25.02.12 (Day 429)


Suddenly, things change.

Suddenly, my youngest daughter – the biological one – is eight years old today. Suddenly, my second youngest daughter- and the youngest of the three adopted girls – was fifteen, two days ago.

Suddenly, time flies and you realise what you’ve missed.

Time hasn’t flown over the last fourteen months. It has dragged. It’s been like wading through an ocean of treacle, picked up by the occasional lifeboat and carried for a while. It’s all documented in this blog, where it will remain as a reminder of what has been probably the biggest single transitional phase of my life. Now the opposite shore is in sight.

I’m finally moving on. Not far geographically: to the pub across the road in fact. But I’m moving on to start a new life with a literal blank canvas to make my own. I’ve been frequenting the pub for a few weeks now, since it’s come under new management. I’ve been playing for the pool team, getting to know the regulars and the family who run the place. I’ve been honest with them all and everyone over there knows about my past: where I’ve come from, what I did to lose everything I once had, what I’ve been through and how I’ve ended up where I am. They appreciate me being so candid and in me they don’t see what others saw over a year ago and chose to abandon. They see someone who’s made mistakes, paid the price and who is looking to start again.

So in the first instance, they’ve offered me somewhere to live. Nothing fancy; a flat comprising two rooms, which itself is within a flat on the upper floors of the building. My two rooms are of sufficient size to serve as a living room and a bedroom / office respectively. There is much work to be done as the place is in a state of disrepair but once the place is renovated, it will be mine for as long as I want it. I have a vision of how it will look and it is so “me” that it could actually have been designed for me, even before I’ve done it up. Although both rooms are pretty decent sizes, they’re cosy. The windows are small and there’s not much natural light. The views from the windows are onto the part of town just beyond the high street and of course, above a pub. It has a lot of character.

The first job to do with the part that I’m taking over is the knock an arch or a doorway into the dividing wall between the two rooms. Then I need to paint the walls and lay new carpets. I’m toying with ideas for colour schemes and I’m not restricted to neutral colours as there are no plans to rent this place out to anyone after me, as there will most likely be no-one after me. This is my little place for as long as I want it and I envisage that being a very long time indeed because I will feel at home there, especially as I’m creating the thing. I don’t plan to remarry or have more kids, so I don’t see the need to move on to somewhere bigger. The landlords are friends so I’m not at the whim of a corporate letting agent. Few people would likely go for the place in its current condition anyway but I’m prepared to put the work in and make it my own.

Most of my gear is still in Sidcup in the flat I shared with my ex-fiance Danielle. I’m meeting her for lunch on Tuesday to finalise plans for getting my things moved out. I’m very much looking forward to seeing her as we’ve been getting on famously of late. With what I have in mind regarding furniture and other things to bring down – mainly books, CDs and DVDs – I can imagine what the new place will look like: cosy and stuffed full of things of interest. I yearn for only simple pleasures, such as reclining on my own sofa, with a good book and no-one else around to distract me. I’ll be getting my hi-fi separates back and my TV, so I’ll have plenty to listen to and to watch. The most important thing is that it is MINE.

Outside my two rooms, or flat within a flat, I have the use of a shared living room, kitchen and bathroom. These are also in need of attention but I have plenty of time to work on the larger flat, which I will be sharing with the son of the landlords. He himself is due to take over the pub in the not too distant future and I will eventually be working there, initially for the restricted hours permitted by my being in the ESA Support Group because of my illness. The flat and any work are completely separate and the former does not come as compensation for the latter. Therefore I can claim the maximum amount of housing benefit, which will cover the cost of my rent. If I do end up working – most likely in the kitchen – this will be declared permitted work and pay, with the flat not attached to any job. And if I am working but decide to leave, the flat is not at risk.

There are still hurdles to overcome, housing benefit being the main one and I am only grateful that my future landlord is as understanding as he is because housing benefit is paid in lieu. Therefore I will have been resident for four weeks before back paying rent for that period. Normally rent is payable in advance and a deposit is required. So I have been very fortunate to have a landlord who recognises my situation and who is willing to help and know that I will help him in return when I am able and permitted to do so.

