The two biggest writing projects of 2013 were both in new forms for me. This first was a radio play a long time in the planning, and then the second was a book - a memoir - that I started to write when I wasn’t expecting to.
My radio play ‘Imaginary Boys’ was broadcast on Radio 4 in October. It was a huge thing for me, and I still can’t thank the cast and crew and the BBC and above all my editor, producer and director Scott Handcock enough for getting me on the air. And I can’t thank enough the listeners – those who know me and the many, many more that I don’t – who took the time to listen to it.
My memoir was all about Fester Cat, who we loved and who we lost this year. He died in March and I started writing straight away, like a man possessed. My agent sold the book to Penguin in the autumn. I wasn't even expecting it to be a book. But there it is. Maybe the best thing I've written so far. It's out in 2014.
You know that lovely thing American books have? Of a short excerpt right at the front? Here's the bit they've chosen to preface Fester's book. I'm presenting it here for the first time:
THE FELINE POINT OF VIEW
I’m a materialist, I’m a realist. I don’t believe in rainbow bridges and cats sitting up there in cat heaven writing letters home after they’re dead. I don’t believe they write to their owners and say, ‘Blessings from the celestial beyond from your moggy who still loves you, even if you did let him get run over by a blummin’ cab driver.’
I think, if it’s like anything, it’ll be like sitting here, on my plank, with the whole world spread out around me. From here I can see nearly all of my world, and I’m happy because the sun’s out a bit today – it’s the start of spring. It’ll be my eighth summer here in this house with these two. And from here I can watch them doing the things they like to do.
And if it ever comes to it and I have to die, if my life turns into anything at all, I’d be happy enough if it was just this. Me being in the garden forever, with this daft pair, like this.
I’ll tell you the whole lot. I might as well, mightn’t I? Writing’s pretty easy, I reckon, whatever that dafty says.
So I’ll tell you everything I can remember about our lives here together.