I first met Simon on a film shoot about 5 or 6 years ago. He was brought in as a writer, and I liked the way he was so intelligent and down to earth. He was funny. Catching a train back into central London together, he surprised me by making little quips about Australian politics (how many British people do you know who take in interest in Australian politics?).
As I got to know Simon a little better, I felt like there was something about him that was slightly guarded, a little self deprecating, and his humour reminded me of Monty Python absurdism and BBC comedies of the 70’s which I grew up on. I didn’t get to catch up with him often enough, but I always had loads to talk to him about when I did, and there was something about him that I have always really warmed to.
Simon has always been working on something, the whole time I’ve known him. He’s always creating something: a play, a performance, scripts…As we speak he has just finished a successful run up at the Edinburgh Fringe doing Trumpageddon, a comedy about, well, Trump. I’ve been to a few of his performances at various London venues, including some funny little theatres above terribly British pubs. For a while I had no idea that he has struggled with mental health issues. He’s not someone who hides the truth about himself (as his biography will show) or what’s on his mind, but he’s also not a preacher.
So when Simon started talking about a book he was writing, I was pretty excited. A memoir? Well, fabulous. Simon has always been up to something, I expected it to be really interesting, and by now I knew a little about his family and his mental health issues. I knew that he could really write. When it came out in eBook form, I even went so far as to download an app, and get my hands on a copy. Which is high praise, for those of you who don’t know me: I have personal opinions about eBooks.
Simon’s book blew me out of the water.
A book about mental health and being a gay kid in high school… well, Simon’s book is incredibly uplifting considering the subject matter. A lot of the events in his life really shocked me, and there were a couple of moments when I was reading it the first time round when I had to stop and tell him I wanted to beat the living crap out of some of the awful kids he went to high school with (Bullys are a pet hate of mine).
But if the book was about that, it could be a mawkish, victim narrative. It’s not. It’s actually a funny, endearing memoir. He opens the door to what it feels like to come out of the proverbial closet, what homophobia feels like, and what mental disorder looks like from the inside, and he does it with pathos and humour. I think anyone can relate to being the outsider, to being bullied and to feeling like you’re different. And perhaps this book is an important insight into what it feels like for teens coming out, or people who keep their mental illness from their friends.
Either way, I just enjoyed reading it. It’s honest, funny, sad, touching and human. I think you should all go out and get yourselves a copy.
If you want to know more about Simon, you can follow him on Twitter @simonjaystwit. Published by Zite Books, buy Bastardography as an eBook HERE or now available in paperback this month HERE, retailing for £10.
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