Remember Mutually Assured Destruction? At age five,when the four minute warning sounded, my teachers took twenty minutes to evacuate the class to the nuclear bomb shelter. That troubled me. The next time the siren cranked up, I left the classroom and ran. When the four minutes were up I was sitting alone in the shelter. I’d let everybody down, I was a disgrace, a very naughty boy. Yes, I was naughty, but I was no fool. Did I need to be a fool to be good? I wondered. After that early lesson in self-sufficieny I plowed a lonely furrow, as the one who would break ranks and question rules.
Along the way I’ve accrued a wife, two children, two degrees, lots of experience, very little money – but a triple A credit rating, because I always pay my way. I’ve travelled with a backpack, run two businesses, practised in the law courts, worked in a lunatic asylum and laboured in construction.
Seventy years on I’m running out of ranks to break and rules to question, so I have to make them up. At five, I couldn’t make my case. My stories are a late comeback, picking at the foundations of of the big rules, the moral foundations, and exploring what might result when they fall.
As a child I read voraciously – everything. At fifteen every new novel I picked up was "stale", by the end of the first page I had that feeling of "deja lu", so, with nothing "fresh" to read, I gave up. Now, I understand there is only one story, the struggle between my version of good and your version of good, maybe His version of good - the battle of moral perspectives - of moral relativity. There are no white hats or black hats, all hats are grey, and by a moral illusion look white against a black background and black against a white background. When the background changes, the colour of the hat changes.
Now that I want to tell stories myself, I try to dress them in new clothes, but set them in reality, untanted and uninfluenced by the last fifty years of literary fashion, in the hope of achieving that elusive quality - “freshness.”
As death impends I write furiously in the hope that, if I hurry, I may finish two or three more “fresh” stories before I’m timed out.