By Barbara Goulden Walters
Key Themes: society’s treatment of mentally ill, care centres, service user mutual support
This is Barbara Goulden’s first novel and she hopes it injects a refreshing dose of humour into the serious business of mental illness.
She knows from personal experience what a tremendous support the families and friends of sufferers can be to each other.
But perhaps few people appreciate the help patients and ex-patients can also be to one another. Especially those living in the sort of rehabilitation house featured in Knock Knock, Who’s There?
The kind of place nobody wants in their neighbourhood….
About the Author
Barbara Goulden has worked as a journalist on weekly and evening newspapers for most of the past 35 years.
She still remembers the sense of relief she felt after finally being given a name for the condition which was creating such mystifying and upsetting thought patterns in a close relative.
Even though the diagnosis of schizophrenia probably helped Barbara more than the relative who was actually doing battle with the illness, at least it was a starting point for gaining some understanding.
She went on to join the National Schizophrenia Fellowship – now Rethink – and became one of the founding members of the Coventry group.
Slugs had slithered in through the cat flap overnight. Jane screwed up her face and suppressed a scream. She knew it was the rain and the largely uneaten bowl of cat food that had drawn the slugs in.
One fat specimen lay bloated, presumably dead, in the middle of the dish. The cat would have to go.
But first she’d have to find some way of dealing with these stomach-churning, slimy aliens who had invaded her living space. No. She was ill. It wasn’t her job. It wasn’t even her damn cat. Beloved Sandy had forced the thing on her.
“It will be company in the new flat,” her sister asserted.
And Sandy – Sandra really – always got her own way. Always knew what was best.
Tenants in these flats weren’t even supposed to have pets. But Sandy wheedled and persisted, before finally turning up on the doorstep with the sharp-clawed kitten saying: “Jane you need something to love, something to be responsible for. This is the start of a new life for you, a chance to be part of a real community…”
Ha! The thing had its cute moments all right but it was forever crying for attention. If it went out Jane was worried it would go on the road. If it stayed in she didn’t know how to entertain it. And fussy…God, if it didn’t get the best quality cat food it just turned and stared at her before arching its back and heading for the door.
Or rather the newly acquired cat flap, paid for by high-flying, fast-talking Sandy and her ponytailed new partner Roger.
“It’ll be more convenient for you,” they said, before jetting off for a skiing holiday in the Pyrenees.
Jane’s next door neighbour, who she tried to have as little to do with as possible, had already christened the cat ‘Mr C’ and was forever trying to lure it into her own, more comfortable flat, with tins of sardines. No wonder it wouldn’t eat cut-price Kat Munchies. Only the slugs fancied them.
After several attempts to lift the dead, bloated one out of the food bowl by balancing it on the tip of her umbrella, Jane gave up. She sat down, smoked her last two cigarettes, and howled.
In the end it was George, the manic depressive from upstairs who disposed of the slugs. Fortunately, George was on an upswing and full of enthusiasm for all creatures great and gross.