So Far, So Good…Please Check It Out.

This is just me pestering y’all for a little peak into my book.

You can get a sample for free. 

If you enjoy it I would really appreciate that you share or write a review.

Photo on 19-06-2018 at 15.58

 

 

on 18 June 2018
I came across this author via the blogging world and I was so impressed with his writing that I decided to buy his book and I’m really happy that I did! It is the story of a teacher, his family and his struggles with anxiety and depression but don’t let that put you off – parts of it are laugh out loud funny. He has a wonderfully self-deprecating way of writing that is amusing and endearing but, at the same time, you can feel the pain behind his words. The story is told as though he were recounting it to you over a couple of beers which means that it is easy to read but also that it is deeply personal.Mike is brutally honest in the telling of his tale and I found that it resonated with me on many, many levels because he says things that many of us just think. So there you have it, if you want to read about the ups and downs in the life of a teacher with a slight Jesus complex (his words) please pick up this book, it’s a really great read!

 

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on 18 June 2018
Captivating and enthralling, desperate and endearing, humorous and funny!

The Promise

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They sat on the Terrace and many of the fishermen made fun of the old man and he was not angry. Others, of the older fishermen, looked at him and were sad. But they did not show it and they spoke politely about the current and the depths they had drifted their lines at and the steady good weather and of what they had seen. The successful fishermen of that day were already in and had butchered their marlin out and carried them laid full length across two planks, with two men staggering at the end of each plank, to the fish house where they waited for the ice truck to carry them to the market in Havana. Those who had caught sharks had taken them to the shark factory on the other side of the cove where they were hoisted on a block and tackle, their livers removed, their fins cut off and their hides skinned out and their flesh cut into strips for salting.

When the wind was in the east a smell came across the harbour from the shark factory; but today there was only the faint edge of the odour because the wind had backed into the north and then dropped off and it was pleasant and sunny on the Terrace.

 

I have no marlin waiting to be butchered.

More than forty years have floated by since my visit to the library and my borrowing of the book. Hemingway’s tome never returned to its place on the shelf, taking up residence on mine instead. It still sits there and so does the scent of that brave fish that fought and died.

The sharks have been fattened over the last four decades. Each of my dawns are always followed by failure. I must be getting good at this. In truth, I hate failing. The only thing I hate more than failure is accepting failure; not trying to do battle with the thing that throws scorn. That’s why I keep on trying. I get up in the morning and climb into my skiff and set out for the most promising of vacant sea that I can dream of, and then I cast the bait.

My bait is myself.

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I cast myself into the empty blue and pray that something will bite. I pray to a God that I no longer believe in. I pray to a sea that is ungiving. I pray to whatever governs chance and opportunity and I pray to the stray readers who drift past my words.

I pray that this last launching will not bring sharks.

 

 

The Importance Of Life (Jackets)

From Read After Burnout. com

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It is easy when you are beaten, he thought. I never knew how easy it was. And what beat you, he thought.

‘Nothing,’ he said aloud. ‘I went out too far.’

 Ernest Hemingway   The Old Man and The Sea

 

I first read this book when I was about fourteen years of age. Not a prodigious reader which was something that came out of the fact that I was a struggling reader – a dyslexic. With school then becoming a place of false hope, a victim of insidious bullying that threatened to break my young resolve, I visited the school library like one who would visit Lourdes.

Somehow, just the act of pilgrimage could do it. I browsed the bookshelves in the hope of divine intervention. My normal choice was a history or geography book that gave me facts, packages of knowledge, small chunks that could be digested easily. I was not good at reading novels that would demand days of attention or maybe even weeks. I was a poor reader who struggled over every word. In class, there was no escaping when the teacher asked you to read. My failing attempts were met with snorts and ridicule from my classmates (oxymoron if ever there was one). The scars that were left from those days still itch today as I stand in front of classes of students who see books and reading as irrelevant antiquities in an age that sees the magic of the internet as something as wondrous as sliced bread. I am sure that I would have been one of these if it had not been for the pressure from my dad, Romeo and Juliet and The Old Man and The Sea.

I started reading Hemingway’s novella today and was struck by how fresh it all was. Time sits inside books waiting for somebody special to release it. I was back to the tragedy of man, the eternal effort to fight forces and events that cannot be controlled. Sometimes, shit happens. If you are unlucky, like Santiago, shit happens more frequently. Now, I don’t know where I stand on the fate thing, but it may as well serve as a metaphor for the whole explanation of happening. If it ever happened, it was fate. If a tile fell off a roof and cleaved through your head, it was fate. If a tree blew down on top of my car with me inside it, rendering me a cripple for life, it was fate. If I then went on to tackle my unfortunate brush with fate by writing numerous novels that thousands of people read, it was fate again.

