By Chris Hadland
Key Themes: short stories, depression, OCD, optimism
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This is a story, or rather a collection of stories, designed to show how - despite coming from diverse social classes and cultural backgrounds – people can still find shared ground between themselves, out of which a relationship can develop. Each couple in the book is brought together by what is most popularly perceived as a negative factor: mental illness, through the medium of a dating website designed specifically for those affected by it. The story is an attempt to show how even something damaging can still lead (ultimately) to something positive and beneficial, in life’s often circuitous journey. Ultimately, it is a story of optimism.
About the Author
Chris Hadland was born in 1981 in Coventry. He and his family moved to the Shetland Isles when he was nine. After leaving school he planned to have a career in the RAF, though this did not work out as hoped, and he left after completing basic training. It was during this demoralising period of life that he suffered from a spell of depression. Eventually deciding to go to University, he graduated in Political Studies in 2004 from the University of Aberdeen. Chris now lives in the West Midlands with his wife Rosalind.
Rupert and Josie
A firm, determined hand smartly rapped the bronze lion-head doorknocker; three times in quick succession, true to the unofficial upper middle-class neighbour’s code. This was followed by an expectant silence.
“Rupy! Ruuuuuupy!” The momentary peace was cruelly shattered by the piercing sound of mother’s shrill voice ricocheting unstoppably up the stairs and into my tender ears, painfully similar (or so it seemed to me) to the nightmarish call of the mythical banshee.
“Not now Mother, I’m trying to finish this damned essay – it’s due in tomorrow don’t you know! Professor Felden will be most upset if it’s late...” I replied, hoping against hope that my cunning plan would work.
“Ohhh alright Rupy, if you must you must – we mustn’t sacrifice your education for the sake of social niceties; though I do so hate having to tell your auntie Patricia that you’re too busy to see her...”
There was a brief, golden moment of silence, followed by the familiar click of the door latch opening. The inevitable chorus of highly pitched, artificially enthused greetings ensued, then the raucous sound mercifully began to diminish as the two ladies made a beeline for the teapot and chocolate coated hobnobs. I glanced over to where my already completed essay was perched proudly on the right-hand edge of my desk. Maybe being a student did have its advantages after all...
It is the second month of my second year at university, reading History of Art (honours). First year had been one of mixed blessings. My written work – both essays and exams – had achieved outstanding marks, no doubt thanks in part to the high standard of secondary education I received, coupled with my own driving ambition to achieve my aims. Things had also been going well socially – my good friend Percy, who I had known since a child, was granted a place at the same university, as was my girlfriend of three years Petal Adams. Together we made a very merry group, with many happy memories of halcyon autumnal days spent strolling along the river, stopping occasionally for a picnic of nibbles and Pimms, dreaming dreams of which professions we might opt for after our respective graduations.
After successfully passing our first set of exams, we now felt similarly assured in our academic prowess, as well as certain in the mutual reciprocity of our high regard for one another. Christmas came and went, but the time spent apart during the holiday in no way dampened our friendship, and ‘the three amigos’ (as we had now begun referring to ourselves) continued their academic adventures apace. It’s funny how it never struck me at the time, but – in hindsight – I was blinkered, naively innocent of what was then developing before my very eyes between Percy and Petal.
It all started with tennis. Naturally there were courts available to us at our choice of campus accommodation – sport is after all a most important factor to take into account regarding the health of one’s body and mind, and we three were avid tennis players. Not having access to our own private courts would have been absolutely out of the question, and this thought alone comforts me during the worst days of my despair. The first sign (blithely ignored by my good self at the time) was encountered one day when I was walking to my flat, passing aforementioned tennis court as I returned home from the first lecture of the day.
It had been a fascinating lesson on the stylistic development and flourishing of European art during the Renaissance period, and my head was filled with artistic flights of fancy. I vividly recall how the jarring pain of the tennis ball whacking me in the eye rudely awoke me, and transferred me directly from my previously blissful daydream into a state of sprawled agony, prostrate on the court floor. I should have guessed at Percy’s vindictiveness right there and then, for I saw him secretly stifle a laugh out of the corner of my now swollen eye. But I didn’t. I laughed it off like the decent sort of chap that I am, all the while accepting Petal’s gentle, traitorous ministrations as she enquired if I was alright.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 04 August, 2010.