I nearly… did not leave my marriage. Now that would have been a disaster.
– Sue Thomas
Creative Writing BA students from University of East London:
“I NEARLY… stepped on Gloria Estefan. She was on a sun lounger on a Haitian beach.”
“I NEARLY…got a haircut the other day, but didn’t and now have something akin to a mullet that I hate. I should fix it, but I’m lazy and am starting to like it. Even though I also hate it.”
“I NEARLY… ran with the bulls at Pamplona” – Murray Lachlan Young, poet
“I NEARLY… married my Bedouin third cousin and moved to the Sinai Desert” – Alya Marquardt, soprano
from NEARLY MUSIC with Academy Inegales at Club Inegales, Euston, London, July 2016
“I nearly… shout out at concerts”
“I nearly…jump off great heights” – George (Academy Inegales)
“I nearly… missed performing in a concert because I had my head stuck in a tuba.” – Martin, Academy Inegales
“I nearly… was Janine in EastEnders” – woman on the Southwold-Walberswick ferry
BATH SPA NEARLIES
Written by students on the B.A. in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, Autumn 2015, as a group writing exercise composed on Google Docs. Thanks to all for their contributions.
Rob – I nearly stayed working at porfell animal centre, I would’ve been surrounded by capybaras, deer, ocelots and wallabies. This was quite a joyous scene. I walked with the wallabies, watching them ploink up and down, nicking food from the ground or browsing in trees. I nearly stayed behind the bars of the bird enclosures, people joking about feeding me the food that would’ve gone to the birds, holding out hands of tiny lives that never were. I was nearly threatened by the macaws for the rest of my life, my fingers moving ever closer to their dagger like beaks. The owls nearly became accustomed to me, the eagle owl, the snowy owl that had their chambers so frequently tended to, leaving their excrement in dire statement in front of my hand. Giant guinea pigs nearly had me, tripping up and falling over, as their daily comic entertainment. The rains pelted me, the deer with their thick fur took no heed to the boy deftly grabbing at his hood, tightening his fake skin around himself.
Jess’ paragraph– I nearly ran away with a scientist, but I decided he was too old for me, and now I live the most annoying housemate ever. I could have gone to america and married him, and watched him play the accordion everyday, and listened to him talk about the lab. The things I almost did, I nearly did with him would have been amazing and I never would have looked back at my old life. I would have found a job in retail, or become a housewife on what I imagine would have been the boat we lived in, because I imagine him wanting to live on a boat. People would have judged us both because he is ten years my senior and has a lot more money than me, and God knows we would have made a right pair living on our boat somewhere in the world. I nearly left with him in the middle of the night, without saying goodbye to anyone at all, but I thought he was too good for me, and I was too young for him, so I said no.
Grace- I nearly….extended my trip to south africa by 3 months… all because of… dun dun dun… a boy. I would still be over there if I did. Back on the range- working with blister ridden hands, chopping down trees with machetes and eating goat and rice every night. Romantic hey? But I did not extend my trip and decided to return home with my heart slightly cracked. Then on to a holiday in MAGALUF with my girls…. my o my… if I had stayed in south africa my liver would be in better health that’s for sure.
I nearly… died. I was ice climbing in Alaska when the leader slipped and fell- this leader was also holding onto my ropes at the time. I was pulled downwards- with force. I had hitched my set of carabinas half way but this equipment failed and I was plummeting 200 feet towards the ground. Usually falling onto your backpack breaks your back from such a fall but luckily for me the ice wall we were climbing curved in and caught me with about 50 feet to spare. I then slid on my bum keeping my hands wrapped around my head wondering if I was already dead as i’d seemed to be falling a long time. I walked away with only cuts (Glacier ice is like shards of glass), bruises and very wet trousers… and very wobbly legs from shock.
My alternative self: I would be dead. OR still in South Africa. I’d take those odds.
Robyns – I nearly… stayed in Dublin for longer than just a week just because I found it better than being at home. The first couple of days were pretty scary because it was the first time that I’d travelled alone but once I started to get the hang of Temple Bar, it was easy enough to navigate from there. I went on a couple of day trips away from Dublin so I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to in the city so I was seriously considering getting a later flight just so I could stay behind. The fact that I was surrounded by an Irish accent only had a little bit to do with it.
If I’d have stayed in Dublin, I may have reconsidered coming back to Uni. As much as I like Uni, I was starting to question whether it was worth it at that point and I think if I’d have stayed any longer than I did with the people that I had met I may have actually considered doing what she was doing and taking a year out to travel, or just work while she was moving freelance.
Rohan’s paragraph. There are many like it, but this one is mine. I nearly had a near-death experience when I was dancing on a rather large bale of hay with some friends in the middle of a field. There was a dog there too, a black labrador bounding around without a care in the world. And it knocked me off. I fell for a little while and smacked back-first into the ground, nearly having a near-severely damaged back incident. Luckily, my springy green child bones protected me from near-injury. But what if things had panned out differently? In an alternate universe, I slammed into the ground and my back split and I spit blood and they had to Darth Vader me back together and I had a cool suit of power armour that I used to eradicate all of dog kind in a series of gravity-based ‘accidents’. Eventually, I would be written out of the Marvel universe when Superman tore my arms off and the writer was convicted for fraud.
Charly – I nearly had a twin but I absorbed them in the womb lol
I nearly studied art and wanted to go to an art school but I panicked and decided to study english and creative writing instead
Peters paragraph stay out pls…. I nearly get out at the wrong stops on trains because I think it’s interesting to see what would happen. I think about it mostly but I never do it. It is the thought of the what if. But I know that it would probably be bad if I do it because I wouldn’t be able to get through the ticket barriers. I did nearly get stranded in London once due to losing a group of people I was travelling with but I managed to get the correct train in the end not before I had a crazy panic attack, almost passed out and a northern couple had to put me on the right train home.
I nearly didn’t graduate from college due to the fact that I didn’t have a maths GCSE. I had to get outside tutoring and I passed on my third time taking the exam. If this was the case, I would have had to rethink my life and not be where I am today altogether. I would have had to take adult night classes in GCSE maths to get anywhere in life. I had tutoring from the rival college and that was the thing that got me through in the end. The maths department where I had gone to school was really quite bad.
I nearly… had a career on the london stage but i gave it in to go to catering college.was a shit idea.
i nearly drowned on holiday because i tried to swim after a shiny fish
i nearly ran away from home when i was 10 because i didn’t want to spend another weekend with my dad and stepmum
i nearly became spider man. however, i squashed the spider before it bit me .
Katie’s Paragraph – I nearly applied to Bath Spa University to study fashion five years ago but I thought I would struggle to get a job afterwards. Now I’m studying Creative Writing at Bath Spa and probably will still struggle to get a job once I graduate. I could have been that person, fabulously dressed every day with the skills to actually apply make-up to my face and not look like a clown. I could have travelled the world, from London to Paris, Milan to New York and Tokoyo. I could have been bored to tears spending time with people like Naomi Campbell and Cara what’s-her-name. I nearly turned into that person who turns every tiny little problem into the biggest disaster and personify life as a first world problem. In fact, I was nearly a walking talking #FirstWorldCrisis. I nearly would have adopted that superior attitude, looking down on you for wearing THAT t-shirt with THOSE jeans.
Caitlin’s cool paragraph: I nearly went to study at a conservatoire in London. I wanted to apply to the Guildhall school of music there to study the flute. However my dentist thought that year 12 was the perfect time to give me braces, which decimated my flute-playing skills and left me unable to play well enough to audition. I then went on to Bath Spa to study Creative Writing as my plan B. Nearly 2 years after getting my braces off, I still can’t play just as well as before.
I would have been an ace flute player, much more skilled than I became. I would be studying a degree with the instrument I love, but the people around me wouldn’t be as likeminded. London is too busy, too crowded, and I would miss home too much. I nearly found myself drowned in composition work and theory work, and I nearly had to learn the piano just to attend the Guildhall. I nearly lived a life of high class and 6 hours of practice a day (not that I wasn’t practicing that hard anyway!). This would imply that I wouldn’t have had a social life, but the quality of my social life is questionable now anyway, despite me having more free time than I would have done. I would never have met the love of my life, some of my best friends, and many people I would dearly love to punch in the face.
I nearly built a house on a double building block that I owned near the sea in Byron Bay, Australia. I stupidly left a potential home near on a 20K white sandy beach on an idyllic bay, and came back to the U.K. I nearly got married three times but not doing so was NOT a mistake.
I nearly married a hedge fund manager from Manhattan, he wanted us to live in the Hamptons and send my kids to Ivy League colleges. I then found out he voted for George Bush, so I sacked him. This was during the Iraq War. I could have been doing dinner parties for the CEO’s of the richest companies in America but would have to have duck tape my mouth shut.
I nearly… Died. I mean, we all nearly die every second of our lives. Like, in the infinite complexity and chance of life, we always nearly die. In a parallel universe my lungs just turned into gold.
I nearly… was a physicist, I got a super good grade for it in GCSE and really enjoyed it as a kid. It was the easiest out of all the sciences, Biology was too wordy, Chemistry was too explain…y. Physics was just numbers, and I could do numbers. That was until Mr. Abbot, banter-saurus Rex that he was convinced me that I could coast through my A-levels. I went from an A* to a D over the course of a year. It sucked, big time. But I could have been a physicist. I would have ended up doing games design course or some bullshit equivalent subject. Maybe I’d be with a bunch of likeminded people. Or maybe I’d be lonely.
Thea 1: I nearly died last summer while swimming in a freezing cold gorge in Finch Hatton, Queensland, Australia. All was well and I was having a great time feeling my limbs go completely and utterly numb (having already passed through various levels of pain) when something unexpected happened. No idea why, but I stopped breathing. It was strange, just couldn’t breathe. Very odd. So I got out of the water, jumped back in for the lols and then got out again, only to find out that I was having heart palpitations. Yay. My mum bundled me up in two jumpers and it was above 26 degrees celsius but I still shivered for about three hours.
GATHERED at the Nearly Pod, MIX DIGITAL 15 Conference at Bath Spa University, 2nd-4th July.
Here are the crop of fascinating nearlies gathered. Thanks to all contributors.
