When I was younger, I desperately wanted to go to Narnia.
I had a remarkably specific theory that my adventure would begin in a shop. So, whenever I went shopping with my mum, I would spend most of the time rooting around each shop trying to find a magic wormhole. Now I’m more grown up I can see that this might have been distracting or perhaps even slightly annoying, but at the time I was utterly convinced that one day I would be successful.
As I got older and the seventies turned into the eighties, I began to resent the ordinariness of the time that we lived in. In days of yore there were battles to be won, dragons to be slain and damsels to be rescued. In the future men would travel to the stars where there would be space battles to be won, aliens to be disintegrated and space maidens to be rescued.
But now? Now, all we had was a brook, a disused railway line and a forest. But where was the excitement in those? We whiled away our time catching sticklebacks or wading as far up or down stream as our inadequate wellies would allow. We followed the railway line to its ends, scurrying through the hostile areas ruled by the teenagers from the “Scotch” estate. And we’d lose ourselves for hours in the dark recesses of the acres of woodland. But it wasn’t an adventure. You couldn’t write a book about it.
The eighties became the nineties. I went to university and began the long project of working out how women work. A project doomed to failure as I loved and lost and loved again. My heart was broken a few times and then finally fixed when I met the love of my life. I lived on the breadline. Sometimes using change from WH Smith vouchers to buy some food and I joined a startup company that might have changed the way computer games are written. But none of this was worth writing about.
And then in the noughties I became a husband and a father. I watched a tiny human develop from vomit producing helplessness into belligerent disdain. We bought a house and I lay awake worrying about the size of my mortgage and how my careless sarcasm might affect the children sleeping in the rooms across the landing.
More recently, my better half has had professional injustices thrust upon her. She’s fought against despair more bravely than I certainly would and yet she has been sorely wounded. This is my time to shine. I can be a hero by being gentle and kind and just loving her with all my heart. Here are different battles to be fought and more complex dragons to be slain. And literally a beautiful damsel in distress to be rescued.
I never quite realised how many stories there were.
Where should I start?