In researching and recapping the basis of my novel I’ve realised my old Ottermobile site continues to get traffic… in fact the roads over there are far more busy than these country lanes on markbickerton.com! Not that I’m complaining, because in retracing those 365 days of travel which drew a loyal following, I’ve reached a literary epiphany whereby I now know what my ramblings were (and more importantly are) actually about. Hitherto in these adapted stories I’ve been attempting to turn an everyday blog into a narrative arc, but they’ve been posted in no particular order as I’ve tried to make sense of what I was compelled to convey – kicking the tin can down the lane as it were. Now though, I’ve seen the light and I’ve found direction in terms of a life story as a novel. In order to achieve this, however, and with no apology, I need to go back to the beginning. So in the pages following the foreword to the novel below, I’ll be re-serialising the Tin Can diaries in a brand new and (hopefully) clearly-defined narrative context – that of my depression and my life of contradictions, the wanting to build love and my destruction of it, the reliance on the evils of alcohol, and the needing to be alone and the not unreal fear that loneliness could, and will, ultimately kill me. So here on the country lane, is the story of the man in a tin can rebooted.
FOREWORD TO “HERE AM I SITTING IN MY TIN CAN”
My name is Malcolm, I am 55 and I live in a tin can. I am waking to a day of not knowing; I don’t know what this story is about, where it and I am going, I don’t know this day could be my last, and I certainly don’t know I will one day wake up and be saved from death by a woman I fall in love with. So I guess, if I really think about it, it’s a love story. Because maybe, if I really think about it, in the drink-induced ramblings there is love to be found.
Or is it a story about living with depression, a passage through the horrible fug of self-loathing and despair? Possibly, because in the downbeat desultoriness hope may lurk. Or is it simply a tale of one man’s lonely crusade to live off-grid, turn his back on the mainstream, a job in television, and follow his agenda with cathartic self-interest against the often cruel and crappy world he sees? I guess all of these hold some water, but as I go along with my chronicles both geographical and literal I hope to arrive at some place called Clarity.
I am hoping for adventure too, but whether I find it or not I want my writings to be honest, I need them to be an emotional roller-coaster and a candid description of my exploits, breakdowns, knees-ups, cock-ups, piss-ups, punch-ups and all. I am travelling alone with only my guitar and ukelele, my memories and imagination, and a budget of £1000 to put diesel in the tank and food in my belly.
I’d like to offer gratitude to those who’ve encouraged me, to my friends, my brothers and my kids for their (bemused) positivity, and to my wife Imogen from whom I’m separated and with whom I’m still friends. I dedicate this book and send its 100,000 words as bouquets of flowers to all of those who make me. I send bouquets of barbed wire to all of those things and all of those people, some I don’t yet know, who conspire to break me.
Chapter 1, Spring – Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape, to follow…