Sunday, 27 March 2011

A Blue Eyed Son

Now I don't exactly know where this will ramble off to. Like most of my posts, I have an idea of what I want to write about but until it is there in front of me I don't know what it will look like. However, in this case it could go one of two ways (or I could go off on a tangent like I already seem to have done). I have two ideas in my head, both prompted by the same stimulus and I'm not sure where I am going first.

(Courtesy Google Images)
Maybe the starting point should be letting you know what the stimulus is. It is the book Blue-Eyed Son by Radio 5 Live Breakfast Host Nicky Campbell.On a recent visit to our local library, the subtitle caught my eye. The Story of an Adoption. This struck a chord with me as my wife is adopted. I have asked her and she is happy for me to write about her circumstances and experiences which I will in the future, but I wanted to put my decision to read the book into context.

Now I love autobiographies, and I am a huge radio anorak too, so the chances are that I would have been interested in Nicky Campbell's own story any way (I have just taken out margrave of the marshes) but this just gave it an intriguing personal twist.

I was keen to understand the different emotions that an adopted child, on a journey into adulthood and discovery would go through. I wanted to compare and contrast with the experiences I had supported my wife through and I wanted to know if it made him feel different, special, unique, chosen, abandoned.

I won't spoil the story by telling you in detail of the intriguing process that Nicky went through to find his biological parents and a sister that was adopted before he was born. It also opens up questions of loyalty, to family, to friends, to religion, to sport.

At times I wanted to shout at the author for being a complete arse, especially with the way that at times his quest became all consuming to the point of selfishness. There were many points when I felt that he didn't deserve the time I was investing in reading the book.

But the thing about books that beat your Amazon Kindle hands down. I knew because there was still an inch of prose in my right hand, that there was still plenty of the book left in which he could redeem himself. I wasn't sure he would, but I needed to find out.

It is an incredibly honest account of his search for his history. Did it answer all my questions about adoption? No. It may have answered some but created some new ones. Did it have parallels with my wife's experiences? Of course, but there were pretty substantial variances too. That was something that I did expect.

So I am now looking at age old questions with a new perspective. What is family? Nature or nurture, which is strongest? Should sleeping dogs lie?

As I said, I borrowed this book from the library as I have many books before. But this one made me ask questions about authorship. I tweeted that I was reading Nicky Campbell's book and I was surprised to receive a reply from him asking for my thoughts on it. I did feel slightly guilty about the fact that I hadn't paid for the book and he wouldn't receive royalties from me, but then I got to thinking. Was the reason he wrote the book for financial gain or was it more of a cathartic experience? Did he write the book for himself and his family, with the added benefit of others in the same boat being able to take something from his experience. I said earlier that I love autobiographies. Biographies that are written by other people so often have agendas (some better hidden than others) that you have to see through. Those that are self penned are less ambiguous about the direction they are coming from. Very often to make money but with an interesting/funny/poignant tale to tell. In this case I felt that Nicky was writing for himself, and was prepared to share for anyone who wanted to share.

So, in short, an honest, fascinating human story. I wanted to shout, help, talk and generally be involved in the story. And it has persuaded me to put my thoughts of my wife's experience in the public domain. Maybe I can persuade her pen he rthoughts too.

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