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Drew Payne

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961 I Make This Look Easy

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About Drew Payne

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  1. Thank you Dave. My job does give me an unique prospective, and it is an amazing opportunity for the writer in me. Of course I'm always professional, but that computer clip at the back of my mind seems to record so much of it, from patients, from colleagues, from so many people I meet. So many different things get lodged in my mind and sets my imagination off (Of course I've got to be so careful change any identifies). Please don't think of me as anything special, I just do an usual job, which I've had a lot of training to do. There are many jobs I just couldn't do, for lots of reasons, but I am fortunate enough to have found a job I enjoy. Thanks for your comments, I does me the power of good to hear that someone enjoys what I have written. Drew
  2. Dave, Thank you for such wonderful feedback. I wrote this story to vent my frustrations at people who dish out those stupid, cliched and completely inappropriate "buzzwords" as advice. I wanted to show how useless they are, especially when the advise-giver doesn't take the time to listen to the person they are dumping their advise onto.
  3. Thank you but I have the actor Russell Tovey to thank for this story. I read an interview with him where he talked about how monotonous being in a long running play was. And that set off my imagination.
  4. I have posted a new short story, Those Moments of Silence, it can be read here:


    This isn’t exactly a new story; I originally wrote it in 2005. Last month I re-read it and re-wrote parts of it. It is on a subject that I keep returning to, dysfunctional family relationships (I acquired a lot of knowledge about this, over the years), it is a subject that I have found so many different ways to write about it. This story also deals with denial, another great Anglo-Saxon attitude.

