Have We Had Help?

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If you are thinking that this post’s title is vaguely familiar, it is. After originally posting  what was then considered a highly contentious philosophical article on the thorny subject of UFO’s under the title in question, which I produced way back in 2010 for a small time UFO magazine, long since closed down, I decided to make it the name of my blog. For those of you who haven’t trawled through all of my old posts, ‘Have We Had Help’ was the second post in my blog. Now read on bearing in mind that some things I wrote about back then have changed. From memory the article got no comments at the time, probably because of its length. Hardly surprising since it was on Blogger and not here on WordPress where the readers are far more intelligent and enlightened and the trolls are nonexistent…

***

      You have to begin to wonder just how much fact there is among the vast amount of disinformation, fantasy, and accounts of sightings of alien life forms in this day and age. Thanks to the paranoia mainly created by the hidden agendas of various governmental groups in countries like the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany, as well as the former ‘Iron Curtain’ countries, it becomes increasingly more difficult to sift out the truth.

      Have you ever stopped to think how quickly we have advanced since the turn of the century? It wasn’t all that long ago, we were reliant on the horse and cart, candles, and sailing ships; the list is endless. Since the end of the Second World War, we have experienced a technological leap beyond the normal rate of progress for mankind.

      Over the past 25,000 years, man has slowly but surely advanced towards a state of civilisation and self-worth in keeping with his ability to learn by trial and error, enabling us to find out what works best in any given situation. And yet since the late nineteen forties, we have advanced beyond belief in all areas of technology. We now have the ability to leave this beautiful planet of ours, to extend our natural lifespan via various means, and to create weapons of mass destruction and of stealth. Are you willing to accept this accelerated advancement without questioning just how it is we have achieved so much?

      The most implausible explanation can be made plausible if it is uttered from the mouth of someone in authority. I simply do not, and will not, believe that we have made such rapid advances on our own. For this to happen, someone must have given us a hand in all this, but at what price for mankind. Since nineteen forty-seven, people around the world have reported various phenomena, alien to our way of life. The various branches of the news media have tended to trivialise most of the reports by categorising them as ‘flying saucers’ or ‘little green men’, ably encouraged by governmental agencies who frankly scare the hell out of me! While a lot of phenomena witnessed by people from all walks of life, all racial groups, all political persuasions and all religious beliefs can be satisfactorily explained away, there are a growing number that cannot!

      As we move away from beginning of the new millennium, just how many of the prophecies from ancient times for example are going to be fulfilled. While it must be remembered that the people who originally wrote the basic text of books like the Old Testament were by today’s standards considered primitive, and had a far less sophisticated number of words to express themselves, they never the less give us a rudimentary history of their times. If they are to be believed, they were helped by people not from this planet. Are we now experiencing the same kind of assistance, are we being forcibly advanced? If so to what end and why?

      Throughout the history of mankind, we have had our failures and successes. We have learned, and at times unlearned, as in the ‘Dark Ages’. But we have seemingly done this on our own, at our own pace. But now we seem to be aboard a runaway train, from which we cannot get off. Why are we experiencing such rapid advancement in technology, medicine, and at what cost?

      Why is it that mankind seemingly advanced from an apelike existence to Cro-Magnon in a relatively short space of time? To transform from an ape into a life form, which could pass you in the street without drawing attention, seems remarkable to say the least! And yet undeniably it happened. Why, if the historians are correct, were there relatively advanced groups of humans in control in days gone by, like the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs who bore little or no resemblance to the people they ruled over? Where did they spring from? Were they from Ethiopia perhaps, given their physical features. Where do they fit in? Why do ancient peoples like the Maya speak of pale blond gods who set the pattern for their lives for centuries before ‘white men’ officially arrived on the South American continent?

      Why does a man miraculously arrive on the scene in ancient Judea via ‘virgin birth’, perform miracles, change man’s way of thinking, get crucified, get buried then disappear? Why, according to  legend does that same man appear a few months later in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and supposedly live to a ripe old age in anonymity?

      If we are being ‘helped’ once more by non-human peoples, then it is incumbent on the governments of the more powerful nations to come clean. If however, as many believe, we are paying a price in human lives for technological advances well beyond our present capabilities to fully appreciate, let alone invent for ourselves, then the price is far too high! Whether you believe, as I do, that we are not the only sentient form of life in the universe or not, the fact is that some outside influence is at work, and has been for the better part of the last sixty years or more! We are kidding ourselves if we believe otherwise.

