‘Dave, don’t look around now….but I think the man by the stairs might be my father.’ If these words had come from anybody else, it would have been an incredible, life-changing moment, one of those moments that you always remember….like you’re always going to remember the day Cliff Richard finally goes bad and knocks over a post office. But the words have come from Dean, and – as my friends go – he’s not the most emotionally stable horse in the paddock. Dean thinks everyone is his father, and I feel for him: I really do. I grew up in single parent family with no dad around, and although there were odd times when I could have maybe benefited from a father and son chat, I certainly never felt in any way deprived of some great advantage.
Sometimes, I make big mistakes…..but they’re never my fault: not really. Here’s an example, so you can judge for yourself. Today, I’m up early. This is because it’s Easter Monday, and we’re taking the kids to Leeds Castle for the day. Leeds Castle is about an hour away, and my wife has agreed to drive if I get the kids breakfast and make us all a packed lunch for our picnic. So….what could possibly go wrong?
Nostalgia can be a curse and to prove it I’ve created a list of five times in my life that I made a decision I’ve always slightly regretted. I’m calling it ‘My Five Biggest Regrets’ but the title is a bit misleading. Creating a list like this is a really important thing to do and if you’re going to get it right then you have to be constructive and try to determine whether in all probability you’re either right or wrong in each case. What do YOU regret? It’s a killer question. If the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions, then I strongly suspect that the Path to Dissatisfaction is paved with overly nostalgic memories, especially ones involving missed opportunities. If you’re autistic, an overthinker or even just an unusually reflective person, then the retrospective analysis is probably a huge part of your mental landscape. In simple terms, retrospective analysis is where you overplay conversations in your head after the event, often applying your own biased narrative to anything that was said. What you end up coming out with can potentially do catastrophic damage to friendships and relationships or even destroy them completely. It’s a curse of a burden to bear, which is why I find movies like ’13 Going on 30′ so incredibly difficult to watch.
During a game of Dungeons and Dragons, my kids get stuck into me for the ludicrous amount of enemies I throw at their level one beginner characters. This starts a conversation about difficulty levels in games and I decide to introduce the dynamic duo to the fantasy frenzy of the classic 80s retro arcade game Gauntlet. For those of you who don’t remember this chaotic mix of mazes and monsters, it throws you into a labyrinth of war as either a wizard, a valkyrie, a warrior or an elf and you end up facing off against orcs, goblins, trolls, ogres and even life-sucking personifications of Creeping Death.
Disclaimer: this post – Among Us – was written at Westwood Cross back in 2014 BEFORE the Iceland Warehouse Supermarket moved in at a time when the world was very different. For a start, crimes were things like theft and assault, not meeting your friends or visiting your nan’s house without a passport. Nevertheless, this happened pretty much exactly as I’ve described it…
I’m at the mind-bendingly lush Harris & Hoole coffee shop at Tesco Extra just before Christmas, quietly considering whether I’d like to select drowning in their cappuccinos as my chosen method of death, when one of the two guys sitting at the table next to me leans across to his mate and says something that actually makes me spill some of my coffee into the saucer. He says: ‘We have to stop Luke killing people.’
Warning: Don’t Touch My Wand contains adult content. If you’re easily offended by the beliefs and practices of alternative religious groups, look away now. Still here? Right…let’s relate what happened during June 2015. Read it and weep…
On my study wall, there’s a letter from Terry Pratchett that I estimate to be worth just over a million pounds. Now, before you make a spirited attempt to burgle my house, I should point out that it’s only worth a million pounds to me. It’s the letter that made me continue with my first novel at a time when I was genuinely about to give up and ditch the whole writing business as a bad move. Here it is:
It’s October 2014 and my phone is ringing; it’s a mate I used to play games with (don’t worry; his identity is cunningly disguised in this post). “Dave? It’s Tim. Listen, mate: I can’t stop putting on weight, and I know you do loads of exercise: can you help me out?”
When my writing career didn’t explode like I wanted it to (that wouldn’t happen for another two years), I headed into Ramsgate town to see what work was available. My extraordinary collection of GCSEs and one-week show-ups at Thanet College afforded me the following tree of opportunity….