Yes I know. What is it you say? Where the…have I been? Well yes…and I guess you are right. I have promised in the past I wouldn’t leave it so long and yet, here we are, months gone by without a word. It reminds me of being a young man, newly left home and my mother always complaining that I wasn’t keeping in regular contact.
What was I supposed to do? Send her my diary. She wouldn’t have liked the truth. ‘…Hi mum…we haven’t made it big yet…sleeping on somebody’s floor. He’s a junky…but don’t worry I don’t like needles myself. I haven’t had any real food for over a week. No money. We rescued a couple of loaves of bread from the back of a bakery and are making toast and beans on an upturned electric fire.
We have no access to hot water, so washing with cold water from a bucket whilst standing in the sink.
We have been given a cool name by the neighbours and are known collectively as ‘those bloody hippies.’ Apparently they like our music as they congregate outside, the front gate, every night, a whole bunch of them. Occasionally they knock on the door and walls, in time to the music and shout encouragement. We can’t really hear them as the amps are too loud.
But it is a nice thought, don’t you think? Sorry I have to go now…the landlord has just turned off the electricity and I have to find some candles. We will have to go acoustic….’
The last few weeks have been a blur of inactivity what with Christmas and my decision to retire from the National Health Service at the end of March. I will have been a psychologist in learning disabilities based in Tower Hamlets for close to 20 years and my time is done here.
What with austerity measures, the Social Care Act and competitive tendering, long term psychotherapeutic interventions in a community setting will get harder to justify. Before I become totally disillusioned it is time to move on. I will still do some consultation and private work but the hope is I will have more time to spend on my three greatest loves, my wife, family and writing. I would like to think that is the right order but kind of believe that Kay would say otherwise.
I still write a missive everyday and my third novel is about to be released. See details of that below.
Hopefully I will have another collection of missives coming out soon and this one will be called ‘The Second Wave’.
Kay keeps saying I spend too much time glued to the laptop, I resemble a teenage gamer or a play-station geek, tip-tapping away. I am either writing, thinking about writing, or answering notifications about my writing. I wish all the effort I put into producing my work would be rewarded by an increase in sales, but public apathy to my creative endeavours’ remains high.
Hang on how can apathy be high
It must be low.
So low it barely reaches above gutter height.
But maybe not quite as low as this shamelessly unabashed attempt to illicit your support for my new book ‘The One Soul; Into the Grey’. All contributions gratefully received Oh! and PS. A review would be fabulous.
Best wishes Peter.
Hi all, gosh I have been so remiss. The whole point of hosting a website and blog is to write it. I have been nothing short of negligent in keeping to that rather simple brief. In mitigation I have written a missive practically every single day this year, should you follow my posts, and at long last I do have a fourth novel coming along.
I hope to publish the 3rd book in the ‘One Soul’ trilogy...‘The One Soul-Into the Grey’ in the next couple of months.
Much could be made of my blogging absence or nothing, depending on your point of view. Face it, if you are reading this then at the very least you are showing interest. Of course it could be argued you have distinct and possibly questionable taste. Maybe you are serving a penance for indiscriminate reading. Who knows?
Perhaps you are even a fan. Now don’t laugh. It is rude to mock the afflicted.
But some of you will have made a choice, exercised free will (If indeed it exists at all-but that is an altogether different story- for another time...maybe) and found your own way here.
Not just a chance encounter then? An element of premeditation...Oh dear....
Is there no hope for you?
One consolation you have in your favour is the knowledge that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. On average a better strike rate than mine.
Never the less, I would prefer to believe you have invested some of your valuable reading time catching up with me and for that I will thank you.
So...what now...okay, at the very least we can agree you are still here and I would like it if you hung around for a while, if for no other reason but I like talking to you,
So... I think it would be fair to assume it is my job to keep you here.
Well...How do I go about doing it?
What will catch your eye and pluck at your chuckle muscle?
How can I tickle your imagination and keep you enthralled?
Do I need to entertain you or inform?
Should I be the BBC or ITV?
Surely a good blog should be a bit of both. If we accept that as fact ...just for the sake of argument... can we also start from the standpoint that this is a good blog...not too difficult an assumption I hope.
Taking into account international diplomacy and the concern some people may have that we might only be a couple of mistakes to one side of a catastrophe so complete it would make the term ‘dystopian future’ seem appealing, the past summer months have, for the most part been bright and full of good cheer.
