Excerpt From my Bio – Paddy’s Daddy

Most readers of this blog will be unaware that I’ve suffered from depression for most of my life (from 10 years old). It’s kind of the family business. I wrote a short Autobiography detailing my recovery from depression as a series of short stories, collected as the book “Paddy’s Daddy”. I’ve included an the introduction and Chapter 1 of the title short story. As always, all feedback, questions and comments welcome:

Introduction

 

With the exception of the first story, Paddy’s Daddy, the following stories and articles were written as part of my recovery after twenty five years of moderate and severe depression. They detail exactly how I felt at the time they were written, although in some cases, my views have certainly changed since.

 

I’ve found great comfort and a healthy outlet in writing regularly these past two years since reaching rock-bottom, in terms of my mental health, and seeking treatment. I’ve recently completed my first fictional novel “Bobby’s Boy”, which was released on April 7th 2012, and I’m currently working on three more novels including a Christmas 2012 release for “Nae’body’s Hero”. I promise that those novels have all been edited to a much stricter standard than the series of short stories you hold now.

This book contains all of my favourite stories and the ones which helped empty my cluttered head exactly as they were at the time of writing. They are deliberately unedited and unpolished in any way as reflects the author at the time of writing.

 

Men, in particular, have a hard time admitting that they have a problem with mental illness and that need they need help. They have a harder time still accepting that help. Suicide is a real risk for people who feel that alone. I hope some of you find comfort in my stories and take solace in the knowledge that you’re not the only one to feel the way that you do and in that it is just a moment in time. The clouds will part again at some point with the right help. Life can be good again. You can be yourself once more.

 

Mark Wilson

March 25th 2012

 

 

Paddy’s Daddy

 

1

 

Early Days

 

My earliest memory is of lying in my bed cuddled with my older sister Julie, listening to my mum and dad arguing downstairs. This wasn’t an uncommon thing at all and we had been creeping in and out of each other’s beds to comfort one another for as long as I could recall. No kid likes to listen to their parents argue and our parents could argue and fight like champions. Bangs, crashes, curses and flat, wet thumps of what we presumed were fists reached our ears on nights like these. I never got used to hearing it.

Invariably, in the morning, mum would be found cleaning something up. Coffee stains from walls, food from the carpet. We helped. She hid bruises (I think) behind her hair and made jokes about the mess. She relaxed us somehow every single time. It was normal to us this life. Mum made it normal for us and made it seem like it was nothing. She shielded us from the wrongness of it all. We, the kids, just didn’t know any better. I was three (I think).

 

Years passed and despite these occasions we were a happy family much of the time, so far as I could make out. I certainly didn’t feel like I had a care in the world and expressed my independence and opinion without encouragement and frequently. I had so much fun all of the time and was truly carefree.  Julie was always a little more introspective and took a role as my carer and protector. I did not appreciate her love one little bit. What kid does appreciate love? They just expect it, if they’re lucky. I remember many happy times in those years. I recall trips to the cinema, family seaside visits, racing with dad, visits to my gran’s and cuddles with my mum. We were a happy family once, depending on what mood daddy was in.

Dad had been an alcoholic for as long as I could remember. He was drunk, a lot, and a nasty drunk at that. He was mainly a functioning alcoholic, holding down a job at the steelworks (he was a hard worker actually, never a lazy man) but going on benders for several days at as time then weeks would go past alcohol-free. Always he would turn back to it again at some point in those days. He was also a fighter. My dad didn’t give a damn for anyone’s opinion, needs or wants when drinking. In later years, as I became a man and had rare encounters with dad, invariably he’d be drunk and invariably he’d want to fight me. When sober, he was the most affectionate man I’ve ever known, constantly throwing arm around or a kiss at his children. I began to resent the unpredictability of his moods and eventually stayed away, treating what was genuine affection as guilt-inspired bullshit.

 

When I reached seven and Julie nine, our lives changed forever with our removal from the family home. Mum came to school in the middle of the school day to collect us. With a taxi full of our belongings,  a swinging budgie cage and one confused kid (I knew what was happening and saw it as a big adventure), she drove us to a homeless unit in Wishaw five miles away. It might as well have been another planet to us.

Mum took to her bed for a whole month when we reached the unit. She was going cold turkey, coming off her anti-depressants in one swoop, rather than weaning herself slowly off.  She wanted to draw a line under the life she’d just escaped from and to have every trace and dependency gone I suppose. As a result she was useless to us. I’ve no idea what Julie did in those weeks, I saw her rarely. I was too busy splitting my time between being mum’s therapist and learning how to fight, courtesy of gangs of bullies who didn’t like homeless kids. These lessons came in useful in subsequent years with the many changes of school that came along.

Mum had been abused over and over again as a child, physically and mentally by a violent and controlling father and sexually by a relative. She’d been broken again and again and was easily controlled by the vindictive, violent bully that my father became when he was drinking. In recent months, she had sought solace (and love I suppose) in the arms of a work colleague, but made a point of stressing to me and Julie that this man was not the reason that she had left our dad. As if we needed to be told that. I knew all of this because mum told me all of it. She needed to talk to, someone to confide in . I’d rather not have known.

Despite all I knew about him, and mum made sure that Julie and I heard everything bad she could remember about our father, I still loved and missed my dad enormously. I called him every day from a little phone box,  a mile  or so from the homeless unit, using five and ten pence pieces that I’d scavenged from the ground outside the local pubs. I talked to dad for hours some days, avoiding his many questions about where we were and who mum was with. I also ignored his assertions of what a hoor my mother was, mumbling “uh huh” to placate him then asking questions of my own to change the subject. If he was drunk when I called, I’d hang up and call back the next day. I sat on the little shelf, highup from the floor, in that phone box so often and for so long that it became the most comfortable 6×9 sheet of metal in the world.

Thankfully, we moved out of that unit and into somewhere back in our hometown within a five month period.

 

Mum continued to lean on her children for years and mum and dad both ramped up their efforts to turn both Julie and I against the other parent and ultimately each other. Despite this, I was happy in our new place had made a new best friend in Mark O’Donnell (a shared interest in comics is important when you’re seven, and still important when you’re thirty-seven) and was popular in school. It didn’t last. Several months after a visit to London, to see mum’s sister Irene and her new husband John, we got ourselves a new step-dad. I went into my mum’s bedroom in our little flat in the “Jewel Scheme” to find some toy or other. As I entered the room a familiar looking guy with a moustache dived under the covers, hiding from me. I ran through to the living room to tell my mum that a man who looked like my uncle john was in the flat. She laughed.  Uncle John became our step-dad and the largest factor in destroying my self-esteem and splitting up our little family of three for good.

Mum and John had a baby not long after, Joanne. Our new family moved to a small village in South Lanarkshire. I settled well there eventually. Julie hated it. Lots of events happened in our house in those days; destruction of personal items, arguments, beatings, and humiliations. Eventually Julie went back to Bellshill to live with my dad and his new wife Liz.  Far away from everything I knew and after losing my sister, my protector,  I changed completely in those years.

The cocky little shite of a boy I’d been was gradually replaced by a quiet, introspective, circumspect bag of nerves whose self-esteem was crushed into nothing under the heel of a step-father who seemed determined to ignore me and mock me in equal doses. Mum turned a blind eye.  All of her fight had long since left her. A man like my step-father who was “nice” to her was a god-send, I think, for her.  I kept my head down, my mouth shut and stayed in my room. I gained weight and lost confidence daily. I avoided contact with people as often as I could. I spent days in my room. Looking back, it’s clear that this was the beginning of my depression.

