I never start my writing day without my lipstick. I truly believe that my lippy is the one thing that stands between me being a regular writer and me being the kind of writer who looks like something that the cat has just dragged in after the dog has gnawed on it, buried it and dug it up again … The kind of writer who cuts her hair with a knife and fork and scares little kiddies …The kind of writer who turns up at swanky events wearing a torn T-shirt and tea-stained jeans. And no, that does not refer to a current denim trend like stone-washed or ripped. It refers to jeans that have been worn every single day for months on end without being washed and, as a result, bear the drips and dribbles of a thousand cups of tea.
Sounds weird, I know, but the lippy is the part of my morning routine that anchors me to the real world.
Every morning, even though I work at home and don’t see anyone other than Olive the whippet, I dress in clean, tidy clothes, eat a healthy brekky, make the bed, then do my hair and make-up. The final step of the routine is applying lipstick. I then walk into my study.
Sure, I could work with focus and discipline in my jarmies all day long, with the bed unmade and the dregs of my porridge bowl festering in the sink. But I don’t want to. I escape into a creative world for a good chunk of time every day during the week. I often remain in that world even when I’m away from my desk, which can make me a vague and annoying companion. I just know that if I did not maintain some normality and routine in the rest of my life, I could easily tip over the edge. Oh so easily! Drop the lippy and soon I have stopped doing my hair. And if I’m going to have a rat’s nest on my head, why would I bother changing from my soft, squishy PJs into regular clothes?
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
It’s six months since I last swiped lipstick across my lips. I stagger out of bed, grab a box of chocolates on my way past the kitchen and plonk my flannelette-clad derrière down at my desk.
An hour later, I swipe the cellophane wrappers onto the floor, wipe the chocolate from my face with the sleeve of my jarmies, stagger to the kitchen and rustle up a pot of coffee and a plate full of crumpets and honey. I return to my desk and continue to work. By 3pm, I feel the need for some vitamins or fibre, so I bumble to the fridge. I return to my keyboard bearing a banana, a raw carrot and a whole watermelon.
By the end of the day, I have produced three humorous and charming episodes for my latest book. My writing focus is totally intact. My dignity, however, is not.
My pyjamas are splattered from neck to knee with coffee, runny caramel and honey. Papers cling to my hands and sleeves like Post It Notes. The letters T, R and E are permanently stuck down on my keyboard (caramel is a bummer for computers). Sticky pinkflesh and little black seeds are splattered up the walls from where I crackedthe watermelon open using nothing more than a wooden ruler and the hyperactivity produced from a mega dose of caffeine and sugar. Wasps circle my head in a dither of indecision over which sugary smear to eat first from my desk.
I rake my honey-coated fingers through my hair, decide that the fringe is a little too long, grab my scissors and take a few snips. I inadvertently snip the wing off a wasp. It falls to the desk where it thrashes about in its death throws. Filled with remorse, I put it out of its misery by squashing it with the lid of the chocolate box, burst into loud and lusty sobs, stand up, stagger for the door and step on a sharp piece of carrot. I hop sideways, oohing and ouching, and slip on the banana peel.
I fall heavily. One cannot eat a box of chocolates for breakfast every day and expect to fall lightly.
When the ambulance arrives, my house and my person are in such a shocking state of degeneracy that camera crews appear and as well as being on the national news, every hour, on the hour, for the next three days, I soon appear as a meme or a gif alongside the likes of Donald Trump and the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil.
Get the picture?
This, dear friend, is why I will continue to apply my lippy each morning, come rain, hail or shine. For I am afraid that if I let a little bit of my routine relax, the whole lot will crumble and before I know it I will be attending posh dos looking like I have just crawled out from beneath a rock … or worse still, I'll be featuring on a ghastly reality TV show called ‘Revolting Writers Revealed’ or ‘World’s Most Embarrassing Pyjamas’.