Diary of a Booker Winner (in waiting) – 18

Diary of a Booker Winner (in waiting)

Uncomfortable Questions

w/c 15th June 2020

Non-essential shops opening

Premier League returning

Normality looming

Self-Isolation was seemingly over.  And now the questions would inevitably begin.

And just as the new way to say goodbye was to say “Stay safe”, maybe the new form of greeting would become “Did you have a good lockdown?” or “How was it for you?” Did you emerge like a butterfly – with a whole new persona after Corona? Had you spent the weeks and months well? Did you use the time effectively? Were you striding out from the enforced hibernation fitter, stronger, better-read and more appreciative of life, love and liberty?

And was there anything at all that could be deemed half-decent left unwatched on Netflix?

I was starting to feel panicked. Those first batch weren’t questions that I’d personally welcome. What had I achieved? Had I learnt Esperanto? No. Had I completed a TEFL Course? No. Had I redecorated the bedroom? No. Had I lifted weights, ran miles around the kitchen and sculpted my body akin to that to that of an Adonis? Not so’s you’d notice. Had I learnt to play the guitar? No. had I knitted a rainbow cardigan and sent it to the local hospital ICU? No. had I joined an online choir? No. Had I developed an awed appreciation of nature as I watched majestic cloud clusters drift on by? Not so much. Had I written detailed 5, 10 and 15 year I Will Achieve plans? No. Had I researched the origins of and the remedies for procrastination? No. Had I written a compelling letter to Parliament suggesting they do sponsored laps of the Palace of Westminster whilst chanting “It’s not about ego it’s about doing what’s best for the people.” No.  had I learnt to converse with the pigeons? Not quite. Had I used limescale remover on the kettle? No. More importantly had I hand on heart much furthered my march toward literary immortality? Not really.


I was running out of excuses. The worst of the crisis seemed to have passed. The curve had been flattened and now perhaps the corner was turned.  Many locals certainly seemed to assume so and were acting accordingly. Strict social distancing was already beginning to feel like a past-tense phenomenon. Give them an inch and they’ll take 2 metres. Adherence to advice and meticulous taking of precaution were habits slipping swiftly toward the archive marked “Nostalgia”.  I’d witnessed a scuffle in Home Bargains – I guess no one likes to be told. Space invaders had reacted badly to a scold. I’d sighed from the side-lines. People appeared to be moving on. Or at least rapidly proceeding back to the past.

 So, what of me and my ambitions? I was meant to be focussed on the future. Surely I’d been drifting too long? And, if I needed a further spur then how about the fact it was Bloomsday on Tuesday? The annual celebration of James Joyce, his novel Ulysses, his protagonist Bloom and his city of Dublin.  A whole day of celebration. Every year. Following one man’s creation. Honouring one great literary achievement.

I wondered would it ever be Daggers Day? And quickly concluded not if I didn’t get a shift on and write the weighty tome that would change the perception of the Borough and its inhabitants for ever more…

I suddenly knew what I had to do.

I had to turn off Trailer Park Boys and open up my laptop.

I’ll let you know how I get on…


H. B. O'Neill

H. B. O’Neill is a London born writer inspired by the City and its myriad opportunity for comedy, pain, drama and adventure. He is a prize-winning poet and short story writer, a screenwriter, playwright and author. His much-anticipated novel According to Mark is due to be published soon.

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