Fox Files with Will Whiley
Another week, another entry in Fox Files. This time I didn’t go too far into the past. I’m not sure the exact year (it turns out that going back in time and saying ‘Yes but what YEAR is it?’ is crazy awkward and I just won’t do it). It was the late 90s. Maybe early 2000s. Feels like just yesterday, how can it be over twenty years ago?
I saw a guy and I had to talk to him. He was smoking a cigarette and he was tall with this crazy red hair. There was something about him. So, like the absolute creeper I am, I went up to him and just started lying through my teeth to see if he would talk to me. And he did. Poor guy was just outside for a smoke, but he was a good sport. I used the same lie as last week, saying I was doing a piece for the paper. And he was really interesting. His name is Will Whiley. So, let’s get into it!
Cali: Hi there! My name is Cali and I work for the paper. I’m doing a piece on people I meet outside because I find it so much more interesting than just chatting with the local fat cats. Would you be interested in talking to me?
Will: Uhh, maybe.
Cali: Thanks! If you want to stop at any time, just let me know. What’s your name?
Will: Will. Will Whiley.
Cali: It’s very nice to meet you Will Whiley. Where are you from?
Will: I’m from a shitty little town in Devon, called Eskwich. Everyone likes to think they know everything about everyone else, but, believe me - they don’t. Most people who were born here are borderline alcoholics, or they do drugs - it’s the only way to get through the days - and anyone with any sense is trying to get out of here. It makes me laugh, because the grockles can’t get enough of the place! It’s amazing what a river and some hanging-baskets can do. Twats.
Cali: What’s a grackle?
Will, with a snort: Tourists.
*I felt my face turning red and I’m sure he noticed it, but I tried to compose myself*
Cali: I suppose I fit that definition. I’m sorry for being a twat.
*He shrugged and I took that as a sign to continue*
Cali: What is your favorite color?
Will: Seriously?! I’m not fucking twelve!
Cali: Well... You’re not the first person to give me shit for that question. But I always ask it. My husband is an artist and there is something about the way I see colors now that I always wonder.
Will: It’s a stupid question.
Cali: Yeah, you’re probably right.
Will: Having said that, I like my hair to be pillar-box red, and I’m a graphic designer so colour’s pretty important to me. I don’t know. Let’s go with red. Or black - that’s the colour of my soul, hahaha!
Cali: You’re funny.
*He made a sound that might have been a laugh, took a drag of his cigarette and tilted his head. It felt like an invitation to continue. His words were sharp, but he had a good nature about him so I didn’t think he was terribly annoyed with me.*
Cali: So, you hate this town. Which is fair. I hate where I grew up too. What do you like to do for fun?
Will: Ha! Get wasted! No. Look, don’t laugh, alright? I like … not ‘gardening’, it’s more than that … I suppose I’m a horticulturalist. I’ve got a massive back garden that’s in shadow for most of the day, so I like finding new plants that will thrive there. I enjoy growing stuff from seed, too - it’s the waiting and watching it grow day by day. Some of the plants I grow aren't exactly legal, but if you want some I can get hold of pretty much anything, so just give me a shout, alright? Oh, and I like guitar music. Not the heavy shit, though, stuff like Crowded House and Gomez. Having said that, I’ll always be there if there’s live music on - I like a good gig.
Cali: Thanks for the offer, but I’m good at the moment. I was always pretty set in my ways with music but my best friend was really into some stuff I hated and when I finally gave them a chance, I really liked them. I’ve learned not to judge others on what kind of music they like anymore. I’m getting sidetracked thinking of my friends. Can you tell I’m new at this, haha. Tell me about the people in your life.
Will: Ha! Right, I’ve just moved out of Mum and Dad’s because I can’t take how they’re handling the situation with my younger brother, Dom. He’s got schizophrenia, and he’s in psychiatric care at the moment, but everything is still revolving around him. He could be a great artist - like doing album covers and stuff - if he got his act together. I mean, most of the time I fucking hate him, but his drawings are incredible, and credit where credit’s due. But it pisses me off because I’m the one holding the family and everything together, but Dom’s the only one anyone ever thinks about.
Then there’s Kayleigh. Ahh, Kayleigh. I love her to the ends of the earth - always have done. I’ve let her have the flat above mine pretty much for free because … well, because I love her, and yeah, I would literally do anything for her. And she knows it. We’ve slept together and that on occasion, and I’m pretty sure that she loves me on some level, but she … well, she’s had a kid, and now her boyfriend, Adam, is back on the scene. He’s a knob, and he doesn’t deserve her.
