Guest Blog: Henry Cadd

Posted: March 2, 2013 in Guest Blogs

I’m delighted to welcome Henry Cadd to my blog today. Henry, 54, is the northern writer of a trio of best-selling novels and a host of short fictions. He recently organised a new literary festival which he boasted would ‘rival any the UK had to offer’, however, attendance was poor, and Cadd has been attacked. Accused of using the festival as a means of self-promotion for his novels. Henry reliably informs me that he’s usually a lot more placid than he is here, however, something’s really got his goat recently, and he’s seized this platform with which to submit his defence…

Henry has neglected to submit a photo to accompany his guest blog.

My Defence by Henry Cadd

Over the past few days, I have been forced to read, with increasing irritation, the numerous insinuations, called names, and rabid, snarling attacks on my good character and reputation which have, through no fault of my own, permeated the world wide web. And thus far, I have suffered in silence. Only occasionally taking to Twitter or to Facebook, or any number of other, more distant regions of the blogosphere in order to correct the lies – yes, I will call them exactly what they are – which have been put about by certain people whose sole intention appears to be to draw me out into the open, as though I’m precious prey, before they can devour me.

They have called me a charlatan, and a swindler. They have laughed, and poked fun, at my endeavours. They have accused me of overreaching myself, as though I am some latterday Prometheus, whose folly will be my undoing. Worse, they have said that I am an exaggerator, a master manipulator and a liar.

This is muck-spreading, plain and simple, by the agricultural characters who love nothing more than to act as quicksand-like manure to my every move. Earthy they are, these neigh-sayers. And grounded. And as such, they do not like to know a man such as me: a dreamer, a creative-type, a man who could be said to have his head in the clouds. They want to keep me down, at their level, from whence the sun is too high to reach, and, in my refusal to cow-tow, to play the ignoramus, the Morlock, the Luddite, the Troglodyte like them, I suppose I have guaranteed this fate for myself.

Therefore I cannot say that I’m surprised by my treatment at the hands of those who contain no vision, no wit, no judgement. These people do not recognise genius as they have no talent of their own upon which to compare mine. The name for these people is trolls, and that’s exactly what they are. They lurk in the shadows, under bridges. Ready to rear up and drag down those hopeful, creative-types who soar above them. They wish to consume me, grind down my bones, and then belch me out like a more refined type of hot air.

And, until now, I have held my counsel. But now the allegations have gone too far. There have been attacks on my character that cannot be allowed to stand. I am a man of integrity. Which is why I have written this defence, though I know it will be attacked from all sides by those who are jealous of my talent, and of what it has helped me to achieve.

All I wish to do is to set things out straight in response to the crooked accusations which have been laid at my door. And then I will say no more. Zip up my lips and throw away the key. Drown it in the sewery sludge which runs through the very centre of this town. And then let us see what these people, these juvenile savages, have to entertain them in future.

Let me tell you the full story and you, dear, impartial reader, shall be allowed, nay, trusted to judge for thyself.

My name, for those (happy?) few who don’t know, is Henry Cadd. Some of the less imaginative types amongst you might observe some lesser truth such as Cadd by name, cad by nature, or somesuch. Or Once a Cadd, always a cad. But I have always loved the name because it is mine and because it is ripe with the history of my family. There’s a chance you’ll know me on account of my best-selling trilogy of novels –  See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Bullshit; Basic Interview Questions for the Beaten Generation; and Disqualification from the Culture Vulture Club – featuring my detective-stroke-amateur poet Harry Glad which topped the bestseller list in the Stockport branch of Waterstones, topping The ruddy Hunger Games in the process, for two weeks last year, and, of course, my non-fiction work, specifically Salient Advice and Interesting Asides for the Wannabe Writer in This Day and Age, which you’ll have no doubt seen riding high in the Amazon charts.

I’ve led a colourful life, and one which has been largely shaped by success. Having passed my A-Levels with flying colours, I became the first student from my comprehensive to be interviewed for a place at the prestigious Clare College in Cambridge. Though I wasn’t ultimately triumphant, I feel this was no reflection on myself, but rather a matter for the quota wallahs and the number crunchers to dwell on. Perhaps they’d already seen enough northern upstarts for one year and my sharply honed intelligence must have scared the life out of them. Perhaps they feared I may outshine some of my more illustrious colleagues. Or perhaps, in my efforts to be blasé – turning up after imbibing a good few ales at the local SU bar – I alerted them to the rebel streak I have running through me like lettering on rock.

In the end I chose not to attend university at all. This was a definite choice on my part, and not a rejection or anything so grubby. Because even then, I felt the tug of the world of letters. It lured me in a way which a spell at university did not. The way I thought about it at the time was this: I wanted to learn to become a writer. And at university, I’d be learning from people whose writing, whose creativity, had been diluted. The tutors there had been, to be frank, pampered, given bursaries, tenures, grants et al. Which in my book meant they did not have the need to write in order to load their tables. Which in my book meant they weren’t real writers in any coherent sense.

I decided I would go it alone, in the manner of a man charting a course for unknown territories, distant frontiers. Like a frontiersman, I would make my living from what I did, or did not do, and not survive through scrabbling about for handouts. I knew this at the core of me even then, although I thought of it in a different way, and in different, angrier language, and such thinking has informed my writer’s journey ever since.

The writer’s journey is necessarily a rocky road, and if the writer is offered some state-funded carriage in order to alleiviate the bumps, then he also does not feel.

More: those writers who do take bursaries and grants from the state – especially in times of recession like this – are very deliberately robbing from those who need it most. So think on this, you cynics, you writers who’ve been cosseted by arts councils and cushty universities all your lives. You are inverse Robin Hoods. You are stealing food from the mouths of babies. You are putting out the fires in the homes of the elderly. You are causing the potholes in the High Street to remain unrepaired until winter, when an horrendous accident occurs, resulting in many deaths.

You are, to put it bluntly, murderers. Which is why I have taken your criticism of myself and my ambitions with a whole gravy train of salt.

I digress. Anger streams from my fingers as I type. And what’s worse is the fact I know I shouldn’t be allowing your hooks to spear into my cheek in such a way. And I shouldn’t be wriggling, and kicking my legs as though they were so much tail. In fact, I should simply get on with my tale – ha, ha! – and then leave this blog on my site, standing like the obelisk at the end of 2001, the eternal record of truth rather than the conspiracy of hearsay which you confuse truth with.

Allow me to backtrack, slip back into the narrative I was conceiving before it becomes as useless as lonely masturbation into a roll of damp kitchen roll, which, as it happens is my definition of the internet as a whole. Or else it is standing at the entrance to a huge cavern and shouting into it, expecting to hear the clamour of voices in response to your own, and then discovering that all you hear back is your own voice.

Your own voice. My own voice. I was to discover mine in the years post college. Some naysayers might call this period my ‘wilderness years’, but I have an alternative slant. These were my ‘research and development’ years. I spent them forging my unique voice, earning my keep as I jet-setted across the globe, always learning, by picking grapes and mending barrels and the like, though this was no romantic idyll. It was in fact training. Training as rigorous as any set for a member of our armed forces, only mine was mental and not physical. And, by hook or by crook, I became a writer. This did not happen overnight. It was not some fancy dress costume into which I slipped. Rather, it was a steady drip-by-drip transformation which would take me, root and branch.

I worked in some of the most brilliant publishing houses in Paris, and in New York. Through a process of osmosis, I learned from the literary heavyweights and marvellous minds therewithin. I also worked some of the most world-renowned newspapers and magazines. Paris-Match. The New Yorker.

But then, disaster struck. My ageing mother was taken ill and I was forced to return to the United Kingdom, to the small domain which had once been mine own, the small industrial town bordering the Peak District which was New Mills. And I returned to discover that although everything had changed in my absence, nothing had changed. The same people who’d sneered at my innate intelligence and my three A’s at A-Level and my appearance in the local newspaper, The High Peak Reporter, in which I was, and I’ll maintain this until my dying day, painted in a bad light by the bastard reporter (who’s now the bloody editor), were the very ones who lined the streets and threw rotten turnips (metaphorically) at the train which slunk (literally) into New Mills Central Station on my return. Those girls, as wild as farm cats, and as unused to having the gentle touch of a member of the intelligentsia such as I stroking their egos, who’d once laughed at me for my inability to push a cart of potatoes (metaphorically), were the same ones who’d turned fat, slack, and clawless, all kittened out with their various feral litters which had been spunked into them by the local Toms and who now lined the High Street pinning out their washing – all piss-stained sheets and shitrags from their brat children.

And my mother was no better, laughing in my face at my stories and then guffawing that I’d ‘hardly sailed the seven seas’ before collapsing into a fit of cancer-ridding coughing which I had to look away from. When she’d finally exorcised the ghosts of the billion high-tar cigarettes she’d smoked in her life, she then asked me whether I was now going to get a proper job.

And believe me, it was hard to hold my patience with the old bitch then.

Because, and I’ll be explicit about this, writing literature is a job. A craft. It must needs be worked at. And I worked at mine whilst caring for my mother. In both, I got my hands dirty, I suffered, and for little thanks.

Anyway, while she was ill, I attempted to wend my way into similar high-flying roles in the publishing industry in the UK, though I found my routes to entry blocked at every turn, by the sickening facts that most of the grander publishing houses were based in London, or by the fact they distrusted my work experience gained in places such as Paris and New York. Let me tell you, it was then that I realised what a closed shop the publishing industry actually is in the United Kingdom. How resistant they are to change.

After my mother died and I’d written my first novel, the one which, after a number of revisions and rewrites was to become See No Evil, based as it was on a travelling troubadour’s experiences on his return from a sojourn abroad, I discovered the closed shoppery of the industry even more painfully, and provocatively. You’ll have heard the story of Peter, and the promise that he’d deny Christ three times before the cock crowed. Well, I had it worse than our Lord Jesus. I was rejected, denied, shat upon from a great height by more publishing houses than you could shake a stick at. Their blind prejudice, fear, and ignorance ruling the day.

And a lesser man than I might have called it a day, then. Packed up his tools and walked away into the sunset, perhaps whistling a mournful tune.

But I am not that lesser man.

To be continued…

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