      If, as a growing number of people believe, and I number myself in this group, we are being ‘helped’, what are the government agencies afraid of? Why don’t they admit to non-terrestrial beings living and working alongside us? If they have a hidden agenda for mankind as some sort of subservient species designed to be a slave group, or worse, as a food source, then we must be told the truth! If there is nothing to hide, then where’s the harm in admitting the existence of the various groups of non-terrestrials? If they are benevolent or not then please say so and don’t keep us in the dark anymore!

      Being kept in the dark is far worse than knowing the truth. At least if we know the truth then we can prepare ourselves one way or another for what is to come. By not telling the people of this beautiful planet what is going on, the governmental agencies are preparing the way for mass hysteria if the non-terrestrials are going to do anything harmful. After all, we receive warnings for things like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tornadoes, and tidal waves that enable us to take steps to protect ourselves.

      However if the non-terrestrials are so advanced that there is nothing we can do to protect ourselves against whatever they may have in store for us then we must be told now, not at the eleventh hour!

      If on the other hand there are no non-terrestrials, as the governmental agencies would have us believe, and the secrecy surrounding the brilliant leap in technology since the end of the Second World War is solely down to us alone, prove it! Throw open the doors of places like ‘Area 51” to groups of responsible human beings from various nations around the world who can once and for all put an end to all the speculation and rumour surrounding such places. If it’s good enough to send teams of people to inspect various situations around the world like Iraq’s armament factories, or the former Yugoslavian countries various hell-holes, then it’s good enough for agencies like the United Nations to send similar groups to places like ‘Area 51’, and the so-called underground bases like ‘Dulce’. We’re not asking the various military groups to publicly expose their military hardware. All we want to know is whether or not it’s all our own work!

      If it’s not then say so! Bring the non-terrestrials out in the open for the entire world to see. Let them address the world via the UN; let them tell us their intentions towards mankind once and for all! If it is their intention to somehow or other assimilate us then we have the right to know! If however they are here merely to help us advance from a warlike race to a peaceful one, then let them say so!

      By neither confirming nor denying what is going on, the governmental agencies are reinforcing the commonly held belief by people not only in the US, but around the world, that the world’s governments have a hidden agenda regarding aliens. Are we approaching Armageddon as prophesied in the bible, or are we experiencing an unprecedented time of accelerated technological advancement?

      The questions raised in this article can only be answered if we all demand to know the truth once and for all. The time has come when we can no longer remain complacent! Whether you believe in the existence of alien life forms or not, there is enough happening around the world as we leave the twentieth century behind, for even the most sceptical among us to begin to wonder – have we had help? I think we have…

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Can we truly afford them anymore?

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Sometime during the last twenty years, the clear distinction between all political parties disappeared forever. At one time not so long ago you knew for certain that the Conservative/Republican party represented the privileged rich and big business while the Labour/Democrats worked to protect the rights and privileges of the ordinary working man and women – no longer.

 Today’s crop of politicians, no matter which party they belong to, can only be described at best as opportunistic chancers who entered politics to grow rich at the expense of the nation they purportedly represent. Here in the UK I defy anyone to show any appreciable difference between the Tories, Labour, Liberals and the latest kid on the block the UK Independence party – the one man political party whose platform is all about getting the UK out of the EU.

If like me you believe that all politicians are pathologic liars and hypocrites, then, like me, you must be wondering can we as a nation truly afford them anymore. To illustrate my point, our Prime Minister paid a lot of lip service recently on the issue of tobacco. He declared that he was going to force the tobacco companies to either employ disgusting photographs of cancerous body organs like lungs etc on the packages, or force them to put out their product in plain packages with no company logo. To gain the bleeding heart vote he and his cronies had already acceded to the anti-smoking lobby by forcing retailers to hide all tobacco products, announcing that it was to discourage children from buying cigarettes. If you believe that you need your bumps felt. Pull the other one; it’s got bells on it!

