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…


Pontefract Squadron ATC


Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day, believe me

Ray Davis 

Approaching the final years of school there was time tabled ‘careers advice’ which generally involved meeting someone from the job-centre, already bitter with what life had given them with a list of Job’s available at the National Coal Board. They would sit and work out where you would best fit in this list of trades, probably by how much they liked you and not by your academic achievements. By and large any exam results meant absolutely nothing, you were going to leave school and mostly follow your father, uncle or older brother in the same job as they do.

My father had a disability (not just being married to my mum) but a very bad speech impediment which meant mainly that he had difficulty holding down any job for any length of time. He also had a skin disorder which caused tumours, this was set off by coal dust as discovered early in his working life. His neck was badly scarred by the removal of these. So fortunately I think, a life in the coal mines was not an option. He trained as a mechanic and by all accounts was a very good one. 

Well before the ‘careers advice’ sessions had commenced I had already worked out my escape route. For a couple of years I had been an active and enthusiastic member of the Pontefract Squadron of the Air Training Corps (Squadron 2460) A very enjoyable time of my childhood and following a number of interviews and tests I had a conditional place as an Air Radar Technician in the RAF. With this knowledge at just over 14 needing just six passes in my O’levels and easily on track for these I started to enjoy myself.

I was soon to start touring with a local band helping look after their technical requirements. They were playing mostly the club and university circuits nationally and it meant some very late nights and consequently some missed school. I was also getting involved in some school drama stuff.

The next year I passed all the exams with the exception of Mathematics (my top subject) I was at a loss to know what had happened however it was clearly obvious really. I stayed on in the lower 6th to retake and study a little more. 

A new teacher, an ex-pupil at Minsthorpe High School who had lived round the corner from me was back teaching drama (whilst incidentally writing episodes for Grange Hill – the irony!). A lot of my friends were acting in a play he was writing for the National Student Drama Festival and John Godber asked me if I would like to do the lighting for it. Anything for a laugh, and it certainly turned out to be. 

I was in a new world of creative people having fun and thoughts of going into the RAF seemed a world away. As much as I was learning and having fun though I wasn’t sure how this would get me away from this small town, but it did appear to be a slightly more tolerable place.

I got involved in everything I could and after taking a play with the Wakefield Youth Theatre to a Festival in London I had a chat with a man who was, in some way, involved with the youth theatre. I believe he worked for Wakefield Council, maybe a councillor. I am really not sure. What I do know is that following our chat about possible direction I got a letter inviting me to an interview with the council about a grant to pay for a course at Paddington College in Theatre Electrics. 

In this dim and distant past there were only two technical theatre courses in the country, both at Paddington College, one in Theatre Electrics and one in Sound Design.

Not only had this amazing man got me this interview but he had helped apply for the course on my behalf! He was also present at the interview and gave me a character reference. 

I not only got offered the place at College but the fees were paid for and I got a small maintenance grant to help me re-locate and get started. 

I was on my way to live in ‘that there’ London, the first of many great adventures. 

I am a huge fan of Radio 4’s Saturday Live and I think of this guy every time I hear the ‘people say thank you’ section. You see I simply never said thank you to him. Many people have selflessly helped me in my life but no-one had the impact in changing my life for the better with an act of kindness than this man. I am and will be eternally grateful. 

34 days into treatment and the inflammation response I have been experiencing is beginning to wear off. My diet almost totally consists of anti-inflammatory foods. I have less pain in my joints but the spots are still very obvious. Ive taken to wearing a hat which reduces those second glances from strangers. I’m pleased to be over the Norovirus that laid me so very low last week, that was very grim to say the least. My drink of choice is a cup of hot water with a couple of slices of fresh ginger, a slice of lemon and a spoonful of honey. I am resting a lot but have also been out seeing people a bit more this week. I hope to include some exercise into my routine next week even if only some gentle stretching. 

See you soon, take care, be kind…