Out of Bounds by Bruce Hugman
|Out of Bounds by Bruce Hugman|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: A history both personal and social, spanning 30 years, Out of Bounds could well have been a self-indulgent work. Instead, it is a work of quiet importance, a fascinating depiction of both changing times and social attitudes, and, at its heart, the story of a boy growing into a man.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: February 2015|
|Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform|
|External links: Author's website|
Author Bruce Hugman has been a school teacher, probation officer, smallholder, university lecturer, PR Professional, is an international communications consultant and teacher in healthcare and patient safety. Having nursed two partners through the final stages of AIDS, and survived the 2004 Asian Tsunami. A varied and interesting life then – and it is the first thirty years of it that Hugman chooses to concentrate on here.
Born into a relatively well-off family, Bruce had a relatively happy childhood – although one of strict schooling and even stricter social restraints. School and University brought friends and companions – but Bruce struggled with a sense of not belonging – spurred mainly by his realisation that he was gay. As an adult, Bruce changed homes and careers – giving up life as a teacher to become a probation officer, and then ultimately moving to a small farm where he became a smallholder farmer – and where this book leaves Bruce. We seem to leave him in a happier place – living on the land, comfortable and open with his sexuality, and in constant contact with a close and loving group of friends.
Writing one’s own autobiography can often be considered rather a self-indulgent thing to do - especially if the subject has gone through little of interest to others in their life. That said – the recent trend for the Celebrity Autobiography means that all and sundry have been churning out ghost written books, no matter whether they have achieved anything of significance or lived for any great length of time. It was immensely reassuring, then, to find that Out of Bounds is no vanity project, nor the story of a life without interest. This is a portrait of a fascinating man, and Hugman is refreshingly candid about shortcomings, and affairs of the heart, allowing the reader to become a true confidante as they join him on a journey through his early life.
Whilst fairly lengthy, this is a swift read – whilst I was initially of the opinion that this book needed a little more editing, once I was past the first five or so chapters I became accustomed to the style in which Hugman retells his past, and the book was a very easy read from then out. Not just a personal history, this is a social history – a documentation detailing post war England from the early 1950’s to the mid 1970’s, and also provides an intriguing insight into what it was to be growing up as a homosexual during that period. For someone like myself, growing up gay forty years later, there are some staggering differences and also some remarkable similarities.
Given that we know the author then nursed two partners through the final stages of AIDS, then moved to Thailand and barely survived the 2004 Tsunami – there is a lot more story to be told here. I felt that the first thirty years were told through well-crafted prose and intriguing, well sized fragments of memories and recollections. I only hope that we will be able to read about the next thirty soon.
For further reading, I would recommend A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale. Easily one of my favourite books of the year, Gale has created a stunning portrayal of the dangers of love in a time that did not allow it. For another example of what it was to be gay in a different time period – this is a fantastic read.
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