For the past two weeks, I have been (in the immortal words of Morten Harket) hunting high and low for the small black box that is my external hard drive. It has disappeared. Vanished. Fled maybe. I always knew where it was. If it wasn’t plugged into the laptop or the telly, it was either in the ‘writing basket’ that holds all my notes, Julie’s script and a random David Bowie mag, or in my work bag. It is in none of these places, nor in any drawer or under any sofa. It is well and truly AWOL.
This little black box holds everything I’ve ever backed up or copied for safe keeping – photographs, music, movies that were digitised after a mass purging of DVDs (including my all time favourites, Rita, Sue and Bob Too, and the Lost Boys). These I can buy again, but one thing that is lost and is causing me some distress is my Heads manuscript.
I know, I know…
You see, my lap top screen went a bit dodgy at Christmas, and I thought it wise to keep a second copy on the hard drive so I could retrieve it if the screen gave up the ghost for good. Only I didn’t save a first copy, and the last version I have of Heads now is from December 2015. Three and a half month’s work gone.
I know, I know. I’m a stupid cow.
So anyway, in order to put this unqualified disaster into perspective, I started thinking of all the other things I’ve lost. Things that have been so much more distressing than 20,000 words. There weren’t many, but there are a few.
For instance, I’ve lost four cats, three simply disappeared and one died of a stroke. I’d post some pictures of them, but …
I once lost my passport at the boarding gate on my way to a wedding in Spain in the mid 90s. I was hysterical. We retraced every step: McDonalds (sorry), toilets, WH Smiths. Turns out it was in my actual handbag and I had, in fact, lost my marbles. My boyfriend gave me one of those looks that makes you shrivel up like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz.
Just a few months ago, I lost my car in a service station. I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t even recognise the car park when I returned after my break. This is it, I thought, Early onset dementia (I’d just finished the Memory Book by Rowan Coleman and was actively looking out for signs). I was near to tears when I was informed by a rather straight faced security man that the north bound car park was over the bridge. I’d crossed the bridge like an air-head looking for, yes, McDonalds. Burger King (on the north bound side) wasn’t cutting it. Who builds service stations on two sites with a connecting bridge over the motorway??!! Ahem.
I lost my sister at an 80s festival in Scotland a few years ago. We’d decided to leave early and give UB40 a miss so we could beat the crowds and get a taxi. I left her by the ice-cream van. I gave her my bag and my phone while I went to the loo (I have a habit of losing phones in toilets at festivals). When I came back, she
wasn’t by the ice-cream van. I waited and waited, booze fuelled panic welling in my gut. Red Red Wine finished and the crowds filed out. A policewoman noticed my distress and asked me if I was okay. If you’ve ever lost your mum as a kid in a crowded place, you’ll understand the pure fear. Someone had taken my sister. That policewoman was an angel. She was very calm and she phoned my number. No answer. On silent. She asked if I knew my sister’s number. I didn’t. She let me use her phone to call my mum, whose land line I know by heart. (We all know what happens when we hear our mum’s voices when we’re distressed). As I recited it in a shaky voice, the officer wrote down the number in her little policewoman’s pad. I then called my sister who had been stood by another ice-cream van about ten meters away for the past forty-five minutes. There are lots of ice-cream vans at festivals. I know that now.
I’ve lost two older brothers. One ten years ago and one five years ago this November. The Prodigal is dedicated to them. I had always been one of seven children, now I’m one of five. It seems odd when people ask me how many siblings I’ve got. I always feel that I have to explain, but don’t want to illicit pity. My oldest sister (not the one I lost at Rewind) is a breast cancer survivor. I thought I might lose her too, but thankfully she’s tough as old boots and fit as a northern fiddle.
So yes, I’ve lost all my hard work, and I am going to have to rewrite it. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s recoverable. Deceased brothers, kidnapped sisters and run-away cats are not. Things get lost, that’s life.
At least I can proudly say that I have never lost my heart to a Starship Trooper. And judging by those outfits, that’s a very big relief indeed.
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The Prodigal is available on Amazon in Kindle format, paperback and Kindle Unlimited.
Heads will now be released three months later than planned…