I seriously do not have enough experience to help him with this. I don’t know what to do. I told him that I didn’t want to read it until it was finished, but that he should try to focus on the edits as well – this last book is his bread and butter after all.
It was getting late, and I could tell he was getting sleepy. He suggested that next time we Skype. He’s never had phone sex, and he said, ‘When I was a kid I used to dream about the future and imagine that there would be television phones and sexy girls in silver jumpsuits. You could make a boyhood fantasy come true.’
I said I might be into a little naughty Skyping, but I wasn’t wearing a silver jumpsuit. He then asked if I could get him a jetpack — that was his other futuristic fantasy as a child. He was yawning as he spoke, and he sounded so cute. I can’t wait to see him later in the week.