Now on the south coast, the evenings often long and sunny, the swifts are back and fly over my house as dusk falls. They are so regular it’s spooky. I dash out to see them soar and shriek at speeds that seem impossible. Their presence is undeniable and brings a welcome shift of focus in my life. As do the sparrows chattering away in the small trees along my street.
Naturally there are gulls, mostly herring gulls, who get in on the act, although not as much as might be imagined.
Last weekend I was invited to the Derby Book Festival to do a reading and signing of First in the World Somewhere. Yes, The Naked Punk went on the road. The fun bits are meeting people, finding out about them and what triggered interested in your book. There’s no point in second guessing this as I always get it wrong. The most unusual reason was because the person buying the book, caught onto the fact that I once had a cat called Heathcliffe – just like they did. Never mind the bollocks, never mind my rage against Thatcher. As usual it’s all down to cats. Ably interviewed by the lovely Bea Udeh, poet, producer and mentor (@BeaUdeh),
I even enjoyed the moment when an old childhood friend remembered me doing an impression of Ted Heath when I was about 12 years old.
These happy experiences often come in counterpoint, because there remains a great big weight of stereotype over my head. To some, I can only be “the disabled” and this means a variety of things. Sometimes that I have no voice of my own, sometimes that I am merely “the cared for”.
And sometimes that I have no choice. As often happens to those of us defined as The Other.
Thankfully reading from the book and signing a few pages lessens these isolating experiences and reminds me of what has to be done. And very soon The Naked Punk is on the road again to do just that.