By Rosealine Allen
AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK
Key Themes: autobiography, ethnic minorities, schizophrenia, paranoia, conspiracy, hearing voices, bravery
This is a poignant, surprising and claustrophobic autobiography on schizophrenia. The reader must ask him/herself whether there is a conspiracy against Rosie, or whether it's all her imagination and is simply a further manifestation of her illness. The book takes the reader through Rosie's school years, her leaving home and then pursuing a course at Polytechnic, where things start to go horribly wrong. Wherever Rosie goes she finds people are conspiring against her, as a result she becomes chronically stressed and paranoid. She starts to hear voices and eventually concludes that there is a conspiracy against her orchestrated by the intelligence services and that what is happening to her is part of a wider assault on the black community.
About the Author
Rosealine Allen was born in May 1967 in London. She is a black woman born to West Indian immigrant parents. She spent her early years moving between grim council estates in East London. At Polytechnic she studied psychology and she is now training to be a teacher on the Graduate Teacher Programme. Rosealine currently lives in Basildon, Essex. Whether Rosie's troubled youth was typical of a Black British girl growing up in the seventies, she cannot say, but she does believe the problems that existed between her parents and her were common for West Indians families at that time.
When my mum washed my hair, it was a fight to comb it through afterward. I hated having my hair washed because of this. Combing the tangles out was a nightmare even though she put grease in it, of various kinds, to lubricate it. In the winter when she used coconut oil, it would harden and show up as white specs in my hair. It was shameful, but I had long hair for a black girl back then.
Every so often there would be coach trips to the fairground. I remember going to Margate and Blackpool. There would be a sea of black faces on the coach and the air was permeated by the smell of rice, peas and chicken. This didn’t do much for my travel sickness. At the fairgrounds, we use to seek out the scariest and most dangerous rides; the ‘big dipper’ and the ‘wild mouse’ are two that I remember, and we stuffed our faces with candyfloss, and doughnuts. I use to forego my dinner sometimes for a couple of chocolate bars. I was addicted to ‘Marathon’ bars, as was Lorraine. Sometimes, Andrew’s older brother would have a disco for all of us around the flats. He lived on the estate too, and had tons and tons of records. All the latest in soul and dance.
Although we lived on the same estate, I slept at Simone’s place once. Her parents were quite strict, and if she did wrong, she got a good hiding for it. Her dad use to beat her mum too and unlike my mum and dad, I don’t think her mum fought back. Simone wasn’t allowed to eat anything from the kitchen without asking her mother first, and when she had biscuits, she only had two whereas I’d get through a whole packet in an evening. Not surprisingly our physiques were very different
Simone started her period when she was 11 years old. I couldn’t believe it! Her bust was bigger than mine and although she was much slimmer than me, she was curvaceous. Her breasts were like ripe plums that stuck out slightly to the side and her legs were long and willowy. I on the other hand hardly had a chest, and insensuously what I did have simply pointed straight forward, and my brother said I had footballers legs. I complained to God and asked him why he allowed Simone to have her period before me, not that it got me anywhere. Anyway, that’s what I started doing, noticing women’s shapes more and comparing myself to them. I’d go to the market with my mum on a Saturday morning and see white girls dressed in figure hugging jeans so that you could see every contour on their bodies. My sister got me a pair of tight jeans eventually and I bought a chiffon shirt to go with them. Most of my clothes though came from a salesman who worked in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for children with my mum on Hackney Road. Some of his stuff was modern, and some was a bit old fashioned. The rest of my clothes I got from Bethnal Green Market, and the shops along Bethnal Green road. I use to knit too. I made myself a navy blue jersey dress that I thought was really smart when I wore it with blue woolly tights and a belt around the waist.
'Blue - The Musical' by Rosealine Allen
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 01 November, 2006.