Perhaps an introduction is in order. This website and my blog has evolved since it first came into existence; I’ve expanded and reduced sections of it over the years because my interests have changed, and I’ve occasionally struggled to understand the point of keeping it. But I’ve always come around, because I enjoy putting what creativity I have to use.
As I write this, I am in my very early forties, a single parent, dyspraxic, a fiction writer and blogger, and a communications and fundraising officer. Like everyone, these have taken on different levels of importance over the years; when I became a father in 2019, that role became my absolute top priority – but not my only one, as all those other things remained important. It just meant that I have to squeeze everything into a smaller amount of time; less time for the same amount of interests means, of course, that some things have to give.
I had an ambition to be a published writer by the time I was thirty, and I achieved it by the skin of my teeth – my first book was published a couple of months beforehand. I had two more full-length novels and a novella published after that, and I’ve been published in three anthologies; a decent body of work, I would suggest, for a relative novice. I enjoy – love – writing, and I was sad when my relationship with Inspired Quill, my publisher, came to an end. I didn’t feel I could work with them any more (and, I should say, they probably said the same about me). It meant that my existing titles would stay with them, but I wouldn’t submit anything new to them again. That came a while after I became a parent, so – of course – the time the both write a new book and look for a publisher has been constricted. It bothered me at first, but more lately, I’ve realised how much I’ve loved writing just for its own sake – putting my thoughts down on paper “just because”. If something comes out of it, then so be it – but I’m going to just enjoy writing as much as possible.
Being a full-time single father is perhaps a little unusual, and being a full-time single father by choice is undoubtedly even more unusual. I don’t mind being unusual, however; I quite enjoy it, even when it’s exhausting and fills me with anxiety if I’m doing a good enough job – the usual anxieties of a typical parent, I suspect. Having adopted my son – Bryan – at the age of eight, I missed out on his very early years; I can never go back, but I can go forward with him – I love being a father; genuinely love it, and when we laugh together, or discover some new information, then I am a very happy man. If I don’t do anything else in my life but successfully raise my son to dulthood – and then continue a relationship with him during his life – then I will count myself as very successful.
I live in a lovely district called Thanet, where I’ve lived all my life; I now take my son to places (the library, the park, the cinema) that I went to as a child. Sometimes, the same people are still working in some of the buildings; I don’t quite know how that feels for them, but taking my son to the same library as I went to 36 years ago for a storytime is far more fun than I ever thought it would be. Thanet has its detractors, but what people don’t necessarily realise is that there are detractors everywhere. I’ve worked in Canterbury, Dover, Aylesham, Ashford – and visited lots more – and people will always be willing to criticise. Sometimes fairly, it should be said; the depressing state of our local politics (party politics very much to one side) is a particular blight on our local area. When even central government refuses to get involved in correcting the local council’s dysfunctioning culture, you know things are getting bad. I don’t intend to write about that side of Thanet life very often – there are plenty of others already doing that – but I might dip my toe in the water of local “stuff” from time to time.
I’ll end this little introduction with a recent saga that happened to me. As I write this, Storm Eunice has recently left us behind (good riddance). On the day of the storm, my son and I were due to take a sojourn further down the south coast to visit Bryan’s siblings. Having spent some time obsessively watching the train journey planner app, I judged that it seemed safe enough to travel. It should be noted that, from time to time, I have been known to be wrong. We travelled as far as London with the travel app telling me that Waterloo Station was dispatching all of its trains normally and pretty much on time. I even felt confident enough to tell Bryan that I was 70% certain that we would succeed in our journey.
As I said, there have been times in my life where I have been wrong.
We reached Waterloo by tube, only to discover that the trains had all been suspended. All of them – every single one. The guard I spoke to had a feeling they wouldn’t be working again for the rest of the day – as it turned out, he was entirely right. I then checked the train journey app, to discover that all the trains travelling back into Kent were also being suspended or cancelled for the rest of the day. We were in London with no way of getting home until the following day at the earliest Oh dear. Some stronger words might well have passed through my mind, and I was able to carefully filter them all out before they reached my lips; Bryan was listening, after all – and, of course, he was relying on me to have a plan. Thankfully, I had one.
Some small frisson of doubt must have entered my mind the night before we travelled, as I had booked an emergency hotel in central London (which I could have cancelled if needed) – just in case. I am thankfully for that doubt passing through my brain; the hotel was full by the time we arrived, so the pre-booking had been essential, as others were in the same position as Bryan and I. He was, as you can imagine, very disappointed to not see his brother and sister; however, we got to see them on WhatsApp video camera for a couple of hours as we spent time in the hotel.
The following day (having spent a night only half-sleeping – partly because Bryan and I had to share a bed, and he does move A LOT, and partly because I was anxious about what the following day was going to bring. Would we get home? The winds were still high, and another storm – Franklin – was also on the way. Thankfully, we were spolied for choice between two whole trains; of course, I chose the wrong one, in that we had to get off at Herne Bay as a tree had fallen onto the line. As it turns out, the trains wouldn’t run to Broadstairs (home) for another five hours; five bloody hours. But my parents came to the rescue on that one, thankfully; I couldn’t have imagined what Bryan and I would have done whilst waiting for five hours in a drafty train station waiting room. My patience and imagination would only have lasted for so long, I suspect. We got home about three hours after setting off on the high-speed line, feeling very windswept and relieved to be surrounded by the comforts of home.
What Bryan didn’t know, however, is that his siblings’ mum had contacted me that morning about an alternative arrangement for meeting up; she’s a clever sort, and managed to come up with a safe and secure way for the three siblings to get together in the afternoon. It genuinely wouldn’t have occurred to me, but I’m so glad it occurred to her; we didn’t tell the children anything in case it didn’t work, but it did and I will be forever grateful to their mum for her creativity. The look on their faces when they were all together made my heart soar.
So there you have it; that’s me, or at least a small snapshot of the “me” that I am right now. I’m slightly eccentric, to be sure, and by no means perfect, but I rather like the start of my forties so far. I sincerely hope it’s going to be a good decade.