Howard Flinch

£5.00

An Introvert in a State of Angst
By Brendan Reason

AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK

ISBN: 978-1-905610-26-6
Published: 2006
Pages: 246
Key Themes: schizophrenia, Christianity, anti-psychiatry, autobiography, fantasy, humour

Description

Everyone is to some degree their own schizophrenic. Brendan feels it is his job in life as a committed schizophrenic to pass on his experiences in coping with this 'disease'. Brendan feels he has a lot to offer his readers because of his success in dealing with life’s problems. This book is a mixture of autobiography and fantasy. Basically a 'send up' of UK psychiatry, Roman Catholicism and the mixed up world of human relationships that we all inhabit. The many characters appear under one name in one section but will then appear in another section as someone slightly different. Brendan deals with his characters in this way in order to present them as characters in their own right but also as fragments of his own self. Despite the serious subject matter of this book, there is much laughter. The book is an emotional roller-coaster, leaving the reader not knowing whether to be sad or happy - but always laughing.

About the Author

Brendan Reason is 54 and lives alone in Ipswich. Brendan has suffered from a form of schizophrenia since 1976 but has never let this prevent him from living life to the full. Since 1987 he has worked as a volunteer at the Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau - giving advice and help to people who are disabled. He also regularly sings and plays guitar at the Bureau’s AGM. Brendan has an Honours degree in Social Administration and a post-graduate certificate in Education. Brendan believes he was much happier as a student than he is in the world of work and because of his mental health problems the longest he has held down a paid job is two and a half years.

Brendan has always written poetry and prose and, in the mid nineties, a small but well regarded publisher called 'Envoi Poets' published a book of his poetry called 'Fragments of Eve and Other Poetry'. Another of his creative interests has been amateur dramatics both as a budding actor and script writer. In 1987 The Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich performed several of Brendan's scenes and sketches in a lunchtime performance given over to local writing talent. Brendan says that he "feels privileged that life has given me something to write about and that means so much to me".

Book Extract

“So we come to these two boys – Bear and Flinch – who always sit together. They are hard working and well behaved but in spite of this I feel they are letting life’s opportunities pass them by. They will let any talent they possess lie undeveloped until it withers and dies.” Brother Andrew, who was now Form 2A’s Latin teacher, was reviewing the pupils of this class that he had known so well as Form 1A the year before. Both Baby and Rupert were glad when he moved on from them to lecture the other pupils in Form 2A. The previous year at St. Kevin’s had been a heady one for Baby. 1A had been a bright class full of enthusiasm and charm. Brother Andrew had told Baby’s parents he was a “natural poet and actor”. Baby loved to be praised in this way. However, later that year, Brother Andrew said that he had considered giving him the X1 treatment because his schoolwork had deteriorated but that he changed his mind when Baby’s marks improved again.

At the start of Baby’s second year he was again finding it much harder to keep up with his friends academically. The school had a new Brother Director who was a small podgy man who ruled the school with a rod of iron. He continued the practice of visiting each class every two weeks to award every pupil a testimonial in which he was given a grading based on his marks obtained over that fortnight. Baby began to notice his grading and marks were now towards the bottom of the class, way below Rupert.

Baby decided to approach this problem logically. He looked at each subject and worked out how he could improve his marks. For instance, if the geography teacher said he was giving a test the next day in which the pupils would need to draw a particular map, Baby would make a point of learning to draw that map the night before. He would also spend spare time in the evening learning the French and Latin vocabulary that was currently being used in his language lessons. Everything he did was aimed at improving his schoolwork and getting higher marks. But Baby didn’t need to work at English because he had a natural ability for it.. In the decade of the Mersey Beat and the Beatles, it was no surprise that a young Liverpudlian, called Mr. McClean, should take the English lessons for 2A.

“Well, you horrible little man,” said Mr. McClean to Baby. “Would you like to read your favourite poem for us all to hear?” Baby started reading aloud “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” by Robert Browning, expecting to be stopped at the end of the first stanza because it was a very long poem. “No. Carry on.” Said Mr McClean as he let him read the whole poem. “You have a real talent for reading things aloud. I may be using your ability in the future.” In a later lesson Mr. McClean played a record by Joan Baez and told them about the Civil Rights movement in America.

“Does anyone know anything about folk music?” He asked. “A friend of my mother’s took me to a folk club last Saturday.” Said Baby. “Do you remember any of the songs they sang?” “There was one about the devil tempting a young boy.” Mr. McClean set them the task of writing the lyrics for a folksong for homework. Baby came up with a sort of protest poem about Capital Punishment that was very much in the news then. After that, Mr. McClean was full of praise for every piece of creative writing Baby came up with. Baby’s crowning glory happened when the English class had to be left one day with no teacher. Baby wrote another of his imaginative compositions for Mr. McClean, while the class rioted around him, and quietly handed it in at the end of the lesson.

