In the wake of the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in West London last June, a plan was hatched for a book of original stories, edited by the wonderful Kathy Burke, that would be published in support of the survivors, particularly those suffering with trauma from the events of that night. And I was asked to contribute something. The brief was that the story had to be uplifting, positive, hopeful. And I think it had to be limited to 900 words or so. There would be 24 stories, one for each of the storeys of Grenfell.
So I wrote one. It marks my debut as a fiction writer - in a book alongside A. L. Kennedy and Pauline Melville and Irvine Welsh. Bloody HELL.
Mine is inspired by the story of Andrew Parker, a policeman who was on board the ill-fated cross-channel ferry The Herald of Free Enterprise which left the port of Zeebrugge in 1987 with her bow doors open and capsized. While it was lying on its side, passengers trying to get to a place from which they could be rescued, had their route interrupted by a six foot gap that they couldn't jump and Parker lay over the gap allowing the passengers to walk over his back to safety. Needless to say, apart from the outline, the character in my story is entirely invented.
It's out on 14 June, the first anniversary of the fire. You can buy it here: