Weekly Ramble #90

This year has represented many things for me but probably above all it has proven how much I really miss socialising with people.

Writers are stereotypically introverted and of course we have to be alone to create but I get my energy from being around others. This virus has taken away that opportunity to recharge through socialising. There were days when I was much younger and relied mostly on the release of being social and being out there under the streetlights or even in a lively bar out in the world. It completed me in a sense and got me through more than I realised. This year has been difficult without that. Perhaps this is why I’ve stepped up my social media presence – there’s a pandemic so I have time and it’s also a great way to talk with lots of different folks. It’s probably why I have started interviewing fellow creatives on here also.

As humans we all need escape and being within the confines of indoors has taken it’s toll on the best of us. Until things get better out there I’ll be staying in mostly. I’m lucky to have a significant other who is a perfect companion in all of this and together we’ve binge watched the best of TV this year. The horizon does seem bright but 2020 hasn’t been anywhere near a write off, it’s been the most successful ever for my writing and blogging. Views are at an all time high, sales have been satisfying and the following of this here blog better than ever. Burying myself in work as an author and blogger has pulled me along, let’s hope that continues. I’m eyeing up next year to be even bigger and my efforts are not going to slow one bit.

I’m thankful but also enduring toward this year, November felt four months long, let’s hope December flows a bit better and then 2021, well anything is possible…

In a couple of days I am going to be taking part in Pitmad – a Twitter pitching opportunity where authors and agents connect. I’ve recently finished a project that would serve as a great opportunity to pitch. More soon hopefully… and if you’re on the tweet machine and see my Pitmad tweet give it a Retweet!

You can also catch my rundown of the best books I’ve read this year, that’ll be dropping on Friday! Peace out, rock and roll man!

Weekly Ramble #80

They are going to knock down my old high school. This is a fact that I have recently learned which is both bitter and sweet at the same time for me. The pandemic has presented many opportunities for deep reflection, time on our hands will do that and it’s sometimes important to revisit things with the eyes and mind you’ve grown into.

Many people over the years have relayed or recalled their school days as either mostly positive or straight up terrible while others stand somewhere in between. I’m still processing today that the school I went to and the experiences I had may have been of the worst possible persuasion.

The truth is, that place took years for me to fully recover from. During those years after, I came to realize that there were normal people in this world that you could mostly trust, share real conversations with and generally function as a person alongside. So was it really that bad you ask? And my response would be, yes.

Not only is the concept of high school a mostly regressive thing to me; throw together a bunch of hormonal kids all at different stages of being hormonal, drill into them conflicting information about how important preparing for the future is and then top it off with a pressure to fit in and also succeed.

If you combine that with the environment I had to endure you would most certainly agree and the ecosystem that I weathered and survived was socially hostile, violent and toxic. It was a place that I could never truly fit in or let alone dare to be myself. Today we celebrate being ourselves. Inclusion is celebrated and still a noble cause worth fighting for. Back in that place, you couldn’t wear certain clothes, listen to certain music, think a certain way or even look at someone the wrong way without being punished for it and sometimes that punishment was violent. If you ever thought of stepping outside from the current and flow, you were targeted by a stifling mob culture of kids.

Head down, voice quiet and just bide the time. This was the only method of survival in that place I knew how to adopt and even then you weren’t safe. Perhaps that is why wherever I have gone since, I’ve survived. My invisibility strategy was enough for me to stay mostly unscathed physically and for the most part I went through this journey without being noticed. As for today; I’m not remembered probably by most who I shared those narrow packed corridors with. They were people who I had nothing in common with and many of the less desirable types had socially peaked at 16, I guess I could live without being remembered by the likes of them.

The teachers, who didn’t help but as an adult I know now they couldn’t help. Many of them couldn’t relate and were probably horrified by the fact they were trying to answer their calling in life at such a place. They were trying to function and survive themselves in what was an every person for themselves environment. Over the years I was there (5 – trust me I was counting), the place became more and more unstable over that time. A combination of worse schools closing locally and a change in leadership interrupted the order of things. Now you had younger kids fighting older kids, and sometimes these younger kids would win which just spun the volatile environment around some more. A wider level of ‘Gotham’ style chaos began to ensue. There was no safety. There was fighting everyday. No wonder I took the world of working in my stride, the sensation of it was both refreshing and liberating. The civility of it, a culture shock to begin with.

Anyone going through the struggles of high school, or anyone who has been through it, you are not alone. And it does get better. Leaving it behind is both weirdly sad and happy all at once. Being a writer means I am seasoned at compartmentalizing and putting thoughts away. There is no trauma now, but I can still explore old memories to cope and reflect. There may just be a hint of bitterness because I never went to the prom by choice, or even had many decent memories of that time, let alone any true friends.

I no longer represent the shy, quiet, keeps things to himself kid, that was just a survival mechanism. Over the years I learned to socially come out of that defensive shell because the toxic environment of those narrow corridors has long gone. As that confidence grew and whatever that place did to me faded, I began to do everything in life that I would get punished for in that place. From the music I now listen to and embrace, to even the hairstyle I adopted just two years after that place’s grip on me faded. Some of this stuff I do is to stick my middle finger up to the fact I couldn’t do it back then. Everything I have aspired to be was once just an escape from that place, and now I am who I envisioned to be, well and truly and without the school that I survived.

