Rough Music by Patrick Gale
For his fortieth birthday, a gay bookseller is given a holiday in a seaside cottage in North Cornwall. He takes his parents, who need the break because the mother has early onset Alzheimers, his nephews and his married lover, who just happens to be his brother-in-law.
Meanwhile, back in 1968, the forty-something governor of Wandsworth Prison also takes his wife and small boy on holiday to Cornwall full of good intentions about the quality time he intends to enjoy with them.
But then his charismatic American brother-in-law shows up with his bolshie tomboy daughter and there’s a break-out at the prison and everything goes horribly awry. As the two holidays fall apart in a welter of truth telling and bad behaviour, the stories unfold around one another, the novel builds to a double climax and we come to understand that we are seeing the same family at two different points in its history.
But what terrible thing happened back in the sixties to make them the way they are in the present? Deeply personal, Patrick’s most overtly autobiographical novel to date, Rough Music’s unsparing portrayal of the painful realities of being a gay child (at whatever age), of unrequited married love, of losing one’s mind, made this the novel with which he has found thousands of new readers.
Here he is reading from it and being interviewed by Stephen Fry as part of All Families Have Secrets, a documentary about his work by Alex Harding screened in 2017 as part of the BBC’s Gay Britannia season. © BBC.