    Happy reading…

  5. I wrote this story back in 2005, and I wanted to look at how denying a person's sexuality can destroy a child/parent relationship, but writing it I realised the child would be complicit in it too, going along with the parent's denial. I don't blame the central character here for doing this, challenging someone's complete denial like this would be so difficult. I hope this story is happening less often now but I fear there are still people who use denial when faced with something they don't want to deal with, but denial can have such a creeping, destructive affect.
  6. He looked out of train’s window as it crawled through the city’s outskirts. It was row upon row of squat red brick terraced houses. They all seemed the same, those little terraced houses, with rectangle extensions sticking out from the back of them, their tiny walled in gardens, with all their woodwork painted in the same bright white paint. He didn’t dislike these houses, in general he didn’t have any opinion about them, but seeing them out of the train’s window meant he was only a handful of minutes away from his destination. He turned away from the window and looked down at the book, lying forgotten in his lap. It was his twice yearly visit to them, his twice yearly visit to show them he was alive and healthy and his chance to hear all their latest stories, stories about people and things he’d long since lost interest in. It was his duty, as he saw it, but no more. He wasn’t looking forward to seeing them, he couldn’t describe himself as happy to see them, it was just his duty. His parents would be waiting for him at their home. His mother would be cooking all the food he no longer ate. His father would be reading the local newspaper ready to tell him all the latest football news even though he’d lost interest in the game years ago. They no longer met him at the station, waiting the other side of the ticket barrier like two store detectives, waiting to caught their latest shoplifter. The line of houses disappeared as the train entered the tunnel, the last stage of his journey and only a few minutes before he arrived. The view was now of the dirty black bricks of the tunnel wall. Everything had changed, ten years ago now, before that life had been ordinary if not dull, but at least he had communicated with them. They had talked about the usual things parents and children did. True, he did not tell them the most intimate workings of his life but he did communicate with them more than just at the superficial level he did now. Scott had encouraged him to carry on making these visits, not to simply let all contact with them quietly slip away. Scott maintained that keeping contact with them would help the healing process, which would slowly begin to re-build bridges between them. He never saw any of this with any of his visits. He remained at arm’s length away from them each time he saw them, the gap remained and nothing helped ease it. He knew the reasoning behind Scott’s opinion. Scott’s parents had been killed when he was a teenager and now, as an adult, Scott deeply missed them from his life. His parents were still alive and it gave Scott comfort that he was still in contact with them. The train slowed down almost to a crawl as it pulled out of the tunnel and into the iron and glass station, bright light streamed through the glass roofed canopy that covered the whole station. As a child this station had been dark and dirty, the light there coloured dull brown by the dirt coating the glass roof. Sometime after he moved away it had been renovated, the dirt and grime washed away, but it did not make the place any more appealing to him. Not rushing himself, there was barely a handful of people in his carriage, he slowly pushed his ignored book into his satchel, then standing up and pulling down his coat and holdall from the luggage rack above his head. As the train stopped next to the wide tarmac platform he was already at his carriage’s door. As soon as it was stationary, he pulled the door open and stepped down onto the platform. With his holdall gripped in his left hand and his satchel slung over his right shoulder, he marched across the station’s concourse and out towards the taxi rank, hidden away at the back of the station. He always caught a taxi to his parents’ home, these taxi’s were far cheaper than the one’s Scott and him paid out for back home, long ago he had turned his back upon the city’s unreliable bus service. The queue waiting at the taxi rank was short, only three other people ahead of him, so he did not have to stand for long before he was able to broad a taxi for himself. He was twenty-two and had been living in London for only six months when he made that first visit back to his parents. He had moved down to London to take a job at a small radio station, a long way away from the microphone. In those six months his life had almost completely turned around. In his new life he had found a whole group of new friends, people like himself with whom he didn’t have to pretend simply to fit in. He had found a job that he actually enjoyed, rather than merely as a source of income. Most importantly of all he had meet his first boyfriend, the smiling Greg, with whom he was wrapped up in a very satisfying emotional and physical relationship. He was happy, real happiness for the first time he could remember, not merely marking time and waiting for “something better” to happen. He had wanted to tell his parents about all of this, he was sure he must have radiated the joy and changes in his life without him needing to say a word. The Sunday afternoon, of that weekend, as the three of them had been sat together in his parents’ sitting room, watching an old film repeated on the television. He had taken a deep breath, pushed his courage and happiness to the front, and said: “Mum, dad, there’s something I need to tell you... I’m gay and I’m really happy.” For a moment, a long and very uncomfortable moment, there was only silence in the room. His mother stared at him, her eyes full upon him and her face fallen into an expression of shock. His father was open-mouthed, as if something rude or vulgar had interrupted his clean thoughts. Then his father pulled himself forward in his chair, his face creasing into a stern