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As a failing journalist cares for his alcoholic grandfather, remnants of the elderly man’s long-buried stories resurface and drive him to an obsessional search for truth.
“The land of men is an untouched one. It is the companionship of quiet. It is so many darkened boats, heading their own way, in the night.”
Leeds, 2017. Disaffected journalist Fred Whitby and his mother visit Grandad Norman following the death of his callous second wife, Brenda. Norman has relapsed into alcoholism. Brenda’s daughter and her husband have invaded the house.
Whilst writing a diary in attempt to revive his creativity, Fred finds himself cast adrift in his family history, trying frantically to piece together the fragmented memories, half-truths, secrets and mythologies that lie therein. Disappearances. Post-war protection rackets. An IRA bomb plot. Romantic rivalries. The kidnap of a traitorous miner.
As spectres of the past meet with the looming presence of a post-truth future, Fred must navigate the illogical and unprovable stories of his grandfather and come to terms with the absence of irrecoverable voices in his quest for whatever truth and meaning remains.
Tommy Sissons is a poet, writer and educator based in London. He is the literary editor of GRASS Magazine, a publication specialising in the promotion of working-class creatives. Sissons has toured his spoken word poetry across Europe and delivered talks on widening participation in education and the arts at a number of academic and cultural institutions, including the V&A Museum and Sheffield Hallam University.
“Sissons’ voice (on both, stage and page) cuts through the social fabric of modern British society. He writes with honesty, curiosity and thoughtful urgency. I’m grateful for talents like his. The stories of our post-Brexit era are incomplete without them.”
“A powerful story of family and culture echoing the great Northern tradition. Proudly working class.”