June 1

The man by the window isn’t really called Paul Newman. He has another name, but that isn’t important now. What you need to know is the afternoon is wet and he is miles from the sea. Raindrops on glass and tears on a face, he thinks. As he watches the rain dribble down the window, he tugs his sleeve over the tattoos. ‘More ink than skin’ ­­– that’s what she used to say, pinching his decorated arm.

Monday morning and the week stretches away like a hill, with a pile of letters to edit from the weekend, a column to write, pages to design and edit, and the week to plan. Then the realisation hits again. That was last week, and countless other Mondays strung out like beads on a string. This Monday is different. This Monday it is me and the computer, and a half-formed novel to grapple with. Sitting at home and writing should be a treat, is a treat, but eventually the money will run out. So it’s time to get back in that book, back inside my rather befuddled head.

He turns away from the rain and switches on a flat-screen bigger than anything he has ever seen. He slumps on the leather sofa. Flicking channels, he settles on a film called Cool Hand Luke. He knows nothing much about films, knows nothing much about anything. As far as he can tell, the film is about a man in prison who won’t take shit from no one.

As for the name, it just fits.

‘Cos that’s what I am.

He tells them later and they seem happy with his choice. The name sets everything rolling. With a name he can have a gun. And with a gun he has a future. No one says anything about how long that future might last. Promises of longevity are not theirs to give.


  1. Go Julian, go. I, for one, will be watching with interest what you get up to here on in. And I won’t be alone either. Many, many people I’ve spoken to will miss your column. So this will be the next best thing….

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