A message for all of humanity

NEWSREEL | PROPAGANDA

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Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 film, The Great Dictator, ended with a speech called A Message of Hope to Mankind. With all that I’ve had to say recently, and with everything I continue to stand for, this speaks far louder. In four minutes, I don’t think it an exaggeration to say that Chaplin delivers the most important address in mankind’s history. It resonates powerfully now. In these dark days for looming tyranny, war, and economic collapse, there is another way.

Chaplin’s is a message which I feel should be disseminated, syndicated, broadcast and shared by as many media channels as possible. This blog is a small beacon of hope.

This comic actor, film-maker, and composer who rose to fame during the era of silent film, just made a speech, with more feeling than any politician would be able to orate.

A eulogy to Serenity

THE WRITER’S LIFE

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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

“Blog Cabin”

I define a typewriter as, “a musical thing with keys”. I have a dear and long-standing friend who’s a musical thing with a keyboard: She writes and she makes music. We could be practically related, but this is not nepotism; this is merely syndication of another channel. My slightly magical musical young mucker, ruminating lyrically on how writers just need a place to write. Sometimes, it’s at the end of a garden:

She Shed. Woman Cave. Her Hut. Haven of Tranquillity. Divorce Prevention Unit (DPU). Kaleido Kabin; just a sprinkling of the monikers ascribed so far to the creation that has been brewing, slowly, …

Source: “Blog Cabin”

1000 words in time

FICTION

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By no coincidence at all, this will be auto-posted to my Twitter feed as my 1000th tweet. Just a 1000-word flash fiction timepiece:

Mechanical Manacle

How soon is now, Morrissey wondered. The Smiths asked, The Clash happened, The Angelic Upstarts cried for last night (another soldier), then came The Stranglers and The Damned: The History of the World, Part 1.

Courtney was lost. Kurt was lost. No more smells like teen spirit. No Hole, or Babes in Toyland. Faith no More, no more. Everyone and everything was gone. All that remained was her and the ticking clock on her wrist, telling a time which had ceased to exist. Everything can change, suddenly and forever. For Courtney, it had, and it was.

All she wanted to know was, when is now? She yearned to know when she was. This was her third and final wish but she dare not speak it, for as soon as a wish is broadcast, it is granted, by a star. Or a binary system: then you get two wishes come true, for the price of two.

The first wish was for an end to all conflict and hunger in the world: that was easy. The second was that her mum and dad hadn’t got married. That was simple too, but now Courtney didn’t exist.

The story of a life which no longer happened started just a short while from now. In the very near future, a war to end all wars is going to happen. It starts when a young girl makes a wish.

Every night, as she drifts off to sleep, Courtney tries to imagine a world with no conflict. A place where people don’t fight. In a dream, the answer came to her: warring factions can be united against a common foe.

And so, “They” came to be. They are all that is unknown to Courtney, but she sought them in dreams and they came to her. They explained things in very simple terms, but in a language which Courtney didn’t yet understand. At the time, she didn’t realise this. So when a voice which was alien to her asked if her first wish be granted, she answered that it should.

It came to be known as The War of Words. It was a conflict waged in a global theatre. It wasn’t a physical war but one based in dreams: a psychological war of intelligence. They won.

Neither of the opposing sides on earth survived. Where once east and west were in conflict, now there were no battles. There was no-one to fight them. They didn’t discriminate: the foe against which the previously warring factions of earth fought, defeated all other sides. People simply didn’t wake up. They bore no physical injuries and passed quietly.

Courtney’s parents perished in the war. Her second wish didn’t need to be vocalised because it was granted as a product of the first. Now she wished that she could take back what she had done. She wished that she could be transported back to a time before her parents had started to drift apart; perhaps to the birthday when they’d given her a fine, gold antique watch.

The watch was a solid weight on Courtney’s young wrist. At times, it was an encumbrance. On occasion, it was a reassuring tie or tug. The importance of the timepiece was impressed upon her young mind as soon as it was placed around her arm.

It was a family heirloom, fashioned in the past, but futuristic in appearance. The detail was exquisite: clearly the product of dextrous old hands. The strap was formed of alternate links made from gold and platinum, to produce a two-tone bling curfew tag. The outer body of the casing was also cast in gold. The watch face was ebony and the hour, minute and second hands were fine slivers of ivory.

