Paint It African Ebony No. 3

Paint It African Ebony No. 3 Even with all my years experience as a test pilot I knew I couldn't land this bird with one wing blown off and a fire blazing through the other. I unhooked Jenkins from his parachute - he wouldn't be needing it any more poor chap, clambered into it myself, made my best guess about which way was up and leapt clear of my spinning, ill-fated kite. Mmmm.

I snapped awake at five-thirty. I knew they'd come at dawn. I watched the first rays of sunlight creep across the cabin floor and listened for footsteps. Although getting out of this one required absolute concentration - I couldn't help the occasional glance at the girl keeping me company. Maybe she was even more beautiful when she slept, but maybe I wouldn't have let myself get in this mess if it hadn't been for those big brown eyes and the way... Oh forget it.

It was three a.m. and still no sign of the Dutchman. I flipped another coffin nail out of my softpack of Luckies, collared up and tucked in tight against the north wind to get it lit. Jesus it was cold. These were mean streets at the height of summer, but in the dead of winter? It was lucky I was a mean guy. Oh dear. It's no good. I am not James Bond, nor was meant to be - I'm not even John Noakes.

It's alright making stuff up - but in the end you have to write about what you know, and this is all I've been thinking about for the last three months. First estate agents, then estate agents and solicitors, then other people's solicitors and people at the building society called Kevin. Then surveyors, and after the surveyors the tradesmen and their oh so sad refrains "Ah, well, that's a special order. Not before Christmas I'm afraid. Yes, I have come to fit it but I can't lift it." But also, in and amongst, this peculiar feeling that I somehow have erased from my mind the important rite of passage where I solemnly undertook to become an adherent of a new religion. At what point did I say I'd make a pilgrimage every day without fail to DIY super store? There to spend at least fifteen pounds. I'll bet the ceremony involved a ritual hitting of my thumb with a hammer - it should've done and it would explain the bruises.

People say, you don't buy a house, it buys you, and you know exactly who's bought who, not when you awake at three in the morning because you've had a nightmare about not being able to get the right length of curtain rails. Not even when you find yourself incapable of any topic of conversation other than the much disputed question of whether the living room should be "Primrose" or "Cheeky Cheddar". No, you know just who owns who when you find yourself unwinding in front of a soft porn film on Channel 5 somewhere around midnight and instead of getting quite excited about the fact that the blonde with the painful face lift has just taken her knickers off and willing the camera to tilt down in that direction, you are admiring the kitchen in the background and willing the camera to tilt down to see whether the floor tiles are cork or terracotta. All the time thinking - "I wonder what that work surface is. Is it real granite? Or is it just a melamine veneer. On a porn set, they'd probably just have melamine veneer, wouldn't they?"