Run Away With The Circus

There ain’t much else you can do.  You live your life in this bubble, part of you wants to pop it and part of you never wants to leave it.  Is it easy?  Na, not at all.  It’s boring, it’s repetitive and you get nothing from it.  Lose lose situation.  Why do I do it?  I suppose at this point I don’t know any better, I’m not even sure that changing my life would have any difference.  Thing is, I say it’s boring but I don’t think it’s as boring as leading a normal life.  I’m conflicted really.  Or maybe I am just scared, they reckon confusion is just a way of avoiding a decision you know is right.  Probably a load of psychobabble.

My life probably isn’t as bad as some of the others I know.  They live on the streets, at least I have somewhere warm to sleep at night.  In some ways maybe that’s bad, I look at them and think I haven’t fallen that far yet so there ain’t much reason to change.  You never think it will happen to you, do you understand what I mean?  I reckon they all thought the same at some point, now look at them.  I won’t go that far though, I’ll give it all up before then.  I don’t believe you have to lose it all before you change, you’ve just gotta want to make that change.

When I was a kid I had all those dreams and aspirations that everyone else had.  I wanted to go to school, go to university, get a good job, a nice house out in the suburbs somewhere.  People seem to think when you’re like this you don’t have any aspirations, of course you do.  Things went wrong somewhere along the line though.  That’s how I am here, things went wrong.  I ain’t gonna talk about it, but it weren’t easy for me.  Them aspirations are all gone now, I’ve kinda submitted myself to what seems to be my fate.  Getting up in the morning is a chore, especially when there isn’t anything to get up for, it’s like that film where the geezer lives the same day over and over again.

I do this.  I do it all the time, I confuse myself, I know it’s all a contradiction.  I say I want to carry on living the way I do but I’ll still tell you how horrible it is and how bad life has treated me.  I don’t even want pity or sympathy, I just want someone to listen.  It’s that confusion thing all over again.  I know what the right choice would be but I don’t want to admit to myself that I don’t want to make it.  When you wake up in the morning and you’re surrounded by empty bottles, you don’t know what you did last night or where you might have been, you know you’re not living the right kind of life.  Then you start again and the bottle persuades you that you are living the right kind of life.

Anyway, I’d better go, I’m rambling on now, just need someone to talk to, let it all out, don’t get the chance often, you know what I mean?  It’s 10 am and I’m a bit shaky.  I might go for a walk later on when I’ve sorted myself out.  Think a bit more about life, not that I don’t do that enough as it is!  Funny, when I said about being a kid and aspirations and dreams and all them things, I always wanted to go to the circus but never had the chance, used to draw pictures of them, there’s one over in the park at the moment, if I drink enough I might pluck up the courage to go over and persuade them to keep me.  Run away with the circus, sounds good.  Take care.


Summer Days


Since I’ve come back from Asia one of the hardest things for me to get used to is how long the days are in the summer!  These were taken at 10.30 pm this evening.  Behind those mountains is the Atlantic Ocean.



He’s stupid, there must be something wrong in his head.  That’s what they say all the time about me.  He’s never going to amount to anything, I don’t even know why they bother with him, they’re just wasting their time.  I can hear it all repeating in my head over and over.  My hand is shaking, the pen moving with it.  There are so many ideas in my head, so many places, thoughts, feelings.  All I can do is stare at the blank piece of paper as I continue to shake, the woman who is suppose to be helping me watching over me, tutting and sighing.

I look out of the window, she seems no longer interested.  The dark rain clouds have gone, the sun shining brightly in the sky, a rainbow appearing above the houses opposite.  If only I could fly out that window towards that rainbow.  They say there are pots of gold at the bottom of them.  If I had a pot of gold I wouldn’t have to go to school, but really, I want to go to school.  I don’t hate it, I like to learn.  They think I am slow but I understand everything that’s going on.  This woman looking over me, she’s the stupid one.  I know there are no pots of gold at the end of them, I bet the other kids don’t know that.