Within the main face were four other dials: two chronometers measuring seconds in tenths and hundredths respectively; a completely separate 24-hour clock face, with its own hour, minute and second hands; and a dial displaying the date of the month, with a smaller still dial within it, displaying the month. All of the dials were analogue and their numerals were embossed into the black wood face with platinum leaf. The workings – the actual clockwork mechanisms – were visible on top of the watch face, rather than being obscured by it, with just the protection of the watch’s flawless glass screen. The skills of the creator were visible through a transparent yet impenetrable sky, as the mechanisms danced like a miniature fairground.

The watch dated from a time when trade in ivory was legal. The remnants of one of many extinct species, it now ticked not towards something, but away from the existential death of humankind and all other life on their planet. The craftsmanship of the watch might mean that it was the last relic of humanity, long after Courtney’s body had disappeared in time.

The watch had no visible means of winding, despite the fact that it was clearly clockwork. There was no obvious source of power, yet the watch generated warmth as Courtney wore it. It were as though she was wearing a miniature steam-powered structure in perpetual motion: an automaton, which must house mechanical components of microscopic proportions.

“Would you like this wish to be granted?” said a voice, from somewhere. Somewhere else, someone said, “Yes”.

Courtney blinks as though waking from sleep, as her surroundings become clearer. She’s at a child’s birthday party. Is it hers? She looks down at her arms: there is no steam-powered fairground. She can hear her parents in the background. Through the noise of the party, it’s hard to tell if they’re screaming with laughter, rage, or both. Courtney decides simply to join in her own party.

It was after the last guests had left when Courtney’s parents gave her the watch. They explained in words which Courtney thought she understood, the importance of the timepiece which she now wore.

If Courtney had only one wish in her life, it would be for things to stay exactly like this.

Musings: McEmpathy Upsized

It was the end of a long day. The crowd was ravenous. Feet tapping, arms folded, impatient to take their greasy fast food dinners home. I craned my neck to see what was causing the holdup. They wer…

Source: Musings: McEmpathy Upsized

Musings: On Charity and Skepticism

Just last weekend, we were in Jakarta for a music festival. On our way back to the hotel at 4am, we came across a small disabled man crouched on the ground by the road side among some food stalls. …

Source: Musings: On Charity and Skepticism

This life, version 2.0

THE WRITER’S LIFE

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There are a lot of amazing feelings which come from publishing a book, just as there are in writing one. Obviously the writer has complete freedom if they are like me: Working mainly for myself and only in my own styles when I’m hired for freelance work. But I’ve written plenty about the writing part. What’s occupying me the most now is the post-publishing stage of a book.

The publication date was coincidentally poignant for more than the reason I’d already realised. It was three years to the day since part one of my life had ended. It was the day of Trump’s inauguration, and there’s a fairly barbed Trump reference in one of the stories. And it was the day my friend from Catford was laid to rest. It was a fitting date and it all happened by accident.

I like to play with numbers, to keep my mind always busy. It struck me that my last post was on what would have been day 1126 of me writing this blog. If you add all of the digits of that number, you get 10. If you add the 11 to the 26, you get 37: A prime number. Reversed, it’s 73: Another prime, and Doctor Sheldon Cooper’s favourite number for that reason and more: 7 and 3 are also both prime numbers. If you add those together, you again get 10. 10 is 2 in binary (well, 10 is 10 in binary, but you get my drift) and 2 is a prime number. It’s a lot of overthinking things on my part, but it demonstrates a point: Strange coincidences are there in real life. Some just take more effort to find. 42 is, of course, the answer to life, the universe and everything. When mankind couldn’t understand that answer, the point was made that in order to understand the answer to something, one must first understand the question. The question in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which was extracted from Arthur Dent’s brain was, what do you get if you multiply six by nine? And it is 42. If you use mathematical base 13. We’re just not thinking radically enough.

Weird coincidences do happen in real life, as they do in fiction. Often, life’s happenstances are stranger than those told of in fiction. The fiction writer has to be wary of accusations of stretching chance too much. Such an accusation might be made of some writers (not mentioning names, but one which rhymes with “ban drown”) but most will make things believable without too much stretching of the imagination. But it is true that stranger things happen in real life. Paul Auster commented on this in a recent interview with The Guardian:

“People who don’t like my work say that the connections seem too arbitrary. But that’s how life is.”

