Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘PMLD

 Andy Cope, author of the SpyDog series, once asked me the inevitable question: as authors are supposed to write about what they know, do I presume that you witnessed scenes like those in ‘Tasting the Wind?’

Of course the answer is Yes. I did work in a ‘Mental Handicap’ hospital in the 80s, people were treated like sub-humans (not wanting in any way to forget the good staff who struggled to maintain people’s dignity against the odds) and there was a culture of what disability guru Wolf Wolfensberger called ‘death-making.’

It is this experience, more than any other, which informs Tasting the Wind.

In the prologue a man dies having been tied to his hospital bed by a nurse and allowed to choke on his own vomit. The scene was based upon something which really happened, although I have changed the circumstances radically so that its origin cannot be traced back.

Now I would have expected everyone who read that to be appalled. I was surprised when I put it out for review that more than one reader followed the tack of ‘well it wasn’t really murder was it?’ (no, technically it wasn’t) but then went on to say that because I didn’t say what the hospital’s restraint procedures were they were probably doing something quite acceptable.


Now I do have a different perspective here because I work with people who have severe learning disabilities on a daily basis, but it does seem sometimes that even in these supposedly enlightened times we still lower our standards of what is acceptable when dealing with a severely disabled person.

Imagine that it is one of your loved ones- your wife, child, mother. They’ve done something that a nurse finds unacceptable- like complained about the food. So the nurse ties them to the bed and goes off and leaves them to choke. Would you be talking about hospital procedures then?

The first Dean Koontz novel I ever read was One Door Away From Heaven. It featured a psychopathic killer who murdered disabled people, dressing his actions up as ‘utilitarian bioethics.’  What he did was shocking, but I was even more shocked by Koontz’s postscript, where he explained that utilitarian bioethics was actually being preached by some American academics.

One of the arguments put forward by this warped philosophy was that the existence of severely disabled people brought sorrow into the world. You get rid of those people, you reduce the amount of sorrow.

I don’t need to point out the similarities between this and the beliefs of a certain mid-twentieth century dictator.

Yesterday I atteneded the funeral of a twenty-four year old lady who had been born with severe learning and physical disabilities. And we celebrated her life. We didn’t talk about her in a pitying and patronising way, we remembered her as a person who had touched all of our lives. For the moment the sum of sorrow in the world is increased by her loss.

And I am left with the question: what does it mean to be truly human?

Well, I am hoping that I might be one day… because I’ve had a couple of people enquiring if Tasting the Wind is available in Australia.

Cate Thompson from Brisbane left a message on my Website guest book, and I also got a message from Jo Watson in my blog comments.

As yet there is no Australian Amazon. I managed to find an Australian supplier, but it would have cost more than double the Amazon price.

I was beginning to think that my Antipodean marketing campaign was never going to get off  the ground when in stepped my Canadian friend, Wally, with information that you can get Tasting the Wind Shipped free wherever you are from: the Book Depository .

So that’s a Canadian, helping an Australian to buy a book by an English author. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing!

I realised from Jo’s address that she worked for Scope . We have corresponded and it turns out that she is a speech pathologist (Over here we’re more familiar with the term speech therapist.)

She also said:

I can’t wait to get my copy in the mail.  I will review it and submit it to some of our publications here in Australia. I think AGOSCI would be a good one.  It is our national publication for people interested in the needs of people who don’t use speech to communicate.   

It is very gratifying to think that someone I have never met will be spreading the word about Tasting the Wind on the other side of the world.

Thanks Jo!

       ‘Tasting the Wind’ is now available!



                       Christmas Eve, 1976: a man dies, tied to his bed in a Victorian Mental Institution…Andrew saw what happened. Eddie saw what happened. But their severe learning disabilities prevent them from communicating what they have seen.

 Ten years later, the hospital is destined for closure and Andrew and Eddie move to a bungalow in the community.

  Enter Martin Peach, who has come into care work for all the wrong reasons. And as if the challenge of helping six severely disabled people settle into a sometimes hostile community is not enough, his new manager, ex-nurse Della Belk, has a deadly secret which links her to the new residents…


 Can Martin and his colleagues put together the fragmented clues about Andrew and Eddie’s  pasts before one of them becomes the next victim?



 Praise for Tasting the Wind


 I immediately cared. I will be reading more…!     Ruth Estevez

compelling reading – couldn’t put it down.     Janet Thompson

 Superb …a real achievement   Lee Morris

Couldn’t put the book down! Hope you sell loads!  Linda Jackson

WOW!! This has got to be a winner… brilliant.  Jane Dunnett


Tasting The Wind is a truly gripping read.  Darren Houghton 
  (You can read these comments and more in my guest book)



               You can buy Tasting the Wind now at:  (free delivery available)  or at over twenty online booksellers. Compare prices here:   Bookbutler  or for free delivery anywhere in the world go to book depository

 Or order from your Local W.H. Smiths or Waterstones bookshops, quoting :   ISBN-10: 1849233802   or   ISBN-13: 978-1849233804


50% of my royalties will  be going to Derian House Children’s Hospice



My week so far…


 Went to see ‘Mary Poppins’ at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. Although we took our foster child with us it was actually a late fortieth birthday present for my brother-in-law, who is now at that age and secure enough in his sexuality to feel able to ask for whatever he wants.

Karen, my sister-in-law is due to have a baby in May, and I couldn’t help wondering how live musical theatre is perceived in the womb. According to Karen the baby has already mastered ‘Riverdance.’

The show was brilliantly executed, the climax being where Mary flies right over the stalls and up into the gods.


Went to see some newly acquired friends who we met through the fostering network. The kids played, the women talked about the kids and the men compared the sizes of their sub-woofers.


Got the promised e-mail from Ted Smith, saying that the book matches the cover at Lightning Source, so there is a problem at Amazon which should sort out within a couple of weeks.

Although I don’t want to steam ahead with marketing until the correct cover is appearing and I have a copy in my hand, I have started to ‘dabble’ a little. I have registered for the Amazon ‘Search Inside’ facility. I’ve also signed up for ‘Author’s Den.’  This is a site which showcases new novels. It has had mixed reviews, but the good ones are very very good.

And I’ve contacted a site which is keeping alive the tradition of the Staffordshire oatcake. I was born in Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent, where the oatcake is a local delicacy. The Kidsgrove oatcake shop features in the first chapter of ‘Tasting the Wind’ so I wondered if the current owners of the shop would be interested in knowing about this. Who knows- it could lead to a joint marketing venture: a free bag of oatcakes with every copy bought? (or a free book with every bag of oatcakes…)

Monday- Wednesday…

The day job. It’s Winter, which means viruses, which means short staffing. When this happens I stand in and do ‘hands-on.’ I manage a service for people with profound disabilities, so today I accompanied a lovely lady to ‘Wheelchair aerobics’ at the local leisure centre.


Things have started to get nasty on the Absolute Write/ YouWriteOn thread. Which is sad. Several posts have been deleted.

Which brings me to tonight…

Dropped our foster son off at scouts. He’s had a great day. I can’t name him or say much about him because of confidentiality, but today we have been very proud of him. Before he came we made up a name when we tried to imagine how our lives would change with a child around, so from now on I will call him ‘Duane.’ Today we were proud of Duane because he did a sponsored swim to raise money for his school. He told us he thought he could do 3-4 lengths, so we sponsored him for £1.00 per length.

He did twenty six lengths… perhaps I should recruit him to sell my book.

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