Innocents Abroad


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165 in stock


By Kevin Rice

ISBN: 978-1-84747-158-1
Published: 2008
Pages: 170
Key Themes: fiction, religion, politics, relationships



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About the Author

Kevin Rice, author of Innocents Abroad, was born in Birmingham in 1947. He was educated at a school in Birmingham, and on leaving school got a job as a computer operator. In this job he learned how to write programmes for a mainframe, such as you had in the 1960’s. He left that job after a year, and had a series of jobs.

In his 20’s he became involved with the psychiatric system. He couldn’t get a job, because there was no work, and nobody wanted to employ anybody with a past mental illness. This led to him going into hospital long term.

Whilst in hospital, he attended education classes, mostly in science and IT, since his knowledge of computers was now a bit out of date. He also read, and watched TV documentaries, which enabled him to acquire the knowledge necessary to write Innocents abroad. He was in a number of hospitals until 2007, and was then discharged to a half way house, since by now he had almost recovered.

He still lives in the half way house today, and wrote Innocents Abroad in a narrative context, hoping to help put mental illness in a more favourable light, so that in the future, nobody will be refused a job because of a past mental illness like he was in his 20’s.

Book Extract

In the 2020’s, the Japanese invented a man-made machine that could build a machine- made machine, which was beyond the understanding of most men. This in turn could build a more complex machine. This made it possible to establish a colony of machines on Mars, which built a base to be occupied by the astronauts that went there in 2032. The computer technology which made the expedition to Mars possible could be used to obtain oil from the ocean deeps, with the well maintained by robots, so that it was no longer necessary to parley with unpleasant, Islamic fundamentalist regimes for oil. In the 2040’s, these machines became quite common.

In the Ormeau road, Belfast, there was a block of sheltered flatlets to rehabilitate people with mental health problems. It was called Ashfield tower, and on the south facing wall it had solar panels to supplement the grid. The authorities tried to use renewable sources of energy as much as possible.

The local residents didn’t like the presence of Ashfield tower, because they said that their children would be at risk and the value of their houses would go down. In fact, the Ashfield tower clients kept themselves to themselves, only mixing with other mental patients, mostly in the drop-in centre in Bunyan street. Ashfield tower was on the corner of Ormeau road and Bunyan street. The clients would certainly not mix with the neighbours’ children for fear of being accused of grooming for abuse.

Patrick Monaghan was a client of Ashfield tower. He worked at a sheltered workshop that did upholstery, and was engaged to Bridget McFarlane, also a client, who worked at a theatrical costume shop. Patrick had moved to Ashfield tower in November 2046, from Ardoyne secure unit. He had, in fact, been married to a patient there called Christine Beck, but they were not allowed to consummate the marriage. The strange thing was, staff turned a blind eye toward homosexual behaviour between patients, but couples that wed weren’t allowed to have any sex. This didn’t do anything for the cause of gay rights, as it provoked a reaction against gay patients by straight patients. They had spent most of their marriage fighting through the courts for the right to consummate their marriage.

In March 2046, Christine went to a group home in Omagh. She visited Patrick for a bit, and then a man at the group home said that she shouldn’t waste her youth on a man who’s locked up, and she took divorce proceedings.

Bridget had been in the Phoenix secure unit in Larne. Her family had been killed in a train crash on the way to visit her from Londonderry, and she became influenced by a Christian fellowship group that came to visit. In Ashfield Tower she joined a Methodist church, and at first her relationship with Patrick was confined to Bible study. At Christmas he took her to visit his family in the village of Ballysheen in county Armagh. The reception hadn’t been good, because Patrick’s family were Catholics and they believed in the sanctity of marriage, so they didn’t like the fact that he was with another woman when he was married to Christine, even though Christine was taking divorce proceedings. Bridget said that when you take divorce proceedings against your marriage partner, you waive all rights to fidelity, but they called her a harlot and a home wrecker. Patrick’s family hadn’t had anything to do with him since, but if they offered an olive branch, it would most likely come from his mother, because she had done all the visiting whilst he was in Ardoyne.

Patrick’s divorce became final in February 2047, and by then Patrick and Bridget’s relationship had developed into a romance. The wedding day was set for Friday January 7th, 2048. Patrick’s distant cousin, Josh, who lived in Australia, had funded their honeymoon; they would go to Australia on a cruise ship, visit Josh and his wife Jodi and their two children, and fly home.

Patrick and Bridget were determined not to have a large family, because Patrick came from a family of 15. His mother conceived easily, and she wouldn’t use contraceptives because she was a Catholic, so that’s what happened; 15 children. As a result, he had been raised in poverty, partly because his father spent all his time in the ale house and the betting shop. Patrick felt that by limiting the size of his family to 2 children, he would be able to give them all the things which he never had as a child.


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