Bernard Gerald Downey

Today I was back on the job – editing The Rebirth of Henry Whittle.  It’s silly how excited I get when an email arrives from my agent.  I don’t feel like I’m writing a book it’s more like I’m on an open learning course.   She makes suggestions, which I consider and being a pleaser I agree with.  Then I get to work.  I like how my book is taking shape.  It’s the same but sharper, more polished.

My book is like my children, I wanted to create it and I like spending time with it – it makes me happy and it fulfills me.  At no point in time has it frustrated me, it’s just fun to be with.

Hypothetically my book sells.  To avoid the pressure writers experience when drafting their second novel I have already begun mine.  I’m trying to skip the pressure bit and get ahead of the game.

Every book has a page set aside for Acknowledgements and in my imagination, where I’m a successful writer, I think about this page.

My dad died when I was 24, when my first child was six months.  He died of alcoholic poisoning, which is a very painful death, on 4th July.  Twenty four years later I still think of him, there’s not a day that I don’t wish he was here.  He was genuinely a good person.  The world was a better place with him in it; he cared about people. He was a typical barman, he always had an interesting tale to tell and he engaged with everyone – in his eyes we were all equal.  I want my book to be published because I want to dedicate it to him.  He didn’t inspire me to write a book, my girls did that, obviously being dead he hasn’t supported and encouraged me along the way as my husband and children have.

During the first draft of my novel Maroon 5 and Sia were my background, but recently, during this editing process, my thoughts have wandered to my dad, who I know would be so proud that I’ve written a book.  If he were behind the bar, right now, as each customer entered and he graciously served them he would recount the story of his daughter the writer… but alcohol deprived him of this.  It’s easy to assume that people with addictions are weak, that they should pull themselves together but its simply more complicated than that.  When you’re a pleaser you feel disappointment in yourself more acutely, instead of accepting that good people have bad luck you take responsibility that you cannot bear.  So today editing my book I listened to Jonny Cash, Dave Edmonds, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers; my dad’s favorites.

I’ve been seriously ill over the last few years and my youngest got it into his head that I was dying – which I wasn’t – although I felt like I was!  We’d have a cuddle and I’d tell him that although bodies conk out, parents never really died; I was a part of him so I would always be with him.  In years to come if he listened to his voice he’d hear my words. With this in mind I sometimes hear my dad’s words, I feel the kindness and strength behind them.  He still makes me laugh, he use to keep a small square of cheddar in his pocket because he said he got hungry in the strangest places and a bit of cheddar always came in handy.

So I write this blog today because I miss my dad and I’m realistic about how hard it will be to find a publisher to support my book and I want to thank him today.

Dad,

Your weren’t amazing or mega. You weren’t rich. You couldn’t drive.  You never took Alan football. Your dress sense was ok.  You liked the horses way too much.  You liked Special Brew even more.  But when school finished I liked coming home to ‘The Imperial’ and seeing your face behind the bar.  I’d sit on a high stool and you’d pop a bottle of cold coke for me and Al and say something completely random but it felt right.  You were never cross which taught me never to be cross with my children, to always welcome them home from school, to sing them a song.  You taught me so much about human nature, most of all you taught me how to be a good mother.  Thank you. xxxxxx

Be happy, T

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