At I Heart Lesfic, we believe the world could use a bit more kindness after one of the hardest and longest of years. Many authors have signed up to help IHL spread kindness in the world.
Today, the wonderful Kathleen Jowitt is here to share a story. Also, Kathleen is giving away 1 ecopy of The Real World. Below the guest post, you’ll find more details about the giveaway.
Take it away, Kathleen.
I’ve always loved travel (do you remember, back in the before times?) and I’ve always been a bit of a contrary, pick-your-own-route, set-your-own-schedule sort of a person. When my first novel won a Betty Trask Prize in 2017, with £3000 to spend on travel, I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it: go Interrailing. Interrail (Eurail, for folk outside Europe) is a travel pass scheme: buy the ticket, and take a train to pretty much anywhere you want.
Two weeks into a three week journey, and I’d stayed in cities in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, and Slovenia. I’d spent a night in Venice and now I was travelling north again, up into the Alps, back into Austria. I’d booked a bunk in the youth hostel in Innsbruck, a city I was looking forward to exploring.
What I hadn’t quite appreciated was how far the youth hostel was from… anything, really. Well, next door there was a Tyrolean cultural centre, which apparently served food, but it was crowded and noisy and confusing, and I thought I’d do better to walk into town and find somewhere quieter to eat.
I walked. And I walked. And I walked. The light began to fade, and there was nothing but blocks of flats. I kept on walking.
You know the acronym HALT – hungry, angry, lonely, tired? I had all those things going on. Granted, the anger was mostly at myself: how could I have been so stupid as to not to look at the map properly, to book somewhere so far from the city centre…? Tired: it had been a long, long day, after a long, long couple of weeks. Lonely: well, I phoned home, and conversation helped a bit. I was still talking when I saw lights, heard voices – not on the other end of the line, but right there, where I was. A little bar under the railway arches and, seated around a plastic table outside it, people.
I found myself among friends. Literally. This was a group of ordinary people who’d come out to spend an evening together. At first they were ready to direct me to somewhere else, but when I explained, in very amateur German, that really I just wanted to eat something, fast, they sorted me out. They ordered me schnitzel with chips, they sorted out the change, they bought me drinks, they shared their coats with me. And we talked. They wanted to know about my journey, where I’d come from, how I’d learned German… It was, against all the odds, a really enjoyable evening. At the end of it they called a taxi for me so that I could get back to the hostel safely.
I doubt that any of the folk at Bistro Mond are reading this, but if you are – thank you for sharing your evening with me; thank you for including me in your group. You made one of the most miserable nights of my adventure one of the ones that I remember with the most fondness.
by Kathleen Jowitt
Colette is trying to finish her PhD and trying not to think about what happens next. Her girlfriend wants to get married – but she also wants to become a vicar, and she can’t do both. Her ex-girlfriend never wanted to get married, but apparently she does now. Her supervisor is more interested in his TV career than in what she’s up to, and, of the two people she could talk to about any of this, one’s two hundred miles away, and the other one’s dead. Welcome to… The Real World.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Kathleen Jowitt writes contemporary literary fiction exploring themes of identity, redemption, integrity, and politics.
Her work has been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize and the Selfies Award, and her debut novel, Speak Its Name, was the first ever self-published book to receive a Betty Trask Award.
CONNECT WITH KATHLEEN JOWITT
Thanks so much for stopping by today.