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  • Writer's pictureMaximilian Sam

A World Of Crazy, Mental Health, And The Next 007?

The summer is over. It must be as the bars, hotel, and shop on my local beach have all closed for the winter. It’s strange, though, because I’m still wandering around in t-shirt and shorts. It’s far too hot for even autumnal clothes. We still have people sunbathing and swimming in the sea. Normally by now the temperatures have dropped and we have our first rain. I’m sure I’ll start complaining when it gets colder and wet, so for now, I’ll enjoy the sunshine.

It’s been a strange summer. The tourist season started later than normal, which made everything feel a little odd. I should have known it would end up being one I will always look back on with great fondness. A random road trip in a BMW convertible because I’d complimented a stranger on his car kicked it off. Writing an article for the local newspaper on our village and beach made me a lot of friends. It raised one or two jokey complaints from people who had discovered the place previously and, like me in some ways, wanted to keep it a bit of a secret.

The children of the bar owners have been the highlight. They’ve made me laugh almost every day. Saying goodbye to them at the end of the summer was quite emotional. They truly made that much of a difference. Their cheekiness, whilst being very respectful, gave an amazing atmosphere to the whole place. If they are the future, then the world is in a far better place than current events make us all feel.

the beach children with their awards
The Future Is In Safe Hands

Then there were the turtles. 229 eggs finally hatched. It was special to have been there the night the first eggs were laid and still there three months later, when the last eggs hatched. It was an incredible journey.

It was also a summer of new friends. The turtles brought several of us together. New neighbours across the road made it perfect. To find someone I could chat to about life in Saudi Arabia was the cherry on the icing on top of the cake. I find it strange how shared experiences can lead to such firm friendships. I shouldn’t, as it’s happened to me in almost every country I’ve lived. It even led to the best days of the summer. A little girl’s 10th birthday where I gave her signed copies of the Stray Dogs books, my higher numbered birthday a few days later where they gave me a lovely fountain pen, and an afternoon with the boys that will live long in the memory.

table in a beach bar surrounded by friends
An Afternoon With The Boys

Max’s World of Crazy also made an overdue return. My life seems to be filled with bonkers random events. I have friends always waiting to hear about my latest escapade, even if the latest one wasn’t really my fault. I am using it as my pitch to become the next James Bond.

James Bond logo and Maximilian Sam photo
Step aside Tom Hardy. The 007 gig is mine.

It was just past midnight when I went onto my balcony, closing the door behind me. I didn’t realise until I tried to come back in the lock on the door had broken, trapping me outside. Everyone else in the house was asleep. I needed a plan and a back-up, just in case. I decided climbing from my balcony onto the conservatory roof and then onto the balcony on the other side of the building would offer a solution. I’d be able to let myself in through the other door. Climbing down and making my way along the conservatory roof was easy enough as it spans the entire front of the building. Clambering onto the other balcony was tougher, as my legs aren’t long enough. I made it, but there was a problem. I was going to need the back-up plan as the electric shutters were down so I couldn’t get through that door either. There was really only one other solution if I didn’t want to risk a few dangerous attempts to climb down to the ground. I’d have to sit on the conservatory roof and wait until I heard someone inside and then bang on my bedroom window, hoping I’d be heard. All the neighbours have gone home for the winter, so there was no help in that direction.

I spent two and a half hours watching a hedgehog run up and down the road. I’d never realised how quick they are. I was getting a little cold and stiff when I heard a toilet flush. I banged like crazy until I heard the door on the side of the house open. It must have been a shock to see my ugly mug poking over the side of the conservatory, asking if they’d be so kind as to open my bedroom window so I could climb back in. Once back inside, everything turned to laughter. It will be even better if you all buy some books or merchandise, so I can afford to replace the lock on the balcony door!

I’m hoping I don’t have a similar escapade over the winter like a few years ago. I ended up bailing dustbins full of water out of the house because the main drain in the street had collapsed. It saved me a fortune in gym membership, though.

It’s been an amazing summer. There has been an underlying issue throughout. I’ve spoken to a few people, and it’s clear I’m not the only one who felt a void inside that the laughter and friendship didn’t fill. Almost everyone will suffer with a mental health issue at some point in their lives. The dark void I felt was exactly that. From nowhere, depression had set in. I didn’t know what it was and much less understand it. Several things could have been the trigger, but I can never be sure which.

The solution came from the unlikeliest of sources. People I’d met on social media. The fact one of them was a childhood hero just proves how strange life can be. They were kind and understanding. They spent time talking things through and bringing me out the other side. They know who they are. I hope they know how eternally grateful I am to them.

It’s the main point of this blog. I’ve had a crazy, amazing summer. I was still unhappy. It happens to all of us. We all need support networks and people to talk to. It’s tough for authors, as our job is solitary by nature. If we don’t have interaction with others, we will suffer. If you ever feel you need support, please reach out. If I’m not around, I promise hundreds of others are. Never be too proud, or think you’re too tough, to ask for a chat.

It leads me onto something that is annoying me both as an author and in my career in PR. I can sum it up as “$1 billion will solve a problem. $44 billion will buy you Twitter (or whatever it’s called today)”.

Social media can play a positive role in the world. It does so every day. We need to extinguish the nasty stuff, but let’s also focus on the good it does. Freedom of speech is important. I’ve lived in places it doesn’t exist, so I’m more aware than most. I also know how important people I’ve met on social media have been. The support had been amazing. The true friends I’ve made a very pleasant surprise. It’s the power and goodness of social media we should all strive for.

Claiming to be a champion for free speech and human interaction and then effectively cutting off access by charging people to have free speech is bonkers. To take away people’s support networks, almost a crime against humanity. For a self-proclaimed multi-billionaire genius, a certain person can be as thick as two short planks sometimes. Of course, a business needs to pay for itself. Cutting away the customers who actually make up your product offering, frankly, is the single most bizarre business decision I’ve ever seen. Those who don’t have money to spend are the ones who need social media the most. Advances in technology are fantastic, but leaving people behind because they can’t afford to follow will lead to major social issues. History has taught us that lesson many times over. An attitude of people only being interested in the same things as a billionaire in a bubble is why a certain someone should never have been allowed near something of such huge social importance.

A solely advertising revenue approach won’t work. You’re right on that. There are far smarter ways of increasing revenue than tapping up your customers. I’d tell you them, but why should I give you anything for free?

First Birthday And An Anniversary

It’s A Stray Dog’s Life 2 is one-year-old. We’ve put together some exclusive merchandise to celebrate.

It’s part of the refresh of the merchandise and a few extra designs being added. You can see the whole Stray Army range by clicking below.

It’s also a year since It’s A Stray Dog’s Life became an award-winning debut. Best Children’s Book, Best Cover Design, Best Comedy Book, and the other awards still feel surreal. It’s something I’m incredibly proud of, especially as the awards were decided by a public vote.

It’s been less than two years since It’s A Stray Dog’s Life was published. It’s amazing to think I’ve now published three books, have a range of merchandise, and downloads of posters on the website. There’s more to come in the next few weeks. I’m going to be a guest on a podcast and there’s also a really cool magazine interview. I’ll share the links when they come out.


Maximilian Sam and The Stray Army

PS. You can join the Stray Army by buying books, merchandise, or downloads from the website. We have some mad ideas for new things next year, as well as some new books, so keep your eyes peeled.

PPS. My take on the Rugby World Cup. Best tournament team won. All the teams exceeded expectation and played some wonderful rugby. Tinkering with the rules, mid-tournament, kills the game and makes the job of referees and the TMO impossible. Can we also stop abusing officials if your team loses. It goes against the ethos of rugby and is totally unnecessary.


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