The Scottish referendum has come to dominate much of the national...Oh!...sorry, if you are reading this after a ‘yes’ vote I should have said ‘International news’ Gosh! This is so complicated...Keeping a balanced position, whilst straddling a wobbly fence is not easy but equanimity has, so far, prevailed. And thank goodness, with an absence of blood-letting... which in itself (pun intended) is so typically British... and the result will soon be known.
Whatever happens I doubt the UK will ever be the same...and that might be no bad thing. Too much centralisation and the abominable presence of a Burlington Club Oxbridge elite in Westminster has hardened attitudes against the status quo. Something needs to change and as so many voters have developed a jaundiced view about the veracity of political morals a good kick up the behind can only make things better.
Well that probably frightened a few people off. A minority in the swing seats might have even nodded off, whilst one or two of you others might have chewed your own bloomin’ fingers off.
This August was famous for another reason. It was a time of celebration. It was my Silver wedding 25 years married to my wonderful and thankfully patient and relatively short-sighted wife...Kay.
Yes...I know...And they said it would never last...No seriously...they did.
An ex-girlfriend met my ex-mother-in-law in a Tesco express...which was about to close so as they walked through the exit, ex pulled ex to one side and excitedly expressed the opinion that she knew what was what. She said any relationship her ex...meaning me...may have...was doomed to fail ‘It would be extraordinary for such a union to be successful.’ She concluded.
It is with much excitement that I have to declare the ex...wrong in the extreme. Ex...most definitely does not mark the spot.
In any event we had a marvellous day. All of our family and many good friends...all together. My daughter came from Australia and our three grandchildren were all under our roof for the first time.
We had a rather successful barbeque with me as MC. It was the first time I have presided over such a gathering since the death of my son...so it was a big deal. Thankfully all went well, with only one short and rather splendid speech from my wonderful daughter.
Oh and I read a poem I wrote for Kay.
Silver Wedding day. The 1st of August 2014.
A glance to remember.
A turn of the head
Was all it took,
The image imprinted
On my heart.
Over laid, as it has been
By the passage of time,
With its share of good and bad fortune.
Complications of life
That can destroy the best of intentions
If you let them.
Never the less,
Whenever the strain
Of living threatened
To tear at the bonds
That tied us,
And the cut and thrust
Became an unequal fight,
The love we share
Has proved too strong
To be broken.
Life has thrown at us
We have prevailed.
On days such as this,
My mind turns back
To that day
Twenty Five years ago,
When I saw you
Walking toward me
Down the aisle,
My heart thumping
The sound filling my ears,
My eyes clouding over
With un-shed tears,
I am right back there,
Ready to do it all again,
My darling wife.
Lover and partner,
Thank you for your indulgence my friends. See you soon. Peter.
In truth, every single day.
Take now for example.
My daughter said I should write something for the blog. It seems I have focused too much on the daily missive and not enough effort has been directed into pulling something useful together for the website.
So what do I do? I can’t for the life of me think of anything that will add to any great canon of knowledge, offer any great wisdom, insight, or even mildly entertain, for more than the briefest moment in time (See what I mean? Already I have stooped so low as to steal part of the title of a great, if largely undecipherable book for the lay person, just for the sake of making a mildly amusing point.).
Fraudulent, don’t you think?
I have gone through life with the general belief that whatever I did, whether scraping a barrel or sitting on top of the world, I was doing it under false pretenses. Somehow I had managed to stumble over an undeserved opportunity, or gate-crash somebody else’s party.
Of course that could just be seen as a deeply disingenuous comment and a cynical attempt to illicit sympathy. Believe me there is still a part of me that remains undecided on that score.
Am I that shallow, callous and indifferent?
It is a truth to say I enjoy praise. Who doesn't? But really, I ask myself, praise for what?
Generally things I have set my mind on have come quite easily. Should that bring praise?
Or should praise come only to those who beat the odds, overcome great obstacles and succeed in spades in spite of these.
A truth I am most familiar with is the one perpetuated by an internal, continually nagging, openly hostile voice that plugs away, deep in my psyche. It fights for house room with free flowing anxiety and a generic guilt, about what I still don’t know, that has accompanied most of my waking days, for as long as I can remember.
No matter what I do, or what, if anything, I may have achieved the voice chips away at my confidence. It belittles my efforts and undermines any sense of satisfaction I may feel about a job that on balance, may be well done.
I criticise my efforts and constantly downplay any skill I may possess. This might be seen as humble, or keep me firmly rooted in reality. But the voice also punches me with the belief that what I really want by being so self deprecating, is for somebody else to bolster my ego by refuting these claims and praising me on high.
