ANYONE who has ever despaired of getting to the bottom of a health problem will immediately relate to an entertainingly written story within a story from Tain-based author, Philip Paris, who will this Saturday be signing copies of his latest book.
Growing up in a block of flats in Gateshead in the 1960s/70s, money was tight and life centred on fish fingers, hand-wringing the washing on a Monday morning and screaming at wrestler Big Daddy on the TV on a Saturday afternoon.
Written with tenderness, Paris recalls with humour challenging times in which everything he was given to wear — from socks to raincoat — seemed to be made of nylon and bought from The Co-op. “Even my underpants were nylon and when, at night, I slid between those nylon sheets on the bed...I did so with extreme trepidation.”
The memories of growing up in that period will strike a chord with many. They form the backdrop to the meat of the memoir — which deals with what happens when you disagree with the diagnosis of a GP (the author is married to one, Catherine!)
It was back in 1981 that, prompted by recurring pain and alarming weight loss, he was forced to visit his local surgery. That was merely the beginning of a journey which saw him draw up a hit list of would-be saviours who might deliver him from the life-diusrupting pain he was suffering.
In describing what the book is about, the author says: “Nylon Kid of the North italicstells of how believing in your instincts can overcome those in authority trying to enforce actions that are detrimental to you...and how a working class lad finally wins through by learning to trust his feelings sufficiently to stand up and say ‘No’ to something that in his heart he believes is wrong.”
Frequently he refers to the sinking feeling of being on the wrong train, heading in the wrong direction, when professionals he encounters in a variety of fields insist they have discovered the nub of the problem.
The hapless youngster — who is also trying to get through college and land a job — tries everyone from hypnotherapists to Harley Street specialists on his quest, at one point ending up in traction in a ward of colourful characters.
As a kilt-wearing, bagpipe playing student in the North of England, he was always going to stand out a bit from the crowd. Yet it’s the twists and turns of a two-year search for a breakthrough that leaves him in despair.
Paris describes some of the memorable characters he encounters along the way and succeeds in maintaining a light tone despite the underlying sense of helplessness which develops. Ultimately it’s a jolly good read which also sheds some useful light into a little explored area.
• Philip Paris will be signing copies of the book at the Dornoch bookshop between 10-11am on Saturday.
Nylon Kid of the North
by Philip Paris