1) I nearly missed the fact that she was flirting with me.
2) I caught it just in time and took her home to her husband.
3) It’s odd because there’s a kind of residual guilt about it. Nothing happened. but maybe I was more responsible than I thought.
I nearly moved away. Nearly packed it all in, gave up, let the tides and trials wash me away. I didn’t though, I didn’t let it beat me. Now I never settle I always strive FOR HOPE
I nearly… became a touring contemporary theatre performer, but because I did only nearly well enough when a producer came to see the show – they commissioned the show on the condition I wasn’t. Probably. I’m not telling you how I feel about it.
We nearly.. moved to Surrey. Really didn’t want to leave Bath, love it here. So in the need we’ve stayed, although sadly my husband works away during the week. Hopefully not for long!
I nearly… became a city cycle courier racing through the streets dodging cars… instead I became an editor – when offered both jobs. Still fancy cycle courier – perhaps later on
I nearly… didn’t get to Istanbul. When I bought my ticket I didn’t know you needed a min of 150 days left on my passport. I had 154 – phew! Then I nearly didn’t get out. Traffic jams all the way to the airport. If it wasn’t for the skills of our ex-military commando taxi driver I might still be there now.
I nearly… went to Manchester (Salford actually). For the simple reason that they ‘headhunted’ me. Instead I held off and was accepted by the art college in Dundee. Look where that got me. – g.h. tims
I nearly became a biochemist… Instead I changed to study History… and became a journalist… a publisher… a writer… a nearly poet… and nearly many other things… Now I write about the natural world and the essence of living things; instead of their chemistry I try to capture them in words. I think words fit me better.
1) I nearly stayed doing what I was doing, working in a profession I wasn’t happy in, but didn’t have to think too much about.
2) I left. Without a plan.
3) It was the best decision I ever made.
I nearly… told my Indian parents, that I’m not a virgin.
I nearly missed this opportunity for leaving my mark HERE
I nearly… stayed in my perfect life with my wrong husband.
I nearly… wrote something important. something deep that I didn’t want to share, but this nearly project didn’t work for me – nearly got a dark secret but didn’t.
I nearly broke you, one last time, but you wouldn’t come see me.
(This is not a sad story.) Last week I nearly got married. It seemed like a sensible grown up thing to do. We have been almost-married for ten years so it seemed like a good idea. We booked a date at the Registry Office. But that’s all we did. As soon as we did, we both realised at the same moment that we never wanted to get married. We thought we might so we waited. We didn’t invite anyone. We didn’t plan anything. Mostly, we forgot about it and just had fun together instead. We lived our lives wrapped up in each other. We tried to list reasons to get married but couldn’t think of any. So, we cancelled it. I tried to explain to the woman on the phone that we nearly wanted to get married but didn’t really want to. She sounded sad. Her job was about helping people get married.
So, a week ago we nearly got married but we didn’t. I had completely forgotten about that, until this moment. It all seems a bit silly now. Good job we never told anyone else. So, instead we shook hands and agreed to stick together, be kind to each other and not mess this up. The End.
I nearly… got a job at Oxford Uni. Was second. Now at Bath Spa. V. Happy.
I NEARLY NEVER WON A RACE… I started before the whistle.
I nearly had a transmedia show made – TV drama, TV chat show, internet elements, novel. It nearly happened in Spain with nearly the best production company, distributors etc. It nearly made me feel I’d done what I nearly have done before – shown what I can do. The Spanish crash made this only a nearly. It’s ok though, it grew me and changed everything and I’m nearly settled in that new me. – Elspeth at Mix
I nearly… caused a fire whilst cooking chicken nuggets. Instead I switched the grill off & ordered Pizza
I nearly… plunged into digital media but THEN I found myself writing a novel AGAIN…
I nearly… went to east Ukraine now but my family are persuading me not to go because it is too dangerous. So I probably won’t…
I nearly…married a burglar. I didn’t know he was at the time. There was just something off about him. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But it had all happened so fast anyway, so I put a stop to it. Six weeks later I was burgled. My laptops, all the digital gadgets, and my car keys (and my car) all gone.
Then he phoned me and said “I had a premonition, a feeling that something bad had happened.” and he thought I didn’t know. I changed my number.
I nearly… grew up in another country – the country I was born in but moved away from at a young age. This other me, however, still lives there. I am quite sure of it.
I nearly became an antiquarian bookseller, a singleton and a coffee drinker. Instead I set up a business embracing the early morning and thrilled myself with herbal tea.
I nearly had a very serious head injury that almost certainly would have killed me when I fell out of a Range Rover (don’t ask). Instead, I hit my back and the impact my back took, lessened the impact on my head. I was in hospital for a week with a minor head injury and just got out in time to go to university.
