13.04.15 (Day 477/34)
If I could be granted one wish at the moment, I would wish to be left alone sometimes.
I started writing this ten days ago and just like almost every day since I’ve been living here, I didn’t finish as there were things to do and people to see, or rather people who wanted to see me. I’ve been living in the pub for a month now and there is rarely a dull moment, apart from the hours of sleep, which are few. That’s by choice though. I now have plenty of mates in this place and we’re often up late smoking, chilling and on the coke. It’s a pub, so we serve Coca Cola. So what I’ve managed to write recently is very little but for the record and for my tired mind to contemplate another time, this is where I was:
Despite advice to the contrary, I always seem to end up working with children and animals. More accurately, there always seem to be kids and at least one animal around while I’m trying to work, whether it be writing or in the kitchen.
At the moment I’m simultaneously writing and I have a pot roast on downstairs. On the writing front, I’ve returned to Bloodstained Knaves as I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and have come up with a plot device to take it somewhere I want to but wasn’t able to. The follow up to The Paradoxicon is therefore on hold. The pot roast is a whole chicken in a slow cooker with some vegetables and stock. We’re still limited in what we can cook upstairs at the pub as we only have the slow cooker and a microwave. Tonight’s one pot wonder will be accompanied by roast potatoes though as we’re commandeering the pub kitchen downstairs. I’m cooking for seven: housemate Nick, myself, the landlady’s daughter and other half and their three kids. As an aside, housemate Nick and I have decided to call this place of ours “Stickys”: Steve and Nicky’s. See what we did there?
All will be well with dinner and I will get some more of the book written if I’m just left alone but the dog keeps coming in and so do the kids. To be honest, I don’t mind too much. The dog is cool, being a cross Golden Labrador Pit Bull. This in addition to the pub puppy and pool mascot, the Jack Russell, Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier cross. The kids just seem magnetised to me, like kids are for some reason. And they think that my little part of the pub is “really cool”. Asked why they thought this, I was told that it’s because there’s a PlayStation and a cool sound system here and it’s because my part of the pub has me in it. Last night they were all in with me, playing on the PlayStation and today they keep popping their heads around the door which isn’t there to check that I’m okay.
The one I feared accidentally addressing in a way that I shouldn’t is here too. She’s spoken for and just a friend, albeit a good one. I need to keep telling myself that and the longer we’re apart, the less the risk of getting too close.
Every five minutes or so I hear my name called, as one or more of the kids wants something, normally just to spend time with “Uncle Steve.” I really seem to have charmed this family without trying nor realising that’s what I was doing and I still don’t understand what it is about me that makes them gravitate towards me. I’m quite touched I suppose and I keep the kids and the dogs out of the way of their respective carers but sometimes I wish I had a different name.
I need a pen name. That way, while I’m working, I don’t have to respond to my real name as that is not the name I’m known by when I’m writing.
I have the weekend off from helping out at the pub but I anticipate the weekend being rather taken up by kids.
And so it came to pass that almost the entire evening was spent feeding and entertaining kids while a dog ran around looking lost. And although I’ve effectively lost a day, I still don’t mind. I don’t mind helping people out. It’s in my nature, especially when it comes to helping those who have helped me and if it wasn’t for the people I’m helping, I wouldn’t be able to help them because I wouldn’t be here. The landlords took a bit of a gamble on me and I have proven their hunch to be right. I can be trusted; nowadays. That wasn’t always the case.
Even though I’ve worked above and beyond the call of duty and done far in excess of what is expected of me, it really doesn’t matter. Especially today as I have tomorrow off; Sunday too. So – kids permitting – the weekend is the usual one I plan and fail to actually live: just me and the newspapers. It won’t happen because there will be too many interruptions. People calling into my space and wanting to spend time with me; people coming into the bar and asking if I’m around when it’s pretty obvious that I’m not there. But they know where I live. I may adopt a pseudonym for writing but I am not changing this address because the living arrangement is so agreeable.
The pub is closed. I know this as I can see the sign just below my window. Now I’m just waiting for the rest of those staying tonight to get themselves upstairs.
Bringing things up to date, I’ve finally had a chance to catch up on all things personal tonight. And there’s a key word: personal. It’s very difficult to exist in total privacy when living in a pub and I shall repeat that I absolutely love it here. I have everything I need to sustain me in modesty. Tonight has been the best night so far though because I’ve actually had it to myself. I’ve had the place to myself as well, since the visiting family left to return to London for a few days earlier. I do miss them, as I do London but this is home now: a crooked old pub with two very wonky rooms on the second floor where I live my life which I’ve pretty much straightened out. There’s more to do and I need to do it on my own now, as that’s where I am and capable of doing so with the continued support of those who’ve stuck by me.
But I am on my own, finding my feet and loving the place they’ve landed in. On the basis of today though, I really do need to be a little more selfish and in doing so, merely taking the advice of many of those who have been around me for the last fifteen months.
I have this place and together we have a future. Some of the past has left me; some I’ve chosen to leave behind; but here I am, writer and chef in waiting, father of four and enjoying myself.
I don’t have to go running after those two eldest daughters of mine like the rabid dog who was once my mate does. They know where I am and they come to me when they need me: always here, I hope.
I can’t help thinking that things could go tits up any time soon but like calls to my phone: incoming. I guess it’s natural to feel insecure when something this good happens after fifteen months of having literally nothing.
Again the pub is closed and tonight the landlord and landlady are staying. So some of the rooms will be shared. I’m a little confused and frustrated by that little aspect of things as I’m expected to pay rent on the basis of the exclusive use of the flat above the pub. I don’t have that and the council are only paying for what I actually have but not what I’m meant to have. It’s fine by me as things stand regarding the living situation but I may need to renegotiate the rent. More hurdles and hoops.
And now it’s Monday, the thirteenth. I’m pretty much up to date on everything: the washing machine arrived, I can view all Freeview channels thanks to the new aerial I bought and once this blog is done, I can get back on with my second book. I’m receiving royalties from the sale of The Paradoxicon, albeit modest sums but such is the life of a writer and that’s what I have chosen to do. I have all that I need and only need to aspire to greater things. Just today I signed a contract with Horrified Press for the publication of some of my short stories in Schlock bi-monthly print magazine. That and my debut novel are available from Amazon and via my website: http://www.stevelaker.net
So I’m published and I’ve signed a contract with a print magazine: I’ve kind of arrived. Wherever I’ve landed, I certainly feel at home here, even if things are up in the air so much. The living arrangement remains modest and crooked but it is home and it’s mine. After the fifteen months of personal hell which went before this, I feel I deserve a bit of a break. If only the kids, visitors, supporters and family would allow me to have one.
In closing, I penned a short verse to those who have stuck by me but also those who abandoned me during my sentence:
It’s not your fault I went off the rails
You’re not responsible for the things I’ve done and seen
As I sat with a drink in one hand and a gun in the other
There’s no genie in the bottle
Nor in the magazine