So the next thing to do is actually move into the new place once I’ve done it up. Then I’m there to stay, possibly for as long as whatever years I may have left in me. In time it may be that my health improves and I might come off of benefits and go back to working. But not back to running businesses like I used to; rather, doing something I enjoy, like running a commercial kitchen. To start with I’m looking forward to having my own place which in itself will help me to get better. I have a permanent personal base from which to write and hopefully publish another novel. I still need sales of the debut one to take off and must admit to disappointment at the current uptake, given that it really is a very good book. One day I shall be recognised further for what I am: a talented writer.

Ultimately, also a chance to show off my skills as a chef. Working during the day in the pub kitchen downstairs, cooking and serving people; doing what I love. Then when not working, engaging my other passion of writing. And the other: playing pool downstairs in the pub. And the last: playing poker online in my den. That’s the future and one I’m very much looking forward to.

I’m also looking forward to seeing my son on Saturday. No doubt someone else present will frown at the prospect of me moving into a pub but that person is one of the many who knew me a year ago and all but abandoned me. That same person will probably also disapprove of my new facial furniture: currently a scaffold in my left ear, a bar in my right eyebrow and a helix in the cartilage of my right ear. These as well as the three piercings I already had in my earlobes. But they’re self-expression, just like my writing and my cooking. And my new home: they’re what makes me, me.  

Suddenly, time taps you on the shoulder and asks you if you’d like some more; if you want to try again. 

The Boy Who Didn’t Cry Wolf

Some things are confidential for a reason and should be kept that way. Those who know me, know that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I have no secrets. They also know that even though I may have lied in the past, I do so no longer.

Others who don’t know me as well as they think they do, still question me, doubt me and accuse me of making things up. This then is for them:

This is my brief medical history, which I have to take with me for my council housing meeting tomorrow, along with my current medication.

The plastic police and defective detectives know who they are and they read this. Well, read below. You’ll see that I didn’t lie about the testicular lump. I didn’t lie about the internal bleeding. I didn’t lie about the drugs overdoses. I didn’t lie about being diagnosed with Alcohol Dependence Syndrome. I didn’t lie about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I didn’t lie about the depression, nor the depressive episodes. I didn’t lie about the rape. I didn’t lie about the injuries, broken bones and hospital admissions. And I didn’t lie about everything else which isn’t on here as this is just a brief medical history.

Happy reading…




Enjoy your humble pie and careful you don’t choke on it.

If Your Name’s Not Down

19.02.15 (Day 423)


What’s the story, morning glory? Something I ask myself every morning. Then the story is told as the day progresses. There could be plenty to tell after today as it’s a rather busy one.

I’ve been up for an hour already and am writing this while I wake up with the aid of breakfast: Marmite on burnt toast, cappuccino and three cigarettes. Once I’ve got that lot inside me and I’ve jotted my thoughts down here, I’m good to go.

The first thing to do today is try to write some more of the new book whilst avoiding the temptation to play online poker. I hit a snag with the story yesterday, so I took time out to play a few hands of cards. A few became many and the session lasted for the remainder of the working day. I’m up though and my bankroll is still looking good.

After poker I went to the pub, as I will again today. I shall play some pool and talk business, as I did yesterday. Myself and another customer have volunteered our services as chefs to re-open the pub kitchen so that they can start to serve food. The kitchen has been closed for as long as anyone can remember and it’s a wasted resource. Food is where the margins are in the pub business and this particular pub needs more custom. I’m qualified, I have a business brain and the landlord is on board. Simple English pub fayre at first, with maybe the odd theme night and then we shall see. To be discussed further today over a few games of pool. The pub pool team played last night and although we lost the match, I won my singles game.

