Thursday, 21 November 2013

Rosa's Story

Depressed, from southeast London

One day my husband never came home, and when I rang the company where he worked, a kind woman said that he hadn't been to work for a few days, and if he did eventually turn up he would be fired. I felt angry and confused, and I needed to talk to my husband to see why he had stopped going to work, and how were we going to pay the rent and put food on our table. He never showed up that night, so I rang his brother, who said to me that I had completely ruined his brother's life, and because of that he had returned to Portugal, to try and salvage his life. He then said that I wasn't to call any more, and that I only had myself to blame if my life was falling apart. That was the last time I ever spoke to my brother-in-law.
There is a church at the end of my street, and although it's not a catholic church, it's a church all the same, and it's a place that provided me with much comfort in those early days of despair, when I was alone and abandoned. The old priest soon took an interest in me, and when I recounted my terrible life, since my husband had left me, he said that I had every reason to feel lonely, although God was always with me. I remember that I smiled, and because I was no longer sensitive, kind or naïve, I thought to myself that I had no interest in what the old man thought, and that I was getting stronger every day, and that I only went to the church on days when my resolve was temporarily broken by a sudden and unexpected bout of depression. The old man then said he could help me get a job, which is what I needed, if I was to avoid living like a dog on the the streets.
He found work for me in a factory, where I was expected to make small toys for a poor wage, whilst having to work long hours. The factory was within walking distance of my flat, and through rain and snow, five days a week, forty-eight weeks a year, I would take the same route to work, where I would position myself behind my table, and spend eight hours of my day making playthings for children, whilst trying not to injure myself with my tools. At first, I was useless, but as time progressed I became more experienced, and I soon became expert in my job.
To start with my colleagues were cold towards me, because I was a foreigner, and most of them were English. But one of the girls was Spanish, and in no time we became the best of friends, and started to see each other out of working hours. Maria was just a few years younger than me, and she was married to a kind Englishman, who owned a garage in north London. I was jealous of her, and I wanted her life.
Knowing Maria made me happier than I had been for some time, and through her I met other people, and started to socialise for the first time in years. I was hardly ever at home in my tiny flat, but for all of the friends I made, there was never a man who wanted to take me in his arms, and tell me that he loved me. And if that wasn't enough to make me sad, and make me want to weep, the day Maria died was the day when everything I had started to build came crashing down around me.
She was too young and beautiful to die, and I asked myself that if there was a God, why hadn't he taken me – old and ugly – instead of such a popular and loving girl. The friends I had made through Maria soon forgot about me, and even though I tried hard to block out the feelings of utter sadness and loneliness, I found myself heading down into a pit of depression, from which I knew I would never emerge, because I was too tired to fight, and past caring.

There are no trees where Rosa lives.

Rosa appears in "The Londoners" trilogy. Her life is not worth living, but on she goes...
If you want to read about her, and some of the other characters drifting through life in southeast London, get your copy of "The Londoners" trilogy today, via Amazon for Kindle.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Clash Of The Titans

Arthur Scargill in the arms of the police. But was he all bad?

If decades are defined by individual years, then Great Britain in the 1980's must surely be all about what happened in 1984, and an event which could have easily brought Margaret Thatcher's government to its knees.

Flashback to 12th March 1984, when the leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Arthur Scargill, faced up to Thatcher's reforms of the British mining industry, by instigating a strike which would eventually last almost a year, and in turn make him an icon of the 1980's.

It's nearly thirty years since images of striking miners battling with police poured from our televisions, and filled the pages of the tabloid press, and it's nearly thirty years since Scargill almost destroyed Thatcher's government.

Hated by those who mirrored Thatcher's anti-union stance, and idolised by those very men he represented, Scargill was seen as a leader who wasn't going to give up the fight easily.

But how can I imagine that this man is an icon, when most people believe that he was just an inciter of mindless violence, keen on promoting his own image?

Margaret Thatcher: Is she worthy of icon status?

Well, even today, Scargill is still seen as a man whose beliefs and principles are something which must be admired. Here is a man who is still held in high esteem by his band of loyal followers. And this respect is something which we can sometimes show to men like Scargill, even if his battle to save our mining industry was eventually a lost cause. Unlike Thatcher, Scargill is truly remembered for what he wanted to achieve, and not for what he did achieve. His desire to achieve was just as great as Thatcher's own will and determination, even if the outcome of his efforts was failure.
If only Arthur Scargill, as Neil Kinnock quite rightly pointed out, had brought his men out on strike during the winter of 1984, instead of the beginning of spring, the outcome to a bloody and brutal war may have been completely different. Thatcher would have been in no position to call the shots, because a winter without coal-fired power stations wasn't something she would have wanted to force upon her adoring public.

Yes, Scargill incited trouble, and yes there were terrible scenes of violence. There was death and there was misery. They were certainly the worst of times if you were part of a mining family. But coming from a town just a few miles from a typical mining village, the pride which the mining community displayed, and the belief in the leader was evident for all to see.

I am certainly not saying that Scargill was all good, but a man who has principles and a passion to achieve something positive is certainly worthy of a degree of respect.

Richard Branson and David Beckham may well be adored and idolised by millions of people, but what have these shallow individuals ever done to achieve such status? Branson is far from the great man he would have us believe, and Beckham has never spoken a meaningful sentence in his entire life. But how the public love such people, and how the public love to loathe those people who perhaps deserve better.

Luke Ryman is the author of "The Londoners" trilogy - a series of books about two men who will try anything to better themselves.


Monday, 4 November 2013


Can you see what I can see?

Now this is fucking great! The best room in the hotel – overlooking the wild Atlantic Ocean – and the best champagne money can buy. And then, stretched out on my bed, there’s the girl I met on the beach.

I think she said that her name is Valerie, and that she’s a student from Bordeaux. Mama and Papa are quite well off, and they have a holiday home not too far from my hotel. But Valerie is of a difficult age, and because she has no brothers or sisters, spending two weeks with her parents is hardly a holiday worth writing home about.

Enter Dave Cooper - a man who can bring happiness to the lives of those who are feeling depressed. A man who will make Valerie laugh, and who will make her realise that two weeks on the Normandy coast isn’t such a bad thing after all, even if her friends are probably having one hell of a time in resorts where there are bars and nightclubs to satisfy their insatiable appetites for beer and loud music.

But this must be our secret, because I’m a lot older than Valerie, and what’s more – and much worse than my age – I’m English.

Dave Cooper having a strange dream - or is he really in bed with Valerie?
Extract taken from "The Londoners 3 - No Turning Back" & "The Londoners Trilogy - 4 Years In London"