At night when I am at home, my mother sits down with me and reads.  Sometimes for hours, I listen to every word, each description, each character planting seeds in my head.  When I go to bed I lie there and think about them, what would they do if they lived in my world?  Would they give up or would they carry on?  They are imaginary, made up by the mind of the author, but to me they are friends, friends and inspiration, they help me to keep going.  When people say I am stupid I think of them and think of what they would do, how they would ignore it and carry on.

What is stupid?  It’s a word used to make people feel better about themselves.  They want you to be stupid so they can say they are not.  How can you really know someone is stupid though?  They can’t see inside my mind, they don’t know what I think or feel.  There is a man that lives on my road, sometimes my mum makes dinner for him.  The kids make fun of him because he walks funny and sometimes trips over.  So to them he’s stupid.  Once mum took me to his house when she was bringing him dinner.  His living room was full of models made of matchsticks, he had made them all himself, if he didn’t walk funny would he still be stupid?

The blank piece of paper is still staring back at me.  My hand has stopped shaking, I know I won’t be able to do it this time.  Next time I will try again, even if it’s just a letter, once I can do a letter I’ll be able to do a word, one day maybe a story.  They won’t call me stupid then.  I won’t call them stupid for not believing in me either.  As long as I keep trying one day I will be able to write, I know I’m not stupid though, I just wish sometimes they could see inside my mind, I wish I could let them thoughts be visible.  She walks over and scrunches the piece of paper up and throws it in the bin.  I suppose some people are stupid.

Countless Paths

As a child I would spend hours reading.  Reading and sometimes writing, my imagination running wild.  I would imagine all the things that I wanted to do or be when I was older.  I wanted to be a football player, a traveller, Indiana Jones, going on adventures in far away lands.  I’d read books and transport myself into them, I would live it, my small bedroom transformed into jungles with talking animals, fantasy worlds with hobbits.  I could be anyone or do anything I wanted to be, there were so many paths open, my childish imagination believing everything is possible.

Years later sitting in a room, cold, tired, alone, so distant from the child that held all those hopes and dreams.  I would say broken but that would be wrong.  If I had been broken, I’d not have made the choice to change.  If I hadn’t have made that choice would my life be different today?  Of course, I may not even be still around.  Would I have made the choice at a later time?  Maybe, I don’t know.  Do I regret they way I lived that led me to have to make that choice?  No, not at all.  I choose that path, nobody forced me into it, for all the misery there were happy times too, people that will stay with me forever, that still influence me.  Some are gone, their paths branched away.

If I had not got on that plane where would my life gone?  I have no idea.  I was directionless, yet it wasn’t the only choice.  I had been scared, petrified even of what lay ahead.  I waited for the bus to arrive, one part of me saying I should go back home, the other saying get on the bus, go and live a new life, break away from everything you know.  I got on the bus, a bus that lead to a life of adventure and discovery.  If I had stayed, I probably would have found it anyway.  It just would have taken a bit longer, a diversion, nothing to regret or waste time on.  Those books I read as a child would have led me there, still locked away in my mind, ready to be opened at any time.

Sitting on a bus in some far away country I thought back to the teenager who had lost hope.  The English teacher who had told him he couldn’t write, no matter what he did was wrong.  The teacher that told him he wasn’t intelligent enough to study philosophy.  That teenager who was no longer the child with limitless dreams, self confidence lost, not believing that anything could be achieved.  I look back and smile, it took him a long time but he eventually found the right path.  Those that didn’t believe proved wrong, but not proved wrong because of them, proved wrong because years later they helped to unlock the little boy again, coming out fighting, looking to pursue his dreams again.

So many twists and turns.  So many different choices you have made and could have made.  You look back and wonder what would’ve happened if you had taken another path, a different turn.  Would it change the way life is today?  Probably.  That doesn’t mean that the route you have taken is wrong, it’s just different.  When you are going somewhere and you know where that place is do you ever consider deviating from that path?  No, because you know where you are going.  If you are walking with no direction does it mean you are lost?  No, you just have an infinite number of paths to take.

