After a fairly lengthy hiatus, I’m back. Because I went away: I find that it helps to be away if you want to come back to somewhere.
I was away at the weekend and I’ve been taking a break from writing, not in any premeditated way but as dictated by circumstance. There is writing which is more creative than this blog being planned but the mind needs to be cleared first, which is one of the many reasons I write this stuff.
The main event of the weekend was my birthday: hardly a cause for celebration in itself at my age but after my last few birthdays, which were either uneventful or eventful for the wrong reasons, my 45th was special. I was treated to a trip to my beloved spiritual home city of London, to see Les Miserables at the theatre. Others can and have done better jobs than I would ever be able to do of reviewing that show, so I’ll just go on record as saying that it was fucking amazing, as ever. I’ve seen it before and intend to do so again.
To enhance the experience, it cost me fuck all as it was paid for by one of my best friends: my one time carer and host but always my friend, Nettie; and she wouldn’t be complete without my other dear friend and the member of her family I met first, when I was on the streets: her daughter Meg. Like many of her friends, Meg is wise beyond her teenage years. For my part – intelligence aside – I’m immature: I simply never grew up. The two factors combined mean that I can relate to the youngsters, for I was like them once and I’ve not forgotten, nor will I ever. I don’t want to. I spend so much time with those kids that I can’t. If only others would take the time to get to know the teenagers and understand them like I do. But many parents simply don’t know their own kids, which is why they adopt me. Meg is a fortunate exception because her mum is just like me: she gets it.
The advantage which Nettie enjoys over me is that she’s female and therefore not looked at suspiciously by the plastic police. Just because I’m a male of a certain age, it’s assumed by the defective detectives that my relationships with the teenage girls – who have adopted me and not the other way around – are conducted inappropriately. As I have said in the past, a suspicious mind is often the product of a guilty conscience. I don’t seek those youngsters out; I don’t hang around in their circles: they come to me and choose to spend time in my world. I’m no more a predator than I am a whore. I may flirt occasionally but only in a complimentary way and the girls who’ve adopted me, get me and know that I will not instigate anything. They take my compliments in the way they are intended: as compliments. When I told one of my daughter-type things recently that I would have sex with her, prefixed by “If the ages were different…” she responded with a “Yay”. That’s not to say that I would though, at least not instigated by me.
The drums of the jungle beat loud and rumours are circulating that me and one of my girls had some sort of involvement in the past. One of the perpetuators of the rumours is another teenage girl, who I was once very close to. But not that close. I suspect there may even be an element of jealousy, as the same girl once said that she couldn’t see me for fear that she might fall in love with me. I wouldn’t allow that to happen, if I were in control. I can’t control teenage female hormones but I wouldn’t instigate anything. Ever one to fuel the fires of the rumour mill with petrol, I can confirm that the abounding rumours do contain an element of truth. Those who remain close to me know the truth and the reasoning; those who are not merely have to ask me and I’ll give them the facts but the plastic police prefer to speculate. It’s not me who the rumours could affect adversely but one of my girls, whom I care about deeply. I’m safe in the knowledge though that my one-time squeeze will stand up for her little feisty self. She’s just like me: she won’t start anything but come at her and she will finish it off.
So a fourth daughter-type thing joins the teenage fan club. She hates her real dad and the feeling is mutual apparently. I do try to tell these young ladies that their real dads love them really but have a funny way of showing it and it’s hard to maintain a lie. One is physically abused by her biological father, another blood dad resents his own daughter for being a girl: he wanted a boy; another’s step dad resents and psychologically bullies her simply because she’s not his own and the latest one I’ve not drilled into yet but she thinks her dad is a dick and prefers me. As I’m always pointing out, I’m not a replacement but from what I hear, these blokes are spare parts. And so it became that the Pink Heart family closest to me is now made up of no fewer than six teenage girls: four daughter types and two sisters. I still don’t understand fully what it is about me but who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by such a group, when they are who they are: damaged but beautiful things, whom I love equally and who love me for their own reasons. A text message from one of the daughters last night: “You are an amazing counsellor and father figure. To me, you’re the best dad ever.” That’s why I do it and will only stop when they don’t need me any more.
