Home, bitter sweet home

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THE WRITER’S LIFE

After just two weeks in the new studio, everything about this place has “Home” written all over it, metaphorically speaking. The flat, although small (it’s a studio) is perfect for my modest needs, the neighbours are very pleasant, the mews where I live is idyllic and so is the village. It’s not just nice by comparison with where I’ve come from; it’s just really, really nice here.

Moving home is definitely one of the most stressful things in life. I’ve moved plenty of times though and I’ve experienced a lot of stress. This move was pretty smooth compared to the others and any stress was overridden by a burning desire to get out of the pub as soon as I found out I’d got this place. I’ll not continue to bang on about how hellish it was living at the pub; I’ll just say that it was. And the landlord was an utter thieving, bullying, lying, cheating, intimidating cunt: it’s only libel if it’s not true, so can’t touch me. Everyone who speaks to me and sees me, comments on how well I seem now: how happy I sound, how healthy I look and how much better my general demeanor is. That’s what happens when you remove a thorn from your side and take a hammer to the past.

There were the usual teething problems associated with a new place and the normal amount of things to deal with: notifying people of a change of address, registering with a new doctor, finding one’s way around and so on. I was fortunate to have my usual team of supporters to aid the physical move and occasionally call to see that all was well. I surprised a few people – myself included – by dealing with most of the post-move stuff myself and there are some very friendly and helpful people living and working in the village. Right now, everything is dealt with.

It’s only been over the last couple of days that I’ve got my feet back under the desk in the new writing studio. This is, after all, a studio apartment where a writer lives and works. I’ve knocked out one short story of sufficient literary merit for it to be accepted for publication: Alice in Sunderland will be in Schlock! this coming weekend. It’s a tale of history repeating, with a bitter taste. It’s the 37th short piece I’ve had published, so just another five to write before I’m ready to publish my anthology, The Perpetuity of Memory. I have at least that many at draft stage. This blog entry is a way of getting a few things down and out before I get back to writing the new book. Infana Kolonia is now around 40,000 words and 14 chapters long: about one fifth complete in first draft form and still on schedule for publication around December(ish). I may have found an illustrator for A Girl, Frank Burnside and Haile Selassie, so the children’s book might even be released before the anthology.

My parents have visited the studio and it’s nice to be able to host them in my own place, for the first time in five years: it was that long ago that things started to fall apart. It took a long time to rebuild the bridges I burned with those two when I was drunk. I’ll never stop being sorry, to them and many others, but they no longer have to be ashamed. In fact, they have said that they’re proud. They were impressed with what I’ve done with the flat and reassured to see me in a safe, secure place. I have no intention of leaving here and there should be no reason that I’ll ever have to. The support that I’ve received from the council has been nothing short of incredible, ever since they classed me as vulnerable as a tenant of the last landlord in that fucking pub. Importantly, my parents have seen how well my writing has gone: they’ve seen the print publications containing my work, including the prize-winning A Girl… They can see how writing has helped me and that I’m pretty good at it. Mum happened to have bought a new laptop, so she gave me her as-new old one, because she thought it would help with my writing. Once I’ve disinfected the thing of anything Microsoft, it will. I’m going to install a Linux OS and use all of the open source bug-free software which I’m used to and that I contribute financially to the development of. For now, Little Blue, my faithful little netbook, has been stripped of all but writing, communications and a few other tools, to become a sleeker little workmate.

It’s nice to have the things which one might expect in any accommodation: a lock on the door, a kitchen for my exclusive use and my own space where I can relax without fear of interruption. The food police who worried that I rarely fed myself adequately ought to be placated by the sight of me, regularly cooking in the kitchen. I’ve dusted off my old signature dishes and I’m enjoying cooking and eating in peace. My southern fried chicken is the best (in my opinion) and there’s a lot more I’m good at making too. Tonight I’m making another of my signature easy meals: cheesy chicken pasta.

I’m getting more exercise and fresh air because there’s a world out there in the village. I’m no longer imprisoned and paranoid about leaving. I could list the reasons for that but frankly, I’m over it. I’ve moved on. There’s life here and everything is within much easier reach than it was in the hole I came from. I’ve been chatted up a few times as well, which is nice for the ego.

Friends who matter have stayed in touch, including the girls. They have also commented on how well I seem, now that I’ve gained release. One commented that I deserve some luck after all that I went through. It was five or six years of hell but that was perhaps a fitting punishment for all that I did in some of that time and before. I won’t forget.

This is simply the best place to live and work. I love my studio, my mews address and the village I live in: home sweet home, now that the bitter taste of the past has faded.

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