27 Jan 09
Dawn of a New Adventure
Sunday 25th Jan 09 1:10pm
I believe in making success happen. I have a plan. I intend to work hard implementing my plan, and I am shortly relocating to the city I can best put my plan into effect. That’s why I am presently on a train to London, the centre of literature in England.
First stop: a two-bedroom house in Guildford. I am viewing this house for the first time. It is owned and lived in by my friend Mike Hotwheelz. If the house is satisfactory, and that includes a distinct absence of cockroaches, I am going to move there on the 8th of February.
I’ve had a splendid year of being mollycoddled by my parents – daily home-cooked meals, mum’s laundry service, dad's apple-carrot smoothies – but now it’s time for me to make my way in the world alone.
Tomorrow’s agenda: I have to be up at 6am to meet my new boss, Tony, in London. Tony is training me to speak to audiences of hundreds of youths about my life, prison and the consequences of drugs. It was Tony’s suggestion that I move to London to be where the bulk of his work is, and I’m happy to be finally making some progress on that front.
I’ll continue this letter on my return train journey tomorrow.
Monday 26th Jan 09 6:45pm
I am thrilled about today’s accomplishments and the house I viewed in Guildford.
Jockeying for room among a gazillion London-bound commuters on the train and then the tube was how my day started. I met Tony – tall, soft-spoken, grey-haired, radiating good vibes – at his Harley Street practice. Formerly an alcoholic who trashed his life, Tony pulled himself together and has counselled for decades.
Tony drove us to a local school. He did a forty-five minute presentation on alcohol for three-hundred sixteen-year olds. Although he confessed to still getting nervous before presentations, he proved to be a dab hand – excellent use of body language, voice inflection and audience engagement. Sitting at the front of the large school hall, I felt the energy emanating from the audience.
When his speech ended to much applause, it was heartbreaking to see a sobbing girl emerge from the crowd. She told Tony and a senior staff member that she is suffering abuse at the hands of her alcoholic parents. Tony pledged to do some follow-up counselling for her. He said I need to be aware that my presentations – which he’s titling Green Bologna and Pink Boxers – will bring things to the surface of those members of my audience with a parent in prison.
Tony is presently designing a flyer for my presentations, to send to schools. He wants me to draw up a list of topics pertaining to my jail experience and to aim to speak about those for forty minutes. I’ll be taking questions for the remaining twenty minutes of the presentation. He doesn’t want me to practice a script as such, but rather to just get on the stage and develop my own style. He said everyone is nervous at first, but I’ll get used to it, and I’ll love it. I concur.
The house in Guildford is ideal. Guildford is a picturesque town with its own university, castle and cathedral – the cathedral filmed in the horror movie The Omen. The house is in the town centre, where I experienced a young cosmopolitan population, bustling with students and bohemian-looking types. Everything I need – grocery store, gym, library, government buildings – is within walking distance. The house was quiet at night. Mike is a mover for a food cash and carry, and his work schedule dictates he sleeps from 10pm till 6am. And most importantly, there’s plenty of space in the bedroom for me to set up my writing operation and go at it like a mad monk.
So how can I afford all of this? Actually, I can not. I am moving with no money at all. I am still technically unemployed – I haven’t made a paycheque yet – so I qualify for Housing Benefit, which means the government will pay my rent until I am pulling in enough income to fend for myself. For living expenses, I’ll continue to get Income Support. I am taking a risk on success, but I am confident of achieving my goals. In the near months, I’ll be happy if I can make enough to get by, while still having time to write and to help our friends inside by posting their stories to the Internet.
The last time I embarked on an adventure like this was when I immigrated to America with only student credit cards to survive on. In anticipation of this move, my excitement level is rising and my mind is steeling itself to deal with whatever challenges may arise.
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Shaun P. Attwood