To Helico & Bacter

Yesterday evening was spent setting up front and back covers, along with selecting content for the latest of a series of books I’ve self-published. All of these, with the exception of a short book of poems, containing a selection from the 1,474 daily blogs journaling observations of both fact and fiction on an eclectic mix of subjects.

These topics including my wife Karen’s enduring cancer fight, unreliable childhood memories, my recent cardiac arrest and excessive use of the word existential. All of which are available gratis on my website .

The essays selected yesterday going to form my 32nd book, a diary with a predominant sentiment of whimsy, but also infused with the darkness my family have lived with over the last 8.5 years since Karen’s incurable cancer diagnosis.

I’ve no idea how many words I’ve written in these tomes, however I can predict with some accuracy that it’ll be more than 17 and less than 48,000,017.

My daughter Rachel, a pragmatist who is unimpressed with my literary want, recently asked me what I was going to do with the between 17 – 48,000,017 locutions I’d lovingly typed over the last four years. A pastime I undertake as a self-counselling exercise to help me cope with the circumstances I live with, particularly the recurring depressive disorder with which I suffer.

I answered my daughter that “I want hardcopies of my work. Passing them onto future generations as a chronicle of their forefather’s existence in the late 20th/early 21st centuries.”

“But large swathes of you blog are made up, dad!….. How’s that giving a true reflection on your life.” Rachel posited.

“That’s what diarists do in essay!…… Do you think everything Samuel Pepys chronicled really happened?!” I argued blindly.

“Well, yeah. I don’t think Pepys diaries included any fiction, dad!” Rach pointed out.

“Really?!….. So the Great Fire of London and the Great Plague actually happened?!” I enquired with tongue in cheek.

“Well, yeah. Of course they did!” Rach responded seriously, despite being aware I was teasing.

“Blimey, I thought Pepys had embellished the story of the Great Fire! I thought the real tale was that a Pudding Lane baker had carelessly cremated a batch of cakes!….. Or am I getting that mixed up with King Alfred burning the cakes?!” I waffled incomprehensibly.

“Trust me, Samuel Pepys diaries will’ve contained significantly less fiction than your crimes against literature, dad!” my daughter felt the need to cruelly highlight.

“Did you know it wasn’t until 200 years after his death that Pepys’ diaries were published. How gutting must that be to die and not realise how important a part you’d eventual become within the auspices of English literature.” I pointed out eruditely (or so I thought).

“Trust me again, dad. If your books haven’t been used as barbecue fuel before then, in two centuries time these 32 books will be propping up unstable table legs in various residences around Garforth.” Rach opined somewhat spitefully (or so I again opined).

“You won’t be saying these things when I win a Booker Prize with my first proper novel Ships Are Overrated” I tersely posited.

“Ships Are Overrated!!…. What the hell is that nonsense about?!” my offspring cynically enquired.

“Well, errrrrr…… Ships and the fact they’re overrated!” I sheepishly responded.

“I’ve never heard you give an opinion about sea vessels!……. Why do you think ships are overrated?!” Rach queried with some bemusement.

“I don’t necessarily.” I replied as sheepishly as earlier.

“So why the hell are you writing a book about the subject?!” my daughter questioned harshly.

“I like to set myself a challenge!” I blustered without conviction.

“Well, I’ll be adding that to the list of your stuff I won’t be reading!” Rachel firmly posited.

“In 200 years, Ships Are Overrated might be classed as a literary classic…… I maybe talked about in the same glowing terms as Shakespeare, Pepys, Keats, Dickens, Twain and Bernie Winters dog Snorbitz.” I argued defensively.

“Well I’d rather read a book written by Snorbitz, dad!” Rach meanly proffered.

Although hurt by my youngest offspring’s thoughts on my literary ability, I felt she wasn’t able to make informed judgements on my quality of penmanship as she’s barely read anything of the 17 – 48,000,017 words I’ve penned. Consequently, I took the mature stance a man of my vintage should; refusing to rise to the baiting I’d encountered.

Well for a brief time I did, as within a minute or so I’d commenced childishly ranting “By the way, you can start paying for your own phone bill, you cheeky mare!”

People have asked me if they can get copies of the books I’ve self-published; to which I respond I could get them a copy of any of the 32 tomes, but don’t advertise the fact as using the method I utilise makes the cost too prohibitive.

Eventually, I’d like to take a more traditional path of publishing and be in a position to produce work that’d be sensibly priced. If you listen to my daughter it’s merely a pipe dream, but I maintain a belief it’s an aspiration that can be eventually achieved.

Below are the front and back covers of book #32, To Helico & Bacter. A title adapted from the Helicobacter virus I recently suffered, of which I write in the book. A clever take on the adage ‘To hell and back’, or so I thought…… You disagree?…… Blimey, your as tough an audience as my daughter!!

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