Returning to London – as I long to do – Saturday was a very special day, for me and I’m told by my hosts that my presence enhanced their day. I played the part of guide dog for the day, showing my companions things which they may not otherwise have seen, like the smallest police station in the world on Trafalgar Square: it’s there, if you know where to look. I do. Lunch was a necessary diversion and was had in Soho: my favourite part of town, being so full of character and characters. Mere words cannot do justice to Les Miserables as staged at the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue but to apply two cliches, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house and the performance earned a full house standing ovation. Post-theatre, we decamped to The Retro Bar, a gay joint just off of Strand, which is no more The Strand than The Elizabeth Clock Tower is Big Ben: London knowledge, see?
A wonderful day was rounded off by a pleasant evening back home, in the pub where I live. This being my birthday, I let myself go a bit and indulged in what might have been an irresponsible alcoholic lapse but by all accounts, I was pleasant company: I was apparently “funny” drunk, as opposed to the unpleasant, confrontational, objectionable drunk I’m now able to realise that I once was. I almost welcomed Sunday morning’s hang over like a long lost friend, for it’s been a while since I suffered such an affliction. Because I have my drinking under control and am no longer constantly drunk and therefore immune to hang overs like I once was. Those hang overs though are not friends I plan to become reacquainted with and since Sunday, I’ve remained sober, to the relief of myself and others, not least of all my mum. I’m better now: a better person and pleasant company to be in. I’m one of the lucky ones, who can control their drinking and be reasonably responsible. There are many others far less fortunate.
Presently I should get back to that which I am fortunate enough to be able to call work, for this evening I shall be writing. Yes, I’m my own boss and can choose my hours but often I lose my daytimes and afternoons due to time spent with social visitors and enquirers, housemates and other social interactions and interruptions: such is the occupational hazard of being a writer who lives above a pub. Most of those who choose to see me in the day understand that the reason I can’t see them in the evening is because they’ve displaced me and I’ve lost time which I then have to make up. My job may not pay much and what little it does pay is then spent over the bar downstairs while I entertain interlopers but I have work to do. I need to write; to be prolific in the hope of being noticed. One day this job will pay, if I’m permitted to get on with it.
I’ve just finished reading Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke and enjoyed it immensely. So much so that I have three of the sequels on order with Amazon, who I’m effectively contracted to for sales of The Paradoxicon until it goes into print. Having read the first Rama book, I’m filled with ideas for possibly expanding my own book prior to print publication. As it stands, it has great literary merit – my peers’ opinions – but it is ripe for expansion, either in its own right or with the addition of sequels. Unfortunately, my literary agent of choice, although complimenting the book in both his personal and professional opinion, doesn’t feel that any of his publishers would take the book on. It’s fine as it stands but not their bag. So he’s recommended another agent to me and I need to submit the usual synopsis, pitch, author bio and first few pages of the book to her. In addition, I’m only one week ahead of myself with my regular publication in Schlock Magazine – http://www.schlock.co.uk – where I’m a weekly contributor with my short fiction pieces. It’s accepted and assumed etiquette to be at least two weeks in hand to allow the editor to plan the publication, so I’m behind. COGS appeared last week, Two Wishes is in this week’s edition and Ticks is in next week but I need to submit in advance to keep my name on the front cover.
I received a comment on COGS recently: “Absolutely morally wrong but brilliantly written. By the very nature of the way the story is written, you have pushed the barriers of acceptability without crossing them by the context in which you have contained the piece. One of the best and most disturbing short stories I have ever read and one which will never leave my consciousness. And then I read The Child Who Wished for Nothing: you made me cry. You have an ability to play with emotions, which I’ve rarely seen in writers and I read a lot. Keep up the good work, for you have a rare talent.” That’s why I do it: to affect people and stay with them, sometimes in their sleep.
I love where I am with life and I love what I do, when I’m able to do it. I’m a horror writer and have to write at night. That’s what I’m going to do now.
Welcome to my wonky world; to my split personality; to my inner sanctum and my girls; to the cradle of filth.
The pleasure was all ours.
Seeing as someone asked, the next short story to be published in Schlock is called Made of Recycled Materials: an idea given to me by one of my young friends, who wondered how life might be if you became more attractive, the more good you do. My story will be typical of a horror writer and will take the form of an adult Pinocchio, where something becomes more aesthetically pleasing with what happens to it, or what is done to it. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.