“Everyone Has One in Them,” by Digby Beaumont

Jan 20th, 2008 | By | Category: Prose

“You’ll never make anything of yourself, Brian Boggis.” That’s what my old teacher used to tell me – which always felt a bit strange as my name’s Brian Pollock. Still, I’m sure he meant well. But you know what? I think I’m about to prove him wrong. I’m writing a novel. A thriller.

They say everyone has one in them, don’t they? Like every block of stone contains a sculpture. Mine, I’ve decided, is a high-octane tale, set in the world of Formula One.

My wife, Tricia, likes to joke about it.

“Brian’s a slave to that novel,” she tells everyone.

Mind you, she’s the only one who’s taken the trouble to read the manuscript. At least, she says she’s read it. To be fair, though, it is quite long – over 300,000 words at the last count.

“If you enjoy doing it,” she told me, “don’t listen to the doubting Thomases. As long as it doesn’t stop you putting in your overtime at Tescos or looking after the girls, go for it.”

She doesn’t seem to mind us never going out together any more. Says it saves a fortune on baby-sitters and, besides, she enjoys spending time with her friends.

I’ve also started attending a creative writing course. One evening a week, at the Adult Education. Camilla, the tutor, is fantastic. She read some of her writing out on the local radio once. “Psychic poetry” she calls it.


I’ve really been enjoying the course. At least, I had been, until this one particular evening when Camilla started talking about what she called “the inner censor”.

“It’s a voice inside us all,” she told us, “The one that says, ‘You can’t write, you’re useless’.”

She gave us a piece of advice.

“Don’t ignore it,” she said. “That won’t make it go away.”

Then she gave us an exercise to do at home.

“I want you to commune with your own inner censor. Become familiar with its voice.”

Well, I tried, and though I found it a bit strange at first, it worked. But one thing was bizarre: I discovered my inner censor had an Irish accent.

“Call yourself a writer, do you?” it said. “You can’t even spell properly.”

Uncanny that, I had no idea where it came from. I’d never even been to Ireland, let alone had any connections there. Anyway, Camilla said the censor could be pretty unforgiving, and she was spot on there.

“Now, I’ll be frank,” it told me. “Your novel. ‘Set in the high-octane world of Formula One’. It’s garbage. Complete and utter garbage.”

Hang on a minute, I thought. That’s a bit strong, isn’t it?

“You think so?” it said. “Well, don’t shoot the messenger, matey. I’m just telling it like it is.”

What’s wrong with it? I wondered.

“What’s wrong with it?” said the voice. “What, apart from being trite, predictable and stilted, you mean? Now, would you consider a friendly piece of advice? Just between ourselves, you understand?”

I had a feeling I was going to hear it anyway.

“Give up the writing, Brian. Take up a more benign leisurely pursuit. Have you ever considered felt-hat making?”

Camilla told us that as we get to know the censor, it will eventually dry up and fade away, though mine seems to have such a tongue on him, I’m not at all sure he’ll be going anywhere in a hurry. No, now, whenever I try to make any kind of headway with the novel, he creeps up on me, trying to sabotage my efforts.

“Dear-oh-dear-oh-dear. Who on earth do you think would want to read that crap? Face it, matey. You’ve got nothing of interest to say to anyone. There’s not an original bone in your body.”


I was determined not to be put off. But it felt like playing snooker against someone who keeps shaking their head and making loud tutting noises whenever you’re about to take a shot. After a lot of soul searching, I decided it might be best to put the novel on the back burner. Also, I’ve stopped going to the course. I realize now there’s more to writing than meets the eye, and I wonder if I’m really cut out for it.

The other thing is Tricia has left me. Gone off with an old flame. A chap called Bart Williams. It turns out they were in the same class at school. Seems a nice enough sort of bloke, to be fair. Done very well for himself by all accounts. Businesses here there and everywhere, harbourside penthouse, gleaming black Porsche in the underground car park, all the trappings. Tricia says nobody planned it, and she still cares about me, but the love has gone.

I don’t suppose I handled things that well, in all honesty. Stayed off work for a time. Went off the rails a bit, you might say. Ended up trashing Bart’s Porsche. On the plus side, he’s decided to drop all charges, which is very decent of him, really. So hats off there. And with all the extra overtime I’ll be doing I hope to have paid off the lion’s share of the repair bill by this time next year.

Tricia decided she wants me to look after the girls. Said she thought they’d be happier with their dad. I have to admit it wasn’t plain sailing at first. Emma, the oldest, let me know in no uncertain terms.

“Since Mum left you’ve been a miserable git,” she said.

Harsh words, yes. Though spot on, to be fair. She said if I didn’t smarten my ideas up, she and Chloe would be off to live at Bart’s with their mother. Sharpish. Well, it was just the kick up the backside I needed.

Then, as luck would have it, on the bus coming home from work the other day, I bumped into Camilla.

“You’ve been in our thoughts at this difficult time,” she told me. “Our thoughts and our prayers.”

Which was very nice of her, really.

“I don’t know if you’re aware of this, Brian,” she said, “but I can see your aura, and it’s not a pretty sight. At my next healers’ meeting I’ll be putting you in the circle. You should feel a difference almost immediately. Next Friday at eight.”

“Thank you, Camilla. I’ll make a note of that,” I said.

She told me there’s a treasure trove of psychic energy inside me that needs unlocking. Then she squeezed my arm.

“Brian, love,” she said, “I’d like you to try this short exercise.”

At first I assumed she meant later on, in the privacy of my own home, but no, she wanted it doing then and there. When I glanced up and down the bus, I noticed all ears were trained on us. Though once I relaxed with the idea it was fine, really.

What she did was get me to close my eyes and imagine a new ‘me’. Actually, it made the old me miss my stop, but it was well worth the walk home.

“Visualize, Brian, if you will,” she said, “a ‘you’ that is confident, creative – and potent.”

I don’t mind admitting, I had initial misgivings, as did the other passengers, judging by the looks on their faces, though it turned out to be a marvelous learning-curve of an exercise. At the end, when Camilla got me to hold up my “psychic mirror”, the new me seemed much more laid-back than I am usually. A fair bit taller, too.

In fact, afterwards I started to feel like my old self again. Or was it my new self? I couldn’t quite work that one out. Anyway, it got me thinking. As Tricia says, what’s done is done, and I mustn’t sit about and mope. I’ve got to move on with my life. So giving up the writing does make a lot of sense, particularly now I’ll be having less free-time in the future. Although there’s no reason why I shouldn’t enroll on another course. Something a bit less demanding, though, this time. So what should it be? I’ve narrowed it down to two: Conversational Italian or Tantric Yoga.


Digby Beaumont is not an oyster farmer or a vampire hunter. He has never eaten seafood in Spain with the King of Siam and George Washington Carver. He has never truly lived.

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