I’ve expected to become famous since age five. Five decades have passed, that is half a century. I’m now on this side of the hill, not the other side, the slope going down bit. I’ve exchanged the pinkness of youth for increasing serenity. Though I’m still remarkably fit in many ways – but I put this down to poverty and having worked as a cleaner lady. I did this when I got back to England. Anyway aging was never going to happen to me, so this is quite surprising. It does not seem to be avoidable.
Instead of remaining the Gringa of Guayacan, I came back to England and became an office cleaner for Derby City Council. I fought dust and disorder in Derby’s offices for nine years, but every day I was writing. I regarded pushing a vacuum cleaner round an office as a work out, for which I was paid, rather than having to pay to keep fit. I always felt sorry for the people working in the offices, condemned to sit at desks and sort out other people’s (stupid) problems, while I only had my own problems to sort out. It was my job to smile as I went round emptying bins. My appearance in the office meant that the others could go home, so they looked happy too.
I finally found an empty office in Derby going cheap. I bought it, moved there, converted it back into a house and rented out rooms to lodgers. This allowed me to give up the cleaning job.
So I now live in the multicultural part of Derby and rent rooms to lodgers who come from all over the world – from crumbling shanty towns – young people who seek work in Britain since they have no work in their own countries.
I and my five lodgers share a back yard with the house next door where there are 13 rooms rented out. There’s also a cat with one ear that jumped over the back fence and moved in.
Our street has constant visits from the police and ambulances, and there are always beer cans thrown in the front garden. I’ve become Tess of the Wheelie Bins trying to cope with the neighbour’s inability to recycle and put their bins out on the right day.
I feel at home here, surrounded by people; it’s like living in a shanty town. I know a lot about disorder, nonsense and things that are run down.
Finally, my dream came true and my book The Steps of Creation was published in July 2016. No one has yet opened the book, except for two people. One got really excited and said it contained the most original ideas he’d ever read, but then forgot what they were. The other was still trying to read it last time I heard. I just keep on writing, when I’m not cleaning my own house occupied by six people or fixing things that break.