Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs – Skeptic’s Dictionary

Apophenia/æpɵˈfniə/ is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data – Wikipedia

Christmas, 1995.

I’m sitting on the windowsill, window open; I’m looking into the night, the cold. Beyond our garden, the rest of the village. Beyond our village, the woods. My family’s downstairs, laughing.

I feel lonely, somehow hollow. Like an echo of sadness. I’m sitting in the dark, looking out into the dark, and I don’t quite know why.

Brother #1 comes in, startles to see me. “What you doing up here?!”

“Just sitting”

“Don’t you want the light on?”


Go back to looking out. Downstairs, muffled laughing; up here, quiet, cold.

Light blazes on, mum comes in; face puzzled but still smiling. “Don’t you want to come downstairs, love; I don’t like the idea of you sat up here on your own”

I do, eventually. As soon as I do the hollowness washes away, and I’m laughing. We laugh a lot in our family, I realise.




Yellow?! If my mum and dad said I could paint my room, I’d definitely paint it black!”

My brothers are a fair bit older than me, so I’d grown into my teens painfully aware of the dangers of cliche; I was already writing poetry but there was no way I was going to succumb to painting my room black.

“Yellow. Black’s a shit colour for a room”

Besides. I know what I’m like.



Lying in bed. Today’s been brilliant. Me and dad went for a walk and it was sunny and we climbed trees and I went on a tree swing and it went really, really, REALLY high and now it’s over, and like a gong

like a gong

I realise the day is done. And it won’t come back. It’s never coming back.

And like a gong, the day crashing down and echoing, and I feel so strange, somehow hollow, a funny kind of sad. Chase after the day and the feeling, but it’s gone, like a gong, somehow hollow. Fall asleep a funny kind of sad.


After I was born, mum had to get used to doing everything one handed; I’d kick up no end of fuss if I was put down. Maybe it was to make sure I got attention in a house with two other boys running around. Myself, I remember being scared a lot of the time; scared of other people, scared of being left alone; scared of the world.

“But that was just me, wasn’t it? Frightened kid. And now I get severe depressive episodes, go figure!”, a wry comment to my dad one evening. I know what I’m like.

His brow furrows. “Not really, no. There was that time you got yourself locked in the toilet cubicle far away from anyone else and we had to climb over the stalls to come get you.

“And I’ll always remember, in Canada, we were walking along with some tour group. We got to this turning and the whole group turned down a corridor, apart from you. You just toddled off in the opposite direction; I had to run after you.

A lady looked at us and said, ‘you’ve got a happy little explorer there'”



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