I’m meeting my kid sister, The Courts in the pub, probably my fold-up daughter and possibly one or two others. That said, it has been decreed by management that only a finite number of youngsters may be with this pied piper at a time and there are named individuals who are allowed in with me. We had an incident yesterday where a few youngsters went to the pub to wait for me, knowing I was due. Excuse me? This is not the old place. It is a pub. You can’t just go in there when I’m not there, not buy a drink and simply wait for me. I have to limit the number of people I can be with because there are only a certain number that I can deal with at any one time and only a finite number of youngsters that the pub will allow in together. So there are names down who are pre-approved by the landlord. Anyone is welcome to come and find me but preferably by appointment and not too many at a time. And if I don’t know you, you’re probably not getting in. Those who know me have my number. If you don’t have my number, you can’t arrange to meet me. If you don’t have my number, chances are you don’t know me. By extension, I don’t know you or your name.

So if your name’s not down, you’re not getting into my little court.

Captain’s Log, Supplemental:

I should point out to the plastic police who read this – and they do – that the work which I may be undertaking is permitted work whilst claiming ESA. ESA is Earnings Support Allowance: it’s what it says on the tin. I’m allowed to earn up to a certain amount per week, working less than sixteen hours per week. I am not fit for full time work but I am able to prepare myself for an eventual return to full time employment. It’s working with food and people, so it’s doing something I enjoy; voluntarily at first to build up business, then paid. I have to inform DWP of both the voluntary and paid work, which I will do. I don’t need anyone else to do it for me. Neither do I need a defective detective to contact my employer to point out that I have alcohol issues, as has happened in the past and which intervention lost me a job. My drinking is under control and my potential employer knows this as I drink in his pub.

Captain’s Log, supplemental supplemental:

Well, don’t you know, don’t you know, fer fucksake…

The day’s plans have changed already as I’m not now seeing my kid sister. The Courts has to see her social worker and social services apparently want to speak to me because they believe that me and The Courts are “Up to something”. Typical of the other set of plastic police to assume that because a young girl has a close relationship with someone of my age, there’s something going on. Or someone spiteful has told them lies. It’s happened before. I’m a surrogate parent and big brother to this girl, who came to me when she had no-one else. I used to have to speak to her foster carer every evening when The Courts stayed with me for five weeks because she refused to go anywhere other than somewhere I was. The foster carer then had to report back to social services to let them know that the girl was safe. I’ve spoken to both her real mum and step dad and they’re okay with the situation, confident that there is nothing inappropriate going on. Even the proper police were confident in this knowledge, as The Courts and myself are both known to them. Given this, it is most likely therefore that some do-gooder defective detective has been at work and reported us to the plastic brigade. Reported nothing as there’s nothing to report. Get a life, like I’m trying to. 

It’s Been a While…

18.02.15 (Day 422)


“…since I gone and fucked things up, just like I always do…”

Everything seems to be starting to go right and I can’t help but wonder when to expect a curve ball.

I’ve been quiet on the blogging front because so many things are going right and I’ve been busy dealing with those very things.

I “passed” my ESA assessment and am now in the Support Group: roughly translated, I am genuinely unfit for work and am signed off almost indefinitely, or at least until the rules change or someone changes their mind. I no longer have to get monthly sick notes from the doctor as I am long term ill. As a result my ESA payment has increased and was back dated, so I got a fairly nice lump sum award. The next assessment is for PIP and if I “pass” that as well, there’ll be more money and my priority for local authority housing will increase.

Local authority housing is my preference over private renting as with the latter, I’d be at the whim of a private landlord. I’d have to fork out for a deposit and most private landlords won’t accept housing benefit tenants. Ahead of the PIP assessment I have a meeting with the council housing office this Friday, during which I will lay it on thick. Whatever situation I find myself in will be preferable to the one I currently occupy.

The safe house has many benefits and wonderful hosts but after fourteen months of being homeless, I really want a place of my own. I’m not picky. I can’t afford to be. Just a modest bedsit in an undesirable area which few on the housing list are likely to bid on would suffice. I just want somewhere I can call my own and which will allow me the freedom to do as I please when I want. Luxuries I’m looking forward to are being able to lie in some mornings – when my body clock allows – and not have to worry about clamouring for the bathroom with three others. Being able to buy my own food, cooking it and eating it without feeling guilty about taking something which isn’t mine. Having people round. Ultimately, my kids.

