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‘This is a wonderful, rather special book: funny, warm and loving but also thought-provoking and deeply moving. Absolutely unforgettable – ironically.’
ADAM KAY, Sunday Times bestselling author of This Is Going To Hurt

Inadvertent cross-dressing. Attempted murder. Jail break. A waltz at a funeral. A hernia the size of Guernsey.

Heartbreaking and darkly comic, these are the moments that litter the messy road from cared-for to carer, a journey that Robyn Hollingworth finds herself on when she’s only twenty-five years old.

Leaving London to return home to rural South Wales, Robyn finds that it’s her old life – same teddy bears resting on her pillow, their bodies tucked under the duvet; same view of the garages behind which she’d had her first cigarette and first kiss – but so much has changed.

Her dad, the proud, charmingly intelligent, self-made man who made people laugh, is in the grip of early onset Alzheimer’s. His brilliant mind, which saw him building power stations and literally bringing light into the lives of others, has succumbed to darkness.

As Robyn settles back in the rhythms of life in the rain-soaked vast Welsh valleys, she keeps a diary charting her journey as the dad she knew disappears before her eyes. Lyrical, poignant and with flashes of brilliant humour, The Man He Used To Be explores how in helping others we can heal ourselves.

Previously published in hardback as My Mad Dad.


I cannot praise this book too highly for its perceptiveness, its realism and its pace. Robyn is an eloquent and articulate writer who brings a very human story to life with a pace that is impressive. JOHN BOWIS OBE, Former MP, Health Minister and MEP
This is a wonderful, brilliant book that also made me laugh. Robyn writes so honestly and normally. I fell in love with her mum and "mad" dad. VICTORIA DERBYSHIRE
A testament to love, finding strength through humour and the bonds that make us who we are.
Francesca Brown, STYLIST ONLINE
A funny, sad and uplifting memoir that unravels Alzheimer's and the unexpected joy of caring for others.
Very moving, highlighting the impact and the human responses of those trying to cope, as well as the tragedy for the person with dementia. My Mad Dad will help other carers realise they are not alone in how they feel and that their feelings are human. It makes for compelling reading. GORDON WILCOCK, Emeritus Professor of Geratology, University of Oxford
A beautiful book that's full of truth. If you're caring for someone with Alzheimer's, this will hit a note.
It also has its own beauty, and we couldn't recommend it more.
Darkly funny and never without hope.
Sarra Manning, RED
[A] touching, humorous and self-deprecating book...Life will always throw shit at you: it's how you deal with it that counts. My Mad Dad is an essential manual for those of us trying to negotiate our own "Sabbatical of Shite". GREG WISE, actor and author of Not That Kind of Love