That Life II Commentary: Finale

See him sitting there.

In his mind, the Timid Tubby one is alone. He has nothing but his own creations – nobody really cares about him, as much as he wants them too. Fictional worlds are his way of imagining, what if people did…?

“Look at all we’re going through, together!” he’d say, grinning at who may have been his only friend in the world, the Weird Wiry One, who, to his dismay, may not have even liked his story at all. But he had to press on.

But Timid Tubby was wrong – he didn’t need to press on, because he was wrong about being alone. He was actually so much more liked than he realised, not only by Weird Wiry, but also by many people. He’d have real friends and the closest of companions in them. He wouldn’t need his fictional friends anymore.

All truth be told, this dip into fictional personal fantasies gave him an unexpected gift. New styles and perspectives of storytelling and writing, some he’d never considered before now. It had ignited a spark, one that would never be fully extinguished.

Welcome, one and all, to the finale of the That Life Commentary.

Endings are important – they are, by definition, the last impression of a creative work an audience is left with. They need to matter. Some endings move you to tears, like that of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, or piss you off greatly, like that of Haganai. I don’t know which one this will be. But I started this commentary for a bit of fun – I was having a bad time of it (I remember, BREXIT had just happened. That’s a joke of course – Brexit still hasn’t happened) and I needed something to cheer me up. And we’ve kind of come full circle, because just yesterday, America got itself a new president! And already the climate change section of the official website has been removed. Oh, we’re in for a fun few years.

But I don’t believe in despairing. OK, I do actually despair a lot, but never permanently. The alt-right are losing their hipster effect now that they’re actually starting to run things and people realise how empty their words are, and seeing protests and demonstrations going on in both the United States and my own country is truly quite reassuring. How is this relevant to That Life? Well, it’s not really, but I’m going to try and make it as such.

Where did we leave off? Well, Jack and Ryan, who are by this point, close to dominating the story completely with their Foe Yay, have done each other one solid each. Jack saved Ryan from getting run over in the most conspicuous attempted murder I think I’ve ever seen, and Ryan called him an ambulance after his leg got crushed. Let’s get on with it. Chapter Ten: Unravelling.

The first line of this chapter is pretty revealing…

As a frosty January melted into a wet February[…]

Virtually this ENTIRE story has taken place in January, which considering how much the first story seemed to stretch out, is really something. To my memory, I was planning to have this story terminate at the end of the school year, meaning I’d have had several more months left to fill. This story might have ended up being really long…but of course it wasn’t.

[…]the topic for discussion was, of course, the car incident.

Of course, because all we do now is gossip.

“Hey! Did you hear? Jack saved Ryan’s life!”
“OMG! TRUE LOVE AT LAST! Sorry, Carol, Sofia…”

It’s a shame there wasn’t any reference to Whitney attempting to twist this story actually…

“I bet Jack was actually to trying to push him in the path of the driver, and accidentally saved his life instead. If he can assault him with a cricket bat, why shouldn’t a car work just as much?”

At which point Summer would flutter her eyelashes, marvel and her girlfriend’s intelligence, and they go off to…I don’t know, it’s always fast food, so let’s say Subway.

When Sofia had heard, she had managed to get to the hospital in ten minutes flat[…]

Now, I may just be imagining things, but is there an implication there that nobody else bothered to visit? Including family…? Perhaps we had other things on our minds…

IAN: I’d love to visit, but I’m still trying to find more plot points for myself.
CALEB: I’d love to visit, but I’m so suave and magnificent it seems like I’m there anyway.
TOBY: I’d love to visit, but Sean found out that I got Naomi pregnant and he is slowly flaying me alive. If this gets cut short, I’ll see you in A&E myself…

[…]to find Jack lying in a bed with his leg in plaster. 

Now, I won’t claim to be any expert on skeletal traction, but I’m pretty sure such a thing takes quite a bit longer than ten minutes to sort out. I mean, I don’t actually know, I never bothered to research it…

One thing I did know, however, was that traction, is, for the most part, pretty outdated. But I handwave this…

Apparently, this procedure was needed as supposed to pinning the leg, as Jack’s leg was broken in a complicated way.

Pinning it is a thing right…? I’m really glad I’m not a doctor…

Also, complicated was the only way to describe it…I suppose, given it literally went under a car tyre, if definitely qualifies…

“Complicated?” Sofia almost laughed. “You’ve had a-” she swore “-car roll over it!”

See? Sofia agrees with me completely. Well done. Now I can see why we wanted you participating in the elusive blog we’ve mentioned a few times in this story. Although you could have actually cussed, you didn’t need the narrator to do if for you…

The scene finishes pretty much at that point, so I’m assuming they made merry there, given what else we know about Sofia.

The next scene features the rest of us, apparently forgetting most of our current strife and simply complaining about having PE in the wet weather, even though in the last story, wet weather was enough to have our lesson cancelled…? You know what, I can’t be bothered to question the logic anymore. Perhaps we’re doing mud-wrestling.

“You know, I almost envy Jack,” Caleb said.
Queenie laughed.

It’s really not that funny…

C’mon Queenie, I know Caleb is suave, magnificent, sue-ish, contrived and whatever, but seriously, get out more. Obviously Queenie’s fed up of now being more redundant than Ian, so she’s desperate to utilise whatever screentime she can get. Screentime isn’t the right term here, but I can say what I want, it’s my blog.

Caleb has another subject he’d like to broach with Queenie, though.

“Actually, Queenie,” Caleb said, lowering his voice.

Oh, he is going to break up with her as well? Seems to be a trend…

Oh wait…that’s it.

Yeah, we get nothing after that. That’s the last thing I ever wrote of the story (or stories, rather) of That Life. Hmm…that’s a bit anticlimactic, isn’t it? No fire, no explosions, no gun-fighting…interestingly though, the first story did start with a voice coming up the corridor, and this one ends with the mentioning of a voice, so…we’ve kind of come full circle?

Though I know it is a bit of a disappointment. All the terribly amusing angst I wrote in as a 13-year-old, and I just sort of left it there. Like a half-eaten meal. That deserves a sharp slap on the wrist. So, with it finished, should I just wrap up this post?

No. See, there are still interesting points to discuss about this weird series of stories, including revealing what I had in mind for the rest of the characters and it’s conclusion. The best place to start is with an enlightening little notebook I found the other day. I have a lot of notebooks lurking around in my drawers, some of which just have really crude cartoons, others things I considered a little more important. Including some of the earliest stages of planning for That Life. They are terrifically enlightening, showing me planning Ruth, of all people, first out of the entire cast, and a summary of her character basically referencing her love for Ian, but also including elements I had apparently planned to include, but promptly forgot about and never made it into the final cut. Such things include…

  • Whitney and Summer’s surnames were Waverly and Lentfield, respectively, much more interesting than Queenie and Carol’s ‘Scott.’
  • Mr Cork’s first name was apparently James, which is rather dull…
  • Meena’s surname was Macintosh, which is very odd for an American…
  • Charlie’s surname was Chasm…
  • Ruth’s mother was called Oceana (yes, I’m serious) and she was supposed to have an iguana named Bob. He could have been the ultimate hero…

Other information I find as I search through this notebook include things a lot less trivia-based, an are more related to the characters as they are, and their personal histories. In the case of Amber, we pretty much know it all, but get a few more interesting elements, such as an acknowledgement that she was three minutes younger than Nathan, and that she got Yeti for her 11th birthday, two years after Nathan’s death and Tabitha’s departure. Was Terry simply trying to get a suitable replacement…? Well…Yeti did stimulate her…

I’m going to move on from this. Sofia also gets the same treatment I gave Amber (that sounds rather dirty actually…), and, because of her limited development in the story proper, we get some rather interesting information from this notebook – apparently, she’s a fan of science fiction, has a stepmother called Esmé and a half-sister called Opal. Finally! Somebody has a stepmother rather than a stepfather and a sister-figure rather than a brother. Shame we never got to see them…

Other weirder elements include the fact that she had a boyfriend when she was 8 (never a good idea!) and after he broke up with her, she attempted suicide…OK…Her mother also leaves her at this point, which is rather horrible now that I come to think about it…

I was trying to be very mature and write in a depression storyline…shame it didn’t work…

None of these notes actually contained a clear plan of how this sequel was going to pan out, so I’m relying on my memory more than anything here, but basically, here’s what, I think, was going to happen.

I’m pretty sure Caleb was going to tell Queenie he feels like he’s being stalked, and they’ll connect that somehow to people attempting to kill Ryan.
Whitney was going to make a discovery about Nathan and is untimely departure, something that pisses Amber off supremely and provide even more friction. What all this was going to lead to, I’m not sure. I think I would have remembered if it was meant to try and make Whitney more sympathetic…

Aiden, using whatever ingenious plan he had come up with, was going to break out of whatever young-offenders institute he was in to go on a hunt for Kythner himself, only to run into Sean, prompting the two of them to have another one of those intense fights. In my mind, it was always in the rain for some reason…I don’t know whether Aiden ever even bothered to tell Sean of his intentions either…

Amber and Ross were obviously going to start dating at some point, but I honestly can’t remember if I had ever planned when that would be. I seemed to be too focused on the convoluted nature of everyone from Kythner to Aiden to Fraser of all people were trying to out-gambit everyone else…

Sofia was supposed to have a depressive period, corresponding, at least somewhat with the way sufferers of bipolar disorder shift between extremes in mood, that was probably going to be mostly callously dismissed.

All of this comes to a head, however, when Kythner and his cronies (probably including Charlie and of course Caleb’s stepdad at this point) manage to track down our ‘heroes’ and have them all abducted. Yes, all of them. And I’m not just talking about the Mighty Ridiculous Power Rangers here – I remember being distinctly sure that I wanted Whitney and Summer to be with them too, caught in the crossfire, in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is interesting. I think I was planning to have them redeemed somehow, just not focusing on redeemable qualities until they’re in sheer peril.

Of course, abducting fourteen 13-14-year-olds is a rather demanding task, isn’t it? Why just not kill them? But no, I decided to have them all together in a cellar, being threatened for no real reason and bonding…kind of…

They manage to escape (no shit) and I think I was actually considering at one point to have Mr Mothman find them in the middle of the night and let them stay with him for a bit, proving he’s not just a teacher who doesn’t care…even though he clearly doesn’t care…you know what, forget it.

The climax I had in mind featured our heroes breaking into the school for unspecified reasons and Kythner following them for unspecified reasons and there being a massive shoot-out, possibly culminating in the death of some redshirts, and, in at least in one vision of the finale, Russell, who hasn’t done anything in this story so far, shooting Kythner dead, and ending up sharing a cell with his brother who is much more ready to forgive him this time…


Given all the plot threads I needed to close, including Carla and Kythner’s daughter, it probably would have been a lot longer than that. (She probably would have been conveniently fostered/adopted along with Ross, let’s be completely honest.) But that was the basic picture. Clearly I was more willing to have personal confrontations and increase the peril our characters faced, which included the death of an antagonist, by the way. Well, at least I understood the concept of serial escalation. These things are all coming together.

A few points to consider here, are, obviously, me putting Aiden through a redemption arc. I know it doesn’t make any sense in the context of this character, but I do believe, as I mentioned, that I was also planning to do the same to Whitney and Summer. Redeeming antagonists is a long standing habit of me, and honestly, I do quite like it. When it’s done right that is…and Whitney and Summer felt far more like proper candidates, with their petty schoolyard bullying (if you can even call it that), compared to Aiden’s attempted murder and arson.

Now, bear with me a minute, because I’m not sure whether this is something I genuinely considered including at the time, or if it’s something I retroactively told myself I considered, but at the time, it may have occasionally crossed my mind to have Whitney and Summer pair up. It would have made sense certainly – more so than many other couples, and I had never featured LGBT characters in anything I had written before. For how I was then, it would have been pretty progressive. Forget Kurt, you’re supposed to hate him, because he does sport.

If I did consider this back then, it wasn’t something I lingered on, as by that time, I had decided to move on for other things.

So, how should this have ended? Well, I’m going to write out a brief scenario now…

Naomi discovers that she’s pregnant with my child, and we panic because we think it means Sean’s going to kill me. Sean however, has his own problems, struggling with his GCSEs and having many erotic dreams about Alexis. Alexis is getting through her own studies thanks to cannabis, supplied to her via Charlie. Sean gets very upset when he finds out, and takes it out on me, learning that I have impregnated her and I have to go on the run. Jack gets out of hospital and attempts to join me, along with Sofia, leaving Amber mostly alone. Whitney finds out about Nathan, and makes some neutral comment that Amber takes the wrong way, and she nearly kills her, only stopped by Summer, who gives Whitney the kiss of life and they hook up. Charlie, annoyed at having his best customer rumbled, takes it out by joining Kythner and abducting Ryan. A string of abductions follows this (because I can take inspiration from my 13-year-old self, why not?) with Jack and I being discovered God knows where. Upon being imprisoned, Sofia insists she should be pregnant too, and it all gets really awkward really quickly. Let’s keep the shoot out the same, but instead let’s kill off the redundant cast (read Ian and Queenie) and the suave and magnificent, leaving a wound on everyone’s hearts. Everyone leaves the country, it being too painful to continue there, with Naomi giving birth to our daughter, and us hiding from Sean in Canada, Jack and Sofia continuing their very active sex life, also in Canada, Ryan and Carol joining some cult in Japan, Amber and Ross doing something else with Ruth (probably raising iguanas) in Argentina and Whitney and Summer being the only two who haven’t fucked up completely, being happy together and adopting several children, including Carla and Kythner’s daughter. Probably in the Netherlands.

And that’s how this should have ended…

Of course, it’s fun to speculate. But that’s all I can do – speculate. As fun as it has been to go back on this defining chapter in my writing career, and as fun as it may have been to write back then, I can see quite clearly how much I’ve evolved since then. As a writer, I plan more carefully, I conceive much better stories and utilise characters the way they should be used. Point is, I think I’m ready to take on the world. The Timid Tubby one still exists in the darker corners of my mind, but externally, he’s grown up, he’s wised up and if he plays his cards right, he can do anything he wants.

That Life was really the first time I considered the possibilities of me writing a mature narrative, and of course the first time I ever finished a long-ish story. Everything after that, while it certainly wasn’t perfect, echoed these sentiments and I’d never go back to anything crude. But nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed looking back on how hilariously awful it could be at times as much as I did. Thanks for reading.

Next time I post, I’ll be returning to reviews of creative works and discussions of general writing things. Hope you’ll join me there too.


That Life II Commentary: Chapter 9

The difference in the amount of uni work I have compared to a lot of people I know is only just starting to sink in. Mine is practically minimal in comparison, but I only realised after I’ve finished all of it.

And now I’m kind of bored.

So, I though I’d get on with this. With just one more post after this to go, I’m not sure how I feel about this series coming to an end. On the one hand, it’ll be great to blog about some other things, but on the other, it’s still something coming to an end. But this is me assuming anyone actually reads it.

Whatever. This is actually the last complete chapter I ever wrote in the That Life franchise, as chapter 10 I sort of stopped in the middle of. If you remember last time, I was trying to balance too many different storylines, and in this one it gets even worse, with a bit too much focus on some and not enough on others, and with the return of contrived nonsense, I think we’re in for a treat. So, here we go – Chapter Nine: Hit and Run. This time, the title’s actually relevant…

So, we start off with Caleb (THE SUAVE, MAGNIFICENT, AND WHATEVER) heading over to Woodgreen Primary to deal with his abusive stepdad randomly showing up to greet his brother. Now that I think about it, why exactly did the school contact him and not his mother…? She was probably busy looking for fortunes in beer bottles…

But never mind that! Because we’re doing the whole scene cutting thing again! Back to Ian, (the boring and superfluous), who, if you remember, was arrested…for some reason…

Actually, what was the reason given?

Ian was sitting in an interrogation room wondering what was happening. Why had been arrested? Had he been framed or something?

Apparently, no reason was given, thereby making this arrest, by British legal standards, unlawful. You can’t arrest someone without given them a reason, and given that Ian is a minor as well, this is going to raise some serious questions.

Although given that Boris Johnson was Mayor of London at the time this was written, maybe we should have expected it…

A policeman does eventually come in to tell Ian that they have been given information suggesting he’s connected to Seb Kythner. Well…fine, but you don’t need to arrest someone for that kind of information. Just ask. Investigate. What source of information are they acting on anyway…?

The door opened again and Ian’s worst nightmare walked in:
Aiden Gorse, accompanied by Detective Richard Price.

What? You believed Aiden? A guy who has a track record of thuggery, kidnap, arson and just generally being a horrible person? Not to mention being a drug addict, which apparently just means you’re sheer and irredeemably evil? Aiden’s motive seems really odd as well. This is the explanation he gives Ian…

“Yup. After all, you’re Caleb’s best friend right? And he was involved-”
“Shut up!” Ian yelled, not wanting to get Caleb arrested as well.

Oh God…OK…

  1. Calling him Caleb’s best friend is a bit of stretch. Caleb pretty much forgot about him after he buggered off to America – as a matter of fact, everyone except Ruth did…I know everyone wants to be Caleb’s best friend, but it’s a position that’s difficult to hold.
  2. Why didn’t Aiden just give them Caleb’s name?? I actually wrote this in because I wanted Ian to actually do something in this story, but then I had to work the story around it, and, as you can see it really didn’t work. Did the police just refuse to go after Caleb because he’s too suave and magnificent, and doing so would lead to a full-scale revolution?
  3. What is Aiden’s deal? It’s become apparent throughout this story that he has a vendetta against Kythner, which is fair enough, but what good is getting Ian, one of the only people in this story who Kythner ISN’T involved with, arrested, going to do, except make him look far less reliable as an informant?

Well, apparently Aiden has more information to give…

 “And that’s not all,” Aiden continued, his evil grin growing wider. “I’ve heard of her. Trace Temple, constantly getting men to pay her for sleeping-”
“SHUT UP!!!” Ian roared. If anything, he did not need anyone to know that his mother, who he hadn’t seen for at least five years, was a prostitute.

Oh for God’s sake, what is this…?

Suddenly Ian has a mother. Who’s a prostitute. For some reason? And Aiden’s heard of her. Because he slept with her? I can’t even begin to fathom how this is remotely related to anything. Unless of course Kythner slept with her as well as Queenie and Carol’s sister? Again, this was simply put in to add depth to Ian’s character…without actually adding depth. He hasn’t seen his mother for five years, but apparently she paid men to sleep with her. I don’t know why. Ian, forget about it, it’s really not a massive issue.

The police do in fact let Ian go after he tells them what Caleb told him, the treacherous bastard. Well, I’ve got to love a pointless scene…

Going back to Caleb, he tells his stepdad he doesn’t want him crawling back into his family’s life, which is fair enough. The stepdad, of course, so cowed by Caleb’s radiant Sue-ism, immediately leaves. I’d love to have a scene that goes somewhere at some point…it does, however, occur to Caleb how odd it is that the stepdad’s suddenly trying to make amends. Take a wild guess at who he’s connected to, and we’ll come back to it later…

Going back to Ian, it would appear the police have a grudge against him for some reason.

“Don’t think this is the end of it,” the young officer who had arrested Ian told him, as he went to get his possessions that the desk sergeant had confiscated from him.
“We know full well that your mother was a prostitute. We will be looking into that.”

“Yeah, because it’s totally your fault!”

The laws surrounding prostitution in the UK are as follows – the act itself (exchanging sex for money) isn’t illegal, but brothels and such are. However, we don’t get any indication that Ian’s mother was involved in that way, and even if it were, how the hell is it Ian’s fault? Obviously, because of the stigma surrounding prostitution,  he’s going to want to keep it under wraps hence any slut-shaming idiot decides to get truck out of it, but why should this get him into trouble with the law?

“Great,” Ian growled sarcastically. “I’ll just add that to my other heap of problems shall I?”

Oh, it’s a hard life, isn’t it Ian? What problems is he even referring to?

“I’ve got enough on my plate with trying to actually do something in this story, without you probing into my past and giving me loads of angst to work on…! Wait a minute…”

Even he seems to realise what a pointless act it was of Aiden’s to tell the police about him…

Why had Aiden told the police that he was involved with Kythner? It probably hadn’t been so that his sentence would be shortened, now that it was obvious that he had been lying. 
So what?

He does eventually discover that he’s lost his phone, and it wasn’t even among the confiscated items he got back from the desk, and concludes that Aiden stole his phone, and that it was all a rouse to get his hands on it…! Why…?

Well, stealing people’s phones seems to be Aiden’s style, but honestly, I have no idea. I never got as far as to detail more of Aiden beyond this scene, so we never got to see whatever plan he may have had get put into action. I presume he wants to get in contact with Caleb somehow, but wouldn’t any one of his toy boys friends worked? And how exactly did he manage to steal his phone, given he’s an inmate in custody? He can’t just stroll up to the desk and grab it, unless the police are completely useless, which, given what we’ve already seen of them, is more than likely...

We cut to none other than Kythner, who’s interrogating Caleb’s stepfather (yeah, big surprise) about how his interaction with Caleb went down.

“So then what happened?” he asked.
“He yelled at me to get out,” the man replied, swaying slightly with a reek of alcohol about him.
Kythner scowled. So he was still headstrong was he?


Jesus, this fucking story…

Also, did the stepfather really think it was good form to be drunk on this job?

Kythner’s not happy…

He swore loudly, causing Dirk nearby to jump slightly.

I love that. Dirk’s a psychotic drug pusher, perfectly happy to make an allegiance with a murderous sociopath, but swearing? Oh no, that’s a bit too much for him. We’re pushing him to the edge!