Under no circumstances were the tobacco products to be prominently displayed. Then a few days ago he backtracked about the packaging issue. Someone within the corridors of power probably reminded him just how many millions his government gets from the sale of all tobacco products. If that is not hypocrisy I don’t know what is.

The same goes for alcohol. His government was all in favour of a fixed low price for cheap alcohol, purportedly to battle alcoholism. That has also fallen by the wayside. Yet again he has probably had it pointed out to him exactly how much money his government gets from the sale of alcohol. And then we come to the recent debacle – the sale of arms to the rebels in Syria. A lot of very public hand-wringing went on by all politicians. Cries of it would be morally wrong to enter into such a deal were heard. Yet it is about to go ahead. More income for the government coffers – more hypocrisy!

Bit if we did do away with politics altogether, what are the alternatives? Totalitarianism doesn’t work – remember the old Soviet Union? Even China, while still officially a communist nation, is slowly but surely moving away from its former rigid political situation as it forges capitalist business links with the rest of the world. Fascism doesn’t work as both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini found out to their cost. Nor does reverting back to the time when Kings and Queens ruled absolutely necessarily appeal in the twenty-first century. Although the UK’s Eton and Oxford educated conservative elite would love it as most of them are descended from the old so-called nobility.

Face it people, politics is hazardous to the average human’s health. Just look at the current unpleasantness and bloodshed in the Middle East, the result of mixing politics with rabid religious sectarianism. The same goes for several countries within the African continent.

Despite all of the above, like sheep, billions of us feel it is our democratic duty, not to mention our right, to vote these villains into power every five years or so. Why do it – habit perhaps? Or maybe it’s quite simply a case of better the devil you know. Just remember one thing; the only time politicians need us is when they want our vote. Then they spend the next five years either ignoring us, or making our lives a misery. What are we – masochists?

By this rant you can deduce I am ‘working class’ and proud of it. I am also a smoker who appreciates a pint of England’s best Bitter. There has to be a better way to run a country surely. Anybody got any sensible suggestions?

A dog’s tale

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The sun was shining and the winds were light. Barney sat looking out the window at the world outside. In the distance in the clear air, he could see the wake of a small boat fighting its way across the deadly bar that ran across the harbour mouth. The tide was about right and the boat swung on her anchor with her stern pointing downstream towards the low footbridge that crossed the tidal estuary.

            “Come on dog,” he said to the sleeping fur ball lying at his feet. “Let’s go and catch us a couple of fish.” The fur ball leapt to his feet and ran around the house barking madly at everything in its path. While Barney began gathered his fishing gear the fur ball snapped and snarled at its own reflection in the window. His master needed his help and that damned dog outside stood in his way!

            “It’s you you’re barking at, you mutt,” Barney chuckled, as he opened the ranch slider and stepped outside onto the veranda deck. The fur ball ran round the deck poking his head between the railings, barking at cats and flowers, and at the cars as they passed the front of the house.

            Barney hauled on his sea boots, shaking his head at the demented dog’s antics.

“One of these days, it’s a dose of lead for you,” he laughed, as he stood up and shouldered the bag of fishing gear. The fur ball took no notice of the veiled threat as he stood with his paws on the low gate at the end of the veranda, barking at the clouds.

“Come on you hairy mutt, lets go,” Barney said, opening the gate to walk down the veranda steps.He began descending the brick stepped path through the overgrown slope of his front garden down to the road. The fur ball almost bowled his master over as he ran down the steps at full stretch in his mad rush to get to the footpath. “Steady on you idiot, you almost had me over then!” Barney shouted, as the soles of his sea boots skidded on the slick surface of the old wet bricks beneath his feet.

            The fur ball charged across the road and down the grassy bank to the water’s edge. A small flock of wading birds were busily filtering the shallows in search of small crabs and sea snails. They lifted into the air in alarm as the fur ball charged at them with his teeth bared; barking so loudly that the seagulls flying in from across the bay to join in the feast, changed their minds and went elsewhere to feed.

Barney finally reached the water’s edge and put down his fishing bag. He waded out until the seawater almost lapped the top of his boots, and felt around for his anchor. The fur ball ran around yapping and splashing while Barney steadily pulled the boat into the shallows.The boat’s keel gently ran aground on the thick shell bank allowing the fur ball to leap over the bow and into the centre of the boat. He stood there while he shook the water from his waterlogged coat in a fine spray of mist that caught the sun’s rays, creating a brief rainbow.