The Jigsaw Puzzle

The man is running around, all dressed in black, his face painted white, shouting and screaming.  All the children are screaming too, some are crying.  I just sit and watch, I don’t want to be here.  Some of the children stand up and run towards the closed door as the teachers chase after them, I can see my escape.  I force myself to cry, I’m not scared, I just want to get out of this room.  One of the teachers notices and takes me by the hand and out the doors, sitting me down on a cushioned chair.  She disappears into a room and comes back out with a jigsaw puzzle.  When she’s gone back into the other room I smile to myself, I’ve managed to get what I wanted.

The puzzle was a map of the world.  I often play sick just so that I can go into the nurses room where I know they will give me the puzzle to do.  There are pieces missing, I’ve done it so often it shouldn’t take me long to do it, but I take my time.  Each piece of the puzzle is a piece of my own dreams, places that can only be seen in my imagination.  I look over the names of each country, each time I find a new one, places I’d never heard of before, the ones with a z in them sounding all the more exotic.  Even the places I had heard of, probably even seen on television are still exotic.  This puzzle is a million times better than watching some crazy man run around trying to be funny.

I place the pieces of the USSR into place.  A world so foreign, one I know nothing about except for the colour red and that they are always the bad guys in the movies.  Looking at it I can see how big it is.  Why do all the bad guys come from here?  It’s supposed to be cold there too.  I imagine this massive land as a place full of snow and men with furry hats.  There must be a lot of bears there if they all wear those hats.  I asked my mum what it was like there once, she said she doesn’t know much about it, she’d liked to go, she said a word beginning with the letter c that I can’t remember.  When I asked her what it meant she said everyone had to share things.  They must have a lot of things in such a big place.

India is my next favourite country, I’ve read the Jungle Book so many times.  I really wish I could go there.  I could wander through the jungle in a land where there are talking animals, beautiful tigers like the picture we have on our wall at home.  We bought the picture at the zoo but the tiger is supposed to be in India.  Is India all just forests and animals?  There must be people there too.  I can see mountains on the pieces, they look like they have snow on them, I wonder if there are people living there?  What do they do, it must be so cold if there is that much snow.  If I lived in India I wouldn’t live in the mountains, I’d live in the forests with all the animals.

China is another big country.  It is a strange shape, like a hen.  China is red too, I can only think about bicycles.  I saw on television once lots of people in China and they were all riding on bicycles, there were no cars.  Some of them were wearing pointy hats too.  I’m not sure why they wear those hats, maybe it is hot there.  There are mountains there too in the bit near India.  One of my friends in the playground once told me that his mum told him she’d send him to China if he was naughty because they eat little boys there.  I don’t believe that.  My dad said if you dig a hole and keep digging one day you will come to China.  I’ve thought about digging a hole but what if they really do eat you?

Out in the ocean on its own I place in the pieces of Australia.  There is a television program on every night after school that is in Australia.  All the people there go to the beach every day, they all have swimming pools in their houses as well.  I don’t think it ever gets cold there.  They are lucky, it’s not like here, sometimes we can’t go to school because the heating doesn’t work.  That’s lucky too I suppose, I bet they have to go to school all the time.  Oh, and kangaroos, there are lots of kangaroos in Australia, and those little bears that live in trees, I can’t remember what their names are but they look like they are always asleep.  Mum said we have family that live there, maybe one day we can visit them.

The last part I fill in is America.  I see America on the television a lot.  The man that lived downstairs, he moved to America.  I asked mum if he was going to live with the Indians but she said probably not.  Maybe he went to live in one of those big cities.  They look a bit dangerous there though.  My dad says they’re crazy because they all have guns.  I wonder if there really are cowboys there?  I’d love to be able to ride a horse but I’d be frightened that the Indians would catch me.  I don’t think we have any family that live there though, so maybe I won’t ever be able to go.  Oh, I forgot, Superman, he lives in America too, maybe I’d be able to see him if I went there.

