” ‘We are all in hell,’ he said cheerfully, ‘we just don’t know what level. What a joy, to have a person of culture in a place such as this.’ … He asked me what I would do with my studies and with my life. I did have one half-formed and slightly ridiculous ambition, one that I tended to keep very quiet about but for some reason I blurted it out. ‘I’d like to be a writer.’
“He widened his eyes at me and then tilted back his head. Then he stroked his chin judiciously and leaned forward close enough for me to smell his coconut-scented hair-oil. ‘Then I advise you. If you go into this kind of life, you need a strong a-heart. And a strong liver. In some ways it is like show business. You need a strong liver because some days you only eat bread. And find a good woman. This is terribly important. Not one of these silly girls who likes shiny necklaces and bangles and such things. No.’ He summarised this advice for me. ‘Good heart; good liver; good woman.’ ”
‘The Year of the Ladybird’ by Graham Joyce
And if you haven’t read Graham Joyce, may I suggest that you do? I have in the last few years enjoyed tremendously ‘Memoirs of a Master Forger’ and ‘Some Kind of Fairy Tale’, as well as ‘The Tooth Fairy’.