by Ashley Lister
You have to promise to keep this a secret. It’s just between you and me. Don’t tell anyone else and don’t share the link to this page. Do I have your word that you won’t tell anyone about this? Good. Here it comes: when I’m not writing, I have a heroic secret identity. I am the superhero known as OK-Guy!
I know what you’re thinking. You’ve read the newspaper reports of my heroic exploits and you’re wondering: How can Ashley Lister be OK-Guy? OK-Guy can leap tall buildings in a single bound. OK-Guy can move faster than a speeding bullet and stop speeding locomotives with his broad and manly chest. Surely Ashley Lister isn’t capable of doing those things.
Well, the truth is, I haven’t always been OK-Guy.
I don’t doubt you’ve heard how Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider which led to him becoming Spiderman. Well, in a similar incident, I was bitten by something radioactive which imbued me with super powers. However, I didn’t fancy doing heroic deeds under the name of ‘Crabman’ or ‘Pubic-Louse-Man.’ So I opted to go with the name OK-Guy, which seemed fairly innocuous but also aspirational too. Those people who point at Clark Kent’s alter ego can say, “Superman is a super man.” They can also point at me and say, “That OK-Guy is an OK guy.” Isn’t it clever how I picked this name to work on so many levels?
I should point out at this stage, because of my origins, I do have an arch nemesis: the evil Quellada Man. Quellada Man is armed with a specific medical lotion and an extremely fine-toothed comb – the combined effects of which could weaken me to a state of intense vulnerability. However, I’m not here to write about the evil Quellada Man. I’m telling you about my secret identity and not his.
It’s a bit of a tricky life being both OK-Guy and Ashley Lister. It means I have two social circles: the world of writers and reader and the world of superheroes and supervillains. Obviously I don’t want people from these two social circles mixing because it would almost certainly lead to some embarrassment and there’s a risk that a supervillain could try to compromise my integrity by threatening my reader. (I know I’ve written ‘reader’ in the singular here but I’m not 100% convinced that I have more than one person reading my work so I’m choosing to err on the side of caution). Consequently, to ensure the safety of my reader, I try to keep my OK-Guy identity a closely guarded secret, which is why you can’t tell anyone about this blog.
I enjoy many aspects of being OK-Guy. It’s always fun to be a hero who fights crime and stops bank robbers in the midst of a major heist. Sometimes I will keep some of the money that gets dropped in the battle between me and the gangs of master criminals. But I only ever keep enough to cover expenses such as my bus fare to the robbery or any lunch costs that are incurred whilst I’m waiting for crime to happen. Sometimes I’ll take an appropriate amount that could be considered ‘reward money.’ This is NOT the same as stealing.
I have some immense super powers. I’m stronger than the mere mortal of my alter ego that is Ashley Lister. Ashley Lister is in physically poor condition because of spending so many hours sat in front of a PC and simply writing or reading. I, as OK-Guy, am able to run at twice the speed of smell. (This is a particular measurement of speed that is only ever used in reference to superheroes who have been born through the bite of a radioactive pubic louse).
I can leap tall buildings in a single bound. However, I usually prefer to take the elevator. Leaping is a little on the flashy side. And it sets off my vertigo.
I have the ability to fly and have done this on several occasions. Most times I’ll go economy class, although, after Quedalla Man’s last unsuccessful heist (valiantly thwarted by me) I picked up enough ‘reward money’ to afford a first class flight.
Not that it’s all first class travel and ‘reward money’ being a superhero. There are some weeks when I miss just being plain old Ashley Lister. The pressure of being an icon and legend can be a trifle overwhelming. However, this week is not one of those weeks.
If I had simply been plain old Ashley Lister when this week’s topic came up – what talents do I have besides writing? – I would have had nothing to write about. Ashley Lister writes fiction and non-fiction. Ashley Lister reads books and then writes about them in book reviews. Ashley Lister reads poetry, and then writes and performs poetry to audiences who are usually politely puzzled by his performances. In short, Ashley Lister does nothing other than write, write again, and then sit down to write some more.
But now, dear reader, you know the truth. Beneath the mild-mannered exterior of the incessant writer that is Ashley Lister, there beats the heart of an OK-Guy.