I’ve written plenty on here about the huge amounts of mad spam I get, wrong phone calls and even wrong emails, but nearly every single week I get an item of wrong mail. Not because I have a particularly difficult address, either: there is no road name even remotely like mine for approximately 5 miles, but there are plenty of number 19s and it seems some oik at Bournemouth post office can’t read because they sort plenty of wrong number 19s into our postman’s run… Who is way too lazy to take it back and shoves it through our letterbox regardless.
The most interesting this year was a notice from Poole Court asking us to check in to have our tags reviewed (I’d opened it without looking); I’ve also had an entire year’s subscription of a monthly marketing magazine (never found where *that* was supposed to go, it kept bouncing back every time I reposted it: took to reading the bloody thing after a whole); also copious amounts of tokens for things we could never use – denture cream was top of the list – and then there was a notice from Children’s Social Services… No idea what *that* said, it was addressed to someone else, so I shoved back in the postbox asap: BEGONE!
And yet this is not the first house I’ve been through this sort of rigmorale. It seems to me a huge amount of UK residents are law breakers and loan defectors and if they’re not, I seem to have had terrible luck with rented properties from the off: I’ll never forget moving into my very first flat aged twenty and opening the door to a BAILIFF just a few days later. Apparently the previous tenant had run off with a telly worth 90 quid from Rumbelows. The total git then tried to convince me – a young girl – the debt was on the FLAT and I was liable for it! Thankfully not only was I wise to his games (I’d started and dropped Law A level), as a single Mum I didn’t have two pennies to rub together, never mind ninety quid which might as well have been nine hundred to me.
Then there was the time I was newly married and Hub answered the door to the cops. They asked for “Suzanne”: when Hub said no Suzanne lived at our address, they said they could see a woman at the bedroom window and could I come down, please. So Hub called me downstairs and I came to the door:
COP: Suzanne [whatever surname it was]?
ME: No, that’s not me.
COP: What’s your name.
ME: Lucy Hay… What’s this about?
COP: Date of birth?
Okay, this was really weird. I told them and they checked a little notebook.
COP: You’ve never been married to Steve [Surname]?
COP: Because he’s saying a Suzanne [whatever] lives at this address and he needs to see her right now… It’s a very sensitive situation so I need your co operation immediately if you are her.
ME: I’m not… We’ve just moved in here… She must have lived here before us?
We never found out what this Steve had done or was doing – perhaps other cops were trying to charm him off a roof somewhere? I hope not. I never found out either, despite checking the local paper for any hostage situations or attempted suicides for several weeks afterwards.
Anyway, my point is – as we live our normal lives, going to work, going to school, writing our scripts, on blogs! – somewhere, someone is having a life or death situation… And it’s not all in war zones like Afghanistan, either (though our soldiers are forgotten too much, no matter whether we agree with the cause). It could be literal, or metaphorical: they’re losing their money, their houses, their spouses, their families; they’re facing their freedom being taken away; they’re peering off the top off a roof and wondering what life is about.
Every day we get through is someone else’s tragedy.
As writers we exploit others’ misfortune for our own ends at times: we hear the tragedy of others via the news and papers and don’t always sympathise, but instead think “There’s a story there.” When I read the particular story of a father who murdered his family, I did just that and created a script that is doing the rounds now. We take the stories of others and claim the credit as our own, because we’ve invented the characters and the *rest of it*, but that seed of the story came from someone and/or something real. I don’t think we should forget that, especially at this time of year.