For weeks now a girl has been checking out my profile.
For those unfamiliar with internet dating (congrats on being well adjusted and having normal relationships by the way), the way it works is this. If someone purposely looks at your profile, you see who it is. You seen when they look and how often.
This can lead to feeling uncomfortably stalked.
Amid the morass of blokes visiting my profile (again I stress this is not me bigging myself up, I am well aware that anyone with boobs and a face on an internet dating site gets a lot of attention) there has been this girl.
She's a local girl.
And her profile is hilarious.
She says that she will only accept messages from blokes who are 6ft 4 and over as 'I don't do midgets'.
So, after a couple of months of her looking at my profile on a daily basis, I messaged her.
I really really want to know how she gets to my profile when she searches for men who are 6ft 4 and over.
I'm currently eagerly awaiting her response.
I think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Just before 1 November, the first day of the annual NaNoWriMo challenge, I saw an article. I can't remember what it was in. Maybe The Independent. Doesn't matter. The headline was something like: No one wants to hear about your book.
It was a well sneery piece about how hearing about someone attempting to write a book is so mindnumbingly boring and how NaNoWriMo is encouraging people to bang on and on about it.
Well, fuck that, I say.
I've been writing for years. I have dreamed about having the confidence, the commitment, the discipline and the fire to finish my book for years. Whenever anyone has asked me what I want to be when I grow up, the answer is always a writer. A writer of books.
I don't want to do it to become rich and famous, I want to do it because it's the only thing I think I'm good at. Because I want to create. Because I want to get my words out, and I want other people to read them and I want them to mean something. Doesn't matter if it's only to one person. I want to write.
And now I am.
Everyone has one book inside of them, someone once said. I actually think that's unlikely to be true. I have met a fair amount of people who don't seem to have a coherent sentence inside of them. But I've also met a tonne of people who want to write a book too but they don't have the time, or they don't have the commitment or they don't have the patience.
The fear of reading your first draft is real. Reading something you've written and having that moment where you realise it's a massive pile of shit is inevitable. And I don't believe any writer hasn't gone through that. As Ernest Hemingway said: "The first draft of anything is shit." And he knew exactly what he was talking about.
Fear has held me back for years. I've started. I've taken courses. I've prevaricated and I have found every reason under the sun as to why today is not the right day to actually do it.
I first heard of NaNo in about 2004 ish, I dunno, fucking years ago anyway. A few of my friends did it. It might have been the first year. I was envious. Because they were doing something that I felt I couldn't do. For years I've read books about writing, I've read books about writers writing, I've put work first, I've dodged the issue.
But there is nothing to do but to do it. And for whatever reason NaNo is working for me. I am on Day 4 and I have cleared 11000 words. Some of them will be utter drivel. I will edit the crap out of this. But, for the first time in my life, I know I will finish a book.
By the end of this month, I will have the first draft of my first book.
I don't care what snide may come. This is one of the most exciting things I've ever done in my life and hell yes, I'm going to talk about it.
I have to pitch for new work, do existing work, go swimming, walk the dog, write my book, buy flowers and go to the cemetery.
On 4 November 2014 in a parallel universe I would be doing no work today.
Instead I would with my dad, and we would be celebrating his 70th birthday.
I would give him an iPad Air this year, because I know he would have adored iPads. I would make his cake myself and it would be chocolate. It would have 70 candles on it. Because I would find that amusing. I would organise a surprise for later. We would go to a restaurant for dinner and I would have my brother there with his family and the friends he's made over the years living here.
In a parallel universe we'd then watch a film together as a family. And drink beer and eat chocolates.
In a parallel universe today would be a beautiful, exciting day.
It's still a beautiful day.
The sun is shining and I will, instead, take my beloved dog and my beloved mum and we will visit his grave.
I'll lay flowers on his grave and I will try not to cry.
I've tried not to be. I've tried wearing colours other than black. I've even tried lightening my hair. But I just am. I like it. I've always liked it. I like black and skulls and goth music and pompous pop stars and lyrics about suicide and kohl and dry ice.
For a while in my 20s it was as if it had never happened. The crimping. The cheap black hair dye. The Sisters of Mercy love ins. But now, as I grow ever older, I love it just as much.
I like black and lace and Victoriana and mourning culture and bats and dramatic classical music and leather and spiders and dingy clubs that play Sisters and long skirts and kohl and being pale and having long black hair.
Siouxise was first. Can't help it. Want to look like her. Just do. Always have, always will. I still do my make up the same way and if I can ever get thin enough I'm definitely going to wear more leather. Spellbound it was. Loved it.
Bizarro inclusions aside (Depeche Mode, really? Strawberry Switchblade, REALLY?), I did chuckle at Fields of the Nephilim. Could never take them in any way seriously back in the day anyway and my lord, it hasn't aged well. Moonchild this, Carl. You big bellend.
And then Wayne came on. I did used to love The Mission, but again can't honestly say I like them now. Tower of Strength was just so... bombastic. Overblown. A bit, well, a lot, cringey. Also how did I ever find him attractive? What exactly was wrong with my eyes in the early to mid 90s? Affected and bombastic. And what was he doing to his hair? And why the crouching? And just why?
But then Sisters came on. And all was well. Lucretia. I don't give a shit what anyone says, Sisters of Mercy wrote good music. I love Andrew's lyrics. I love their music. There isn't a Sisters track I don't like. I've been listening to them since I was 15 and I still feel the same as I did then.
Andrew has always banged on about Sisters not being a goth band. They're rock, according to him. Thing is though, he has come to epitomise the archetypal goth bloke. Must have right pissed him off. I reckon they're goth by most people's understanding of the genre. Which is, I feel, skinny whiny miserable people singing about death and dressing in black. So wrong. They're not all skinny.
And then Killing Joke came on. Bloody marvellous.
And then, rather bizarrely, Shakespear's Sister. I love 'em. LOVE them. Not sure they're goth in the strictest sense of the word, but who gives a shit. I modelled my 'going out to Death Culture at the Hummingbird in Birmingham in 1992' on Siobhan:
Never pulled it off quite as well but have been working on it ever since.
And then there were other bands like Marilyn Manson and I kind of lost interest.
BUT a show that squeezed in The Cure (with Robert reminding us all why we fancied him back in the day), Bauhaus, Killing Joke, Sisters, The Mission AND Siouxsie forced me to my realisation. I am a goth, therefore I am.
And now, if you'll excuse me I have to go and listen to This Corrosion loudly.