Strangely enough I wasn’t all that bothered or surprised by the blackness that now followed me everywhere. After hearing of the suicides, incestuous rapes, abusive patriarchs and severe manic depressives in my mother’s family for half my life, I just sort of accepted that I’d carry some sort of mental illness in my genes. I decided that the best I could do was self-diagnose and self-treat for as long as I could.  I managed to live a life using this strategy for the next twenty-five years.

You can read more by by purchasing Paddy’s Daddy on Amazon for only 77p at present.

Free Chapter from my Debut Novel: Bobby’s Boy

The following excerpt is from Chapter 16 of “Bobby’s Boy” by Mark Wilson  Copyright: Mark Wilson 2012: Tom Kinsella, my main character, has returned home to Scotland and Bellshill for a visit after being on tour with an American rock band. He has his new best friend Donny, an American who needs a break from his bandmate Davey, in tow. you can find a link to the book on Amazon at the top of the page and after the excerpt below.

ALL FEEDBACK APPRECIATED AND WELCOMED

16

Back Home

The tour recommenced and proceeded at a pace that the people involved had expected, but found themselves unprepared for nonetheless. Daily life consisted of pack-up, travel, un-pack, play, pack-up, travel, and repeat. Continuing across the States until the end of January, they then flew to London which would be the starting point of the European Leg, taking them through February and so many countries that they all began to lose track of where they were in a haze of performance, drink, drugs, sex and more travel.

By the time the tour had come to Glasgow, playing King Tut’s at the end of February, Tom had filled dozens of notebooks with material from the tour. He could leave the job that very day and have more than enough with which to write several books. Most of which, in recent weeks, documented the dire downward spiral of Donny and Davey’s working and personal relationship.

The former friends had all but divorced each other, save for the forty five minutes they spent on stage together nightly. Davey constantly complained about Donny when he wasn’t there and verbally attacked him whenever they were in a room together. The jealousy and paranoia emanating from Davey could be felt by everyone, and as he was forcing factions between everyone on the tour.

Frequently Davey could be found in dark corners of the tour bus or venue, whispering bile about Donny into the ears of another of Donny’s, soon to become, former friends. The problem was that it was working. Donny started to cut more and more of a solitary figure backstage and on the tour-bus.

Whatever Davey was saying, it hadn’t reached Tom’s ears so far, but he had overheard Jody shouting at Davey the previous night. “Go fuck yourself man, who gives a flying fuck about that? You’re shooting yourself in the damn foot boy. Donny’s the talent in your fuckin band and you’re forcing him to dump you guys. Wise up you fucking child.”

Obviously Jody had cracked in response to Davey’s attempts at spreading his poison further. Jody did have a point. What exactly did Davey think it would achieve alienating his friend like this? It’d end the tour lifestyle he loved so much for sure.

The guys couldn’t stand to be in the same room together at all anymore by the time the tour reached Glasgow’s King Tut’s. Donny asked if he could have a bit of a timeout at Tom’s home.

“No problem man”, Tom had told him. “But you’ll have to put up with my uncle Alec bending your ear and talking shite about music to you non-stop.” Donny looked at him with wet eyes full of gratitude. “That sounds great Tom. Thanks bro.”

Tom arrived at Alec’s house the day before the King Tut’s gig with Donny in tow. Anal Seepage weren’t joining RATM on stage for the next few shows, so they had three days to themselves before they’d have to catch a flight to San Diego for the next leg of the North American tour.

“What do you think Davey and Mikey are doing?”

“Probably the usual, coke, whiskey and sluts, but who gives a fuck what they’re doing”, Donny sighed.

Tom reckoned that Bellshill must have been a total culture shock to his American friend. They’d taken a taxi from Glasgow city centre, passing through some wild parts of Lanarkshire. Donny’s face had remained impassive, head down, eyes on the carpet of the taxi.

When they reached Bellshill and Community Road, Tom fished his key out of his bag to open the door. Before he put the key in the lock the door swung open, revealing Alec. “Hullo boys, in ye’ come”, Alec roared at them, giving his nephew a punch on the shoulder as he passed. “You’re putting the beef on Tommy, look at the fucking size of ye. Right, in and get the kettle on. Cup ay tea…….half a cup, son.”

