Sunday, 12 May 2013


for Jon

I am running in terror from a voice which is calling my name.

I see a door, I open it, and find myself in a room. I start putting up pictures of David Soul on the walls. I cover the walls, ceiling and floors with pictures of David Soul and, after 18 months, I am tired and fall asleep. I wake up in darkness. A voice calls my name.

I run out of the room and run and run and run. I see another door. I open it and find myself in a different room. In the corner is the most beautiful and amazing object that I have ever seen. I pick up the object and start to play with it. It is a guitar. I can hardly believe its power. I sit there and play the guitar for years and years and years. Eventually, I am tired and I fall asleep.

I wake up in darkness. A voice calls my name. In all of the music, I had forgotten about the voice.

I run out of the room, and run and run and run. How could I have forgotten the voice? I run and run and run until, at last, I see another door.

I open the door, and inside is another room, with a table, a lamp, and a chair. On the table is a notebook and a pencil.

I sit at the table and I start to write. I write and I write and I write. I write the story of my life in 47,000 words. I write stories about a superhero who acquires his powers after falling down the stairs into a bath full of custard, and whose nemesis is a master of disguise called Devious Dave. I write about a land of friendly dinosaurs and lemonade streams and ice-cream trees and the five brothers who have magical adventures there. I write about the Wee Banny Doodle. But after years, I am tired of writing stories for my children and, instead, I start to write for myself. Poems are what I like best, so I write poems.

I write hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of poems, about everything, even guitars and David Soul. After years of writing, I grow even more tired. But this time, I have not forgotten about the voice calling my name.

I look at all of the poems which I have written and, one by one, I start to learn them. I pace around my room reading them out loud, again and again and again, in a funny, loud, mad voice which make me laugh. I imagine that I am walking around fields reciting my poetry to an audience of sheep and subterranean potatoes.

I learn as many poems as I can off-by-heart, for I have been awake for years and am very, very tired, and know that soon I will sleep, and that when I wake, the voice will frighten me so much that I might forget to take my poems with me. If they’re in my head, I can take them with me.

I lie my head on the table and fall asleep.

I wake up. Someone has switched off the lamp.

A voice calls my name. I check that my head is still full of poems, grab my notebook and pencil, and run for my life.

I run and I run and I run. I see a door. I open and slam it behind me.

The room is in total darkness. A voice calls my name.


I run out of the room. I run and I run and I run. I see a door, open it and then slam it behind me. A voice calls my name.


I run. I find a door. I open it to darkness. A voice calls my name.

I run and I run and I run. None of the doors are safe. I run and I run and I run, until I can run no more.

A door unlike all the other doors appears before me. I open it, and collapse into a chair. My heart is beating furiously and I am crying like a child. I feel as weak as a kitten. I look up from my chair.

Opposite me is a man. He starts to say my name, but I stay where I am. I am too exhausted to move. Too shocked. Too stunned. Too traumatized. Too upset.

Too ill.

“…Depression,” he says, as if it is the final word of a long explanation, an explanation which I didn’t quite catch, what with all the running and mania and fear and poetry and David Soul and guitars and monks who pulled my hair and beat me for no good reason (I didn’t write about that room; they locked me in and shouted my name at me for six years, but I escaped; I ESCAPED!). He gives me a print-out with the long explanation on it. He also gives me some pills.

I’m not too keen on taking pills, but then I remember a sentence from the explanation, a sentence about men in their 40s being more likely to kill themselves than anyone else, and I’m not too keen on that idea either.

I drive. I arrive at a house. I walk inside the house and go into one room after another. There is a room full of guitars which were once worshipped but are now neglected. There is a room with a very large box. I open up the box. It has dozens of notebooks inside. They are full of poems and stories, as is my head. And in another room, my retro-loving son’s bedroom, I search and search and search for something which I have not seen in years. It must be here in the massive collections of vinyl which he has inherited. The first album which I ever owned, with the last remaining picture of David Soul on its front, all the other pictures having been thrown away while I was in hospital, aged 9, recovering from septicaemia while my family moved house.

I look up to see my wife standing in the doorway. “How did it go at the doctor’s?” she asks.

And I tell her about this voice; this name.

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