You'd think I'd have learned, but when my manager sat on my desk at far-too-early in the morning and wiggled her bum, spilling stacks of unnumbered papers onto the floor and into the bin, my hangover told me not to argue with whatever she wanted.
"Darling," she cooed, "I want you."
My hangover retracted its previous statement immediately.
"I think I might be spoken for," I said. I still felt nauseous, and until I'd fished the papers out of the bin -- some of them were probably pages for our Modern Art coffee table book -- I couldn't throw up in it. Again. I suddenly realised that some of the pages might be beyond saving already.
"I want you to produce the next book in the series," she said, running her finger through her moustache. She had a bad experience with hair-removal products once and is happier looking like a gorilla than trying again. "We've have French and German cooking, we can't stop there or we risk upsetting our European market."
"Dutch Cuisine?" I suggested, wondering how well a recipe book that required illegal ingredients would sell.
"No silly, and it would be Netherlandish Cooking anyway. That'll be book six. The next book, obviously, is Italian cooking. I want lots of pasta, lots of pesto, lots of--"
"Piss off?" I suggested under my breath, just as she ran out of alliteration.
"I want you to take this seriously. The French cooking book sold well, the German cooking one is also selling well, so there's a high bar set for you. Do well, and I'll see that you get paid this month."
She launched herself from my desk, which rebounded like a continent reacting to the departure of a glacier only faster. Papers fountained into the air and fluttered to the ground like butterflies caught in a cloud of DDT.
"Well, get on with it!" she said. "And clean this office up, it looks like a war-zone."
My secretary swears I said "Irritant cookery" when I explained it to him, and I think I might have done. I was hungover after all, and I was probably joking. With a man who's sleeping intermittently with my mother and has less of a sense of humour than most corpses. Which explains why, yet again, I have another horribly inappropriate cookery book sat on my desk. The highlights include Bleach pudding, Nettle soup(which sounds quite edible until the last step where you add eight tablespoons of chili powder) and Lye and potato pie which just might appeal to the four people in the world who like Lutefisk.
"The first two books are selling well," said my secretary matter-of-factly. He was right, bizarrely enough; Trench Cookery had found a market with World War I renaissance societies, and Gerbil Cookery had found acceptance in South America. This one however, looked like it had the potential to kill people.