Feb, 2006. For the past five months I have been living in a car at the edge of woods — jobless and homeless and totally unable to find a way out. I can't sing, I can't dance, I can't scream loudly enough, but I can read and write. So here I am laying down tracks...hopefully the start of an online paper trail out of here. (Update: Miracles happen....if you are reading my story I am part of your proof.)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday already

December probably isn't the time for it, but I'm looking for another job at the moment. This job was only ever meant to be a stepping stone - a way back into things — temporary cover that I knew would come to an end, but I feel quite anxious now that it is - anxious about what the next step will be. Not sure which way to turn again. Not sure I'm tough-headed or tough-hearted enough to go back to a career in law full-time, even if that were possible. But not sure what else I can do. It's hard knowing what you're cut out for.

Sometimes I give in to dreams — dream that one day I'll go on to write other books. Books that I'll be proud of this time. I'm not exactly ashamed of 'Abandoned', I know from the emails I get that my story has resonated with a lot of people, that it has helped some. But because the details of my background are in it, the sometimes graphic details of things that happened (that I would never tell a single soul face to face, even the most intimate friend would never get more than a clue. Things that I would never have them know about me outside of this book - things that I almost spat out of me like a bad taste in the mouth as I wrote, and which it was probably necessary to do to move on. But that was only because it was anonymous, I didnt have to censor myself, worry about how much others could cope with, it was just straight out, that little girl screaming her unscreamed scream. It is not a book I can look people in the eye and admit to being proud of having written. Not yet anyway.... But in writing this book, in the actual process, I have discovered how much I love writing. I'd love to go on to do more of it one day. I realise that is just a dream, but there have to be dreams... If I could do something useful that way though, somehow connect with others through something I write one day then I think I would finally be happy in my own skin. Some people would say that is another form of retreat from the world, but I don't think so...maybe I have just found something I love.

In the meantime though, it's hard graft and scouring job ad's and wondering whether to put on another hat.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thank you

I stopped off at a shop yesterday morning, on the drive back, and had a very surreal moment. My book was there on one of the shelves and just as I walked past a woman came along took it down from the shelf and after reading the back cover and skimming several pages, went off to buy it. I couldn't believe it. What are the chances of that happening? Not only the having a book up there at all, but actually standing there as someone takes it down and starts to read it. For a moment I was stunned. I immediately picked up another book and pretended to be reading, but when she turned out of sight I actually walked off after her. It was Monday morning and there was hardly anyone about and I found myself wanting to walk past her and whisper something. I didn't know whether I wanted to say 'thank you for buying my book,' or 'put that down, don't read that, you look far too respectable and decent to know about those kind of thing,' or just to tell her that it was my book she had in her hands, wanting to say something,
Of course I didn't. But it was a very strange moment. I hurried out into the rain, cold and shaky, shocked at what I had almost blurted out, and at the chances of actually seeing someone there reading my bookcover. And very confused by my own reaction to both.

Who knows, one of the emails I get one day might actually be from her. Though now I'll never know...

If you felt someone watching you from a distance for those few minutes in a supermarket yesterday, after you had just picked up my book, someone acting strangely behind you, half-turned away, trying to be invisible but clearly wanting to say something, it was probably me — me feeling a million things at once; but trying to pluck up the courage to say 'thank you for reading my book.'

Monday, November 12, 2007


I'd almost forgotten about Monday mornings! Not a good day today, feel less than solid. Thoughts of Christmas and the paperback being out and the possibilty of one of my family one day seeing it, batted around inside my head all day.

God I need you. Keep me strong, surround me with good.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Thank you God, for seeing me through all this and the strength to get through it.

Remembrace Sunday (Will it always be like this?)

The paperback being out has unsettled me. I feel like layers have been peeled away from me again. I feel all at sea. Today I felt that most of my strength during the writing of the book and after had been pretense, really. It's just that I hadn't tested it so much. When does the pretense become real? When do you walk out of the house in the morning with your head held high and your shoulders back and feel that the ground is firm under your feet?

Friday, November 09, 2007


It was difficult to concentrate at work today. I found distraction in everything. I kept staring out of the window trying to catch the clouds changing shape, or found myself standing in the kitchen down on the first floor staring out at the long lawns at the backs of the houses across the way. Towards the back of one of them there's a moss-covered bench beneath a beautiful maple tree with big, beautifully-shaped red and gold leaves the colour of flames. The rest of the lawn has been raked, and is clear and green, but the area behind is still thickly carpeted with gold and russet leaves fallen from the taller trees at the back of the garden. I looked a few times today before I saw what else was there. Curled up, just to the left of the bench, right there in the open, almost the same colour as the leaves, was a big fox asleep in the leaves. Just curled there, happy as you like, in the middle of the day, at the back of a garden in a busy area of London. I kept going down to check throughout the afternoon, and he would be turned in different directions, but still curled up in a ball, his head tucked into his tail. It made me think of waking at night in the car, raising myself from the sleeping bag to get a sip of water or pull the layers tighter around myself and staring up out of the windscreen at the tall thin trees towering up like sticks of charcoal into the black sky, and several times seeing foxes coming back at night, trotting silently up the dark laneway, in twos or threes. Sometimes their red eyes would stare directly at me for long seconds before they disappeared off into the trees. Never seen one during the day like that though, just laying there. Almost the exact same colour as the autumn leaves.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ghost-leaves on the pavements

I haven't written here for a while. I've been trying to let things settle and to think forwards rather than backwards all the time, which checking this blog makes me down. Obviously I had to do that while I was writing the book, think backwards, wade through all that past, all that heavy sludge of childhood emotion. I felt like a spring recoiling on itself. But once the book was finished it was time to try to go forward again. It's what we all have to do, but exactly what I hadn't been doing for so long. I'd gotten stuck. So these past few weeks I've tried to think forwards, and put all the past behind me. But the paperback is out tomorrow, so for a while I can see that will be difficult to do.