This is a true story, when I was a kid I would pretend to be sick so that they’d take me to the nurses room. They knew that I liked to do a jigsaw puzzle which was a map of the world so they would give it to me.  I was only about six or seven at the time and there were quite a lot of pieces to the puzzle.  I look back and think how I used to see the world then, even at a young age I was obsessed with wanting to see other parts of the world, at the time I’d only been to England, Ireland and Portugal when I was very young.  I would imagine what all these places were like as I put the pieces together.  Eastern Europe and USSR as it was then were still communist and I didn’t really know much about them other than they were supposed to be bad.  

One Christmas our school put on a play and I wasn’t in the least bit interested in it.  When I saw all the other children being taken away because they were crying I decided that I had to pretend to cry because I knew they were taking them all to the nurses room.  Once I got to the nurse’s room they of course gave me the puzzle.  It is one of the most vivid memories I have of my childhood and I often think of it when I’m travelling around the world and actually seeing what all these places are really like compared to how I thought of them as a child!

Last Journey

The buffalo won’t move.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  My companion and friend through the long walks to and back from town seems to have given up on me.  I pat him on the back hoping he will start moving again, he snorts loudly, feet stuck fast to the ground, shaking his head in defiance.  I sit down by the side of the road facing him, his big round eyes looking everywhere but at me.

“What have a I done today for you to do this? I treat you well, better than all of my other animals and you behave like this.”

Another shake of his head, another snort.

“Maybe it’s too hot for you.  I have no water until we reach the town, it’s only another couple of miles away.”

No reaction, not even a snort of acknowledgement.  I sigh as I look out across the fields, heavy rain clouds in the distance gathering.  The rain doesn’t bother me, but my grain will get wet.

“Do you remember the time we got lost?  I tried to take us on a shortcut but we ended up further and further away from town.  You kept walking that day!  Even when you got stuck in the muddy path, you still kept going.  When we made it to town I even bought you some hay.”

He takes a small step forward, then puts the same foot back.  A reaction at least.  The clouds are coming closer, looking angrier, dark and angry.  The buffalo takes a look towards them then a look back at me.

“Oh, so you know!  What is it that you want?  For years I’ve looked after you, I give you shelter at night, I feed you well, even my children love you.  I’ve never hit you, and now you’re doing this to me!  If we don’t go soon we might as well just go back, but we can’t go back either because you’re not moving.”

A tear rolls down from those round eyes, his head now bowed.  Looking at him I realise that he’s old.  I’d forgotten that he wouldn’t stay young forever.  My friend and companion was struggling and I hadn’t noticed or helped him.  The clouds are almost upon us, the rain now visible as it falls on the fields not far away.

“I’m sorry.  I thought you’d stay young forever, I didn’t think the day would come when you couldn’t do it anymore.  I work those fields and then take you to town, you’re the only person who listens to me, you keep me company on these lonely journeys.  I’ve been selfish, this will be the last time.”

I pat him on the neck and he nuzzles my chest.  He steps forward again, one foot after the other, continuing on our way.  The rain no longer concerns me, if it gets wet it gets wet, I just want to savour my last journey with my good friend.

You’ll Never Understand

I’m sitting on a bus waiting for it to leave another bus station.  There’s a man sitting on the floor with a piece of cardboard in front of him.  I don’t know what it says, I can’t read the language.  He looks up at each person that passes him, not speaking but his eyes begging them to throw a few coins into the silver bowl.  To his side is a bottle of dark liquid that he sips from when there is no one passing.  What kind of life is it that someone has to exist like this?  This has probably been his whole life, I doubt he knows any different.

