Dyce is a synonym, an attempt to distance the author from playing principle boy in stories; an alternative to ‘I’. One word, Rebus or Morse. A detective, like a medic or researcher, battling against the odds to discover stuff. The processes are similar but the purposes are different.
The idea began by being a detective story addict, with a special fondness for gritty characters at odds with their superiors. Then a link to Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle and his Edinburgh teacher, Dr Bell who was a forensic diagnostician with focus, persistence, doggedness and intelligence. Finally the name Dyce is a shortened version of Dyson, a patronymic for ‘Son of David’.
Dyce’s story starts in a northern working class household where he was overshadowed by a brighter older brother. Dad tended to be morose and difficult to please, always in dispute with older brother who made bright irritating remarks. Who was right? Both had a tendency to make things up and dad, whilst encouraging academic achievement, didn’t like to be challenged.
Dyce got his head down, conformed and found his own voice, albeit off message and childish, trying to impress or thinking he was funny. He passed the 11+, went to a boys’ grammar school and by the sixth form was good enough in exams and relationships. Whilst his parents, teachers and older brother were no longer in his face, the inadequate younger brother was still there, buried deep. Like many of his age he gave the outward appearance of knowing everything, a touch cocky and arrogant. They were all socialists, worried about fairness and equality, privilege and the bosses.
Leaving behind the benign school climate, Dyce became vulnerable once more. He was an average student who pitched into the chaos of university life. His flatmates were his main support. The tutors and especially the hospital consultants were distant and taught by humiliation. They were mostly right wing and Dyce’s beliefs were tested, his feelings of not being good enough rising to the surface. Strangely, this also happened during his leisure hours. At grammar school he was a talented rugby player and at university, along with his public school flatmates, he joined a posh club. He did okay on the field but found it difficult to back himself and his left-leaning ideas in the bar. He got a reputation for being a professional Yorkshireman with a chip on his shoulder. At the same time he was rising up the social scale.
His first jobs were busy and his bosses helpful, illustrating what a career might actually look like.
Promotions and more maturity at work, success depending on alliances, being on message and not necessarily being too clever. Still a veneer on top of his early learning, but his professional competence and most of his friendships gave him the confidence to keep climbing the ladder. Due to a tendency not to listen to certain people’s advice, some of his career moves were ill-judged. Despite this he finally made it to consultant and joined the officer class.
He was hard-working, good at the job and sought the best for patients and staff. Yet there were inconsistencies. First, he wore a pin-stripe suit and bow-tie and bought a large house with grounds. Second, like Conan Doyle he tried to pursue too many interests, sometimes losing focus and diluting the effort in his core role: notably trying to learn management and being diverted by counselling and rehabilitation. He did not like pigeon holes. Third he was an absentee father and husband.
So was he comfortable in the officer class where he had money, power and status? It certainly gave him the confidence to take risks and sometimes charge in without thought, knowing that his position was more or less fireproof. He was successful and once again his childhood fears had gone deep. They were still visible to others in relationships. He was seen by some as honest and blunt, apparently awkward with his privileged position, retaining a strong sense of them and us. With some colleagues who he perceived as threats he was seen as prickly and took things too personally.
This then was the hubris. Jillie Cooper would have pigeon holed him a spiritual meritocrat; professional by virtue of passing exams, socially challenged, continuous identity crisis, difficulty managing ambiguity. In professional life above the law and got away with things. Not necessarily so socially. The important ambiguities between outer and inner: not good enough vs arrogant and pompous, equality and fairness vs climbing out of poverty, justice and dislike of privilege vs materialism and social climbing, fear of success/failure vs success/ambition.
Then the nemesis. It came crashing down around him as difficult family issues once again exposed his frailties. The career went wrong as a result. Others saw it long before him. An unremitting gloom descended and he was unable to enjoy anything for several years. Four years of psychotherapy might not have been useful. He interpreted the experience as learning everything there was to know about the reasons why he was a tosser whilst learning nothing about putting it right.
Since then, now in his sixties, it has been pragmatic jobs and retirement. No professional cloak and seen for what he is. His fears have regularly emerged. The mask has gone and certain relationships haven’t coped with the real guy underneath. So he no longer sees certain people. Yet when he is on form, things get done and successes occur. When he dips his memories plague him, sleep eludes him, he gets quiet and drinks a lot.