It took me a long time to realise that I write because it is within me. That it needs to out. And looking back throughout my life it’s emerged from me in some form or another from unfinished childish jotting to a couple of short stories sent to magazines; and from a student website built from scratch to programmes for parties after I’d told people that parties required such a thing; and all of this despite being a slow reader where English was my weakest subject.
I used to work for a living. That, I can say. And it was after commuting for an hour into the centre of Manchester every morning on public transport, then hightailing it another thirty minutes out the other side, that I eventually got into the routine of stopping off at the university canteen just before journey’s end, full of eager students and hard-hatted building site workmen, for a hot cup of coffee and a couple of toasted teacakes.
I seem to keep my neighbours under close observation and scrutiny; from the man who looks like a beetroot Roy Kinnear over the back, to his neighbour whose wandering hands creep into our garden over the fence to very visibly snip through all our creepers which climb up his patchy conifer that overhangs our garden, but this Christmas Eve tale of English horror revolves around the house next door to us which, at the beginning of 2016, was still for sale after being briefly haunted by a previous owner who still had unfinished business in this realm.
I do not cope well with change. Of that I am sure. For my kamikaze writing career I’d come to rely upon my small table outside the toilet in Costa Coffee and the reading room in the library, as they were the only places in town where you could sit quietly and do some work1, and so I was therefore distraught when I was cast out of the reading room, beyond the reach of spiritually bereft librarians for ever, and it had nothing to do with hanging about with strange men in there like you might imagine.
As a local writer of no celebrity, and even less fortune, I dine at the finest joints and hang out at the trendiest of scenes. By these I refer to the lowliest possible table in Costa Coffee, right by the toilet door, where no-one ever wants to sit, and of the reading room of the town’s central library, but it was by frequenting these locations that it put me in the sphere of influence of certain local characters.