And the boys in Charcot. Are they friends? No. I don’t think I have anyone in my life I could actually call a friend. Everyone’s always got ulterior motives. Anyway, the band, Charcot. I went to college with their drummer, but I deal with the frontman, Rob most of the time. I keep them in supplies, if you know what I mean, which helps me pay the rent.
Stuart is bar manager in The Riverboat, so I see him quite a lot. And Tim, who’s playing the news-hound at the moment. I guess they’re the closest thing I have to mates.
Cali: I’m sorry about your brother Dom. Family stuff can be a real bitch. Sometimes it’s best to do what you did and get out. What’s today shaping up like?
Will: I’ve been working all day, in the back room of the house, but I’ve found it hard to concentrate because I know Kayleigh’s upstairs. She playing Definitely Maybe for about the hundredth time today, dancing round the kitchen with her baby. I know this, because I’ve turned my music down so I can hear them. Liam’s a good kid. I keep wondering if he’s mine. Anyway, I just want to go up there and join them, or I want her to pop round because she’s broken the switch on the kettle or something and then I could fix it and we could have a cup of tea. So yeah, work’s been a struggle. I’ll be off down The Riverboat for a beer and a burger later, and then I’ve got to go and pick some coke up from Cardinal’s Cove, but I can’t do that until the pubs have kicked out.
Cali: Do you have any plans for the future?
Will: If it wasn’t for Kayleigh, I’d be out of this town tomorrow. I’m pretty good at my job, and I reckon I could work for one of the big firms in London and start raking it in. Or I could teach Art. I don’t know. It would be nice to sell my own drawings and live off that, but I’m not stupid - it’s just a pipe dream. Basically, I want to be a million miles from here, and be free from all the hassle of Mum and Dad and Dom, and dealing drugs to wankers. I never wanted to get into all that in the first place. And this thing with Kayleigh - we need to sort it out. Hooking up on the odd occasion isn’t enough. And I am the one she always turns to! Always! And I’m literally doing everything I can for her - I found her a place to live, sorted out her bipolar shit, paid her rent, looked out for her and her kid, Liam … I still reckon he could be mine. I don’t know what’s stopping her! She just … fucking hell.
Cali: It’s hard to feel that way. I was in a completely different situation but with a similar tie. I wanted to leave but couldn’t leave that one person, you know? It sucks. I’m sorry.
Will: I’m being patient. I’m ‘being there’ for Kayleigh. I’m playing ‘uncle’ to Liam. Fucking uncle! I’m checking in on Mum and Dad all the time, and giving them some money from out of my wages. I’m managing to keep my job, so I’m getting paid. I’m dealing on the side, so I’m getting paid more, and I’m not caning it like the rest of them are. I’m not stupid. I’m biding my time.
Cali: What’s stopping you from just leaving? Besides Kayleigh, I guess.
Will: Fucking everything! Have you even heard a word I’ve said?! This is fucking typical! I’m there, doing everything ALL THE TIME, and NOBODY notices me! It’s driving me mental! Money, my brother, Kayleigh being in love with that twat, Adam; Kayleigh not doing a DNA test on Liam; Kayleigh messing me around; Kayleigh, head-fucking me all the time. FUCK! Sorry. I’m having a bit of a rough time of it at the moment. But one day, I’ll make a decent life for myself. Just you wait.
*His little blow up startled me enough that I could feel myself starting to wake. He had calmed down by the end but I could feel myself drifting away. I have no idea what it must have looked like to him. I tried very hard to say thank you and turn and walk away, and I really hope that’s what he saw. The next thing I knew, I was in my bed hoping I hadn’t scared this man into thinking I was some kind of ghost*
I woke up and tried to look Will up. I wasn’t able to find out much information on him, it seems his name is fairly common, and I just never got a great handle on where I was in time. I think I found some of the signs he created as a graphic designer, but I wouldn’t swear to it. Then I came across a really great book that went much farther into his life than I could.
I stand as close as I can to the Liver Building without looking proper weird and tip my head back. My eyes can’t focus properly, but I can make out a turquoise shape right at the top, so I mouth ’iya to Bella. I’m a bit soft on the Liver Birds. They’re 300-odd feet up in the air, so they should be able to see everything, but they’re chained down…”
A story of the far-reaching effects of unrequited love and drug (ab)use, Underrated follows five lads who are just trying to make things better for themselves. In Liverpool and on the south Devon coast, their lives entangle as they turn to cocaine.
While some people take drugs to escape their circumstances, others deal drugs to escape theirs. But is escape ever really an option?
If you want to learn more about Will, Author Morwenna Blackwood wrote a fascinating book about him and some of his friends. You can find it here!
Also, look Blackwood up. You can check out her website, or find her on: