So now I’m reduced to looking through the Media Guardian, looking for jobs I might just have half a chance of getting. So far, I’ve ringed a staff writer job on Investor’s Chronicle, an assistant editorship of Personal Investment Periodical, and editor of Annuities Today. I don’t know much about annuities, but I can always quickly read a book about it.
“How are you doing?” says Suze, coming into the room with a bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes.
“Fine,” I say, trying to raise a smile. “I’ll get there.” Suze takes a mouthful of cereal and eyes me thoughtfully.
“What have you got planned for today?”
“Nothing much,” I say morosely. “You know — just trying to get a job. Sort out my mess of a life. That kind of thing.”
“Oh right.” Suze pulls a sympathetic face. “Have you found anything interesting yet?”
I flick my fingers toward a ringed advertisement.
“I thought I’d go for editor of Annuities Today. The right candidate may also be considered for editorship of the annual Tax Rebate supplement!”
“Really?” She involuntarily pulls a face — then hastily adds, “I mean… that sounds good! Really interesting!”
“Tax rebates? Suze, please.”
“Well — you know. Relatively speaking.”
I rest my head on my knees and stare at the sitting-room carpet. The sound on the television has been turned down, and there’s silence in the room apart from Suze munching. I close my eyes and slump down farther on the floor, until my head’s resting on the sofa seat. I feel as though I could stay here for the rest of my life.
“Bex, I’m worried about you,” says Suze. “You haven’t been out for days. What else are you planning to do today?”
I open my eyes briefly and see her peering anxiously down at me.
“Dunno. Watch Morning Coffee.”
“You are not watching Morning Coffee!” says Suze firmly. “Come on.” She closes the Media Guardian. “I’ve had a really good idea.”
“What?” I say suspiciously as she drags me to my room. She swings open the door, leads me inside, and spreads her arms around, gesturing to the mess everywhere.
“I think you should spend the morning decluttering.”
“What?” I stare at her in horror. “I don’t want to declutter.”
“Yes, you do! Honestly, you’ll feel so great, like I did. It was brilliant! I felt so good afterward.”
“Yes, and you had no clothes! You had to borrow knickers from me for three weeks!”
“Well, OK,” she concedes. “Maybe I went a bit too far. But the point is, it completely transforms your life.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
“It does! It’s feng shui! You have to let things out of your life to allow the new good things in.”
“It’s true! The moment I decluttered, I got Hadleys phoning me up with an offer. Come on, Bex… Just a little bit of decluttering would do you a world of good.”
She throws open my wardrobe and begins to leaf through my clothes.
“I mean, look at this,” she says, pulling out a blue fringed suede skirt. “When did you last wear that?”
“Erm… quite recently,” I say, crossing my fingers behind my back. I bought that skirt off a stall in the Portobello Road without trying it on — and when I got it home it was too small. But you never know, I might lose loads of weight one day.
“And these… and these…” She gives an incredulous frown. “Blimey, Bex, how many pairs of black trousers have you got?”
“Only one! Two, maybe.”
“Four… five… six…” She’s leafing through the hangers, sternly plucking out pairs of trousers.
“Those ones are just for when I feel fat,” I say defensively as she pulls out my comfy old Benetton boot-cuts. “And those are jeans!” I exclaim as she starts rooting around at the bottom. “Jeans don’t count as trousers!”
“Says everybody! It’s common knowledge!”
“Yeah… and those are for skiing! They’re a completely different thing! They’re sportswear.” Suze turns to look at me.
“Bex, you’ve never been skiing.”
“I know,” I say after a short silence. “But… you know. Just in case I ever get asked. And they were on sale.”
“And what’s this?” She picks up my fencing mask gingerly. “This could go straight in the bin.”