New Year’s Eve. We’d been invited to a fancy dress party in Holbrook. I’d never actually been in fancy dress before. The venue was a huge converted cattle shed – a place where I’d watched an Oscar-winning Italian film on Valentine’s Day 2014 and plotted my own death. For some reason, late in the afternoon, I had a bath, thought ‘wtf’ – and got dressed in a red onesey, my splint worn over my right trouser leg.

There was teenage dancing at the party and I recognised Runnin’ (Lose It All) by Naughty Boy feat. Beyonce and Arrow Benjamin. I’d been watching The X Factor the past 3 months with the middle son (then 12). He’d liked it, voting on his phone ‘for a laugh’. I meanwhile, still labile, had cried during all soulful numbers (especially Che Chesterman, who should have won by miles…). Runnin’ gave me the same sort of pain-tinged pleasure.

Dinner was in a marquee (the hostess was a friend of my wife’s). I sat opposite a nice guy who I knew from playing bridge. He could have been a professional but he worked instead for a Greek bank in the City. Conversation turned, surprisingly, to Kathleen Byron, muse of Michael Powell and star of Black Narcissus and The Small Back Room. In her later years, the bridge player revealed, she had lived nextdoor to his family in South London. I said she reminded me of my mother. He really couldn’t understand my enthusiasm for the actressy old lady…

When we got home, some time after 2016 had dawned, I watched Halloween with my eldest, an odd choice for transmission at New Year. And heard its music – so tinkly and sinister – which I had played on the piano pre stroke.

On 8 April that year, I moved out – and into my parents’. I wanted to go for 2 hours – ended up staying 2 years…


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I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

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