Thank you, whoever you are, for being here and reading this. I have no idea why you might be invested in my nonsense, but thanks all the same. If this isn't the first time you've checked in on me, you'll have noticed it's been quiet for more than two years. No updates, no podcasts - nothing. Sorry about that. I'm afraid that's me failing to fulfill the most basic requirements of being a writer or broadcaster.
I've been trying to rebuild myself - mentally, I mean. There's been a war raging in my head for as long as I can remember: on one side, a heady life-force built around banter and bonhomie, delighting in the comedy of any situation, high on variety, risking anything for a lark, optimistic beyond safe limits - manic, really; on the other, an empty-eyed, broken-toothed wraith, clad in animated shadows, famished, inconsolable, furious, wracked by unnamed agonies. Each one lays claim to me. Each insists it is me. Neither rests. My life has been one long onslaught: these two, perpetually thrashing it out. Motherfuckers, the pair of them.
To write my novel, The Death of the Poet, I had to deep-dive into some dark and scary places, and it seems that while I was down there, the line broke. I have been lost for a very long time. If that seems exaggerated, I'd urge you to read the book, not to bump up sales (that ship has sailed), but in the interests of communicating an experience (which is, after all, what we could say writing a novel is all about).
In radio one has one eye on the clock at all times, so it came as no slight surprise, recently, to clock that a full ten years had slipped by since I started out muttering into anything that looked like a mic. A decade, give or take, of weekly talk-show broadcasting, whether radio or podcast, whether literary, arts-based or London-centric. It's been a peach of a ride, so far. But things change, and as you might know, Londonist Out Loud, (which first went to air just before the Pliocene era), came to an end several months ago after a terrific run. [Thank you to the many listeners who've been in touch, some of whom I connected with for the first time only after the decision had been taken to end the series. It's meant a lot to share your experiences of the show.] Consequently, this is the first time in ages I've had time on my hands. Time to look up, rather importantly, and time to get stuck in to projects I've been wanting to pursue, but couldn't. There's a novel to do with remembering, which I'd forgotten I'd started. I might re-introduce myself to my agent, and see if he remembers me. There is (say it quietly) a broadcast idea. I've also been getting quite into sound design, and some pretty interesting electronic squawks have been heard from my studio of late. And among these, my contributions to the greatly melodious affair that is Open Pen magazine, and for which I am honoured to write a column, to say nothing of a decade's worth of promises to keep and favours to return in the real world.
So 2017 is looking a lot like being a transition year; a chance to put some gas in the tank and half of last night's Chinese in the microwave, before lurching off into the unknown once more.
Open Pen Anthology
This magazine and its accompanying events have been part of the London literary scene for long enough that their first anthology isn't just welcome, but needed. I have the honour of providing an introduction.
North American Launch
The Death of the Poet, my novel about violence and redemption, made its first outing in Kingston, Ontario; a half-hour pre-launch interview with Bruce Kauffman was broadcast on CNBC 103.9fm.
With Ali Smith
Cambridge Literary Festival
I'm still savouring the taste of having been chosen as one of Ali Smith's favourite debut novels at the Cambridge Literary Festival. We shared a stage and took questions, and I ill-advisedly attempted a Californian accent.