For today’s post I’m going to take one of the characters of my new novel for a quick test drive, to see how we get along with one another….

It was a clear day; sunny and warm, the seemingly endless blue sky punctuated by infrequent puffs of white cloud. Camden Lock was thriving with people; predominantly foreign students and punks with brightly coloured spiky hair and platform steel toe-capped boots.

Ruby loved the diversity of the crowd, the way it ebbed and flowed around her like the tide. She shrugged off her black leather jacket and let it fall onto the guitar case at her feet. Running her slender fingers through her coarse blond hair she yanked it away from her face, securing it without ceremony at the nape of her neck with a hair tie and pulling the ponytail out of reach of the guitar strap around her neck.

She’d bought the guitar with the last of her savings, not long after she’d arrived in London. At the time it had seemed like madness to part with all that she had, but she’d trusted in the providence of her musical ability, and whilst it hadn’t yet paid dividends it was at least keeping a roof over her head. Well, that and the job at the frozen yoghurt parlour – and Max’s hospitality, of course, though the true motives for his generosity were plainly evident, if not to him then everyone they knew.

She wouldn’t play for long now. This impromptu set was just to warm her vocal chords up ahead of the main event; her first live gig with the band. Tonight’s competition at Barfly would be the culmination of five years of hard work and determination, and failure was not an option.

This is the lead singer of Slow Club, who was the inspiration for Ruby’s character (though any similarities between the two are purely coincidental).

Never too old


Never one to turn down a free ticket (or, let’s be honest, a free anything), last night I went along to a gig at Barfly in Camden. In truth I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. Despite my dad having been a talent scout in the music industry when I was a teenager I’ve never considered myself to be part of the in-crowd where new and emerging artists were concerned. Whenever I went to a gig I’d stand at the back in my River Island jeans and H&M top, clutching a pint of cider and feeling beyond awkward as I watched all the hipsters in their drainpipe jeans and black-rimmed glasses bopping away at the front, collectively pouting as their directional hair valiantly fought the forces of gravity.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to stop attending gigs, more of a natural progression. So when I was offered a free ticket to last night’s event I was forced to re-examine my position. Was I really up for spending three hours standing in a dingy room above a pub, face-in-armpit with a bunch of hairy hipsters? Did I really want to re-live those awkward memories that had long since been buried? Surely now I was at an age where I knew what I liked and what I didn’t and this just happened to be something that I didn’t? Was it so wrong to admit that?

So, after considerable soul searching I went along to the gig. And it was dingy. And it was full of hipsters with directional hair, drainpipe jeans and black-rimmed glasses (has the trend not changed in a decade? Maybe I’m not so behind the times after all). But you know what? I had a fantastic night. The bands were brilliant, especially the last one, Slow Club, whose lead singer was just mesmerising. At the end she jumped into the crowd and sang a song standing directly in front of me. She didn’t have a microphone to amplify her voice but it didn’t matter as the crowd were so silent you could have heard a pin drop. It was quite, quite beautiful. And utterly inspirational – I even started formulating a character in my mind for my next story.

Afterwards we went downstairs for another drink (at 11pm on a school night – I really was pushing the boundaries!) and ended up dancing until midnight, casting off the restrictive shackles of ‘age’ (that I’ll admit I impose upon myself) and simply having some good old fashioned fun.

I learned something about myself – and life – last night. When you pigeonhole yourself because of silly things like age you close yourself off to new – and wonderful – experiences. And it’s only through new experiences that you can grow as a person (and, in my case, develop as a writer). Getting older doesn’t make us old, telling ourselves we’re too old to do things makes us old – so from now on I’m going to try and hold that in mind.