Confession

I have been slowly retreating from the world over the past few years. I wish that my life could somehow merge with the one I have created. Since my father’s death, I have a constant ticking in the back of my head, which Unbound Boxes seems to  make sense of.  The desolation caused by his absence, has been clothed by a disembodied presence, his immortal soul connecting along with the souls of each character. If I could leave a replica in my place, to function in this real world, and find some way of being a writer, a lawnmower woman, then I’d be able to meet my muse, the woman who has saved me, the woman who gives me hope. 

A Chance Meeting With a Dear Friend

Anyone who knows me, would probably say I am aloof and somewhat distant. It is one of the things I hate most about myself, and causes relationships with those I love and value to become difficult to maintain. Today I met a very dear friend, who I have not seen for a long long time. It was a chance meeting, and shouldn’t have occurred, because my friend, Neil, happened to be walking past me in the street, after he had been delayed an hour. Years had passed, perhaps even a decade, since we had met. He is one of the few people outside of my family who I love and think about regularly, without doing anything about actually seeing him in reality. I allowed too much time to pass by and one of my dearest friends became a plan in my head, a person I would see in the future once I had time, but today, he was there! I looked up from my phone, and saw Neil beaming at me, looking very debonair and bohemian, and we hugged, and went to a cafe, and all those feelings of connection came flooding back, as we talked, and I just want him to know how special he is and that even though so many years have passed, he will always be one of the few dear friends I will love and value until I die. I have been so consumed with my writing, and the mundanity of work and life and the loss of loved ones, I’ve managed to neglect the people who are still here. I’m sorry. You know who you are.

The Fantastical Remedy to a Fragile Reality.

Eric Moore

There is a reason I have dedicated all of my stories to my father. He died far too young, and has left a lasting void in my life. I think about him every day, despite decades passing, and details fading, my writing is my own fantastical remedy to a fragile reality, broken by his death.

His name was Eric Reginald Richard Moore and he was born in Belfast on the 9th March 1943. My Nanna decided to give him two middle names, because she was one of eight siblings, and the only one not to have a middle name. Dad died before the internet became what it is today, so there is no virtual trace of him other than what I have written. It’s approaching the anniversary of his death again, (2nd December 1995) and I wanted to talk a little about what I remember of him.

Dad and me (1976)

 

He was a charming, but serious man, who was witty, and intelligent. He was thoughtful, and only spoke when he had something important to say, so people listened to him. He worked as an engineer for Marconi in the seventies and our family found ourselves transported to Iran, and we lived in Tehran for nine months, right before the revolution. I remember my father used to get alcohol from behind the counter, even though it was banned. We spent our time having pool parties, sitting on rooftops at curfew, exploring the mountains by cable car. We had a Jeep, there were camels walking past our window each day, I’d hear the call to prayer in the mosques and found those voices beautiful, as they echoed around the city. My parents would record tapes and send them to our family back in England. I had no concept of time back then, and because of my dad, I was learning to speak two languages, Farsi and English. I had American and Iranian and British friends, and my world was, so unlike England, rich and diverse and magical.

Dad, Mum, Richard and me

We had to come back to England, just before Christmas, due to the Iranian Revolution, but my dad stayed in Iran for another few months. I can’t remember missing him then as I was too young to understand the danger he was in, and I knew that he’d come home, but I do remember his absence. I had no concept of loss, and just as my mum had promised, he came back, safely, just before things got too dangerous. Living in England was a stark contrast, but I had my family back, my grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins. There was snow, and I had my dad back too.

