William Templeton is awoken from his dead life as an alcoholic by the murder of his mother. He has no memory of when he last visited her, and no sense of what their relationship might have been. He feels the need to reacquaint himself with the world: he stops drinking and embarks upon the long convalescence that is the story of this book. It is the story of one man’s struggle against alcoholism. It is witty and it is painful. It is a story of wasted lives, flawed relationships, and the horrors of old age, but through it all, humour and hope rebalance the drudge and misery.
Who is William Templeton?
He was once a son and a brother, a respected colleague and renowned peacekeeper. He became a husband and then a father. He was a keen birdwatcher.
Gradually, he was erased by drink.
William Templeton has become Willy, shacked up with Mrs McLehose, his malevolent landlady. Together they live in self-imposed banishment, bound together by their endless thirst and shrunken prospects. But when his mother is brutally murdered, dim fragments of William Templeton re-emerge.
Fleeing McLehose’s squalor, he takes a dead end job guarding an abandoned farm in deepest Lanarkshire. In even greater exile, Templeton realises that before he can heal first he must dry out.
Peter Gilmour’s portrait of the convalescent is immersive and unflinching. As Tempelton stumbles from one circumstance to the next, submitting to fate or fortune, we are spared few of his thoughts. The world around him is scrutinised, each relationship, whether intimate or fleeting, dissected. While William deconstructs, we begin, gently and often quite beautifully, to piece him together. From the blankness, a genuine, enduring character is revealed.