Given the choice between me and his mum, one Edward Richardson will always choose his mum. Regardless of, for example, how much effort and energy went into cleaning us both up this afternoon (it was like that bit in Trainspotting with the bed linen; don't watch it if you haven't already), as soon as she appears, I'm second best and that's the end of it. Apparently this is common, and isn't related to which parent bears the brunt of the children-duty, at least by anecdotal evidence collected from other folk I know. Of course, I may have failed to clean myself up, and that might have driven this particular instance.
What sort of thing do I mean by loyalty, then? One thing that I don't necessarily mean is that you stick by a person regardless of the bad stuff they do. I think you show more loyalty by telling someone that they're doing something wrong than by endorsing their actions. A truly loyal friend might challenge in private whilst defending in public. Those Labour MPs who have resigned just recently may defend themselves by saying they are loyal to their constituents or to their consciences - to what they believe is right - but they certainly haven't shown loyalty to the elected leader of the Labour Party. There seems to be a similar issue on the other side of the House, with a large number of MPs willing to vote against their leader's wishes on Brexit. It's impossible from the outside to know what pressures drive these examples, and it is easy to fall into the cynical view that politicians are in it for nothing other than themselves. The interesting thing about the current set of debates is precisely that the principles by which the various factions unite do not carve up in the same way as the principles that unite (or not) the parties themselves. Let's hope they manage to sort it out, else Adam Hills will keep growing that scraggly beard.
There's a sense in which writing about betrayal is easy. It tends to be 'big', easy to signpost and very definite. But I'm currently wrestling with how to manage a betrayal that is subtle, perhaps even unintentional. We'll see if I manage to make a good job of it. As with all things creative, there can't help but be a dollop of reality shot through the writing. Sometimes that makes it harder - one must try, for example, to avoid falling into the trap of making a fictional character into a simple caricature of a real one - but sometimes it provides the energy, the drive to make the fiction work. My greatest fear in some ways is betraying those who rely on me. I find wrestling with the pull of what someone wants against what I think they need is where this makes itself apparent, because often the thing a person wants from you is precisely what a truly loyal friend would not provide. Even harder is to try to line up what I want against what someone else wants, needs or deserves from me, because that urge to be kind to others often trumps the need to be kind to myself. Perhaps it's time to apply that 'only things that bring joy' idea! I'm not sure how that would fly in the middle of the sixteenth century, though. But that's the point behind the fiction: to try to show what it is like from the outside, rather than to try to detail the internal processes, to have all the thoughts that the characters might have but try to turn them into a story rather than a psychology essay... Someone described it (actually the first book in the series) as 'the beginnings of a style', a backhander perhaps, but capturing the point that there is a way I've done it. I try to show what is behind the mask through my characters, but not by simply telling you what they feel. That was my choice when I started, and I'm now so used to it that when I do try to write (fiction) in any other mode, I find it very difficult. Maybe that's why I write all these 'views' articles.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought