Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life: Melissa Kite

Article excerpt

Credit: Melissa Kite

In the end, I threw my mobile phone into a sack of Chudley's dog biscuits. It was the only way I could finish the book. The bag of Chudley's was in a cupboard so it didn't even matter that I hadn't silenced the phone before I threw it in there. At most, all I could hear as I hammered away on the keys of my laptop was a faint beep every few minutes as everyone in the universe texted me to say how disgusted they were that I wasn't answering.

Result: finished book. In one day. That's all it took. Six months I've been labouring over this novel with my phone beeping beside me, like a baby sparrow with its needy little beak open. But in the space of one blissful day when my phone was inside a sack of dog biscuits I managed to get it done.

And with the book finished, I could turn my attention to all the matters I have only been able to half-deal with for so long. A person writing a book is not really a functioning person at all. It's a person with half their head in another place. It's a half person, a person paying half attention to everything and getting everything at least half wrong. Chief among the things I have got half wrong recently is the issue of the dormer windows.

You may remember I found a planning notice on the lamppost outside my flat announcing the installation of roof lights and dormer windows in the flat upstairs.

It turns out I imagined the words dormer windows. It only ever said roof lights. I banged on the neighbours' door and they explained. No loft conversion was planned, only a vaulted ceiling. Would that be alright? The two brothers looked at me timidly. I had not helped my reputation with my chosen method of entering their home. When the older brother answered the door, my spaniel shot out of my flat into his and so I launched myself into his hallway and threw myself on top of her.

I looked up at him from the floor where I was lying on my stomach, a squirming spaniel beneath me, and said: 'Hello, I've come to talk about your loft conversion.'

It went downhill from there, really. 'We're not planning a loft conversion. No, no dormer windows.'

This was all the fault of the council, I decided. I should have received a letter notifying me of the application and I didn't, sparking my panic when I saw it on the lamppost with only a week to go before the end of the consultation period. …

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