16 Manor Way


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The Story Of Our Fated Adoptions
By Nicholas Holbrook

ISBN: 978-1-84747-951-8
Published: 2009
Pages: 143
Key Themes: adoption, alcoholism, suicide, relationships



This is the story of the Holbrooks, who lived in 16 Manor Way in South London.

On the outside they were a very affluent and normal Medical family, but their life together was to be far from normal. The two children were adopted separately, their Mum was an alcoholic, and one dark winter’s night she climbed the stairs to commit suicide. Nick Holbrook tells the whole story of what it was like to grow up with this family. With great personal detail, his book documents what happened over their 20 years of life together and how those events have affected him so greatly to this day. Read their story if you have an interest in Adoption, Alcoholism, Suicide and Family Relationships. It’s both a powerful and tragic family story where things might have been so different.

About the Author

Nick Holbrook is 48 and lives with his wife and children in Berkshire. He was adopted as a very young child, together with his sister, and another child who was taken back by her mother.
He grew up in what he now sees was a highly privileged environment in a medical family in South London but his mother was an alcoholic. He considers himself to have been hugely impacted on by adoption, alcoholism and by the sudden death of his sister through meningitis.

One thing that Nick has come to believe in as a result of his childhood experiences, is the importance of having what he calls “crucial conversations”. These did not happen in his family, particularly with his father. An actor, stand-up comedian and Professional Sales Trainer, Nick speaks French and Spanish fluently, and he both reads and writes on a diverse range of subjects.

Book Extract

Long before I was born in 1961, something happened that continues to have an almighty effect on my life today. It was something that occurred I would guess probably around 1936, and it would have happened to our Mum. Somewhere in the Stockton-on-Tees area. I can’t say more, I know no more. I am not even one hundred per cent sure that it did in fact happen. It’s rather like the comet hitting the planet and wiping out the dinosaurs, things do seem to point to it having happened, but where and when is less easy to pinpoint. “Show me the proof and I’ll believe you”.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that I don’t know what it was, or precisely when it was. I think I might sort of know, I do have some loose kind of an idea, but I can’t be sure. I don’t believe now that I ever will be either. I’ll tell you what I think it was in a moment, but let me explain by starting at what was the beginning of this story for me, my birthday.

Young Nicholas was born in 1961, actually on January 5th 1961. Do you know someone who was born around that time? Perhaps you were yourself? Or a member of your immediate family maybe? I don’t remember the experience myself, you’ll understand that I was very young at the time! Believe me when I say that it’s a “naff” time of year to have a birthday. It’s just so near to Christmas that everyone forgets about it, and it was only when the Christmas period was over and done with that family friends would say (and they still do!) “When’s your birthday then Nick, I know it’s around now isn’t it?” They used to ask me that around late January I seem to remember. Still, it could be worse, I might have had a birthday on December 24th or even on the 25th, something like that. That must be nice, but rather disorientating at the same time.

“Happy Christmas, oh and by the way, this is your Birthday present too!”

My sister’s birthday was in June. Now there’s a good time of year to have a birthday party! The 11th June Claire, Happy Birthday. Warm summer evenings in south London in the 60s and 70 s, how fondly I remember them as I look back.

So, the day when I was invited so kindly to live on our wonderful planet is well over forty years ago now. It would have been sixteen years after the Second World War had ended. That would have been a very different time to today. Clearly I can’t remember the early 1960s for reasons that I don’t think I need to state, but I am very pleased and actually a little proud to say that I do have good and clear memories of the late 1960s, some at least. I remember vividly a family friend of ours Mary taking me for a walk one day in Blackheath in south London, somewhere around 1966. It must have been a cold day as I was particularly well-wrapped up, in a thick grey coat and blue woollen hat. I remember clearly the railway bridge that we had just walked across that afternoon, and seeing the train going right underneath where we were standing, seeing it slipping confidently into a tunnel leading to Kidbrooke. It was that lovely time of day in the late Autumn when it’s starting to get very cold, the light is still there but it too is starting to fade steadily, and you can begin to look forward to going home for tea and toast, which Mary and I may well have done that very afternoon. I would have been about five years old then, and I remember this scene very clearly.

Mary would have been in her fifties, she took me to London Zoo one day too and bought me a real lion cub, but this particular one didn’t take too much looking after as he came from the toy shop there.

Ah yes the 60s, the swinging 60s. I think that word might mean something very different these days to what was meant then! I remember being told how language is a changing thing. Not too much traffic on the roads then I guess. Fewer planes in the sky, less British people travelling on package holidays to Spain, no computers (worth talking about), no Internet, no iPod music players, no such things invented then as the mobile phone, no videos, digital cameras, DVD s or music centres. What TV there was would have been black and white only. Many houses were without carpets throughout and most had no central heating, many would have been built with outside toilets too.


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