As if to prove it, between 1999 and 2001 he took part in the National Story Project on American public radio, in which he read out yarns submitted by “ordinary people” across the country – “true stories that sounded like fiction”. His original call was for tales “that defied our expectations about the world, anecdotes that revealed the mysterious and unknowable forces at work in our lives”. It was a success; thousands of stories were submitted and a selection published as True Tales of American Life. Auster found confirmation that “reality is truly as strange and incomprehensible as I thought it was”, and that others too felt the pull of improbability: “I’m happy to report that I’m not alone,” he told the Paris Review. “It’s a madhouse out there.”

“I borrowed some things from my own life, but what novelist doesn’t?”

None of the stories in The Perpetuity of Memory rely on unbelievable devices. Even the more fanciful and fantastical ones have a grounding in science and some of my background research is explained within the contexts of the individual stories. There are elements of me in most of them but probably only recognisable to those closest to me. As fiction, they are good stories.

The truth is, so much has happened in my life that there are many stories to adapt and tell as fiction. “Stories only happen to those who are able to tell them”, after all. This entire blog is the story of most of my life – non-fiction – or at least what I’m now calling part two of my life.

At the end of part two, I’ve published two books: The Paradoxicon and The Perpetuity of Memory. The Paradoxicon is a partly semi-autobiographical story, written in a hurry, in an effort to commit things to history. As a flash fiction novella, it’s a good little book (I’m told). The Perpetuity of Memory though, is the book I’d like to be judged on as a writer. It represents the three years during which my life was first in transit, then settled and contemplating. It’s a story in itself: 25 collected tales, one book, wrapped up in another story: that of my life, version 2.0. I’m contemplating and writing many more stories, for the webzine, magazine and anthology markets, then there’ll be a second volume, probably in about a year, and with the working title of Recollections of the Future (not final). I’ll also be re-writing The Paradoxicon as an expanded, full-length novel, incorporating a fictional account of the real autobiography I’ve found too difficult to write.

My book is out there. I’m earning royalties in various currencies as it’s bought around the world. The royalties are almost irrelevant to me. I have a modest, comfortable (if not luxurious) life and I have all that I need around me. So as not to complicate my benefit payments (writing is recognised by tribunal judges as being therapeutic for my depression and anxiety), most payments from my books will go to my usual charity benefactors. That, and just the knowledge that my books are out there, is why I do it. People are buying The Perpetuity of Memory and reading it. Friends are sending me photos of my book in situ in their houses.

It’s a good feeling; This life, part three, or version 2.0.

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.

The perpetuity of patience

THE WRITER’S LIFE | BOOK PREVIEW

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The Perpetuity of Memory, out next week in paperback (£7.99 / €8.99 / $9.99)

It’s taken three years to go from homeless alcoholic to this. Although I have books on sale already, The Perpetuity of Memory has been the labour of love. It’s a collection of some of the many short stories I’ve written over my period of recovery. Even though I say so myself, it’s a good book. As well as the raw writing, I’ve spent some time on curating the collection, so that it works as a whole volume. It’s 25 stories but it’s one book.

The book goes on general sale next week, so in advance I’d like to share some of the cover and internal notes, as a pre-sale marketing exercise but also to share on this blog what the book is all about and what it means to me. Three years ago, I was a tramp. I became a published writer some time ago but this is the book I’d like to be judged on.

From the back cover:

The Perpetuity of Memory is a collection of short stories, some written in libraries, cafes, bars and on park benches, and anywhere warm, dry and light by day. Others were written at night, by street light or candlelight.

In 2013, an addiction to alcohol saw the author lose his family, home and business. With nothing else to do without going insane on the streets, he begged money to buy exercise books and stole some bookies’ pens.

These are the stories written during a period on the road; in squats, doctors’ surgeries, court waiting rooms and hospital beds. Some were written in relatively safe surroundings and others, while in a state of vulnerable and anxious terror. Sometimes, there was plenty of time to write. Often a flash fiction story was all that time permitted.

Ranging from humorous science fiction to psychological horror, these short stories are a glimpse of what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic with depression, out on the streets.