“Well, I guess you’ll just have to tail him,” he said, dropping the butt of his crack cigarette and grinding it out with his heel.
“Alright, but what about by payment?”
“You’ll get it after you’ve found out where all of Byker’s friends live, particularly that Head kid. Now get on with it.”

OK – this plan has quite a few problems, most notable of which is the fact that Caleb’s stepdad tailing him is going to be immediately noticeable. Someone whom Caleb doesn’t know (like Dirk or Phil) is going to be a lot less conspicuous. Also, Kythner’s paying him for this…with what? I wouldn’t have thought that someone who’s the target of a manhunt like this would be the most reliable source of income. Maybe he’s selling drugs, but…

So, Kythner wants to know where everyone of Caleb’s friends live…why? I don’t think that a bunch of schoolkids wrapped up in their love lives are a massive threat to you, even if they are being led by Caleb. In the case of Ryan, obviously Dirk and Phil are worried that he’s going to dob Charlie (a friend of their’s) in, but if he hasn’t already, I don’t think he’s going to bother. He’s got more than enough to worry about. And anyway, Jack’s probably going to finish him off for them…

We return to Ian, who’s pleading with the most patronising policeman ever about his missing phone. With absolutely no luck in getting through to him, he promptly leaves, and runs into Fraser.

You might remember Fraser – he was Ruth’s older brother, who was both at uni and training as a paramedic and rescued Amber from the Thames before proceeding to be really creepy with her.

And then he tells Ian he’s working with the CID.


I don’t know how many more contrived subplots I can handle. Nothing about this makes sense.

“I’m not actually at uni,” he explained. “When I said I was…I was actually doing voluntary work for the CID.”

Do you do voluntary work for the CID? I’m fairly sure that a specialised branch of the police doesn’t take chances. Although, given the state of the police force in this story…

“Right…so you didn’t tell Ruth and your mum this because…?”
“Look, do you realise how much crime is happening in this area of London alone?” he asked rhetorically as he put his ID card back into his pocket.
“Seb Kythner. The whole drug marketing thing. They know they’re in danger from us, and if Ruth and mum knew, they would be endangered.”

“But I have no qualms against telling and endangering my sister’s boyfriend.”

Seriously, why did he feel the need to tell Ian about this? Furthermore, whether Ruth and her mother know isn’t going to stop Kythner’s thugs from targeting them if their brother is working with the police. In fact, them not knowing is going to ensure they’re not on guard about the possibility. Fraser, you’re useless.

Over the next few days, everyone seemed to know about Ian’s arrest. It was one of the major discussion topics. Of course, Whitney tried to convince everyone that Ian had been arrested because he had mugged someone, but not many people believed her.

Oh, bless you Whitney.

“He beat up someone with a cricket bat, honest!” I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to believe that, it seems to be contagious among this group…

Here’s an interesting question – how much about Ian’s arrest do they know? Do they know what information had led to the arrest? If the whole thing about Ian’s mother being a prostitute got out, then my respect for Whitney has increased for not actually making a thing about it. Also, not many people believed her – implying that some people did. Is her relationship with Summer back on track? 😀

It had been two weeks since Sofia had joined the school, and she was pretty popular and everyone seemed to like her.

That went slightly tautological near the end, didn’t it?

She was pretty popular, everyone seemed to like her, she was well-liked, she was adored, she was respected, and she was popular. Not to mention everyone liked her.

This had also got Amber out of her shell, and she was socialising with most people too.

Well, that’s good…although a quick search shows me that this is the last time Amber is mentioned in this story…oh dear. She can’t have done that much socialising…

So there it is – the character who’s supposed to be the protagonist is saying her farewell…we’ll miss you, Amber. Given that this goes on to talk about more of Sofia’s interactions, I’m a little worried that the implication is that Amber’s become more isolated than before…but anyway…

One person who had taken to Sofia a lot more than most others was Jack (who still wasn’t talking to Ryan or Carol). He admired her sense of humour and thought pattern – it was one shared by him and Toby. He had even let her take part in their blog.

Oh, I wonder where this is going…?

I don’t know how accurate the comparison of the sense of humour is, given how little of it’s been shown, but given the nature of this mysterious blog, I imagine that it’s sort of accurate…? What’s Sofia going to do? Do impressions of Gollum…?

Of course, Ryan and Carol’s weird relationship is continuing…

One day, after an English lesson, Carol held Ryan back as everybody else filed out.

Time for sex!

She promised Miss Verb to lock the classroom after she and Ryan had left, and the English teacher handed her the keys and left, smiling to herself.

Why do you need to lock the room? Locking rooms is how everyone nearly died in the fire, remember? Also, MISS VERB? SERIOUSLY? I’m getting fed up of this…whilst we’re at it, why not introduce the maths teacher, Mr Numbers, or the History teacher, Mrs Dates? Or the Drama teacher, Miss Unnecessary, because this story is full of unnecessary drama, you see? Or the science teacher, Mr Bunsen Burner. Oh no, wait, the science teacher’s called Mr Rug, if I remember rightly…

Anyway, back to Ryan and Carol.

Now the two of them were alone. Carol turned to face Ryan, wondering how to word this.

I can think of several ways.

“Ryan, you’re a racist twat who’s full of himself and thinks girls are interchangeable. Go fuck yourself.”

Again, I find it interesting that I decided to write this scene from the girl’s perspective…at least to begin with.

“Ryan…I want to thank you for consoling me after…well, what happened.”
“You’re welcome,” Ryan said, but he knew there was more.

Ryan, just because you’re getting a stirring in your pants doesn’t mean she’s feeling the same, OK? Also, if Ryan was the only one who consoled Carol after a break-up, we’re talking about some really shitty friends here…and given that Ryan probably only did it to get in her good books…

Yeah, anyway, the build-up is painful, so I’ll just get to the point: they kiss. The description of the kiss is…weird…but also pretty funny, given what happens at the end…

Their lips met, and all strife left Ryan’s head left instantly. This was absolute bliss. In the world there was only him and Carol. She was all that mattered. It was just her and him.
Well, and Jack of course, who unfortunately chose that moment to walk in.

It’s almost as though Jack can never leave Ryan’s mind. The true romance of the story…?

Jack has forgotten his bag, but, understandably, he has a few mixed emotions about this whole thing. Who’s he even jealous of, in this situation…?

Carol’s naturally worried that wholesale murder is about to occur, but Jack assures her otherwise…

“I’m not going to fight him,” Jack replied, turning away to reach for his bag that was under his desk. “He’s probably still stoned from the drugs that him and his best mate Charlie take.”

The insults these character’s fling at each other are always so much fun…!

Ryan is naturally ready to fling himself at Jack at these words, but Carol holds him back.

Jack paused at the doorway, with his back to them, waiting for Ryan to come and attempt to throttle him. When nothing happened, he walked out.

He was actually WAITING for Ryan to leap upon him…! If that’s not suggestive, I don’t know what is…

So, yeah, Jack is naturally contemplative and having a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

Toby noticed these troubled signs instantly.

Ah, look at me, always the supportive friend! :3

Jack tells me what happened, and I am sympathetic, but remind him that he was the one who ended it with Carol in the first place.

Jack gave Toby a look that would have been better suited to Ryan, and stalked off.


I know you’re upset, but you don’t have to be a dick about it. Honestly, I try and be a sympathetic and caring BFF, and you treat me like the one you tried to murder.

Presumably, I promptly ran off to wail into Naomi’s bosom, but as this is actually my last appearance in this story, it’s just as likely that I decided to hang myself.

Of course, given the subtext that is laden throughout Jack and Ryan’s interactions, such a look could have easily implied something else, but I’m not going to get into that now, because I don’t have time.

So, Jack buggers off to contemplate some more, and Sofia approaches him, explaining that I told her (presumably through my tears) what had happened, and she at least has he decency to say that I was right in what I said, and furthermore…

“I think that was a very good choice.”

Well, that’s a bit rude. Poor Carol’s ears must be burning if Sofia’s slagging her off all the time. Sofia has a lot more to say on this matter as well.

“Well,” she said eventually. “If they can…why can’t we?”
And before Jack could do or say anything, she kissed him.

Wow, she’s a fast mover. She’s only been her five minutes. Not to mention really forward! Jack was probably naked and in bed with her before he even realised.

So yeah, this is how I resolved the Jack-Ryan-Carol love triangle, and for all it’s contrived-ness, I’m glad at least that nobody was left single forever. At least I wanted to tie up such loose ends, and given that Sofia’s only role in this story so far had been to be Amber’s friend, I’d say I did relatively OK, given what I had.

But trust me, this is some of the only half-decent stuff in this, because directly following that comes this…

Keith stood up, and glared at Ross with a look of deep dislike.
“So, that’s it is it?” he asked.
Ross nodded, smiling in spite of himself.

Ross has finally let Keith violate him, but the joke’s on Keith – Ross is the most unsatisfying partner ever.

No, I’m joking. Although I have to say, I really don’t know what they were talking about. Apparently, the decency Keith displayed previously had all been a front to get Ross on his side for this particular bomb-shell.

“It’s my dad, innit?” he grinned. “He’s thinking of…what’s the term…?…Re-adopting us.”

There are multiple problems with this. The most obvious of which is simply the fact that a guy who abandoned his children would not then be allowed to ‘re-adopt’ as Keith put it. He’s fighting a losing battle. Fuck it, it’s a LOST battle.

And is Keith really happy to go along with this given that his father was a shit to him too?

Of course, Ross is having none of this and promptly beats Keith up.

“Tell your dad, my answer is no,” he said, and stalked off.

Well, that solved that remarkably quickly.

Oh, but wait…

As he turned away, he could have sworn he saw somebody he knew. He turned back, but it was just a four-year-old girl, watching the fight like many others had.
But she did have a stunning resemblance to Queenie and Carol.
Or was it Seb Kythner?
What was he on about? There was no connection between them.

Yeah, subtlety wasn’t my strong point back then. Yeah, she’s obviously Kythner and Carla’s child. What she’s doing there is anyone’s guess, unless Carla just abandoned her and they couldn’t find any foster mother or whatever…this is all far too convenient, and what’s more, children don’t really look like both their parents at once. At least, not to that degree. Considering I never finished this, she never appears again, so…

We then get a brief scene with Caleb (THE SUAVE ETC), fearing he’s being followed, which is about as subtle as Sofia’s attempts to court people, and then we return ONCE MORE, to Jack.

Jack groaned.
There he was. The idiot. He was walking along the road, chatting into his mobile. Chatting to Carol, no doubt?

Are you EVER going to get over her? I would have thought that Sofia engaging you in coitus would be sufficient, but apparently not. AND HE WAS THE ONE WHO ENDED IT.

So, yeah, Jack’s glaring at Ryan, so what else is new?

Well, Ryan’s crossing the road, and apparently a car’s coming in his direction.

Jack glanced at the driver. He was a thickset, ugly man with a bald head and thick lips.

Judging by his appearance, I’d say he’s an antagonist.

It is in fact Phil, who’s now preparing to take Ryan out. How does he plan to do this? Well, in a way that’s about as subtle as my plot devices.

Normally drivers would slow down when somebody was crossing the road. But this guy was actually speeding up. He was accelerating, his eyes fixed on Ryan, who still hadn’t noticed what was happening, and nor were the few people who were walking along the street.

Well, Ryan’s an idiot then. He shouldn’t be so distracted. And I can tell you from personal experience that crossing the road while on the phone is NOT a good idea. It was fortunate for me that I was only hit by a bike and not a car. And that someone wasn’t trying to assassinate me, of course.

Actually, that makes Ryan particularly unlucky that Phil managed to choose the exact right time to pull off this elaborate and highly conspicuous homicide, which would only have worked if Ryan happened to be crossing the road at the right time and was distracted enough not to notice a car ploughing very fast in his direction.

That’s some seriously bad luck.

Seriously, even if they insist on having to kill Ryan, can’t they do so in a different way? They could abduct him, suffocate him, and leave his body somewhere inconspicuous and even after they find it, they’d never know who did it. But no. They had to rev it up, literally.

Lucky Ryan has his boyfriend knight in shining armour there, really.

Jack had about half a second to make his decision. Even though he hated Ryan more than anybody else in the world, could he really let him be killed?
Of course not.

Well, I dunno. You were perfectly happy to do it yourself back when you were viciously assaulting him with a cricket bat.

Of course, he goes into the road to try and pull him to safety. Ryan makes it onto the pavement, and Jack gets run over and killed.

No, I’m joking, but that probably would have made a more intense story.

The car just runs over his leg and breaks it, and he passes out from the pain. And Ryan?

Ryan put his hands under Jack’s arms and hoisted him onto the pavement. Then he put Jack into the recovery position, and picked up his phone to call an ambulance. As they say, one good turn deserves another.

So, if he hadn’t just saved you, you’d have just left him there? Our hero ladies and gentlemen!

Oh, and Phil conveniently buggers off.

That’s where that chapter ends. As you can see, my grasp on the narrative was slipping considerably. I really had no idea what I was doing. And it’s a shame, because in my writing style and my characterisation, I had made considerable improvement from the original. The fact that I tried to amp it beyond what was needed really was my undoing. The love triangle was fine as it was…sort of…

Anyway, let me know what you think, and join me next time when it all ends…

That Life II Commentary: Chapter 8

Well, Happy New Year to whoever the hell’s reading this…some people, potentially.

I’ve still got a little while to go before going to back to university, which is probably a good thing, given that I’m stressed out of my mind even without it. Technically I should be doing an essay right now, but I am on a break, and I am more on top of it that I like to think. I mean, admittedly, even if the word count’s getting there, it doesn’t mean the content’s any good, but I’ll deal with that as and when.

I’m hoping to make 2017 a pretty decent year, given the circumstances, and so I want to get on with posting other things on here on the off chance that someone might find it interesting, but first I need to finish the commentary on the incomplete sequel to That Life. I shall probably end it (in like, two more chapters…?) with a summary of what sort of distinction this holds in my life and writing career, and then get on with other things, including more general talks about writing and more anime reviews. And maybe reviews of other things. Because I can branch out. W00t.

Anyway, let’s get on with it. Chapter Eight: Careless. Interesting thing about the title, I have no idea what it’s referring to within the story, but it does actually make sense on a retroactive, meta level. Up until this point the story has been mostly focused on Seb Kythner casting a ridiculously interconnected shadow over everyone and everyone mostly ignoring it in the exchange for the angst of everyday life. This chapter marks the point at which I was trying to make everything far too convoluted just for the sake of ensuring I used all of my characters and plot points and by God, it shows…

It starts off simple enough – where the last chapter left off.

The news of Jack and Carol’s breakup and then the fight that had issued between Jack and Ryan afterwards spread quickly around the neighbourhood.

So, they all live in the same neighbourhood then? That’s convenient…was Jack then arrested for grievous bodily harm  and a death threat? Of course not! This is the same neighbourhood which decided to ignore child abuse, so…

Oh, and then there’s a brief return of the wacky hijinks…

When Sean had first heard, he hadn’t heard the names and thought it was Toby and Naomi who had broken up, and had given Toby the scare of his life.

Oh, Sean…

OK, time to analyse this…

  1. That is incredibly selective hearing to hear all the details of the incident but not who was involved.
  2. Even if he didn’t hear the names, why is his automatic assumption that is has something to do with me and Naomi? I understand he’s protective of her, but does it not occur to him that given that, I dunno, they live in the same house, he would hear it from her if her boyfriend had dumped her? This is starting to sound like Sean was just making up excuses to come and beat me up.
  3. The whole ‘scare of my life’ is left completely ambiguous, and given that I’ve dealt with wandering through a burning building and facing the prospect of Aiden kidnapping and nearly killing my girlfriend, giving me ‘the scare of my life’ must take some doing. What did Sean do? Turn into Donald Trump? Send me pictures of Mr Mothman and Mr Cork in coitus? Show me photographic evidence of Whitney and Summer being heterosexual?



4. It’s interesting to note, actually, that after doing a quick search I discovered that this is the last appearance Sean makes in this entire story. Obviously its incomplete, but that’s still pretty funny. Maybe he was arrested for doing something unclear to me. Fucking bastard. It was only a matter of time…

So, obviously, being the gossipy hens we are, we discuss this latest development.

“It’s odd y’know,” Caleb remarked to Toby. “The two of them would be, in my opinion, the least likely people to break up. Well, apart from Ian and Ruth of course.”

Caleb, why exactly did you create a ranking system for who’s going to be the most likely couple do break up? That’s a little cold isn’t it?

Secondly, what’s so special about Ian and Ruth? They’ve barely interacted since Ian returned from America. Ruth has spent more time with Amber than with her boyfriend…obviously, I was trying to emphasise the idea of them being soul-mates with the whole star-crossed lovers ideal, but I could have done better…

Thirdly, what’s so special about Jack and Carol? They took ages to get together, and according to my slightly rough calculations, they were only together for just over a month, and Carol spent too much of it angsting about how she wasn’t good enough and Jack spent too much of it flirting with Ryan and making poorly defined blogs with me (I know this is a poorly defined blog, but shut up). They’re not exactly the pinnacle of romance either, are they? If I were to pick a romance that worked the best on this, (barring Whitney and Summer obviously), it would probably be Naomi and I. True, it’s predictably to pick yourself, but given all the shit we’ve gone through and we’re still together, I think that stands amongst the rest of these dreary tales. We’re also very protective of each other (OK, so she’s very protective of me, whatever) and have probably had sex.

By far the most amusing thing about this is how Caleb doesn’t seem to think his own relationship is particularly strong. You’d be forgiven for not remembering that Caleb and Queenie are an item, because they do absolutely nothing together. Caleb, you’re an arsehole. Did you not think that maybe the other redhead was traumatised by the whole ‘my-sister-shagged-a-matricidal-crackhead’ thing? Or did he break up with her too, and was too suave and magnificent for anyone (including her) to notice?

At first I appear a bit concerned over my BFF using a blunt instrument during his fight, but then my priorities get skewed…for some reason…

“This is Ryan we’re talking about,” Caleb reminded him. “The two of them have never been on the best of terms have they?”
“But this is really serious,” Toby mused. “The two of them have never gone as far as to insult each other’s families.”

I doubt that very much. And I would say that family related mud-slinging really pales in comparison to the whole cricket bat thing. Am I alone in that? Well, apparently…

Ryan meanwhile, was sitting in his own house with Carol. Apparently, his mother had been quite angry.

Well, I would be too. But here’s the reason for her anger…

“What has gotten in to you?” she demanded as she examined Ryan’s bruised eye.
“You always told me to defend myself,” Ryan retorted.
“But you weren’t defending, you were attacking,” Olive snapped.

What, and Jack wasn’t?

“How dare you get nearly killed by a cricket bat, that’s really insensitive.”
“I managed to steal his redhead off him though…”

Speaking of which…

It was now blindingly obvious that Ryan was now going to go out with Carol[…]

Sorry, blindingly obvious to whom?? Just because Carol’s now single doesn’t mean she’s going to go out with the first person who flings himself at her, although given the terrible self esteem she’s displayed so far, she might be tempted…I still cannot begin to fathom what positive and desirable traits Ryan has. For the most part, he’s just been a racist, sexist, self-centred, pugnacious, surly and uncompromising little twat. A description that would fit the president-elect too…

I’m serious – as poorly written as most of the other protagonists’ are, they at least have shown some air of decency on occasion. Ryan? Nothing…

[…]and Jack seemed quite moody about this.

Well, you’re the one who broke up with her, you fucking idiot. If you weren’t sure about it, you shouldn’t have said, ‘go run into Ryan’s arms.’

He complained that everyone was sticking up for Ryan and not him, just because Caleb had told him that hitting someone with a cricket bat was pretty ruthless.

That’s one way of putting it, yeah. I would add to that – dangerous, unnecessary, insane…Ryan did attack first, and for a pretty stupid reason, but so fucking what? CRICKET BAT. SERIOUS BRAIN DAMAGE. DEATH.

Eventually, Toby decided to confront Jack about what he was doing.

Don’t I mean done rather than doing? Unless he’s going out nightly to beat up more people with cricket bats…OH AND LOOK AT ME, TRYING TO TALK TO MY BFF EVEN THOUGH HE PROBABLY DOESN’T DESERVE IT.

Disturbingly, Jack doesn’t seem to regret hitting Ryan with a cricket bat in the slightest, and once again, my priorities are a little fucked.

“So…what’s this about insulting each other’s families?” Toby asked, hoping he sounded off-hand.

Oh, give it a rest, will you? Our families don’t even appear in these stories!

Jack seems to regret the whole family insulting thing more that the whole assault thing, which is pretty worrying…

“But the reason everyone’s sticking up for him is because you seem like you’re in the wrong because you hit him with a cricket bat.”
Jack raised his eyebrows.
“Oh yeah?”


I refer to it as a ‘spur of the moment’ thing, under the assumption that Jack didn’t actually mean any severe harm despite his promise to not relent should Ryan ever come back and his lack of remorse…evidently I was very forgiving of my closest friend. I probably wouldn’t have done the same if Jack had been on drugs though.

Oh, and this exchange at the end is pretty funny…

“Right,” Toby said. “I’m going for lunch at KFC.”
“Yeah,” Jack replied. “I’ll go too.”

So, just as Amber and Sofia’s favourite haunt might give them diabetes, ours will cause morbid obesity. Lovely. What is it with Heterosexual Life Partners and junk food…?

Speaking of which, we return to Amber and Sofia now…

“Hey, he looks a bit like Nathan,” Sofia said to Amber when they were in Thornton’s.
“Really?” Amber looked over and gasped. “It’s Ross!”

