A Novel by David Hodgson

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A few notes about Can I Touch Your Face?

Publishing a first novel at any age is almost certainly a triumph of fantasy over reality, but when the author is Izie 2 over eighty it could be said to verge on lunacy. However, at that age you are very aware there is not a lot of time left so you'd better get on with it. I made documentary films for a living, and much of what people told me about their lives said a great deal about the human condition. Unfortunately, the ephemeral nature of television means that most programmes vanish into a vault somewhere, rarely if ever to be seen again. In making documentary films I came across not only impressive courage and determination, but also prejudice, ignorance, indeed the whole gamut of human behaviour.  So I thought I should write down something of what I learned about my fellow human beings in the form of a novel.

Of course in Can I Touch Your Face? all the characters are entirely fictional. Seb Winter is a clever and successful man in his work but his private life is a mess and he has no idea why. Indeed most of the time he thinks he is doing the right thing and is baffled when the result is the opposite of what he intended. He was orphaned as a child and brought up in a rough, tough area of north London by his grandmother. A highly intelligent and sensitive boy, he found it difficult to deal with the loss of his parents, and when he went to school he soon learned it was better to hide behind a protective veil of fantasy and make-believe than explain to other children why he had no mother and father like them. He went on to university and obtained a First in Computer Sciences. At the start of the novel he has just turned thirty and is teaching at a college in a small West Country town. 

Alice Watson is just twenty and an art student who dreams of being a professional artist and one day having a studio deep in the English countryside.  She is from a very wealthy family and is highly educated, very talented and determindly ambitious. Her parents disapprove of what she is doing and refuse to help her financially in what they consider a waste of her good education. Compared with Seb she is fundamentally instinctive whilst he is cerebral. Are they credible and come to life as real people? I hope so. One of my friends told me when she read it that she hated Seb and wanted to slap Alice's face. That sounded pretty real to me. True Seb behaves very badly at times. Do I still like him? Yes, for all his faults. Do I approve of what he does? No I do not. As for Alice, she is very driven and not an easy person to live with. Her aeshetic world is not his world and such differences are clearly not a good basis for a perfect relationship. But human beings are very complicated creatures and who can say with any certainty what makes a good fit? It is the people we meet, often by chance, who change our lives perhaps as much if not more than events. Their son Piers is the catalyst in their relationship that forces Seb to look at who he is and what he really wants from life. Have I met children like Piers? Well again yes I have. He is very likeable, spirited and fearless. But like my own grandchildren he can also be badly behaved and be very difficult. Obviously I have no intention of revealing any more of the plot than in the reviews and elsewhere on this site. You will just have to buy the book to find out what happens in their lives and whether they are as real to you as they are to me.   As  a taster there is an extract from the beginning of the novel you can  try.

I have written one other published book called Letters from a Bomber Pilot about my brother, Pilot Officer Bob Hodgson, an RAF Wellington Pilot in the Second World War. He was killed in 1943 and the book was written to accompany a documentary I made for Thames Television based on his often poignant letters home.  It was published in 1984 by Thames- Methuen.

I was a twin and the sixth child in a family of eleven children. I have two daughters and three grandchildren. My father was a film director who made documentaries for the March of Time. My mother must have been a saint for bringing us up and putting up with our foibles.  I am currently working on revising another novel called Pandora’s Box that is completely different from Can I Touch Your Face? and is a satire on television in the seventies and eighties.

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