A heart warming blog from Rachel of how words can change a persons life. You don’t have to meet someone to change a life, you just have to be you and tell your story as Rachel has done.


It arrived in my inbox just as I’d returned home from this morning’s Dewsbury 10k road race. It was my intention to write a running blog based on today’s race, and the ‘unfinished business’ I felt I had in going back to the very place where I’d been forced to pull out through injury this time last year, and which was the start of a surprisingly difficult journey back from another form of lostness – one without running as my daily ‘fix’.

But The Email blew that plan out the water. You’ll see why. Names, ages, and places have all been changed to protect the identity of ‘Gillian’ – but the rest is exactly as it was sent to me, at 12.57pm today. My reply follows…

For the avoidance of any doubt, this is every reason why it was worth bearing my heart and soul in 337 pages of a…

View original post 1,189 more words

Gallery  —  Posted: February 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

If anyone would like to buy Rachel’s book, Running For My Life, here is a link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Running-My-Life-built-better/dp/1911274848/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517665539&sr=8-1&keywords=rachel+cullen


Rachel talks about trolls, bullies and the different journeys we all experience


It was bound to happen. If you raise your head far enough above the parapet, there will be some outraged, small-minded wanker hovering there with a Home Bargains bazooka just ready and waiting to shoot you down. And I’ve just caught the back end of some shrapnel.

That this particular Troll may think that I am a self-absorbed, egotistical wanker on some quest for personal glory by virtue of bearing my entire soul in the pages of a book for all to see is their opinion, and they are entitled to it. However, had they taken the time to read my book and even begin to get any sense of the person I am, then they may have reason to question those initial judgements about me. But sadly, whether by sheer laziness, ignorance, or a mixture of both, they have chosen not to.

I haven’t taken a hit at this…

View original post 1,153 more words

Gallery  —  Posted: February 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

Rachel has her book published and you can buy it now!


It finally happened. After a 22-month gestation period, and some early complications -including a routine scan when it was questioned whether the elephant was in fact a giraffe (*ref earlier blog) – at 00:01 on Thursday 11th January 2018 I gave birth to a healthy, bouncing baby elephant. Or, to cut my now slightly overstretched analogy short – my book, “Running For My Life” was finally published.

The anticipation and build up to this event has been something akin to that of the European Space Station’s £80m investment into the human space programme. Weeks, months, and years in the living, writing, editing, re-writing and re-editing… and some more writing. Oh, and then a bit more editing…

And that was the easy part. Honestly.

ShareImage - 1

You see, back in 2015 when I began writing the book, and for the subsequent two years, I hadn’t quite factored in…

View original post 932 more words

Gallery  —  Posted: January 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

Today I’m sat at home feeling sorry for myself as I battle a cold and a cat that insists on biting me just when I’m least expecting it.

In addition I can’t remember f you feed a cold and starve the flu or if it’s the other way round. I really need to google it but will this just confuse me even more?

Yesterday I was back in uni and made good progress with my research reading about coding and doing some too.

I like to get in early so around 1am I went for a walk round Bradford city centre, a place I have grown up with and have many fond memories of.
I always remember Bradford as a vibrant, bustling city, full of life and difference reflected in the people, the shops, the conversations, pretty much everything you can think of.

Back when I was a child and a teenager Bradford was somewhere to go where you could lose yourself for a couple of hours in the shops, pubs, cafes and markets and come away wanting to go back.

It had a dip in the 90s as the author Bill Bryson described in his book Notes from a Small Island, a very good book if you get the chance to read it. I remember reading about Bill’s description of Bradford and how distraught I felt at some American coming to my home town and write about it in such a derogatory way.

Now I understand what he meant and why he wrote about Bradford in such a way.

Instead of heading for the Broadway Centre which is still relatively new and as such is modern, clean and busy, I headed for Kirkgate Market a leftover of the brutalist architecture of the 60s and 70s. This building evokes many memories of the wrong kind for people from the older generations because of the way Kirkgate Market came about.

My own personal recollection of events is that the Bradford Council at the time decided to pull down the old Victorian market that had stood on the space for many, many years and replace it with a concrete monolith.

As with many Victorian buildings the old market was full of charm, grandeur, splendour and was a truly great asset to the people of Bradford.

But it was costly to maintain so the decision was made to knock it down and replace it with something more modern and efficient but with no redeeming features.

The people of Bradford were not happy. The council did not care.

And so yesterday I walked in Kirkgate Market again past all the pound shops that now seem to have taken over Bradford and through the other side without feeling any emotional connection to it as I have done with many other buildings. It’s just a relic from the 70s that should never have been built in the first place for me and other towns and cities have kept their Victorian buildings that now serve as a jewel in the crown for their city centres.

And so I left Kirkgate and headed up towards Joh St Market and past endless rows of mobile phone shops, betting shops and pound shops frequented by cheap tracksuits…

And then round and down the other side and more of the same expect that To Let signs appeared far to frequently interrupting the mobile phone shops and pound shops.

One image did stand out in my mind though as I walked down Darley St past the old Marks & Spencer’s premises. Two old down and outs sat on the steps sharing a can of lager but still smiling and happy with their arms round each other despite the cards that life had dealt them they still had each other and could still find happiness amidst desolation and despair. I found it a very heart warming scene and wish I had taken a photo of them…

I went into the Broadway centre for my shopping and things did change, modern buildings, contemporary shops but still no less busy and still tracksuits going around popping in and out of shops, eating chips and doughnuts and making the best of life.