So, Ross’ resemblance to Nathan is close enough for Sofia to notice it from a distance after Nathan’s been dead for about five years…? I mean…that’s uncanny. Amber’s desire for him does worry me a little…

Oh, and apparently Sofia has no brain to mouth filter and thinks it’s perfectly OK to talk about someone’s beloved late brother so casually when you’re in their company…

Amber and Sofia go over to talk to Ross, and Ross explains that apparently some people at the children’s home he lives at planned, completely spontaneously, to go on a day trip to Tunbridge Wells. How convenient…Ross, laments, however, that Keith had to come as well.

“What’s so bad about him?”
“Well, technically he’s my step-brother. He ruined my entire life.”
“Do you only ask questions, Sofia?”

Of course she does. How else are we going to get a belated backstory? Once again, Sofia seems a little innocently insensitive. Yay! My characters actually have some character traits…

“Basically, my dad died when I was three[…]

What is my obsession with nobody in this story having biological fathers…? My parents separated after I had finished writing this, so it wasn’t daddy issues. This isn’t Disney, 13-year-old me, you can have characters with two parents, it’s fine…

“I didn’t know it at the time, but my stepdad was extremely uncaring. He didn’t really love my mum, or me, or even his own son, but Keith didn’t seem to mind. He seemed to have inherited his dad’s lack of care for anyone except himself. I don’t know who Keith’s mother was. Possibly someone who my stepdad divorced as soon as she had ran out of sex appeal.”

You’re assuming that, though, aren’t you? Based on the fact that your stepdad wasn’t very nice. His first wife could have been the one to divorce him when it occurred to her that he was a shit. What I don’t quite get is how this guy was capable of winning any custody battles, given how awful he was. Maybe Keith’s mother was even worse and decided to abandon her son, or had no choice because she was imprisoned, either for something he had done, or for something Keith’s father framed her for, maybe? And how does one run out of sex appeal, exactly? Obviously, the standards are going to be different for everyone, but I have no idea how old these people are supposed to be. Maybe Keith’s dad’s an ephebophile, and Ross’ mother was teenaged when she fell pregnant?

I’m overthinking this…who’s to say Keith’s mother and father were even married…?

“Anyway, Keith bullied me a lot. Fortunately he could never do it when my mum was around. However, when I was eight, my mum began to see through my stepdad, and eventually she left. I didn’t go with her however. My stepdad wouldn’t let me.”

OK, that’s not how these things work. Like, at all.

Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states quite plainly that a child must not be separated against their parent against their wishes except in cases where it would be against the child’s best interests (in the case of abuse, neglect, etc), which it clearly isn’t. It’s the stepdad that’s abusive, not the mother. Article 12 also states that a child’s wishes must be considered in a given situation and surely Ross would want to go with his mother. If the stepdad is actively keeping Ross in false imprisonment, then she can go to the police. The law would side with her in a heartbeat, her being non-abusive and Ross’ biological mother, and quite rightly. She’d probably even be allowed to adopt Keith, given the situation. But no. Apparently, she made no effort to try and rescue her son from this guy’s clutches, implying she’s just as awful…

Anyway, Ross continues his tale…

But one day, Keith was pestering him. I told him he shouldn’t done, because he had quite a short temper, but he didn’t stop. Not even after he was hit round the head. He disowned us that very same day.”
“He did WHAT?!!?” Amber shrieked.
“Disowned us. He had to go to a children’s home in London, which is where I still live now. I don’t know where my mum is. She could be in Australia for all I know. My only hope now is to get fostered.”

I don’t quite know why Ross doesn’t think taking legal action is a possibility. Does he also not have any other relatives who would take him in?

Also, I don’t think you mean ‘he.’ ‘He’ would have been better off being imprisoned. You can’t just abandon children. This isn’t the 1800s.

So, that’s Ross’ backstory. And by God does it make no sense. To be honest, I think I got to this scene when it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t entirely sure what Ross’ backstory was…so I made up some nonsense. Not only does this make no sense in and off itself, it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense regarding Ross and Keith’s hostile relationship. Surely Keith realised they were in the same boat now? It’s all a bit unclear.

There’s also the implication that Amber and Sofia are the first people he told this. Does he not trust Caleb, (TSAM)?

“Or I could ask Ian if he knows,” he added as an afterthought.
“How would he know?” Amber asked.
“’Cause he’s my mum’s cousin. He may know.”

Well, actually, no, he’s not. Ross was described in the first story as being Ian’s second cousin, meaning Ross’ mother would be his second cousin once removed. They share a pair of great-grandparents, but that means very little. Would you know where you second cousin once removed was if their own child didn’t know? I doubt it…

“You’d better hope Whitney doesn’t hear of this,” Sofia said.

Is that the only sympathy you have to offer, Sofia?

Ross snorted.
“What do you take me for? Of course I’m not going to let her know! She’ll twist it into some tale that will never enable me to show my face again.”

How, exactly? Ross somehow deserved to have his universal rights ignored? I fail to see how this could be twisted, except for being so beyond recognition you might as well have just made it up to begin with.

Amber’s reaction is pretty funny too…

Amber sat quite still for a moment before standing up and saying,
“Well, I’ll see you on Monday.” Then she walked out.


Is she really happy to leave Ross and Sofia there to flirt…? They already have more chemistry than Ross and Amber. I know that’s not saying much, but…

So, on Monday, things are a little different. Jack isn’t talking to Ryan or Carol at all, content with glaring at Ryan and awkwardly looking away from Carol whenever they make eye contact.

But as Ian, always the optimist, said that this was perfectly normal for newly broken-up exes, and they would be on normal speaking terms again soon.

And you know that, Ian, because you’ve broken up with so many people? Aren’t you and Ruth meant to be soul-mates or something…? Also, really, what counts as normal speaking terms for these two? Before they got together, Carol spent most of her time ignoring him and Jack spent most of his time getting into contrived cock fights.

What’s most interesting about this is the way I wrote Jack and Ryan’s behaviour. Whilst Jack glares at Ryan a lot, Ryan behaves as thought Jack’s not there at all. Why I chose to make this distinction is unclear, particularly with Ryan being the stoic one, but I don’t have time to divulge in it…

But of course, Sofia has recently transferred to Hyde Park Comprehensive, and the affect this has on Amber is immediate.

In her normal arrival, she would be not talking to anyone unless they engaged her in conversation and a dark unsmiling expression on her face. This time, she was chatting and laughing animatedly to a girl who nobody but Ross recognised.

This was very true of me back in the day, actually. Surly and unassuming to anyone except my best friend, and which point I showed a whole new side. Yes, I’m writing from experience again, most writers do it. It’s a beginner’s way of giving a character depth.

They two of them sat down at the back completely ignoring everyone else.

Love it.

“Fuck you and your love triangles and cricket bat assaults! We’ve got a book to discuss!”

They are in fact discussing a book…

The two of them seemed completely unaware that most eyes in the form-room were on them. Eventually, Whitney got fed up of this and marched over.

“My God! Amber actually has a friend! What is this madness?”

Whitney seems very interested in the new arrival also. Is she still trying to hook up with as many girls as she can…? How does Summer feel about this…?

“Who’s this bi-?”
Before she could finish her sentence, she was on the floor having been just been hit by Amber.

OK, so that was obviously going to be ‘bitch,’ but…Jesus, Amber, calm down…

What I quite like about that though is that Amber was much quicker to strike out when Whitney was insulting her friend, rather than herself. Don’t know if it’s deliberate, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.

So, Whitney’s on the floor! Is her girlfriend going to defend her honour??

Fortunately for her, Summer didn’t see her, as she was glaring at Carol for being on such good terms with Ryan.




Of course, if Summer actually had a thing for Ryan, she would have viciously attacked Carol. She’s obviously just pissed that Ryan isn’t as easy a target anymore to get information out of.

Yeah, that’s it…

Sofia is as helpful as ever.

“So that’s Whitney?” Sofia asked Amber.
“Yeah,” Amber growled, cracking her knuckles.
“Wow. She’s nicer than I expected,” Sofia remarked.

God bless you, Sofia.

Then we get a completely pointless scene, which I literally put in on the fly. No wonder I lost control of the story.

At Woodgreen Primary, the school Caleb’s brother Kent, attends, he’s called out of a lesson to meet with none other than his stepdad. Yes, the abusive one, who is apparently out of prison now, and says that he wants to make amends. Kent, unsurprisingly, isn’t having any of this, and a teacher has to take him somewhere to calm down. Well, great…

We don’t need more of Caleb’s suave and magnificent family, OK? Amber’s meant to be the protagonist, and Caleb has already swallowed half of the story. At this point, there are too many subplots as it is. Most of them are romantic, yes, but…

This scene is only good for two things. Firstly, the head of Woodgreen is called Mr Gold, which is fantastic, and judging from his brief appearance, he’d make a much better head than Ealing. And then there’s this:

In his year 4 class, Kent was playing up as usual, acting like Winston Churchill on steroids, having just kicked over a chair in his haste.

Just go with it.

Fortunately, everyone but Whitney and Summer had taken to Sofia. Now they were all walking home discussing stuff that teenagers discussed.

That’s a pretty broad category, isn’t it?

“Did you see the match last night?”
“No, because we’re supposed to hate sports…”
“Oh yeah. Apart from cricket. Although I prefer to hit people with my bat.”

Caleb gets a phone call from Woodgreen telling him of what happened, so he quickly scarpers to be suave and magnificent elsewhere.

Eventually, they all went their separate ways and Ian thought he heard the sound of himself being followed.

“Ian, I’m here to assassinate you, because you are superfluous to the story.”

No, I’m joking. I really wish it was true though. It would be so much more straightforward.

It’s actually a policeman. Who then arrests him. I’m not even joking. Why? Well, all will be revealed in the next chapter…sort of…

I remember consciously making this decision because I knew Ian wasn’t doing anything. Here was my attempt to make him a more useful character. Obviously, it doesn’t work like that, you can’t just include a random subplot for the sake of it. I had too many characters in this to begin with and was trying to phone in too much plot. This was the beginning of the end for this story, for obvious reasons…

Let me know what you think, and I’ll post the next commentary…at some point…


That Life II Commentary: Chapter 7

Perhaps you’re looking forward to the rest of December? Well, I’m not. I’ve been laden with far too much work and still without any the perks. Well, fuck you, 2016. I hope you rot and decay worse than some of the previous years.

Given my mood, I do actually wonder whether I should be embarking on this given that I feel the slightest thing going wrong could steer me into an abyss of God knows what, but fuck it, I always get a kick out of this, so I may as well.

For a bit of preamble, let’s leave this disgusting year and go back into the not-really-far mists of time, at some old comprehensive soon to be an academy and in an isolated room. Sunlight is peering in, dust gathering at the corners, but it’s two enlightened occupants don’t really notice. They are two 13-year-old boys, one who is weird and wiry, and another who is timid and tubby. Have those traits changed over the years…? I’ll let you be the judge.

The Timid Tubby One is gazing with a fierce passion at his tiny red netbook, looking at the plethora of words on the screen which is now known as That Life, and listening, with increasing indignation, at the words of the Weird Wiry One.

“I just don’t like Carol,” he was saying, looking down his un-snout-like nose and the plethora of words that contained the character.

“But why??” The Timid Tubby One demanded, holding his netbook in am embrace of maternal protection.

“She’s just boring,” The Weird Wiry One replied, not realising how much those words applied to every single character demonstrated in the plethora.

“Well,” the Timid Tubby One said, determined to call this mothereffer out. “Would you rather I gave her to Ryan?????”

“Actually, yes,” the Weird Wiry One replied seriously, which took the Timid Tubby One aback. He hadn’t expected this insolence. What did the Weird Wiry One know? He hadn’t even completed his story the lethargic bastard. And yet despite the maternal instinct the Timid Tubby One felt towards to this story, he also wanted to listen to this Weird Wiry One. He was very fond of the Weird Wiry One, and at a time when his self-esteem was virtually non-existent (a repeated trend, by the looks of things), he also really wanted to make him satisfied with the plethora he had formed. Then a beautiful, totally not rather forced idea occurred to him.

“OK,” the Timid Tubby One said. “How about I do this…?”

Real Life has a pretty persistent habit of writing the plot, and in the case of the Timid Tubby one, being timid and tubby was not without it’s downsides, and his need for friends and acceptance outweighed the desire to keep the story as it was. Besides, he thought to himself, it’s a good opportunity to hone in some different writing skills, right?

And so, in the days in which Timid Tubby is starting to rear his head again, how convenient that we embark upon Chapter Seven: A Weak End.

So, with the story still moving at a snail’s pace, we’re finally at the weekend, and despite it being only a four-day-week, everyone still feels so exhausted and shit, which, given they’re 13-14 and have just come back from the Christmas holidays, is actually fairly believable.

Ryan collapsed into the chair next to his six-year-old brother, Nigel, who was busy talking to himself. He groaned.

Oh, it’s a hard life, isn’t it Ryan?

“Mum, can’t you shut him up?” he whined.
“Can’t you shut up sometimes?” Olive replied, who was eating a grapefruit.
“Touché,” he replied, pulling a yoghurt towards him.

Gotta love some breakfast banter. Considering this is probably the least dysfunctional family in this story, I guess they’ve just got to go with what they’ve got.

Just a small point though – why is Ryan pulling a yoghurt towards him? Who keeps yoghurts at the centre of the table…?

Olive notes that Ryan seems a little subdued by something.

“What’s up?” Olive asked.
“Charlie,” Ryan replied.
Olive swore loudly. “He’s not texting you again is he?”
“No, it’s not that,” Ryan replied, shaking his head. “It’s just that I’m wondering if I should tell the police how he was involved with Aiden.”
Olive sighed.
“You truly are your father’s son,” she said.

Well, that came literally out of nowhere. It almost sounds as though Ryan was doubting his paternity. Not that Olive’s comment made it any less ambiguous.

“Yeah, thanks mum. But who actually was my father? Why won’t you tell me?”
“Because you will be even more of a laughing stock if everyone discovers you’re Mr Mothman’s son.”
“…….pass the bleach, mother.”

That was slightly darker humour than I intended…guess my mood is seeping through.

Anyway, we then get this very rushed backstory about Ryan’s father.

Even though he had never known his father, he having died when Ryan was only 18 months old, it was still a sensitive subject.

Why? Is Ryan so sexist he insists on having a male role model and blames his mother for his passing…? He had never known him – there is no reason for the subject to be a sensitive one…

Oh, and in case you thought you caught me out in a serious mathematical error (which isn’t difficult, to be honest as possible…) then we get the return of our old friends, the brackets, to hand wave in an explanation.

(Nigel was only his half-brother.)

Oh, that’s alright then.

Are we not going to engage in Olive being slut-shamed then, like we did to Carla in the last chapter? Who even is Nigel’s father? Is it Mr Mothman? Or maybe Charlie? Or given how this story is going, Seb Kythner? He’s probably secretly everyone’s father.

Ryan actually objects to this comparison to his father.

“I’m not,” he growled. “Dad managed to woo you and about twenty other women before him and I’m pretty much the only one amongst my friends who hasn’t got a girlfriend.”

Before him? I’m pretty sure that’s a typo…

Still, glad to see Ryan’s mind is still where it matters. A character from That Life can’t stop thinking about sex! The world would implode! And Ryan’s aspiration is to become a Casanova like his dad…well…why not? With the comment about wooing women, it seems to me that he’s fully aware Summer’s flirting with him isn’t genuine. Everyone can see it…

Olive has the perfect words of comfort.

“You’ll find a girl for yourself son. And as for Charlie, you must do what you think is right of course.”

Right, here’s the question – why is up to Ryan, a 13-year-old boy, to report someone to the police? Olive is much more involved (or was anyway) with him than Ryan and she’s an adult. Why is she deferring the responsibility to him? Is it because she’s a woman? They truly are running a UKIP household there.

Ryan grinned sheepishly.
“Thanks mum,” he said, and ate a spoonful of yoghurt.

What the hell are you thanking her for? All she did, basically,  was say, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll get a girlfriend at some point, no idea when, and I’m not going to help with this Charlie thing, you have to decide.’ I wouldn’t be satisfied with that answer.

And then, just to rub salt into the wound…

Then he spat it out again.
“Mum!” he complained. “I’ve told you not to buy prune yoghurts!”


What scene’s next…?

Jack walked through Hyde Park with Carol by his side.


OK, here it comes. First for a bit of backstory…

Going back to the tale about the Weird Wiry and Timid Tubby Ones, I actually had a moment of doubt, when coming to this scene, whether I’d be able to pull it off successfully. The answer obviously is no, but that’s true of every scene I’d written. But I had more crippling doubts about this one, and so I turned to my BFF, looked him dead in the bloodshot eye and invited him to write this next, highly pivotal scene which I’m pretty sure you all saw coming. Afterwards I tweaked a bit of the words around and made a few improvements to the punctuation, but it’s virtually all his work. Bear that in mind.

As it was still early morning, there weren’t many people around. That was how he preferred it.

That sounds like he’s either planning murder or gratuitous sex. Or possibly both. Place your bets now.

Carol was slightly confused.

Yeah, so am I. Why did I feel I wasn’t capable of writing this scene, but perfectly capable of writing plenty of other scenes I botched horribly…? Either I wanted the Weird Wiry one to have some control over the process he had really wanted in this story, or the Timid Tubby is just incapable of handling these sorts of emotions…more so than others…?

Anyway, Carol’s reason for confusion is Jack’s silence, which believe me, is pretty unusual.

Normally the two of them would be laughing and joking about Mr Mothman, Whitney, Mr Mothman, Kurt, Mr Mothman, the current political situation and even Mr Mothman.

Yeah, let’s just laugh and joke about people behind their backs. Poor Mr Mothman…and when he turns back around, I bet they hit him with a briefcase.

So, Carol queries Jack on what this silent treatment is all about.

“I need to talk to you about something.” Jack’s voice was completely expressionless.

Oh God, he’s turned into a Cyberman!

All truth be told, I think this scene does highlight the different way me and my BFF did actually portray the characters we considered closest to us. Here, he portrays himself as dark, troubled, guarded and borderline Byronic, whereas my presentation of both him and myself was virtually the opposite. This isn’t to say the character of Jack couldn’t have been a generally laid-back zany thing, becoming distinctly and aggressively moodier when faced with emotional turmoil, but that’s clearly not the intent we were going with.

So, they sit down, and he BROODS over everything.

“I been thinking about the things you’ve told me recently,” he said finally.

I been fucking up my grammar, too. Looks like I failed a spot check there…

“Like how your sister slept with Kythner, how you feel et cetera. And I just thought to myself, ‘I’m not up to this.’”

Nice thing to let her know given how awful she feels about it. And I’m still not entirely sure why. It was a long time ago…and why should that bother him anyway?

“I’m not up to having a girlfriend who’s sister once slept with someone who would go onto to murder people and smoke crack…!”

“How do you mean?” Carol asked.
“Ryan on the other hand is,” Jack continued.

Lol, what…?

“Ryan’s way more equipped to dealing with a girlfriend who’s sister once slept with someone who would go onto murder people and smoke crack. You know his step-dad deals drugs? He’s got it all sorted.”

No, of course what Jack’s referring to is being able to handle these matters emotionally…which makes even less sense. When has Ryan ever shown a sign of being an emotionally dependable person? He’s obsessed with being a Casanova, reacts to minimal foreign mentoring with racist rhetoric and can’t seem to handle being constantly texted by his stepdad with any maturity other than just sending him witty remarks all the time about how he’ll never get his mum’s number…? Ryan is nothing more than a hot-headed, slightly racist and philandering immature teenager. I know Jack isn’t much better, but it’s clear he does at least care…

Well, what else should I expect from a forced plot-point…?

How about some purple prose?

He forced himself to look into her eyes: Her beautiful, jade-coloured eyes.

That shouldn’t be funny, but it is.

“I hope we’ll still get along after this. I really like you, Carol. But like I said, things are kind of getting out of hand.”

What? That’s not her fault, you fucking prick. Forget what I said about him caring…it was four years ago! Just let it go…!

“Sorry, but if I had known you had a sister who had slept with a murdering drug dealer, I never would have even found your gingerness attractive.” It got out of hand FOUR YEARS AGO, past tense!!

And given that everyone seems convinced that this was the reason her parents abandoned her and her siblings, Jack doing a runner from Carol when the going gets tough is rather a little more conveniently cruel.

Carol didn’t really like the direction the conversation was going, so she decided to play stupid.
“Is this something to do with your blog?” she asked.

Well, yeah, I mean, that really is playing stupid.

“Yes! Toby’s secretly been filming you this entire time, and like a true Yoda impersonator, will stroll forward after I leave making suggestive gestures to you…”

What sort of call back is that…?

“Carol,” Jack interjected. “I’m breaking up with you.”

Just in case we hadn’t got the point.

So, with this bombshell dropped, Jack decides to leave, with these rather empty parting words:

“Sorry,” Jack said. He turned to look at her. “But you really don’t need me anymore. Go and see Ryan. He’ll help. Well…I’ll see you around.”

OK, first of all, does it not occur to him in the slightest that Carol doesn’t want to wail into the bosom of someone who has an established crush on her mere seconds after she’s just been broken up with…? Why has Jack suddenly decided to pair these two up anyway?

Secondly, Ryan will help…? Are you serious? He’ll help himself, certainly, probably to a piece of Carol’s ass.

Anyway, the purple prose soon returns.

She couldn’t stop herself. The tears flowed like a burst pipe out from her jade eyes and down her face.

I can’t possibly take that seriously.

This scene probably counts as a piece of character development, given that Jack has spent so long being a loggerheads with Ryan over an indifferent Carol’s affections. Now, he’s the one to break up with her and even actively invites her to go and see him. Now, arguably, this could look as though he’s maturing and has come to realisation that he fell for her due to her looks but can’t find the romantic chemistry to continue, but that’s certainly not what I was going for. It’s, ‘hey, I don’t like this ginger bitch.’ ‘Fine, I’ll write in a break-up for you.’ I mean…it could have gone worse, but…

We then cut to our de jure protagonist, because we need her to feature at least sometimes.

 “…and if Whitney finds out about Nathan, she’ll never stop insulting my name and his until she’s dead. And if I had my way, that wouldn’t be very long,” Amber said.
Sofia frowned.
“How very immature of her. She has no heart at all.”
Distant cries of shock came from the other end of the field.
“Oh, who’s Rocket got now?” Sofia grumbled.
Amber looked.
“Dunno. Whoever it was they’ve scarpered pretty quick.”

It’s really weird – that was actually genuinely pretty funny…

Amber is relaying her experiences of Hyde Park Comprehensive (the, what, three days she’s been there…?) to her BFF and debating whether she finds it that bad at all. Of course, what we opened up on suggests that she’s involved in a most terrifying bullying campaign, though I can’t imagine Whitney doing anything genuinely horrible, considering she just doesn’t seem to be very good at it. Amber’s threat to kill her seems very sincere either way…

Then we get this small development…

“Well, I’ve been thinking Amber,” Sofia went on. “I’ve made all the necessary arrangements and its fine.”
“What is?”
“I’m going!” Sofia replied, grinning.
“Yeah! To Hyde Park Comprehensive to keep you company!”
Amber tried to imagine Sofia in her form room. This thought cheered her up, and so she said,
“C’mon, let’s go to Thornton’s.”

Ah, Thornton’s. What better a haunt to give you diabetes.

Nevertheless, although myself and Jack seem to dominate the Heterosexual Life Partner scene, it’s clear that there’s some sincerely strong friendship going on here too, with Sofia so desperate to help her BFF out that she actually changes schools. Bless her. Is this is a set-up for another obvious event…? Obviously! But it gives a poignant image nonetheless.

Going back to Hyde Park, Ryan ends up finding Carol. How small did I think Hyde Park was exactly…? Either way, Carol spills the incident and Ryan is royally pissed off. Why…? I don’t know really what is problem is. She’s available now, isn’t she?

But Ryan’s first call to action is to pay Jack a visit. Back to the homoerotic tension. Took them a while, but…

Jack was pacing up and down his hallway, thinking about what he had just done.

I would have loved to get an insight on what these thoughts contained.

“Dammit! I should have left her some crack as a parting gift. Just to remind of why I broke up with her.”

Then, there was hammering on the door. Jack opened it, and the next thing he knew, he was being dragged out of his house in a tight headlock by some unseen attacker.

Happens to me daily.

Yep, it’s Ryan, and Jack is rather rightly confused.

“I spoke to Carol earlier,” Ryan explained, his face still contorted with rage.
“Oh,” Jack muttered, realising what this was about.
“She didn’t deserve that,” Ryan snarled.
“Exactly. She didn’t deserve me. I’m not good enough-”
“Don’t give me that,” Ryan growled. “She absolutely adored you, and all you can do is this?! Fed up of her were you?”

See, it’s weird. Both of them have surprisingly decent points on their positions. Jack could have been a lot harsher, without doing her the decency of breaking up with her face-to-face, and given what a low opinion he has of itself, it might have been for the best. As for Ryan, given everything she was going through (not that he was to know this), Jack’s timing wasn’t exactly on point. But here’s the thing – when has this ever been about Carol’s well-being? From the beginning, both of them were just fixated on her looks (hell, for a while they weren’t even fussy between her and Queenie), and got into scuffles without consulting her on her thoughts. Why is it suddenly all about her? I would have Ryan would be ecstatic.

Then things start to get even more ridiculous.

“Look,” Jack growled, his own temper flaring up. “Who taught you to be this judgemental? Was it that useless mother of yours or-”

Oh God, this is hilarious…

See, it’s never been about Carol. These two just needed an excuse to sabre-rattle. And Jack starts off with a ‘yo momma’ line, essentially. Brilliant. He’s probably never even met her.

“Oh no, of course not,” Jack continued. “It must have been Charlie; you’re just like him-”
That did it.
Ryan ran forward, driving his fist with all his strength right into Jack’s stomach, yelling,

So, they start their hammed-up fight, and it’s not like their previous scuffles that were mainly for comic relief, I meant this as a very serious matter, and it had a lot more detail to it, rather like Summer and Amber’s fight earlier. I felt like describing every frame of this fight.

Then Jack retaliated with a punch in the face. Ryan staggered backwards, as Jack advanced on him. Then Jack grabbed Ryan’s neck and twisted him into a headlock. Driving him into the wall, Jack said,
“What’s wrong Head? All out Charlie’s techniques?”
Ryan grabbed Jack by the throat and slammed him into the wall.

And then he kissed him passionately.

Actually, what Ryan does do next is even weirder.

“You know,” Ryan said. “That still-born baby your mother had must’ve died because it didn’t want a brother like-”
Jack kicked out, forcing Ryan to let go of him and go reeling.

….what? Where the fuck did that come from? So, after having no family mentioned whatsoever in this story, Jack suddenly has a still-born sibling and Ryan knows about it, deciding to use it as leverage in this fight…? I honestly don’t know what to say about that…

Ryan manages to get a few more good kicks and punches at Jack…

As Jack was doubled up, Ryan pushed him into the floor, kicked him, and walked away, thinking he had won.

So, you just came round here to beat him up? Not to make him change his position on having broken up with Carol, not trying to talk sense into him for his ridiculous reasons for breaking up with her, just beat him up. Fine, it’s the way Ryan does things. If UKIP only has one rhetoric, why shouldn’t he…?

But then:

Then something heavy collided with the side of his head, causing him to fall to the floor and almost knocking him out. Stars winking mockingly in front of his eyes, he turned to see what had hit him.
Jack was standing over him, holding a cricket bat and with a look in his eyes Ryan had never seen.
Pure loathing.

JESUS. The briefcase was one thing, but this…? Why has Jack suddenly become a psycopath?

Anyway, Carol suddenly arrives and insists Jack should stop. He stops short of just killing the guy, at least. However:

He threw down the cricket bat and turned to walk back into his house. But just as he was about to walk through his door, he turned to look at Ryan.
“If you ever come near my house again, I’ll resume this, and this time I won’t stop-” he glanced at Carol “-for anyone.”
Then he strode into his house and slammed the door.

Well, Jack’s straight-up admitted to being willing to commit murder. Umm…our heroes!

Now, I do believe that last bit was also written by the Weird Wiry One, which explains Jack’s very severe personality swings. Sort of…oh God…

Well, there was that chapter. What can I say? Did this kind of drama entrance me? I suppose, but I’d hardly say it was a reflection of real life. Here’s a lesson for you, Timid Tubby one. Emotions are so much more complicated, and interactions so much more heart-breaking than you could have possibly realised…


That Life II Commentary: Chapter 6

Moving on from the horrific political situation at the moment, where two men who pose in a golden lift call themselves of the people and anti-establishment, I’d like to return to this, for a bit of light entertainment.

It’s interesting that I come across this chapter at this time, because its title is kind of relevant to what’s unfolded. Chapter Six: Shocking Truths.

Ross lay on his bed, mulling things over.

God, that’s all I could do when I found out at as well.

OK, OK…I know I’m going on about it, but Trump supporters would have done if Clinton had won, so, fuck the double standards. I’ll try and keep the Trump jokes to a minimum, but no promises…

More than twice his mind landed on Amber.

Oh, of course it did…behold the wonders of teenage lust.

She’s bound to hate me thought, he thought, rolling over and sitting up. 

Why does everyone in this story think about crushes the same way I do…?

Oh, wait…

There was a knock at the door.
“Come in,” he called. Then, upon realising something, he added, “Depending on who you are.”

Yeah, you’ve got to be careful, it could be Donald Trump.


The door opened and his worst fears had been realised as Keith walked in. Ross stood up angrily. He was so angry, he didn’t even realise that Keith had a serious expression on his face.

Even Keith knows that a Trump victory is no laughing matter.

Alright, I’m sorry. But honestly, these jokes are just getting handed to me on a silver platter, it’s irresistible.

It transpires, actually, that Keith wants to make amends.

“Look, Ross. It can’t go on like this. I’ve been a prat and I know it. We just have to-”

What’s my obsession with cutting people off?

“We just have to fuck until we’re exhausted to the point of collapse…”
“We just have to finish our sentences at some point.”
“We just have to stop making Donald Trump jokes…”

We use humour to deal with traumatic experiences, that’s just the way humans are.

It’s interesting that we’re still nowhere near finding out what exactly Keith’s meant to be apologising for, although I still think there are rape undertones in the text.

Ross grabbed him by the front of his shirt and slammed him against his wall. He was glad now for them being almost the same age. He couldn’t walk away.

Oh God, is this retribution rape…?

“Oh come on, Ross,” Keith said. “Don’t do this. I’m your brother.”

Again, out of context, it sounds so…

Oh, and yeah, was that covered before? I don’t think it was, in which case…OMG ANOTHER REVELATION, WHAT CAN WE DO…?

After that particular bombshell’s dropped on us, Ross tells Keith to bugger off.

We then get a scene with the last two people you’d expect – Queenie and Carol, the local redheads, who never have any role outside of being various characters’ lust objects! And what, they’re getting character development now??

“Do you want this?”
Carol was holding up a photo in a frame that had a young man and a young woman on it, who had just married. Queenie was puzzled.
“Why? Don’t you want it?”
“Oh…all right then.”

Well, that got us nowhere…

Of course, the narration later reveals that the photo, wherever the hell it suddenly came from, is of Queenie and Carol’s parents, who apparently abandoned them…at some point…Queenie is naturally not too happy about this, but forgets about it as she’s getting ready for school.

She put it [the photograph] down on her bedside table and looked around for her school-tie.
Where did she leave it?

As any person who has grown up within the British school system knows, misplacing your tie is a serious offence. The faculty will look upon you in wide-eyed horror, weep for their lives and beat you soundly with left shoes and unripe bananas. To a teacher, the only crime more heinous than not wearing a tie is being Michael Gove.

So, Queenie decides to go and ask Carla, her and Carol’s twenty-year-old sister, who was briefly introduced in the last story as being some gum-chewing chav, if she’s seen it, which seems a very odd move. Isn’t Carol, her twin sister who shares her room going to be much more likely to find it…?

It transpires that her sister isn’t in her bedroom, which makes sense, given that without any parents she’s surely the primary care-giver and has to work…just reminds me how incredibly rude Carol was to her in the last story. Poor Carla…

Queenie was about to leave when something caught her eye. Another photograph, on her sister’s desk. She went over to it.

Why? That’s a little nosy, I’d say…and besides, why is a desk photograph of your sister’s so interesting to you all of a sudden…?

She recognised one of the people on it as her sister, about four years younger. And the other one was…
She gasped.
She knew that face. After all, it was on the news often enough. But her sister in the picture was holding hands with him.

I have to say, Kythner’s ability to have a connection with literally everyone ever is starting to get a little far-fetched. It’s almost like he’s an Uchiha.

Or maybe it’s an absolutely tiny world.

We cut to Amber, who’s finally back in school and continuing to read her Horowitz book.

The people around her were all discussing their plans for the weekend, but she didn’t care. She would just be glad to get out of the madhouse they called a school.

Why would she care about people discussing their weekend plans? That makes very little sense…

It’s interesting that this is still the first week of term. This story has moved a lot more slowly than the first, which has crossed weeks without incident. We’ve done just four days (evidently Monday was an inset day) in five whole chapters. That really is something. I obviously wanted closer attention to more detail this time round…

Whitney was sitting on her desk, bragging about something or other. Nobody except for Summer and Kurt were actually listening, so it didn’t really matter.

I dispute that with nearly every fibre of my being. I would love to hear what Whitney says to her admirers. It could be anything, from bragging about how many girls she’s seduced with her wild hair (Summer might not like that) to the fact that she alone amongst everyone in this school has no connection to Kythner whatsoever.

Unfortunately, Whitney doesn’t like being ignored. So, beckoning her cronies, she marched straight up to Amber’s desk.

Whitney, we will never ignore you. Just don’t stamp on Summer’s heart by flirting with Amber again. 😦

 “What are you reading?” Whitney asked, grabbing the book from her hands.

See, I don’t get Whitney’s intimidation tactics, if that’s what they’re meant to be. Sure, something like this would be irritating, but it’s not awful. Whitney would get an F in evil. Maybe she’s just trying to make more friends. Badly.

Trying to keep her temper, Amber replied coolly,
“Just an interesting book, too good for your primitive minds.” Summer snarled and made to punch her, but Whitney held her back.

By her bra strap, no doubt.

“What genre is this anyway?”
“Humour mainly.”

Isolated like this, this exchange has to rank among the politest and most civil conversations that take place in either story. Hell, Whitney doesn’t even want Summer to deck Amber for calling them stupid to their faces. She seems generally interested in Amber’s hobbies. I cannot even begin to fathom how I was supposed to portray Whitney as an aggressor here. It honestly looks more like Whitney is trying to get into Amber pants and Summer’s very upset by it.

The next sequence confuses me even more.

During morning interval, Whitney, Summer and Kurt had bullied a group of year sevens away from an isolated spot on the field to plot revenge on Amber and everyone else.

For what? Well, for being patronising dicks to them, probably…and Summer is not doubt more than eager to get involved in any potential love rivals. I wouldn’t worry, Summer – Amber’s more into her dead brother than anyone else.

“They’re all really arrogant,” said Whitney hypocritically. “We need to sort them out.”

Not that hypocritically, from where I’m standing…

It’s kind of endearing that these three are trying to deal with a growing list of protagonists. It’s a losing battle, my friends. They would have benefited better from having a Quirky Miniboss Squad, but apparently, that’s not the way things work. Even Whitney’s confused as to why Kurt’s with them.

“Why are you here again?”
“Oh, he fancies you,” said Summer in a very casual tone.
“Oh, that’s nothing new,” Whitney replied. “It’s impossible not to. Anyway…”

Summer’s casual tone is clearly forced. She’s not happy sharing the minion-light with someone else who adores her Whitney, and Whitney’s just reminded her how desired she is…keeping her on her toes.

Am I forcing this romance? Well, yes…but they’re in such a better light as a couple.

Whitney decides that the best way of ruining these people’s lives is to dig up any dark, foreboding secrets they have and exposing them to everyone. Not a bad idea, but such action is less likely to result in widespread humiliation as much as sympathy and martyrdom. Still, such secrets most people would prefer to keep under wraps, and it just so happens that Caleb (TSAM) is eavesdropping on the whole thing…somehow…look, I’m not going to try and work it out, it’s Caleb, even earthworms probably adore him. He’ll have used one of those.

“All right,” Caleb said to Amber, Ruth, Naomi, Toby, Jack, Ian, Queenie, Carol, Ryan and Ross.

The return of the Mighty Ridiculous Power Rangers!

Seriously, three versus eleven? Not much of a contest…

Caleb advises his crew to leave any incriminating evidence of anything untoward at home, which…seems logical, even without people intentionally trying to expose something about you. Doesn’t seem like it’ll work though, given that these characters’ pasts have a nasty habit of catching up with them.

Whitney, Summer and Kurt begin their campaign of trying to expose our ‘heroes,’ breeding a rather obvious hostility. Then we get this.

Worse than this, if possible, was the fact that Summer was head-over-heels for Ryan and was constantly stalking him.


No, I’m going to remain calm. Because anyone trying to convince me of a heterosexual Summer is fighting a losing battle. This is the first time this has been mentioned since the last story. You’d think if Summer really had an unbridled love for our resident UKIP supporter, she’d be a lot more dedicated to him than say, her actual true love.

Her stalking of Ryan is clearly pragmatic. First off, she’s trying to find information either about him, or his eternal rival Jack that he’d be happy to spill. Secondly, this is clearly another attempt to make Whitney jealous, considering Whitney’s been doing the same. They’re going through a rough patch.

Another sign that Summer’s infatuation with Ryan can’t possibly be genuine is the way she speaks to him. She’s trying far too hard, bless her.

“No, Summer!” Ryan said as she attempted to pin him down. “Find something better to do!”
“Like go to your bed and…”
“NO!!” Ryan screamed and fled.

See how obviously forced and stupid it is?

Anyway, we get a reintroduction of Meena, Kazuki and Cordella from the last story. After doing absolutely nothing they have returned, once again, to do nothing. Well, I say nothing…

“Just try to keep Whitney and her lackeys off our backs for the time being,” Caleb said to them. “We all have enough to worry about. Can you believe that every single teacher is suddenly obsessed with GCSEs?”

“Yeah, you guys do all the hard work in trying to stop these people, despite the fact that there are more us and we’ve all got plenty to deal with.”

Who are meant to be the selfish and arrogant ones again?

Also, being year 9s, I wouldn’t worry too much about GCSEs yet…

After school, Queenie decides to bring up what she discovered earlier with Carol. I would complain about her leaving it this long, but given the information gathering campaign Whitney’s set against them all, I can’t blame her. I have to wonder what role Whitney’s campaign has in this story, but never mind…

“I found out this morning why mum and dad left all of us.”
“Carla…dated Seb Kythner when she was at school.”

That’s a bit of a logical leap, isn’t it? Surely if you disapprove of the boy your daughter is seeing, you keep a closer eye on her, not fuck off to God knows where. Maybe they were just awful parents, but I think the more likely explanation is that Queenie’s jumping to conclusions…

Carla demands to know how Queenie knows about this…

“I found a photograph of the two of you,” Queenie replied.

Yeah, in hindsight, Carla could have done a better job of keeping it hidden, even if she didn’t want to just throw it out than say, keeping it on her desk in plain sight. She’s making Whitney’s job infinitely easier.

Carla tries to defend herself.

“I didn’t realise he was going to end up arrested for the murder of his mother. I just thought he was misunderstood…”
“Misunderstood?” Queenie almost laughed. “He smoked flipping crack almost every day and you didn’t even notice?”

Aaaaaaaaand we’re back to the drug demonization.

This is so bizarre – why is someone smoking crack considered to be the epitome of all evil?

Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t think chain smoking of any kind is a good idea, and I think smoking crack can be pretty dangerous for your mind. But this story treats it like the cardinal, eternal sin of anyone’s values, and if anything, he sounded like an addict and a victim.

And how exactly does Queenie know he smoked crack even back then? She has no way of knowing. Jumping to non sequitur conclusions again. She’d make a good creationist.

Then we get a little something which does irritate me quite a bit. Carla continues to talk about her experiences.

“But, well, you know… after I slept with him I…”
“You did WHAT?!!?” Carol half screamed.

She’s already admitted to being in a relationship with him, why is the fact that it was a sexual relationship, a) So shocking, and b) So much more awful? Given that it was four years ago, it’s clear that Carla is not pregnant or suffering from any terrifying STD as a result of it, and so my only real answer is that this was, essentially, slut-shaming.

I’m not proud of it, like, at all, but I had weird perceptions when I was younger. The fact that this disturbs me now is a clear indicator of progress, and if nothing else, I want people to go away with the idea that change is not a bad anything. Progress has built the modern world and it’s our only hope to stamp out the vitriol that’s been dominating the Western world recently.

Anyway, Carol heads off to her bedroom to digest this particular revelation.

This was so overwhelming she almost screamed in misery.

Oh come on, it’s not that bad. It was a long time ago. And your parents are awful people if that’s they reason they left you. That’s just the way it is.

No doubt wanting some comfort, she calls up Jack to tell him about what has transpired. Jack is pretty shocked by this, and asks her to meet him tomorrow, doing this rather bizarre internal struggle with himself…

He was really angry with himself. Carol deserved a nice, handsome, understanding guy, and Jack knew he was none of these things (well, obviously he was a guy, but you know what I mean).

Yeah, not the best time for attempted to comedic whatever during what’s meant to be a very solemn moment. I would also ask him not to be so hard on himself, but this is the ‘ooh, redheads!’ guy, soooo…my sympathy is limited.

We then get a small scene with Amber who is celebrating the fact that school is over for the weekend. The way this is written betrays a character who’s obviously very introverted with just one close friend, which has already been established I’d say. It is, nevertheless, a personal reflection. As is the fact that she considers the friends she has made at Hyde Park Comprehensive, and when her mind settles on her brother lookalike, we get a parallel to what went through Ross’ mind before.

She sighed. Did she have a crush on him? Almost certainly, but he was obviously not interested in her.


I really needed to work on my techniques back then.

The next scene is one of the best. It’s a dream sequence, and unlike Amber’s plot-relevant dream, it’s just used for a bit of comic relief, as dreams tend to be…

How did I get here? Sean wondered.
He was sitting in a church and Toby and Naomi were at the front. Naomi was in a bride’s dress and Mr Mothman was leading the service.

Already that image is so wonderful.

“If any person has any objection as to why these two may not be wed, please don’t attack me with a briefcase, or else I might have a heart attack. At least I’ll still have more hair than the headmaster.”

Sean was annoyed. Why were they getting married? Surely they still had GCSEs to think about?

Well, they are only in year 9…nevertheless, I still love the fact that Sean’s the only person in this story with his priorities straight. Ironic, considering that in the first story he was one of the most demented.