I can feel the kid’s eyes on me, I know he’s watching.  What does someone like him know about my life?  I’ve nowhere to go but this bus station, it’s my home now.  I can see the pity in his eyes, he looks away as I catch his glance.  He’s looking at me, this sad broken person, sipping whisky, begging for money just to get more, occasionally buying some food.  He’ll go away on the bus, continue enjoying his holiday, not giving me any more thought.  I had it all at one time, I would’ve pitied him then.

I know he knows I am watching him, but I can’t not.  What he is doing now was what I was doing not so long ago.  I remember sitting at bus stations, shop doors, holding out my hands in the hope someone would feel sorry for me, give me the money to feed my addiction.  The loneliness and the constant fear, not fear of people but fear of not being able to get what you want, or I should say need.  I used to wonder if there was someone on the other side of the world doing exactly the same thing as me.

The bottle is nearly empty.  There are only a few coins in my little bowl.  I’ll have to sit somewhere else soon because this is not enough.  Looking back up at the kid on the bus I give a fake smile, hoping he will take pity on me.  He looks away.  If he could live my life for just a day he’d know what it was like to humiliate himself, to have nowhere to go, I bet this doesn’t even happen back in his country.  Six years of my life sitting here and all I have to show is a bowl and a bottle, I am sure he’ll enjoy his comfortable bed tonight.

I can see resentment in his eyes as he looks at me.  He might think that he has a pitiful look but I’ve been there, I know.  Those feelings of resentment and hatred of those that have everything you don’t.  Creating plans on how to get back at everyone that ignores your pleading eyes.  I could probably give him some tips.  Watching him is like going back and seeing myself, seeing the days before I took the steps to change my life.  Maybe he doesn’t have that choice?

I could get up and walk away from here right now if I wanted to.  The problem is I don’t want to.  It’s the shame, I can’t go back to my family and ask them for help.  I suppose I’ve chosen this life.  My family are rich, they want for nothing, I used to want for nothing.  Then I tried to go it alone, but I failed, all the money I borrowed gone.  So I never went back, unable to show my face.  When he’s finished his holidays he’ll go back to the welcoming arms of his family.

The driver gets into his seat and starts the engine.  This poor, wretched man giving me a brief reminder of what I used to be.  At least I had help, he’s probably got no one else in this world, born into destitution.  As the bus pulls away I am thankful for this new phase in my life, the one where I’ve been able to take off and see the world, enjoy my life, not have to sit around looking for money or scraps of food.  I hope the man can do the same one day.

There goes his bus, not even a few coins to see me through the day.  He’ll never think of me again, I will sit here and resent him until I find someone new to hate.  I hope one day that he’ll lose everything, that he’ll have to see the world through my eyes, know what it is like to have nothing.  I can hold onto the fact that he will never have the riches that I used to have.  I’ll have them again one day, but for now I’ll just find somewhere to sleep away the midday sun.

As If I Were A Madman

The flowers in front of me are all different colours, bizarre shapes, some square, some triangle, others shapes that I can’t even name.  The bright reds mixed in with purples, blues and pinks holding my gaze, calling out for me to pick one.  There’s a larger flower, more prominent than the others, it’s a dark colour almost black and there seems to be a face at its centre.  It’s not a kindly face, it’s one that I’ve seen before but where I am not sure.  The black of the flower compliments the obvious vindictiveness of the face.

As I reach out to pick out one of the flowers I catch it grinning, I can’t pick the flower, its weak looking stem held into the ground by what feels like a dead weight.  I pull harder and harder but it doesn’t move, the black flower laughing louder and louder, a cackle that runs through my body, frustration, tears that I can’t remove this small object.  I kick out but I make no contact, I attempt to grab the stem again but I can’t, my hands passing right through it.  And then it all fades away.

In front of me now are hundreds of people.  Some I recognise, faces from the past, names long forgotten.  Their faces are that of a child’s, how I remember them, yet they appear to have the bodies of adults.  Friends and family, laughing and joking.  I walk past them, trying to catch their eyes but not even a glance in return.  I keep walking, faces repeating themselves, the crowd now stretching out endlessly.  Those that are in front of me are behind me too.