expression. “How do you know?” His father said. “What?” He replied. “What makes you think you’re this way?” His father demanded. “I know I am, I’ve always known it,” he said, trying to keep his voice level and calm. “You don’t ‘just know it’!” His father’s face was twisted up in red anger. “I’ve got a boyfriend.” “So you’re some sort of pervert because some old pervert corrupted you! This isn’t what I wanted for my son,” his father’s anger made him want to draw back from it. “Greg’s the same age as me!” “We never had any of this nonsense before you moved down there to that London.” “But I’ve always been this way.” “No you haven’t! You’re too young to know your own mind on something as serious as this. You’re throwing your life away. You won’t be happy and you won’t have any children. You’ll be lonely and miserable all your life.” “I’m happy, really happy,” he protested. “Nonsense. You don’t know what you’re saying.” “But dad, I’m happy and I’m happy being gay.” “Stop it! Stop it!” His mother suddenly shouted, coming alive with distress and overflowing emotions. “You’re my son, I nursed you and I know you’re not that way. You’re a normal young man. You don’t do dirty things like that, you don’t and I know you don’t! We’ll have no more talk about this stuff. You’re only going through a phrase and that’s all!” The room fell silent, a nervous and uncomfortable silence. Neither of them were making eye contact, he simply sat there on the edge of the armchair and just stared down at his hands clenched in his lap. He felt unbelievably awkward, the sudden villain of the piece. All he wanted to do was to be honest with them, to show them how happy he was. He hadn’t wanted to hurt them, to anger them and cause them such obvious pain – but unwittingly he had done just that. The rest of the day was spent in that awkward silence, conversation only at a bare minimum. The next day, though still subdued, the atmosphere was not as tense and awkward. As he left for home, his parents made no reference to the events of the previous day. As time passed and days turned into months and then years, his parents made no reference to his sexuality. It was as if he had never told them, as if that Sunday afternoon had never happened. When he would telephone them, each week, his mother would chatter away with all her local gossip, stories of people he had long since forgotten about, and his father relayed the latest news of his beloved football team. They never asked him questions that were anything but superficial. The taxi ride to his parents’ home was the same it had always been. The buildings were changing, one or two new buildings appearing along the route each time he visited, but he hardly paid any attention to the view out of the taxi’s window. He would simply sit there on the taxi’s back seat and let his mind wonder wherever it chose. Tonight, when he’d retired to bed in the spare bedroom, the room that had once been his own bedroom, he will take his phone out and call Scott at home. Simply to hear Scott’s voice, to hear Scott telling him about his own day, to hear Scott’s voice to remind him of his real life. Part of him, a very small part of him, felt he should have challenged his parents’ reaction, ignore their silence and carried on telling them about his life but that soon died away. Their wall of silence had been too great, looming in front of him, and what resolve he had had vanished. They simply did not want to know so he did not tell them. When his relationship with Greg fell apart, he didn’t tell his parents, he turned to his friends for support. When he met Scott, it was his friends he shared his joy with, not his parents who he did not bother to tell. When he and Scott brought a house together, he did not bother to enlighten his parents on the exact nature of their living arrangements, they had shown no interest in visiting his new home. His parents’ silence drove a wedge between him and them, a wedge that pushed a wider and wider gap between him and them. They were ignoring a large part of his life and cutting themselves off from so much of his life. It was not just his sex life, not just what he did behind closed bedroom doors, it was the most important relationship in his life. They had no interest in Scott, in what Scott meant to him, in his relationship with Scott. They had cut themselves off from the most important part of his life, the most important relationship in his life. They had pushed themselves far away from him and now, after all those years of silence, he did not know how to bridge that gap – he did not know whether or not he even wanted to do so. The taxi dropped him off at the curb side in front of his parents’ house. After paying for the taxi, he turned and walked up the short pathway to the house’s front door. There were different flowers growing in the house’s window boxes, the box hedge had been trimmed very short but otherwise the house was as he had always remembered it, no change here. The door was opened, in answer to his knock, by his mother, dressed in a pale blue house coat. Behind her, walking up the hallway in woollen cardigan and corduroy trousers, was his father. They looked as they always had, as they always did. Now though they were merely bystanders on his life. They were not influential or valued in the scheme of his life, simply two people who were called his parents. Just two days, he told himself, just two days before he could return home to his real life. He pushed his mouth up into a smile of greeting.
  7. Of course they did, but also remember Freddie Brockman stood up to those bigots, and he led them out into the college's courtyard were everyone could see how they were behaving. Plus Freddie wouldn't take the blame for the bigots' behaviour. Guess who liked writing about Freddie Brockman.
  8. Thank you. Simon isn't a coward, he's seen the world around him and seen how to keep himself safe. At this point, there's only one person in his life who is positive about their sexuality, and no one has told them that he is good, and accepts his sexuality without any questions (Well he'as only told one person he's gay and that person rejected him). This is only the beginning of Simon's journey, not the home stretch.
  9. The third chapter of Days Like This is up and can be read here:


