Monday, 12 March 2012

ABIDE WITH ME: How it all happened (2)

Continued from here

So, I had the characters acting out the story in my head - events unfolding, propelled by my deepest self.  It started off okay - childhood memories of football and birthdays, a gentle introduction for me to these people, these children, these characters that were to tell me a story that at turns would have me laughing at how life used to be and other times frightened and tearful at what might have been.

And the voice, the voice of John telling it all - the wonderful childhood memories that surfaced, my childhood memories, told by John as if they were his.  Like I said in part one - John and I were interchangeable.  But there was a difference between us, a precipice I had always stood back from, but one he teetered on the edge of.  

Most people that know me know me as a mild mannered, laid back, good humoured sort.  I think.  I hope.  Yet John, who possessed the same childhood memories as me, he had an edge.  This is how he begins ABIDE WITH ME:

Chapter One
There's things happen in your life what go clean out your head. They don't mean nothing, see. Most of your life's like that. And there's some things you remember cos they was good and they make you smile even though you know nothing's ever comin back, no matter how hard you wish it. And there's people. Good people. People you won't never see again. People what you loved so much it tears you apart just thinkin of em. It tears you apart cos you know you won't never see that look in their eyes or feel their hand on your shoulder or what it was like just bein with em.
    It's all gone, see. And there ain't no way now you can tell em how much you loved em. Not fuckin ever.
    But there's other things what happen, other things you don't never wanna remember, cos they hurt. They hurt too fuckin much. And when you close your eyes it's them things what come shoutin and screamin and crawlin out the mist in your head.
    Every fuckin time.

This was me, as I said, but this was a voice from my darkness.  A voice unafraid of staring into the abyss.  The abyss of loss.

Early school days passed.  Memories of birthdays over the park kicking a football about for hours then back home to my house for cakes and jelly and ice cream and crisps.  In the book, a lad called Robbie Jenkins scrapes his leg across the base of a tree whilst trying to make a tackle:
Robbie slides his leg right across the side of it tryin to clear one off the line. Cuts his knee right open. Has to go back to my house with his jumper wrapped round his leg to stop the blood pissin out. 

That was me.  I've still got the scar on the inside of my left knee where they put the eight stitches in to prove it.

I was leaking into the story whether I liked it or not.   There was laughter and anxiety.  But there was also a stirring in the darkness.


By the end of the third chapter I realised this was to be no gentle reminiscence.  I had no idea where this was going from one chapter to the next.  I just let John lead the way.

And the darkness, it kept on growing.


  1. A very strong narrative voice there. Impressive, man.

  2. It’s interesting to see how we writers perceive ourselves in relation to our books and characters. What I’ve learned is that all are versions, even if they come straight from the horse’s mouth. Ok, you have the scars to prove it (!), but we often mis-remember things and fact and fiction become muddled. I remember a situation where I created a character based on a real person I knew. I then met someone else who knew this person and I was convinced their name was X. The other insisted this was not the case and they were right as the fictional name had become a ‘reality’ for me after working on it for a while! That’s with something that happened only a few years before, never mind thirty odd years ago.

    Review of your book now up: