Small Joys – Elvin James Mensah
Harley is a young queer Black man struggling to find his way in mid-noughties Britain. Returning home to Dartford, having just dropped out of an undergraduate course in music journalism, he is wracked by feelings of failure and inadequacy.
Standing in the local woods one day, on the verge of doing something drastic and irreversible, his hand is stayed by a stranger: a tall husky guy who emerges from the bushes holding a pair of binoculars. Muddy is an ebullient Mancunian whose lust for his own life makes others feel better by association. A keen birdwatcher, rugby fanatic and Oasis obsessive, he quickly becomes a devoted and loyal friend to Harley who finds his enthusiasm infectious and his dimples irresistible.
In no time at all, they become inseparable. Harley starts to think that life may be worth living after all, while Muddy discovers things about himself that the lads down the rugby club may struggle to understand. But when figures from the past threaten to plunge Harley back into the depths of depression, his only hope of survival is Muddy and the small joys they create together.