Friday Flash Fiction – 900 – New Shoes

He was there again, outside the station, selling the Big Issue. Giles never bought one because he didn’t want one, or at least he didn’t know if he wanted one; you could hardly peruse it then hand it back. On the tube Giles had The Times to read, he subscribed to it on his Kindle. He had also downloaded 563 books, 13 of which he had read. Occasionally he wandered into WH Smith for the pleasure of browsing amongst colourful, glossy magazines: photography, computers, music… perhaps buying…

‘Can I interest you in a half price Galaxy Sir?’

Yes, he would take a treat home for Judith.

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‘No thank you.’

‘Have a nice day Sir.’

Why did the Big Issue seller have to be so polite, making him feel more guilty?  There was a whole minefield of BI behaviour he had observed over the years, over the cycle of half a dozen sellers. One man regularly bought a copy and dumped it straight in the bin a few yards further on, others proffered a pound or a handful of change without looking the seller in the eye. This morning he observed a woman offering a shiny two pound coin, holding out her hand to receive the magazine.

Keep the change.’

‘They cost £2.50 each love’ the homeless one answered curtly.

Flustered, she hurried away clutching the coin.

Giles was glad to get out of the biting east wind, down into the warm depths of the underground, but he wondered where the Big Issue seller lived. Did he really have to sleep out on the streets in this awful weather, or did he slip round the corner and drive home in his Jaguar?

A truly good person would offer a homeless man shelter not just buy a magazine. Giles had spare bedrooms; well not exactly spare, where would Judith put her sewing and what about the computer?  Sarah’s bedroom looked much as it had when she left a year ago. A vision passed before him of the homeless one sitting on the pink bed clutching Big Ted.

5

Over dinner that evening Giles said ‘Do you think we should downsize?’

‘What?’ exclaimed Judith. ‘We’ve only just finished paying the mortgage, we deserve to enjoy this house.’

‘But we don’t need four bedrooms.’

‘What if Simon and Tammy have a baby, we’d need room for them to stay.’

‘As Tammy isn’t pregnant yet and they are going round the world, we could help a homeless person get on their feet.’

‘Are you feeling alright Giles? You couldn’t wait for Simon and Sarah to leave home, now you want to… what are you suggesting?’

‘Imagine sleeping out on a night like this.’

‘There are hostels; besides, we’ve only got one bathroom and we’d have to hide our valuables.’

‘We haven’t got any valuables.’

‘Imagine explaining to the police or the insurance company that we invited a total stranger into our house and he rifled my handbag and your wallet for drug money.’

‘We don’t know that he’s a druggy.’

‘Precisely, we don’t know anything about him, I don’t even know if he’s a real person or hypothetical.’

‘Hypothermic probably.’

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He was there again the next morning. At least he’s survived the coldest November night for years, mused Giles. How would a stranger fit into one’s home, lodger, son… how old was he? Hard to tell with that woolly hat. If they went out to dinner would they leave something in the oven for him? Judith might take to him if he scrubbed up well; some of Simon’s clothes were still in the wardrobe. What would he do all day while they were both out at work, odd jobs perhaps?  If the real man emerged, clean, witty and intelligent, they would be proud. Judith might take a shine to him, too much of a shine, he could become her toy boy, like one of those novels they read at her book club.

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The idea came to him at lunch time when he was in the new shoe shop. He found a decent pair of comfortable black leather shoes for work.

‘Two pairs for the price of one sir, opening offer, today only’ said the girl at the till.

‘But I only want one pair, on second thoughts have you got another pair much the same?’

23

He was there when Giles came out of the station concourse carrying two carrier bags, shoes and WH Smith. Giles almost lost his nerve. He mumbled to the Big Issue seller.

‘You’re on your feet all day, are these any good to you… have a Galaxy as well.’

The man looked suspiciously at Giles, but it was a start, perhaps tomorrow he would start a conversation, find out what the man’s situation really was.