However, even as I conduct my own internal deconstruction of any comparative success another voice vies for attention. This voice, still not one I wholly trust and not nearly as loud as the openly self critical voice, insists I have worked hard for what I have, things have not come as easily as I pretend and when I say ‘...If I can do it, anybody can...’ I am doing myself a disservice.
I am in a pickle. What can I believe?
Part of this can be explained by the fact that as a child I was an early reader, before five years old and primary school was so boring I misbehaved. School did not interest me at all, football did, climbing trees did, reading James Bond novels, rather than ‘The Famous Five’ did.
I was in trouble quite a lot, not big trouble, nothing illegal, although I was accused of stealing a school ruler once and was so affronted I brought a young teacher, probably in her early twenties, although at aged ten, she seemed aged, to tears, with the rough edge of, my too clever by half, tongue and walked out.
My dad was called to the headmaster’s office and he was incandescent, even more so when he was told they had caught the culprit, somebody else, not me. I was still grounded for a month, for the walking out.
Anyway, this lack of school enthusiasm resulted in a flunking of the 11 plus exam and on transitioning straight across the schoolyard and into the Secondary school (my brother had gone to Grammar school) I was placed in the remedial class.
This came as a shock. In this class, fifteen year old boys were still on Janet and John books and could barely count. I was mortified.
The educators thought I was in need of ‘special’ education, meaning no education.
It certainly sparked my dander and moulded my conscience. There was nothing for it. I had no choice but to prove them wrong. Within the year, after finishing top of the form, by a record margin, not too difficult under the circumstances, I was transferred to the ‘A’ stream. Within a year I was top of this class and in my final two years was head boy.
You might think this experience would leave me with a feeling of pride and self-belief, but the shame of being placed in the ‘B’ stream, written off and thought to be beyond hope, lingers and continues to beg my attention. It sits alongside the voice that whispers its destructive doubts and means I never feel I comfortably belong, anywhere.
Something will go wrong. I will be found out, wanting and cast down, back into the abyss and shadow land of failure.
So what can I usefully write about? Not a lot. Sorry.
But there you have what came to mind, for good or ill. I hope you like it.
My father never discussed his war. But it invaded his every day.
He served in Burma, Singapore and lived a nightmare for five years.
How do I know it hurt him when he never really spoke about it?
Well I guess it was in the manner of his avoidance.
He never attended any veteran’s events, even though he had a dress uniform and a whole chest full of medals packed away in a box and buried at the back of his wardrobe, hidden beneath the piles of sketches and cartoons he drew and sent to my mum over those long years of separation.
As far as I knew he never wore those medals. But I do know he was proud of them and got very upset when he thought they had been stolen, only for them to turn up again, years later. When I was growing up through the fifties and sixties he could be the life and soul, but had one heck of a temper and mum would often say he had not been like that before.
However, the real give away was his refusal to fly.
Well I say refusal but that is not entirely true. He did fly a couple of times when ordered to by his boss, some work related junkets he could not avoid. But the only way he managed to do it was to get absolutely plastered beforehand, brandy and lime being a particular favourite, so much so he was almost carried onto the plane and slept the whole way.
He said he was completely terrified, which was a big admission for a tough man like him and was adamant he would never fly again.
He was as good as his word when several years later he was top salesman in some kind of regional sales drive and was awarded a holiday for two in Canada, Niagara Falls and the whole enchilada. He turned the prize down, straight away, without talking it through with mum and it was awarded to the next guy. As you can imagine, when she found out, my mother was more than a tad disappointed.
Under pressure to give some kind of explanation for letting mum down, Dad, for maybe the only time I can remember, opened up a little and told us why he would never fly.
It had been his job to visit crash sites and facilitate in the identification of the dead.
It scarred him, damaged him I guess. It didn’t excuse his temper or mean we could accept his stubborn refusal to step out of his comfort zone, but it made him more human and illustrated the fragility of the psyche.
Nobody should underestimate the damage we can cause ourselves when we are unable, unwilling, to share.
I know that in some circumstances it can seem we are all just expected to carry on regardless, to endure and cope with the most extreme hardship. To grin and bear it, or run the risk of being labelled a winger, or worse. But the truth is we all need to talk, to share and seek support. Otherwise we can lose the trust, love and understanding, of those very people for whom we care.
Children don’t understand why we shout, or cry. It just confuses them. It confused me. For years, it still does I guess.
I thought this might be suitable written as one of my regular daily missives.
Daily missive for Tuesday the 5th of November 2013.