There is movement in a positive direction on the children front but I shan’t speak in detail of that here for legal reasons. I’ve not seen much of my adopted children as it’s half term, one has a boyfriend, another might and two are forbidden from seeing me. It’s something to do with me and kids.

So I’ve been keeping myself busy with my four pass times, one of which I’m making money from, another which is costing me money and the other two are jobs with little or no reward. Since finding myself on more of an even keel over the last week or so, social practical engagements aside, I’ve been dividing my day up into working for little reward, then working for even less reward, followed by spending money on one pursuit before finally making money on the other.

Once official appointments are out of the way, my day is spent mainly writing. Having suffered a severe case of writer’s block for the bet part of the last week, my second novel is back on track and has direction. The first is still being well received by the readers I gave free copies to but sales are modest at best. If only people would take a leap of faith – one of the subjects dealt with in The Paradoxicon – and spend two quid, they’d get a good read. And if only my free readers would put their positive comments into writing, maybe more people would buy the book.

After a roughly nine to five working day of writing, I’ll do some cooking if it’s my turn in the kitchen. There is no financial gain from this at the moment, only the knowledge that I’ve fed people. Last night there was not only no financial gain but no food for me either. I’d cooked pancakes for the host family and ran out of batter mix when I got to mine as they had three each. So I simply didn’t eat. There’s a potential opening on the catering front in the local pub but I obviously have to check things out with DWP now that I’m in the Support Group for ESA. I believe I’m permitted to work up to a certain number of hours per week but I fear that running a pub kitchen may entail working more than those permitted hours. So there’s talk of a job share with another chef.

It’s a fledgling enterprise as the pub is under new management and lost a lot of custom to the previous incumbents. But there’s potential: there’s a huge kitchen there, sitting unused. I’m in negotiations with the landlord. Simple fayre at first but once word starts to be spread by happy diners, business could increase; a bit like sales of my book. I just need those reviews from readers who have finished it.

After cooking I’ve been playing a bit of pool, practising for the Wednesday night matches with the pub team. We have a game tonight and I’m beating all comers in the local, so hopefully that will transfer to the away venue. Then back to the safe house to finish the day with a bit of poker online. I’m winning and my bankroll is headed in the right direction as a result.

I’ve had a bit of a financial splurge with my increased bankroll. I’ve not treated myself for over a year, so I’m trying not to feel too guilty. As well as the pool cue and the watch, I’ve acquired some other things, including a Bad Mother Fucker wallet and four holes in my face. I decided to have some piercings and am now sporting a scaffold in my left ear and a bar in my right eyebrow.

So things are going well. It’s about time I had a change of fortune. If everything continues along this route, I should be moving on and out in around a month. I had a very pleasant conversation with my ex-fiance yesterday. She’s been looking after my things for the last year and we did have a bit of a bad patch but yesterday we spoke like old friends. I’m looking forward to seeing her when I move my stuff out of our old flat but it will be a metaphorical end of chapter. It will be with mixed emotions that I leave here, possibly for somewhere local but in all likelihood some distance away. I shall miss my hosts and many of the friends I’ve made around here.

There’s one in particular whose been keeping me sane lately and I shall miss that one more than most others.

“…But all that shit seems to disappear when I’m with you…”

On the Wings of a Hand in Glove

10.02.15 (Day 414)


It’s good to talk and a lot of people like talking to me and gaining my advice.

Another one of my teenage friends and adopted children has been grounded because of her association with me. She’s had her wings clipped. Adopted because like so many others, she adopted me and not the other way around. That’s how it’s always been.

I don’t go looking for these kids, nor hang out with them any more than I would prey on them. I don’t habitually hang out with the kids because of the false assumptions that the plastic police make as that’s the way society has conditioned them. I have my own life and there’s always plenty to do but I make time to help people when they need me.

Sometimes I go to pubs. Pubs are public houses. That means that they are open to the public. Sometimes teenagers associate with me in pubs; in a public place where there are other adults. And when the teenagers are in the same place as me, invariably they are good company. Many of them are wise beyond their years, sometimes because of their upbringing.

