ABOUT THE BOOK
What’s it all about eh? No, not the book; I’ll get onto that in a bit. No. What’s life all about? It’s a complicated business, with no simple answer. An all too brief journey from the cradle to the grave; living; and learning. Taking part; and observing. Interacting with others. Taking time for ourselves. Constantly making decisions and choices; right and wrong. Giving; our time, our love, our knowledge, ourselves; and taking; those things from others. And that’s just a tiny bit of it, over simplified; and yet all of it too. What we learn; and how we use what we learn, as we grow and develop, shapes who we are, and who we become. Our memories and experiences are keys that unlock our progress in life. The truth of who we are, shaped by the truth of who we have been. Birth; a loving family; siblings maybe; school days, ‘the best years of your life’; university perhaps; work; romance; love; marriage; home; kids; health, wealth and happiness; stability; holidays; retirement; grandchildren; old age; death. Bloody marvellous; and so far from reality for most as to be total nonsense. And what is this ‘truth’ we learn from? Our memory holds very little ‘truth’; and what there is, is reshaped in our minds, in order that it will fit in with the choices and decisions that we make; so that it will sit nicely with the paths we choose to follow. Life’s a complicated business.
So, the book; what’s the book all about? It’s all about life; the life of one man; Billy Hunt. It’s the truth of his life. The truth of how his experiences shaped his choices. The truth that lead him to be so many different people, all at the same time; Husband; Father; Author; Drunk; Womaniser. The truth of how he came to be so wealthy; and so unhappy. The truth of why he continues to hurt those closest to him; and why they continue to love him the most. And it’s the truth of why he’s now ready to die by his own hand. Life, and the truth of life, raises more questions than it gives answers, for some; and Billy was definitely one to whom that applies. Billy seemingly has it all, yet continues to look for ‘it’ elsewhere; ‘the grass is always greener’ Billy. Billy’s truth is blurred and embellished. Billy’s truth is contradictory and self-destructive. This book is Billy’s life. This book is Billy’s truth.
Life’s a complicated business; and there’s no drinking after you’re dead!
There were all kinds of indulgencies to be enjoyed; houses, holidays, clothes, jewels, more holidays, gadgets, cars, restaurants, shows; everything befitting the family of a man with Billy’s wealth; and notoriety. His family enjoyed them all. These were ‘extravagant’, and, Billy felt, ‘unnecessary’, comforts; that he happily indulged in too, the product and the result of this existence that he now so deeply despised. He always felt cheated by that. He had always felt cheated by that. It just didn’t seem right somehow; not right at all. All Billy had ever wanted to achieve through his writing was success and money, which he had assumed would, inevitably, lead to untold love and happiness; his real cravings. Massive success had arrived, over time, and with it had come wealth, and women, beyond his imaginings; but it was the love and happiness that continued to elude him. The ultimate aim, the true purpose of everything, had evaded his grasp, and still it continued to do so.
Today was very different.
Back in his cluttered study, the room that he referred to as his ‘dirty den’ whilst he worked, a tatty armchair sat just away from the desk. When fatigue would eventually drive him towards an unavoidable state of sleep, then this was his choice of ‘bed’, a greying fleece blanket his only protection from the cold of night. This method of writing, alienating himself from all but the character, mood and setting of his plots, allowed him to stay close to his work and his ‘people’; allowed him to stay close to his ‘reality’; close to the twisted, misshapen truths of his past and his present. Fictional representations of his life and the people he encountered. Billy lived around people, observed people, picked up and discarded people, used people, and then wrote about them all, disguised, thinly at times; he wrote about these, his, people. He saw the pictures clearly in his own mind and, through his words, typed page after page, he then painted these pictures onto the canvas of his readers’ minds, and he was fucking good at it too. Whatever else he may have been, Billy Hunt was a fucking genius when it came to writing; the sales of his novels, and his bank balance, confirmed that much for sure.
The tatty armchair itself was truly a reflection of the grubby study in which it sat, truly a reflection of the dishevelled way Billy looked while he worked and, truly a reflection of the sad and sorry place where Billy now felt his life, and his lifestyle, had led him. It was typical of Billy that he could never accept his part in this process, never accepting that he had led his own life to this sad and haunted place. The chair had, like Billy it would be fair to say, seen better days.
There was, in his study, shelf upon shelf, untidily strewn with books, hardback and paperback alike, the read and discarded, the unread and discarded, (but none of his own), books towering above him. In the corner of the room sat a small, entirely inadequate, waste bin, lost completely beneath the overflow of debris that effectively summed up the state of its producer. Empty whisky bottles and cigarette packets; yes, this room was probably a true reflection of who Billy Hunt had come to be; his life overflowed with debris.
And there, in the middle of the study, sat an old and battered desk, barely visible at all beneath the burden of all that it supported. On it, or perhaps among it might be more suitable and more accurate, sat a computer, which tried to fit in to the general state of the room, being dusty and scarred, ravaged by the smoky air, by the stench of old nicotine, by the stains of spilt whisky, and by the dirt from the constant drum of fingertips on its worn keyboard and dust covered screen. It was a mess; the room was a mess; the man was a mess; his life was a mess; the whole thing was a fucking great mess. Today was very different.
Finally, in this haphazard and cluttered study, there sat Billy himself, looking older, sometimes much older, than his forty-three years. He was unkempt and unclean, dirty and dishevelled. So there he sat, wallowing in the filth of his work, in his war weary jumper and jeans, claiming to know exactly what was on his desk, and whereabouts on his desk any specific thing was to be found. It was a claim that could never be put to the test though, as nobody, no-one, entered Billy’s study, ever, except Billy Hunt himself. Today was very different.