IMAGES FROM TOP LEFT GOING ACROSS IN ROWS: - A guy I met on the Mendip Way last summer who had a 'Hope' tattoo, a page from the novel 'My Husband's Wife' by Jane Corry, some graffiti seen by Wojtek Godzisz on a wall in London around the time he was recording his first solo album in around 2007, Justin Gloden (national marathon record holder of Luxembourg) still running better than most people half his age in his mid sixties, sunset on Porthmellon Beach (Isles of Scilly), Joanne and Ian Hartley (Ian has been in prison on an IPP sentence for robbery/extortion for years past his original tariff, is trying extremely hard to stay off drugs, and Joanne has been campaigning tirelessly to get him released into rehab), Wojtek Godzisz and Ross Cummins in the late 90s when they were in the band Symposium (both men are featured in the book - Wojtek wrote the foreword), a story Wojtek told in the book about the best elements of being a professional musician, My cousin's sons Conner and Jayden Urwin - Conner's story is the main one in the book; just after his seventeenth birthday he had a near fatal bleed on his brain and for him to live a normal life again seemed impossible


I wrote this book because life can be bloody hard! I look around me and see so many people struggling, and modern society seems so selfish and competitive rather than the community/collaborative spirit I saw around me in the 1980s when I was growing up. I would almost certainly have thought differently had I been an adult then or had I had different circumstances, but life does seem pretty crazy nowadays - technology has taken over to a degree that is at best laughable and at worst downright terrifying, and people are just so stressed all the time because of this and many other factors. People find hope in many different places, and I tried to gather some of these together that were relevant to my life. I learnt about some issues during the writing of this book that I hadn't been aware of beforehand but I felt needed to be highlighted, and some of the subject matter is very heavy, but I wanted to include some light relief too, so I contacted some people from bands I liked as a teenager to see what hope means to them. I have to admit this was partly just to satisfy my own curiosity about what they were up to nowadays, but when I talked to them I found they all had stories very relevant to the themes of the book, and I even ended up asking Wojtek Godzisz from Symposium to write the foreword because we seemed to get on quite well

Above are images of some of the people in the book as well as examples of how hope is everywhere. The opposite of hope is despair, and so to my mind hope is the next level down from food, water, warmth and shelter in terms of survival. A loss of hope can't literally kill you but the impact it has on you is extremely debilitating - without hope, the people involved in any miraculous tale of survival against the odds would not have made it

What hope means to you is almost certainly different to what it means to me - the book is mostly not about me but I have tried to explain in it what I feel hope is. There are many stories in the book that all illustrate how important hope is, and I hope different ones will reaffirm to different people that there is hope, even though it may not seem like there is sometimes. I didn't write this book because I am overflowing with hope and wanted to inspire everyone else with my great wisdom on the subject - that's simply not true. I wrote the book because I need hope just as much as anyone else, some days I struggle to find it, but it's always there....