The shoulders drop. The breathing deepens. The heartbeat slows.

Yes – dozens of bank statements, invoices, P45s, bills and all the other tedious bits and pieces that in some way represent a year in the life of a freelance copywriter have been found, ordered and bound into the single lever arch file sitting on my left.

I’ve even put the receipts in month order, in the vain hope that this will shave a few pennies off my accountant’s invoice.

Funny how picking up a piece of paper from a cheap Italian eaterie on Ealing Broadway takes you straight back to the moment. I got a lift home that night, instead of making the two-and-a-half-hour, spirit-numbing journey by bus, tube, train and scooter, only to do some chores, sleep and go back again the next day.

I nearly took a full-time job in that agency. Five hours’ commuting every day, to encourage people to buy more and fly more.


I provisionally said yes. The money was good. The job title was good. The people in the creative department were great. But the closer I got to the final interview with Le Grand Fromage, the pissier and snappier I got. Going out into the Sussex countryside at the weekends to look at houses just bigger than this one, that we might just be able to afford, barely lightened my mood.

Then, over dinner, Clare said: “Don’t do it.”

“OK,” I said. “Shan’t.”

The shoulders dropped. The breathing deepened. The heartbeat slowed.


You instinctively know when something is right.