Barney returned to the shore, retrieved his fishing bag, and then waded back to the boat. The fur ball took up his customary position lying on the seat that was part of the stern sheets of the boat with his tongue hanging out from pure exhaustion.

            Barney pushed the boat back into deeper water and leapt aboard. He fished around beneath the central thwart and lifted the pair of oars from their customary position. Pushing the oarlocks into their holes in both gunwales, he slid the oars into place and readied himself for the task ahead. He wiped his hands and rolled himself a smoke, lit it, and positioned the oars for the first long pull to get the boat underway under the steady power of the two oars’ blades. The boat began sliding effortlessly through the water.

             The fur ball sat up and looked over the side of the boat. There was that damned dog again, and now he was on his master’s boat! He ran under Barney’s arms, knocking one of the oars free from his hands. He stood with both his front paws on the bow barking like a demented banshee. That damned dog was still on the boat! How was he going to get rid of it? The only dog allowed on his master’s boat was him! Shaking his head Barney reached over the side, retrieved the oar from the water and resumed rowing. The fur ball was totally perplexed! His master didn’t seem the least bit concerned that another dog was somewhere on board. It was time to find the stowaway and make him walk the plank!

            He turned and walked back between Barney’s sea boots, sniffing in the spaces between the strakes and the ribs. No, he wasn’t there. Perhaps he was beneath the floorboards. He scratched at the wooden twist toggle that held the floorboards down, with his paw. Success – the toggle turned on its screw and he began scratching at the floorboards, shoving his nose under in search of the elusive stowaway. Barney just shook his head again at the dog’s antics as he shifted the position of his feet out of the hairy mutt’s way.

            The fur ball got his whole head under the floorboards and pushed them to one side. No, the stowaway was definitely not there! Perhaps he was behind his master; stowaways were notoriously tricky after all! He crawled beneath Barney’s backside on the central thwart. Aha! The stowaway must be in the stern sheets – there was nowhere else to hide! He had the stowaway cornered now for certain. He curled his lips and showed his teeth as he let out a low growl while staring beneath the seat. He sniffed cautiously at his master’s fishing bag, gingerly pushing it open with his wet nose. Sniff, sniff, sniff – no, not in there either! He shoved the bag to one side and sniffed around in the shadows beneath the stern sheets – nothing! He backed out from under the seat, climbed back on top of it and sadly lay down with his head between his paws. He was totally ashamed. He had failed his master!

            Barney reached his favourite fishing spot, threw the small anchor over the side, and watched the anchor rope slide over the gunwale. He shipped his oars, stowing them back beneath the thwart, and reached back for his bag and his hand line. The soft plop of the weighted fishing line roused the fur ball. He sat up panting in the warmth of the sun, while he cocked his head to watch his master holding the fishing line, waiting for a nibble from below.

            The fur ball yawned, stretched, and then lay down once more to doze in the sun, sheltered from the wind by the sides of the boat. Barney put a loop of the line around one finger and began rolling himself another smoke. The line moved once, twice, three times, then nothing. The fur ball opened one eye.

“Think we’ve got a bite, dog,” Barney said quietly, as he felt for vibrations on the line.The fur ball sat up, staring at his master’s hand and the thin fishing line. The line went taught. Barney gave it a strong jerk and began pulling it in.

“We’ve got one dog, we’ve got one,” Barney smiled. The fur ball leapt across the boat and stood looking over the side. That damned stowaway was back and now he was trying to steal his master’s fish!

***

            That night in the pub Barney stood at the bar with his mates having a beer, telling them about his day’s fishing with the fur ball lying at his feet on the cold bar room floor.

“Bloody stupid mutt saw his own reflection in the water and dived over the side. The stupid bugger swallowed half the bay and puked most of it into my boots when I dragged him back on board!” Barney said, as his mates roared with laughter. The fur ball just lay there totally dejected with his head between his paws; completely unable to understand why his master was so ungrateful. After all, he had finally got rid of the fish-stealing stowaway!

