I had just come back from voting in the European referendum at the church round the corner and was sitting in the kitchen of my rented flat at 121 Westcombe Hill when the doorbell rang.
What else before we properly get into it all? I was 46 years old and I had by the standards of London at that time, and by my age, absolutely nothing. I hadn’t accumulated any assets, I hadn’t raised any children or climbed any kind of career ladder. I had failed to take advantage of any of the opportunities that my generation had been gifted.
All I had accumulated in fact was six unpublished attempts at novels and about that number of mid-to-long term relationships that had all foundered from my twenties onward when the women I was with had hit the age where they wanted to form a family, shift into more conventional patterns of life and I panicked and jumped ship.
I was at the point where one of these had just ended and I was contemplating trying to start another with one of the enthusiastic new recruits to the local Labour party branch. There was quite a bit of competition for her and even a few years earlier I would have had a chance, a good chance, but I had crossed some invisible threshold and was now shrouded in failure and decline. Someone younger would get her from now on.
The doorbell rang. What else to say before I get up out my chair and go and answer it? What other details to conclude this quick auto-biographical sketch?
That I generally don’t answer the doorbell when it rings? That not answering it makes me feel a kind of panicked, guilty excitement even if there’s no chance of being found out? This time I got up and went to answer it straightaway because my mood was unusually confident and expansive. There had been a surge in left wing thought and activity in the UK, Corbyn, all that stuff was in its early stages and I was a self-declared socialist of a life-long, loud, fairly general kind.
So the doorbell rang and I went downstairs to answer it.