Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Week 22

As expected fitting in a considerable amount of writing into normal family life didn't go brilliantly.  However I did manage just over 1,000 words and made decent headway into chapter 2.  For those of you who were really enthusiastic and looking forward to it, it comes with a warning.  Don't forget there are two story lines and chapter 2 may not necessarily follow chapter 1.  However, if all goes well I could be posting it next week just to see how the styles sit.  The rest of the bits I know don't follow logically and I can't interweave them until I've finished.
This week's blog comes from the 18:00 train from Paddington, what a side benefit to a London workshop.  Having worked in London previously, it's not a comfortable place and has some memories for me that I'd rather not have.  Fortunately/unfortunately (delete as appropriate) I drank to blackout a lot, this didn't mean that I passed out but that I was unconsciously present at the end of a drinking bout.  It wasn't always a short end either, some of my blackouts lasted for several hours.  Huge gaps in my life that I have never been able to recover, hours of my existence during which I cannot tell you anything about what I did.  Sadly, these were not terrifying enough to force me to look at my drinking but were such a norm for me from the early days at university that I just accepted them.  There's a tale in AA about alcoholism being like someone jay walking who continues to jay walk despite being continually knocked down and hospitalised.  For any sane human being, one is forced to ask how they can keep doing it, it makes no sense at all.  That's what it was like for me, no matter what situation I found myself in, no matter who I hurt, I just kept doing it.  And, although I had no idea that's what I was doing at the time, some of that doing was to detach myself emotionally from what I had just done.  London has a lot of those holes as well as uncomfortable memories of 21st birthday parties, rugby matches etc., those days/nights that I do remember and which I have to accept as part of my journey.  That isn't to accept them unconditionally but to understand and be aware of them as part of what made me who I am today.   The acceptance that I can only be me today because of absolutely every single thing that happened to me from day dot.  There's so much of my programme that I love because of its logic, because of the way I can follow an assumption, use a theory, create a mathematical equation from, it makes me very excited.  I did try to write down an example of that but I will have to find one that wasn't quite as hardcore as the only one I can think of, not ready to share that one yet.  

Seems that there was enough time on the train to get on with chapter 2......

Frankie manoeuvred her way, through the bustling cafe, to the only empty table and sat down.  This was the best way to spend a day off, a mug of milky coffee and a bacon sandwich, in her favourite cafe in all of Bristol.  She loved nothing more than to settle into a seat, watch the world go by and write about what she saw.  Her notebook was packed full with passages based around the characters she picked.  Rosa, the cafe owner, often tried to run off with the it, desperate to see what Frankie had written about her, feigning paranoia whilst also wanting to be at the centre of every story.  Whilst Frankie had been a regular customer for several years, beginning when she was a student, she considered Rosa to be a friend.  She had begun to babysit for Rosa's daughter, Alice, after entertaining her one busy lunchtime when Alice was a baby, and Rosa had been overwhelmed by an unexpected party.   They'd become firm friends since, especially after sharing many a bottle of wine when Rosa, and her husband Eric, returned from a night out and made Frankie wait for a taxi to take her home.  She didn't need much encouragement to wait when the wine had been opened, and besides, Rosa and Eric were good company, teasing each other with tales from their past and providing Frankie with a warm family glow to take back to her student digs.

It wasn't much different now that Frankie had graduated and worked at the bookshop.  She still babysat, a bookseller's wage wasn't much, and at some point she had a student loan to repay.  Rosa was a great support in her dream to become a writer unlike her parents, who had patiently supported her degree in English Literature, were expecting her to get a 'real' job.  Unlike her parents, Rosa had read the articles she had written for the student magazine and loved them.  Her parents, meanwhile, had expected Frankie to attend the graduate job fairs and hadn't hidden their disappointment.  They'd also been disappointed that Frankie hadn't formed a relationship with a student in the medical faculty, although sensibly, albeit unsuccessfully, attempted to hide that one.  For the time being, Frankie was ignoring them, and enjoyed her time in her bookshop.  She had bonded instantly with the owner over a shared love of John Irving and was rewarded with sole responsibility for the fiction section.  Fortunately for Frankie, neither of the two existing employees had had their noses put out of joint, they were quite happily ensconced in their own areas of expertise and, to be honest, had been quite worried that they would have been forced to admit their lack of interest, and knowledge, of modern fiction.  Frankie had made friends instantly with them by preparing lists of recommendations for customers, linking old authors with new, and devouring proof books sent by publishers.  They all had a thorough grasp of the latest bestsellers and those about to break through, much to the delight of their customers and impressing the owner as fiction sales increased by just over 10% in her first year.

Frankie's train of thought was broken, by the dulcet tones of Scotland, as a gentle voice broke in with "I believe this is yours."  She looked up to see a pair of sparkling, dusky green eyes looking down at her, a mop of dark hair falling over them, "Although I was tempted to run off with it and eat it myself to be honest."  Her sandwich was put down on the table in front of her before she had chance to answer, "Mac" he said, as the stranger sat in the chair opposite her.  "Sorry, but there's nowhere else to sit and the lady behind the counter said that you wouldn't mind."  "That's ok", stuttered Frankie, casting a glare over at Rosa, who just grinned and shrugged her shoulders.  Frankie started to eat her sandwich, trying not to look at Mac who, mug in hand, had begun to read a newspaper.  She had become aware of a slightly increasing heartbeat and a flushing to her face that had started the moment their eyes met and was doing her utmost to avoid it getting any worse.  She also had a fluttering in her stomach and was struggling to eat the sandwich.  After what seemed like an eternity, she looked up and said "Frankie", holding out her hand to shake his.  He smiled back at her and they shook hands.  "Nice to meet you Frankie, do you come here often?".  She laughed before asking "Really?  Did you really say that?"  With the ice broken and Frankie no longer the only one blushing, they began to talk to each other.  Mac, it turned out, was a newly graduated Vet from Cardiff, looking for his first placement and, today, had been to his first interview.  While he had aspirations towards farm work and living out in the country, he wasn't ready to leave city life and had decided that spending a year with small animals, that is pets, would be useful in the long run.  Yes, he realised that it was very James Herriott but there was nothing wrong with not being original.   Frankie, in turn, shared her dream of becoming a published author and went as far as telling him about a couple of the stories she was working through in her head.  They talked about their times as students in Bristol and Cardiff, finding similarities in many of the things they liked such as going to small clubs to listen to bands.  Frankie found herself feeling disappointed that she had turned down an invitation from a former school friend to go to a party where Mac's band might have been playing.  However, when it turned out he also played rugby as well as the guitar, she suddenly found herself not so disappointed.  Frankie hadn't been a fan of the rugby group in Bristol, they had been far too full of themselves and demanded attention at many of the union bars or pubs they landed in.  While Mac tried to convince her that not all rugby players were the same and moved away from the match playing and drinking tales to tell her about the band, the damage had been done. Frankie did what she did so well, shut down and closed the doors.  When Mac asked her if she was interested in spending the day with him she declined politely and chose her writing.  I can't go skipping about with a man I've just met, she thought, even though deep inside, she wished she could.

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