Busy Doing Nothing

by

I was busily playing Tetris when an email came in from one of my favourite erotic magazines asking me to write an article about swinging. As you may or may not know—I’ve written a non-fiction book about swinging [Swingers: True confessions from the Modern Swinging Scene]. I’ve actually written two and the second one is due out in June or July. And the lovely editor at my favourite erotic magazine was responding to an email enquiry I’d made earlier in the year.

“Can you write an article about swinging? The deadline is the end of next month. Is that OK?”

After getting a new high score on Tetris (three lines! my personal best!) I felt sufficiently buoyed to be cocky. “The end of next month?” I wrote back. “I’ll have your article with you for the end of this week.”

I sent the email and then celebrated with another game or eight of Tetris. Then, carefully, deliberately and professionally, I began to outline the swinging article.

Which is when the email from the BBC came in.

“Are you the Ashley Lister that’s written the book on swinging? Can you help us with some research? And would you be comfortable appearing on TV and talking about swinging?”

I have to admit I was quite excited. I phoned the number at the bottom of the email and had a lengthy chat with a BBC man who asked lots of questions.

“Are you Ashley Lister?”

“Of course—check out the nipple ring.”

“Can you help with the research?”

“Research is my middle name.”

“Would you be comfortable appearing on TV?”

“Does the pope shit in the woods?”

In the blink of an eye, I could picture my meteoric rise to superstardom. My handsome face on a TV documentary; my deep and manly voice enthralling the nation as I spoke learnedly yet saucily; the movie producers noticing me, scrabbling for my telephone number, and earnestly asking if I’d be comfortable doing a nude scene with Angelina Jolie.

The BBC informed me that they didn’t think the pope shat in the woods.

However, we discussed filming schedules. They asked if I could manage Monday or Tuesday. I told them my Mondays and Tuesdays were sacrosanct. It’s not that hangovers last a long time in my household: I have college on Mondays and Tuesdays and the subject matter is so intense I don’t dare miss a lesson. We’re currently learning the difference between nouns and verbs. It’s heady stuff.

So we tentatively agreed filming for the weekend. They asked if I could send some appropriate material through before the end of the week. In my most competent and professional voice I assured them that wouldn’t be a problem. I then hung up and remembered I’d promised an article for my favourite erotic magazine by the end of the week. The anxiety that accompanied that thought meant my scores on Tetris were severely below the usual one and a half line average.

Nevertheless, it was only Wednesday lunchtime and, technically, I had until Friday teatime to prepare an article and a slender portfolio of research. This meant I could industriously plough through a few more games of Tetris as I tried to formulate the most effective ways of tackling both writing projects.

Which was when the telephone call from the college came in.

“Ashley, would you be able to teach a class on Friday?”

“Shit!” I thought. “Sure!” I said. I took down details of time, location, class and subject. And then calculated that I only had the remainder of Wednesday and all of Thursday to write a two thousand word article, produce a portfolio of research, and prepare a class.

Of course, if I’d had any sense, I would have prepared the class first and assigned various projects to various students. If one of them was working on the swinging article and another was doing the research for the BBC, I would have had time to carry on playing Tetris for a little while longer.

But, instead, I decided to be diligent. The BBC material was researched, written and sent off before the end of Wednesday night. The magazine article took a little longer but that was ready by Thursday lunchtime. While I was writing up my lesson plan for Friday I got a call from the BBC thanking me for my information and telling me it was just what they needed for their programme.

“Are we still on for filming on Saturday?” I asked. It was just a polite enquiry. I was wondering whether or not to change my business cards so that they read: ASHLEY LISTER – TV STAR.

“Saturday?” The BBC man repeated. “We’ll get back to you.”

I reread through the magazine article on Thursday.

I took the class on Friday. And I got down on my knees afterwards and prayed my grateful thanks to the great god of caffeine and “stay-awake” pills. I’ve always argued that sleep is for wimps. Admittedly, I dosed off a couple of times during the Friday lecture but I don’t think any of my students noticed.

And I went home expecting to have received an email from the BBC telling me where and when they wanted me. The absence of an email suggested they didn’t want me anywhere or at any time. I tried phoning them. The answer-phone message said the staff from that office had gone home for the weekend. I tried emailing them. And I got no response.

And I mention all of this, not because I’m bitterly frustrated, annoyed or peeved to any degree. I mention all of this just in case any movie producers are reading my column and wondering who they can cast alongside Angelina Jolie in their next big blockbuster. Although, if a movie producer is reading this, I’d prefer to be cast either on top of Angelina Jolie or maybe underneath her. It’s easy enough to reach me—just try not to disturb my game of Tetris.

Ashley Lister
April 2008


“Ashley Lister Submits” © 2008 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

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