    This chapter brings Simon face-to-face with one of his biggest fears, the homophobia that prowls his college.

    Happy reading…

  10. The concrete bench was hard against his buttocks but he didn’t mind too much, as sitting out here meant that he was alone so didn't feel too much of a failure. If he sat in the college canteen then he’d have to sit by himself at one of the tables, and he always felt a failure doing that, even if he sat at one of the small two person tables. If anyone saw him like that he was obviously Billy no Mates. At least sitting alone out here in the college courtyard people barely gave him a second glance. That thought made him give a little smile as he pushed the last of his sandwich into his mouth. The weather was still mild and it gave Simon the chance to eat his lunch sitting on one of the benches instead of enduring the canteen, as he would have to in bad weather. The square courtyard was actually the space the college had been built around and, in the centre of it, rising up through the concrete paving stones, was a broad and very old looking oak tree that, to Simon’s eyes, looked far older than the college itself. The college was formed of four solid wings that almost completely enfolded the courtyard, with only a small gap between two of them leading out into a basketball court and a five-a-side football pitch at the back of the college. The four wings were built from plain, brown bricks and formed oblong boxes, and their only decorations were the long and wide windows that marked the three floors of each wing. The building itself was so dull and unimaginative that, from the outside, it looked more like a cheap, dull office building than a college. It certainly looked nothing like the elaborate, Victorian red brick building of his old school, where the actual bricks of the walls actually formed patterns and designs, with elaborate cornices and arches added, simply for decoration. At the college, the bricks just formed functional walls, without any decoration. He had bought the sandwich from the college canteen, with the money his mum gave him each day. The canteen always served up fried meals, which were as flavourless as they were greasy. He would always avoid them and choose a sandwich instead. The sandwiches were not much better. They would have dull fillings, like cheese or ham or egg. But at least they weren’t greasy. Since he had started college, he always ate his lunch alone. He had no friends who had also gone to this college. His two friends from school, Harrison and Phil, had both gone onto sixth form college, both aiming for university, and had soon forgotten about him once they left school. They had been little more than school friends to him, anyway. He'd seldom seen them outside of school. The kids from his school who had also gone onto this college were not the kind of kids he’d been friends with, or even wanted to be friends with. When he’d first started, he hadn’t been bothered about not having any friends at college, as he’d never thought of himself as being someone who needed a lot of friends around him. When he hadn’t been at school he’d mostly been on his own. Now, after eight months at college, he was bitterly lonely. He was beginning to realise just how much he missed having a few friends around him. How much he missed being in a small group where he could find some company. He didn’t want deep and intellectual conversations every lunchtime, just to have some people to talk to. The problem was he had so little in common with the others on his course. Most of them seemed to just be there because they had to be, and had very little interest in the course itself. They were just marking time until they could leave and find jobs. There was a group of five girls, who always sat together, and actually took an interest in all their lessons. Simon had nicknamed them The Five Future Nurses, because those five girls made it plain that they all wanted careers in healthcare. But he didn’t tell anyone about the nickname. Those five also made it plain they were a close clique of friends, and looked down on everyone else around them. Simon had seen cliques of girls like them before, when he was at school, and he’d always avoided them. They always seemed to see themselves as far above those around themselves and didn’t hold back on showing their disdain. Simon knew to stay away from them. That morning there'd had been an anatomy and a physiology class, which were the ones that Simon really enjoyed. He found it fascinating how complicated the workings of the human body were, how the systems all interacted, and how many different body functions it took for him to just sit in a class and listen. Many of his classmates didn’t feel the same, and openly ignored Miss Gillespie, their tutor, reading their phones, whispering to each other, or just staring blankly out of the room’s large window. Simon had found them distracting and annoying as he tried to listen to what Miss Gillespie was teaching them. He had barely finished eating his sandwich when a vicious commotion broke out in the courtyard. A sudden rush of movement and noise had made him look up. On the opposite side of the courtyard he saw it all. A lad he only knew as Freddie came marching out of Block B and, following him like a very disordered posse, was a crowd of lads and girls. He knew Freddie by sight, as he was a very bright and out there kid, wearing his gayness like a bright pink sash. His hair was styled with bleached white streaks, and his clothes were always tailored and stylish. Not for Freddie the usual uniform of a hoody, and baggy jeans or track suit bottoms. He would wear elaborate printed shirts, crisp jackets and neatly pressed trousers that fitted him snugly and ended in turn-ups two inches above his highly polished shoes, exposing his socks of the day. Even the features of Freddie’s face seemed neat and well organised, as if he highlighted them with a subtle application of make-up. Simon had always wanted to speak to Freddie but had never had the courage to do so. He could never think of an excuse to do so, especially as Freddie wasn’t even doing the same course as he