But these tell tale signs are here to stay, and in the end you know that’s OK.

You will always be a part of my patched-up patchwork taped-up tape-deck heart.

Frank Turner

I was about the same age as Issy, thirteen when I came home from School to find mum having one of her crying episodes, no words just tears. It fell to dad to tell me that the electricity had been disconnected. Mum had been going through a difficult time with her depression and consequently dad had been taking a lot of time off to assist her. I didn’t realise at this time why he was reluctant to leave her alone. I guess I was not privy to the conversations that they would have. Another job lost some weeks previous (I didn’t know) and bills and rent to pay etc. 

The lasting-mark the social services made was a negative one to me although they probably had our best interests at heart I guess. Although they would not pay the bill or re-connection fee they did pay a grant for clothes for school, as long as it was done in a ‘uniform’ shop sounds great and I guess I should be grateful. 

Now my school was described as progressive! with a no uniform policy, all pupils allowed to wear what they wanted. In a relatively prosperous mining community with fairly high rates of employment (that was soon to change) I was surrounding by kids in Fred Perry tops, Wrangler jeans, Adidas trainers, denim jackets etc  (feel free to mix and match brands) And there was I in my black trousers, shiny black shoes and crisp white shirt. You may as well had a sign on my back saying ‘here for your amusement’ or on my spotty forehead saying ‘Punch Me’  The very small but segregated ‘free school meals’ queue was full of joy, we were fortunate to have a different colour meal voucher, just incase I forgot what queue I was supposed to join.

Put that together with my home being lit by paraffin lamps, no tv and an air of sheer misery is it no wonder I decided that I would prefer my own company. I distanced myself from all friends who would normally come to my house. This ‘power outage’ was the final ‘event’ that would lead to my parents divorce just a year or so away, but that is another story. 

My involvement with the St John Ambulance Brigade dwindled somewhat and I was soon to join the Air Training Corps, this was a bit of a lifeline with new friends who lived further away (the meetings were in Pontefract some 7 miles from home) My friend John who lived around the corner was also there and going through his own issues at the time, it was easy during that period to keep my distance a bit. We were to be on-off friends for years, incredibly close at times and the only friend I think I ever fought with, like proper punches and everything.  John never moved from Upton and sadly took his own life in his back garden a few years ago. 

My main lifeline, always looking for positive things was Radio 4. I had discovered the channel on Saturday afternoons when I had my hair cut at Terry’s place. A barbers shop on the high street in Upton. Terry was a bit of a local celebrity who had won some money on the football pools and had opened a barbers shop. He was a loud smily type person oozing with opinions! He would play radio 4 constantly and I loved listening to the plays, current affairs, interviews etc. Incidentally it was also the place that I discovered pornographic magazines! I guess you can picture the place. 

Armed with a small transistor radio and stolen batteries from the newsagent (sorry) I relaxed in my isolation.  Radio 4 together with Martin Kelner’s show on Radio Hallam and Tommy Vance on Radio 1 became my life for a few months, I was yet to discover John Peel. 

Radio 4 was like traveling, and most of my ‘real’ education came from this. I developed a wonder for what the world had to offer. I lived in a village where it was the norm to be born. live and die there, sometime without ever traveling a few miles away, ever. 

In later years when touring the shipping forecast (sailing by) would give me a warm feeling of a day well spent, a job done. And it still does. Many traveling companions have rolled their eyes, laughed, endured, and openly taken the piss out of me. But they would never understand the lovely calming effect that this music and poetic news of the seas around the uk would bring me. 

The electricity was off for 9 months, it was a lonely voyage of discovery and nothing would ever be the same again. it gave me the objective of getting away, traveling and not living a life of hand to mouth economics. It also gave me a sense of empathy and something in me that would never forget those less well off. Other influences during this time would instil a sense of community, of doing things for others, but again thats another story. 

42 days into treatment and feeling ok. still in a bit of muscle and joint pain but not enough to require pain killers. My appearance though is beginning to annoy me, and I know I really should not let it.

I am a week away from another round of blood tests and a CT scan. I am to be checked as to my  tumour risk, low medium or high. This will decide what dose of the next drug, Ventoclax I will start on. 

Some friends have stopped asking about my health, mainly I think because they were looking into alternative treatments that could work along side the treatment I am having with all the best intentions and not able to help. I understand. And of course it’s been Christmas, a busy time for all. Other people have unexpectedly reached out which is truly lovely. The way I look at the moment triggers feelings from the past, the sort that I had with events that I have mentioned in this blog. I am tending to hide myself away somewhat.

May see you soon, take care, be kind…

 

7 thoughts on “Radio 4 at 13? Really!

  1. James Biddulph says:

    Peter I can’t wait for the book….. it’s sad but a lovely read. It’s real life.
    Sorry can’t make the run/walk but we will catch up soon.
    Take care mate x

    • Wonderful that Peter and brings back memories for me too, being raised by a single mom with my younger brother (who later took his own life in his back garden) we lived in inner city Birmingham. Mom suffered from depression and as a result she moved house – a lot.
      As grim as life felt at times, I’m sure it made me a stronger, more resilient and empathetic person.
      The only radio station mom would have on was radio 4 – still love.it, though as a result am profoundly ignorant of pop music in the 70s 🙂

      You likely won’t remember me but I came to the honeybox to hear Rob Wheeler and was struck by your enthusiasm and energy then, which will surely work in your favour now, anyway you’re in my thoughts very much, especially as I have 2 13 year old step daughters now too and can only imagine the anguish you feel.
      Hoping this is legible, can’t see the tiny writing very well without my glasses ! 🙂
      Ash

      • peterherbert_5311vd says:

        Hi Ash, huge thank you for your comments. Its funny it sort of all seemed normal whilst it was happening, you just got on with it. It is those hardships that make us I believe. I am so sorry to hear about your brother. I do remember you but have to admit I had to have a look at your facebook page to remind me, huge thanks for supporting us at the Honeybox, its probably my favourite thing now, a huge team coming together to give something back. Hope we may see you there again at some point. Take good care – Pete

  2. Truly a Peel like monologue and very inspiring. Thinking of you as you continue this journey, let me know if you want a beer one night or just a walk if more suitable L

  3. Peter,

    A gift of literacy!. Always knew you were an excellent button pusher but hadn’t realised you were an honourary member of the stage crew!

    Your uniform reminiscing reminded me of being 5 when my mother , who is German, sent me to school in the Welsh valleys In lederhosen because they were hard wearing!

    I look forward to reading many more of your experiences and will hope to see you soon

    Roger

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