Ever bumped into the same psycho three times in the same week who said he was gonna kill you? I felt like I was being followed. It was just as well I was on my bike each time. I still see him walking around Roath with his alsatians now, but he doesn't recognise me anymore. But the way he threatened to rip my head off over nothing left a big enough impression for me to include it in my story One of the Cullens. I spent a lot of my time that week wondering why he was so angry, which filtered its way to the character going through a break up. People are so vulnerable when they've broken up with someone and anger isn't unknown. I guess it's a reaction to you not being able to bend others to your will and trying to use the most desperate (and only) tactic you have left, but this sounds too judgemental. I have no sympathy for the nutter who was shouting at me to come back so he could kill me at 8.30 in the morning but I tried to write his fictional alter ego to be sympathetic. If anything I should be grateful for his intervention in my life as not only did he give me an idea for a short story, he also made me think about how anger and reactions to bad things can impact on others. So thank you, psycho who called me a pussio and wanted to kill me, for making me a better person.
I once saw my dad help save a kid's life. We were on a rare family outing to McDonald's. A couple of tables down from us I saw a mother holding her infant son in front of her. His head was sloped forward. She started shaking him really hard, and there must have been something in my face that made my dad turn round. Being a former A & E nurse he instinctively went over and took the child off the mum and calmed her down. I couldn't see if he had to revive the kid or put him in the recovery position because a large crowd gathered around them. When the paramedics arrived they were friends of my father's. Then he came back and we finished our meals as if nothing had happened. Recently my mum and stepfather, also former nurses, tended to a woman in an overturned car when we were in Australia. Afterwards we went to a prewedding meal with our Aussie family. I've always found it amazing how medics, and those who work for the police or fire service or coastguard, can compartmentalise dealing with emergencies like that. But I never got over seeing the complete hopelessness on that mother's face as a stranger came over to help her son. It's stuck with me long enough to try and capture what I witnessed in The Tea Party Story in my collection, in case you were wondering where this post was going.
We’ve all met someone like Jolyon, the main character of The Pavement Poet - snarky, unkind, and unwilling to take things in good faith. Come to think of it, I’ve been that person myself on many occasions, only to realise later on that being judgmental where no judgment was needed was an ungenerous and selfish way to be in the world. But that’s the difference between me and Jolyon. That’s why he gets what’s coming to him in the first story in Things that Make the Heart Beat Faster. I wrote Jolyon the way he is to remind myself how not to act and think. I can only hope that I’m not like him most of the time.