Baby’s studies took him in an altogether different direction when he became interested in Chemistry. His Chemistry teacher, called Mr. Sloe, was a man who carefully plodded along in an unexciting way. However, Baby thrived on this approach rather than the more inspirational but ambiguous approach of some of the other teachers. He spent a lot of time repeating Chemistry experiments at home that the class had carried out in the lab at school. His father encouraged him by having a Bunsen burner installed in the kitchen and Mr. Flinch also showed Brother Director the note book in which Baby recorded his home experiments.

Once, during an end of term Chemistry exam, Mr. Sloe thought he saw Baby look at his neighbour’s work.

“Are you copying from Fry’s answer sheet, Flinch?” Baby couldn’t very well reply that he was so much better at Chemistry than Fry that it would be pointless copying from him. “I didn’t get the chance.” He replied to Mr. Sloe. “Wow.” Wowed the rest of the class. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. Mr. Sloe.” Said Baby a minute later. Mr. Sloe grunted, unconvinced. Brother Director was concerned that his pupils should speak properly so he hired two lady teachers from the Gippeswyk school of Elocution to teach the lower years. This was like a red rag to a bull to boys who hadn’t been taught by a woman since Kindergarten. The ladies told Mr. and Mrs. Flinch that Baby used to sit there quietly drinking in every word whilst the rest of the class rioted around him. They were so impressed with Baby’s abilities they awarded him the prize for elocution at the end of that school year.

Within the space of a month Baby’s new approach to his studies and his successes in English, Elocution and Chemistry caused him to shoot up to near the top of the class. At the end of the school year he was just thwarted from coming top in the exams by a boy who had already left the school by the time the exam results were given out.

A few months before, when Mr. McClean asked him to read part of “Animal Farm” to the class, the whole of Baby’s progress over the past three years seemed to go in reverse. He started stumbling on the pronunciation of the simplest words until Mr. McClean had to take the book from him and read it out himself. Then Baby’s marks for Creative Writing plummeted. Looking back, years afterwards, Baby thought that perhaps the School 1nspectors had told Mr. McClean to lower the overall level of his pupils’ marks. Furthermore the Inspectors might have looked at Baby’s creative writing and decided it wasn’t so inspired after all. Whatever the reason, Mr. McClean changed from treating Baby as a very talented boy to treating him as though he’d made a mistake about him.

During the second year Baby had taken to going to the cinema by himself. Once a man sat next to Baby and started to fondle his legs below his shorts. Baby didn’t know what was going on and felt very scared. He told his parents that evening and they explained about paedophiles. That Summer Mr. Flinch, who was head of Geography at a Secondary Modern school, took Baby and Rupert camping with a group of his 5th Year “O” level group, at a school near Lowestoft. Mr. Flinches’ students were all very different in character. One of the boys was a natural leader and an inspiration to them all. Mr. Flinch had high hopes of him as a Geography student. Another was a bit of a rogue and scared Baby when he started throwing knives at empty calor gas cans. Another protested when the others played cards with salacious pictures of women on their backs.. Baby and Rupert squabbled during this holiday. Rupert ridiculed Baby when he went on about how much he enjoyed walking on cliffs by the sea and how he thought he had low blood pressure because his hands easily grew cold. Baby irritated Rupert by throwing twigs at him when they were walking along and he didn’t stick up for him when some of the geography students gave Rupert a hard time. Once, during the holiday, Baby and Rupert were sitting next to each other on the top of a double-decker bus when some girls on nearby seats started to giggle a lot. Baby had been blithely indulging in erotic fantasies without realising that his flies were undone and his erect penis was pushing his white underpants through his flies. With horror, he realised what the girls were giggling about and he frantically zipped himself up.

During the summer holidays of that year, Baby and some of his friends went to a “Vocations Exhibition” put on by the Catholic Church at Earl’s Court. This “Exhibition” was designed to make people aware of the wide spectrum of Celibate Orders within the Catholic Church. A Priest called Father Condom was at a stall promoting a Spiritual Advice and Counselling Service. “What do you think of corporal punishment?” He asked Baby’s friend. “I don’t think it ever did anyone any harm.” Said Baby’s friend. “You never spoke a truer word.” Said Father Condom and pressed a leaflet into Baby’s hand.

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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 01 November, 2006.