What are dads for? What can be expected of them? And what happens when they do everything they are supposed to, and still it feels as though they are not there? In this portrait of his ageing father, Scott Manley Hadley explores the complexities of masculinity, class and generational ties with an excoriating emotional honesty. Searching for his father in action heroes, broadsheet newspapers and the slick cigar-smoking divorcee dads of his friends, Hadley searches also for his own feelings. As his father’s illness takes hold, so does Hadley’s guilt — not only for what he lacks in a father but what he lacks in himself. It is the story of a young man growing up in the West Midlands in the ‘90s, finding himself perpetually outside and alone, both at home and at school, and who and what he must betray in order to belong. It is a story of inadequacy — how it feels not to love, not to want, not to ask or be asked — but also of ideals, idols and the desire to remake the self that reveals the depth of emotional loneliness in seemingly banal family life. Yet it is also a journey through guilt and shame to empathy that challenges what it is possible to tolerate in ourselves and therefore in others.
And through it all Kofi Boamah’s startling blackline illustrations emerge like semi-forgotten nightmares — a hand reaches for a pint under the scratchy words ‘You in there Dad??’, eyes droop and blunt teeth gape. Like these images, the father Hadley craved, found momentarily, or invented for himself appears in fragments, at times coinciding with and at times obscuring the awkward movements of the real father, the man who is always there but ‘never says’ - Xanthi Barker
Praise for Bad Boy Poet
Humorous, poignant and political, Scott Manley Hadley’s speak it plain millennial poetics lays bare vulnerable masculinity to speak about universal themes while re-inventing self-confession as shockwave.