Sometimes these young adults come to me because they need to speak to someone and they’re afraid to talk to their own parents. I’m not a replacement, I don’t tread on toes. I have my own kids and I look forward to their teenage years with trepidation. They’ll grow up and it’ll be as though I’m gradually losing them as they gain independence from me. But I won’t stifle them by grounding them. Start treating your kids like the young adults they are, like I do. Don’t clip their wings, allow them to spread. They’ll make mistakes but you’re there to pick up the pieces. You can’t wrap them up in cotton wool. They come to me for sage advice because they trust me. That advice is sometimes brutally honest: I’m not afraid.

I don’t have any qualifications other than what life has taught me. I fell by the wayside, which is what some of your kids might do if you make them rebel. I have experience of life, which I share as I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I did and for you to suffer as parents like mine have.

Did you know that I stopped one of your daughters killing herself? Probably not because she was too scared to come to you so she came to me instead.

I have a lot of time and love for those kids, just as I do my own. The terms of endearment are just that: affectionate ways of addressing people, as I do my own kids and as we do in London, where I come from: Bermondsey to be precise. Up there we know how things work the old fashioned way and we look after family, both biological and adopted.

I’ll probably receive threats now. It happened before. I’ve been reported to the real police by the plastic brigade because of my associations with young people. Nothing happened because there was no wrongdoing. If I do receive threats, then I won’t deal with them the Bermondsey way but I’ll reciprocate by going to the police myself. I have nothing to hide as I have done nothing wrong. I have character witnesses ranging in age from teenagers whom I’ve helped to people my age, some of whom are the parents of the very kids I’ve helped alongside them as parents.

I’m staying with one of the kids and her family while I wait for a place of my own. Look at yourself before you look at me and ask who’s doing the better job. My job is just being me: writing, cooking and dispensing the occasional piece of advice. I can provide references.

By grounding your kid, you’re just going to make her kick back and rebel. By clipping her wings, you will only encourage her to fly the nest at the earliest opportunity.

I have done nothing wrong and therefore have nothing to apologise for.

Maybe it’s time the groundings and the threats stopped. Maybe it’s time to talk. Then you might realise that when your children are with me and other adults, they are safe.

I Can Hardly Maintain Myself

09.02.15 (Day 413)


That’s the conclusion from DWP following my recent assessment for eligibility for ESA. I am entitled to Earnings Support Allowance because I am recognised by those in authority as being long term unfit for work.

It wasn’t a scam, there was no bullshit; I am at last able to prove and produce a piece of paper to confirm that I am genuinely unwell. Yes, I still have a drinking problem, which is recognised as an addiction. Those of us with addictive personalities don’t do it for the fun of it: it is recognised as a mental health problem. More importantly though, my chronic depression is now recognised as being long term. There is no root cause any more than there is a cure. I am simply unwell, like so many others. Like so many others, I am avoided because of this label I bear. It’s not a badge of honour but my manic depression to some extent is what makes me what I am. So live with it. I have to.

So the conclusion of the assessment is that I’m incapable of looking after myself. This is subject to debate, depending who you talk to. The main thing for me is the final recognition. The stigma will continue among the uneducated who are afraid to talk to me but that’s their problem and not mine. For my part, I’m pleased to be able to prove my doubters wrong.

As a result of the assessment, my ESA payment has been increased. I’ve also got back pay for the considerable amount of time I’ve been waiting for recognition. I’m now in what’s called Support Group. This means that I am highly dependent on external assistance, or some such shit. I am unable to help myself, which is subject to debate although I haven’t nicked anything – nor been nicked – since February last year. I did not bullshit in the interview and am merely receiving money to survive for as long as I am unfit for work. I paid my taxes when I was working and writing is not work, before anyone thinks otherwise.

