Five years ago I was the victim of a murder attempt. I ended up mangled and messed, but still alive. Unwittingly I made a sort of Houdiniesque escape from the would-be murderers just as they were about to throw my body into a river. For a long time the only thing I remembered about the incident was its mysterious, urgent frenzy, but in the last year or so I have begun to recapture a half-knowledge of my victimhood, whose deceitful images I have to rearrange in my memory like postcards.
I had left England a couple of years before and was living in Glasgow, trying to make a career as a newspaper reporter and, in between, hoping to write a book. The trouble was I had nothing to write about. I had only a vague knowledge of life, and in order to write, it seemed to me, a person had to know so many things.
I went to Glasgow to live out a fantasy. Its fluid, inconstant, nerve-wrung landscape had a claim upon my imagination. I liked being in a stone-built city of dark tenements and ornate public buildings. I liked the patter, the idiom, the tough, subtly nuanced language of the conversations I overheard in the street or in the pub.