THE MAP… (secret map – I’m not drawing it) was beautifully and drunkenly drawn by a colleague I don’t know very well. And I NEARLY told him I love maps but I never use them to find the way, but I didn’t because then he would have stopped drawing and then I wouldn’t have seen the bridge on his map with buildings on it. A bridge I thought I’d dreamt or imagined, but I must have seen it when I last came to Bath when I was 10. As soon as I saw the bridge on his map I remembered the labyrinth but when I pointed to where it would be on the map he said there was a rugby ground there. When I got off the boiling hot train I nearly didn’t use his map because I like to find things by chance, but then I got it out and found the way . I NEARLY didn’t go into the gardens near the bridge because you had to pay, but I paid and I could see the bridge but I couldn’t see the labyrinth but I did get to sit in a deckchair. Then I left the gardens and I NEARLY didn’t look further for the labyrinth in case I had imagined it, but I walked a little further and it was there. I crossed the bridge and found it’s actually a maze. I NEARLY walked round it. WHen I went to Bath and NEARLY walked round the labyrinth (that isn’t actually a labyrinth) thst I’d NEARLY completely forgotten about. I NEARLY didn’t go to the pub because I had to be up early for a conference, but I went. I NEARLY said no to a G&T, but I said yes and that was how I got the MAP…
I nearly didn’t fill this in because of spoiling the blank paper but if I didn’t act and only nearly did this then I realised I wouldn’t be able to join in and I do want to join in – so I will try to do instead of nearly doing!
I nearly successed!
NEARLYOLOGY WORKSHOP AT BATH SPA 2015 EARLY YEARS RESEARCH CONFERENCE AT CORSHAM COURT
This workshop was the first outing for the amazing puppets made by Bee Peak. Participants entered the nearlyverse and mingled as their nearlyselves.
I nearly.. had a career in biscuit marketing (I was headhunted by McVities and very nearly took the job.
I nearly became a badass gang leader (at primary school) who was afraid of nuthin’.
Nearly went on Radio 4 to talk about stuffed animals
Nearly became an ex-pat, living in a beach hut on a Brazilian island, hammock swinging, coconut drinking, novel reading, chillout
MELISSA SMART’S NEARLY
I nearly drove away after crashing into someone’s car…
But then honesty got the better of me.
And I’m glad I owned up because two years later the owner of the car I ‘d pranged
interviewed me for a job.
ONE MORE FROM EXPERIMENTAL NARRATIVES
I hope this nearly story is useful for you! You’re project sounds really interesting.
– Helen Hoyle
NEARLIES GATHERED IN WATERSTONES CAFE W AS PART OF THE BATH LITERATURE FESTIVAL 2015
I spent a year of my life believing I was near to a great discovery in physics; since I never succeeded I can’t say I nearly did it, just that I felt it was something near. I was in my late 20s, a post doc in Cambridge and I felt there was a secret somewhere among all the facts and calculations that made up my work at the time, a secret, an idea that could illuminate the whole subject. I remember the feeling, the uncanny sense of excitement, of anticipation. Although it makes no sense, I felt like somewhere in the abstract world enclosed by my mind a chain was slipping through a hole, like a chain being dragged off a deck by an anchor; that sense of movement. The idea itself though never came clear.my thoughts my calculations followed round and round in tighter and tighter circles but in the end enclosed nothing. For a long time afterwards my work felt like an afterword, a footnote to a text never printed.
I nearly walked into the street with my shirt tucked in my knickers, but a kind man stopped me (as I walked across a crowded cafe) and told me about my deshabille faux pas!
I nearly bought a book today but I can’t tell you which one cos I might buy it and then I would have done it.
LAST SEPTEMBER I TRAVELLED TO SWITZERLAND to climb the Dent Blanche – a mountain in the Pennine Alps above Val Herens. My father came with me. He’d climbed it in the 1970s. But it turned out to be rather more tiring and tricky than expected. We got rather altitude sick, tired out and didn’t really have enough cash for the eye-wateringly expensive alpine huts. We ended up sharing meals and, in the event, near the top of the mountain a group of Catalan climbers got into trouble ahead of us and we had to spend an hour helping them…before turning back at dusk,getting lost and benighted on the mountain and then given a right old shellacking by the hut guardian the next morning who was worried we’d died.
On the day’s walk down from the hut off a glacier towards Les Hauderes we reflected that it hadn’t gone well. Neither of us had slept for 36 hours – a few seconds nap before starting awake sat on an icy ledge opposite the Matterhorn had been the extent of our rest. Tim, my father, was grey with fatigue. I was cross at our failure…and the Catalonians…and the shellacking…and the Alps in general. The walk down was 12 miles. We probably said 30 words to each other the whole time.
This june I plan to return and have another go. My great great aunt and uncle pioneered a route up the north face of Dent Blanche in 1928 with a guide named Joseph Georges. Now I, with Joseph’s great nephew, mountain guide Andre Georges, plan to have another try – 97 years later. I think it’s the only way to put last year’s nearly right: to get back on the horse, the white tooth which haunts me to best it whilst I still can.
– Dan Richards
I nearly got married to my husband in Gibraltar whilst visiting my brother and sister in law but the registrar wasn’t available that week – sadly. It was a spur of the moment thing. Instead we waited 4 years and 1 child more and got married in Bath. (have 3 children in total – 2 when we were in Gibraltar).
I nearly gave you a story but I had to pick my daughter’s brother up
I nearly stopped but I’m looking for my solicitor.
I nearly had 8 kids but I only had 1 !
