My Life’s Mission

I am now home for Christmas, having successfully recorded my podcast (which you can listen to by clicking here, if you dare). The first semester is complete and I am free to relax, but university – particularly Publishing and Social Media – has left me with a rather pleasant parting gift, thanks to another magnificent writing prompt. In my seminar last week, we found the following question up on the board:

“You receive an email from an alien. What does it say?”

I started working on my answer there and then, but as I didn’t have the time to complete it immediately, I decided to save it for a blog post. Communication between the human race and extraterrestrial life is often depicted in fiction as being either blatantly hostile or somewhat ominous, so I wanted to try writing something that would be a little bit more heartwarming. It had to convince the recipient that this was an alien coming in absolute peace, as I felt that anything else wouldn’t quite be right at Christmas! I would like to show you my intergalactic email now. How do you think this message would make you feel?


You won’t know who I am, but I feel like we are meant to be. This email will take seconds to travel across the universe, but I have been searching for what seems like millennia. I told myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t rest until I found you. I don’t know what you’d call me, but I guess humans like to refer to us as “guardian angels”. We appear at birth knowing only love. It flows from every part of us and courses through our veins, dictating every action and emotion. From a young age, when our schooling begins, we are told that one day we will pick a face from a crowd – no matter how distant – and watch over them until the day they die without ever revealing ourselves. But when I saw you, I couldn’t resist. I had to reach out, so here I am, writing to you now.

I’ve seen you at your best, when you feel like you’re on top of the world, and at your worst, when you feel trapped, worthless and alone. I want you to know that you are none of those things, and you never will be. Yes, I know people have said the same one minute and been gone the next. Not me – you are my life’s mission. It pains me to admit that you and I may never see each other, and as things stand, this email is the closest I can get to showing you my true form. But, just like a lost loved one, I’ll never truly leave you. Anything out of the ordinary is me making myself known. That muffled banging you think you can hear from the pipes in the dead of night? That’s me. The figure you see for a second in the corner of your eye, before realising nobody is there? Me again. The funny coloured shapes that appear when you close your eye? Yep, you guessed it!

I know humans fear those things, because they can’t explain them, so I’m just letting you know that you needn’t be afraid of them. They’re not signs of danger or death, but a warming cup of tea when you desperately need one, or a hand that you know will be there to catch you when you fall. Look out for them – when you notice one, you’ll know hope, companionship and unwavering loyalty is nearby. You might think you can find us by looking up at the stars, but the truth is that we’re much closer than you could ever have imagined.

– Your Guardian Angel”.






The Pull, Part 13

I am writing this only a day after officially half-registering as a student at the University of Winchester. I’m only half-registered because I still need to enrol formally on the day I arrive, but the first part of the process has all been done online. I had no real expectations of it before diving in, but as it turned out I would have had absolutely no reason to be intimidated – the registration only needed me to confirm or correct various personal details the university held for me. It was a most straightforward step-by-step task that took no longer than 15 minutes, by my reckoning. Once I had given Winchester all they needed to know, I was sent a confirmation email. You know what those can be like – they’re generally fairly run-of-the-mill acknowledgements of whatever it is you’ve done or provided for someone. In this case, however, the email acted not only as thanks, but also as a reminder of the increasing number of responsibilities entering my life as I approach my university adventure.

Some of these have been written down on the new to-do list Mum has created. As things stand, three items have been ticked off, but several more remain and time isn’t totally on our side. They include especially important money-based matters, and as someone with a particularly appalling track record in Maths, it’s fair to say I am unsettled by the prospect of making sure it is all in the right places and dealt with sensibly when I am living alone. Thankfully, I still have the wisdom of others to lean on until the end of next week, and this afternoon the building society will get involved when Mum and I go for a meeting there. It might be my money that we’ll be discussing, but I think I might let Mum do the majority of the talking – there are still a few things I need to get my head around before I fully understand my financial situation. I think it needs to be explained a few more times, so I’m very fortunate to still have eleven days to figure it out. Are all aspects of independent living as complicated?


Please Leave a Message After The Tone

That’s it. I have passed the point of no return. What’s done is done and now I must face up to whatever is to come in the next minute or so. I take a deep breath, doing my best to calm and mentally prepare myself while I still can. Here I go – I raise my trembling hand to my ear, and it is greeted with a moment of eerie silence. Then the tones, in bursts of a single second each, ring deep into my mind for what seems like an eternity. Will they ever pick up? There is silence again, but I barely notice it before the sinister crackle…and then a warm and familiar voice. “Hello?”

Yes, the amateur sleuths amongst you may have worked out that I have just described the build-up to a phone call. This is an act to which millions around the world would not even give a second thought, but to me – even as I approach the ripe old age of 20 – it is still something strangely alien. Indeed, you’re reading a post by a man who would rather conveniently “forget” to plug the phone in at his last job, just so that he didn’t have to answer it and risk making a fool of himself. I don’t answer the phone at home either, and have been known to ignore its rings even if I’m sitting right next to it. The main reason for this is very simple, and I believe it is also commonly known as “verbal diarrhoea”. It doesn’t matter how meticulously I may have any phone call or response planned out in my head, because any hopes I hold of a seamless and flowing conversation are usually dashed as soon as I open my mouth. This is something my friend – who I am normally more than capable of speaking to without a problem – fully found out when I rang them the other day, while feeling the crushing pressure of sticking to the script I’d taken the time to form to myself beforehand.

The nervous gibberish that ultimately seeped out from between my lips seemed so incoherent that it’s a wonder we aren’t still finishing an originally straightforward exchange now. I’ll definitely have to apologise to my friend when I next see them – I feel like I wasted their time! Maybe I can also attribute my lack of phone confidence to the added pressure of trying to remember important information when it’s quite literally going in one ear and out of the other. It’s especially difficult if you’re frantically trying to find a pen or paper to record it on at the same time – if what someone is telling me is really so crucial, why can’t they just text me, email me or send me a letter, so I have whatever I need in black and white before my eyes? It’s reassuring to be able to see such things as many times as I want rather than to hear them once, which is why this blog’s email address is open to collate however many messages it may receive. Besides, I like reading, and responding to one gives me an opportunity to do that. Plus I’m a creative bloke, and I get to carefully consider and write a reply, so what’s not to like about that?

No phone calls please. I won’t be available – so you’ll have to leave a message after the tone. At least I can replay those!