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With nothing new on the Bryan Hemming blog to report this week, I can report I have just posted the second novel I ever wrote on another site. Nobody ever published it. Ah!
At the End of Tobago Street has been posted pretty much as it was when I finished it a over couple of decades ago. Warts and all. I make no claims or excuses for it. But I might start to make a few edits if anyone shows some interest.
No parent in the world wants to admit their child is schizophrenic. Not only do they feel directly responsible, but they also feel it somehow reflects on them.
The middle classes feel particularly sensitive, almost as though it points towards a defective gene in the family line. Probably, as a result of inbreeding or somesuch nonsense. But schizophrenia can affect any family from any race or class at any time,
Not only do middle class parents in particular find it impossible to admit it to their neighbours and friends, but they can’t admit it to their offspring’s friends, their teachers or even their immediate relatives. Too often they retreat into a world of complete denial, not even admitting what they suspect to be true to themselves.
The mother of Howard Devlin, one of the two main characters in At the End of Tobago Street is such a person. Not only will she not admit there is something drastically wrong with her son to herself, but she can’t bring herself to admit it to Howard’s girlfriend, Gail when the pair fall in love. Even a failed suicide attempt does not persuade her to admit the truth. Her reluctance to face reality puts both young students in mortal danger.
At the End of Tobago Street is not a condemnation or judgement of schizophrenia, and nor was it my intention to create fear of schizophrenics,who only in extremely rare circumstances pose any danger to anyone, apart from themselves. But having been threatened by a schizophrenic wielding a knife it would be irresponsible for me to claim they never pose any threat at all. But the novel is not primarily about schizophrenia. In its essence it is a love story.
I had quite a lot of schizophrenic friends and acquaintances in the early 1970′s and became very familiar with the residents of the R D Laing residence situated in Portland Road, London at the time. When I was only twenty-one my eldest sister had a schizophrenic boyfriend for a short time, while we sharing a flat. She wasn’t aware of it and neither was I. His family, who were, failed to help or inform us. Neither of us knew how to deal with the situation properly, and the authorities just left us to our own devices.
Being in my early 20′s and knowing almost nothing about the condition, I had to learn quickly. The first thing I learned is that there is virtually no help fpr schizophrenics, and the families and friends, who have to deal with them during their times of extreme crisis. At the End of Tobago Street is very loosely based on a few of my experiences of the time. But it can no way be read as an account of real events.
So clear out your diary for this weekend, buy a couple of jumbo size boxes of Kleenex, settle down on the sofa, and click on the title below to begin reading:
by Bryan Hemming
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