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When Giles turned on television for the local news the next morning there was a picture of the underground entrance.

…and in further cold weather news, the body of a man believed to be a Big Issue seller was found early this morning by the locked gates of an underground station. First indications are that the cause of death could be hypothermia, but police are not releasing medical details until a post mortem has been carried out. They are keen to speak to commuters or anyone from the Big Issue Community, unusually the dead man was wearing a brand new pair of good quality leather shoes.

Read tales for all seasons in Hallows and Heretics – take a peek inside the book.

A second anthology from the author of ‘Dark and Milk,’ including recent prize winning short stories. As you would expect, some tales are light, others very dark and you will not know which are which until it is too late! Visit places you may or may not find on a map, discover the Hambourne Chronicles and meet people who may not be what they seem.

 

 

 

Staycation

sunshine-blogger

 To some a Staycation means not going abroad for their holiday, for others it means staying at home in the garden. With our bathroom being ripped out and hopefully replaced, we took the bus into town with our wheelie cases.

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Friday evening we arrived in torrential rain, Saturday and Sunday saw heat waves and on our last night we watched the lightning from our balcony.

For writers and photographers, finding interesting places to stay is vital. We had five nights at an Art Deco hotel which I’m sure has seen better days, but makes a good Premiere Inn. We had a front balcony, only on the second floor, but still fun to look out at everything going on. Westover Road has also seen better days; now an interesting mix with art galleries, posh jewellers and pub at the other end, the lovely Pavilion across the road from abandoned Odeon cinemas and a YMCA hostel next to the hotel. Opposite us, coaches delivered endless day trippers.

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After breakfast on the first morning we went up to the ninth floor and found a writer and photographer’s delight, the rear view; a riot of fire escapes with a little old house surrounded by layers of building developments. A walk up the road took us to the official opening of a newly pedestrianised area, Darth Vader and friends turned up collecting money for charity.

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Down at the pier and the main beach, which you always see in newspaper pictures of seaside hot spots, was busy, busy, busy; beach parties with tables laden with food and very loud sound systems. A walk to the end of the pier brought a bit of peace and a good view of the zip wire which takes you back to the beach.

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What did I learn from pretending to be a visitor? The homeless group that always seems to be there when I go to Bournemouth and get off the bus, IS always there; a double bed arrangement which stretches halfway across the pavement with several occupants near to our busy hotel. Of course they are not the only homeless; in a town full of happy holiday makers and lively young language students they are the spectre at the feast and Darth Vader isn’t the only one ignoring them. In the gardens there are buskers and a young man doing fire juggling with a sign ‘Homeless but Trying’. At the shops there are Big Issue sellers. I bought a Big Issue.

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The Royal Bath Hotel nearby is a great place to stroll into. Sit and cool off inside the huge fascinating lounge or enjoy the sun in the gardens. You could stay all day, people watching, plug in your lap top etc. without anyone noticing.  This hotel has also seen better days, as we discovered when we went there for dinner one evening to try the ‘special three course meal’ – no wonder it was so reasonable; we needn’t have worried about being smartly dressed, there were some very strange guests.

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On our last day we went abroad on a cruise; bus to Poole Quay for a boat trip to the start of the Jurassic coast at Old Harry Rock and then to Swanage on The Isle of Purbeck, an hour’s trip. We disembarked at the restored Victorian Pier for five hours ashore. A short walk takes you through the pleasant seaside town to the station where you can see steam trains, take a ride to Corfe Castle or have a snack in the railway carriage cafe. A walk out to Peveril Point and we could stand on the cliffs and look back to Bournemouth.

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For more Staycation pictures visit my website.

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-two-coastal-views

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-five-beach-writer-s-blog/

Have you been on a Staycation?

 

Liebster Award (Retro)

Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Saving Society

Some might say that the planet should be saved, not society, but we shall deal with that next week. It is probably easier to start on a small scale with your own street/farm/castle or country estate (delete as appropriate ).

To avoid trying to define society, just imagine a perfect neighbourhood and if you are ambitious, your own town or city run exactly how YOU like it. With a bit of crowd funding, quietly taking over while no one is watching because of Brexit, it should be no problem. London National Park City is launching in July, so how hard can it be to change your street?

http://www.nationalparkcity.london/

Here are some simple ideas to start with. Make it compulsory for everyone to have nice front gardens; the sort you like to walk by, green lawns, beds and tubs full of flowers, delightful scents and the happy sound of bees. If anyone complains, point out that the government has pledged to create green corridors for bees; if they complain they have nowhere to park their car refer them to idea number two.

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Abolish all private vehicles and, just until your local town becomes fully functional with solar powered moving walkways, set up a car share scheme.

Soon everyone will be happy; flowers and wild life put everyone in a good mood and those living in cramped flats with no gardens have been helping with the digging and planting.

Idea number three, take over every empty plot of land, however small and plant trees, create allotments and parks for children. While your local millionaire is away on his expensive yacht, commandeer that land where he had two houses demolished and plans to build a block of flats for rich people.

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Fourthly, all vacant buildings of any sort, shops, offices and second homes to be commandeered for the homeless and as workshops for the self employed. A little networking on the internet should bring you a team of building experts to supervise and train school leavers and the unemployed. It won’t be long before you have created a happy healthy local neighbourhood with no problems and others will be keen to take away your ideas to their own cities and countries.

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These are just a few introductory ideas, feel free to make suggestions and tell us if you have managed to create utopia where you live.

For a clue as to how humanity will save itself read the best selling book nobody is talking about…

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Moving On

sunshine-blogger

Dave got the idea from the television news. If tents and living pods could be dispatched to disaster areas why couldn’t homeless people in his town be helped. Dave wasn’t actually interested in humanitarian projects abroad or at home until the tent arrived in his shop doorway. Owning a shop was part of his plan to help rejuvenate the high street in Lower Sandbourne. The once thriving parade of shops and smart flats had gone downhill over the years, mainly due to the property activities of Dave and his brother, now he hoped to reinvent himself with ethically sourced gifts and fine food. There was nothing ethical about the origins of most of his goods, but smart labels impressed the chattering classes who could no longer afford to live in Upper Sandbourne. The Sandbourne Traders Association was pleased with the rebirth of a shop that had been an empty bakers and a blot on the high street for several years.

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And then the tent had appeared. The doorway that presented excellent window display space was also a perfect size for a one man tent.

Dave had dispatched the first resident and his bedding to another town, but with the new CCTV and his new image this was no longer an option. The bleeding heart owner of the pet shop next door was certainly no help. She gave free dog food for the tented one’s sad eyed mongrel. Dave couldn’t complain as it was the dog that kept customers coming. Instead of being put off by having to step round a tent and over a pair of feet sticking out, the locals eased their conscience at not offering him their spare rooms by lavishing their attention on the dog and buying him unwanted cups of coffee.

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The pod idea was enthusiastically supported by the locals. Dave’s gang of unqualified builders were used to makeover services to cover up structural defects in Dave’s property empire, so giving shipping containers a makeover was no problem. The council were happy to be seen doing something. By allowing the cabins to be sited on the car park they had just closed down for development, the residents could not complain about the loss of their convenience to such a good cause. The local family run garden centre was persuaded to provide plants and planters and the whole site looked quite pretty as spring blossomed. Sandbourne Hardware donated tins of Hammerite and most of the residents took a pride in painting  their cabins to look individual.

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Carried away by the great publicity stunt the garden centre built raised beds for the local school to grow vegetables and as the settlement grew, most of the occupiers appeared to be happy, including those who had been made homeless by Dave in the first place. He did wonder how the metal containers would fare in a heatwave, or next winter, but by then the council would have evicted everyone to build the lucrative block of unaffordable apartments; a scheme certain to be tendered out to one of his subsidiary companies. Dave knew he would get the contract, he knew too much about certain councillors for them to turn him down.

