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Road Biking


By Andrew Harris........A regular contributor and friend of

“Not only am I redundant,” he took a long pull at his pint, licked his lips, carefully placed the glass in the middle of his beer mat, then looked up, “I’m actually obsolete.”

Lawrence explained that, at the age of 52 and having spent weeks being abused, ignored, tormented and ultimately rejected through the grinding mill of the recruitment industry, his qualifications, skills, experience and extensive business connections were now worthless.

He couldn’t find a job and was thoroughly disillusioned.

We were sitting in a pub in my native Liverpool. Lawrence is the cleverest man I know. If Chris Tarrant had asked me to phone a friend, Lawrence would have been my best pick. I think he really did have a degree in astro-physics. How could someone with his intellect be redundant. Or worse, obsolete.

“This is ridiculous. A guy like you could actually find a cure for cancer, if anyone ever asked you.” My words felt as hollow as they sounded. Here was a good friend in need and I had no ideas how to help him.

My round, two more pints of Higgies, as the locals call it. My words may have felt hollow, but they stuck with me. Why couldn’t just anyone come up with a cure for cancer? The medical profession seemed incapable of achieving it. The history of science is full of enthusiastic amateurs after all.

Isaac Newton wasn’t a scientist to begin with, just an enthusiastic farmer’s son. Albert Einstein started his career as a lowly clerk in the Swiss Patent Office in Bern. Alexander Fleming worked four years in a shipping office in London before inheriting some money and putting himself through medical school.

At the time Lawrence and I were sipping our pints, I’d just finished reading a book that was a birthday gift. I love crime fiction and always have. It was heralded as the most gripping thriller I’d ever read, with piano-wire tension, a twisting plot and truly evil characters. The hype concluded it was a psychological thriller John le Carre would have been proud of.

I felt obliged to finish it. I’d guessed the ending half way through. Some of the scenes were simply farcical. It was poorly written, yet it was a best seller, translated into ten languages and had sold over a million copies. Was it just me that thought it was re-hashed rubbish?

Again, my prophetic words, thought and not spoken this time. I could do better than that.

That was the start of a journey that continues to this day. The conversation had given me the idea for a story. I attended creative writing courses, which just convinced me I was on the right track. I did research into cancer, even interviewing some helpful oncologists. I read a book on how to write a book.

Next I wrote a synopsis which was basically the story with the water taken out, the bare bones of who did what to who. I imagined the lead characters, filled in their life stories, sent them to school, gave them interests, married them off, blessed them with children and gave them personality defects until I was happy to let them loose in my book.

It took seven years of prevaricating, procrastinating, humming and harring, giving myself endless excuses as to why I wasn’t writing before, finally, I sat down and wrote the first sentence.

I took a six-month sabbatical from my day job. If I was going to be serious about writing this book then I had to give it the time, money, blood, sweat and tears it deserved. Could I actually write it? Would it be any good? Would anyone want to read it? Was I kidding myself?

There was only one way to find out….

I called the book, The C Clef and published it under my own name. It’s available on Amazon. You can judge for yourself if it’s any good or not.

The moral of the story is that I found a way to express myself. Writing is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. No one can tell you what to put. You can let your imagination off the leash and tell it as you see it. Bearing in mind I was born in a council house and failed English Literature, when I look at the book it makes me feel quite proud of myself.

And as for Lawrence? He bought a bed and breakfast business in Yorkshire which he ran successfully for years whilst doing some consultancy on the side. He didn’t need a job after all. Success after 50? You bet…

(A must read....The Human Spirit Series straight from the 'pen' of Andrew Harris, who, along with Higsons, hails from a Liverpool home)

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