The old soldier.
The cough left him breathless.
His chest hurt
and he spat blood into the dirt.
Nothing about this morning
His life was on the slide.
Even his lungs were failing.
Just like his hopes.
Old bones turned to rust
He was nothing more
than a blurred photograph
in an old shoe box
that his grandchildren
might find one day.
A footnote in their lives.
He could never return,
too much to re-learn.
Drink and madness.
He forgot which came first
but knew what was worse.
It was a gradual loss.
A stripping away.
Layer by layer.
And it made him
invisible to the world
his life gone, somehow.
It belonged to somebody else
Locked in the past.
And the retching,
was all he was now.
You can now download all three books from the Kobo store.
Get them whilst they're fresh!
Thanks to the encouragement of my friends and especially Debbie for her help in proofing the book, I have finally developed a collection of missives.
Introducing, The First Wave.
From the Introduction
Love is my drug. But then so is writing. It always has been. For a while I tried to deny it and life got in the way. But the truth was the log-jam of ignored words was just waiting to tumble out. I am hardly unique. We all have words. They hide in our unconscious process and float into our stream of consciousness. It is an endless flow that washes through us all to a greater or lesser degree. The trick is to catch hold of each word as it rushes past and splash around in the order a little.
Amazon US Paperback $5.99
Amazon US Kindle $2.03
Amazon UK Paperback £3.47GBP
Amazon UK Kindle £3.47GBP
I'm pleased to announce that Volume 2 of The One Soul series: When a Tear Falls is now available on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FIJCYVG for just $2.99.
I hope you enjoy the book and if you would be so lovely as to leave a review, I'd be honoured.
Paperback version coming soon!
In a few days, you'll be able to get your hands on the second volume in The One Soul series. Here is a preview of what you can expect to read.
The day Lightning tore through a clear blue sky changed everything.
Joseph a psychologist working with learning disabled adults and their parents sits in his office on the edge of Victoria Park in East London contemplating his day. He is tired and although now recovered from a motor cycle accident that for more than two weeks left him hovering between life and death he has struggled to re-adjust. Joseph worries his level of commitment is less than it once was. Since the accident he has been visited by night terrors. But when he first awoke from the coma he was convinced these dreams had a basis in reality. He believed he had been thrown out of his body and catapulted into a parallel world where he learned about his destiny as a ‘One Soul’ and his role in the continual redress of balance between good and evil; light and dark.
After work as he walks through the park to his car the sky is torn in two. A large tear tumbles to the ground and suddenly he is confronted by an old friend: A dream no more. Lightning is real. A living breathing creature and proof that quantum physics is more than just a theory. Also and quite naturally he is a talking, flying horse. He has come to take Joseph back through a portal and into a parallel world where they will try to rescue the other ‘One Soul’ Lady Karina or Cora as she has become-from the clutches of Ben-the damaged son of their good friend Morag.
In this tale Joseph is forced to endure frostbite-near drowning, combat with the legion of the damned, as well as the very Devil himself-as Ben’s wildest paintings take on lives of their own and wreak havoc on the world.
Unbeknown to Joseph and Morag, Ben is in a desperate fight with the devil to reclaim his soul and put everything to rights, including the death of his father. Joseph and his companions eventually confront God in the cave of the Wolf-dragons and the balance is restored.
But not without cost.
Meanwhile the appearance of a flying horse ridden by a well known psychologist over the streets of London does not go unnoticed. Via camera phone and news media it sweeps the world. This leads to a horrifying series of near disasters for Joseph’s wife Kiera, a surgeon at the Royal London Hospital. She has to fight for her life after her home is invaded by a sleazy investigative reporter and is arrested by Commander Mudd a secretive member of the security services, himself possessed by the Devil. Kiera is held captive, interrogated and tortured before the intervention of a kindly old gardener aids her escape.
In a parallel story of earlier times, Dogbiddy the little tailor who was able to buy back the family business when the evil Lord Charalambus intervened on his behalf is convinced his old employer, the bully Froggat, was transformed into a fat old frog. Although life has been good for Dogbiddy and his family he cannot rest with this belief on his conscience and embarks on a quest to have the charm removed. Accompanied by the ‘One Soul’ Karina, as well as her handmaid and the redoubtable Mister Wheedle, Dogbiddy the ordinary man turned hero undergoes numerous near death experiences, becomes embroiled in a brutal civil war and finally succeeds in his quest when he and his companions are rescued by the Father Himself and the balance is restored.
But not without cost.