I listen into their conversations but they make no sense, mumbled words, sentences that are broken, no meaning.  More frustration and more confusion.  I wave, dance but they still ignore me, I don’t exist, am I still alive?  There doesn’t seem to be any sadness, I just want them to look at me, to acknowledge me, I want to be comforted.  I hear the cackling again, looking past the crowds I see the flower looking at me, its face now more distinct, a mouth open as it takes pleasure in my fear.

And then they are all gone.  The crowds and the flower disappear, along with the floor beneath me.  I am falling, looking straight down, but there is no bottom, just emptiness.  To my sides there are things, I can just make out vague outlines.  They are like pictures, people with blurred faces, places smudged but recognisable. Memories, people and places that have been long locked away in my mind.  I begin to fall faster and the sides disintegrate and fall away like ash from a burning piece of paper.

I can stand again.  I am in a large open space, the floor is white, everything else is grey.  All I can see is grey.  I am trapped in a world that makes no sense, dragging me through my fears and memories.  In the distance I can see somebody, they appear to be looking for someone, their head moving as they look one way and then the other.  They come closer and closer, I shout and wave but they are oblivious to me.  I try to call out but no noise comes out of my mouth, I try again and again but it’s no use, just more frustration.

He appears again.  Just as the person is right in front of me.  I see the blackness of his leaves and the smirk in his face.  I reach out to touch the person, but my arms will only move a little, I’m just short of being able to touch them, as though in a bubble.  I scream and this time noise comes out, but they ignore it.  Carrying on walking and searching, unaware of my presence, unaware of my existence even.  Everything is now wet, water everywhere, a lone tree, bare, sad, lonely sticks out from the depths I have been flung into.

I swim towards it, or try to swim towards it.  I feel, know it’s the only place of refuge for me.  But I can’t get closer to it.  Each stroke, each kick, using as much energy as I can but the tree gets no nearer.  My strength is fading, the tree is pulling further away, I am being dragged back by some unseen force.  I have nothing left to give, I surrender to the water, to whatever it is that it is pulling me.  I fall under, the inky blue turning darker and darker as I fall further.

Then it is all black, I can see nothing.  I can hear voices but I don’t know where they are coming from.  The cackle of laughter starts up again, fear running through me.  This time I give in, I won’t fight it.  There’s no point, all my fears have just played out in front of me and I can’t stop it, I no longer exist.  The voices and the laughter stop, I am still conscious but I see nothing, feel nothing, hear nothing.  And then everything is normal again, my eyes opening to reality, or what I hope is reality.


Liar (Book Excerpt)

“Why don’t you have a dad?”

“I do have a dad, he’s just busy.  He’s going to come back one day and I’ll bring him to school and then you’ll all stop laughing at me.  He’s big and tall, he has a gun too, if you laugh at me he’ll beat you all up.”

I turn and run away to the sounds of laughter and my classmates imitating my voice. It doesn’t happen all the time, only sometimes. When they are bored and want to pick on someone different they choose me. The rest of the time it’s the fat kid whose clothes don’t fit him properly. I’m thankful for the fat kid. If it wasn’t for him it would be me all the time. I hope he never goes on a diet or his mum never wins some money. I sit in the corner of the playground and watch. Watch and wait until they forget that they were picking on me.

They are right, I don’t have a dad. I have never seen him, I don’t even know what his name is. I don’t want to admit that to them though. If admitted then they would tease me more. If I lie it might make them think, maybe some of them will believe me and be scared. Mum says that I shouldn’t listen to what the other kids say. She says they are only jealous of me because I can tell such good stories. None of them want to listen to my stories though. If they only listened for ten minutes they would like them, they would stop teasing me then.

