It's been a beautiful morning and even my son's declaration that he loves Coldplay hasn't dented my good mood. We have just returned from the beach, which was eerily deserted:
What's the matter with people? After one of the longest, most soul-destroying winters in living memory, I would have expected everyone within a 10-mile radius to flock to the beach on a day like this.
Perhaps, unlike me, they knew that the tide was coming in.
The empty calm of Birling Gap made a marked contrast to the place I was at 12 hours earlier:
This looks like a set from the 1960s German sci-fi television series Raumpatrouille Orion, but is actually a chichi cocktail bar in Brighton where 'happening' people go.
Because most of my happening has already happened, I felt a little incongruous. However, as I'd gone for the Russian oligarch look that evening, I blended in quite well with the other middle-aged men, most of whom had kindly taken their nieces out for a drink.
My wife and I had arranged to meet a couple for dinner . We barely knew the woman and had never met the husband, so it felt a little like a blind date. Fortunately, they turned out to be lovely people and although the conversation was dominated by comparing notes about our sons' conditions, we found many other things to talk about.
The husband is a screenwriter and complained about the number of manuscripts he received from would-be writers: "If I tell them to bugger off because I'm too busy, they're fine. But if I actually read the thing and criticise it, they can't stand it!"
It rang horribly true.
I thought of the many self-published novels that I'd been given over the years. On one occasion, a man handed me three, as if I had nothing better to do in my spare time.
I slammed my beer down on the table: "If I become a millionaire, I'm going to establish a bursary and pay people to not write books."
That was the drink talking. In the cold light of day, the self-publishing scene is far more complex now that we have e-books. Several publishing sensations began as rejected manuscripts that went on to become Kindle bestsellers. Others, like Hugh Howey's Wool series, were released straight into Kindle format, without any attempt to submit the manuscript to a publisher. Wool is now a bestselling book, with a 20th Century Fox adaptation in the pipeline.
Of course, these books are the exceptions to the rule and as a reader, I'd still rather have my choice of new novels curated by publishers, booksellers and literary agents. When I look at Amazon's Kindle books pages, I feel overwhelmed and frustrated by the number of self-published titles. How do I know if they're any good? Can I trust the reviews?
On the other hand, if I ever find that there is a book inside me but nobody wants to publish it, it's comforting to know that it's possible to send it out into the world without destroying any trees or wasting a four-figure sum of money.
In the meantime, I'm trying to make a living by selling books. Sometimes it feels as events are conspiring to drive me out of business and during the last few months, I've had to contend with a leaking roof, an alcoholic Polish forklift truck driver, an infestation of rodents, the bankruptcy of my postal company and a rates bill that is far higher than expected. As if that isn't enough, I've now discovered that a robin has made a home in the bookshelves:
I suppose if the eggs hatch, there'll be more robins, more nests and more droppings on the computers. I didn't envisage any of this.