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Q&A

posted 28 Nov 2010, 08:37 by Jack Ellison
Hello all.

I met Alex Proctor on Friday.  It's been weeks in the making, but finally I met him.  It's quite strange, really, feeling that I know this guy so well thanks to Dan's book.

I finished reading it a good few weeks ago.  By the end - the bit that I was in - I felt pretty numb.  Reading it had caused so many problems with Imogen and it had really brought up a time of my life that I'd left behind.  I chucked it away and resolved to get on with my life.  I didn't want to make my mind up on what Dan had written - I just wanted to pretend it hadn't happened.  But it stayed there, big time; occasional doubts as to what I could have done to help, guilt for being with the only person he ever loved, for writing him off at a time when he was clearly in need.  I'd suddenly feel mad at him for writing this book as a final word when no-one could do anything to dispute it.  He was a coward for killing himself, I told myself, and a coward for writing this bloody book rather than just telling people the truth.

But I think back to myself six years ago and wonder if I would have been prepared to help him.  I'm not convinced that sympathy was part of my make up back then.  I'm not even sure I gave a damn about anyone but myself.  What if Dan had come to me?  How would things have played out then?

It became obvious that this damn thing wasn't going to go away, and I turned my attentions to Alex.  He's very much a co-star in the book, and he's also the person who dragged me right into the thick of this.  Knowing what I knew about him, I wanted to find out why he felt that he had to pass the book onto me. 


He wasn't hard to track down on Facebook, so I sent him a message.  He didn't reply, so I sent him another one.  He upped his security settings, so I turned to Google.  His name was linked to a school in West Dervy, Liverpool.  I found his picture on the local newspaper website with the Chess team he'd led to glory. 

Kind of stalkerish, right?  I don't think so.  This guy sought me out and sent me this book.  He then tries to disappear.  I maintain that I have the right to answers - he doesn't just get to decide to play with my life and then fade away.  He should at least have the decency to explain why.

So on Friday morning I went to his school and said I had an appointment with him.  The receptionist asked for my name and I said it was Dan Lizar.  He appeared shame-faced a few minutes later.

"I was going to say I wasn't expecting you," he admitted.

"Wouldn't have been fair, really, would it?" I answered, not tersely. 

"I can meet you at lunchtime," he said and I agreed.  He promised me that he'd come and find me, but I can't say that I believed him.  Give him his dues, though, it was he who was waiting for me outside the school-gates at half past twelve. 

"Are we alright to walk?" he said.  "If we sat in the car the admin staff would get suspicious and start spreading rumours." 

So we went for a walk around the streets near the school, an aimless amble where I asked lots of questions, receiving many vague answers in return. 

"Why did you send me the book?"

"I thought someone needed to see it who might know what to do with it."

"Why now?"

"I only found it a few months ago, when I was emptying out my room at my Mum's house."

"What do you want me to do with it?"

"I don't think I even care."

"Then why send it to me?"

"Because I didn't think I was objective enough to do whatever the right thing might be.  He left that to me in his will, it must have meant something to him."

"Then why didn't you do something yourself?"

"It would be a betrayal of myself."

"Is it true?"

"It's a true reflection of what he thought, I guess."

"So you have read it?"

"No, it's just that it's his life-story.  I doubt it's from someone else's viewpoint."

"Should we get it published?"

"We shouldn't do anything.  It's up to you.  I can't endorse that book."

And so on.  I thought I was going to hit him so I bade him farewell and went home none really the wiser.  I didn't tell Imogen about my day off work.  Since I stopped reading the book it's been much easier to hide what's going on.  It's just something that's on repeat in my head.  I can't decide if I'm being so obsessive because I've found a way to keep Dan alive, or because there really is something I should be doing with this.

I have to tell Imogen.  I don't think I can do this on my own.