I returned to the house after nearly a week away. I completed my usual check of the downstairs, and then began to climb the stairs.I stood outside the door. Nearly turning the handle I measured in my mind the consequences of my choice. I descended the stairs without regret. A forever change for us both.
*”I’ve got a few but I haven’t got the time.”
I have Nearly Finished brewing my own beer
A beautiful “mindfuck”!
I nearly walked up and kissed this gentleman but..
Earlier in the week I nearly had a car crash driving to Frome. I only mention it as I nearly would have not been here!
I nearly did one of my friends dares and I nearly got told of.
I NEARLY scord a goal in football
I nearly watched the whole of the Harry Potter serries.
I nearly did the bridge at gymnastics
My dad nearly ran the four minute mile.
I was nearly born on my Nana’s Birthday
I nearly moved to Oahu to lead a new technology faculty in a high profile private school to fulfil my dream of surfing everyday in boardshorts!!
I nearly didn’t start our business. I was almost deterred from doing so by people around me. But being blessed with a loving wife, Hilary, a great name, and the sense that there was a more profound destiny to discover, I said ‘no’ to the doubters and set out on the road to the Bright Field.
I nearly.. missed my flight home from Delhi! Our bus broke down on the way down from the North. I hitch hiked in the end with 2 indian boys living in Delhi. I wish that I had not rearranged my flight plans to come back for a university audition (as I decided against going), saved the £200and gone to the south for another month!
(I’m going back this year…) : )
NEARLY FROM THE EXPERIMENTAL NARRATIVES CONFERENCE AT THE INSTITUTE OF MODERN LANGUAGE RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, FEB 2015
told the truth about finding the postcards, the letters returned to sender, unread, un-responded to (Mein Liebling… Mein Engel).
Instead, I tucked great-aunt M’s secret away, back into the space I found it, as if into a pocket; casual, ambivalent. Or pretending, in fact, charged.
I wonder if I ought to have burned them – if it was better when we thought he was (still) Missing in Action, instead of gunned down so early, on a field in Poland, his boots shiny enough to catch the morning sky.
LUMB BANK NEARLIES – FEBRUARY 2015
I nearly had tea with the Queen Mother, at the Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset c 1978. My name had been picked out of a hat.
The day before, in a close-run game of kiss chase, Ian Barrett had pushed me into the Homey Wall and broken my nose. Lip was too swollen to sip from a cup with royalty. I stayed at school like everybody else.
I have been left with illusions of grandeur and an awareness of the power of attraction. Ian Barrett broke my nose and swole my lip because he wanted to kiss me.
I nearly became a story on the evening news. Young mother and baby hijacked on the M40 by a man wearing only a pair of jeans. The suspect was young too, brown-haired and frantic-eyes skittering from me to the pursuit he expected to trap him for a final stand in this family car.
Instead he made me drive him to the junction for Rickmansworth on the M25. Do you know how long it is from Beaconsfield to that first exit – endless, tortured, nightmare. I talk calmly about the fact there’s a child in the back while my mind whirs at double – no triple – no 100 times speed. My child’s harness traps me in the car. We fight for the wheel and the car noses slowly in the roundabout. Decision time.
But he gets out and runs for it. Shaking, I lock the doors and put my foot on the accelerator and scream off down the road.
That morning means to me survival and a touchstone for scenes of fear in everything I write.
I also know I’m good in a crisis and that’s a comfort
Played in goal in the 1966 World Cup Final…
Only I was too young, female and unathletic. In my head I took every shot for Gordon Banks.
Spilled the beans on the married man who’d seduced me at 18 – without telling me he was married.
I didn’t because I knew she (his wife) knew… really and eventually would leave him when she could acknowledge what she knew. She left him two years later.
I nearly got arrested for terrorism.
While crossing the road on my way to the local shops I climbed over a barrier – irritated, in a hurry – and found myself standing in front of the Prince of Wales car. The armed police frogmarched me out of the way. If I had been young, male and Asian…
I very nearly
I nearly told her
I nearly became a shooting star
I nearly became a BMXer
I nearly fell down the lift shaft at the multi-storey carpark above Shopping Giant
I kept it secret
I let the stage fright take hold of me and didn’t perform for 15 years
My tooth went through my top lip
I stopped just in time.
It pisses me off that I wasn’t brave enough.
I eventually recovered my voice and shouted louder
I stopped riding bikes altogether
It scared the bejeezus out of me.
– Louise Wellwein
There are two children who nearly lived.
One would have been born in 1986. I shared the pregnancy with Michelle from East Enders. Only by the time I knew about her my baby was already gone.
They fitted me – against my will – with a Dalkan Shield. I had to go to Soho and get it taken out by Hank Wangford. That was my first boy. Owen or Dylan, nearly 29. Black hair I think.
My second nearly child would have been my fourth. That last gasp flush of fertility that makes your breasts ache. I went to Mary Stopes. It was 2002. A good thing, my mother said, that my Dad didn’t know.
I imagine a girl. 12. Seren. It is Welsh for star.
I nearly did (and also I nearly didn’t and wish I hadn’t)
I nearly did stay. I thought about ways of staying. I thought about ways of leaving. I nearly didn’t go.
