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.
I must admit the past year has led me to spend most of January in deep denial about what is going on outside in this rather scary world. I’ve seen heroes die, and monsters rise to positions of power. I blocked out the news, and my anger, and decided I would spend the next four years living in blissful fiction. Unfortunately, fighting monsters is a pastime in the fictional universe I call my other life, so I read the news and exposed myself to all the horrors. It’s the end of January and some very diabolical things are going on, and I can’t keep silent any more. Walls are being built and vulnerable Syrian refugees are being denied refuge, women’s rights are being eroded. It’s easy to use the word ‘monster’ to describe someone (or a group of like minded people) who incite intolerance and hate, in order to acquire and maintain power, but I can’t quite see how any other word would be more apt. Monsters traditionally play to people’s fears, and there is now a real threat to the civil rights and liberties of large groups of innocent people, based on their religion, nationality, gender, race and sexuality. Yes I’m angry that my uncle, who happens to be Muslim may find it hard to go on holiday to the USA simply because of his religion. I’m angry that the LGBT community may have to continue to fight, for rights to marry, rights to have equality in the work place. I fear that this may leak into other cultures, that my own rights as a bisexual woman may be threatened, as the post Brexit government get pally with those of questionable morality, in order to secure trade deals, (which are obviously more important than human rights.) I have many friends from all over Europe, who want to feel safe and welcome in Britain, but is this just a dream now? I can’t sit back and write myself out of reality, like I’ve done for many years. I will march, I will speak out when I feel something is wrong. I will fight for my own rights and the rights of others. We need to stand up for one another, and recognise blind intolerance. I’m going back to fiction now, but I will be vigilant, and I will keep fighting monsters, real and imagined, not only through my words, but through my actions.
I think at some point, all writers encounter obstacles. Life, simply gets in the way. This past year has been the most challenging for me, since I was 17, in terms of being able to find enough time to sit down and write (or illustrate) stories. Many things (including redundancy) have thrown invisible scatter bombs into my routine, and I’m finding myself scrambling around attempting to find those precious moments I used to take for granted. I am seeing only fleeting glimpses of Alexand’s world at the moment. My son and my cats depend on me making a living. My new job is hard, and I work longer hours than before, and so, Alexand doesn’t speak to me as much. It’s not because she’s upset with me, but because she understands I need to exist in this physical world, and that I have responsibilities outside of her own. I’m grieving for her, of course, but I know this lapse is only temporary. I also know I’m good at scheduling. I have eleven stories in my story bank, issues which last up until late February 2015. I’ve got others which need illustrating, and so many unwritten stories inside my head, which go as far back as the time I first met Alexand on a park bench in Farnham in 1992.
In the illustration above, (From a story called, Love in a Box,) Alexand is grieving for the loss of her fingers. She thinks she will never play the piano again, and that makes her deeply unhappy. Like my writing, Alexand’s music is her life. She feels lost and empty when she isn’t creating something. It’s one of the things we have in common, and possibly why she chose me to write her story, and not someone else. But, as with a lot of things in life, she was unable to see that things would get better for her.
In fact the woman she is deeply in love with, a very practical and misunderstood scientist called Katherine De Somme, came up with a solution. She cared so much about Alexand that she had a fellow scientist develop some metal fingers for Alexand. This enabled Alex to play again, but not only did Alexand get her music back, she and Katherine, finally admitted that they were in love with each other. Who knows, maybe my own life will get better some day, and I just can’t see it yet.