I was delighted to discover that the cover of Delusions of Grandeur referred to Blackadder, because that’s what I immediately thought of when I saw it. I was then pleased to discover on reading that David Parkin’s tribute went further, but I won’t spoil that for anyone yet to read this fascinating book.
Having experienced somewhat debilitating mental health problems myself in the past, I was interested to read Parkin’s account of his experiences being sectioned, and the book moves between his own recalled account, his notes during his time on the wards, and the doctors’ notes about him during the whole episode. This combination of sources gives us a fuller appreciation of the events and allows us to enjoy contrasts which make for a lot of the humour in the work.
Parkin refers to himself as a ‘genius,’ ‘mentally positive’ and ‘clever and hilarious,’ all of which is briskly undercut by the notes that state that he ‘continue[s] to overvalue self’; while problematic mental health is clearly nothing to joke about, it’s clear that Parkin wants us to be entertained by the daftness of his predicament. I find it hard to believe he’d have committed much of this to page had he not thought it would be entertaining.
That being said, and perhaps inevitably, the tale takes a darker turn and things get serious. Parkin takes us into his gloom and we await the outcome, although like many stories we know that there will be a happy ending because he lives to tell the tale, as it were. Even the observations about him take on a new softness, and the two disparate views converge at last. The note that ends the book is a joyous message of hope; you’ll need to read the book to find it out.
Rosa Fernandez is a slam-winning poet and sometime proofreader. She also enjoys wearing silly hats.
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