A story for the very young, and those still young at heart…

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A few years ago I wrote this simple tale for the very young daughter of my then editor. Writing for the under fives is not as easy as you would think…

~~~

Tedz E Bear and the Wizzi

A long time ago there once was a teddy bear that lived happily with his young friend James aged four and a half. His name was Tedz E Bear. He always insisted on using his full name when in the presence of all other teddy bears you understand, because he was a good little bear with very good manners.

 Tedz and James had many adventures together in James’ bedroom. Sometimes they explored the big toy cupboard. Sometimes they bounced up and down on James’ bed. Sometimes they even played cowboys and teddy bears inside their make-believe fort made up from two chairs covered by a bed sheet.

 Of course Tedz never ever spoke to his friend James because it was not allowed according to the rules of the ancient teddy bear code. But James always believed he could hear his friend Tedz talking to him in his sleep at night.

James’ older brother’s and sister’s teddy bears all lived in the dark attic above James’ bedroom, forgotten and alone. It wasn’t that the children didn’t love their teddy bears anymore. But James’ mummy and daddy decided that now it was time for them to stop playing with their teddy’s to concentrate on their lessons at the school in the village instead.

***

One day the time came when poor Tedz, was taken by James’ daddy and put into a large cardboard box in the attic.

Oh dear what was he to do? Tedz was all alone and in the dark. His paws weren’t strong enough to get the lid off the big cardboard box no matter how hard he tried. He even tried to sit up but only banged his head on the lid. Then someone came to help.

“Hallo in there, need any help?” a rather gruff voice enquired.

“Yes please,” Tedz replied.

Before he knew it, he felt himself being lifted out of the big box. “Thank you ever so much,” Tedz said as he tried to get rid of a big cobweb that was stuck in his fur.

“My name is Tedz E Bear,” he declared. “Who are you please?” he asked politely. For you see it was very dark in the attic, and Tedz could not see anything at all.

“My name is Bristle. Wait a moment young Tedz,” said the voice, “I’ll just open the curtain – there that’s better now we can see.”

Tedz rubbed the cobwebs from his eyes. There before him was a great big teddy bear, much bigger than he was. Bristle patted Tedz and said, “Come along and meet the rest of us.” At the other end of the attic was a big dolls house and in it lived all of James’ brother’s and sister’s teddy bears.

“Everyone, I would like you to meet James’ teddy bear Tedz E Bear,” Bristle announced with a flourish. Then he introduced everyone in turn to Tedz.

There was Patches who was covered in tiny cloth patches that James’ mummy had sowed on to stop his stuffing falling out. Dub, short for Rub-a-dub-dub, a very lumpy bear that James’ sister had tried to wash once in James’ mummy’s washing machine. Poor Dub lost all his shape when he eventually dried out. Then there was very pretty girl bear with a pink bow around her neck called Tuppence, who Tedz liked very much. Finally there was a very little bear, much smaller than Tedz named Scarf who had a great big scarf around his neck to keep him warm, because you see poor Scarf was very, very old and had lost all of his fur.

   “I think I shall be very happy here,” Tedz declared, “But I shall miss my friend James very much indeed.

***

One day Tedz and Tuppence decided to explore the attic together. Because they were very little and not very good at walking, it took them a long time to reach the other end of the attic. “Always remember Tedz we must not let the Wizzi catch us,” Tuppence said in a hushed and frightened teddy bear voice.

“What’s a Wizzi?” Tedz whispered.

“A Wizzi is a monster that lives in the dark and likes to hurt teddy bears like us,” she said dragging poor Tedz quickly back towards the doll’s house and the rest of their friends as fast as she could, suddenly completely terrified.

“But what does it look like?” asked Tedz.

“Only Bristle has ever seen one and he was scared even though he is very big,” she replied as they finally sat down inside the doll’s house, safe and sound once more.

 Tedz just had to know what a Wizzi looked like so he bravely pushed his stuffing into place, brushed his fur and went to see Bristle. “Excuse me please Bristle if you please, but I was wondering if you could please tell me what a Wizzi looks like please.” Tedz asked very politely. He liked to always say please and thank you as often as he could.

Bristle looked at young Tedz for a little while and then he said in his best gruff teddy bear voice, “A Wizzi is a monster Tedz, a terrible monster. Sometimes he looks like a ball of fluff, sometimes he looks like a cobweb, sometimes he looks like a shadow,” Bristle said with a shake of his very big teddy bear head. “A Wizzi is a monster Tedz, a monster,” he repeated.

“Is there one living here in the attic please Bristle?” Tedz asked very politely.

“I fear so young Tedz, I fear so,” Bristle replied.

“Where does it live if you please?” asked Tedz.

