I realise memories are unreliable. All the more unreliable for the writer of novels, who struggles to separate fact from fiction now, not helped by melancholic bulk-deletions which obliterated every last trace of what I once had written. All I have now are fragments: partial files, providing a limited snapshot of the distant past, most of them indicating that my recollections are incomplete at best.

Some people blot out the past because it is just too painful. Some traumas are simply stamped out of personal narratives. I know that I try to eradicate from my mind all that makes me cringe. Like the time I nearly got my wife shot on our wedding anniversary, in the midst of a romantic evening that went wrong. Of course, she always puts a positive spin on it, telling me that it’s the one anniversary she will never forget!

Most that know me think of me as a man of perpetual regrets, forever cringing at everything I momentarily thought to be good. Most of what I write ends up in the bin. Half of what I publish briefly, I withdraw. I self-censor and change my mind so often that friends now laugh that I perform more U-turns than Boris Johnson. How can I then be a reliable witness to my own lifetime?

I believe introspection is a good thing. But some people think I take introspection to extremes. Some people suggest that I take the blame too much for things that were never even my fault in the first place. Perhaps there is some strange freudian analysis that needs to be uncovered there. Some people say I carry with me too much self-loathing to ever be just to myself. Who knows?

From my recollections of the past, I have much to apologise for, but it seems I have forgotten that I have already spent a lifetime apologising. That is what everybody tells me. Forgive and forget, they say. I know they’re right. Listen to your beloved who sees the good in you. Smash your distorted mirror into the tiniest of fragments. Won’t you believe in yourself at last?

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