In commune with the universe, not immune to internal conflict

THE WRITER’S LIFE | DEAR DIARY

Alcoholics and depressives or not, it’s still a brave person who calls themselves a writer, confident that they have the right to do so. It takes courage to share one’s own stories, yet many writers who do just that, because they’re writers, have the same sense of self-doubt.

Arthur DentConcept art: Arthur Dent with Vogon ship above (Touchstone Pictures)

A recent conversation with a writer peer whom I admire, and someone I consider a friend (same person), inspired me to do a few things. The most valuable piece of advice, was to stop being embarrassed about being proud of myself. But for me, that’s one of the eternal scars of chronic depression, anxiety and paranoia, hastened to the fore by an alcoholic breakdown: not something to be proud of, when it affected so many. Everything is reconciled, and not only am I better, but I’m a better person, as are those around me. It still takes some getting used to all that’s gone on though.

Like so much of my fiction writing into reality, my organic and digital lives often cross over, blurring the lines between reality and magic. Now, some of the old short stories I wrote, about writers writing about writers, are coming true, just as science quickly catches up with well-researched near-future science fiction.

Getting acclaim for Cyrus Song from a book critic (and appropriately for that book, a translator and interpreter), means that if I were so inclined, I could rightfully call myself a critically acclaimed science fiction novelist. Already I was an award-winning children’s author, and I’ve been compared to some of the most respected writers of horror, sci-fi, fantasy and surrealism, while being original at the same time. So why do I find it all so hard to accept, when I’m otherwise in touch with the universe and the universe apparently speaks back to me?

This is more an internal conflict, where the mind can be a universe to explore in itself. My mental conditions seem to be fuelled by paradoxes and irrational fears. When I’m someone who can address most issues from an outside perspective, internal understanding becomes frustrating. My IQ is what it is, but I can’t help wishing I had more processing power.

I crave attention, only because I want people to read my writing (especially the latest novel), so that they can see that what others are saying is true, and hopefully hear everything I’m trying to say. It’s a paradox when you crave that which you find hard to face in yourself.

As is often the way, I’ve expressed this far better in a short story I’ve just finished, which is due out this weekend. Fiction does allow me to get so much more over, apparently in an engaging way. The story is called Are ‘Friends’ Emojis? The title is a play on the Gary Numan song, Are ‘Friends’ Electric? Given the most recent review of my anthology, I suppose it’s not so much of a ‘Black Mirror for the page, flitting between dark sci-fi and psychological horror, but underlined by a salient sense (and deep understanding of) the human condition,’ so much as a look at one possibility for a life after this, and how that might be a craving for some, with the consequences of choice. It’s about how we see people and connect with them, in a world made small by technology, and of real and digital lives combining. It’s more a two-sided mirror.

I also write nice stories, like Echo Beach (okay, so it’s dark, but it’s still escapist), and I wrote that award-winning children’s book, used in family learning sessions, for parents with learning disabilities.

I’m one of those common phenomena: a writer who’s embraced technology for the democracy it has given many like me. It’s a determined writer who remains hidden, but it’s still an intrepid agent who finds the talent.

Until I’m discovered, I’ll carry on self-publishing and self-publicising, and see if I don’t.

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Have you fed the snake?

THE WRITER’S LIFE

royal-python
A Royal python (Python regius), like my parents’ permanent house guest

Yesterday I took my parents to lunch, for their golden wedding anniversary. I must admit, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

This wasn’t an unprecedented gesture on my part, and no unexpectedness arose from actually being there. It’s true that I wouldn’t have been having lunch out with my parents as recently as three years ago, because I’d done my drunken best to kick everyone away from me. But I’m better now. I’m a writer, I earn modest royalties from my books, and I can treat my mum and dad. The initial surprise was in how my local had changed since I was last there.

I don’t not go to the pub because I’m an alcoholic: I’ve got that genie back in its lantern. I don’t go to the pub for the same reason I rarely go anywhere beyond my studio: Anxiety. If I were able to overcome that, I might be able to make more of this idyllic setting I’ve found myself in. Then I might be able to pick up a newspaper, pop to the pub for lunch, then finish with a coffee in the coffee shop under my studio. But those things don’t happen.

