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1st – Begin by Thomas Porter

Our planet’s only ever seen a tiny percentage of us… and for ten years of that percentage I was caught by self-imposed structures and thoughts.

Whilst it’ll always be tempting to pursue our chaotic cosmos’ causality, cause and effect probably never occurs, making a definite start an inane daydream. What we do is dissect reality into manageable pieces to keep us hoodwinked. All hands agree, for instance, that on me mum’s side, I’m descended from North Eastern coal miners via me dead granddaddy, and from a pig-raiser down Cornwall via my nan on my dad’s side. My entry came through collision – two people had sex, two gene pools merged. The roots of my creation had little to no bearing on my becoming the crackpot of my primary schools – a haunter of dark corners, a sketcher of unspeakable terrors, an opposer of learning.

One crazed belief I held back then involved the painted lines on the playground’s tarmac. Stepping over each line symbolised an entry into a universe exactly parallel to that of my own, with sight and sound and smell familiar to me but innately false all the same. My mind’s eye sees my primary school self as a bloated walrus playing hopscotch on fire, praying he’d retrace the right steps to return safely to his loving mum – his real mum, not some otherworldly mother. He’d imagine mum’s pain as she looked into his dead bedroom, filled with toys yet devoid of activity, whilst his porky body was trapped forever… zapped into some replicated landscape.

Despite not knowing how I overcame such a special brand of insanity, I know it defined his view and gave that version of myself a useful distraction. That younger self’s dead though. That individual’s got no presence inside me. A bag of bones snoozing in a river elsewhere.


Begin by Thomas Porter won 1st Place in The Yorker’s Beginnings Competition