This next bit might be the most fantastic line in either of these stories:

He marched up to the front of the church, and slapped Toby, who squealed like a pig and died.

Self-deprecating humour FTW!!!

He turned to Naomi, expecting her to be glad, but on the contrary, her hair was turning grey and her skin was wrinkled.

Look at your hair grow, isn’t it strange, how time makes your appearance change…?



I mean, if Sean was dreaming about that…woe betide him…

“Detention Sean!” Mr Mothman barked, and turned into Aiden who was holding and AK-47. There was a clatter of machine gun fire and…
Sean woke up.
“What the hell was that?” he asked himself aloud, sitting up in bed.

Well, let’s find out.

According to what might be the psychological interpretation of dreams (or might be some divination nonsense, I don’t know) dreaming of attending a wedding means you’re accepting or going through some sort of transition, which for Sean, kind of makes sense, given that he’s going to be doing his GCSEs soon. Yeah, he’s the one who should actually worry about it…

Anyway, Naomi comes into his room without knocking, and we get this.

“Although…” she eyed Sean’s hair apprehensively. “Your hair is worse than Toby’s!”

Again with the self-deprecation…is that all that happens to me? And given that we’re talking about bed head hear, that implies she’s been with me in bed. Make of that what you will…

Sean doesn’t pick up on it actually, which kind of annoys me. Wouldn’t it have been so great to have a teen pregnancy storyline in this? Imagine the narm! I mean…I know they’re like…13 and 14, but…so are their partners, so…eh…

So what is Naomi doing in his room?

“Hmm? Oh yeah. I was looking for my necklace. You know, the one Toby gave me for Christmas?”
Sean considered.
“Well, I think I may have seen it in mum and Quentin’s room.”
“OK, thanks.”

OK, why would her necklace (I want to know what it looks like now…) be in their room? Because it’s the only double bed in the house…? Things are looking immensely suspicious now…

And for that matter, why would she think Sean’s got it? She probably assumed he was testing it for anything untoward.

Sean then desires to know from Naomi why she’s managed to get a relationship and he hasn’t, and she just tells him to be patient, pointing out that he and Alexis are very close.

 “[…]I hardly see her without you!”

Well, I mean, to be fair as possible, that’s probably because the only times you see her are in association with Sean, given that you know her through him…just saying…

So Naomi heads towards her mother’s room, but Quentin tells her that it’s best to leave it, as their mother has a hangover. Naomi is upset by this once again, but as this particular story thread really doesn’t lead anywhere, cutting it would have led to no problems whatsoever.

Oh, and it turns out that the necklace was in the room after all. I’m calling it – we totally fucked in there.

Anyway, that’s the end of that chapter, and the next includes a fairly major plot development, and least as far as these stories go, so we can all laugh at that. Leave comments, I hope to see you next time, and be overwhelmingly wonderful to each other because life’s too short.



That Life II Commentary: Chapter 5

OMG, it’s actually been a while!

Yeah…I guess returning to university just took over all of my senses, both the mental and the emotional.

Oh the turmoil! But I don’t have time for that now. I’m determined not to let myself sink into some horrible pit of despair so I’m embarking on this again. Hereon in there is a lot of stuff going on in this story, so much so that the this chapter is awfully clunky and full of crap. But what the hell? It’s fun to write about, so let’s get to it. Chapter Five: The Noble Purpose of Brothers. The first chapter, I think, with a multiple reference title.

And in fact, this chapter also starts off with a dream sequence…

Amber clambered out of the sea, the salt water still clinging to her.

OK, what is this story’s obsession with having Amber in bodies of water? The shower, the sea, the Thames…? This isn’t even a fetish I have, so it can’t of be the horny 13-year-old me wanting a bit of something…

She lay back onto the pure white sand, allowing the radiating sun dry her.
It wasn’t long however, before a pile of sand was kicked at her. She opened her eyes to see Nathan running away from her laughing.

OMG! RETURN OF A NAME FROM THE LAST CHAPTER…! To be honest, having sand kicked at you is no laughing matter…Nathan’s clearly a bit of a dick.

Also – radiating sun? Of course it’s radiating. What a pointless description. This is just a more pretentious way of saying ‘hot sun.’

Terry looked at the two of them running across the Mediterranean sand and turned, grinning broadly, to his wife Tabitha.

A change of POV mid-dream? OK…

“I sometimes can’t believe the two of them,” he chuckled, rubbing sun-tan lotion into his arm.
“We’re lucky, y’know?” Tabitha replied. “Most twin brothers and sisters hate each other’s guts.”

I’d be intrigued to see where Tabitha’s getting her information from. As far as I can see, Amber has every reason to hate Nathan, but why is it a general rule? Has she done a survey…?

Of course, this elusive Nathan being revealed as Amber’s brother does raise obvious questions. Something I’m deliberately keeping from the audience. It does intrigue me, because I can’t remember the moment when I consciously understood this element of storytelling. How did it come about…? Did I get a visit from an angel? Or better still, a Kyubey? Actually, what am I talking about? That’s dreadful…

Amber woke up, rolled over and sat up in bed.
Six years it had been since that holiday. She had never dreamt about it before. She guessed that Ross was bringing back the old memories.

But here’s the problem – Ross, her love interest, very closely resembles her twin brother Nathan…


I mean, it might not be all that. Some studies have shown that we’re likely to be attracted to people who resemble us or our parents, and indeed, even though twins of the opposite sex cannot be mono-zygotic, there’s going to be a resemblance there. But according to the subtext of this story, Ross’ resemblance to Nathan is uncanny – it’s even pointed out by Sofia later in a rather callous way, and furthermore, it’s not just his looks, but also his actions that remind Amber of her brother, such as doing whatever the hell he was doing to her after she’d fallen in the Thames. Now this is just too odd to think about…

Me writing incest subtext at 13…George R.R. Martin, eat your heart out.

How does Amber react to all of this…?

She sighed.

Of course she did. It’s practically her catchphrase.

Anyway, after her incident, Amber’s staying at home today, so we cut to the other unlovable rogues at Hyde Park Comprehensive.

Ruth was quite surprised to find that Amber had had hypothermia. As she walked into her form room, she hoped that she was alright.

She didn’t hope that when she first heard about it though.

According to Fraser, he and Ross had managed to sort her out.

Oh God, we’re back to that again. I don’t want to hear what Fraser said about Ross and him sorting Amber out, thank you.

So, trying to put Amber out of her mind, she went over to sit next to Naomi, who was chatting animatedly to Queenie and Carol about Toby coming to see her parents that evening.

Oh, they’re all gossiping about me! It’s not just Caleb I nurture as a Creator’s Pet then…

Naomi is of course concerned that Sean’s just going to be his usual self whilst I’m around. There’s no discussion about Naomi meeting my parents, because my parents don’t exist in this universe…

And then we cut to…

Jack meanwhile was talking to Ryan.

Oh, this should be fun…

The two of them were trying to keep their voice calm. Their friends had challenged them to go the entire school day without snapping at each other at all. Jack eventually got fed up of this and went over to Toby.

Well, so much for that…ah well, at least we get a heart-to-heart between two BFFs!

And it’s a surprisingly realistic heart-to-heart. I mean, considering we’re the only people from real life here, that’s not all too unbelievable.

“Hey mate,” he said, “How’re you doing?”

OK, I take that back. We would not say mate to each other. We’re far too erudite.

“I can see you’re worried about this evening. Don’t. I’ll come over there myself.”


I dismiss this idea though and decide to point something else out to him.

“And anyway, you’ve got your own problems.”
“Like what?”
“Carol,” Toby replied grimly. “The two of you don’t seem to be getting on as well as you normally do lately.”

Oh the woes of romance that don’t make sense…

But hey, continuity! Whatever issues Jack and Carol are having, it’s here for the long run. OOOH, I’M SO EDGY SOMEHOW.


We get a rather pointless scene with Amber, who’s beginning to pen a novel, because of course she is. She’s – in a strange sort of a way – an author avatar of mine. Bet it’s even crapper than this one. Actually, it’s never referenced again, so…

We then cut to an assembly, where Mr Ealing gets to deliver a speech. This should be fun…

“But I would also like to mention something. When the Easter term started, we had one less student. His name is Aiden Gorse.”
A shiver swept through the assembly hall.

Sorry, there is absolutely no way I can take this seriously. I mean, were they paid to shiver on cue? Mr Ealing needed to find some way to make the threat of Aiden even bigger. Why not a death metal dedication?


Yeah, well…you get the idea with that…

But Mr Ealing’s description of Aiden is pretty amusing anyway…

“Aiden was a druggie,” Mr Ealing continued.

Really? You couldn’t have used a more professional term? Drug pusher? Drug dealer? (Everyone’s favourite bogyeman, that, anyway…)

“And a vandal, a thief, a bully…and a sociopath. He was arrested before the last term ended. He eventually set fire to the school and kidnapped a student. I am happy to say that this student is still in our midst. But I must warn you all that I will not tolerate people like that in our school.”

No shit.

Well, unless he was referring to people like Naomi rather than Aiden, which seems a bit unfair.

“How dare you get kidnapped! That’s far too cliché!”
“It’s not my fault. My boyfriend was the one who wrote it, including me getting knocked out and tied up. Dirty bastard.”

So, anyway, we next get a scene with Caleb (THE SUAVE AND MAGNIFICENT) who accidentally walks into someone. Clumsy oaf.

“Sorry,” he apologised. He caught a brief glimpse as he walked past him…
And stopped dead in his tracks.
He turned back to the boy he had just walked past.
It couldn’t be.

It’s none other than KODAKA HASEGAWA, or Taka, as we like to call him…

“Kieran?” he asked. “Is that you?”

Bloody hell, this story already has more surplus character introductions than A Song Of Ice And Fire.

So, this Kieran kid seems very alarmed to see Caleb and insists he doesn’t know him…the first person who’d want to deny a connection with the suave and magnificent, no doubt, but the scene pretty much ends there. So, who is this kid?? The answer is rather disappointing…

We then get yet another cut, this time to Aiden, who seems bored with being incarcerated and has a flashback concerning Russell. Again, it has a date stamp, but there’s something a little more intriguing about this one. Possibly.

“And this,” Seb smiled, “Is where we get it all!” Aiden grinned nastily.
“So, we’ll get all of the pot from here?” he asked.

He literally just said that’s where you get it all, Aiden. Were people really afraid of this guy? He’s an idiot. Well, actually, that probably makes him more dangerous…

So, Seb, Aiden and the rest in this flashback are engaging in their only passtime, possessing and smoking cannabis. I think these guys really need to be introduced to TV Tropes. It’ll kill so much time.

No doubt, Kythner’s entire gang would be of an obsolete size to get all of the cannabis, so he has most of them stationed outside.

“Caleb, Kieran and everyone else, stay out here and make sure nobody comes poking around. Aiden and Russell, you come with me.”

Oh, look! Mystery solved! Kieran was an old accomplice of Aiden and Kythner too! What another pointless connection to make! Like seriously, there’s no need to establish another person who knew Kythner at this point. We have Caleb (TSAM), Aiden and Russell, all of whom are going through some pretty hammed up personal drama. Kieran’s literally just been dropped in suddenly – and for some reason Caleb never noticed him at the same school before? Presumably in the same year?

But by far the best thing about this is how Kythner just decides to name only the plot-relevant members of his little gang.

“Caleb, Kieran, and all of you other nameless, faceless mooks who don’t need identities because the author fucking hates you can stay here.”
“Umm, I don’t like the sound of that. I don’t have a name or an indentity. I’m going to die, aren’t I?”
“No, you’re just not going to do anything except in this scene.”
“Oh…but it doesn’t even pay well. And I want to be suave and magnificent!”
“God, no wonder we’re all hooked on cannabis…”

So, Kythner, Aiden and Russell make there way into a highly convenient warehouse to pick up some of the cannabis, and then we get a fine show of Kythner’s awful strategy.

“The point is,” he said, “They’ll notice if it was all nicked, wouldn’t they? Unless of course, you have something bigger to distract them with.”
“Like what?” Russell asked.
Seb grinned even wider and nastier than he usually did.
“We’re gonna torch the place!”

How does this even make the slightest bit of sense?

  1. Arson is a much more severe crime (I think?) than just stealing some class B drugs from a warehouse. And in any case, it’s the owners of the warehouse who are much more likely to be landed in it by hoarding all this stuff in the first place.
  2. Don’t nick all of it then, you idiot! We’re not told how much cannabis there is here, but if it’s being stored in a warehouse, one would have to imagine that it’s quite a bit. A later line indicates that there’s still some left over when their pockets are full, so…? Just take enough for yourselves and no one will be any the wiser.
  3. I’m sure they’ll fucking notice if you set fire to the place, and you’re much more likely to be landed in it by torching the place than just stealing from it, as I’ve already pointed out.

I mean, Aiden might be an idiot, but this guy’s hardly better. And what’s their obsession with fire?

So, after pouring petrol on the stuff and lighting it, we get this…

 “Right,” Seb said, turning to Russell. “You stay here just long enough to check that it all burns properly, and me and Aiden will go get the others.”

Russell actually obeys this command, so he’s an class A idiot too. Also, ridiculous lie on behalf of Kythner – ‘check it all burns properly.’ This isn’t a camp fire you’re making here, even if you don’t burn down the entire thing, this level of damage is enough to prove you were here and perhaps disguise the fact that you stole drugs…but as I keep saying, that’s like committing a double homicide to disguise the fact that you stole a bar of chocolate (preferably Bourneville).

So, once Kythner and Aiden are out of the room, Kythner bolts the door. With what, fuck knows.

“What did you do that for?” Aiden demanded.
“Simple,” Seb replied. “We need to have a victim of this fire, so it looks realistic.”


I’d say fire is a pretty good indication of a realistic fire. Again, going back to our analogy about committing a double homicide to disguise your chocolate theft, you go on a killing spree to give yourself a record of murder so that the fact that you committed a double homicide is more believable…? Even though there are two dead bodies…?

It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it does prove that Kythner is very fond of sadistic felonies.

Aiden is in fact quite pissed that Kythner left Russell there to burn, bizarrely, and so Kythner knocks him over and legs it. Aiden frees Russell (Russell’s reaction to this isn’t recorded), and they split from Kythner thereon after, as does Caleb too, apparently.

Aiden reflects on this, and we get this bizarre insight –

Aiden may have set fire to the school, but he didn’t put anyone directly in the line of it. He doubted that even he would stoop that low.

Except for the fact that he locked most of the doors to prevent anyone from escaping, pretty much the same as what Kythner did. The fact that they both knew that there were people locked in a burning building puts them rather on the same level, and in the case of Aiden, it was actually a lot more. He even reflects on the fact that Russell might be one of those victims and decides he doesn’t care. This a very different Aiden to the one witnessed here, and it obviously shows a bit of character derailment. I’m not against redeeming antagonistic characters at all, but you’ve got to choose your battles, and a completely irredeemable arsonist, kidnapper and grievous bodily harmer is not a good choice for such a redemption arc. Why not someone like Whitney or Summer…?

Why was I Draco In Leather Pantsing one of my own characters? God, I was weird…

Caleb catches up with Kieran, and we get this pointless exchange.

“Kieran wait!” Caleb called after him. Kieran shook his head violently.
“I can’t be seen with you, not after that announcement.”
“Don’t worry,” Caleb said. “It’s all over now. Did you leave same time as I did?”
“Well, actually, no,” he replied. “But I really think you should just leave me alone now, OK?”

All over now? Caleb was all for angsting over it earlier…well, never mind. Bye Kieran, we won’t miss you because we barely know you.

We then cut to (look, I’m sorry there are so many changes in perspective in this story, it really is turning into ASOIAF, but without the good stuff) Amber again, who’s succumbed to a bit of writer’s block and determines that she needs to get out of it somehow, but is distracted by a ringing of the doorbell. And it’s none other than her mother…

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH, I hear the crowd go. What’s this…? Well, we don’t get to find out then and there, BECAUSE WE FUCKING CUT AWAY AGAIN, JESUS…

Sean was absent-mindedly doodling in his book, hardly listening to a word Ms McGriffin was saying about GCSEs and A-levels.

Sean, I don’t care, OK? Your laziness is distracting a perfectly decent (well, by the standards of the story) scene concerning a bit of insight into Amber’s family life. Why should I care about your doodles in the slightest?

He was dimly aware of the fact the most of them seemed to be of Toby with some sort of negative expression on his face.


Well, Sean’s back to wanting to kill me again. Wonderful. We don’t get much insight into the nature of these doodles, sadly. What are they? One where I’m getting decapitated by a stray shuriken (that’s a brick joke that’s lasted YEARS), and the other where I’m getting raped by Yoda for being an impostor?

So, his good friend Alexis (who’s barely appeared in this story at all, actually), asks him if he’s OK, which is a perfectly reasonable question considering what he’s drawing…

Sean reveals he’s pretty worried about having me coming to meet his family.

“I really don’t know how Toby will act. If he does anything to my little sister-”
He shook himself slightly.

Reflecting on this, it’s odd now how much I seem to empathise with Sean…but never mind that now.

After the lesson, Alexis does try and speak some sense into him, considering I’m only 13 and he can overpower me with ease, and promises that she can talk to him about how it goes. It’s a surprisingly genuine and realistically touching scene, and I’m not quite sure where the inspiration came from, given that, at least back then, I didn’t have quite as close friendships as I enjoy now. We also get something else from Sean which sets him above the rest of the cast:

Sean found the urge to kiss her overpowering, but he kept his mind where it mattered.

See? If Sean can keep his hormones in check, so can the rest of you filthy pervs.

So, we cut back to Amber and her mother Tabitha, and it’s odd, given that how Amber was defending her as being such a perfect parent earlier, apparently her opinion of her has changed.

“Yeah, you left after…what happened…and you clearly loved Nathan more than me.”


Surprisingly, Amber actually keeps her anger in check, and decides instead to ring her dad to inform her of this development.

We then get another flashback which reveals what we already knew really – Nathan was involved about four or so years ago in a car accident, leading to his untimely death. This eventually led to the break-up of Terry and Tabitha’s marriage, something that Amber is allegedly still very bitter about. To be honest, I’m more concerned about her incestual desires.

So, Terry arrives home, and he and Tabitha begin to argue. Amber, deciding to be out of the way of this, takes Yeti out for a walk…

So, she’s well enough to go outside then? In the freezing January air? Little truant…

But with Rocket not around today, presumably because Sofia is at her school, Yeti ends up bothering some people. But, as Amber drags him away, little did she know…

If Amber hadn’t been so preoccupied, she may have noticed that the cigarette the man was smoking was actually crack, or that the two men he was talking to looked like they were the mafia leaders.

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that these guys are, umm…oh, I dunno…antagonists?

Yeah, it’s Seb Kythner. One has to wonder what the hell he’s doing in broad daylight given that he’s on the run after being imprisoned for a string of offences, but we’ve already established he’s not the most intelligent individual in the world.

It turns out that the two men Kythner’s talking with are called Dirk and Phil (why?) and that they actually happen to be acquainted with Charlie, Ryan’s old step-dad, drug-dealer person. Oh, the connections. They’re afraid that Ryan might be about to dob him in, so remember that…

When Amber returns to the house, her parents are still arguing, and so she just goes back to her room. So much for that story thread…

Then finally, we get the long awaited meeting of me and Naomi’s family. Oh, the hi-jinks that will ensue! Actually, it’s disappointingly tame…

“Hi Toby!” said Dana.
“Hi Mrs Adams,” Toby replied.
“Please, call me Dana!”

She’s probably enforcing this given her habit of changing her name. Let’s just pray she’s not drunk.

But what’s Sean’s reaction to me showing up?

Sean forced a smile on his face and said,
“Hey Toby. How are you doing?” He clapped a hand on his shoulder.

He didn’t even have a knife in said hand. How boring!

Anyway, Sean eventually goes upstairs to revise for some GCSE mocks, but he finds it pretty difficult.

Sean tried hard to concentrate on his revision, but it was difficult. He was listening out for anything that might tell him that Toby had done something wrong. He almost had a heart attack when he heard Naomi laugh.

I want to get some insight into Sean’s imagination. What does he suppose I’m doing…?

Apparently, Naomi and I are gossiping about people we know.

They were discussing all sorts of things, such as Mr Mothman:
“…what a nutter…”
“…he should be retired all ready…”
And Amber:
“…she just doesn’t want to get on with us, that’s all…”
“Yeah, she’s really quite nice…”

Yeah, I can imagine these particular conversations could go all sorts of places…

“Caleb is so suave and magnificent. It’s kind of annoying.”
“Y’know, even though Ian’s back from America, he still seems absent…”
“I totally saw Whitney and Summer fucking behind the bike sheds…”
“Ryan’s got a drug-dealing ex-stepdad. LOL!”

I start reflecting on the very shallow feelings I’ve had for Naomi all this time, and it culminates in a big damn kiss…although it does beg the question whether this is the first time we’ve kissed, considering the build up. You know what? Never mind, because of course, Sean walks in on us. He quickly leaves.

Resisting the urge to march back in and throttle Toby[…]

Love it…

So, he calls up Alexis, being a little distressed about it, but amidst some awkward flirting, she advises he behaves normally. Nothing much of note happens for the rest of the chapter, but I was intrigued to find this little bit, when Quentin prompts me about my comedic so-called talents over the dinner table.

“Come off it,” Toby said. “Jack’s a lot better at it than I am.”

What can I say? I’m just bursting full of compliments and self-depreciation…which might be something I need to examine at some point…

The chapter ends with Sean finally seeing past his over-protectiveness and actually apologising for his behaviour. It’s rather brief however – unlike this chapter which took AGES.