Alec turned his attention to Donny, who was still standing in the doorway. “Fuckin hell son, cheer up”, Alec roared before delivering a slap to his shoulder that nearly knocked him back out the door.

Donny relaxed instantly in response to Alec’s easy friendliness, and despite the apparent gruffness of his friend’s Uncle, smiled broadly at him. “Yessir.”

Alec turned to Tom, “Sir? Jist like on the telly. Should’ve fucking had you calling me sir all these years baw-jaws.”

Tom rolled his eyes, “Right ye are Alec, ye’ve more chance of me calling ye Jesus.”

Donny watched the exchange, and the hugs between the two men, one he called his friend and the other he’d only just met. He felt instantly at home. Donny closed the door in response to Alec’s “Yer letting the fuckin heat out.” Donny gave a silent thank you for this respite, and for the first time in months, felt safe and wanted.

Tom and Donny made fine use of their short time off from tour, visiting Tom’s friends, places he loved (mostly music venues and cinemas) and relaxing in local bars. Donny stuck out like a sore thumb in Bellshill with his height, accent and, now once again, cheery, disposition. To be fair, Tom felt that he himself was just as mis-matched at times in Bellshill, but was relieved to be home for a few days.

Familiar faces came and went from their table in the lounge of Franklyn’s Bar where the boys had virtually camped out for the remainder of their first day in town after touring round Lanarkshire and Glasgow. Alec had spread the word that Tom was in town, and a steady stream of old friends had appeared throughout the day to hear his stories and share their own. It was great to hear how everyone was doing, and did Tom’s spirit good to catch up with these people he hadn’t realised that he’d missed so much.

Bellshill seemed smaller than ever to him now, but it still refreshed his tired soul and regenerated him in the same way that it had all those years ago when he returned here from Blackwood to live with Alec. Tom hadn’t appreciated quite how tired he’d been until he found himself relaxing in the company of people who’d known him his whole life, and he them. His people, who asked nothing of him, but to just be himself.

Donny coped well with the accent and the dialogue, joining conversations easily and making the pub roar with laughter when repeating Scots phrases like “Haw, fanny-baws” or “Ye want yer hole?” at the request of some of the guys. He spat these words out in a kind of half-American/Jamaican/Irish bastard-ism of the intended phrase that was irresistibly funny, and the requests kept on coming for an hour or more. Tom watched his friends with pride. The locals, so welcoming to a foreigner just as he’d expected of them and Donny, engaging with everyone happily and more relaxed than Tom had seen him in months. This visit had been a good idea and had lifted the spirits of both him and Donny.

Over the next couple of days Tom found, despite invitations to go here or there with him and Cathy that Donny seemed content to give them their space and spend a bit of time with Alec, who had taken to Donny with gusto, and vice versa. The two men talked incessantly about music, movies and pop-culture and appeared to have known each other for years. Once again, Tom was proud of how readily his Uncle had accepted a new face in his life, as he had done also with Cathy.

Alec genuinely enjoyed the company of someone new who had something to say for himself. The older man was clearly invigorated by the chance to converse with someone who appreciated the same things as he did, but viewed them from a different era and perspective.

Tom returned home late on their last evening in Scotland, dropped into his chair with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, sighing as he relaxed into the familiarity of the chair, room and conversation. He quickly caught up with the ongoing discussion on great movie villains between Alec and Donny, both men a bit drunk by now.

Donny reckoned that Robert Mitchum’s Max Cady in the original Cape Fear was the most fearsome. Donny described Mitchum skillfully terrifying the life out of the audience in his stalking, ‘rapey-but charming’ demeanor.

Alec told him to get fucked. “Robert Mitchum was a scary big cunt right enough Donny, but your man Anthony Hopkins pishes all over him. Understated, creepy, highly intelligent, truly chilling auld monster, so Hannibal Lecter was son.”