“It lives in the big dark shadows behind the boxes just over there,” Bristle said, pointing to a pile of old boxes in the farthest corner of the attic.

Tedz made up his mind he was going to hunt the dreadful Wizzi down for his friends and get rid of it. Ever so carefully he crept over to the boxes and nervously peered around the corner. It was very dusty, dirty and dark in the corner where the boxes were. “Where could the Wizzi be?” he wondered. He searched and he searched but he could not find it anywhere.

“Come out if you please mister Wizzi sir?” Tedz demanded as loudly and bravely as his trembling teddy bear voice would allow. But there was no answer at all. It was getting very dark in the attic so poor Tedz decided it was time to go back home to the doll’s house as the Wizzi was nowhere to be found.

“Ah look, a Wizzi!” shrieked Patches, running inside to hide. All the bears hugged each other in fear. Where was poor Tedz? The terrible Wizzi was on the prowl!

“Aachoo!” the terrible monster sneezed. “Can someone please get all this fluff and these cobwebs off of my fur if you please?” it asked very politely.

All the teddy bears laughed and laughed. It wasn’t a Wizzi at all. It was poor Tedz. He was covered from head to foot in dust, fluff and cobwebs. For you see there is no such thing as a Wizzi. It’s simply something that all teddy bears believe in but doesn’t really exist at all.

The End

 

Internet Providers

horizontal-danger-men-at-work-safety-sign-from-bigdug-p2962-208530_zoomFinally my IP is back up and transmitting its signal.

Its true that until you lose something or someone in your life, you tend to take it or them for granted. In my case as I began writing this on Tuesday 16th July, without any warning I was without any form of internet access. Being housebound, I depend wholly on the internet for everything others simply take for granted like shopping, banking and bill paying as well as keeping in contact with all my friends, plus publishing my books. My dongle internet connection ceased to work on Sunday. I deleted its software and reinstalled it. For a few hours that night it worked, but it finally gave up the ghost the following morning.

Just like the previous night, while its software acknowledged it had found my dongle and that it was working, when it came to connecting to the net, it kept telling me that no network connection was available and that I should move to another physical location.

Thinking the dongle or the software was faulty I ordered a new one and its software from another internet provider. Same result – no signal, plus I was unable to register it! I keep hearing from others in the neighbourhood that the reason why the signals are not getting through is all down to the current heat wave.

If that was the case, what a complete pain in the butt!

Either the transmitter in this part of the UK has gone on the blink, or as I suspected at the time, I had been cut off because of my contract with them ending. I had entered into a two year contract the year before last. It would not have surprised me considering their extremely offhand attitude towards their customers once they have you signed up.

With no internet access I was forced to try to find a phone number for them but unfortunately my phone directory only applies to this particular English county – Suffolk. Same goes for the Yellow Pages. And so I spent an expensive half hour on the phone to one of only two internet providers advertised in the local directory.

Thereby hangs another tale.

The first person I conducted business with spoke with an extremely broad Scots accent. I found myself having to endlessly ask him to slow down and repeat what he said. Next he passed me onto another individual for the monetary side of the transaction. This time the person I spoke to was a lady of either Indian or Pakistani origin with an equally strong accent. Like the Scotsman, I had to ask her speak slowly and to repeat what it was she had just said to me. While I applaud the hiring of the two people concerned by the IP involved, when it comes to phone enquiries, in this case business, clarity of speech is paramount. There is no substitute for being able to instantly understand the person at the other end of the line. Despite their strong accents, both people were extremely helpful. I also found out to my cost that trying to use a Freephone number via a mobile phone is impossible.

This whole saga is a salutary lesson learned. I should have had a proper home Wi-Fi system installed years ago.  So I now have to wait until 9th of August to get a landline fibre optic home hub system installed from British Telecom. When it is finally installed I will be cancelling both dongle systems…

Brainstorm

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Or, the confessions of an obsessed writer

Back in the late nineties I was happy, and I thought secure. I had begun dabbling with writing in nineteen-ninety five. I worked in the same job at the University of Waikato in the city of Hamilton in New Zealand’s North Island for almost a quarter of a century, naively believing I had a job for life. And then things started to go wrong. All these years later I realize now that events in my life were conspiring against me, and that I was heading for some kind of breakdown.