I no longer need monthly sick notes from a doctor: I am long term ill. My priority for local authority housing has been increased. All I have to do now is pass the next assessment, due one month today, for PIP: another benefit I’ve been waiting an age from and the one which replaced DLA. I am officially disabled. I can get a free bus pass and everything. Like I said, I paid my takes when I was earning and make no apologies for taking something back. So shoot me. Once that PIP assessment is out of the way, my housing priority will increase still further. With the back pay I’m due though, I’ll be able to afford a deposit on a private rented property. I’ll get my own pad again. Then there are the small matters to attend to: getting my worldly belongings from my ex-fiance in Sidcup and starting mediation with my ex-wife to gain access to my kids.

So in a vain attempt to contain my excitement, I’m having a little day of self-congratulatory celebration. I left the safe house at 11 this morning and don’t plan to return until sometime this evening. For me it’s a day out and for them it’s a day off. Call the plastic police because I’m sitting in a pub. Drinking a pint of cider.

Earlier I met the mother ship and treated her to lunch. She’s been reading my first book and liking it very much she says. Then we went on a shopping spree, during which I acquired a new watch: a rather natty black number with an orange face, for now. The straps, faces and face dials are available in a variety of mix-and-match colours, so I may buy more parts to reflect my changeable moods. And a pool cue. I’ve been asked to play for the local pub’s pool team and always had my own cue when I used to play years ago, so it seemed rude not to get a new one. There ends the splurge as the money has a home: a home for me.

In about an hour, the eldest of my daughter-types is meeting me for a review of my new book, or what I’ve written to date; which is not a lot. This is the foldy one, who’s sixteen. I was hoping to see the middle one yesterday but aren’t allowed and the youngest one – aged fourteen – remains wayward. My clingy thingy has un-clung and is on the runaround. Tomorrow I’m meeting my kid sister, The Courts – aged seventeen – in this very same pub: so arrest me. Then on Wednesday – in this pub – I’m meeting a very dear friend nearer my own age. I’m very much looking forward to catching up with her as it’s been far too long since we drifted apart.

For now my writing arms are loosened up, so I’d better get on with the second book before my fold-up reviewer arrives.

The Fold-up One With a Folded Arm

05.02.15 (Day 409)


One of my little girls is hurt: the fold-up one has her arm in a sling after being bitten by something. Sweetie, if I find out what it was, I will shoot it, fuck its corpse and eat it. I will too. After watching Watership Down for the first time, I went out and shot a rabbit, fucked its dead body, then ate it to exact my revenge on the animals which had been so cruel to me and made me cry.

I’m limbering up and exercising my fingers on the keyboard to get them ready for a day of writing, seeing as that’s pretty much my job now. Writing this blog, getting everything off of my chest and out of my mind is good preparation. I have some catching up to do on the writing front: Tuesday was lost to engagements which kept cropping up and yesterday turned into only half a day as I had my other hat on; my chef’s hat. In the half day remaining though, I managed to knock out a chapter of the new book:


Chapter Two

The City Without History

The city was different now. Jess knew, yet she hadn’t seen the metamorphosis. She had no memory of how things used to be; only the photographs her parents had left behind. They were gone: her parents and their city.

There used to be public squares, parks and recreation areas. Now the city was just a square, with groups of buildings on each corner separated by wasteland.

Every morning, Jess takes the same route to work, leaving her apartment in the residential quarter and walking counter clockwise around the square city, past the police station and jail to her office in the commercial quarter. Every evening, she walks clockwise past the hospital and back to her home.

She could take a bus. Buses run in both directions around the square. She could use The Loop; an elevated railway around the city. She chooses to walk because in doing so, she takes personal charge of her destiny without entrusting it to public transport and the passengers thereon. And every Wednesday evening, a hand-written note protrudes from the same storm drain cover. Usually it’s just requests for food and water; pens and paper. On this particular Wednesday, the note has gone far further; far deeper.

The first time it happened, all that Jess saw was a rolled up sheet of paper, protruding only slightly from the metal grille as rain water flowed around it, like a periscope tentatively looking for something above an ocean. The river of water flowing into the drain was as grey as the drain cover itself, broken only by white bubbles and carrying debris from the curbside. Bus and train tickets; cigarette ends and spent matches; lottery tickets and receipts; all carried like white water rafters on the river downstream.