My local is the one I chose among a number of agreeable looking contenders when I first came here. It’s not my local in proximity; there are other pubs nearer home. It became my local because it looked friendly, and when I first went in there with my removal man mate, we found it to be just that. It’s an old pub; the building dating from the 16th century, with an open fire and higgledy piggledy furniture. They serve traditional Sunday roasts, at a decent price and without farting around: Just the kind of thing my parents like, being as they were, fans of the Wetherspoons roasts (RIP). My local was a place I might go, if ever I plucked up the courage to go there on my own. I never did. Yesterday’s visit was going to be fine: I’d mentally prepared, and I had pleasant company.

But like ‘spoons roasts, my old pub has gone. The pub itself is still there but the atmosphere has left, as though someone popped a balloon. Now it’s a gastro pub. My village has room for another one and if I were wealthier and less anxious, I could enjoy a fine meal at a different quality eatery every night. But the boozer had gone, along with the friendly locals. When we arrived at 12.30, we were the first. My heart sank when I looked around and saw that all the furniture was uniformly laid out and the whole place had been de-cluttered. It was that very cluttered nature of the place which made it homely, even if there were few others around. Now, everything was gone.

I’d reserved a table, which we duly occupied when we were requested to do so. Immediately, the menu caused me slight alarm by proxy, on behalf of my parents: Being of a certain age, they are used to having things a certain way. In the case of roast beef, this would include the meat being cooked way beyond my personal preference (rare) and in a Bisto gravy (other gravy brands are available). This roast beef came with a red wine gravy and I assumed the meat would be served pink. We asked if we might have an alternative gravy but the reply from “Chef” was that he’d already prepared the sauce. I was tempted to tell the pretentious cunt to climb down from his rocking horse, and that I’d boil a fucking kettle if he really couldn’t manage it, but I managed to hold my tongue.

When my parents’ lunches arrived, they looked just like the sort of roast beef dinner I’d relish: slightly pink meat, and the red wine gravy was silky and delicious. My appetite excluded me from participating in what would have been an expensive waste of money. Instead, I related some anecdotes to my parents while they ate, before writing some notes in my pad (My parents get that I carry a notepad around all the time, and they enjoy hearing what I’m thinking as I write, I think). My mum commented that there were no prices on the menu: There were but she’d not noticed. It didn’t matter, because I was paying.

In the time we were there, the place filled up considerably. It got quite lively in fact. It wasn’t the old boozer atmosphere though: Compared to what I remembered in that place, this atmosphere was a bit wanky, with pretentious types, hipsters, yummy mummies and fun dads. I began to take a dislike to some of those people, because they’d taken over my old place. Of course, it was never mine but still.

Once, I’d have grown more anxious and paranoid, feeling somehow that it was me who wasn’t welcome there. It’s irrational but that’s how my mix of mental malfunctions works. Now I live by coping mechanisms and what was taught to me by one of many psychologists: Cognition.

Although it’s never been openly discussed, my parents don’t seem uncomfortable when I’m apparently being utterly rude and disrespectful by writing notes in my journal, right in front of them. There’s no paranoia on their part, as I tell them what I’m writing about. They had their mouths full, so it was good for them to listen and not have to reply.

I was writing about the people in the room. Because what I’ve known for some time now is that however objectionable someone might be, they’re human. And given that I don’t discriminate on any grounds, it would be hypocritical of me to take a dislike to someone based purely on the way they look and seem. I’m sure these invaders of my old pub were nice people once you got talking to them, but I wasn’t, so I wrote about them.

That guy over there, with his man bun and generally infuriatingly fucking friendly face, could be a psychopath. Equally, he could be gay and mourning a break up with a partner. That annoying little kid over there: She might be wearing that hat because she has cancer and not long to live. The two girls in the corner, could be sisters or lovers; this could be their first or their break-up date. Everyone has and is a story. We don’t know until we ask. And if we don’t ask, we shouldn’t judge. What a wonderful world this would be if people thought a little differently. What a wonderful one mine has become since I did.

There are many interesting people among my friends, some with many stories of their own. And I’m probably one of very few people whose pensioner parents have a pet snake: Adopted from me when I had my breakdown, because I needed the money and the snake needed a home. My parents’ house was once going to be an interim measure but now they won’t let go of the little guy.

It would probably do me some good to get out more, but monthly trips to see the kids and the odd pre-arranged thing like yesterday is about my limit. My anxiety is only crippling in that it renders me housebound. It’s fortunate that I’m in a place where I don’t mind being.

And what are my problems anyway? First world problems is what they are. As such, they are insignificant compared to those of millions of others. Those are the important people: The silent ones. The ones with no voice, or no means to make themselves heard. At least I have that. And with that, I might make a difference. I know that I already have to some people and that’s worth more than money.

It’s becoming a trope: That I’m not a writer for the money. I’d be deluded if I thought I’d make anything from what I do. But even if I’m doing it for free, it comes back to me in other ways.

Life can throw up surprises, and that’s what makes being alive so much fun. I write stories about it, and people seem to like that.

 

Shameless plug
A shameless plug

I have a new short story out soon: It’s called Reflections of Yesterday and it’s about perceptions; how we see people, and how we look at them. If you look at things a different way, the story takes on a different meaning. That story will be in my second collection of shorts. The first is available now.

Gallivanting with royalties

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Some royalties
Some royalties

Yesterday was the first of two lunches this month, paid for by book royalties. I took my children to a pub, which is normal these days: I can be trusted around drink. There we enjoyed starters, mains with sides, desserts and drinks, at modest cost (it was a Wetherspoons), because my royalties are modest at best. But as I’ve said before, I’m not a writer for the money; days like yesterday are the reasons I do it.

The inevitable separation anxiety has kicked in today. Most people experience this sometimes but for me and many others, it’s particularly hard. It’s the come-down after a high. It’s being with someone and enjoying yourself so much that you can forget where you are. But the next day, you look around and it’s all gone. It’s not as painful as it used to be. Once, it was self-pity, because my drinking had brought about the family split. Now, with a lot of work from all parties, everything’s settled to a point where we can all agree that with hindsight, things have worked out for the best. Everyone is in the best place, especially the children, with a stable mum, in a stable relationship. But nevertheless, it hurts, and it’s compounded by depression.

But what am I to do? Start drinking again, to cope by blocking it all out? I think not. My children, and the many others who’ve regrouped around me, are many reasons not to lapse.

After lunch, and just as the pub started filling with wankers (there was a football match on), we departed to the shops. I have many friends who are football supporters but the men’s game holds no interest for me, given that it’s so capitalist and just not what I call sport. I accept that friends wish to watch matches in a group environment with their peers. I only wish that a minority would have a little respect for those around them, especially in a family environment. But live and let live, so we left.

In Waterstones (other book retailers are available), my son (aged 12) pointed a book out to me: Ideas Are Your Only Currency, by Rod Judkins (other books by other authors are available). Unsure if this was inspired or ironic, I flicked through the book and it’s perfect, for me, right now:

FUTURE-PROOFING FOR THINKERS.

‘What skills and abilities will a student need to prosper in five, ten, or fifteen years’ time?’

In a world of change, where skills become out of date quickly, it is ideas that last.

We all need to be prepared for a world that is fluid, global and interdisciplinary. Distinctions between specialties will blur and overlap. Change is happening at electrifying speed. In this vortex there are no maps.

Featuring 100 interactive chapters to inspire groundbreaking new ideas, this is perfect for fans of Keri Smith’s Wreck this Journal, Paul Arden’s It’s Not How Good You Are and Rolf Dobelli’s global bestseller The Art of Thinking Clearly.

It’s not a self-help book. For me, it will be a reference tool; a source of ideas. Before I’ve even started to read it, I have a new short story in draft form: The Art of Thinking QWERTY.

Of course, the simple act of thinking more is something I’ve always advocated. For me, it’s creative thinking. For others, I just wish they weren’t so ignorant. I’ve been saying this in my general rhetoric and especially on social media: If we all just thought more, it would go some way to making life more tolerable. Some people get me, many don’t.

Next Sunday is the date for my next lunch with royalties, when I take my parents for Sunday roast at my local pub. It’s quite comforting sometimes, knowing that I’m the middle layer of generations in my family: It’s nice to have elders and younger people to talk to.

I’m the generational sandwich filling. I am Marmite.

A discomfort I can barely explain

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Little man on top of the world

Despite having everything I could hope for, there’s still a tension to life which I can’t quite grasp. This is not a new thing. It’s one of the many products of depression and anxiety, PTSD, personality disorder…

I really do have everything which my modest needs require: Food and shelter are taken care of in a way which others might take for granted, and so may I have done once. But I know how fragile any situation can be, and I remember how easy it was to gradually slip off of life’s ride. When you’ve been a tramp, even basic human needs become gifts.

I’ve been at the studio for exactly a year, with all indications that I’m now on a rolling tenancy and likely to enjoy many more years here, as my two neighbours have. Private renting comes with its own inherent anxiety, when a tenant is at the mercy of a private landlord’s personal whim. My own landlady is a social one, in that she accepts housing benefit tenants for the properties at the more modest end of her portfolio. The studio is very comfortable, well decorated and maintained, and no more than I need. The reasonably low rent is one which my housing benefit covers.