I did go but I nearly didn’t because it was hard. But maybe I didn’t go. Another me went. I was just suddenly gone, and I don’t know how it happened.
I am still there although I went away. There are dreams and I am back. I am stuck. It is as if I never left. And I have told him it is all right now. I can’t leave twice.
THE FIRST END
I NEARLY NINJA KICKED THAT HANDGUN OUT OF HIS MITT.
THOSE IMAGINARY MONTHS AT THE SHAO_LIN TEMPLE HAD MADE ME SHARP.
I SLEPT ON BEDS OF NAILS AND SOUGHT BLOCKS TO BREAK WITH MY BARE HANDS.
BUT ALL IT TOOK WAS MY INDEX FINGER.
I NUDGED THE STEEL NOSE ASIDE IN A ZEN MONK MOVE.
WE LIVED THAT DAY – BUT PERHAPS NOT ANOTHER.
AUTUMN NEARLIES from the Solothurn European Literature Days, the LIBRARY COFFEE HOUSE, Crouch End and the IF SO PRESS retreat in Pleuville, France where we tested out the Nearly game.
“I nearly.. moved to Cardiff (from Germany). I was offered a job there. But then I found out that it rains quite a lot in Wales, and I declined.”
“I nearly.. broke up with the woman who is now my wife.”
“I nearly… amazed my self by spontaneous dancing in charing Cross but decided on another time and place.”
“I nearly… didn’t move in with the best flatmates I’ve ever had (and cat).”
“I nearly gave up a million times”
“I nearly.. burned a zoo”
“I nearly… moved to Switzerland.”
“I nearly…missed the train to something I have really been looking forward to.”
“I nearly.. gave David Blunkett a piece of my mind but then I saw how vulnerable he seemed.”
“I nearly… tried to convince Jack Straw not to bomb Iraq. well.. maybe. I was staying in the Cotswolds near a cottage with security cameras on the roof. One morning Jack Straw emerged with an advisor and walked up and down the road in deep conversation. The next day the bombing started and I realised what they’d been talking about. I have this fantasy that I could have turned him towards peace.”
FOUND in the Nearly Basket – I’m not sure where this came from but it’s written on the back of a joke from a cracker: “Q: What do you call a penguin in the desert A: Lost.”
I nearly… told my cousin I was gay but I am a coward in the way the right thing isn’t always the one you should do. Especially if you do not want to be sent to a re-education camp.
GATHERED AT THE NEARLY EVENT AT CORSHAM COURT, part of the First Annual Early-Stage and Early-Career Researcher Conference at Bath Spa University.
I nearly… didn’t bother with research at all, and almost became an undertaker (sorry, ‘funeral director’) instead
I nearly… never left Bradford. I nearly stayed in my role there and set up home. I nearly wouldn’t have been here and maybe we wouldn’t be here today.
I nearly…sang ‘Bat Out of Hell’ to Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey but Jack Straw stopped me.
I nearly…didn;t write a ‘nearly’ as I will not be here for this afternoon to enjoy the nearly session. Sounds fun!
I nearly..was someone different
I nearly… missed my flight to the UK. Would have cost me an extra £100 to get to book another flight if I had.
I nearly…got married to a rich young man called Zorran. His parents were very keen, my parents were very keen – but when we met he was too shy to talk to me. : ( Later he gave away all his money and became a teacher.
I nearly…died of a rare intestinal condition at six months
I nearly… taught English in Thailand instead of working at BSU
I nearly… became a wing-walker in a flying circus
I nearly… became a TV writer but I couldn’t stand the purgatory of watching endless episodes of ‘Doctors’ soap which I was told was the way in.
I nearly…went on a trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro
I nearly…got up that bloody hill today.Nearly, but two thirds of the way up I had to get off and push. The bike doesn’t help, it has definite hipster proclivities – thinks it’s a Fixie. The only 21 speed bike that behaves like it’s got one gear. The gears will change, but like the psychiatrist and lightbulb joke, they really want to have to change! And I have to kick the deralia (sp?) in just the right place to make it happen. And three quarters of the way up a hill with a snarl of car behind you, well it’s not the right place. Perhaps tomorrow…because hope oils the wheels of nearly.
I nearly…flew to Sri Lanka on the morning of the tsunami. Luckily my husband is less ‘gung-ho’ than me and realised the potential severity of the situation (I was more worried about whether we’d get the money back for our flight!) We spent the morning waiting for our bags to come back off the plane (rather than spending the day flying to Sri Lanka – presumably being sent back..
I nearly… got hit by a car when I was a teenager. Four of us were walking along a main road near Lord’s Cricket Ground in London when a car driving towards us suddenly swerved and crashed into a group of rubbish bins on the pavement a few feet ahead of us.
I nearly…got to see Pink Floyd perform Dark Side of the Moon. Nearly.
I nearly…got sued by an angry neuroscientist
CJM & Freya at Corsham Court
Comment: She had planned to have a departing entourage,a protective ballast of voice and interaction and distraction. They walked with her to the station, carrying her bags, making plans, deferring the point of farewell, adieu, goodbye.
