Two things have been in the news in the past week that bring to mind events in two of my works of fiction.
Last week a body landed in a street in Mortlake, southwest London. It transpired that the body was that of a man, North African or possibly Congolese or Angolan in origin, who had stowed away in the landing gear of an airplane. While many of the newspaper reports focused on the horror of waking up to find a dead man crumpled on your street outside your house, others explored the risk demonstrated by the stowaway’s breach of airport security, back in the country where he boarded the plane. Of course, this story replicates the story I’m currently exploring in my new novel, ‘Our Stuff and Our Things’, and the digital fiction Chris Joseph and I are working on, ‘Flight Paths’. In my version of the life of a stowaway, he gets up and walks away. If only that was true for the man who fell on that street in Mortlake. Here’s an interesting report on the story.
As well as that, yesterday the news reported that a British soldier in Afghanistan had gone into labour and produced a baby, having not realised that she was pregnant. This story unleashed a media stream of concealed and unknown pregnancy stories. In my novel, ‘The Mistress of Nothing’, Sally Naldrett, the main character in the book, conceals her pregnancy. Since the book was published, various readers have queried whether or not this could be possible; indeed, most women’s experience of pregnancy, my own included, precludes the idea of either not knowing you are pregnant or being able to hide it. However, as the stories in the press revealed yesterday, it is actually much more common than anyone would think possible. One radio report I had mentioned a study in Wales that concluded that 1 out of 2500 pregnancies are concealed or unknown. Sally Naldrett’s concealed pregnancy is a true story; she really did hide her pregnancy from Lucie Duff Gordon, despite living in close and continual proximity with her.