The fridge, freezer and cupboards are full. So for that matter are the biscuit barrel, the crisps basket, and the Minecraft Darth Vader Paul Auster mini bar (another, long story). I’ve usually got weed to chill with too. Just lately I’ve had more days when I actually feed myself than not, which is some kind of progress. Sometimes it’s as though I just buy food to look at it, or for other people to eat. Now I’ve got back into an old habit of planning meals. So often in the past, my indecisiveness was such that I’d grow tired of thinking about food and just not bother: Irrational, but just another part of the cocktail which makes my brain what it is. If I plan meals in advance, that part of me saves the indecisive one having to make a decision. It’s part of the fun mix which is my borderline multiple personality disorder.

Even though the studio is small, it’s crammed with the things I love: Films, music and books. It’s not so crammed as to look like a mentally ill hoarder lives here; Through the keyhole would reveal a cool, cosy little place: That of someone who likes their own space and who is perhaps somewhat eccentric. It’s been likened to Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter’s apartment, albeit smaller: I’ll take that. And in the corner by the window is the desk, with the typewriter and all of a writer’s tools, on and around it.

I’m content with my writing at the moment. I’m pleased with the three books which are out. My children’s story at least is getting good reviews in the marketplace: It’s helping people. I only wish that some of the people who tell me in private that the other two are good, would post reviews online. I find it frustrating and unfair that I spent three years writing my anthology and it would take five minutes to post a review. That sense of entitlement is another part of my frustrated mind. It’s the part of many depressives which allows them to crave contact with others, only to then push those people away.

Now that I’m free of editing for a while, I can devote more time to actually writing, which is what I’m paid nothing to do. As such, I’m having fun with some new stories. I’m practising a way of working which my more successful and wealthy peers employ: Experiment, play, throw away. This will sometimes produce a daily output of a few thousand words, which will then be consigned to the slush pile, or become something else.

I’ve invented a new character: A kind of Lewisham Tank Girl. She’s involved in one short story I’m writing at the moment and could well be a recurring character (in no more than three, before I have to consider another novel). One day I might do a head count of all of my characters and perhaps write something fun which they can all be in. I fear some may harm or kill others: Experiment, play, throw away. I’d first need to re-read everything to see who’s still alive.

So I have relative security in my housing situation, and as much writing as I can fit in until I’m no longer able to do it. I have things to look forward to in the short term too: This weekend’s monthly visit to Milton Keynes, to gallivant with my children; and a lunch I’ve arranged for my parents on their Golden wedding anniversary a week after. This is something which makes me want to grab all those old friends who dropped me when I was drunk. I want to grab them by the necks and show them that everyone who was affected by my illness, is cool with me now. I worked hard to rebuild those relationships, so that now everyone gets to actually enjoy my company, rather than fear it. I will live with the guilt for the rest of my life: That’s the price I pay for sobering up. But I haven’t lapsed and neither will I. Those around me know how important they are to me and if I returned to drinking, I would lose all of that.

The lunch with my parents is just a traditional Sunday roast at my local: Not a place I frequent, but it’s been very pleasant on the half dozen or so occasions I’ve visited in the last year. So I’ve booked us a table, so that my parents can enjoy a the tradition of Sunday roast, as they do, and my company, which they now do: They’ve told me so. They’ve also both told me that they’re proud of me. Well, I’ve come a long way and it was fucking hard, but I did it because of them. But I can already hear the friends I no longer speak to: “He’s taking them to a pub. Oh, right…” Well, fuck off, those people. I am an alcoholic. I am a functioning alcoholic. This is not to say that I just about manage not to soil myself; It means that I can go to a pub and enjoy a social alcoholic drink in good company: Company which I do not crave with those who still judge. That’s part of the life sentence; a penance I must pay.

All those people I should be kissing.
Some are here, and some are missing.

There’s plenty on my mind, which I’d like to share, only to illustrate how frustrating my life can be. There are things I wish to say to people; Things which I would gladly air in public, but then I have to consider the other parties. So those are conversations to be had with other people, or more than likely, just with myself. Or in fiction. Because with words, I can destroy people. But I can also do a lot of good with my writing, not just for myself. This month’s royalties will just about cover the cost of the lunches with my children and my parents.

So everything is good for the most part. But still there’s that discomfort I can’t explain.

And that’s what clinical anxiety is: It’s irrational, it’s that niggling doubt, not a fear (that comes with the panic attacks), but an unease about something which may or may not be there, like a presence. The important thing is, it’s always there. And one of the reasons for that is those who still think ill of me: I’m sure they’re happy. But that’s paranoia and insecurity.

All of which is why, when I’m asked how I am, I’m just okay. It’s easier that way.

Prologue to an epitaph

THE WRITER’S LIFE

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Even if my passing were to be imminent (there’s nothing planned or threatened), I’ve achieved one of the things I always wanted to do: I’ve written and published a book which is being acclaimed on some popular media channels. The few who follow this blog will know that things were very different, just three years ago. Like Douglas Adams, I seem to have found myself in a place where I never knew I wanted to be.

I spoke to my dad today, as it’s his 75th birthday. We spoke about all that’s happened, in our family recently, and in the world during his lifetime. We spoke briefly about the current geopolitical state of the world, and of his upcoming (routine) surgery to drain liquid from the base of his brain. At the end of the conversation, I wished him many happy returns and congratulated him on reaching such a grand age. His response surprised me: Whereas the dad I’ve always known might be expected to respond with an observation on his good innings and not knowing how many more years he might have, he said something quite profound: “You never know, I might yet get a telegram from King William IV.” My dad has become more progressive and positive in his thinking than what I’ve always been used to. I commended him on having a mind receptive to such a concept, and explained how it might be quite possible for him to live to 100, given the medical advances we are making.

Because I write mainly science fiction, I obviously do a lot of reading and research of science fact and speculation. This often forms part of any conversation with visitors to my little studio, as most find the subjects fascinating. While it’s unfortunate that more people don’t seek out this information, it’s encouraging that someone of my dad’s generation listens to what I’m saying, thinks about it, and perhaps does some further research. The conversation came to a natural conclusion when I told my dad that I love him. Those words would not have been spoken three years ago, and my family have never been sentimental, but my dad then said, “Yes, and when I think of all that you’ve achieved over the last three years, I’m bloody proud.”

My dad will probably never read my books: He’s not a great consumer of fiction, and sci-fi isn’t really his genre, but he’s read some of my published short stories and he listens to his son. That’s what I set out to do in this life: To have an authorial voice which people listen to, to engage people through writing, and to make my parents proud. It’s why The Perpetuity of Memory is dedicated to them.

My greatest wish would be for everyone to hear all that I have to say. But while that’s not going to happen, I’ve written it all down in three published books. One day, more people may read them. Others might learn of all I do to help troubled teens and other causes. Until everyone knows, I’ll just keep doing it.

At the other end of my family’s generational span, I spoke to my son today as well. He’s twelve and decided a while ago that he’d like to write science fiction. I’ve cautioned him to not expect any riches or immediate recognition but he countered with something which could have come from my own mouth, and just as poignant as my dad’s earlier comment: “I know no-one will read my stuff but if I’ve written it, then it’s out there if people want to find it and I know I’ve done it.” When I take my kids for lunch every month, the conversation is very often science-based, because my children have active and receptive minds. They know that they could be a part of the first generation of humans to become immortal. They know that they will most likely see the birth of the first human Martian in their lifetimes. They listen. They listen to their father, the writer. And that’s why I do it.

So I’ve said all that I have to say for now. Most of it is in The Paradoxicon, my semi-autobiographical novel (it was easier to write about that period of my life in fiction). The rest is in The Perpetuity of Memory and there’s a lot of comforting thoughts in A Girl, Frank Burnside and Haile Selassie, my award-winning children’s story, illustrated by my daughter. That’s why I do it.

There’s plenty more to write, because there’s so much going on and which needs to be spoken about. There’ll be more short stories, because there are so many subjects to address. There’ll be a second anthology. And my long-term background science fiction epic, Infana Kolonia, will see the light of day in the next year or so. Given the interest from certain quarters, the latter could even become a series of shorter books.

For now, I’ve done all that I set out to do in making myself better after my drunken breakdown three years ago. It’s all written, in my books and on this blog. The story is there and it’s one which has helped others. They just need to find it.

But I’m done, for now.

A eulogy to Serenity

THE WRITER’S LIFE

firefly_class_ship

Serenity: My home for the last few days

Before my life fell apart, I took a trip aboard Serenity for the first time. That journey ended abruptly, when Fox pulled the plug on Firefly. I lost the one and only season, and the movie, when my life went off the rails.