I don’t know if I’m going to have to start splitting these chapters up like some movie studio desperate to make more money from an adaptation, but I’ll see how long the next one is.

What’s intriguing is that the title can actually refer to the action’s of three brothers – Nathan as Amber’s brother, Aiden as Russell’s brother and Sean as Naomi’s brother. For me at that age, it’s remarkably erudite. Looking back on this has been an interesting experience, for both my writing and my personal life, and maybe I’ll delve into that more later…anyway, there are a few more chapters to go, so stay tuned for them and thanks for reading…



That Life II Commentary – Chapter 4

Four is death. At least…according to some Oriental numerologists. Is this chapter death for my writing career…? Of course not! I’ve long since been done with this particular series, but…I may have almost died before getting onto this review.

After a long series of injuries that may have otherwise been amusing, and…OK, they weren’t really that long, but getting hit by a bike was graphic enough, and with all that going on, it barely registers that I’ve actually been allowed back into university, providing I obey the rules and don’t commit any violent scandals, which is good, because I need some stability whilst planning what novel ideas I’m going to write when.

In the meantime, I think it will be good to see what not to do by returning to a story which, whilst superior to the first, has many moments all too like the first to reprieve itself. Let’s take a look. Chapter Four: The Cold Shoulder.

Russell fell against the wall as the knife was thrust at his throat.

Oh, and we’re back to the violence, wonderful…

No, actually, Russell is in fact just dreaming, but, given he hasn’t even appeared in this sequel properly yet (surplus to requirements, I don’t doubt), we can’t even begin to wonder what sort of trauma he’s going through. After all, this nightmare takes a rather disturbing turn.

“Aiden…you’re just…sick!”
“Oh am I?” Aiden replied, chuckling mirthlessly. “Well, here is a gift just to show you how sick I am.”

WHY does everyone have to be on the verge of committing rape in this story…?

We should be thankful that whatever happens next is cut off by Russell waking up. He should be relieved too.

He gave a huge sigh of relief. But he was far from relieved.


Well, why breathe a sigh of relief then? It really makes no sense…

This nightmare was now recurring.

This is unfortunate. There’s far too much PTSD in this story already.

We cut to Amber, who, at school, is determined not to act out today. This a hopeful sign – maybe she’s growing out of her selfish behaviours and isn’t angling to get expelled anymore. Whatever angst she expressed in the last chapter must have given her an epiphany or something.

She looked up. Oh.
Summer was there. Why she was at school today when she had concussion only yesterday is anyone’s guess.

Well…actually I have no idea what the procedure is concerning these things. But now I’m imagining a scenario where Summer’s in a coma and has an out of body experience, and, with Whitney weeping over her near lifeless form, must decide whether she should stay or go, rather like that novel by Gayle Forman and it’s film adaptation starring Chloe Grace Moretz. And with Whitney rather than that rather creepy, skinny pallid looking boyfriend that existed in that particular work of fiction. God, I’ve improved it so much already…

I’m actually slightly concerned that my dedication to whatever relationship Whitney and Summer have is going to get in the way of other commitments. It might sound unlikely, but too much isolation and I start talking to myself, so…

We then get yet another scene cut, which make up far too much of this story. And they’re not even that long! It’s actually with Aiden, and it sheds a very limited light on whatever happened in the last chapter.

“Anything more?”
Aiden looked up scowling.
“I’ve told you everything I can,” he snarled. “What else can I say?”
The detective sighed. “You have told us about your…past experience with him, but it didn’t actually make us any the wiser on where he actually is.”
Aiden smiled grimly.
“That’s your problem,” he said. The detective sighed again, and walked away.

So, really, he gave you no leads in the slightest, just something unspecified about his past experience with Seb Kythner. Obviously we know they were part of some overly typical gang, but I don’t really want the details, given the detective’s reaction. The detective who still doesn’t seem to have a rank.

Also, I should point out that the segment up there is the entire scene with Aiden. What the hell was the point of including? It grinds the story to a complete halt, it puts an unnatural cut where it isn’t needed and doesn’t even develop the characters present any further. What we get of Aiden here is exactly the same as last time. The whole thing serves no purpose. I clearly hadn’t learned to economise at this point. Oh, and another thing I hadn’t learnt to do was tone down on the abuse I offered at what I considered Acceptable Targets. Given my rather strong viewpoints on certain matters, this hasn’t entirely gone away, but I really should focus on dropping anvils on issues that matter, rather than ones that are just pet peeves.

What exactly am I referring to?

“RUGBY!!!” screamed Mr Cork.

Yes. That.

I know I had personal issues and self-esteem issues, but I really needed to stop my relentless attack on sports people. They’d never done anything to me…I don’t think, anyway.

Of course, with writing as my primary outlet, both then and now, it feels very much like a Revenge Of The Geek, steering any intellect I might have to my advantage. I still do value brain over brawn, but this isn’t to say that rugby players are necessarily unintelligent. I’m sure most of them are perfectly nice, reasonable people that just happen to have a hobby or career that I could never understand.

But no, I was determined to demonise all sports players, particularly those of rugby, by stereotyping them as thuggish and often pugnacious idiots.

Amber sighed and turned to Ruth.
“Why didn’t you tell me that the PE teacher is deranged?” she asked her.

And again, Amber’s speaking for me…which is a little rich considering she’s far more violent than Mr Cork has proved to be so far.

Although time will tell. Quite why Mr Cork’s teaching method’s involve screaming the name of a sport, I have no idea, but let’s see how else he does it.

“The basic rules of rugby involve this ball,” he said, picking up a rugby ball.

No shit.

Why does he feel the need to explain that rugby is a competitive sport with a ball? Even I know that and I can’t stand sport, so the fact that this year 9 class seems to be full of my Author Avatars doesn’t even stand as an excuse.

“If someone were to tackle me…well, how about I show you? Someone come and try to tackle me!”
Nobody volunteered.

I’m not bloody surprised. He’s two metres tall among a class of 13-14 year olds!

Also, why does he feel the need to explain that rugby’s a ball game, but not explain what counts as tackling or indeed the scoring system? I mean, I didn’t know what the scoring system of rugby is, and I still don’t, so…

“Oh fine. Jack, you try,” Mr Cork said.

Do you have to pick on the resident chew toy? He’s got enough going on! Also, why aren’t Amber or Summer volunteering? They’ve clearly got the confrontational mindset to try and tackle a teacher. They probably have more in common than they realise…


OK, I need to stop…

“I’ll do it,” Ryan snapped, wanting to seem braver than Jack.

Oh, for God’s sake, Ryan, give it a rest.

He ran forward.
Mr Cork gave him a massive shoulder-barge, sending him careering through the air and landing hard on the grass.
“And that’s all there is to it!” he said.
“Oh, is that all?” Ian muttered sarcastically.

You see Ryan, this is how accidents happen.

Also, is Mr Cork really allowed to do that? He basically just assaulted a pupil. But then again, I’m also not surprised that nobody’s bothered by this particular incident.

The abuse of the sport continues as my point of view characters that you’re meant to root for and feel for are completely lazy and unproductive bastards.

It would normally be easy enough to…err…pretend to play rugby, but not with people like Kurt trying to act like a professional rugby-player and charging blindly into everyone.

Again, I dispute very much that professional rugby players charge blindly into everyone. At least…not their team-mates.

But Kurt was nothing compared to what Summer was doing. She seemed to have a fair bit of knowledge of rugby…but all you need to know is to charge at people and pretty much murder them.
Yeah, that was all.

Yeah, OK, we get it! I hate rugby. Whoop-di-fucking-do. How articulate of me to write it down in this format, what a great change it will have for humanity…this is why I should never have looked back.

So, whilst Summer and Kurt were busy doing very good impressions of human bulldozers, everyone else just sat on the grass and relaxed.


And why is Mr Cork not reprimanding them for their apathy? Is he too busy with the human bulldozering or whatever…?

However, it would’ve been easier to relax if it wasn’t so cold. It was only January, and PE kits are not normally made with consideration for the climate.

Well, that’s true actually, although there is the option of rugby jumpers and tracksuit trousers rather than shorts and a T-shirt. No gloves etc unfortunately, but it could be worse. Or are they just that adverse to anything rugby related?

It wasn’t long before everyone starting shivering. The only solution it seemed was to share each other’s body heat. In other words, group hugging.


Now, at this point you might be wondering why I decided to include such strange, mundane details in these stories, and honestly, it’s probably for personal reasons. We’ve already established that I hated sports and those who played them with a burning passion, and the whole group hugging thing was probably a slight against, well…the fact that I had very few friends? I certainly wasn’t close enough to the majority of my classmates in my day to be involved in any group hug that anyone wanted to perform. Inserting myself here was something of wish fulfilment, and this was probably just another example.

This segment hammers it home too…

The only one not joining in this group hug was Amber. Desperate to differate herself from everyone else, she stood apart, trying to ignore her shivering.

Differate isn’t a word, but the point is, she’s taking my role here. Nobody makes her warm, and she will SUFFER FOR IT. WE HAVE HARD LIVES AMBER. NOBODY LOVES US.

When the school day ends, she leaves so abruptly, she drops her mobile phone without realising it and Ross picks it up to return it, but due to her apparent speed, he struggles to catch up with her.

But where was she?
As he left the school, he looked around for a girl without any company.

And there it is again. PITY THE FRIENDLESS.

As it happens, Amber actually notices he’s following her and is convinced he’s some kind of crazed stalker…which is a bit of a jump to make, but…this is Amber we’re talking about.

Meanwhile, Caleb (T.S.A.M) has gathered some friends together.

Caleb put his mobile away. He supposed he could tell Ross later. He turned to Ian, Toby and Jack, waiting expectantly for him to explain.

So, this is something pretty important he’s got to get off his chest presumably? It’s later revealed to be the truth about Seb Kythner, and the earlier line indicates he wanted to tell Ross about it too. He wants to gather the people he feel needs to know, so…

Why isn’t his girlfriend among them? Or any girl, actually? Look, Caleb…you’re despised by your creator now. How does it make you feel to have such a change in role?

So, he eventually reveals that Kythner was the leader of this little gang, and that he managed to leave them without a blip…and then we get an insight from Ian.

“Dude…you’re really hard done by aren’t you?” Ian sighed.

What consoling, heartfelt thing to say to your best friend. Look, that might be how they do it in America, but in Britain we have something called tact. Unless your name is Nigel Farage and you’re describing your political opponents.

And again, he’s pointing out exactly what we should feel about Caleb. OH, POOR HARD-DONE BY BOY, HE’S SO SUAVE AND MAGNIFICENT DESPITE THIS, HE’S ALONE IN THE WORLD, WOE IS HIM, LOVE HIM, WANGST ETC…

It’s so disappointing that Ian reacts this way too. It’s just so ridiculous and blunt. This whole scene, despite the contrived twist, was perfectly set up to feature a heart-warming (ish) moment in which the indication is that Caleb feels that it’s his true friends that keep him going, those that don’t engage in petty criminal acts, don’t use him for his suave magnificence and actually stick by him no matter what. It would have been great if any of that held up, though, because Kythner seemed perfectly happy to induct Caleb into his group with no terrifying ritual, didn’t try to stop him (seemingly) leaving, whereas his supposed real friends didn’t think it worth telling any authority figure when he was getting abused. It’s such a shame, because writing about friendships can lead to all sorts of heartwarming moments.


Amber was having an extremely hard time shaking Ross off. It was dark by the time she had finally given up and sat down to rest by the Thames. Ross came up to her.
“What do you want?” she asked him sourly.

Bloody hell, Amber, if you’re that bothered you can just beat him up. You attacked Whitney for a much lesser offence, and given how persistent he’s been (I mean, it doesn’t take that long to get dark after the school day in January, but…) I would be very concerned too. I mean, surely he could just go home and give her phone back to her tomorrow…?

But of course, he does give it back…

“I wanted to return this,” he replied, holding up her mobile.
Amber was caught completely by surprise.
“Oh,” she said. “Thanks.”

Don’t you just love contrived plot points? As it happens, this particular scene does serve the rather convoluted purpose of giving Amber and Ross time to develop their chemistry. I mean, it’s very poorly written chemistry, but at least set aside time in the story for them to fall in love, something I most definitely didn’t do in the previous story. Although I keep referring back to this, it’s very nice to see that I am showing slight improvements in almost every area, rather than just a few.

“So…how do you like our school?”
“Burnt to the ground,” Amber snarled, pacing up and down angrily.

To be honest, I rather like that line…but how long are these two going to hang here? Haven’t they got homes to get to?

Unfortunately in the dark, she couldn’t see where she was going. She fell right into the Thames.

You see? You hang around in the dark for too long, and stuff like that could happen. And…I know the Thames is a pretty long river, with lots of places to get in, but the banks really aren’t that open. They’ve got like…low walls…or something…

So, Amber’s nearly freezing to death, and Ross starts yelling for help.

He was heard by a young man in his twenties, who was walking on the bank of the river.

I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the only one who heard. The Thames is the busiest river in the entire country, there must have been other people around.

He quickly took in what was going on, and leapt onto a nearby boat which belonged to someone he knew.

Well, that’s bloody convenient. What sort of boat is it though? How can you be sure he won’t mind you using it briefly to rescue some stragglers?

So, through a series of rope hauls and other nonsense, this guy and Ross manage to get Amber onto the boat.

The man began taking notes of her symptoms. She was still shivering uncontrollably, looked very disorientated, and was trying to say something but her speech was slurred.
“Yeah, that’s a moderate case of hypothermia,” the man explained.

Thanks for that. Guess who looked up the symptoms seconds before writing this bit? I still remember, even back then. I couldn’t have been less blunt about it. Also, a moderate case is still pretty severe. You should probably call an ambulance. But of course, the characters in this story are apparently allergic to the emergency services.

“Take her into the cabin and try your best to warm her up. I’ll go and get her a warm drink.”
“Thanks for your help,” Ross said to him, leading Amber into a warm, central heated room, and settling her onto a sofa.

Household first aid! Can’t beat it! Did you accidentally cut off one of your limbs? Never mind hospital, I’ll just get the sellotape.

Not that I’m knocking people who are actually trained in first aid, but still, hospital is a pretty good idea, and it doesn’t even occur to this loser.

Also, please never say to a horny teenage boy to warm up a female friend of his who’s nearly completely inert with cold, alright?

The man reveals his name is Fraser and that he used to be a paramedic. Which…is OK, but still not ideal.

[…]but I know how to treat hypothermia. We’re going to have to remove your wet clothes.”


Just stop this. Stop it right now. This could not get any creepier. Actually, no, better not tempt fate on that one…

Amber made a small noise of protest from the sofa.
“Don’t worry,” Fraser said. “I have a sister your age. I’ve got a change of clothes in the wardrobe.”

Yes, except it’s not your fucking boat, is it? And why do you know someone who keeps the clothes of thirteen-year-old girls in their boat? How many before Amber have their been? I don’t like the way this is going…

So, they set about warming up Amber.


The worst part about this is that I use it as an opportunity for Ross and Amber to grow closer together. It’s really upsetting to look back on…

Ross found it hard to leave her side while Fraser walked around, getting towels and things to wrap her in to warm her up. Ross subconsciously found his hand in hers. He didn’t let go though.

Of course you didn’t, creepy pervert. OK, so it’s not as bad as it seems, obviously, but quite why I needed hypothermia to bond these two is a real question…

Amber looked up at Ross. How he reminded her of…

That one rapist from that one TV episode.

She stopped and shook her head. Thinking about him wasn’t going to help. Not at this point.

No, it really wouldn’t. Also, is nobody going to ask why she randomly shook her head to no apparent stimulus?

So, they manage to get Amber’s temperature back to normal, which is lucky for them, otherwise they would have been charged with culpable homicide and possible indecent assault, and Fraser calls the numbers of the guardians they give him.

Amber gave him Terry’s number and Ross gave him the number of the children’s home he lived in, and Fraser rang them to ask them to pick them up.

They do both have phones, so they could probably ring them themselves. Also, rather casual revelation on Ross’ part. Children’s home! They’re not as common though, these days are they? I mean…I might have to get more information on social services, but emergency and more long-term foster care is the more the thing, right?

As Ross walked over to the car that belonged to Roland, the head care worker. However, when he saw who was in the car with him.
Keith got out and began to walk towards Ross, smirking slightly.

See, I would have put Ross in emergency foster care given that he has this lunatic attempting to mount him constantly.

Ross told Keith to do something that hopefully Roland didn’t hear.
“Language!” Keith said, still smirking. “We gotta go.”

It disappoints me somewhat that Ross is just as confrontational as everyone else. Wouldn’t it be much more interesting for him to a be something of a doormat, putting him at a nice contrast with Amber. But anyway, never mind that…

Terry comes to pick Amber up, and still seems to refrain from calling an ambulance just as a precaution, but then again, I had no ambulance following my collision with a bike, so…

They have some father-daughter bonding which is actually just a lot less irritating than before. Most prominently of all, Amber actually confesses to being a bit of a brat.

“Hey dad…I’m sorry about…”
“Well, not coming straight home, and of course getting into a fight yesterday.”

Maturity! At last! Oh, it’s lovely when a character admits to being wrong…but then we get this…

Terry sighed.
“I’m sorry too. I guess that perhaps that school wasn’t quite right for you. Maybe I could pay for another private school-”
“No,” Amber said quickly, surprising even herself.

Why is always the way? A cliche when people hold opposing views both come round to seeing the other’s point of view. It’s a trope that’s very common on Waterloo Road, but I think I was writing this before I even watched it, so…

So, Amber wants to stay now, and Terry agrees but would rather Amber stayed at home tomorrow due to…well, hypothermia, which is fair enough. Quite the doting parent he is. Amber also reflects on why she’s chosen to stay.

But it turned out that she’d taking a small liking to Ruth. And Ross as well. She sighed. The problem with Ross is that he reminded her, far too much, of Nathan.

GASP. NAME-DROPPING!! Who is this man, what sort of devil is he, to have me caught in a trap and choose to let me- yeah, well, anyway, we get to find out more about this Nathan at a later stage.

We then get a final scene with Ruth, who, for once, isn’t agonising over Ian not being there, but rather her brother not being there. Yes, she’s waiting for her brother to come home from uni to join them…why in January, fuck knows, but we do get to see her brother eventually.

The front door opened and Fraser walked in.


Seriously, what is my obsession with nepotism? I’m pretty sure Fraser doesn’t even do anything in the rest of this story, so…?

Anyway, Fraser fills them in on what happened, Ruth is amazed at the coincidence, and that’s where the chapter ends.

Next chapter? I don’t know when it will come, basically…at some point…but please let me know what you think of this one, feel free to share your own writing experiences and…thanks for reading.

That Life II Commentary – Chapter 3

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that drama sells. People always feel connected to those that are suffering as they might, but there seems to be a line, not always easy to avoid crossing where the drama experienced crosses into the unintentional humour. Thankfully, there’s plenty of that narm-tastic content in this story. Shall we continue the epic chronicles of Amber’s angst, which is now starting to creep into our previous characters’ lives too? Of course. If not, then…well, why are you here? You’re just wasting your time.

Chapter Three: After School…just so we know when it is.

Mr Mothman glared at the fourteen students on the other side of his desk.

Already, we’re starting to see the impressive numbers that this story accidentally got hold of. Just so desperate was I to include many characters, thinking that would somehow make it intriguing, that I ended up going a little overboard.

So, who are the fourteen? Just checking I didn’t miscount, which often happens…

  1. Amber
  2. Whitney
  3. Summer
  4. Ruth
  5. Ryan
  6. Jack
  7. My good self
  8. Caleb
  9. Ian
  10. Queenie
  11. Carol
  12. Kurt
  13. Ross
  14. Naomi

Yeah, that seems to be it. The year 10 randomly mentioned at the end of the last chapter who liked to attacked people was mentioned to ‘make himself scarce.’ How he managed to do that when much younger pupils got caught is anyone’s guess, but having him around would make Mr Mothman’s room even more crowded. How can so many fit into his office…?

Also, 14 is an obscure number. I mean, for those who think numerology is a legitimate thing? It’s double 7, which is generally considered to be a positive, holy number, but it also contains a 4, which is death in the orient. It’s one more than 13, balancing out what is considered and unlucky number, and…y’know what? I’m not going to bother trying to make any more connections…you guys work it out.

Also, in the spirit of avoiding an improbably male cast, the Fucking Fourteen, as I’m now calling them, consists of 7 boys and 7 girls exactly. Interesting…

Anyway, back to the story. Mr Mothman has his hands full.

He ran his hand through his thinning hair. He had at least, more than the headmaster, but still…

I’m glad he’s got his priorities straight…

Also, I’ve just noticed now – do deputy heads tend to have separate offices? He’s one of two, also, so maybe he shares this with Ms McGriffin or…? And on the subject of the headmaster, why isn’t he disciplining the Fucking Fourteen, the lazy oik?

“Never,” he said, “in all my time at this school have I ever seen such a violent fight. And that includes the days of Aiden Gorse and Sebastian Kythner,” he added, seeing the look of disbelief on Ryan’s face.

Given Summer’s piano injury and Whitney’s very violent reaction to it, I’m tempted to agree with him. Again, you should probably accost that year 10 lad…

Although actually, I think some of the more severe injuries from that particular incident might have been avoided if the school had invested in stronger windows in the first place.

And, oh look, Sebastian Kythner is mentioned again. He’s totally not going to be important in this story or anything.

