June 2001. Thessaloniki.

I ran up and down the corridor, so full of joy that it was overflowing; I simply couldn’t help it, I had to run. I ran up and down the corridor like little children do, or like my puppy would, later, when he came to live with us. I ran up and down the corridor, thinking ‘they like me they like me they like me,’ disbelief and relief and excitement mixing in my heart, all framed by the improbable but quietly insistent idea, lingering somewhere in the back of my head, that this was the beginning of a new era in my life.

This was just as well — I really needed a new era. Everything I’d known and loved and relied upon was falling apart or losing its meaning, or both. I did not understand why it had to be like this, and it scared me so much I could only think about it in short bursts, but I knew it; and I knew I had to find a way out of the life that I had had, or go down with it. I did not want to go down with it, this I also knew, and so I looked for a way out with all the determination and hope my broken heart could muster — which was rather a lot. What people perceived as my braveness and adventurousness later that summer was fuelled, largely, by a desperate need to reinvent myself.

So when I packed up the story of the previous few years’ birthdays, labelled it ‘My life in six wishes’ and posted it off to a large number of mysterious strangers on the internet –all claiming to be as interested as I was in that equally mysterious thing, ‘life as Belle and Sebastian fan’– I must have put some of myself in it, and it must have shone a little, because there I was, running up and down the corridor; and pausing, breathless, to attempt to explain to my puzzled mother why it was that the fact that five people wrote back to say that they liked what I said meant quite so much.

I wrote something, and five people wrote back to say that it had touched them. Much more than I knew at the time, this was indeed the start of something.


If Honey (without whom the large number of mysterious strangers that was known as the Sinister mailing list would never have come together) or Linda (who was one of the five people who wrote to me) are still hanging around after all this time I would like to say this one more time: thank you, and thank you, and thank you. ‘The start of something’ is many things, I am sure, but also a very wordy song by Voxtrot that I have loved very, very much.