Somebody asked me the other day why I write about religion. I don’t. If I have a theme I write about it is faith, and often misguided faith.
In ‘After Alyson’, Mark Garvey places his faith in his ability to resolve his own problems, without addressing the fundamental dissatisfaction he has in life. In ‘Snatched’ Kieran places his faith in how his business model is infallible and therefore guarantees him success. Finally, Reggie Kellison places his faith in the goodwill of other people and Tranmere Rovers. Having spent a lifetime supporting Tranmere I know how misguided Reggie’s faith is, but it still doesn’t stop me being addicted to Rovers.
That’s the thing about faith. Despite evidence to the contrary we are guided by it. You might continually vote in a particular way because you believe the Party you vote for will deliver a land of milk and honey, but it never arrives. I was vegetarian for 20 years, this was a sort of faith but I wasn’t evangelical about it. I never screamed as people tucked into their steak, or walked down the aisle in Morrison’s bawling my eyes out as I passed the meat section. Perhaps this is evidence that vegetarianism wasn’t really a faith for me, it was an act of principle.
Sometimes faith does pay off. I always knew that I wanted to come back to living on the Wirral. I’ve been back two years now, and I love being here. Lockdown has meant London is inaccessible, but the desire to return has been totally absent. I have not suddenly become anti-London though. It’s one of the world’s greatest cities, far more diverse than New York, and less conventional than Paris. Berlin runs it close and Sydney also gives it a run for its money, but London still fascinates and repels in equal measure. By comparison life here on the ‘Paradise Peninsula’, a touch of Scouse irony there, delivers all that I want and the emotional tie is huge, not to mention the easy journey to Prenton Park. Faith sometimes pays off.
Where it doesn’t is as regards to reviewers. Prior to lockdown I was a regular cinema goer, but I never used to bother with reviews. Reviews rarely tell you anything other than the reviewer is trying to impress you, they’re often written by people who’s most creative output has been their last shopping list or latest missive on Twitter. I’ve come across a few lazy reviewers who clearly can’t be arsed to read something, so just decide to write their reviews based upon their own prejudices.
Now some people will tell you that they never read reviews. Us authors, I suspect, are different. Writing novels is a solitary process and feedback is extremely rare. It was lovely to get a message from Luke Francis, who read the audiobook of ‘Playing the Pools’, saying how much he enjoyed reading a book in his native accent. Most of the time though you sit in hyper space wondering how the world is reacting. A review is a connection. Connections, as we have learnt through lockdown, are an essential part of human existence. Yet, you lose your faith in the integrity of reviewers if it’s obvious they are simply not reading.
We’re back where I came in. Faith is the antidote to cynicism. It’s not religious, it’s often misguided, but never truly wasted. Just be careful who or what you put your faith in, and remember, the Wizard of Oz was just a weird fella pulling handles behind a curtain
Until next time