I am writing a fictionalized memoir that targets some V.I.C.s – that stands for Very Important Criminals. What I am writing is fiction from a certain point of view, but it is fiction with a clear autobiographical element. Most novelists, if they are any good, probably punctuate fiction with thinly-camourflaged events and characters from their own life, names changed when necessary so as not to fall out more than is necessary with siblings, parents, ex-soulmates etc. Neil Gaiman would deny the protagonist of American Gods – Shadow – is based on himself, but that’s my theory. I won’t elaborate as to why I nurture that theory as it’s obvious he’d deny it even if I have in fact uncovered a secret or two. Anyway,…
My #NanoWriMo novel is a less thinly disguised memoir, but one that no more invades the non-fiction category than Dante’s Divine Comedy does. Making no claims to write anything so good; just announcing to the world that my account will introduce magic realist elements, dreams where the impossible happens, and multiple versions of myself coexist in the same space time, in a manner not dissimilar to Ebenezer Scrooge, seeing his past life. And my time travelling within the land of nod won’t be much prettier than Charles Dickens’s anti-hero. Any flirting with supernatural elements in my memoir are purely for the purposes of the story, to make it more readable, and memorable. I’ve taken dramatic license to help illuminate hidden truths by means of metaphor. Showing instead of exposition/narrative summary ‘telling’ is much easier this way. For the record, I don’t believe in the supernatural. But I do find stories spiced up with such elements to be much more psychologically tasty than the other kind. Anyway,…
I’m labeling my account ‘fiction’ while making no attempt to deny there are parallels with my own life, changed names notwithstanding. Almost every character who has a living counterpart will have their name changed, Prime Ministers and Home Secretaries, past and present, being an exception to that rule.
The protagonist in my novel is called Derek Thomas. He is based on me. Other characters may be combinations of two or more real people, in all such cases, they’ll not be named after any real individual. Chronology has been tampered with, and events messed around. Revelations that occur during real events often didn’t happen at that particular point. All such decisions have taken for dramatic purposes, and no other. Whenever that happens, I’m changing people’s names.
My novel is also going to address aspects of my life that don’t relate directly to the plot. And I’m going to try to explain how poorly those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are treated by the medical profession and by society at large.
My sixtieth birthday looms on the horizon. Don’t ask me how far away it is as I lost the ability to remember my precise age almost three decades ago. Can’t be that far away. Ever since I read Dr Gordon Serfontein’s The Hidden Handicap, I realized I must have ADD, but not the most common variety, the one with a hyperactivity component. For about two decades I’ve had what I’m convinced is a credible theory as to why I’m not hyperactive. And I think it could explain why others with ADHD don’t suffer from hyperactivity.
My novel is going to explain how someone dismissed univerally by peers, teachers, parents and everyone else as a congenital idiot blossomed relatively late in the day, managing to do several things quite well. To the extent that I succeeded in anything, I put it down in part to hard work, but also to a set of coincidences: good luck. If I’m right about this, then others with my specific ADHD may languish in much worse circumstances as they didn’t benefit from this set of bizarre coincidences. They may not have bothered to put in any work at all as they had no incentive to believe anything would come of it. If I’m right, then a lot of potentially intelligent and creative people have been badly let down by the medical profession, and by society as a whole. This is what I believe has happened, and my novel is going to deal with these issues.
