As I sit
here with a blank page before me, I feel like a pilot who is about
to embark on the final flight of a beloved plane that will thereafter
be retired, set aside as a museum piece, engine removed and wings
clipped like a raven in the Tower of London. The words I put down
now will be the last words for 'Meanwhile', after this there will
be no more. This is the final article, the final flight if you
I began writing 'Meanwhile' ten years ago. The thought that my
words could perhaps find their way to places far from my bedsit in Birkenhead where this all began was somehow liberating
for me. Their freedom was my inspiration, and as the occasional
email from a reader would find it’s way to my inbox, so I
became more inspired.
My old friend Gareth told me that 'Meanwhile' was "Self indulgent
bullshit." He was right of course, I'm not writing for anyone
but myself. I have no deadline to meet, no word count to adhere
to, no editor to answer to, and no corporate sponsor to please.
Oh yes, this is my cake, and I'm eating it too!
I sometimes wonder what my old English teacher, Mrs Bamonte, would
make of 'Meanwhile' given that she once wrote, "Simon rarely
does himself justice in this subject. He is frequently inattentive
which results in his inability to complete work in sufficient detail."
a cruel injustice that students aren't required to write reports
about their teachers. Had that opportunity been afforded me I might
have written "Mrs Bamonte has thus far failed to engage me
with this tired old curriculum that does this subject no justice and serves only to suck the life
and beauty out of words that might otherwise inspire me. The reason
I am not paying attention in this class is because it is boring."
I've always been a writer, but it took YOU too inspire me, and
by that I mean it took the idea that someone out there might find
time in their day to stop and listen to this inattentive boy. I
didn't require feedback, and for the first few years there was no
easy way for anyone who read 'Meanwhile' to give me any. But eventually
I added an email form and much to my surprise people starting using
I didn't keep many of the emails I received over the years, and
I'll confess I didn't always answer them either, but I set a few
aside, tucking them away in an email folder like old letters in
a box. Setting my words free was made all the more rewarding when
they came back to me in the form of emails from people, some of
whom lived in those far off places I imagined when I first began
to punch the keyboard back in 1997.
Maybe it's the height of self indulgence, but I figured this being
the last 'Meanwhile' it was somehow fitting to share with you some
of what others have shared with me, a few of those emails that
I have kept.
I've enjoyed reading a few of your articles
today and found them interesting. I'm originally from Corporation
Road in Birkenhead North having lived there when it wasn't the "hell" you
find it today! I left in 1955 so you can guess that I'm not a spring
chicken. I retired from work at a nuclear power plant in Texas
and moved to Florida. Many of the places you mention in your memories
are places I've also been. Next time you see the sun set over the
Welsh Mountains, across the Dee, give a thought of me as I'll probably
never have the chance to see them again.
Vincent C Jones. (2003)
I really like your site, I've been lurking for a few
years now(!). You have some interesting ideas, well expressed and
I'm always interested to see what you will comment on next.
I am gardening and hear a plane overhead, I always look up, wonder
where they've been and imagine what they are seeing as they look
I love the way you capture the essence of childhood.
Natasha Davis on Waving
at planes. (2003)
I've just read your article on the shuttle and I cried!
Well written and similar to my thoughts.
Joanne Platt on Safely
Hello Simon. I have spent the last couple of hours
reviewing as much of your site as I could (by trial and error).
Of course I'd like to think that I'm the only one that has found
this gem, but as I read further, I see that you do have "groupies." I
would like you to know that your site was very inspiring. The truth
shines bright through your words and I would most definitely call
you a "poet." I felt tears well up in me from your descriptive
writings several times and it seems that you have a genuine connection
with many people. So, I would like you to know that you have brightened
my day and put a smile on my face.
Elyssia Stratton (2005)
You might want to know that your web page was a case
study on a second level social sciences degree. Clever.
Tony Mataj (2005)
Stumbled across your site when looking for something
else entirely but stopped to have a browse - one of the most interesting
accidental finds ever! Rate your article on mcnews muchly and am
writing a dissertation along the same theme. You have some stuff
Heidi Scrimgeour on Missing
in action. (2004) She eventually sought
my permission to quote me in her dissertation.
Who are you? Where are you? Your work opens doors to
the deep thoughts of your inner being, but it leaves many questions
unanswered. You are like a conception of some artist's mind that
has been borne into real life through these pictures and these
words, only somehow, you are real. How do you detach yourself from
the business of daily life to create this wonderful world and choose
to share it with any old person who may click on to your page?
You are the reality of dreams gone unfulfilled by the banker who
wished he played the guitar.
Cassie Rangal (2002)
Some comments were comically flirtatious...
Bravo Simon! I just couldn't stumble across your site
and leave without blowing you a kiss. You are absolutely ooozing
with fecundity! I love it and what's more than that, I just love
that you did it.
If you ever make it to California, look me up. *wink*. Bravo again!
Connie B (2002)
Of course not all feedback was complimentary. One of the wonderful
protections the internet offers is a degree of anonymity behind
which anyone can hide. Authors of the few abusive emails I received
usually gave false email addresses on the feedback form. But as
strange as it may seem I kept a couple of these emails because
they made me laugh out loud, and still do!
Simon, Your site is incredibly boring. I came across
an old article of yours when trying to find something about the
recent suicide of an acquaintance of mine in Birkenhead. I wondered
why anyone would bother to write such thin, hackneyed, trite stuff.
I then read some thing recent, and found that it is in exactly
the same flat, routine style. No development at all, of thought
or expression. I wonder what motivates you, but not enough to warrant
a reply, as I doubt if you have the talent to analyze and write
engagingly about your need to to churn out such tiresome guff.
David Jones (2006)
Hey, cunt. The reason that cars carry baby on board signs
is so that in the event of a crash, emergency services know to
look for a baby within the wreckage of the vehicle. You stupid,
stupid, stupid cunt.
Nameless individual on Baby
on board (2006)
Then there are some emails which stop you in your tracks, like
this one written on Christmas morning by the mother of a man who
died in the north tower of the World Trade Centre in New
York City on September 11th 2001.
On this Christmas day, missing Peter terribly, I was
going through web sites bearing his name and found your
tribute to Peter. It meant a lot to me knowing that someone so
far away thinks of Pete. Your belief, that putting a face to this
horrible nightmare makes it real and human, is a belief that we
share. Looking at your web site and seeing the pictures of you
and your friends reminds me so much of Pete. I have so many happy
pictures of him with his friends that could almost be interchangeable
with yours. I wish for you a happy and healthy holiday season and
thank you so much for caring.
Liz Alderman on September
If you have enjoyed my words, if somehow I've reached
out and caught your interest for even the briefest of moments,
then maybe you'll enjoy my far more frequently updated personal
writing space that comes in the form of a blog entitled 'Before i Forget.'
Technology and opportunity compel me to move forward, leaving this site to stand like an old building among new ones, like a fairground on the way to a theme park. Some people may find this place, but many won't. Nonetheless, no matter how much the neighborhood changes I'll always be able to find my way back here, as if to an old apartment, somewhere I once called home.
And so comes to an end ten years of 'Meanwhile.' It's been a great endeavor and one which I feel sure I will look back on and value greatly. But for now, from this soon to be silent stage, I will take my final bow and say to you all, thank you everybody... Thank you and goodnight.