The door was tantalisingly open the white gauze curtain moving gently in the breeze. One of her companions even sat in the chair with the faded red cushions, that carried the imprint of her own sitting the days previous. She headed purposefully onto the platform laughing, filling any spaces with thanks and incidental conversations, yet kept looking back over her shoulder toward the door.
She could run in…..she could hug him like she does (falling into to him, letting her whole body vibrate) like she didn’t the last time because she was already withdrawing. She could kiss him full on the mouth with passion, not tentatively – carefully paying attention, being respectful of the boundary lines drawn between acceptable contact and transgression. She could decide to stay…..she could, but she hopes he will appear in the doorway, make a move toward her.
The train arrives, her body, her luggage are in the carriage; the entourage are playing their part well waving handkerchiefs, shouting last goodbyes, as the doors close and his doorway? His doorway remains empty.
Thank you for your contribution duly logged re. this nearlyincident concerning departure, gauze curtain, entourage et al. which we have classified as moving, complex and evocative. We have noted that Nearlyness frequently resides at (or just beyond even) the boundary lines drawn between acceptable contact and transgression, one reason it’s such an intriguing element. – Gregory Carraday and Dr. Freya Seward
Comment: He made a bee line for me as I knew he would. Large ill fitting blue coat with bulging pockets, thin grey hair emerging from a stained woolly hat, thick black rimmed glasses and a tired face. An unwelcome indeterminate odour followed shortly after he took his place next to me. While muttering he rummaged furiously in pockets til he held a pair of scissors in one hand and a pack of cheese in another. Slowly and deliberately he snipped at the packet and tiny shards of plastic fell to his feet. Suddenly the stench of way too old blue cheese. There I sat, almost overpowered by the stench, watching him cut small pieces of the cheese and transport them carefully balanced on the scissors to his mouth.
As we pulled into a station he abruptly stuffed cheese and scissors back into his pockets and got out.
New passengers got in, noses curled as the cheese smell hit them, all looking accusingly in my direction and moving as far away as possible. There I sat, surrounded by blue cheese crumbs wanting to explain. Somehow couldn’t find the words and feared it would only make matters worse. Crazy woman claims cheese is nothing to do with her.
I got off at the next stop and walked the rest of the way home.
I nearly made it to Gloucester Road Station by tube.
Thank you for your contribution of this nearlyincident duly logged re. your non arrival at Gloucester Road, this nearlyness created by extreme smelliness of man on tube. Nearlyologist Gregory Carraday oftentimes notices people shifting away from him in public spaces, not we hasten to add, due to any bad odour, as he washes nightly in a bath sprinkled with a powder of selected literature rendered dust-like via a quick whizz in his mum’s food processor, this added to the bathwater to help wash off secret markings made each morning fresh with water colour and influenced by the nearly stories he’s heard lately, so this morning he might paint multiples across his chest of underground signs and noses. But nonetheless people do feel a strangeness emanating from the Nearlyologist which can lead to the vacation of seats. Gregory Carraday thanks you deeply for sticking with the cheeseman awhile and reckons he hears in the air the trace of numerous nearlyincidents around the actuality which he will disperse by whatever means he can muster. – GC & Dr FS
THANKS TO MICHAEL MITZMAN for contributing this nearly story:
As far as I remember it was a fine May afternoon in Oxford and my friend, Alan Mclaren and I decided to walk down to the Iffley Road Athletics Meeting as there was a prospect of an exciting mile race, featuring Roger Bannister and Chris Chataway. I felt a proprietary interest in Bannister as ten years earlier I had each day sat next to him in Assembly at school. In those days we sat in Houses which was why I, a third former, found myself sitting next to Bannister, a sixth former. Not only that but we had both participated! In the same cross-country race for the whole school (about 300). Of course he won. I finished 270th.
So I set out with my trusted 8mm. cine camera, made sure I had sufficient film, and off we walked down the High. But we were less than half way to the track when we saw two girls walking towards us. One of them was known to Alan, and after a few minutes chat they invited us to tea.
Such is the fickleness of young men that all thought of the Athletics Meeting was discarded. We accepted the invitation. We had tea while Roger Bannister ran the first sub four minute mile. We had missed being present at (and filming) history being made.
And the girls? I don’t think we ever saw them again.
Lynn Caldwell writes:
Hello Chris…just thought I’d pop in to say thank you because your ‘nearlyology’ has inspired me to try things not for the end result, but so I can say ‘I nearly…’ So far, I have nearly won a social innovation competition that eventually changes the…See More
Chris Meade Wow that;s wonderful. Can I post this on http://www.nearlyology.com ? I enjoyed you singing Abba too!
about an hour ago · Like
Lynn Caldwell Yes of course!! I’d be delighted for you to post it on Nearlyology. I did enjoy singing, indeed – I think attempting to so something that may not ‘come-off’ is my thing now…I’m collating a ‘Things I nearly did before I’m forty’ document in the run-up to dreaded October …The audition is on The Abba Museum Facebook page at the moment – awaiting its fate – har ha
– EXCHANGE FROM FACEBOOK DEC 2013
I nearly did not get married. In the end I chickened out of cancelling the wedding and went through with it, hoping that it would be OK. Of course it was not. We divorced five years later. The marriage (and later divorce) cost me half my house, and tremendous emotional pain. But there you go; it had its happy moments, and was an experience which contributed to me becoming the woman I now am.
