Category Archives: Social

Getting Back on the Horse…

My personal life is (finally) great, and after a long time in the wilderness, I have a job that I actually enjoy and that doesn’t expect my soul in return for my payslip every month. The only point of this triangle currently amiss is my writing.

This year started off with promise. I finished Slipwater – a novel I am extremely proud of – and it has been sitting with a number of agents since early February, but since that feeling of accomplishment I have not done much to maintain the momentum. A short story here, a revision or two there, but that’s about it.

Well that stops today.

I received another rejection letter this morning. I’ve been getting them for over half my life now. No big deal: that’s just part of the constant struggle for acceptance… and I don’t only mean acceptance of a particular story, but also the wider definition of every writer’s desire to have his or her words heard, and for them to mean something to someone.

But this rejection is one too many, so I need to pull my fingers out of my ass and put them on the keys again.

You know, obviously I’ll wash them first.

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Still Flying High…

The Girlfriend© was an Illegal Eagles virgin, but I have been to see them somewhere in the region of six or seven times since the turn of the century, so I broke her in gently. Having said that, in a way this was my first time as well, because the guys on stage on Friday night down in Dunfermline were all completely new to me.

IE Square 2018

A new line-up it may have been, but they were every bit as talented and enthusiastic about the Eagles legacy as I had come to expect. Three of the six on stage were younger than I am, which is simultaneously good to see, but also a little disheartening to be reminded of my advancing years in such an innocuous manner.

The one guy on the entire upper level who decided to stand and shake his tailfeather was right behind me – drunk, and shouting all of the right words, in all of the wrong notes. At one point he slapped me in the back of the head, and I turned around to find out what the hell his problem was, only to find that the staggered seating had me staring directly at his gyrating crotch. I never did ask him, and for what it’s worth he just kept on thrusting.

The Illegal Eagles tripped through all of the hits, plus a few solo tracks (including a mesmerising version of Don Henley’s Heart of the Matter), and managed to embroider the show with some relaxing banter throughout. A near note perfect rendition of Hotel California was the penultimate number, and The Girlfriend© and I both left satisfied: one old fan, and one brand new.

Dad’s Last Words…

I got a letter from my dad today, which would not have arrived as such a great surprise had my father not died in 2004… and this letter had been written at least five years before that.

In the two pages of emotive prose, my father apologises, says that he loves me, and basically asks for forgiveness in a way that he would never have been able to do in person. He also left his address and phone number should I ever wish to get back in touch and rebuild a few of the bridges he had spent years burning.

At the end of the letter, in capitals, are the words EDDIE LIVES! It’s a phrase that means nothing unless you’ve seen Eddie & the Cruisers II… something which carries a crazy ironic weight, because that movie was about a famous singer presumed dead only to be discovered alive twenty years later.

Of course, I didn’t get the chance to reconnect because the letter was kept a secret from me for two decades. Maybe I wouldn’t have contacted him at all; or perhaps I would have done so just to tell him to fuck off. The truth is I don’t know how I would have reacted twenty years ago, but the point is, it should have been my decision to make, and not just another skeleton in an already bone-riddled closet.

Tasting His Cherry Chapstick…

try-or-die1_fa_rszdSo my first kiss in the year 2018 was shared with a guy, which is totally fine – we should all strive to experience new things, while we are still young enough to enjoy them – and although it is true that he was a better kisser than most of the girls I have had the pleasure of interacting with since my lips began actively seeking out others, this is not really what I meant when I internally concluded that this year I wanted to expand my horizons.

Still… I’ve had worse starts to the year.

An Odd Parallel…

When I turned twenty-five I dumped the seventeen year old girl I was going out with because she had never seen my favourite movie, Die Hard.

Now I’m forty-one, and the twenty-five year old girl I was with today has also never seen my favourite movie, Die Hard.

What is wrong with you people? Please end this cycle. Go and watch my favourite movie, Die Hard.

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Shame is the Price of Passion…

Dementia is more than just a room full of elderly men and women sitting in orphaned armchairs around a television that’s been cranked up so loud that you feel the volume coming through the soles of your shoes.

It’s more than the old man with medals pinned to his chest, who speaks to me as if we are lifelong friends – even though I have never seen him before. He asks me if I know why his wife hasn’t been to visit him for years, and with the very next breath he tells me that she died during the war.

It’s more than the old woman who taps my shoulder every day and continually asks me for a pen so that she can write down the seven digit number that she just keeps repeating over and over and over, until now, it’s something that I’m sure will bounce around inside my head until something else pushes it out.

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One of the first three paragraphs is entirely fiction. I made it up. Call me an unreliable narrator… because dementia is more than all of those things. Dementia is also material, for whatever I happen to be writing at the time, or perhaps something I haven’t even started yet. And while that sounds extremely brutal and self-serving, to use a phrase that I absolutely loathe: it is what it is.

Being around the disease daily – I’m ashamed to admit – stimulates the creative juices within me. I love the random and unique conversations I overhear or become a part of while visiting my grandma; nuance and detail that I otherwise may have missed. Nursing homes are (ironically) extremely deep wells of experience, and rich with the history of the individuals who live there.

Now, I’m not advocating a field trip to your local old folk’s home if you don’t have a relative or friend there who you care about, but those little moments have become a crucial side effect of the excursion.

So whenever I doubt myself or try to dismiss the blood, sweat, and tears that I’ve put in to my words over the years, it’s guilty moments like these that remind me: yes, motherfucker, you are a writer.

And if I’m doing all that while I’m there, I guess I really must be.