Lottery wins, cancer, getting married…yup, you’ve got it, fate. I ought to alliterate fate with an expletive because it’s so fucking greedy and so, so much in need of recognition.

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Fate writes stories before they are told. It’s sitting here beside me now, nudging me with a wink of the eye that tells me that it told me so. Yes, and when I began reading The Old Man and The Sea, I thought of fate.

 

Trying To Make Sense

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I wanted to be Jesus. Come forth, Brian. The stubborn bugger wouldn’t move; he was in a mood with me.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered so that my mum wouldn’t hear me.

I wasn’t really sorry about what I was apologising for but I was sorry that he managed to die before we had properly worked it through. You see, we had argued some months prior to this and had only recently, grudgingly shrugged of the disagreement. And disagreement it certainly was. As our arguments went, this was top by a long score. Every single family factor was brought to the table and every last piece was served in ballistic fashion.

Caroline had started sitting forward in her chair as I spoke. She was avidly listening but her stance had changed from counsellor to interested participant. She had become the audience and would occasionally stop me to ask for explanation of events and back-stories. Back-stories, I had in abundance.

My dad was born the second youngest of a family of twelve. He had ten brothers and one older sister. By the time he was ten, his father had left the family in search of work. He never returned so it fell upon his mother to bring up the sons. The daughter had married and moved into her own home. At the age of twelve, my dad had to go around to his elder sister’s house with a note. The note informed her that their mother had died suddenly. Norah, the sister, was obliged to take the other siblings under her wing. I gather that she did so with a stoic quality that was common of that age. The war had just ended so there were a lot of people in similar circumstances. War had taken many fathers in the field of

combat whilst enemy bombings had taken a significant number of those who remained at home. A brave new world was at hand and the ones who faced it did so with uncertainty and trepidation. Nevertheless, the worst was over.

I have stories that he told me about his childhood but there aren’t many. I know that a bomb once landed in their back garden after a raid. They discovered it the next morning and put ashes over the offending intruder until the right authority came to deal with it. Ashes? Odd choice.

So the years that followed were growing up years. He was a bit of a dare-devil and a tearaway. He played rugby to a decent standard. He told me of a brief relationship he had with a married woman and about the ensuing fight he had with her husband. In fact, he had two fights: one with the husband and the husband’s mate in which my dad was beaten up and one when he hunted down his cowardly assailant some months later and gave him a return beating. I was proud of that part of him. After the war he went to technical college even though he had passed his 11 plus. He was bright, gregarious and sharp as a knife.

“You sound as if you’re proud of your father.”

“I suppose it does. But…” I had to stop and think. “But actually, I often think that I never knew him.”

I’ve noticed with myself in the last couple of years that I have drawn further within the older I get. My wife has noticed it as well. She has told me that I never talk about anything.

“Why do you think that is?”

“What’s the point? It doesn’t solve anything. Nobody notices. It’s like the stuff that people say after a sudden death, make the most of every second because we never know when it’s our turn. The thing is that it is always going to come around, our time. Somebody has just died since I’ve said that. Seize the day! What I want to know is how we are supposed to seize it. What are we supposed to be seizing?”

“Do you think they may mean that we should do what we really feel that we should do?”

Caroline was coaxing out more explanation.

“I think it’s just something that people say as a comforter. When somebody has died, we have a desire that it must make sense. We aren’t just born to die. We are supposed to be creatures that have a higher purpose. It’s supposed to have meaning. What if it was all just nonsense? What if every single thing that we do, every series of events that snake around us, everybody we have ever loved or even hated for that matter, are just accidents of chance. If that is the case, then we are all lost without even knowing it.”

“What do you think?”

She asked me this question probably aware that I didn’t have an answer. My mind was tumbling with newly sprouted hypothesis but there was nothing firm about it. Mental masturbation is what it was, creating questions and running down pathways, not to reach a climax of understanding but just to play around with the thoughts. The truth of it was that I liked this after-accident evaluation.

Part of me was dead and the rest was floating above the scene trying to make sense of it. Nevertheless, just the act of trying to make sense made sense.

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To Be Is To Do.