On that first occasion, the rolled up sheet was just a protrusion into Jess’s space. White against grey, it was out of place. Jess had stepped into the road and into the riders, as though into enemy territory and pushed the tube of paper into the drain: a discarded sheet, carelessly dropped and washed by rain water into the drain cover but with it’s progress impeded by the iron portcullis which guarded the watery world below.

The riders were demons on wheels, risking their own lives and those of others, riding their cannibalised machines at far in excess of what used to be a speed limit on the roads. Now there were no limits, not even physical ones that the riders observed between road and kerb. Mostly they would growl and roar along the edge of the road but occasionally they would violently mount the kerb, screaming like human sirens at anyone in their way. Jess had seen walkers knocked down, the riders having no concern other than being paid for each delivery of human blood, organs and body parts. They were couriers; messengers to the devil.

If they had time, the riders would stop and pick up their fresh kills to be harvested for spare parts. Far easier were the jumpers: people made redundant, who had hurled themselves from buildings, rather than be dissected while still alive and without anaesthetic, to provide organs and limbs to the needy classes. The riders would collect the roadkill and carrion, then ride pillion on their bikes with their cargo slumped over the handlebars.

A job in the city was something you held onto for life, in more ways than one. Once a job was lost, invariably so too was a life. Jobs were never advertised.

Jess arrives at the building which houses her office and nineteen others: law firms, accountants and the offices of various trades, mainly allied to the construction industry. As the door onto the street closes behind her, the relative quiet in the building is somehow louder than the noise outside as the inside provides room for thought. The riders on the street and the pavement still growl, roar and scream. The other traffic provides a background hum, broken only by the air brakes of a bus travelling either clockwise or counter clockwise around the square city and letting out a mechanical sigh of relief as it disgorges its passengers. The screech of metal on metal from The Loop railway, which runs in both directions around the city subdues as though being shut in a box as the door to Jess’s daytime concentration camp settles in its frame.

The elevator reluctantly collects Jess from the entrance hall, it’s doors opening slowly, like a vertical metal mouth yawning. Then like a piston, the elevator quickly takes Jess to the fourteenth floor and yawns again as she steps out. Before entering her office, she takes in the view outside.

The city looks so different from up here: The Loop a model railway and below it, toy cars, buses, taxis and motorbikes; model people too. Where once stood high rise office towers, now hastily constructed concrete monolithic syringes pierce the clouds of dust which hang overhead, their rooftop communication antennae injecting propaganda into the ether for distant extraterrestrial civilisations to pick up, long after humanity destroyed itself. Welcome to our world. Put another way, this is our world and you are welcome to it.


Paul Auster, eat your heart out. My literary hero considers it a personal achievement if he’s written one page after a long day working. He is a perfectionist and every word must have it’s place, with no redundant words. His writing flows and when you read it, it’s like the author himself is reading it to you.

That’s the last preview I’m posting here. The next anyone sees of the book will be the completed first draft when it goes to my test readers.

Bloodstained Knaves is going to be a longer book than The Paradoxicon. With that book, the subject matter was so huge that if I’d explored it in much greater detail, I’d have ended up with a novel running to 1500-2000 pages. Therefore it paid to write it in the way I did and leave a lot of suggestions for the reader to contemplate. The new book doesn’t have such broad scope but almost perversely, that demands more description; more intimacy between the narrator, the characters and the reader. So Bloodstained Knaves will be bigger and will take longer to write than The Paradoxicon, not just because of its length but because of the descriptive narrative required. I shall continue with the writing process as soon as I’ve got this blog out of my head and attended to a few other things. Then my decks are clear.

There’s not a lot to do as it happens: a couple of emails to send; one to my daughter The Ninja and one to my friend Niki, who’s reading The Paradoxicon. Niki is a teeny bit famous, having featured in Service with Michel Roux a few years back. Look at me rubbing shoulders with the famous, not.

If I can finish up a bit early today, I may meet up with my fold-up girl – also a test reader – to go through whatever I managed to write today.

Quote of the day from yesterday, not from the book and not from my foldy one: “You need to write poetry which appeals to the female vagina.”