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On Primrose Hill

In the summer of ’84 I was 18 and my one close schoolfriend – throwing over family, final exams and an offer from Oxford, explaining nothing, saying goodbye to no one – suddenly escaped the dirty pinched seams of the Welsh valleys for the deeper, richer filth of London. Of course when he called my Aberystwyth University digs from a payphone, almost too drunk to read out his address, the endless traffic of the capital roaring like a stadium in the background, I caught the overnight bus out of sleeping Wales and followed after him.

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On the Rocks

God, I hate her.

Uh, that’s no fair; hate’s a strong word. I mean, she loves me, she feeds me, it’s just, I feel...trapped sometimes.

I wish I could get out of here! Every day, every single day it’s the same. The same food, the same views, the same face staring back at me. She’s not bad, she just doesn’t understand me…understand that I need my freedom.

She thinks I’ve forgotten how things used to be…well she underestimates me. I’ll show her! Who am I kiddin’? I don’t have the guts.

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1980, West Berlin

I was fifteen when my father and I were invited to stay with Claudia in Berlin. Claudia - a veritable smorgasbord of Ayran - was the 3rd mistress of a Sheik, a client of my father's. We arrived by the Sheik’s private jet and were searched by hatchet-faced Berliner women who were certainly born from the frozen ground and not warm flesh.

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How I hated P.E.!

Oh, the embarrassment of jumping “over” the horse…only to get stuck on it.

No one would listen to a wee lassie, “You’ll be fine”, “You’ll soon master it”.

They lied.

Cross country running? Dear God, it was a form of torture.

How can you possibly look good in a pair of brown shorts, a shapeless Aertex shirt and trainers?

Short answer: you can’t.

I needed heels, I still need heels; even today I do not own a pair of trainers.

I decided in second year there would be no more P.E.

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Peter In Limbo

Peter was getting more and more agitated. He was desperate to speak. But, you couldn’t contradict a priest; especially not a parish priest! Peter lowered his head and took a few deep breaths.

“Here! Have you been listening to a single word I’ve been saying?” Father Kerr’s eyes seemed to bore straight through him.

Mr. O’Brien was surprised by the way the priest reacted.

"Me, Father?” Peter tried to keep the fear out of his voice. He grabbed hold of the desk seat with both hands, pressing down, trying to control his shaking.

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Picasso's Rebel

They entered the cafeteria where everyone was to meet and waved over to this one and that one. She didn’t really get too involved with the other parents and carers…as her own mum said, ‘parents with special needs children are all nutters’ – the implication being that she was included in this assessment of fact. She could see that they were looking at her girl with eyebrows raised, passing judgment on the green haired creature.

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There used to be a programme on Radio 4 called ‘I’ve Never Seen Star Wars’ where the guests would confess that they hadn’t done some seemingly normal thing that absolutely everyone would have done. I used to listen to it and think ‘I haven’t done that either’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hermit. (It did tempt me once, mind, a nomadic existence in the Lammermuir Hills.) I just have other priorities. Take TV. At work, we often talk movies and TV.

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It doesn’t matter. It never did. What do you know about being a rebel? Others talk about ‘real life’. This ‘real life’ we get back to after something different, something stronger. Well here I am as I live and breathe enveloped in every second and living the one I’ve got.

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Words are easy. Words are cheap. When people say where did you get the idea for your book, words are what they want, and words themselves have nothing to do with why I write. Because I’m not really a writer. What I am, is a reader. That’s me. Curled up somewhere so deep inside a story that it’s more real than the real world. If it’s night time in that story I’ll look up confused at the sunshine coming through the window. Daydreamer. Fool. And when I sit down to write a book it’s not some grand idea - it’s because I want to read that book and I know nobody is going to write it except me.

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Rebel against power
Rebel against the mass
choose your own way of being
give the rules a pass

Rebel against convention
go against the status quo
Follow your instincts
give your own way a go

Conventions and traditions
are questioned by the young
start a rebellion
change how things are done

We don’t all need to follow
how things were done before
we can fight for what we want
and question the law

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