Gathered at http://www.alldaybreakfast November 2013
I nearly… didn’t go to university in Bristol. I nearly didn’t go to university at all. It’s strange to think about how different my life would be if I had stayed at home, miles away, with my parents. Moving here alone has given me a new lust for life. I love waking up every morning still knowing there are new places to explore, new people to meet and new ways to better myself. Every morning is the first day of my life as an individual, reliant only on myself, but on everyone else at the same time…
Bottom line: always say yes. Change is good. Live free, live well… & be happy!
I nearly… was called… Jolyon. My mother had promised a friend that she could name the new baby (me). My mother’s friend, Elsie, had her reading the Forsyte Saga and she had liked the name Jolyon.
My father and uncle were dispatched to register my birth, taking in a few pints on the way. By the time they got to the registrar they had forgotten the name Jolyon and so I was named Thomas Brian after them.
I nearly… became a glamour model. In 1978 I went to the USA as a post-doc. At my first conference in St.Petersburg FL. (on invertebrate pathology) I was hanging around and a little man asked me if I wanted to earn some extra money.”???” I replied. A bit of modeling quoth he. We are looking for REAL redheads…
I got very hoity-toity and told him I was there for an academic conference and that NO I didn’t need extra money. Lots of students find it convenient he tried to wheedle.
I nearly… did a PhD in Lobster Hatching in the Isle of Mann. But I really fancied my Prof’s research associate so I didn’t go.
I nearly… lost my mind but then discovered my backbone and became a yoga teacher (some might say I did lose my mind by becoming a yoga teacher, eg my mother who said, “O my God Jezus, No” when I told her.)
I nearly…passed my driving test. Twice.
I nearly… became two people within a few years. Firstly I nearly became a pre-incarnation of Professor Brian Cox; he of TV astronomy and D:Ream fame. As a teenager, my hobby was astronomy. When it came time to apply to go to university (at the time you made 5 choices) there were only 4 astronomy courses, so I applied for those and with the leftover choice, for archaeology at Bristol. Happily offered them all, I opted for the odd one out, not for astronomy. At university I was in a band with a play on words name of Des.P.Rate; nearly Brian Cox.
2)…Three years later, I nearly became Reggie Perrin. As a penniless, jobless archaeologist, I was given a 6 week job with Nestle. Despite feigning boredom, I obviously did too good a job as they kept offering me a post as a logistics executive in the Yoghurts division. Nearly Reggie Perrin but he seems to have controlled my life ever since!
I nearly… turned into middle aged lane towards elderly cul de sac, but then I realized I could turn the other way
I nearly… became a rockstar! I toured America as the only white man in a black blues band… but I had to come back to the UK.
– Tom Ball
I nearly… had the perfect love. We both felt it. We both wanted to wait for the perfect moment before we said it. But you changed your heart before that perfect moment came. You changed your mind, but I can’t change mine. I am grateful for what we have now, an unusual but beautiful friendship, one that I could not possibly live without. I will always love you, and forever wonder “what if?” But I know it is never going to be me, and I have to let go of that part of you, however wrong that feels. I hope she realized she does not deserve you, and I hope she never hurts you again as she has before. Most of all I hope you find happiness. But for now, I will let you go.
I nearly… jumped from a multi storey car park in Clifton. I saw a bright white light. Also a powerful voice told me do not do it. That was my saviour! Who knows.
I nearly…thought I loved x, but it was lust instead.
I nearly… declined an offer to study in Finland for 3 months. While there I met some amazing people from all over the world and created some close bonds with people, many of whom I am still in contact with today. While in Finland I met an amazing woman whom I fell for but did nothing as I had a girlfriend in Ireland. She also had a boyfriend in the Netherlands. We became great friends and our flirting was like school yard antics; messing around, pushing each other etc. Upon coming back to Ireland I broke up with my Irish girlfriend but I never forgot about that Duthc woman. After 2 years of emails and relationships in between I decided to get on a plane and see her and tell her how I felt. She reciprocated my feelings and things are amazing.
We see each other every few weeks but she is going to move over to Bristol and we will live together.
Moral of the story: never be afraid to say yes, as by saying yes I have found an amazing woman who wants to share her life with me! J
I nearly… got murdered by a mass murderer – twice! I lived in the street where the Yorkshire Ripper got arrested. And I lived in the street where one of the victims of Frederick West disappeared. I remember being approached by a man at night when I was walking home in the dark. I always wondered if it was Fred.
I nearly… photographed Wycliffe Jean from the Fugees – naked. He asked me to do it. He said he wanted to have his butt photographed while it was still beautiful. He asked me twice!! But I didn’t take him seriously.
I nearly… became right-handed. At infant school my teacher (Mrs Robinson) tried to rid me of the “mark of the Devil” by tying my left hand behind my back. It would have worked but my left-handed mother found out…
I nearly… was born an Aquarian but for the fact that my mother sat on a knitting needle on Christmas Day… or that’s the story that she always told!