I hope mum hasn’t gone out tonight. I have a new story that I want to tell her. She hasn’t been home in the evenings for weeks, when she gets back I am already in bed asleep. I know we need the money but she spends it all anyway. If she isn’t home tonight I’ll just go and see the nice old lady that lives in the block next door. I wanted mum to be the first to hear it but I just can’t keep it in anymore, if I don’t tell anyone I’ll forget it. The other kids have started to tease the fat kid. I think it’s safe to go back out onto the playground.

As I walk towards them I kick a stone that’s lying on the floor.  Pretending to be a football player.  Pretending I am at Wembley and about to score a goal in the cup final. One of the other kids comes over and joins me. He’s not my friend but he doesn’t tease me. He talks to me about football and what he does at the weekend. If none of the other kids see him, he sometimes walks back home with me after school. He lives on the floor above me. He said his mum doesn’t want him to walk back with me but he doesn’t care. Just don’t let her see us together.

As we kick the stone back and forth he asks me what I am doing after school tonight. I tell him that I need to go home and see my mum. She’s been busy working recently. I can see a smirk on his face as I say it. One of the other kids calls out to him and he runs off, leaving me to the stone and my imagination. The teacher told the old lady, Mrs Smith, that I have a vivid imagination.  Mum was busy so she couldn’t go to the parent’s evening. Mrs Smith said she would go instead. I don’t really know what a vivid imagination is. I do like to dream though, even when I am awake I still try to dream.

Back in the classroom the teacher gives us some work. It’s boring. I wish she would give us something exciting. If she gave us something exciting she wouldn’t have to tell me off for daydreaming.  I look around the classroom at all the other children. Some of them are sleeping and some of them are doing their work. The teacher isn’t paying any attention. The fat kid is playing with his ruler. I sometimes wonder if one day he’ll go crazy and kill us all. I hope he doesn’t, maybe I should make friends with him. Then he might not kill me, just kill all the others.

The bell rings and the teacher lets us go. I run out the door as fast as I can, the quicker I get out the further away I am from the kids that walk the same way home as me. I look back and can’t see any of them. I walk slower, if I get home too quickly mum might not be there, the later I am, the more chance there is that she’ll be home. I wish she would take a holiday like some of the other kid’s mums. I don’t think she has ever taken a holiday. As I walk across the park our estate comes into view. I can see the windows to our flat. It doesn’t look like anyone is home, I don’t know why but just by looking at the windows I know if someone is inside or not.

Our estate is big. Big tall, long buildings.  We live on the bottom floor so I can play football outside the door if mum is at home and busy with work. There are ten floors above us. I always wanted to live on one of the higher floors, if I lived on one of them I could look out across the city. I can’t see anything from my window, only trees. The boy in my class who lives above me said at night you can see all the lights from the other buildings. I asked him if I could come up and see it one time but he said his mum doesn’t allow anyone inside their house.

There is a park just outside the door too. We don’t use it though. At night some of the older kids hang around there smoking and drinking. There is broken glass all over the floor. One of the little girls that lives next to Mrs Smith went in there one day and her hand got pricked by a needle. They had to take her to hospital. Mrs Smith said the needle could make her very sick. She has to wait for three months before she knows if she is okay. Now none of the other children will play with her. Even my mum said don’t play with her and my mum doesn’t care who I play with.

Next to the park there is a newspaper shop, an off license and a fish and chip shop. Sometimes when mum has come money she lets me go to the fish and chip shop to buy dinner. I buy a battered sausage and a large portion of chips. If I have enough money I buy a coke too. Mum sends me to the newspaper shop to buy her cigarettes, I am supposed to be 16 to buy them but the man doesn’t care, he knows they are for mum. When he gives me the cigarettes he winks at me. I feel bad because sometimes I steal a chocolate bar when he turns round to get the cigarettes.

I’ve only been into the off license once. They only sell beer in there and the man wouldn’t let me buy it for mum. He said if she wants it she’ll have to come and get herself. I know he sells it to the other kids though. I see them at night when I am kicking the ball against the wall. I’m not sure why he doesn’t like me. After that day I went home and wrote a story about the man and he got eaten by a lion. I told it mum and she really liked that one. I hope she likes my new one, it doesn’t have any lions but it has a dinosaur. Mrs Smith will definitely like it.

Our flat is right in the middle. There are nineteen on our floor and ours is number 9. Last year mum stopped working for a few months. She said she needed a rest. She painted the door red and put some flowers on the windowsill. When she went back to work I tried to keep the flowers alive but they died. I gave them water every day but it didn’t seem to work. The door is dirty now too, one of the windows has some cardboard in the corner, someone throw a stone at it. I don’t know why. I remember it frightened me. Mum said not to worry, it was an accident, I am not sure it was though.

I open the door and call out. There is no reply. The house is empty. I look into mum’s room to see if she has been home recently. Her clothes are all over the floor and I can smell her perfume. Her room is different from the rest of the flat. The walls are a dark pink colour. There is carpet on the floor too. It’s clean, the clothes just making it look messy. There are mirrors on the wall and she has a lamp on the table next to her bed. I’m not allowed to go in but when she is out I always open the door to have a look.

The living room doesn’t have much in it. There is one sofa, a wooden chair in the corner and a small table with the television on top. We used to have a coffee table in the middle but it disappeared one day.  Mum said she threw it out because she didn’t like it but I looked in the rubbish tip outside and couldn’t see it. Maybe someone came and took it away. The floor has no carpet, only black tiles that are freezing cold in the winter, especially if she forgets to pay the electricity bill. Last year when she forgot I could see my breath in the air. I took some sheets from my bed and pretended I was on an expedition to the Antarctic to find some penguins.

My room is the smallest. I have my bed and a small wardrobe to keep my clothes in. There is no carpet in my room either. The walls are painted white, I want to paint them blue but mum says I’ll have to wait until next year. Underneath my bed I keep some of the books that I stole from the library. I push them right into the corner so that she can’t find them. Not that she comes in here anyway. Just in case, though. If she found out I was stealing books she would never let me go to the library again.

It’s nearly summer time so the house isn’t very cold. It doesn’t get dark until very late either. When it doesn’t get dark until late I can stay outside playing football for longer. I can stay at Mrs Smith’s for longer too. She doesn’t like me to walk back home in the dark. I am not scared but she says some of the older kids might cause trouble and she is too old to walk back with me because she’d have to walk back on her own then. I think she doesn’t want to see mum, but maybe she is right, it isn’t very safe around here at night.

Looking out the window I see some of the other kids playing football. I really want to go out and play with them but they won’t let me. They call me names and say bad things about my mum. Instead I just watch them from the window, hoping that they can’t see me. Every time I watch them playing I hope that they will stop playing and call out to me to come and join them. I can show them how good I am then, I could even tell them about myself, if they knew about me they wouldn’t hate me anymore.

As the light begins to fade their mum’s call out to them from the windows above. None of them wanting to hurry inside. If it was my mum calling me I would come in as quick as I could. They don’t seem to care though, they see their mums all the time. I only see mine when she isn’t busy at work and that’s not often. When they’ve gone back inside I think about sneaking upstairs to one of the balconies and looking out over the city. I hear a loud bang from outside, one of the older kids is playing with a firework. I change my mind.

This is an excerpt from the first chapter of my first book which will be released next month.  The book is about a child growing up on a housing estate in London and his troubled relationship with his mother, the mixed emotions that he faces and his way of dealing with his problems.  

If you would like updates on the book’s release and information on how to buy it please fill in the contact form below:



I took this picture when I was in Mandalay, Myanmar a couple of years ago.  When I arrived in Mandalay I took a motorbike taxi and the sun was rising over Mandalay palace and the hill but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture.  Myanmar was a place I had wanted to visit for years and I hope to go back and spend longer there.