Serenity stayed in my mind, as a comforting place to imagine myself in, when really I was on the streets. A yet-to-be-published short story, Ghost Bird,  was written, out in the cold and dark, when the only place I had to live was in my imagination. Ghost Bird became the call sign for a mechanised, weaponised galactic raptor leviathan (a Skekkle) called Goose, in a book I’m writing in the background; Infana Kolonia.

Five years after that first trip, having re-acquired the DVDs, I took a pilgrimage: I watched all of the aired episodes and the film again. The one season which aired earned Firefly 9.1 on IMDb; the film, 8.0. The conspiracy theorist within me can’t help thinking that Fox pulled it because the Illuminati grew nervous of the truth being revealed. So now it’s just a cult sci-fi, discussed and analysed among geeks.

Now, Serenity has set me back down on Earth. It takes a long time for the enormity of such a thing to filter through the mind, so perhaps in another five years, we may fly again. Until next time, farewell to my home for the last few days.

Farewell; Be safe, Mal, Zoë, Wash, Inara, Jayne, Kaylee, Simon, River and the shepherd. Safe journey, Serenity. Live long and prosper, may the force be with you and may you pick me up again some day

End of part two (Day 1126)

THE WRITER’S LIFE | BOOK LAUNCH

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Metamorphosis: The beetle emerges from the mouth. The Perpetuity of Memory is published: From the writer’s mouth (Image of a 3D tattoo).

Exactly three years ago today, I wrote a blog post, entitled End of part one: That was when I was learning about the life I’d found around me, on the streets. Scanning back through other old posts, I’ve worked out that if I’d kept recording the days, today would be Day 1126. I kept count of the days I was homeless but eventually gave up when the word took on different meanings.

Roughly speaking, it was 10 days of street walking and rough, unsheltered sleeping; 90 days of sleeping rough in a derelict building; 150 days of squatting; 210 days of sofa surfing; and 400 days of living illegally above a pub. Add that all up and it should make about two years. I’ve been at the studio for almost a year now, so I’ve found my home but it’s on the third anniversary of that End of part one post that part two makes way for the next.

I didn’t plan it. It says on the cover of the book that it took three years and without even checking beforehand, it’s landed on the exact day. Three years after the end of part one, I’ve published my first volume of collected tales. I’ve published other books and there will be more to come, but this is the one I’d like to be remembered for.

Just hours from writing of my upcoming book, it’s no longer an upcoming book: It’s published today. I wrote of my sentiments surrounding the book in that last post, by including the cover notes and introduction. Now that my three-year labour of love is published, I’m moved to post further sentiments from the book, the acknowledgements:

It would be impossible to thank everyone individually for their contribution to this book, because that would be everyone who knew me in the 42 years it took me to realise what I wanted to do with my life. But there are individuals and groups who stand out:

Those I am indebted to the most, and to whom this book is dedicated: My parents, my children and their mum.

My second family, The Pink Hearts: A rag tag group of young people I met when I was homeless and who remain friends, especially the ones who remain close: My adopted sister, The Courts, and my three adopted daughters: The fold-up one, clingy thingy, and Ninja. The Ninja was particularly helpful in the latter stages of this book, when she took on the role of proof reader for some of the later stories and sent me notes of encouragement, such as “If you don’t finish this, I will punch you. In the face. Repeatedly.”

I’m grateful to my other crash test dummies who read drafts for me: My sounding board, Nettie, and one of my most loyal friends, Jo. Thanks also to all of my old friends from the 80s and 90s who’ve stuck around to see what happened to the alcoholic.

I must acknowledge two of my literary heroes and influences: Paul Auster and Douglas Adams. Last and by no means least, my guardian angel: The man who taught me as a teenager that it’s okay to be different and that expression is freedom, David Bowie.

A life will always be a memory, so long as it’s not forgotten. These stories will be around long after I’m gone and I hope they make for some perpetuity of memory.

It’s all out there now: A book of stories, published and now indelible. Perhaps the most sentimental page is the dedications:

For George and Rose, my parents
They made this possible

And for Louis and Lola, my children
They are the next generation

My children may be two of the first generation of our one race to become immortal, through science and exploration. I will probably miss that boat, but I can still imagine and write stories. And the stories in this book are now immortalised, through the process of publication.

So this is a happy ending; A date which means the start of a new act, a new chapter, a new part.

I don’t know exactly why I called that post the end of part one, three years ago. Back then, life was taking me through many brief transits. If I were asked, I’d say part one lasted for about 42 years, starting in 1970. Part two lasted for somewhere between three and five years, the last three being the metamorphosis.

So this is part three. The Perpetuity of Memory is a rather handy launch pad, into whatever happens next.