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In the meantime the shop doorway was tidy and the shop thriving. But trouble was afoot. Dave, the council and the growing jolly band of volunteers had assumed all the homeless would be grateful and no plans had been put in place to address the ‘complex issues’ of some residents.

Jack from the Sandbourne Gazette, who had been watching Dave for years, ever since he re-emerged from his short spell in gaol, had been biding his time. He had even less respect for the council and planned to snare them both. Syringes and other drug paraphernalia were found tossed amongst the round lettuces and spring onions and children started telling their parents about the scary man and the nasty woman at their garden. A row erupted over who was actually overseeing the project. Jack ensured that newcomers to the area would discover Dave’s past and his future plans.

But Jack reckoned without the initiative of the majority of residents who did not want to lose their new homes. They enlisted the help of the national media and Jack’s moment of journalistic fame was lost. The council hastily sent in their new street team, its numbers boosted with a few of Dave’s friends. Under cover of darkness and with a little subtle bribery, they removed the undesirables to a new assisted living project under a council far away. They were replaced by more acceptable homeless. Gardening resumed and volunteers set up ‘everybody together’ coffee mornings and suppers.

The project received national acclaim and most forgot once again about Dave’s past. Though his shop was doing well it hardly afforded the income he was used to, he would have to bide his time before getting another building project underway.

 

Read more short stories – dip into this selection

for only 99pence.

 

 

Everyone welcome here. Tidalscribe will be remaining in the European Union.

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Sunday Salon

Two novels, a short story collection, a family reminiscence and Big Issue magazine.

Sunday Salon starts on a positive note; five stars for a very enjoyable real life read and my review published on Amazon. I was especially interested to read this book as we took our children to Norfolk on several holidays, but not on a boat!

5 out of 5 stars    The days were far from lazy, but it was the holiday of a lifetime.

23 February 2019

Verified Purchase

This truly was a getaway holiday. The family left a busy part of London for the peace and slow pace of life on the Norfolk Broads. It was also an adventure as they had not handled a boat before. Two sisters, four children and two dogs had to adapt to life in the confines of a boat. Fortunately the weather was good and the sun and fresh air come across in this warm story. There were plenty of places to visit along the way and the family enjoyed everything from the beach at Great Yarmouth to the castle at Norwich. If you have been on boating holidays or are contemplating one do read this book. Lots of us will know the experience of planning a holiday, then worrying if everyone will enjoy it, trying to please all ages etc. The two sisters weren’t sure if all the children had enjoyed themselves, but it turned out that they talked about it for weeks after and years later enjoyed reading this book and recapturing memories.

 

 Out of the four books I have finished reading recently this was the only review not rejected by Amazon. I have absolutely no idea why. The Thank you for submitting … and   few common issues to keep in mind were exactly the same for each book. You can read them below. This has happened to me only once before.

An Australian, a US and an English author, no bias on Amazon’s part then! All were Kindle books bought on Amazon.UK

 I have posted the reviews on Goodreads, but we all want our reviews to appear on Amazon…

Thank you for submitting a customer review on Amazon. After carefully reviewing your submission, your review could not be posted to the website. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/review-guidelines

25 Stories of Life and Love in Australia

27 Jun 2012     by Margaret Lynette Sharp

 

  from Janet Gogerty on 25 December 2018

Romance guaranteed.

A gentle read to dip into. These are stories of life and love. Mostly romantic love, but also family tales. Young love and mature love feature. Whether you are young or older but remember decisions and choices, taking advice or following your heart, you will enjoy these tales. The stories of mature romance often feature reunions and second chances. Perhaps these tales could be set anywhere, but if you have lived in Australia you will know that it is a big country a long way from the rest of the world. If your romantic interest goes overseas or even over to Perth or up north, you know that is likely to be the end of your hopes, unless they return…

A few common issues to keep in mind:

  • Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at http://www.amazon.co.uk/feedback.
  • We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
  • Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
  • Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.
  • Any attempt to manipulate Community content or features, including contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.

