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On breakdowns and breaking free

Newsletter: 9 January 2018

Dear Web friend

Warm greetings to you as a cold east wind blows across Seaford.

Peter and Mrs Peter, our seagull lodgers, stand on my office step in feathery white chill, gazing in; their beady eyes and irritated strutting suggest I stop writing immediately and give them some more cold pasta.

It’s been odd. They usually leave us for the winter, fly off into the autumn sunset until spring. But this year, apart from a long weekend in November, they’ve decided on a ‘staycation’, which sadly, I’m told, is very in vogue.

They weren’t the cause, but I recently noted a breakdown in myself; it lasted about 36 hours. Has this happened to you? Something arose – a piece of news close to home – which I had no power over and struggled to deal with. It was as though a large industrial blanket had been thrown over me, and I couldn’t breathe. All joy left the room. I noticed my body locking up and my spirit morphing from adventurer to survivalist. There was anger that I had been put in this position. And despair at unfolding events, over which I was powerless.

But the survivalist in me did well. He breathed deeply, went for a long run, and saw what I needed to do to survive. I then took a simple but decisive decision – a decision all about my own needs. I gave myself back some power, and with my inner scream heard, and action taken, I could breathe again. Joy returned, as did the adventurer.

We’re sometimes told that looking after Number One is selfish, and it can be. But sometimes, unless we do, in our repressed rage and despair, we become a time bomb of depression, and may wreak heavy havoc on those around us… as well as ourselves.

And now, in a bid to compete with Hello! magazine, the gossip section of the newsletter: I am getting married on February 13th. Shellie was kind enough to say ‘Yes’ after I asked her at the Randolph Hotel in Oxford, last July. It was an entirely spontaneous decision, surprising me as much as her. The idea came into my mind on my early morning run, as I approached Magdalen Bridge; and I asked her on my return, after I’d washed, but before we went down to breakfast. (You can’t propose in sweaty running clothes.)

The registry office man, who reminds me of a sledge hammer, tells us we can’t mention ‘God’ or ‘angels’ in any of the songs or readings in the ceremony… ’or anything spiritual!’ Hah! You might as well tell the sea not to be wet…

And now, moving on again, can you place this?

‘Cunningly plotted, scary and darkly funny… the dialogue crackles as crisply as ever.’

Yes, it’s from this week’s Church Times review of my latest Abbot Peter mystery, The Indecent Death of a Madam. Ideal for these long dark evenings… and can be found here:

http://tiny.cc/tk81py

My best wishes to you for the year, through breakdowns and breaking free, we shall let the fear come up… and fall through it to the other side.

Simon x

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