First of all, my old departmental boss bowed out and a much younger academic was placed in charge. The more I had to do with him, the less I liked him. It got to the point where in late nineteen ninety-nine, in a fit of pique I finally handed in my notice, not knowing or caring what I would do for a job. I just had to get out of there before I either said or did something I might have regretted. Madness in the form of pent up frustration and anger had crept into my existence. Anyone who really knows me will tell you that what I did was completely out of character.

I didn’t just quit my job, I also quit the country I love the most. I had no close family anymore. Both my parents were dead. I had no siblings. I was single. And so in 2000 at the age of fifty-two I left New Zealand for good, heading back here to the land of my birth – England. For two years the only work I could get was as a labourer on a building site; a tough existence when you consider I had been in a sedentary job for twenty-one days shy of a quarter of a century. In 2002 I took a much needed break and spent a glorious month in magical Malta. But like all good things the holiday soon ended and I returned to the building sites. I continued to put up with not knowing where I was going to be sent each week until the following year. By now I had become totally obsessed with writing. To my way of thinking, working for a living simply got in the way.

I had a storyline totally occupying my mind. I could think of nothing else. So having renewed my passport and my New Zealand resident’s permit, I headed back there. I’m ashamed to say I foisted myself on my good friend and his wife for far longer than I should have. But that damned story now ruled my every waking moment. Over the several months I stayed with them my first published science fiction novel Onet’s Tale slowly took shape. It would not be published until 2010.

Saying goodbye to my friends and New Zealand once more, I flew back here. Now things really hit an all-time low. With no job and no income my prospects were dire to say the least. For a while I was truly homeless, sleeping rough. I was directed to a hostel where at least I had a roof over my head. I stayed there for two years until I was finally re-housed. In the meantime I was diagnosed as having suffered a total mental breakdown. Combine that with my age and I was officially unemployable.

The route I had taken was hardly a desirable one and definitely not to be recommended, but at long last I could concentrate all of my time on writing. Since parting with the small press who took me on to self-publish, I now enjoy a modicum of success. So far I have one best seller and three others which sell steadily. One of those three Turning Point was the precursor to Onet’s Tale. Sadly the latter is no longer available even though it can still be seen in the list of books written by me on Amazon. Since retiring all that angst and misery has finally left me. I’m currently working on my latest novel. Its slowly but surely coming together.

Having a complete mental breakdown is not a prerequisite to become a fulltime writer. But in my case it certainly helped…

Solitary by Necessity

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By definition writing fiction must be a solitary affair. When it comes to non-fiction, collaboration between writers is possible, often highly desirable. In this case two heads are better than one when it comes to the necessary amount of research required; whereas the very idea of attempting to co-write a work of fiction with another writer leaves much to be desired. It only ever works in the arenas of film and television where a team of script writers brainstorm and throw ideas for specific situations into the mix.

Why could it never work with writing fictional books? Could it simply be down to a clash of personalities? I don’t think so; I believe it goes much deeper than that. Any writer of fiction worth their salt will tell you that coming up with that fresh storyline is akin to bringing a new-born into the world. It first appears as a vague notion in your mind which slowly develops as time goes by. As you begin writing, it gradually advances from the embryo stage. Like any prospective parent you jealously guard and nurture it as it grows. So the very idea of sharing that idea with another writer, expecting them to feel that same way about it, let alone using your ‘voice’ because you are the originator, simply does not compute. The idea is yours and yours alone. Therefore you must always be the one to see it through to completion.

As far as books go there is only one area in fiction writing where any form of collaboration appears to work successfully, and that is in the field of short story anthologies. But even then each tale is written by a solitary writer, so it’s still not true collaboration.

Having said all this, I do know of one recent example where two fiction writers worked on one project together. Whether or not their brave, some might say foolish, decision to collaborate will be justified is now down to the reading public’s acceptance of the book in question. After all, as writers we are all aware of just how fickle, nay contrary, the reading public can be at times.