 

Father Figure by James J Cudney

from Janet Gogerty on 17 January 2019

I gave this five stars.

A story that explores the darkest side of human nature and the most uplifting.

This is a novel that packs in a lot of life. The author explores many aspects of human love and that uplifts it from being just another story of childhood abuse or a teenage romance. Two time periods, two very different places and two girls on the brink of adult life. But this is also a mystery thriller with some chapters that will leave your nerves in shreds! Sometimes it’s best to leave your whole life behind and create a new one, but can you ever keep the past closed? There is a rich cast of characters who will provoke every emotion. This is the first novel I have read by this author and I am looking forward to reading more.

 

Shadow With Nowhere to Fall    Mark Lamming

from Janet Gogerty on 24 February 2019

I gave this five stars.

A story of friendship as well as love.

I loved the opening pages and the unexpected event which propels us into the lives of William and his family. His life is about to fall apart and the reader may think he is going to get his comeuppance, but is he a good person at heart, can he atone for the past? This is a real rollercoaster of a story, a love story, but not a cosy tale of mature love.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Nowhere-Fall-Mark-Laming/dp/1999649060

 

Big Issue Magazine

I wrote a blog the Christmas before last and have continued to buy the magazine weekly if possible – James became a regular, I passed him on my way to writers’ group. Later on he apparently got a job and somewhere to live, replaced by Mark who is also easy to have a chat and laugh with. Homelessness has got worse, I have no answers, but every Big Issue seller is a person doing their job and they have the opportunity to engage with the organisation and get other help as well.

But this is a review and I genuinely enjoy reading the magazine.  I turn first to the back page where they feature Big Issue seller of the week. Then there are plenty of interesting articles about real life, the arts and always some good insights by the founder John Bird. A neat non glossy ( better for the environment) mag. that is handy for reading on the bus or out and about. At £2.50 no more than the price of a cup of coffee, so why not try it.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/christmas-issue/

https://www.bigissue.org.uk/

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Sunday Salon – Recent Reviews

Two angels and a healer, an autobiography, a novelette and a novel; the three books I recently finished reading and reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads.

Or at least that was the plan, but for some reason Amazon would not accept my review of Angels Landing. I’m not sure why and won’t bore you with extracts from their ‘community help’. People have problems of all sorts with Amazon reviews, one of the reasons I decided to post  my book reviews on Tidalscribe.

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Angels Landing   by Christina Sandler

An autobiography inspiring on many levels, I gave it five stars on Goodreads

Sadly in the Twenty First Century we are too familiar with images of soldiers who have had limbs blown off, but stoically work hard at their rehabilitation with the support of others in the same situation. When we imagine what that would be like we probably have degrees of what we could bear, one limb lost is surely better than all, but most of us would no doubt make an awful fuss if we just lost a few fingers. People lose limbs in various ways, including through illness; Christina Sandler’s accident left her far removed from the instant medical response we see on hospital programmes.

On holiday in Australia, a car accident in a remote spot in the Northern Territory results in terrbile injuries. Christina’s recovery in the Darwin hospital took a long time because of the way her arm was lost, but it was excellent care, the staff at the hospital sound wonderful. The hospital became her world, though through her eyes we have glimpses of the life of the people of Darwin.
Back in England there was much more treatment needed, working up to the day she got her first artificial ‘pink Barbie hand’. This was still the eighties, artificial limbs have come a long way since then. Most of us would regard a serious accident as a good excuse to coast through life without too much being expected of us, but getting back to the teaching job she loved was not enough for Christina, she needed a new challenge, flying.
Looking up this book I see it was first published successfully in 2000 as a paperback and reviewers included one of her former pupils. A reminder that this is a true story. I would be so interested to know how life has been for her since that first solo flight.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angels-Landing-memoir-Christina-Sadler-ebook/dp/B077ZW34YK

 

 

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Where Angels Tread: a novelette

by Loretta Livingstone

4.0 out of 5 stars  A modern day fairy tale

By  Janet Gogerty  on 10 August 2018

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

A very different take on the homeless; most people walk by, but some stop to talk. This novelette tells the tale from each character’s point of view and some will surprise you. There is a happy ending and redemption, but not for all. This little book is rounded up with three delightful poems; from a creme egg to a rose.

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The Healer (Fraud or Miracle? Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars    Is everyone being decieved, including the reader?

By  Janet Gogerty  on 11 August 2018

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

There is nothing straightforward about this novel, we may think we are following Erica’s journey towards enlightenment, but it is not as simple as that. Gradually we realise we are not sure who to believe, perhaps the final truth will come out in Book 3. What is intriguing is that it does not matter how real the illness or the cures are, it’s how they affect Erica and those around her. I don’t think I liked any of the characters and certainly would not have enjoyed working for Erica. In her ruthless world of work she is surprised that even one person cares when she is ill. When she tries to return there is no welcome, the company has moved on, former colleagues expected her to die and appear affronted that she turns up to announce she is fine. Her personal life fares little better, even without the complications of secrecy we realise that being given a second chance of life does not necessarily make anyone a better person. Erica knows no other way of life and doesn’t have the resources to recreate herself as a lover of nature and humanity; events and new revelations also conspire against her.

 

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Opting Out

 

When I was a teenager, among my fantasies of what a future husband might be like was a desire to be a vicar’s wife. This was partly religious sentiment, partly a crush on an older chap at youth group who wanted to become a vicar, but most of all the attraction of achieving an identity, a career and a home all in one package with little effort on my part. This imaginary young vicar would worship me almost as devoutly as God, preach in a wonderful baritone voice, look divine in a cassock …and in the bedroom, though details about the bedroom part were very hazy.

Other candidates for the perfect husbands were vets, explorers and policemen. I didn’t marry a vicar, but I was right about the desirability of securing a secure position in life; as it turned out I was not very good at doing careers. Armed with some brains and motherly encouragement; ‘you don’t want to end up working in a shop’ or ‘you don’t want to be one of those girls who just takes any job till she gets married’ I ventured to seek the interesting and the worthwhile.

I have never thought of myself as someone who suffers from depression, anxiety or has mental health issues. I always assumed any career failures were entirely my fault and even if I had heard of such a thing I would never have dreamed of suing my employers for letting me down when it was me that let them down. Armed with other words of wisdom from my mother ‘I don’t need a doctor to tell me when I’m depressed’ I developed a simple strategy, escape. Not literally, as in disappearing without a trace, though I could see the attraction and I did cross to the other side of the world. The nearest I got to a medical issue was my periods stopping for three months, a sure sign your body is telling you something and they returned after my escape. But how close do we all come to mental health problems?

In my newly enthusiastic reading of The Big Issue, an article about a homeless man who lived in his car touched a chord. He had been a teacher, had a nervous breakdown, couldn’t work, lost his home. If he had escaped sooner, taken a safe hum drum job perhaps he would not have dropped out.

My avoidance tactics have applied in other areas. I don’t drive. I did get a licence when I was seventeen, but even driving in a small city presented challenges such as going round roundabouts, turning right and parking in awkward spots. I don’t regret letting the driving lapse. My friend at work suffered immense stress adding to traffic problems by driving her children to the nearest grammar school miles away. I was not stressed as our children had no choice but to walk to the nearest school. The potential terrors of multi storey car parks, edging out onto busy roads, being obliged to offer lifts to unknown places negate the convenience and independence of driving.

So what did happen? I married a policeman, we got a police flat to start with and my grandfather was delighted I was marrying someone with a secure job. Then we had children, further delaying career pressures and resulting in me doing all sorts of ordinary jobs which turned out to be very enjoyable. Perhaps I should have been a writer from the start – writers can write about life without the stress of actually participating in it.