“If one of you would like to explain?”
Amber spoke up.
“Summer had challenged me to a fight outside the music block,” she explained. “I pushed her through the window and into the piano.”
Mr Mothman looked at Summer’s dazed eyes and the lump on her head.
“Summer, go and see the school nurse,” he ordered. She left the room.

Duty of care seems to be a foreign concept to these teachers. I would have thought a pupil with obvious concussion would be a priority rather than herding fourteen of them off to your office. And will poor Summer even be able to find her way there? She needs her Whitney to guide her. 😦

But with the story now out, Mr Mothman is starting to voice what’s probably been on our minds from the start.

“But why?” Mr Mothman whined, sounding pretty pathetic.

Why indeed? I still don’t know what possessed me back then. Also, I love the observation the narrative made…
“Note. This is Mr Mothman. Totally pathetic whiner. Susceptible to briefcase injuries. But at least he has more hair than the headmaster.”

Ross, perhaps unsurprisingly, given the ascended role he’s now been given in this story, comes to Amber’s aid.

“It was Whitney,” Ross explained, picking up where Amber had left off.
“She was provoking Amber, for no good reason.”
“And you know Summer,” Caleb added. “She exists to do Whitney’s bidding.”
“That’s not true!” Mr Mothman said, but he knew that Caleb was absolutely right.


I’d also like to point out that they conveniently forgot to mention Amber had decked Whitney before Summer confronted her.

Mr Mothman put his face down on the desk. He made a soft, whining sound and lifted his head up again.

That image is just brilliant, isn’t it?

Mr Mothman flings his head onto the desk and bursts into wet, noisy tears, screaming about how he lost his custody battle, he’s been diagnosed with syphillis, his grandmother choked to death on a cornflake and he is now contemplating ending it all, amidst some of his pupils crying with him and attempting to comfort him whilst others just laugh in his face (even though it’s on the desk) and run out, cheering about how they’ll beat up Whitney and Summer again one day when they’re bored.


At least he has more hair than the headmaster.

Anyway, Mr Mothman then begins to discipline them, being more lenient with Amber, which is I think fairly realistic for someone’s first day.

“Amber, you will have a lunchtime detention today and tomorrow.”
“So, I’m not expelled?” Amber asked, failing to keep the disappointment out of her voice.
“No,” Mr Mothman replied. “Now, please leave, I have to discuss more things with the rest of them.”
Amber got up and left.

I’m still pretty sure that expulsion is the head’s jurisdiction. You’ll have to try harder next time, Amber. Or you could just buckle down and stop being such a spoiled brat about this.

Also, what more things would Mr Mothman have to discuss with the others? If it’s just their discipline, surely Amber is allowed to hear that?

“As for you twelve,” he said, “You will have a lunchtime detention every day this term.”

You cannot make a number that high sound natural when addressing people…just try it.

“As for you Fucking Fourteen…”
“As for you thirty-six…”
“As for you one hundred and twenty-nine…”
“As for you seven billion, four hundred and forty-seven million, eight hundred and eighty-two thousand, four hundred and four…” I mean, for that last example, you can just shorten it to ‘the human population.’

Also, is Summer exempt from discipline because she nearly died…?

“Hold on,” Caleb said, “We seem to have more detentions than Amber. That’s not fair on her…I think she wanted to be expelled!”

Yeah, except detentions and expulsions are not the same bloody thing, Caleb (THE SUE-ISH, CONTRIVED, IDIOTIC AND JUST PLAIN SMARMY).

“Quiet, Mr Byker,” Mr Mothman snapped.

What sort of name is that…? Just putting a vaguely active sounding surname with a ‘y’ in it to a character doesn’t make them more interesting. It makes them more of a Sue. Could I possibly pile any more Creator’s Pet favours on Caleb?

Well, YES, actually. After Mr Mothman reprimands him, we get this…

“According to what I know about the girl, she has a pretty traumatized childhood. You have no such traumas.”


Really, WOW.

How the hell did this guy get a senior management position, let alone even a teaching degree? Do the rest of the staff just keep him around for entertainment purposes? It’s bad enough that the school did fuck all about Caleb getting physically abused by his stepfather, but actually saying this to him, WHILST YOU WERE THE ONE WHO KEPT HIM IN DETENTION THAT ONE TIME THAT PREVENTED HIM FROM BEING WITH HIS FAMILY is unbelievably cold. I get that it was deliberate – I certainly didn’t create Mr Mothman’s character with the intention of making him a warm, approachable teacher, but this is hitting below the belt, isn’t it?

Caleb is, understandably, quite pissed off about this, but not quite for the reasons you expect. Mr Mothman’s dismisses them. Upon finding out about what had happened, Ms McGriffin, again, understandably, goes to confront him about it.

“Do you know nothing about your pupils?” she asked him.

I doubt that very much. He’s much too concerned about his hair.

Mr Mothman’s response to this is also worth looking at…

“Well, yes Julia, he was abused by his stepdad. But that is in the past now, is it not?”

THAT’S NOT THE FUCKING POINT. You even said yourself that Amber’s trauma was in her past. On the subject of that, actually, the trauma he’s referring to is actually revealed later, which is a thankful sign of an early understanding of pacing certain revelations and withholding information from your readers.

But bizarrely enough, Ms McGriffin isn’t even referring to the abuse incident.

“You mean you don’t know?” Ms McGriffin asked. “Alan didn’t tell you?”

Well, of course Mr Ealing didn’t tell one of his senior management about whatever this is. He’s bloody useless.

“Well, he told me,” Ms McGriffin said stiffly. “Just goes to show who he thought he could rely on more, doesn’t it?”

That’s just childish beyond belief.

“The head likes me more than you!”
“Well, at least I have more hair…!”

Caleb is in contemplation about this for the rest of the day, because he wouldn’t be a proper Sue without a bit of moping.

Why had Mr Ealing never told him?

Knowing as I do what he’s talking about, I fail to see what Mr Ealing has to do with it.

When the bell rang for the end of the day, Caleb wondered why Ian was following him.
“Err…I’m coming home with you, remember?”
“Oh yeah…” Caleb muttered.

These characters are very bad at remembering who’s coming to their house…

We also get a paragraph with Ryan…

Ryan was walking home. He half expected his phone to go off, with a text message from Charlie, his mum’s ex-boyfriend (also a drug-dealer). Eventually, unable to bear it any longer, he grabbed the phone from his pocket and glared at it.
Why the hell was he doing this?

Yes. Why indeed? It’s really not relevant. Nor was it necessary for me to write about every single bloody character and what they’re doing at the end of the day. Yes, there are a lot of awkward subplots in this story, just like in the first, but they’ll come in time.

Let’s cut to Jack and Carol, a more recent coupling.

“You OK?” Jack asked her.
“Not really,” she replied truthfully.
“What’s wrong?”
“Well…Jack…I’ve been thinking…I don’t think I deserve you.”

Oh, for God’s sake, can we please come up with proper issues for romantic couples to face? This is just…what? And once again, I am bigging up characters too much. I kind of felt I was obliged to, as Jack is in fact based on my real life BFF best friend, so any circumstance that led to romantic difficulties had to be based, at least in my mind, on him being ‘too good’ for poor Carol to handle.

The truth of the matter is that real life writes the plot. I hope Jack doesn’t mind me mentioning this, but during the writing of the original That Life, he was unhappy that he had been paired with Carol. Quite why he thought any other bland character was preferable, I really don’t know, but her name may have been a contributing factor. Look, we were both immature children back then who thought we were the height of maturity. Now we’re better.

Anyway, I listened to his pleas, and tried to kill two birds with one stone in this story – giving him a love interest he preferred whilst adding some unnecessary over-the-top angst whilst I was at it. And believe me, you’re in for a real treat as far as that’s concerned.

She looked over the side of the road where Ryan was walking. Now, he seemed much better for her. He wasn’t as good as Jack and therefore, not too good for her.

That makes very little sense. That is NOT  a good justification for falling for someone, and now it just sounds like Carol is suffering from severe self esteem issues. It’s obvious that she just wants Jack and Ryan to make love.

Although, let’s be honest, anyone would seem ‘not as good’ if they were busy glaring at their phone.

Now for another contrived scene which promptly goes nowhere…Naomi comes across her mother (who is now called Dana for some reason, whereas in the first story, I’m sure it was May) drinking port.

“Oh mum!” Naomi cried in exasperation. “Is this why you’ve been getting migraines the last few days?”
“Probably. So what?”
“So what?! Mum you almost had to get a liver transplant once! You’ll kill yourself if you’re not careful! You’re an alcoholic!”

This isn’t actually as phoned is as it seems. I’m pretty sure it was alluded to in the first story that Sean and Naomi’s mother was a recovering alcoholic, but all the same, the way this is dropped in makes it impossible to take seriously.

Also, ‘almost had to get a liver transplant’? How does that work? I’m pretty sure if your organ has failed, you need a bloody transplant. There’s no sliding scale. You either do or you don’t.

Sean came into the kitchen.
“Look at this!” Naomi said furiously, shoving the glass and bottle under her brother’s nose. Sean’s reaction was very similar to his sister’s. He started telling Dana all the dangers of binge drinking, before pouring the contents of the port down the sink.
“Enough is enough,” he told Dana.

I think it’s a little rich of Sean to tell his mother about certain dangers considering all he does is stalk his sister. On the subject of which, is nobody going to bring up Naomi’s participation in the massive fist-fight?

“Look, I’m not like Caleb’s stepdad am I?” she [Dana, or May or whatever the hell she’s called] protested.

She had to jump to the worst comparison didn’t she? Whataboutisms aren’t legitimate counter-arguments, something I think that people would do well to remember…also, alcohol is hardly mentioned as a contributing factor to Caleb’s stepdad’s behaviour, save for the fact that he had more beer bottles which he hid wills in. I wish I had forgotten about that…

“No,” Naomi agreed. “But carry on like this and you may end up like so.”

Hang on Naomi! That’s hardly fair! Why is everyone such a dick today???

Oh, and then we get this gem…

Just as she was about to leave, Sean called after her,
“Naomi, did Toby break up with you?”
“No,” she replied, barley before he finished speaking. “Sean, he’s not going to.”
Sean raised his eyebrows.
“Oh yeah?” he challenged.
“Yeah,” she replied. Then she left.

Is that an indefinite statement? We’ll just remain together for life, is that it? Considering Sean’s wrath, I’ll probably be too bloody scared to do anything else. Unless of course his statement is a hopeful one, and he just wants the opportunity to get into Naomi’s pants himself. I’m not going to follow up on that idea because it’s just fucking creepy.

I mean, I’ll continue making jokes about it obviously…

We cut to Amber, who’s father seems to be the only decent parent in this story.

“Amber! What is the meaning of this letter?!” Terry yelled at her.
“What letter?” Amber grumbled.
“This letter!” he snarled, brandishing it under Amber’s nose.
“It’s from Mr Mothman, the deputy head. He says you’ve been fighting. Against a girl called Summer? What do you know about it?”

Once AGAIN, why the fuck is Mr Ealing not dealing with this sort of information passing?? He was happy enough to get involved in Caleb’s personal life, it seems!

“It was her fault,” Amber said, not looking up from The Falcon’s Malteser. “She challenged me because I punched her boss.”
“Her what?!”

That’s what we girlfriends now, apparently. Which, for those into that kind of thing, is highly convenient.

Also, that book she’s reading actually exists – it’s a personal favourite of mine, and so I thought it might make sense to have my protagonist share some of my interests. These are the kind of things I think it’s acceptable for an author to include, and can be utilised without making a character Sue-ish and contrived…unfortunately, Amber still has shades of that…

 “According to this, she needed stitches!”
“And? It’s nothing new.”

This girl has SUCH  disturbing mindset that it worries me what I thought to be acceptable at that age. How many incidents of violence has Amber been responsible for? And to what severity?

“Oh yeah, I made a girl a quadriplegic and fingered her girlfriend in front of her, but do you remember that time I gassed a classroom of six-year-olds and blamed it on a ninety-year-old recently widowed charity worker? That’s practically small-fry.”

Well, it would seem my disturbed mindset hasn’t left me entirely.

Terry gave a deep sigh. He walked out, but when he was standing in the doorway, he turned and said to her,
“Look, Amber, I’m trying to keep everything together here. I would like it if you were a little more supportive.”

I agree wholeheartedly Terry.

But, I couldn’t have the audience sympathise more with Terry than Amber! That’ll never do! So, Amber gets an overly dramatic scene. Featuring none other than a photograph! A PHOTOGRAPH! GET YOUR TISSUES READY, FOLKS!

No…no, not for that, you dirty fucker…

It was of her family, in the summer of 2005. They had been on holiday in the south of France. How much fun she had had then! He looked at the smiling faces of her father, her mother…and…
She put the photo down. It had been her favourite photo, until a few years ago. Now it just brought back bad memories. She felt her eyes grow hot and felt tears forming in them. No. She gave a defiant sniff, and went back to her book. But, this time, it didn’t seem quite as funny.


All the same, I am at least giving Amber a few more angles than she was originally cast with, and don’t worry, I do flesh out whatever the hell this is later on. It’s pretty predictable, but the fact that I was consciously laying a backstory out is important. I know I keep referring to this, but it’s relevant to my journey as a writer. This is why planning ahead has since become so important, which I definitely didn’t do nearly as much of back in the days of the first story.

The next sequence we get is with none other than Ross! That Scottish kid we know nothing about…time to find out what angsty storyline he has, other than serving as Amber’s satellite love interest, of course.

Sorry, was that not obvious?

Ross lay back on his bed. What a day it had been! He had never been in a punch-up before. What had made him attack Whitney like that? Well, he supposed it must have been because of her attacking Amber. But why had he defended her like that? He hardly knew her. Unless…


But why wouldn’t he defend her? It’s called empathy, regardless of whether you know someone or not. Also, why again are these characters conflating lustful obsessions with true love? No wonder Jack and Carol are on the rocks.

 Keith came into the room.
“Hey, Ross…”
“Shut up!” Ross snarled.

Another all these characters have in common, apparently, is being verbally aggressive with people for no reason…and who is this Keith? Do we ever get any explanation? Well, yes, later, but…

Keith…he should have known that he would ruin things. Keith laughed humourlessly.

He’s an antagonist, is case you weren’t aware.

“That’s nice!” he said, and grabbed Ross by the shirt. Ross pushed him off.
“Not anymore,” he snarled at him. “No more.”


Did we just witness an attempted rape?

And here I was thinking that this story would be on slightly saner ground than the previous! Come on, next scene, please return us to something slightly resembling normal life that doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable…

“And that!” Kent said triumphantly, throwing down his spatula “is how to defeat the Nazis!”

Oh God…

This is Kent, everyone – Caleb’s little brother for those who don’t remember. So, we’re back into Sue-ish and contrived territory.

Ian laughed. Kent had been entertaining him and Caleb for the past half hour, by doing his Winston Churchill impressions.

That wasn’t really a Winston Churchill impression, though, was it? Although since the Yoda incident, I’ve had to be carefully about my terminology.

“Do you remember what it was like to be that age?” Ian asked, as Kent marched out, ordering imaginary spitfires about.

The age difference isn’t THAT big, y’know…

Caleb didn’t say anything.
“Oh shoot, that was dead insensitive of me wasn’t it?” Ian said.
Caleb nodded. Yes, he remembered what it was like to be that age all right. But the full scale of the problem hadn’t always been understood…


Is the implication here that, even then, Caleb was under physical abuse? Did NOBODY pick up on this? What the fuck is wrong with these people?

But we’re about to find out what other bundle of trauma Caleb once had, via a flashback! Which comes with a date-stamp for some reason…to the 6th of May 2005. Why is this relevant? I don’t know…

In the flashback, Caleb leaves the flat whilst his stepfather’s alseep and comes across someone.

And now, as Caleb looked, he saw a figure leaning against a lamp-post, with a cigarette sticking out of his mouth.

Cigarette alert! This guy is clearly a villain.

As Caleb moved closer, he saw that the figure was a 13-year-old boy.
“Hey,” said the boy. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Seb. Whatchadoin’ out here?”

And there it is. Sebastian ‘Seb’ bloody Kythner everybody. Apart from having the world’s stupidest surname (possibly apart from Byker), he’s firmly established himself as being a young, yet immensely dangerous escaped convict who previously attended Hyde Park Comprehensive. AND CALEB KNEW HIM. WOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEE…


A 10-year-old boy had suddenly appeared behind Seb. Caleb must have missed him.
“This is Aiden,” Seb said, gesturing towards him. “He’s my mate. We hang out. With this lot.” Seb gestured towards a whole other group of people. Most of them were older than Caleb, with the exception of one boy, who was the same age.
“You can hang out with us,” Seb said.
“Yeah OK!” Caleb agreed. “Why not?”

Maybe because they’re obvious villains Caleb! Look at their cigarettes!

Yeah, so we’ve established here also that Aiden was basically Seb Kythner’s lieutenant. How bloody convenient. And, in a rushed description, it turns out Seb has a lot of such people. It raises the question as to why Aiden shows no real sign of a different relationship with Caleb compared to the rest of the protagonists, unless of course it’s just lazy writing, making an angsty character even more so. Caleb was once part of  THE DARK SIDE, but he is now reformed. Our hero!

“So…why’s that a bad memory?” Ian asked. Caleb didn’t answer. He hadn’t told Ian those people’s names.

Well, that’s the entire point of relaying the information Caleb…you just wasted time now. You idiot.

Caleb promises Ian he’ll tell him another time, and we then get a scene with possibly the last person you’d expect…although given the previous scene, perhaps not…

Detective Richard Price looked through the window of the interrogation room at Aiden Gorse, sitting there with murder in his eyes.

Aiden hasn’t changed, I see. Nor has my ignorance about police ranks.

His leads may have led him to believe this, but if he was wrong…Aiden would surely murder him.

I presume you’re not talking literally, because it would be a terrible security lapse if an incarcerated convict murdered someone interrogating him. And if figuratively, why would it matter…?

And we never get any information on what these leads are, so I presume he’s just a devout follower of Caleb, the suave and magnificent.

Aiden’s initially evasive, but then Price shows him a news article that apparently Aiden wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

Aiden was about to turn away, when he saw the name on the paper[…]After a few minutes, he looked up at the detective.
“What do you want to know?” he asked.

Ah! No honour amongst antagonists then…

And that’s where the chapter ends. As you might have picked up, the ones in this one are longer than the previous, so I’ll stick with just doing one per post. As it stands, this chapter’s pretty ridiculous, as is what happens when unnecessary drama is inserted. So, the question is, how can you tell when drama’s necessary? Well, having it focused is always a plus…but even now, it’s something I’m still trying to work. I’ve definitely gotten better at it, but there’s still a lot to work on. Let me know what you think of this and I shall see you…whenever…thanks for reading.


That Life II Commentary – Chapter 2

Fictional characters have always fascinated me, and I can’t be alone in that.

I’m not just talking about the obvious intrigue for those who love shipping and violently attack those who don’t like their favourite pairings (maybe more on that another time), but also the obvious intrigue to authors, who can ruthlessly torture their creations for the greater good, or weep for them when they themselves turn their paths sour. I bring this up because by this time into the That Life saga, I was seeing my characters less as tools and more as people that I cared for. How could I care for such bland personalities? Well, they were gradually becoming less bland and I think that may have contributed to it. The more substance you give, the more real a character becomes, until eventually you’re starting to wonder if all will see a character journey this way. As we know, a lot of characters are open to alternate interpretations…

But don’t worry – although I share this particular bit of information, this next chapter isn’t as profound yet…there’s still plenty to make fun of, so let’s dive in. Chapter Two: Badly Tuned.

Amber opened her eyes. Then she remembered it was the first day of her new school and she closed them again.

In all fairness, I think I’ve captured the attitude present in us both then and now when we have to get up pretty accurately. This recognition of basic human emotions is a good sign, and probably started with my attempt to direct a narrative through a protagonist. In many ways, Amber is more of an Author Avatar than my actual Author Avatar…

Eventually Yeti comes and wakes her, and on the subject of alternate character interpretations, we get this delightful line.

But Yeti’s wake-up call had certainly stimulated her.

Now, Amber, stop it. Yeti won’t appreciate what you attempt to do to him, because you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Amber’s in quite the grumpy mood, but what really pisses her off is how ridiculous her uniform is. Am I gender stereotyping here? No, probably not – first off, I’m very sensitive to ridiculous looking clothes, and secondly, we helpfully don’t get a description of whatever she’s wearing. It’s the Hyde Park uniform, and most of our main characters will be wearing it for a lot of the story, so I’ll leave it to your imagination as to just what it looks like.

They’re 14 at the oldest, you pervs…

This next line is great…

Angrily, she marched into the kitchen, grabbed a piece of un-toasted bread, and walked out.

She’s expressing her anger through defying toast! Genius, Amber, that’ll bring down ISIS!

The defiance of toast sadly doesn’t last that long…

As she walked to the bus stop she noticed a pigeon following her.
“Have it your way,” she grunted at it, and threw it the bread.

The entire slice? So now she’s overfeeding pigeons, despite being established as one who gets on better with animals than humans…yeah, I’m starting to see why this girl has been expelled so often. If she’s prepared to kill pigeons, God knows what she’ll do to her fellow students…

Oh wait! We found out in this chapter. Great.

Amber’s still pretty sore about getting the bus, and it seems that even I was getting fed up of her constant internal complaining. Take a look at the rather fierce bluntness of this sentence.

Eventually the bus came and she got on it.

Thanks for not over-complicating things. I wouldn’t have enjoyed a scene where Amber glared at the bus driver, screamed quite loudly how nobody understands her, and pull him forcibly from the vehicle because only she understands the buses, and ends up driving all the way to Bournemouth to have a go at me for writing this. I’ll probably not get out of it alive.