I've still been writing, lots of writing, but all of it in notebooks, scribbled on the bus on the way to work or in cafes over lukewarm teas at lunchtime. Sometimes it feels like the start of a poem or a story, but mostly it is just words, grounding words, anchoring me to the day. I don't think I could get through a day without writing something now...But being back at work changes everything.

There's no time for anything anymore. Even on days off I still find myself thinking about work or washing or ironing or tidying, or making soup or lunches to freeze for lunches or replying to emails. This blog is a funny thing...even though I have never met any of you and never will (for obvious reasons - despite some lovely invitations- thank you), I am aware of talking to real people at times, then other times it is exactly like thinking aloud, and sometimes it is like a mixture of the two. Sometimes, something that happens during the day strikes me and I say 'that'll be a nice thing to tell people on the blog....' Even if it's just about fighting the urge to kick up the piles of leaves noisily on the way to work, imagining myself laughing loudly as I mow through them. Or seeing the beautiful imprints of big, golden sycamore leaves on the pavements as I walk up from the bus each morning, the early autumn streets overnight paved with gold. One morning, weeks ago, the pavement was full of those leaves, crunchy yellow and gold, then the rain came and for days soaked through them, and when it stopped and the leaves were blown or swept away, gold-brown 'leaf-stain' was left underneath on the pavement. Beautiful, clear patterns, like ghost-leaves, were left, as far up as the eye could see. They're still there, beneath the city grime. Every day they get a bit fainter, but the pavement on the hill up to where I work is full of beautiful, feint, leaf pattern. The streets already holding their memory of autumn.

Seeing things like that makes the walk to work less dull, and one day last week it lifted my spirits so much that I decided to write a blog about it when I got back. But when it comes to the end of the day, I switch on the computer and am so tired I stare glassy-eyed at the blog and I've either forgotten about what I was going to write, or it suddenly doesn't seem interesting. I start telling myself that nobody wants to read about somebody else's day at work when they get home from their own, or about ghost-leaves on pavements... And I end up convincing myself to wait until I have something more interesting to write.

But apart from work, nothing much else has happened. Well... I shouldn't say that: I'm not living as I did anymore, so that has happened! I'm now in the warm. And I've told the most intimate details of my life in a book, that's an enormous thing to have happened. But you all know that already... It still feels strange that I have done that. And it's still hard to accept the emails I get from people telling me how inspiring my story has been, or how it has helped them— even if it is just to appreciate what they have, or simply to stay positive, or to see that there is always a way out, or just to open their eyes to the lives of someone around them.

It's difficult to take on board that somehow my life, when I was at my lowest ebb living in my car, and especially the bits of my childhood that I have been so ashamed of, have somehow gone on to help others. Very odd. Somedays, I still have extremely mixed feelings about telling my own story, wrestling with the rightness or wrongness of it. But when I get those emails, when people tell me how much the book has helped them, even people who ordinarily wouldn't read this kind of book, I can't help feeling a little bit...?? maybe even a little bit proud...?? A little bit like this was what I was meant to do — tell the story that so many other people do not have the words or wherewithall or opportunity to tell. It hasn't been a nice story to tell, but hearing other people's stories has made me appreciate how lucky I was too, in many ways. I lived two lives in one through my childhood, and not many people do that, both of them in tandem. Yes, I had that childhood, and ended up homeless living in my car on the streets of London not far from where I grew up, but in between I lived a very different life, one which some people would see as being full of priviledge: boarding school, with summers in a riding school or up in the hills above Florence in Italy, university, law school, some good jobs, living in Hampstead with other professionals, never thinking about it but if I did  feeling nothing but entitled. My childhood was way, way back there in the past. But on some level it is still there, and I don't make the right choices as an adult and end up where I ended up. Maybe that was enevitable, but anyone who knew me as a young woman, a young professional in London starting a life wouldn't have seen it coming. I was a bit 'reserved' some would say, not as adventurous as I should have been, trying to conceal some residual/innate shyness, but they would'nt have guessed at my background. Maybe I was meant to write my story, maybe that's why I survived intact. So that I could tell the story so many others can't tell — stories need to be told, they are what connect us, and what sometimes heal us. So even though it did take falling to the bottom rung of the ladder, with a breakdown and a period of homelessness living in my car to finally get the words out, maybe, in finally getting my story out, I did what I was supposed to do on some level.
I just need to make sure nothing like that ever happens to me again....Second chances are rare, but I got one, there are no third chances....