Wimbledon’s over, we’re between ashes tests, and Sharpe’s Battle is stuck in the post, so what is there to live for? The Tour de France is okay I suppose, if you like men who look a bit like insects, but watching Chris Froome’s withered little arms clinging to his handlebars isn’t the best accompaniment to a happy buttery lunch. What else am I supposed to stare at with my mouth open while jabbing listlessly at my laptop keyboard with a single index finger?
I’m not making brilliant progress with my summer desk work but it’s not all my fault, I’ve spent the last week writing a description of each of the burials excavated at my part of the Egyptian cemetery in the spring and each burial description requires me to cross-reference half a dozen forms, some of which have been written by one of my site assistants, in 6H pencil, in Klingon (you know who you are, K; at least your photos were alright). My parents are not helping. While I’m trying to work my mum sits down next to me and starts telling me about her friend’s daughter’s boyfriend’s trouble with his sister’s friend’s dogs, or worse, about my brother’s children who won’t do anything genuinely interesting for at least another twenty years if ever. I’ve tried to block out the long pointless arguments conducted from opposite ends of the house by using my last pair of earplugs and wrapping a thick scarf round my head but it doesn’t even take the edge off. I’ve tried sticking a note on my forehead pointing out that I’m at work now, but it’s just an invitation for my mum to start a conversation about ‘how it’s going’.
This is of course the problem of the freelancer working from home and living with others. That and the problems of being lazy and easily distracted. The other major problem of the freelancer is cash flow. I haven’t been paid now since March and when I last checked I had £29 in the bank. It’s not that I haven’t been working, just that people have been very slow in paying. I finally got my cheque for the Egyptian dig after waiting eight weeks for it; I took it to the bank last Thursday, but apparently it can take up to two weeks to process “funny foreign cheques from funny foreign banks” and so I wait. It’s now been over a month since Museum of London Archaeology said that the cheque for the job I did in Crewe would go “straight in the post”, and after many emails the British Museum has told me I can expect my expense claim from that interview disaster in January to go into my account on 20th of July. “Oh good” I replied, “that’ll be the six month anniversary of the train ride I’m claiming for”, but it’s hard to convey the appropriate degree of sarcasm in the email format.
I care not for tawdry money of course, the soul can be rich in the depths of worldly poverty, but it’s embarrassing to ask my dad if I can borrow a tenner when I want to go to the pub. And I have holes in all my socks.