Eventually, some other Hyde Park students join her, and in the true sequel fashion, we actually get physical descriptions of characters from the previous story before they are named.

On came a girl with long fair hair and talking animatedly to her friend, who had long dark hair.

I mean, it’s less of a physical description as so much as the briefest profile we could probably get, implying that the only physical difference between the two of them is their hair colour, but y’know…

Also, if you’re not sure who these two are…there’s no reason you should. This is probably the first physical description I’ve given these characters. They are in fact Ruth (the girl who spent too much time moping over her not-quite boyfriend’s departure to America) and Naomi, the girl who wanted to bang me but had a brother with a sister complex, respectively. What role will they have to play in this story? Only I will tell…

A few more people joined the bus afterwards. The girls seemed to know them, and began talking to them as well. Amber knew that some of them were talking about her. Well, they would, wouldn’t they?

“OMG! Have you seen the new protagonist?”
“She seems to be mildly psychotic…”
“She’ll fit right in with us then!”

So the party arrives at the school and Amber is determined not to go to her lessons for as long as she can help it…well, until…

“You lost?”
Amber looked up. It was the fair haired girl who had greeted her on the bus. She nodded.

Isn’t a little counterproductive to stay lost by admitting you’re lost? Just wondering…

It seems we finally get a new side to Ruth though. Rather than spending the entire book pining after Ian because America was calling him, she gets to be…well, mildly nice and helpful, and willing to open up to this weird little whatever.

As luck would have it, she’s in the same form group as our heroes. Amber dislikes the noisy form room, so goes to sit on her own.

We then get a change of perspective completely out of nowhere.

Sean ambled into his form room, thinking about sixth forms.

Come on Sean, do you have to interrupt? I guess this is your idea of trying to make up for being a near enough stalker in the last story, trying to add some layer to your character by the NEXT BIG TRANSITION IN YOUR LIFE. But why is he ambling? Did somebody dissect his spleen?

Sean thinks that a college in Hammersmith might be his best option academically, but true to his small number of character traits, he’s too worried about leaving Naomi.

But presumably he won’t be boarding there, that’s more of a uni thing, right? So, he’s so paranoid, he needs to be in the same building as Naomi every single day? He really hasn’t changed at all…oh, character development, where art thou?

Also, why is the Hammersmith college the best option academically? Now I may be wrong, but colleges tend to be more vocational, whereas sixth forms tend to be academic. Unless he meant a sixth form college, but it’s already established in a previous line the Hyde Park Comprehensive does in fact have a sixth form (although we never seen any of the sixth formers), so, what’s wrong with the academic nature of that?

Like I really need to ask! The teachers are shit…

Anyway, Sean decides to discuss his problems with Alexis, a girl in his class briefly introduced in the last chapter of the previous story, setting up another very obvious romantic subplot.

We then return to Amber, or at least, her classmates’ opinions of her.

Ruth went and sat down next to Naomi.
“What’s her name?” she asked.
“Oh. She didn’t seem very happy.”
“No. She says that moving schools isn’t new for her.”

Well…it’s less malicious than it could have been, but I think it’s very true to these guys’ minimal characters that all they do is gossip – remember, in the last story, hearing girls talk about boys was a bloody spectator sport.


“Just until Amber settles in, we need to keep her away from Whitney.”

Well, that’s homophobic.

I’m joking of course. In the absence of Aiden the terror, Whitney finally seems to be living up the reputation she’s designated in these stories, rather than just being the butt of everyone’s jokes. We all know who remains the butt of the jokes though…

“Right,” Toby agreed. “So, where is Whitney?”
Whitney was already marching towards Amber.
“Nicely handled,” Jack growled.

Oh, I doubt I’ll ever get tired of this double act…

Whitney leaned over Amber’s desk and got right into her face.
“Watchadoin’?” she asked, loudly.

Into her face? That sounds…erotic…is she trying to make Summer jealous now? I hope they repair their relationship soon…

Why am I shipping two characters from a story I’m not even writing any more, and for good reason…?

Amber tries her hardest to ignore Whitney, and so Whitney goes straight on the offensive.

“I bet you’re one of those types who never washes,” Whitney continued.

Where the hell did that come from? That has got to be the most bland playground insult I have ever heard. Couldn’t she be slightly more creative than that…? Her heart’s obviously full of grief for fear of losing Summer.

“I can smell you from here. You’re such a-”
Amber had finally flipped and had punched Whitney hard round the face. Shocked, Whitney stumbled, and fell, knocking a desk over.

Oh great. Starting as I mean to go on!

A few things though…

  1. Whitney is right in Amber’s face (or into?). The fact that she can smell her from there is hardly surprising, whether she washes or not.
  2. Finally flipped? Whitney barely said more than two things. Although this seems to reflect what we know about Amber quite well.
  3. Too many commas.
  4. Is that the first use of onomatopoeia in these stories? Intriguing…
  5. I’m once again really curious to see what Whitney was going to say before she got cut off.
    “You’re such a ridiculous choice for a protagonist.”
    “You’re such a violent young woman, what the hell is the deal with that?”
    “You’re such a friend to the animals, your dog stimulates you in the morning.”
    Or even…
    “You’re such a beautiful, amazing girl and I want you.” (Only in an attempt at making Summer jealous, of course…

But hey, she may not have needed to, because…

Summer, who seemed to exist to do Whitney’s bidding, marched angrily over.

Aww, bless her!

She was about to start a fight when Mrs Marsh came in, and she stopped.

I don’t see why. That teacher seems completely oblivious to any scenes of violence that take place under her watch.

“Breaktime near the Music room. Be there,” Summer growled in her ear.

That was mildly suggestive…are they going to have a threesome with Whitney…?

No, of course she means a fight, because apparently people have to arrange such things. Amber is quite pleased about this, because not only can she let out her aggression, but it means she’s more likely to get expelled…

Amber! Do you not spare a thought for your poor father? Or indeed anyone else…? Why do I have to dislike this character this early on…?

As the class filed into their first lesson, Ruth turned to Amber.
“Don’t go,” she advised. “You seriously don’t want to get on the wrong side of Whitney and Summer. They’re lethal.”

Ruth apparently has superhuman hearing. Nevertheless, it’s nice again to see a caring, nurturing side…and for someone who’s probably not even worth it.

Amber ignores her advice, and then we very quickly cut to Naomi and I.

“You alright?” Toby asked Naomi.
“Hmm…? Oh yeah. I’m just thinking about this morning.”
“What happened?”
“Well, on Thursday, you’re coming round for dinner. Sean wasn’t sure how to react.” She sighed. “He’s still really clingy,” she complained.
“Don’t worry about it,” Toby advised.

It would appear that I took my dialogue lessons from Tommy Wiseau. Also, I love how I only find out about this now. And she doesn’t even open the conversion with the fact that I’m meant to be meeting her family, she just sort of drops it in as a sort of ‘BTW!’

We then get this entirely pointless scene.

“OK,” Jack whispered to Toby as they sat through a geography lesson. “The blog’s up and running. We need you to do your Yoda impressions.”
“Right,” Toby agreed, and began impersonating Yoda.
“Quiet!” Mrs Guernsley shouted.
Everyone stared at Toby, who went red.
“Sorry,” he muttered.

I feel like profoundly despairing…

  1. A blog is a form of the written word. There is no reason that doing a voice impression would be needed. That’s more for a vlog.
  2. Why the hell would I need to start doing those impressions then and there? In the middle of a geography lesson? Not the place to be blogging/vlogging!
  3. Impersonating Yoda? Does that mean I took on his identity and tried to pose as him in Jedi Council meetings? I think there’s a wrong word usage there…
  4. Never mind why I’d need to do it in the middle of a lesson, why did I start doing it in the middle of a lesson?
  5. What is the point of this scene?
  6. What is the point of this scene? I know I’ve already asked that, but I think it needs asking again.
  7. There is no point to this scene.
  8. Glad we’ve sorted that out.

So, at morning break, Amber marches straight over to the music block to fight Summer. However, it would appear more are concerned about her than she thinks.

Ruth turned exasperatedly to Ryan who was grinning broadly. She gave him a big kick in the shins.
“Ow! What was that for?”

My thoughts exactly! Ruth, when did you become so hot-blooded? We don’t need more of this incredibly graphic violence, thank you…

Ruth tells Ryan he needs to help her sort this issue out…and so Ryan does, probably out of fear he’s about to be killed. In fact, quite a big party makes it’s way there.

So, Amber was eventually followed by Ruth, Ryan, Naomi, Toby, Jack, Caleb, Ian, Ross, Queenie and Carol.

Oh, the Mighty Ridiculous Power Rangers! Reunited at last! And this time Ross is with them, that random Scottish kid from the last story who played virtually no role. Take a wild guess at what role he plays in this story…

No doubt this is a quite a large party, certainly compared to who Summer has backing her. It’s just Whitney (TOGETHER 4EVER!) and Kurt, that guy from the last story who was just there for me to vent out my hatred for sporty guys more attractive than me. Why is he there? Well, firstly, I needed to even the odds as best I could…and secondly…

“Why’s he there?” Ian whispered to Ryan. But Ryan was grinning again.
“Kurt fancies Whitney,” Ryan replied.
Ian almost fell over in shock.
“Wha…her?” Ian spluttered.
“Think about who we’re talking about,” Ryan reminded him.
Ian thought for a moment and then said,
“Of course.”

Wow. RUDE. I know Whitney’s no saint, but it seems to be tit for tat more than anything else…

Also, despite the superior numbers, Ruth’s party seems to be making no attempt to stop this brawl…

“Alas! The peace of the world pivots around women,” Caleb said to Ross.
“How true!” Ross agreed.


I refuse to comment on that under protest that we are better as a species.

So, do you think you’re match enough for me?” Summer challenged Amber.

Summer seems to have gotten slightly better at her opening taunts. Slightly.

And so, they begin their fight. It’s interesting, because I decide to go into detail about every little move that each of them make…interpret that as you will. But it doesn’t last too long, and concludes without anyone intervening. Thanks guys…

Amber managed to scramble to her feet and pushed with all her might and fury and Summer fell backwards and smashed into the window for the music block. Glass shattered everywhere and Summer didn’t stop there. She then smashed right into the grand piano and stayed there.


OK, once again, the windows at this school are some of the cheapest in the world and seem to shatter at the slightest impact. Not to mention that hitting your head on a grand piano really isn’t a laughing matter, except it’s so weird that it might as well be. What’s with it with these stories and the most bizarre head injuries?

Amber’s supporters cheered.

You’re supposed to be trying to stop the fight, you fuckers!

Amber suddenly felt a pain in her scalp. She looked and saw Whitney, who was dragging her by the hair. Amber struggled to get free, but Whitney slammed her into a wall[…]

Wow! Don’t fuck with Whitney’s girlfriend. That’s the one thing you must NEVER do. Well, I’m hoping this life-threatening experience will repair their relationship. If Summer hasn’t died that is…

[…]only to be immediately thrown off by Ross, who had decided to join the fray. Kurt immediately came up and started fighting against Ross.

Oh, look, Ross. You’re helping a damsel in distress. I wonder what relationship you’ll have to this girl by the end…

Soon, everyone seemed to be fighting. Whitney’s forces were hopelessly outnumbered…

It’s not a war…

But yeah, I’d say! Two against seven? Not even at all…is it supposed to be a fight? It’s more like a beating…

At least they were until a big year 10, who knew Kurt from rugby came along and grabbed Carol’s hair…
Just for fun.

Am I trying to cast aspersions onto rugby players? Would I do such a thing…? Well, yeah, obviously…

But the point is, this character comes completely out of nowhere and is never seen again. He was literally there to make the fight more even. In hindsight, I really should have given Whitney a bigger posse. That would make these scenes so much more interesting!

Whitney’s posse! With Whitney as the head bitch in charge; Summer, her lover and closest crony; Kurt, the incredibly dull sports nut who’s there to provide comedy, a rival to Summer and eye candy for androphilic audiences; Uriah, the slightly weedy and possible untrustworthy evil genius, who has eyes only for Kurt; Minerva, a foil to Uriah, whom wishes to stage a coup to take over the school, and last but not least, Xenia, the obviously half-alien exchange student who spends her nights protecting the planet from a hoard of Lovecraftian horrors.

Anyway…the only significant things that happen in the rest of the chapter are Jack and Ryan both reacting violently to seeing Carol getting attacked (you’ll hopefully remember their rivalry) and Mr Mothman (OH HOW I’VE MISSED YOU!) and Mr Cork coming to break up the fight, with Amber delighting in how this will likely get her expelled.

So, that chapter was…about what you’d expect really, but in hindsight, this chapter, in it’s place in the narrative, really wasn’t that bad. It established Amber’s relationship with the other characters in a dynamic and interesting way, strengthening their bond by opening with a pretty intense scene. This first day could have been really boring, but I knew instinctively that that just wasn’t right. It’s an early sign of me evolving as a writer, and that’s pretty intriguing. Hope you enjoyed this, let me know what you think, and I’ll see when I can get the next one to you…


That Life II Commentary – Chapter 1

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m fully aware that probably nobody follows this blog anymore, but for my own personal enjoyment, I’m going to continue putting these out there. As for the That Life Commentaries…well, I find them pretty fun. It’ll be exhausted soon, and it’s not as if I don’t have other ideas, but right now it’s a bit late to work on anything more profound and deep. I want to take a look at this.

The series That Life Commentary concerned my looking back at an embarrassing story I wrote aged 13, which I thought was the pinnacle of greatness at the time – well, the pinnacle of my greatness at least, which it was probably, considering my limited ability…but anyway…

I also wrote a sequel, not long after the first, and whilst I never finished it, it’s longer in it’s incomplete form that the completed first one was. It’s intriguing to look back on, because I was deliberately trying to tackle in a slightly different way, with a bit more of a focused plot. How can I know? Well, for starters, this one actually has a protagonist. Instead of trying to tackle the many ridiculous elements of many ridiculous characters, I tried to focus, at least to begin with, on just one character. A completely new one, I should point out, who’s dropped into this narrative and starts being part of it once she ends up transferring to Hyde Park Comprehensive and meets the idiots who made up our characters in the last story. So, their wacky hi-jinks return, meaning hopefully this story will be just as entertainingly bad.

Nevertheless, I’m hoping there is some element of me changing that becomes apparent in this story. I was consciously trying to write a better story. A better narrative, and including aspects that I knew a less skilled writer wouldn’t be able to. Not only is this first (of many) uses of a female protagonist, I also continued, from the last story, of being aware of the passage of time that passed, at least somewhat. The last story finished with the end of the autumn term, and this story opens with the New Year, followed soon after by the spring term. So, shall we take a look? Chapter One: Unhappy New Year.

How do I introduce who was probably my first ever female protagonist?

Amber sighed heavily as the hot water gushed over her body.

She’s taking a shower…

For God’s sake…you know what? I don’t think I can rely on any incarnation of myself to do anything without a perverse twist. I know it’s only a shower, but, all the same…

This is Amber, and unlike the previous characters who were mainly just names with bizarre and contrived storylines attached, I actually try and flesh out Amber’s character in these first few paragraphs. It relies on very poorly done exposition, with the narrator telling us exactly what she’s like, but…it’s at least a change. Apparently, she has terrible trouble controlling her anger (she’ll fit right in with us then) and such a temperament has led her to be expelled from various private schools (apparentley comprehensives can’t handle her) and been seen to by six psychiatrists (or phychiatrists, as I’ve spelled it here), who have to keep on changing because she keeps biting them.

Wow, charming girl. The kind I was no doubt salivating over during the days I concocted this.

After she’s out of the shower, her dad enters the scene.

“Amber, can we talk?”
Amber sighed.
“You won’t take no for an answer, so yes.”

I would advise a little less of the lip? It’s only your dad Amber! And if you don’t like what he says, you can always bite him too…

“It’s like this,” her dad (Terry) explained.

Again, here’s my bizarre fixation with referring to all of the kids’ parents by their first names, but by revealing said names in the least subtle way possible…

So, Terry explains, quite frankly, that he’s fend up of constantly having to pay fees to keep at different private schools considering she keeps up fucking things up with her terrible temper, and so has decided to apply her for a comprehensive. Amber is not very happy about this, but you really have to admire Terry’s patience for not just giving her up as a dead loss considering the earlier exposition reveals Amber’s been expelled from five different schools already. I would be more grateful, Miss Biter.

Amber sighed.
“OK…what’s the name of this school?”
“Hyde Park Comprehensive.”
Amber shuddered.
“Wasn’t that the school that some nutter set fire to?”


Oh, and then there’s this…

“But…it’s in London!”
“You can catch a bus. It’s not too far.”

Well, that really depends where she’s catching it from. I think in my mind she lived in Tunbridge Wells, which is where my maternal family live, but I didn’t quite understand the scale…looking it up now, it’s a good hour and a bit between the places. Britain may be small, but it’s not THAT small…neither is it full. But that’s a story for another time…

Really, a train would be more sensible. Amber could try and negotiate that, or even another comprehensive that’s actually in the bloody vicinity so she saves money by not forking out a constant bus or train fare…instead, she says this…

Amber stood up, annoyed.
“I wish you would listen to me sometimes dad. You never do. Mum was never like this. She cared.”

Wow, you ungrateful little brat. I’d like to see you constantly pay for education…which you’ll have to if you go to university because our government is full of shit, but anyway… And way to throw in some more exposition! The way she’s talking about her, it’s as though her mother’s died…but she actually hasn’t. More on that later.

There was a nasty silence.
“I’m going to walk Yeti,” Amber announced, and walked out.

Oh, look, the story’s given up. There’s a yeti in it.

No, I’m joking. Yeti’s actually the name of her dog, and I have to say, I’m pretty pleased for having come up with that name. Why? Because he’s an Old English Sheepdog, and if ever there was a dog breed that looked like a yeti, it’s that one.

As she walked up the field with Yeti, she replayed the conversation she had just had inside her head. It didn’t sound much better the second time.

No, and re-reading it’s painful also.

But she meets up with her best friend, Sofia, who has a Jack Russell Terrier called Rocket. Now, Sofia’s another interesting concept – again, here’s me attempting to diversify my characters. More bland exposition reveals that Sofia actually suffers from bipolar disorder…well, OK. I worry greatly for how I handle this sensitive subject matter…but it seems I understood, at least, the nature of bipolar disorder, as Sofia is meant to be quite an energetic and elated individual. I’m not sure how much of that is present in the pages, but, y’know…

Amber and Sofia’s dialogue reveals though, that it seems Amber might be the one who needs an examination…

“So…what are you doing tomorrow?”
“For the new year.”
“I’m coming round yours, remember?”
“Oh yeah.”

You forgot your best friend coming to see you. You bitch.

Oh, and then she starts wondering how it would be to be a dog.

What an easy life it must be to be a dog. Not a care in the world. All you had to do was have fun. What a life.

Amber, it’s really not as bad as you think…

So, she decides to go to Thornton’s for some hot chocolate, which seems to be she and Sofia’s favourite haunt. Whilst they’re there, Amber decides to take a look at someone’s newspaper.

She knew the people round here. They didn’t mind if you read over their shoulders. Some of them even offered to let you read their newspapers.

I think that’s less to do with the fact that you know the people and more to do with the fact that they know you, Amber, and offer to do things for you out of the sheer terror that you will draw blood if they don’t comply.

Anyway, the article concerns the prison breakout of one Sebastian Kythner, a dangerous psychotic nutjob who Amber learns once went to Hyde Park Comprehensive. Very pissed off at the prospect of attending a school full of probable murderers (not far off from what we saw in the first story), she promptly leaves the shop.

When she gets back home, she begins to take her anger out on everything she can.

 Amber walked into her house and slammed the door. Her father was busy gardening, so he didn’t hear the bang.
Amber growled and threw Yeti’s lead into the fireplace.

Hey stop! Yeti will need that! Stop being so destructive!

Sofia was banging on the door.
“Amber! Amber come on, let me in!”
Amber ran out towards the back door and into the garden.

Your dad’s there. Is he going to show up?

Actually, it’s interesting, because with the whole Yeti/lead incident, I actually decided to let my BFF friend write some moments, and even though I requested he keep to the story…it was a probably a bad idea. The reason is a simple one of continuity. Amber begins to take her anger out on some weeds, and Sofia, ever the supportive friend, notes that Amber probably wants to be left alone…except in the garden, her dad’s there, so she isn’t alone…oops.

Anyway, the new year’s eve party begins, and Amber gets irritated by her cousin Brendon. Admittedly, we all have relatives like that, but Amber, again, has to go overboard…

“Hey! Did you see the football results?” he asked wildly.
“No!” Amber snarled, and was just about to slap him, when Terry grabbed her hand and said,
“You see dear, this is why you need to sort out your anger.”

Thank you Terry! Let’s get a bit of sanity back.

Anyway, Sofia soon arrives, with Rocket.

“AAARRGGGHHH!!!” Brendon yelled, who for some stupid reason, hated animals of every kind.
“Take them outside!” he screamed.
“No,” Amber growled. “If you don’t like them, go outside yourself.”
So Brendon did. Amber turned grinning to Sofia.
“Right. That’s got him out from under our feet.”

Oh, pointless moments, how I’ve missed you.

The chapter concludes with Amber continuing to despair about what the new year and her new school have to offer her. Because she’s like that. Hope you enjoyed this, next time Amber attends her new school, and we get to see the stupid assortment of stupid characters from the last story…what a fun reunion that will be…