A house made of sticks



Yesterday, the war was over for a while. The last battle for what I’m owed has been won, even if the whole thing is a pyrrhic victory and took three years. It’s only really the “Breakdown” months which have been written about here. There was a lot which went before, which I’m now writing about in my new book. I am now in receipt of all that I’m due, financially secure and able to pursue my passions without worry. I’ve rebuilt my life and a place to live around me. It’s a little fragile but more than I’ve had for the past couple of years. I have a degree of stability.

Operation replenish is almost finished. Allowing time for imports to arrive, sometime before the end of the year, the Savage Cinema collection should be complete. Few would recognise many of the titles but these are the ones on few lists of extremes, because some take a lot of finding. No collection would be complete without absolutely everything, like the film library in The Paradoxicon but the point about my collection is that it is curated with great care. I know which movies to pair or show in succession to have a double or increased level of effectiveness. A night at the Savage Cinema will shred your soul and it’s open for viewing soon, with the collection complete.

Only one title has eluded me: Titticut Follies, which is both banned and deleted. The other two at the high end of the list of films of notoriety are Aftermath and Begotten. The latter is available on DVD but only one copy in “Fair” condition remains on the market. A “Very good” copy was available at even greater cost but I concluded that I wasn’t going to pay out the best part of £200 for something only in a fair condition. Aftermath is not available anywhere at the moment in its longest cut but it pops up now and again, so it’s a future acquisition but for now, I have digital copies of both.

So the collection now includes copies of every movie on this list of the 50 most disturbing films ever, which is generally considered to be the most authoritative. Collecting rare extreme movies was always a passion of mine before my breakdown. Now that I’m back on my feet, the money that I’ve received has allowed me to rebuild the collection I once had and to add to it.

I was heartened by the positive response to my recent Facebook post, after I received most of my latest royalties in Euros. A quick look at my Kindle sales dashboard revealed that my book is being bought in France. It was a heartening, romantic thought that our cultured French cousins might be reading my book. I hope they like it.

I have the budget to produce a limited print run of The Paradoxicon, as well as sell it on-demand in print. I’m too new to the market to be attracting too much attention but I am definitely getting that. If I self-publish in print – at least temporarily – it’s not a vanity project; it’s faith: putting my money where my mouth is. There are few remaining doubters who I need to prove anything to and I’m not sure they’ll ever be convinced but I want to make those who still know me proud. Even if all of this goes tits up, right now and forever, there are records of my writing held at The British Library. There are two anthologies with ISBN codes in print and there is a novel with an ISDN: I have three tiny little places among millions in the national collection of published works. I don’t care so much about the money: I’m immortalised and my book is being read by French people. I think I might keep this writing thing going.

My feet are under the writing desk in the cradle of filth half of the studio, while one of the girls is in the cinema bit. She’s not watching extreme films; she’s just hanging out where it’s cool and she feels comfortable, while I get on with some work: mi casa su casa. It’s nice to have a bit of quiet company while I write, especially when it’s the company of one of those I hold close to me, after all that she saw me go through. Some people will always seek to stuff their otherwise empty lives with thoughts of how my relationships with the teenage girls are inappropriate but that’s only because the thought crossed their minds and not mine. I’ve got my life back and those young ladies were instrumental among others in helping me get here. We have bonds which few would understand, simply because… They get it, they get me; I understand them and I can read between their lines. Vice versa.

Those people met me when I lived in less than a house made of straw but they didn’t judge me. They were around when sticks and stones were thrown at me and when my bones were broken: I took three cracked ribs for one and I’d do it again. They’ve gone through a lot and I’m not giving up on them: life needs to get to grip with facts.

Two worlds marry, now that I’m a professional writer with money to spend on wonderful things. Like business cards.

Having worked in print for 25 years, I have ink running through my veins. Besides the printers’ ink, there’s the ink from the tattoos of the kids’ names on my arms: I have words in my blood.

Well now it’s all come together, the writer is placing ink on paper again by feeding my beloved trade with words.

I no longer have to rely on free, template-based business cards, so today I treated myself to some bespoke ones: basic by design, these are on order. They’re printed on recycled, uncoated card using water-based inks; the face looks like a miniature book, with my name on; and I can now say what I am on my card: professional, published, prize-winning; writer. They’re not digitally printed; they’re traditional litho. A small ambition is to one day have cards printed letter press: printers and purists will understand why. Most importantly though, I was able to use my favourite printers’ font: Helvetica.

I was invited to spend Christmas with my parents and we had the discussion about why this wouldn’t be the right time for the first family reunion since my breakdown. My folks were very understanding but as my sister works in a care home, her part of the family are unable to visit. Therefore, although I’ve politely declined, I may ask if I might withdraw from that and spend Christmas Day with my parents and remaining auntie. I wouldn’t even consider it if I didn’t think that it would be an enjoyable day for all concerned.

Unfortunately, the money has come a little too late for buying thoughtful gifts but that’s not what this is about. I have things planned for a later date. The most important people are those I’d most like to spend the day with: my children. I’ve spoken with their mum and made sure that there are finances available for anything she asks for.

After everything and with almost everything in this new life in place, one thing remains absent. I’m not sure at the moment if I’ll ever be up for a relationship. I’ve made so much on my own and grown so used to the solitary existence which is that of the writer and love it, that it’s going to take a lot. Least of all, someone who understands me. I don’t think anyone will ever be able to contain me: after everything, I’m too much of a free spirit. I would like someone to share it all with, now that it’s nice and not misery. But it’s going to take a very special person to take on this baggage. It’ll just happen one day, when someone gets me.

Quantum Theory dictates that there is someone, in a parallel universe.

I just hope they’ve evolved beyond straw, stick and brick houses.

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