Tom laughed at the look on Donny’s face. He reckoned that Donny caught about seventy percent of what Alec had said, which wasn’t bad where Alec was concerned.

“You’re both wrong”, Tom told them.

“Is that right smart-arse? Let’s hear it then, golden-baws. What half-arsed, shitey comic-book pish made you shit your frilly knickers? Fucking daft Vader, I suppose?”

Donny continued to wipe his tears of laughter away, while Tom leaned back into his chair and took a long slow drag on his Marlborough, enjoying making Alec wait.

“Na, Vader’s a prick, here’s the guy I’d fear.” He leaned into his uncle, waiting again until Alec leaned to him too. Tom lowered his voice, before continuing.

“I’ve never seen a properly scary villain who ticked all the boxes for me, but if I made a movie, here’s what he’d be…..Completely fucking normal, wimp-ish even, with slicked down black hair in a side-parting, overly- large and sad-looking  oval eyes, wee, thin pencil moustache, and always dressed in golf clothes. He’d look a bit like an accountant from the fifties.”

“Get tae fuck”, interrupted Alec, “he’s supposed tae be a scary bastard. A terrifying predator, no your auld English teacher fae school. Mind that cunt wi’ the ears on him Tommy?”

Tom laughed hard, and then leaned back in to continue. “He’d be a quiet man Alec, but with means. He’d shy away from crowds, but find release in torturing small animals. This guy wouldn’t be swimming about, shirt off like that big fanny Mitchum, and he wouldn’t be a pensioner in a fucking dug’s muzzle, spouting half-arsed philosophical shite about rolling birds to some lassie daft enough to entertain his pish. This guy would be still as a lake, always calm, never ruffled or excited or displaying any emotion.”

Alec snorted out a derisory plume of smoke from his nostrils. “Sounds like a right boring bastard, that’ll pull in the crowds having a fucking mannequin for the bad guy. Oh look, he’s sitting there doing fuck-all.”

Tom ignored him and Donny’s laughing. Donny was having trouble sitting up.

“My guy’s the kind of sick freak who only feels his blood stir when people die on a massive scale. He’s the guy that’d be watching earthquakes or tsunamis killing millions on TV, masturbating with a boxing glove and a handful of thinly sliced deli-meat, screaming the mantra “take it you fucking slags” as his soundtrack to death.

Alec looked at his nephew, one eyebrow raised. “You’re no fuckin right in the heid, scared of a fuckin librarian”. He shook his head and changed the subject. “So, what time are you boys away tomorrow then?” He already knew, but Tom suspected it was a good excuse for him to get off to bed under the guise of “I’ll no keep you two up, then.”

Donny beat him to it, “We’re going down to Manchester on Tom’s bike first thing, and he’s leaving it at his friends’ house.”

Alec laughed loudly. “If you’re getting on the back of his bike son, you better make sure you’ve some clean fucking pants waiting for ye’ at the other end.”

Donny got up from the couch laughing, and made it to the door before turning his head back to the room. ”You guys are so lucky to have each other, I’m off to bed, see you in the morning. Thanks Alec.”

“What’s he thanking you for uncle Alec?” Tom asked as Donny’s footsteps retreated upstairs.

“Och, nothing really, I’ll tell you later son…..You gonny tell me what happened with Cathy tonight?”

Fucking Alec, he always knew.

“Aye, I’d like that, if that’s ok?”

“Fire away son.”

Tom explained that in the last few days he and Cathy had been a bit “off” with each other. They’d argued several times on the phone over the last few weeks and, rather than sorting it out in person, seeing each other had seemed to amplify the problem. Tom embarrassedly explained to Alec that he’d been having a hard time hearing about all the people in Cathy’s life. Guys in particular. He felt that she was moving further and further away from him and every time she spoke about coffee with this one, or study with that one, Tom would go into a silent sulk, followed by questions, then accusations.