To Do Is To Be.

Do Be Do Be Do.

Cognito ergo sum.

 

Read After Burnout. com

Check the link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?k=read+after+burnout.+com

 

All Writing Is Rewriting…

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Keep that thought. Keep it in the sunlight. Keep it as a commandment.

There have been times down the decades when I have written something that I have considered as close to perfection as I could get. Being perfect, I placed it in the sarcophagus of almost forgotten memories only for me to stumble upon it years later.

Time is a deceiver, but it can also be a revealer.

images-710 He wasn’t mixing his words was he?

Writers grow from rewriting. Sometimes it takes a day. Sometimes a month. Sometimes decades. But the truth will out.

What had once been revered as a work of neo-genius now appears for what it really always was, a half-baked, half-thought that had been woefully half-written.

Good writing is not a natural ejaculation of all that pent-up emotion, passion and desire that lies achingly dormant within us. If so, it would be gone in the moment of release, its importance spent, its significance lost in the moment of its creation. Good writers are like sculptors, they see an idea, they wish to capture it, but first they have to start chipping away. Without the second part, the idea is merely a stone in the eyes of the world.

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Nothing exemplifies this more than the work that he was rumoured to have participated in, To Kill A Mockingbird. I have posted on this before and have mentioned that I thought the ‘original’, Go Set A Watchman, was half-decent. It was, however, not the finished product; it was a work in progress. Without the rewriting, nobody would have ever heard of Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, or Tom Robinson. Personally, a huge chunk of my moral compass would have been missing. Instead of North, South, East, and West, I may have only had North and South, or East and West, or even two Wests.

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The fact is that without the rewriting, all of these points of importance may have failed to appear, leaving me directionless and drifting in the indifference that regularly inundates the world. 

Now, I have been on a little venture of my own these last two years. I have been working, travelling, cycling, writing and rediscovering. And in all of this, I have been creating.

A couple of days ago, I went back to my stone and started to chip away at it. Rewriting had never been one of my favourite pursuits, so it was with surprise that I found myself enjoying the seven or eight hours that I spent with my mallet and chisel. I have, in fact, done this type of thing before to, my rescue piece, Read After Burnout, and I thought that I had rewritten the living shite out of it, but eh?

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I am going to spend a chunk of today doing the same thing.

The truth of it is that I am enjoying the journey. It is taking me back to the moment of writing and reacquainting me with those significant thoughts and events that inspired me to write in the first place. I am pleased that I am laughing so much at things that I intended to be merley wry. I am happy that much of what I wrote stills stands up long after the tsunami of realisation first swept over the page. I am relieved that I am finally becoming a writer.

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Now, I shall have to proof-read this to prove my claim…

The Last Ride…

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More than any other motorbike, Harley Davidson conjures up images of an easy-riding, non-conformist lifestyle. The term, Legend has been applied to it, not only from the company itself but from those who ride them; or aspire to ride them. 

Yesterday I tried to marry three things together, but I failed.

The story that I was writing was about a man who I know who discovered that his life was about to end prematurely; motor-neurone disease had taken root with out him realising. For a man who had incredible powers of endurance, as a long distance runner, this must have been a betrayal beyond belief.  Life has its little jokes, existential ironies that are played out in tragic dramas; on little stages.

We all die, but what is gained from this type of cosmic bullying beyond reaffirming the fact that life can suck? I suppose that the God that some people choose to believe in sees this as just another little reminder of his omnipotence and our inbuilt fragility.

“What’s the point?” I would say to that type of cosmic bully, “You’ve won, anyway.” 

I suppose the point is the same point that that type of god has been making for the whole of time; we are mayflies caught up in a dreadful eternity of summer promises.

So, what happened to my story?

When I woke up this morning, I made my usual trip to the Apple (man’s invention, not God’s) and looked at the reading figures for yesterday. The Last Ride hardly featured. My marriage of motorcycles, the Mother Road (Route 66), and a motor-neurone sufferer did not exist.

I went into the post and only the title remained. I checked some more without any luck. I scoured my drafts file, but that brought me no luck either.

The Last Ride had disappeared and it did not take much to connect that disappearance with the lesson that was taught at Babel, rendered to Prometheus, or writ large in the pages of Frankenstein.

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And yet there are times when we grow and think and wonder. We stray into that place where questions have to be asked. 

“Why am I here?”

“What is the meaning of it all?”

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“Where can I get a Harley Davidson from and where can I ride it?”