Now I’ve learned the place is being knocked down I’m able to take a long breath of relief because even though on the 25th of August 2005 I vowed to never return to those corridors in physical form, I will never be able to now, for definite. Since I left, the place took an even bigger downturn before half re-branding. Now that brand looks to fully absolve itself perhaps from such a shadowy past with new modern building beside the proposed playing fields which will serve as simply a grave of the days I struggled alongside so many others.

After reading this, you’ll see Open Evening – my debut novel in a whole new light because that story highlights the social struggle of high school; something that came from my own personal journey. I fused that element of what I knew and fashioned it into a story for some and a statement for others. Maybe I knew all along while I walked through that place, one day I was going to get these fuckers back, and the book did. Like always for me, the writing says everything I never could.

It became both therapy and reflection for me as a writing experience with an element of realism among the actual monsters that jumped out from beyond the unknown. The school burned down in that story, and now in reality it’s going to fall for real.

Good riddance.

Let me tell you a story…

This was going to be an Instagram post, but it deserves my best audience. Good things in this life are incredibly hard to find. Moments to be proud are too and even with everything that has unfolded this year from the depths of the unexpected, this milestone was always going to be celebrated. So let me tell you a story…  

alas

Ten years ago today I took a plunge into the unknown. Perhaps the biggest dive I have ever taken into the excitement of what could be. It was on the 21st of July 2010 that I first walked through the doors of the Iver Heath Drama Club a place that has always let me be whoever I want to be.

I’ve been to a lot of places, I’ve known a lot of different people. I’ve worked in different industries and socialised in many groups but I have never ever fit in anywhere like I have fit in at IHDC. This is the most important thing the club stands for; inclusion; something the world is always fighting for but something IHDC is ahead of the world with.

From being a performer which they always supported to writing their shows which they fostered and took on with care. To be a success in IHDC all you have to do is show up, embrace it and work hard – perhaps this formula can translate to success in all walks of life. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t of ever had the confidence to realise my dream of writing stories and now after all these years, here we all are.

I don’t write shows for me, I write shows for them. And after all the time that’s seemingly flown by, and especially after what is currently going on in the world, good things like the Iver Heath Drama Club deserve celebrating.

Thank you IHDC, for 10 years of memories, for the shows, the audiences, the moments, the friends and family I now have. Hopefully soon we can all get back together and do what we do best, put on entertaining, fun and all inclusive shows for the community.

Here’s to many more decades! Rock and roll man!

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stories that inspire us – PlayStation 2

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

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It is the most successful gaming console to date and this week twenty years ago it was released; apart from the wave of some readers probably muttering ‘Oh god I am old’ this is a fantastic piece of history to celebrate in gaming and I was lucky enough to be a kid at the time… 

158 Million people owned a PS2 with the original release coming out in Japan on the 4th of March 2000 – the rest of the world would have to wait until later on in the year and me, I got hold of one after spending all of my 13th birthday money in 2002. To this day I still remember shopping around finding the best deal which came from the now extinct (in the UK) Woolworths.

Having been very lucky to own its predecessor PlayStation, like all kids I wanted the new thing and so that fresh plastic smell dominated the living room as I opened the packaging and set it up. The very first game I played was Medal of Honor: Frontline – which was a tribute to history itself while also nodding to the Spielberg epic ‘Saving Private Ryan’. A group of us crowded around the living room television while it took us away to artillery fire and allied soldiers on a beach in France. I have always embraced the imagination of where a game takes you and this was history.

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PlayStation 2 had a lasting influence on my life and even now as a writer its still inspires my stories. Back then I had all the time in the world to play but not a lot of income so new games would be sparse and arrive via birthdays and Christmas. I could always rely on a service which doesn’t exist anymore: Blockbuster video game rentals… The race would be on to complete a rented game in the handful of days I owned it and many many times I succeeded but again with a small crowd around the screen.

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Red Faction shaped my science fiction writing….

Not only did the games of PlayStation 2 shape my writing influence they also played a huge part in introducing me to the music I would come to align myself with.

These were still the days when parents overlooked age ratings on games and by Christmas 2002 my uncle gifted me possibly the greatest PS2 game ever and not for the reasons you think.

Yes the story was great and the whole production was amazing and Grand Theft Auto Vice City is indeed an incredible playing experience but for me it was a gateway to rock music.

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Bands like Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Megadeath, Motley Crue and Tesla would blare out of my room while I cruised along Vice Beach – this was my safe haven and back then rock music was bullying material at school. That music paved my interest into the bands I listen to today and without out it there would be no Rock and Roll man!

Looking back on this era of gaming, it truly was a golden age and I’ve only mentioned the tip of what is a huge iceberg of games, so check out my favourites below….

Do you have any PlayStation 2 memories?

Image result for gta san andreas Image result for half life  ps2 Image result for spiderman 2 ps2 

Image result for wwe smackdown shut your mouth Image result for metal gear sons of liberty Image result for dead to rights ps2

Image result for the simes ps2 Image result for simposns hit and srunImage result for max payne ps2