He couldn’t seem to keep his mouth shut, or stop torturing himself with mental images of what he imagined her to be up to with God knows who, so far away from him. It’s not something he had ever suffered from before, jealousy, but it had him in it’s grip firmly now. Worse still, it had brought along its mates, mistrust and paranoia, to join the party. It didn’t matter how many times he told himself to shut the fuck up, told himself that she would never, had never, that she loved him. His mouth just had to ask, to accuse. He knew that his actions sooner or later would either make his fears a reality when Cathy got fed up and decided to do what she was being accused of, or those same baseless accusations would result in her kicking him into touch. He couldn’t lose her, but couldn’t stop himself from thinking those twisted things. His brain wouldn’t obey him, betraying him instead with an unwanted slideshow of his worst fears.

Alec listened impassively. No comments like, “ya stupid wee arsehole” or “for fuck’s sake, Tommy” escaped his lips. Rather, he stood up, held his nephew close for a few moments and gently told him “Tom, you need to find out what’s making you behave like this, deal with it and stop acting so possessively towards her. She’s not a girl you want tae lose. And Tom….. do it soon. Cathy won’t put up with your shite for long. And nor should she.”

Tom’s tear-filled eyes looked at his uncle. He asked him” How Alec? I’m desperate to, but I don’t know how.”

Alec sighed, “I don’t know either son.”

You can buy Bobby’s Boy on Amazon UK here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335641028&sr=1-1

or in the US here:

http://www.amazon.com/Bobbys-Boy-ebook/dp/B007SGTHVC/ref=lp_B007OIGYJW_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335641130&sr=1-1

That Difficult First Novel?

The cover for Bobby's Boy, Mark Wilson's debut novel

Um… not really, no. It’s been smooth sailing so far, well the writing part anyway, the promo and marketing and formatting and designing? Well that’s another matter.

I finished my debut novel on March 14th-ish and figured that was it. Get it on Amazon, wait for everyone to appreciate my witty prose and tear-jerking scenes and watch the readers grow. Yes, naive would be exactly the correct word to use.

I passed the novel to my editor confident that I’d given her a more or less complete and perfect manuscript. I was sure that there’d be many a spelling and grammatical error (I’m dyslexic after all), but was equally sure that everything else was in order. Ha, not so. I’ve had so many changes to make and sections to rewrite and clarify that its felt at times that I’ve rewritten the whole book. I do not resent a single change as each one is slowly polishing the jobbie of my story into a sparkling-clean and error-free debut novel. Each change is making the novel read better and rather than resent the changes, I’ve come to welcome them with gratitude.

I’m around a week or so from publishing at the moment and have spent my time since the March “completion” of the book wisely. I’ve learned all I can about the marketplace that I’m about to enter, about promoting the book, about social networks, blogging, networking, Createspace, LuLu, formatting, cover design…..The list seems endless and exhausting. All amazing fun though.

I made a collection of short stories and published a little 100 page book titled “Paddy’s Daddy” and released it for free, then at a very reasonable 77p on Amazon and was rewarded with around 400 people picking it up and 8 positive reviews. I released the short book as a taster for the novel and as a kind of extended Biography. I want people to know and be able to connect with me as a writer. People read and buy other people.

UK:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paddys-Daddy-ebook/dp/B007ODTM3M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333301957&sr=8-1

US: http://www.amazon.com/Paddys-Daddy-ebook/dp/B007ODTM3M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333302013&sr=1-1

I answer every email and Facebook post, every tweet and enquiry. It’s a pleasure to recieve the interest. I’ve done a guest blog on the intial writing of the book for an excellent and supportive site set up to promote Indie Authors which you can find below and I’ll post up as a separate blog:

http://kindlepromo.com/writing-book/#more-148

I’ll write a blog later in the month abbout what I’ve learned and found useful in the build up to releasing the book.

It’s very much like having another full-time job or a business to run, but one which you think about every waking (and some sleeping) hour, and one which you take great pleasure from every little success.