Biographical Non-Fiction posted June 5, 2022


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Unravelled - the story of me

by giraffmang





The barrel of the short-nosed handgun dug into my bare knee, the skin whitening in a pale circle as the masked man pressed home his advantage. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling or my hands from trembling, but somehow I managed to force the car into first gear and strangle the steering wheel. I just wanted my dad, but that wasn’t going to happen. Not now, not ever again…
 
Or,
 
The car skewed down the road, slithering on the ice. I watched John fight with the steering, but it was pointless. The car was the only one of us who knew where it was heading. With a sickening snap, the car lurched and I felt my body become momentarily weightless. We were airborne. The rear end hit something solid and the car twisted in mid-air. A thump, an almost unbearable pain in my left shoulder as the seatbelt bit in, the shrieking and grinding of metal on tarmac as the car landed on its roof. I raised my left arm (the one with the plaster-cast) up and across my face just before the windscreen exploded in a dazzling display of lethal sparkles. And then there was silence…
 
Or,
 
The glass was the worst. It rocketed through the air, embedding itself into everything in its path – trees, clothes, hair, skin, baby strollers… The ringing in my ears came next. It followed the deafening explosion and the thundering of hundreds of pairs of terrified feet. Minutes earlier on a fine summer day, August 15th, 1998, I’d been enjoying a coffee (well, I had tea. Can’t stand coffee) with my friend, Avril, from University. Oh God… Avril.
 
I scanned the debris. Dust and smoke filled the air. As the ringing subsided, screams replaced it. I prefered the ringing. I spun around, not seeing her… not until I looked down. She wasn’t moving. Actually, that’s not true. Part of her was, just not a part that should have been on the outside. I knelt beside her and screamed her name. She murmured, as the blood from the back of her head started to pool around my knee…
 
 
Okay. In fiction, it’s always good to start with a definite hook. Something that gets the reader interested straight away. The three beginnings here, I’d be proud to have start off a story of mine, but here’s the thing; not one of those pieces of writing is fiction or dramatised in any way. All three happened, just like that, and they happened to me.
 
Over the years, on site, I’ve been asked numerous times why I’m so private. In real life I’m not a private person. I talk. Probably way too much about everything. Maybe it’s because of where I come from but the events of my life don’t feel that exciting – not to me.
 
I’m toying with the idea of doing something autobiographical. Many folk write about themselves on site. Some biographies are excellent. Many are… not. I’m not sure which category I’d fall into. I also don’t know what it would look like, whether it’d be a chronological tale or something that I’d write when it took my fancy. It’d probably end up reading like a fiction novel and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
 
Here's some plot-points –
 
  • Born during the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland and living in a divided community rife with terrorism, not knowing who you could trust and being mistrustful of half the population.
 
  • Making the newspapers in France after a drunken night of daring-do whilst away on a school rugby trip.
 
  • Moving to England at a time when the majority of people mistrust you. Getting singled out at the airport because of how you look and how you sound. Being held (falsely, I might add!) under the prevention of terrorism act and suffering greatly with discrimination and bigotry (just because I’m white, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen).
 
  • Hobnobbing it with lots of famous people including a Kuwaiti oil baron, the owner of Harrods, stars of Eastenders (having appeared in 2 soaps myself), A-list Hollywood actors (such as Liam Neeson & Dominic Cooper, among others), and having sit-down tea with actual royalty.
 
  • Becoming an ordained minister, starting, and maintaining, a cult, and finally becoming a published author.
 
As for those potential opening paragraphs, the first is a strange tale of being car-jacked at gunpoint by a presumed terrorist a mere 10 days after I lost my father to cancer. He was only forty-nine. The age I am now.
 
The second paragraph was from a nasty car accident when I was sixteen. I was the passenger. My friend, John, was driving and we hit some ice. We ended up perfectly parked in someone’s driveway, except upside down and with much less headroom than we’d had when we started out. The plaster-cast was significant as I used it to shield my eyes. When I looked at it afterwards, the underside was completely covered in embedded glass. It definitely saved my sight.
 
The third one. This was one of the most traumatising moments of my entire life. I did grow up under the constant threat of shootings and bombings in Belfast in the 70s and 80s. I’d left Northern Ireland in 1994 and used to go back a couple of times a year to see family and friends. I was visiting my friend from university, Avril, in Omagh. It was August 15th, 1998, when the bomb went off in Omagh, killing twenty-nine people (including unborn children) and injuring well over two-hundred others (proportionally, this atrocity was as devasting as 9/11 for our country). One of the injured was Avril. It wasn’t my first bomb-blast, nor my last. Just the last in Northern Ireland. Avril survived but it was along hard road back for her.
 
I got a bit emotional writing some of this. It’s funny how 23 – 30 years on seems like nothing…
 
Anyway, I’ll have a think and see where this takes me. Who knows, maybe I’ll write some more. Maybe I’ll not, or maybe I’ll write it all….




 



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