I did read Listening In by Kevin Chandler while I was on holiday, and I enjoyed it. The portrayal of the therapist was authentic, engaging and pleasingly witty. I recognised the dilemmas and the way clients , and the process of counselling itself, can get under your skin.

It also made me think about the two novels I have written which sit (unpublished) on my book shelf. I have actually produced five novels, but only these last two are up to what I would consider publishable standards. I am re-reading them, which I haven't done since they were written in 2002 and 2005. And they compare favourably to Listening In. If it deserves a publisher's stamp of approval, then so do mine.

This is not easy for me to write, nor for me to hold onto. It sounds arrogant, boastful. Yet is it so wrong of me to say that I can create characters, a plot line, a setting, which hold up well over 60,000 words? And to feel just a little aggrieved that no publisher has been interested in this?


There was one TV programme which, I think, caught the essence of therapy and therapists. That was Help, the comedy series with Paul Whitehouse and Chris Langham. It sunk without trace, of course, when Langham was sent to prison for ten months for downloading child porn.

Langham's acts upset me. It brought into sharp focus once again, that those who abuse, and those who look at child porn (who must know the abuse behind it), are ordinary - often troubled - guys (yes I know women abuse children sexually, but the vast majority is perpetrated by men). Langham has done his time, should he be rehabilitated? How would I feel watching his wonderful portrayal of the dilemmas of a therapist now?


An article in the most recent (April 2009) Therapy Today perked my interest. 'Turning Tricks' by Kevin Chandler suggests commonalities between therapy and prostitution. It reminded me of a poem I wrote a number of years ago about my own therapy which some people thought was about visiting a prostitute.

A Stranger Kind of Intimacy
You said you would walk with me
yet you never held my hand
you said yes
this is a kind of love
an intimacy
yet you never gave me complements or flowers
you watched me cry
and never reached to comfort me
you held me together
without ever touching me
i told you all i had to tell
yet i never knew you
and finally as i lay naked
while you sat in your suit and tie
you said your time is up for this week
yet you never even kissed me goodbye.

I sent the poem to Kevin and he was kind enough to reply, saying he'd been moved by it. I am always surprised when people say they are moved by my poetry. It is a wonderful thing to be able to move others and I am blown away that my cold words on the cold page are capable of doing that.

Kevin has written a novel "of therapy and real life" called Listening In. I have got it to read and shall be intrigued to see whether (and how) he manages to represent the world of the therapist in a dramatic and authentic way. I'm usually disappointed by the films and TV programmes I've seen featuring therapists which have gone for the drama at the expense of authenticity.

Listening In is available from