Guest post by Dominic Holland
We don't really get to choose the events that form and shape us. They just happen. Episodes and incidents that remain with us for our entire lives.
One such event in my life came when I was being bullied at school and a boy I barely knew came to my rescue. He was older than me and I can remember that he was enormous.
I was incredibly grateful to him but I cannot recall saying thank you and the whole incident has remained with me since and has come to inspire my latest novel, A Man's Life. A story that that has taken thirty years to gestate and a novel that has been at least seven years in the writing.
I have long thought that my encounter with the 'enormous' rescuer would be an interesting starting place for a story. If these two boys were somehow brought back together again in later life and the impact they have on each other.
I was excited by the prospect of a fleeting and innocuous playground encounter that would come to change their two lives forever.
And so I began plotting my novel. Other factors and experiences in my life leant themselves easily and quite soon, I was ready to begin.
A year or so in to writing the novel and quite out of the blue, I was contacted over the internet by someone who apparently had been at my school.
It was of course the same boy who had come to my rescue all those years ago. Given my circumstances and the novel that I was writing, you can imagine my excitement at hearing from him. Obviously, this was all fate and a sign that my book was meant to be. I tend to romanticise about such things in my life - as any readers of my previous books will testify to.
I was amused when he explained that he didn't expect me to remember him. He was contacting me to ask whether I would do a stand-up show for him as a fundraiser for a local charity. Of course I agreed. After all, I figured that I owed this guy.
I couldn't wait to tell him about my novel and I was even more excited when he explained that he had no recollection of the bullying incident at all.
An incident that had resonated and stayed with me - and yet for him, it was nothing.
I was thrilled to meet him again and we have stayed in touch. Our chance re-encounter was a good omen for my novel. Without question, it was destined to become a sensational international best seller…
The book is now finished and is the closest thing I have written to a biography - with the exception of my latest book - how Tom Holland eclipsed his dad - a story that is entirely true and based on my unusual and possibly unique family circumstances.
My novel - A Man's Life is yet to become an international sensation but I remain ever hopeful.
Sometimes in life, things happen for a reason. Little things. Tiny things that appear innocuous and incidental at the time but can go on to have life changing consequences. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. A Man's Life is a heart rending novel that draws on this theme. Break-time at St. Edmunds School in 1970 and Tom Harper is a twelve year kid being picked on by a bully. An everyday scenario played out thousands of times all over the country and indeed the world. Paddy Porter is an older boy who knows neither of the boys involved but he senses the mismatch and he settles the dispute. It is not something he has ever done before but the moment takes him and in doing so, he changes both of their lives. The bully backs down and life goes on. Tom and Paddy connect only with a glance. Tom is embarrassed and can only shrug his thanks and they part. No words exchanged and yet in this moment, these two boys are irrevocably linked. A fleeting moment that some thirty years later will set in motion events that will save and complete each of their lives. In 2013, Tom is a broken man. A bereavement renders his wealth and success utterly meaningless and he cannot recover. Prostrate with grief and in hospital, Tom's memory releases the forgotten incident in the playground and his encounter with Paddy. He feels compelled to revisit the Birmingham suburb where he grew up and see what ever became of the big boy who had rescued him. And so an unlikely friendship ensues which has a beautiful synergy. Paddy too is a man in great need and he is unable to solve his crisis alone. Unbeknownst to them both, what each man needs is precisely what the other has to give.
A Man's Life is a novel that affirms life. A heart rending love story that will move readers from tears to laughter and to joy. A book that celebrates the human spirit and values love and kinship above all else. Holland has made his living by observing human nature. He makes people laugh by reflecting our lives in his own. This is his first novel in ten years but this story and its gestation has occupied much of this decade. It could not be written quickly. Based on a series of real events in his own life, it is a story that needed to evolve. A Man's Life has been a long time coming but it has been worth the wait. A beautiful story of love and loss, Holland shines a brilliant light on human nature. Our vulnerability and our impotence and our need for other people and their love to complete us as human beings.
Dominic Holland has been a professional stand-up comedian for over 20 years and has become one of the most regarded and respected comedians of his generation.
‘The UK’s master of observational comedy,’ The Sunday Times. ‘A top notch stand-up who everyone should see,’ The Daily Telegraph
But Dominic’s favourite quote comes from the late Bob Monkhouse – ‘Dominic Holland is the UK’s funniest not-yet-famous comedian.’ Rest assured Bob, Dominic is still working hard on the becoming properly famous bit.
He has just published his third novel, ‘A Man's Life’ as an ebook and his first non-fiction ebook – ‘How Tom Holland Eclipsed his Dad.'
Dominic has made countless TV appearances including The Royal Variety Performance, recorded an award winning radio series for BBC R4. Twice honoured at the Edinburgh Festival by the Perrier panel. Won a comic heritage award and published two comic novels and a raft of short stories.
Dominic is a regular panellist on the UK daytime debate show The Wright Stuff