I will skip ahead, and leave out a lot of the linear story of our family life together, and tell you that my dad was my hero. I looked up to him, he was constant, unbreakable; aloof and slightly broody; but I loved him and he made me feel safe. He spent a lot of time studying for the Open University, and was interested in every conceivable subject, from astronomy to religion. He built a telescope, made his own wine, he could draw, (he couldn’t sing though, he was completely tone deaf) he built a garage, a remote controlled plane, could rewire a house, do the plumbing, all the old fashioned skills. At the beach he would be the first in the water, snorkel ready, and he’d be in there for what seemed like hours. Once back on land, he’d build me and my brother sand palaces, and dig holes deeper than we were tall, with sand steps leading down (probably illegal now)

Dad, me and Mum (Turkey 1993)

I always felt an infinity with him. We were both quiet, and needed our own space. In another life, he may even have been a writer (like his own father, who was also called Eric, and was artistic) He loved science fiction, we’d watch Star Trek and Star Wars and Doctor Who, and Wonder Woman, and I’d like to think that my dad would be proud of what I’ve written, more than anyone else, he would understand why I can’t stop, why there are so many stories and illustrations, because if I stop, then so do I.

Dad died, in a convent at a barn dance, as I’ve written about before, but I haven’t gone into detail about the impact his death has made on my life. When I visit my family, on his side, I see his absence, so in a way it causes me to experience his loss over and over. It’s my own fault, I’m too emotional, and I love people too much, to the point I’d rather keep them at a safe distance than have them die, or leave or betray. I’ve become a character removed from the world, unable to properly connect with anyone, unless they are fictitious. I’ve named my protagonist (Alexand’s) father, Eric, after my dad, in an attempt to keep him alive in another world. This fantastical remedy disguised as Unbound Boxes Limping Gods, is like a drug enabling me to cope with reality.

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods: A Nightmare Before Christmas

Alexand's father, Eric.

Alexand’s father, Eric.

I used to look forward to Christmas so much. My cousins, Stephen and Paul would come round for Christmas day, along with my Aunty Kath and Uncle Norman, my Nan and Granddad, joining my Mum, Dad, Brother Richard and I. We’d play games and spend the holiday as a family. Seeing them meant so much more than any gift under the tree. These people who I will always love but very rarely see now, influenced my writing, some of them even became characters. It’s how I keep them with me, so they’ll never really leave. Christmas is smaller now. This year it’s just me, my son, my ex and our cats. A modern micro dysfunctional family. But back in the eighties, back in a distant happier time, Christmas past, haunts me. I wish I could take my son back there, so he could experience the joy and delight my childhood self was given by her own rather more traditional, stable family. We were close, and I felt safe and loved and wanted. I still do, but as an adult things have become somewhat complicated and I’m quite disconnected. My dad died, right before Christmas 1995. Things changed. There seems to be a natural disintegration with strong families. Eventually people move away, they die, they become distant. Unless of course you’re lucky enough to build a large family of your own, but that didn’t happen for me.

Alexand, seeing ghosts

Alexand, seeing ghosts

I’m sitting here watching A Nightmare Before Christmas. It was the first film that made me laugh again, after dad’s death. It was dark humour, and I appreciated that it reflected how random and apparently chaotic life can become. There is no good, and no evil. Things are much more complicated. As a Christian I had been sheltered from different perspectives and from the bad world outside. That sense of protection had gone, when dad died. But before then, I believed if you prayed hard enough God would protect the people you loved. That isn’t true. In fact if you look at how lucky people are in the western world, and how little other people have, you can see that the concept is very naive and redundant. My dad’s death has influenced a lot of my writing, and my sense of my own mortality has driven me to the extent that I hardly exist outside of my own writing. I often wonder what I’d be like if he were still here, I’d probably be happier, probably may not have made so many mistakes in my life. I know that Unbound Boxes Limping Gods, wouldn’t exist in the form it does now. Although Alexand Merek chose me to tell her story, I wasn’t as driven, wasn’t as frightened of ending, of becoming nothing, before dad died. I believed I would live forever and that allowed me to procrastinate when it came to my writing. If I’m truthful it’s a lot less painful living in Alexand’s world, translating it into stories and illustrations. There are little stop gaps which remind me I should be living outside in the real world, one of those gaps is Christmas.