A further introduction:

In December 2013, I found myself homeless after pissing my life away. Aged 43, alcohol had lost me my marriage to the wife of my two children, my business and my home. I was on the streets. With nothing except the clothes I was wearing and a couple of carrier bags containing my belongings, I was lost.

With nothing else to do, I begged money to buy some exercise books and stole some bookies’ pens. I found places which were warm and dry during the day and started writing. At first, I was just scribbling down what was on my mind, trying to make sense of things. When it didn’t make sense at the time, I decided to put my notes into a blog, in the hope that they might make sense later. I still write that blog and all of the old entries from stolen moments at a borrowed PC are retained. They are as indelible as the memories of life on the road.

The period of sleeping rough was mercifully brief but I spent three years in squats, sofa surfing and living illegally above a pub, before I finally got my own place. It was during that transitory period that I started to write short stories and this book collects 25 of them together.

It is said that there’s a part of the writer in every story, whether it be a character trait in a fictional person or a memory from the fringes of life experience. For the writer, it can be an escape.

The stories collected in this book range from humorous science fiction to psychological horror. I’ve continued to write many more but this anthology is from those first three years.

“Stories only happen to those who are able to tell them.” Paul Auster.

About the author

Steve Laker was born in 1970 and grew up in Kent, before marrying in 2003 and moving to London with his wife. He has two children from the marriage and remains on good terms with his family.

After a 25-year career in print and publishing up to company director level, he ran a successful business with his wife. That life ended in 2012 when he became ill through alcohol addiction, resulting in divorce and the loss of his business and home. Subsequently, he was diagnosed with chronic depression, PTSD and anxiety. He remains alcohol dependent.

Following a three year period of recovery, he started publishing short stories in web zines and print magazines. In 2014, he won a national award for his “Changing lives” short story, A Girl, Frank Burnside and Haile Selassie.

He now lives alone in West Malling, back to being a Man of Kent. He continues to write short stories and novels, both under his own name and as a freelance ghostwriter.

(END)

There’ll be more stories but for now, this is the first volume of collected shorts.

The book of forgotten things

THE WRITER’S LIFE

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My notebook, also a novel, Words and Deeds: Essays (1942) by Henry Nevinson.

Imagine you’re in a room, with no visible means of escape: How do you get out? Well, you stop imagining.

So began a story which I started to write yesterday, when I had my monthly meet up with my kids in Milton Keynes (but it’s the people you’re with who make a place). Nowadays, the trust placed in me extends to me taking the kids for lunch at a pub, without a chaperone. It’s a testament to how my drinking is under control and to how mature the kids are. Because unlike some adults, they understand that I can still drink, and that I’m an alcoholic. Because they questioned, listened and learned. Now they see the proof. But the plastic police still judge without cross examination. Well, that makes them ignorant: The one human trait I can’t stand, because there’s no excuse for it.

That humans only use a small percentage of their brain is a myth. But many people’s brains are under-utilised, meaning that there is much potential in all of us, even those with a below average IQ. Just as if people stopped to think before they speak, the world would be a better place if they opened their minds. In my own mind, I imagine these people still think the world is flat and that they’ll eventually fall off the edge.

Yesterday I made notes in a new journal. I don’t like to carry the typewriter (laptop) around with me, as it contains all my work (backed-up but still, I just don’t). My Filofax, which was meant to replace notepads, is so full of notes it hardly closes and is pretty bulky. So I’ve reverted to individual journals, which are much more portable, so that I can write anywhere. The current one is a rather splendid thing: A Pelican imprint paperback, published by Penguin, entitled “Words and Deeds” and containing just blank, ruled pages.

Just as I started this blog by writing in journals wherever I could, then stealing what time I could on public access computers, so I’m doing now. Having a notebook and pen about one’s person at all times is important for the writer to record and report on life’s moments as they happen. A moment is a subjective term, which has no real definition. A moment can be a fleeting one, or it can be one which makes minutes last for days.

So yesterday was a perfect day and one which I didn’t want to end. But they all have to. But for as long as that moment lasted, the kids and me just gallivanted. I’m a liberal parent but I respect my ex-wife’s values and won’t contradict her, so I’m also responsible. But gallivanting with my kids is just like young cows or horses gambolling in a field: It’s simple, happy fun.

