About Me

Tollesbury, Essex, United Kingdom
I was born in the Summer of 1969 in Dagenham, just on the border of East London. School was largely unproductive but enjoyable, setting me up for something of a wayward but interesting life! On leaving school I had various jobs including putting up stalls at Romford Market, working in a record shop, putting up ceilings, gardening and road sweeping. After resigning from an insurance company to play in a band, I found myself unemployed for two years. Then finally I got back on my feet and I've been a psychiatric nurse since 1997. I wrote A Cleansing of Souls when I was 22 years old and followed it up with Tollesbury Time Forever almost twenty years later. I started writing The Bird That Nobody Sees in September 2011 and it was released in July 2012. In terms of writing, my heroes are Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I would also include Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits as literary influences. So that's me I guess - scruffy, happy and in love with literary fiction, music and life...

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Synopsis for Tollesbury Time Forever

A psychiatric nurse enters a house in Tollesbury with the police. The occupant has been reported missing. The walls of the house are covered in words from floor to ceiling. It is stated that the novel is a transcription of those words. The house belongs to Simon Gregory, a Beatles-obsessed alcoholic with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and a love of cricket. The psychiatric nurse states that Simon is, and always will be, his hero.

Part One:
Simon in a pub in Tollesbury listening to a tale told by one of the locals of a man known as the Child Killer who was rumoured to have murdered a young  boy long ago in one of the nearby fields. Drunk and despondent, Simon tries to drown himself in the Tollesbury Salt Marshes. He does not die however, but awakes believing he is no longer in 2008 but in Tollesbury in the year 1836.

Simon explores the village and meets Zachariah Leonard, a sinister beast of a man who intimates that he knows Simon. The following morning, Penny Shoraton, a local girl from the village approaches Simon and something about her resonates with him. Two men, introducing themselves as Weepy and Nardy claim to ‘pull all the strings’ and have a great interest in his welfare.

Encouraged by the paranoid Zachariah Leonard, Simon flees Tollesbury and discovers a nearby field. Under the guidance of a man known as The Walrus,  nine children then proceed to recount stories, recite poems, and sing songs to their one-man-audience. Each of these performances are lessons for Simon in the way he should lead his life. A sullen boy who is not part of the show, named WG, reminds Simon of the son he abandoned twenty four years ago. Simon tries to befriend WG. As he feels he is getting somewhere, WG batters one of the young children to death. Simon, as a way of making amends for abandoning his own son, takes responsibility for the murder and is denounced as The Child Killer. He is then hanged. As he is hung, all the children sing:

‘Tollesbury time
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Tollesbury time

Part Two:

The second part of the novel begins in a psychiatric hospital in 2008. It is made clear that Simon Gregory is an inpatient who has tried to hang himself following a period of psychosis and that the first part of the novel is Simon’s interpretation of reality. Penny Shoraton is a staff nurse on the ward. Weepy and Nardy are psychiatrists. Zachariah Leonard is a representation of Simon’s mental illness.

Simon is eventually released from hospital and returns home to Tollesbury. He then proceeds to put into practice the lessons he has learned from the show put on by the children in the field. These lessons each have headings that spell out the acronym FRUGALITY:

Forgive everybody everything
Recognise beauty wherever it be
Understand the nature of loss
Give love wherever you go
Anger devours the soul
Look deep or do not look at all
Imagination is Life
Trust everyone for people, are at heart, good
You are wonderful

The practical application of these lessons in which Simon confronts all the issues in his life such as his alcohol problem, schizophrenia and his childhood abuse, lead him back into contact with his wife and with her help he is eventually re-united with his son. During this process, he also manages to forgive Paul McCartney for We All Stand Together. No mean feat.

Tollesbury Time Forever is a novel about mental illness, alcohol, confusion and courage. But most of all it is about love - the losing of it, the searching for it and the understanding of it.


Nick Wilford said...

Hi Stu, I am intrigued about your novel and I look forward to reading it. For this reason, I did not get past the first paragraph of part 1 of your synopsis! (I had gleaned this much from your previous posting of excerpts.)

I think for a prospective reader to read a synopsis, it's a bit like reading a book review that gives away the whole plot? I don't mean to be negative about your effort to spread the word about your book, but I reckon synopses should be kept for the eyes of agents and publishers. Posting it on the blog is a step too far - just my twopennorth.

By all means blog about how maddening it is to write the blinking things - we can all sympathise with that... :/

Stu Ayris said...

Hi Nick! Hope all is well! Thanks so much for your comment. I do get what you mean about the whole 'revealing all' thing and understand the ramifications. It has just struck me though how intricate are the rules in terms of getting published, what to do, how to do it, how to be, what font to use, how to address people - I just want to be upfront about it all. I've written a book that I really like - here it is, take it or leave it. The Blog I guess it about my attempts to get it published - I feel that the more people know about the book (hence the synopsis) the more they can appreciate the journey. Of course if it gets published I hope people buy it!!

Take care mate,

Stuart Schneider said...

Well surprise surprise here is a comment 3 years after the fact.

I just finished the second book in the Tollesbury Trilogy and after finding reviews of the third decided it would be in my interest to review the first once more. Which is why I searched for a synopsis and happily found it here!

So thank you Stu (my name also btw) and I am now looking forward to diving into the third and final book. If it is even half as enjoyable as the first two I know I am in for an enjoyable and exciting ride.

S. Schneider