I’m trapped with a million stories clamoring at my ears and demanding to be written.

There’s Nigel’s story of how as a child he was accused of daydreaming in class and told he’d never amount to anything if he was constantly looking out of the window.

I can relate to that.’Out there’ was always more interesting than ‘in here’ for me as well. But Nigel’s life has taken him on some wonderful exciting adventures ‘out there’ and enabled him to make a good living as the driver of high speed, long-distance trains, where looking out of the window is what he spends his working life doing. In fact if he wasn’t watching intently from his driver’s cab window for hours at a time- well, the consequences are unthinkable.

Chris, by contrast, travelled during the Sixties and Seventies by the time honoured method of hitching, bumming lifts, working and being ripped off by locals or fellow travellers. On reflection, classrooms can be a bit like that too. But he was never told he could get as far as Katmandu when he was a kid by doing this, though he found out later. Much travelled, the skills he picked up along the way he put to good use when he came back. He’s trying to set it all down in order now, so that his kids and grandkids can read about it.

Sheila, who comes to my door regularly to borrow a tenner for some fags (and always pays me back) has many stories, but never stays still long enough to unravel the tangled thoughts and memories that swim, like fish in a bowl, around her brain.

I’ve heard extraordinary stories in my time, some confidential, some just weird, some heart-warming, and others tragic. It’s been time well spent, away from the classroom of paid work, domestic duties and family responsibilities. Staring out of my window now, it’s the little things that keep me company; that keep me sane. A fat pigeon overbalancing on the roof of the bird feeder, a linnet calling from the maple tree, a burst of blossom. Life.

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