It’s nice to be writing on the hoof again. Perhaps I subconsciously resisted because of the mental association with homelessness. When I last wrote in journals, I was doing so just wherever I could: McDonald’s, the library, the train station waiting room, or by candle light in the concrete bunker at the abandoned Gilbert House in Tonbridge. There were some good times during that period of darkness, not least of all me finding myself with nothing to do but write. Now, three years later, some of the stories I wrote back then are soon to be published. I should receive the final printed book proof this week and once I’ve signed it off, The Perpetuity of Memory will be available to buy in paperback for £7.99. Here’s what it says on the back cover:

The Perpetuity of Memory is a collection of short stories, some written in libraries, cafes, bars and on park benches, and anywhere warm, dry and light by day. Others were written at night, by street light or candlelight.

In 2013, an addiction to alcohol saw the author lose his family, home and business. With nothing else to do without going insane on the streets, he begged money to buy exercise books and stole some bookies’ pens.

These are the stories written during a period on the road; in squats, doctors’ surgeries, court waiting rooms and hospital beds. Some were written in relatively safe surroundings and others, while in a state of vulnerable and anxious terror. Sometimes, there was plenty of time to write. Often a flash fiction story was all that time permitted.

Ranging from humorous science fiction to psychological horror, these short stories are a glimpse of what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic with depression, out on the streets.

I’m still writing a couple of books in the background and I’m still doing freelance work but with so many ideas for new short stories, I’ll keep writing everything I can. In perhaps a year from now, there should be a second collection of short stories published. I have so many ideas and plots that the easiest way to share them is in short stories.

The Words and Deeds journal, like the 10 before it, completes me when I’m away from my comfort zone (my studio) by providing the comfort of writing within it. It seems to attract attention and even though that makes me anxious, cognitive behaviour therapy taught me that those people who look at me are just naturally curious about someone who’s writing. Of course, if they’re paranoid, they might think I’m writing about them. But I have no secrets and just as I wear my heart on my sleeve in life, I would offer my notebook to anyone who’s curious and invite them to read it. I did this many times when I was homeless and several people signed my journals beneath encouraging personal sentiments. I treasure those memories and I managed to retain seven of the ten old journals. Some of those people became characters in my stories: a writer’s way of saying thanks (and hoping they’re read). With my dress sense and facial furniture, I look the part but for the avoidance of doubt, I wear a badge: It’s a simple tin badge with a picture of an e-reader with a red line through it. Like the steam punk watches I wear, it can be a conversation starter. People ask, listen, learn and hopefully, they read.

I wish I had a bigger badge, which read, “If there’s something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid of it. Engage with it instead. Ask, listen, learn and share. For if you are wise, then others can be too.” But make what you say or write interesting and accessible. I explained to one of the girls recently how ghosts are a paradoxical reality, as she’d recently suffered a loss. My explanation was not one based on faith and as such, it didn’t require a leap of faith on her part. My explanation was grounded purely in science and I explained quantum mechanics, spacetime and other concepts to arrive at ghosts as the truth. She thanked me later. She said I’d opened her eyes to completely new things and now she saw things differently. She’s not afraid any more. Everyone has a capacity in them like that, if they just listen, learn and think. Those with closed minds are welcome to their own company in the flat world I imagine for them. I guess my mind didn’t really open until I had a breakdown and found myself with nothing. I suppose those who have things have yet other things to think about. Unfortunately, they’re the same ignorants who don’t check facts and end up spreading false information on social media.

Never one to forget where I came from, when The Perpetuity of Memory is published, I’ll get a quantity of author’s copies. Some are for family and friends but others I’ll most likely give to the street homeless. I don’t think it’s too narcissistic to think some of them might be grateful of something to read and that it might mean something to have it given to them by the guy who wrote it, who was in the same position as them not so long ago.

So imagine you’re in a room, with no visible means of exit: How do you get out? Well, you stop imagining and close your mind. Then the room is destroyed, along with all that was in it and all which might have been. People, places, and the situations they create: Stories. Tales lost in that room of forgotten things, unless they’re read, learned from and shared.

It’s a Paul Auster reference and it’s a device I’ve used in a previous story. My second volume of collected tales will most likely be called The book of Forgotten Things.