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Tim's Memoir

Title: T'ree Tins Of Turpentine
Author: Tim O'Sullivan
Publication date: October 19th, 2022
ISBN: ebook ISBN 1739584805 (ebook, £3.49), Print ISBN 9781739584801 

Retail price: £7.99
Available In: ebook | paperback
Genre: Memoir, Autobiography

Tim's memoir is imbued with a strong sense of Irish identity and documents the various struggles his immigrant family faced. His mother, Kathleen, a single parent who is not very good with money, faces the prospect of raising three exuberant children in another country after being abandoned by her husband. 

Kathleen found herself forced to leave one of her children, John, with her in-laws while she recovered and got herself and her young family back on an even keel. John ended up separated from his family for longer than anticipated - four years. He displayed signs of deep anxiety upon being forced to leave the only home he knew in rural Ireland and being taken to an English city. John’s anxiety was distressing to his mother and siblings, who did not have the wherewithal to understand his plight. 

Along the way, the Irish family faced prejudice in a deprived area, Mowmacre Hill in Leicester. It took a long time for John to accept life in Mowmacre Hill, where the children were targeted for their cultural roots. However, they did have allies who lived nearby who showed them kindness and compassion.


Tim's experience of deep poverty allows him to write about his impoverished upbringing with an unburnished conciseness that many may relate to. His is the story of a family that very much lived a hand-to-mouth existence. 


Timmy’s mother worked just to survive and keep a roof over their heads, with no thought of a better life. She only dreamed as far as winning on the horses and, as the writer believes, seemed “only happy when she was skint”.


Tim writes with compassion for his mother, his aunt, who could not overcome her childhood growing up in an orphanage run by Catholic nuns, and his sister, who succumbed to drug abuse after falling under the influence of a physically abusive boyfriend. 


As he reached adolescence, young Timmy came to recognise that he was living in a time of great change - the sixties. However, this is not the sixties that readers may be familiar with. This is not a story about hip and swinging cities.


Young Timmy grows up against the backdrop of sixties England where all the exciting things seemed to happen far from him, in London. One of these things was fighting, particularly at football matches, an early form of football hooliganism that gave him and his friends something to look forward to.

Young Timmy bounced from job to job with no clear idea as to a career he might like, generally typical of individuals from deprived backgrounds. Timmy eventually becomes an entrepreneur and sets up his own commercial refrigeration and air-conditioning business in a bid to provide the kind of stability he never had.

This is a coming-of-age story in which young Tim became a teenage father at the age of sixteen and found himself in trouble with the law on numerous occasions. He even found himself in prison, during which time the mother of his child left him for his friend.

T'ree Tins Of Turpentine is ultimately a bittersweet book about a boy from an unfortunate background who works hard to better himself and provide for his family. Perhaps also for a sense of purpose, one that would eventually come with fatherhood and a greater feeling of stability within his family.


Tim eventually becomes the household’s father figure, the father figure he never had, despite his biological father making a surprise return.

Bio for re-use (250 words)

Tim O’Sullivan is a lifelong Leicester resident who was born to Irish immigrant parents. Living in Mowmacre Hill, Tim, and his family, experienced prejudice from a young age. Once his father left, things became even more difficult as his mother found herself managing the household and raising three children on the single wage of a cleaner. 


While their mother worked hard to provide for her family, Tim and his siblings had a wild childhood in which he experienced his first taste of criminal behaviour - stealing from toy shops. His childhood also saw Tim narrowly escape being sexually abused at a residential summer holiday camp.


Tim became a father at the age of 16 and went through numerous jobs before he became involved in a plot to rob a jewellery shop. That led to his first stay in prison, during which the mother of his child left him for his friend. 


Tim later met and married his wife, Pam. By this time, he had found work with a refrigeration engineer. The second of his two stays in prison saw him lose this job, and it was after this that he decided to set up his own business, going on to establish a successful refrigeration and air-conditioning company.

Tim went on to have two more children, Ryan, and Kelly, with Pam and reconciled with his eldest son, Lee. He later built a property portfolio and is now the owner of The Addies Pub in Leicester.

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