was. “Say that to my face, faggot!” One of the lads shouted at Freddie. “You tell that fucking queer, Roddy!” a girl screeched. Two of the lads leapt forward, suddenly blocking Freddie’s path, making him turn sharply through one-hundred-and-eighty degrees. But that only caused him to be face to face with the rest of the crowd of straight lads and girls, who almost whooped with delight, the homophobic cat-calls rising. Freddie spun round another forty-five degrees, obviously trying to run away into the main part of the courtyard, but a girl grabbed hold of his arm and pulled him back into their midst. Simon felt his stomach turning cold. He was witnessing the thing he feared the most. But it was happening to someone else, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. If he intervened, he’d only put himself at risk of being the victim of this group’s homophobic hatred. He just sat there in fear, watching it all. The crowd broke out into angry and very homophobic taunts, all directed at Freddie. It was like watching a pack of wild animals attacking their prey. They all lashed out at him, shouting at him, and hitting him from all sides. Punches were hitting him in the arms and shoulders and back, and homophobic abuse screamed at him in loud and frequently female voices. The attacks came at him from all sides, giving him no place to retreat to or protect himself. But Freddie didn’t passively stand there and take their abuse. He shouted back at them, blocking their punches whenever he was able to. It couldn’t have lasted for a more than a handful of seconds, but Simon watched it all in near frozen terror. At school he had avoided the bullies by hiding away in his little group of friends. But here he felt so vulnerable. He had no friends here, he was on his own, and he certainly didn’t fit in. Before him was a display of what happened to those who didn’t fit in. He didn’t know how to help and feared that any attempt to do so would just make him the next target for the same crowd. “What the bloody hell is going on here?” Bruce Valentine’s voice boomed out across the courtyard. Bruce Valentine was one of the tutors at the college. He taught Simon’s classes on NHS and social care policy. He was a tall and broad shouldered man, with a head covered in thick and unruly brown hair. In his jeans and tatty tweed jackets, Simon had always thought the man looked more like a farmer than a lecturer. The crowd leapt back from Freddie as if they had all been suddenly stung by something hot and unpleasant, quickly separating into couples and singles, and hurriedly moving away across the courtyard. In a matter of seconds four of them had walked quickly past Simon, and Freddie was left standing there alone. “What did you say to start all of this, Freddie Brockman?” Bruce Valentine demanded, from his position stood in the entrance to the college canteen. Freddie’s body language was defiant and strong, a stance that pushed his body forward, not cowering back from Bruce Valentine’s barked words. “Nothing,” Freddie defiantly replied. “Don’t lie. You’ve got a fat mouth on you and this is the kind of crap it lands you in,” Bruce Valentine snapped back. “I didn’t say nothing. Those Neanderthals started it all,” Freddie protested. “Big words for such a little man. Get in the canteen and stop making my life difficult.” Freddie tossed his head back and headed towards the canteen, walking past the unmoving figure of Bruce Valentine. He walked slowly and purposefully, his steps so precise and measured that he might have been walking on some fashion show runway. Bruce Valentine just glared at him with naked annoyance. But Freddie barely gave the man a second glance as he walked past him and into the canteen. Simon had slowly swollen the contents of his empty mouth. The courtyard was half empty now. Most of the crowd of bullies had simply vanished, and it seemed very quiet now. It was almost as if nothing had really happened. He didn’t move. Simon felt sick with fear. What he had just witnessed was his worst fear, even though it had happened to someone else. He had always feared those homophobic bullies, the ones who might attack him over the most basic part of himself. But until now he had avoided them by making sure people didn’t notice him, and by keeping his sexuality secret. That hadn’t been the easiest of tasks, but at least at school he’d had a small group of friends to hide behind. At college he was alone. He pulled his phone out of his jacket pocket and glanced at the time on it. Another twenty minutes until his first class of the afternoon started. He could just stay out here, reading his phone, he told himself.
  11. Drew Payne


    I don't want to give away any spoilers, but some situations are so bad that the only way is up, you can't go lower, and being dumped will be a catalyist for change with Simon. I want to explore coming out with this story and that all involves change, and there are a lot more characters to introduce in this story.
  12. Drew Payne


    I wanted to write about how living in a homophobic society can affect a young gay man, especially one who has so little support. Outside of big cities, there is still very patchy support for young LGBT people, so many organisations have closed after having their funding cut. Simon is so alone in his suburb, there is no gay life anywhere near him, and that's a big factor in his poor choices.
  13. Drew Payne


    Wait until we get to Simon's Saturday spent with his father, that day is real fun (!!). I don't want to give anything away but I wanted to write here about the challenges of coming out that still remain.
  14. Drew Payne


    More will be explained in later chapters, there are reasons for his behaviour, but Simon is seriously lacking in friendships. Simon isn't a happy soul, that's why he jumped at the poor relationship he had with Max.
  15. The second chapter of Days Like This is up and can be read here:


    The chapter delves deeper into Simon’s failed relationship and the reasons behind it, and also looks at dull bus ride he has to take (And not the last one).

    Happy reading…

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