The following story is a parble. It is a parable I wrote for the doctor who diagnosed me with ADHD after I’d fought for quarter a century to win that diagnosis, in the hope of then receiving appropriate medication. Given what I explained to this individual, the medication clearly should have been either Ritalin or another stimulant. However, this individual wouldn’t listen to me. He had zero sense of humour, and I became too intimidated to indulge my own sense of humour in case he put words into my mouth, pretending he thought I was serious. He couldn’t grasp any attempts on my part to resort to metaphor. His ignorance of the subject he was supposed to be a specialist in was terrifying. He lied about what we discussed within minutes of discussing it. Surely I couldn’t have been that unclear. He repeatedly ‘summed up’ what I had told him to mean the exact opposite of what I had just said. I wrote the following parable and sent it to him by email so he could no longer turn a deaf ear to what I was saying, and I would have documentary proof that he wasn’t listening to me. He responded by telling him he was to busy to read it. This parable was a clear cry for help for how quarter a century of untreated ADHD was making me lose the will to live. I appeal to others to read this, and to agree with me that I should have been listened to, instead of being prescribed a drug that very nearly killed me, and would have done had I not taken the trouble to do my own independent research on this highly dangerous drug via the internet. These facts have been studiously covered up by staff working for MPs and MSPs, as well as by individuals posing as ‘journalists’ in the print and broadcast media.
Dying of a Broken Torch:
Once upon a space-time, in a parallel universe far, far away… Some say this all began 3.919356 * 10 to the power 29 lightyears beyond the event horizon of our observable universe… Others say it happened much further away than this. Either way, whenever and wherever it was, there lived a strange young man. He was one of seven brothers. These young men were part of an experiment conducted by the most evil scientist on their home planet which, by a remarkable coincidence, was called Earth.
As young children, the seven brothers were forced to live for the remainder of their lives in a rather grotty little house. Never again would they be free to mingle with the other children, their parents nor anyone else. The entire house was completely devoid of light. They had to move around in that house completely blind. The evil scientist had set up his cameras to monitor their every move, making excellent use of a special night vision lens. Such fun he had, watching them bang their heads, fall over. cut themselves on sharp corners. How he laughed.
At the end of their first day, having screamed at each other, and for their mummy, their tears all dried into their salt-encrusted tear ducts, the evil scientist pumped in a sleeping gas. Having satisfied himself that they were all fast asleep, he went into the chamber where they were huddled together. And what did this evil scientist do then? Why he fastened on to each of their heads a pair of goggles. He also fastened onto each of their puny little hands a glove with a torch gaffa-taped to them. And all their torches were turned on. Then, absolutely delighted with what he had done, he left the scene…
Eventually, they all woke up. And they discovered they could now see things illuminated by their respective torches. However, by comparing notes, they discovered that their goggles and torches each worked only for themselves. What I mean by this is that not only do the torches illuminate what they shine on, every object in that house had clearly been specially treated with chemicals that allow them to glow – even AFTER the light beam has passed on! Their respective goggles only allow them to see those objects that have been illuminated by their own torch. Self-evidently, their goggles were attuned to only a specific part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and their torches only beamed that narrow range of frequencies.
As the days and week, months and years passed, each of them learnt how to open up the entire house. It all became accessible to their senses. If some patch was found to be dark, shine your torch there. That’s all they had to do, and it would forevermore be visible. Well, forevermore is a bit of an exaggeration, a point we’ll return to in due course.
In time, the entire house was visible to each and every one of them, and they forgot their unique situation. But they preferred to keep their gloves on at all times since the illumination did wear off after a time. Much more serious, removing their goggles would instantly make them blind as a bat. Still, they all adjusted to this new life. Well, that’s not strictly speaking true.
Derek… Poor Derek. Alas, for some reason he never understood. His torch/goggles combo did not work as the others did. Sure, he could see those things his torch directly shone on. However, his torch appeared NOT to affect the chemically-treated objects in that house. He could only see what his torch pointed to. Move the torch and the visibility of the world simply shifted accordingly. The focus of his world was impoverished. While his brothers navigated their way around their artificial environment without any problem, he tripped and fell. He lost things. His food. Everything. He burnt himself, got electric shocks, got covered in all sorts of garbage. Eventually, his brothers all teased him. Taunted him. They tossed footballs and tennis balls all around that house. They bounced them off the floor, walls, furniture. He could feel the breeze of objects thrown just past his ears. He had no idea what it was, or who threw it. His brothers laughed at his failure to adjust the way they had. And then, one day, they found his corpse.
Derek was no more. He had died. Of a broken torch. And a broken heart.