Greetings to anyone who is reading this. I’ve recently returned from a ten-day excursion to Thailand. the plane didn’t crash and, despite staying in a hotel in Phuket which was located in an official tsunami hazard zone, I didn’t drown either so the holiday went quite well. I didn’t get any writing done but it did lead me to think about the connections between writer’s and their protagonists. Do they reflect the writer’s own personality? Is Stephen Daedalus a manifestation of James Joyce’s own personality? Is Frodo Baggins an aspirational character for Tolkien, a small person achieving big things? (I don’t know how small or big Tolkien actually was) So here’s the bit where I dare to compare my own work to these literary giants. Terminus features the protagonist of the same name who is something of a drunkard and an exaggerator. (Umm…this is sounding too close to the knuckle) He is also incompetent and, as his vampiress nemesis observes, ‘Terminus, you’re a man who stumbles into dark places and stumbles out of them again’. He goes into deadly dungeons and forgets which way he’s come in generally puts himself in more danger than he needs to.
So how close to my own peronality is he? Do I put myself in more danger than I need to and I’m not just talking about the way I drive on the M1 every morning. A few years ago I volunteered to go on a trip to Lebanon with my church. Lebanon isn’t on everybody’s list of places to go, I know. Beirut was still full of bullet holes and bombed out buildings from the last war and this was before Israel had a go at them a couple of years later. In one rural place we stayed at I decided to go for a walk on my own. As I sat on a hill contemplating the view and getting a Biblical vibe from the place an Arab guy came up to me, said ‘Marhaba’ (hello) then patted his shoulder and indicated to the land around telling me something in Arabic. Okay, I thought, I’ve wandered onto his land and he’s telling me to get off. Making my excuses in English I headed back to the place where we were staying.
That night I was walking along the road with one of the English-speaking locals and I noticed that there were these signs along the road with a diagram of a hand, palm facing outwards, fingers splayed, and something written in Arabic across the hand.
‘What does that mean?’ I asked my host.
She replied, ‘It’s a warning not to go off the road and walk in the hills because there’s landmines around.’
I rest my case.