And that seems to sum up Bradford or me. It has never been a city with its own identity but one trying to compete with Leeds or Manchester or any other big city rather than looking to its roots and making the best of what it has to offer and its historically important heritage.

And because of this trying to be something it isn’t mentality Bradford has become something it shouldn’t be, run down and like the ghost town in parts that Bill Bryson went through.

Parts of Bradford are bouncing back and regenerating and showing that there is still some life left in Bradford but I fear it may be some years before I see the Bradford I remember so well from my childhood, bustling with people all enjoying themselves and living life to the full. But I hope I do see it in my lifetime.

The new inclusive society

Posted: January 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

I read an article today in the Independent newspaper about how the snowflake generation is possibly killing comedy because comedians are very careful about what they write now for fear of offending anyone and this got me thinking about just how inclusive and understanding is the latest politically correct towards everybody which is how I understand them to be.
As a fifty year old male growing up and living in an industrial town in the heart of West Yorkshire I have seen and experienced many cultural changes. These changes have included, race, religion, sex, gender, inclusiveness and political correctness among many others.
Inclusiveness has always fascinated me not least because while it purports to be inclusive it is, in my view as exclusive as any other form of culture can be and here is why I see it as such.
Currently inclusiveness and political correctness is centred around two topics. They are gender and offending people.
I was brought up in a time when gender was make and female. You were taught that at school and in society and you accepted the gender norms. People’s sexuality which is a different subject to gender for me, was coming to the fore in the 70s and 80s, with more people coming out as homosexual or lesbian. I don’t have a problem with anyone’s sexuality and never will. You are what you want to be.
Similarly offending people was dealt with very differently when I was growing up. If you was offended you avoided that person, you did not befriend them in an attempt to try and change their view. You accepted that people are different and have different views and opinions to yourself and found a group of people who shared similar views and opinions to yourself to be friends with.
This is much in the same way that if you was watching something on television that you didn’t like or which offended you, you switched over to watch something that was more to your taste rather than watch it to the end and then complain about it. At the end of the day you have a choice what you watch so why watch something that offends you just so you can complain about it?
But now it seems as if society has changed how it views these subjects and in some ways has taken on a far more sinister standpoint.
If we take gender we now have people who call themselves gender fluid and who experience gender on a spectrum and can be experiencing female in the morning and male in the afternoon. I don’t have a problem with this as each generation develops human evolution a little bit further and experiences life differently to the generation before.
Where I do have a problem is when this is forced down my throat and I am forced to conform to the views of others and expected to respect their views and change mine overnight when they have no respect for my views or for how I have experienced life.
If we take for example toilets. Toilets are now expected to be gender neutral and both male and females are expected to use the same facilities. My problem with this is I want to use a toilet that is designed for males, but in doing so I am apparently offending some members of society because I still see people made up of male and female.
But I am offended too. I am offended because no one is asking me about my experience of society, how I was brought up and how I was influenced by society during my time growing up. I am allowed to offend others but not to be offended by them it seems.
This leads me onto my next point which is about growing up in a different generational culture. There seems to be a particular stance these days whereby you must apologise for how you behaved in a previous era because your actions then are compared to the societal norms and expectations of now and judged accordingly.
While I fully appreciate that some of mine and my contemporaries behaviour would not be acceptable now I believe it is equally unacceptable to expect us to apologise for our behaviour and actions back then when what was and was not acceptable in society was different because the norms of society were also different.
Why do some people find it acceptable to expect different generations to apologise for behaviour and actions that conformed to the accepted norms and standards of that particular time? I really do not understand this.
Yes of course I behave differently to how I behaved back then but this is due to my evolving with society and understanding that times change and what was acceptable back then is not acceptable now. And this is the same throughout history.
Why should I apologise for something I cannot change and which was done with the best of intentions according to the values of that time?
And it seems as if you can be offended by anything these days and the recourse action is to force people to change their opinions, values, behaviour and actions to fit in with how you see the world. It does not seem to occur to these people that they can accept that people are different and not everyone will have the same opinions and values as them and this will result in different behaviours and actions that may offend them.
The simple answer is avoid people who are so different to you that you are offended but also appreciate that in a fully inclusive society some people will have a different opinion and this may offend you but you do not have the right to force someone to change their views just to suit yours so you aren’t offended.
And this to me is the crux of this new inclusive society that some people are trying to create. It isn’t inclusive. It is exclusive.
It is exclusive because if you have a different opinion they will not debate it with you, they simply ignore you and exclude you. It is exclusive because if you are from a different generation and find it difficult to understand their views and opinions they exclude you. It is exclusive because if you still want to be called a male or a female they exclude you.
What this new inclusive society is doing is stifling debate, stifling creativity, stifling the development and growth of society because it wants everyone to conform to a narrow understanding of what it is to be human and does not recognise and appreciate the immense difference and diversity that exists with humanity.
Yes we can all respect someone who different to how we experienced humanity when we were growing up and who wants to do things in a particular way and live their life as they want to, no one should have a problem with that. But when you are made to feel small and insignificant and your views and opinions and your life don’t matter simply because you was born in a different era and have different cultural values and expectations than that is as far from an inclusive society as you can get.

Back to uni

Posted: January 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

Today I did something I haven’t done for a long time and went down to Bradford University to study.

I was very nervous and anxious about going down and to be honest for no concrete reason but when you suffer from anxiety it is very often the case that there is no concrete reason for you feeling anxious but more a collection of small reasons that build up into one big reason which you can’t untangle and which end up overwhelming you and making you more stressed and anxious as you try to untangle them and sort them into something more meaningful you can deal with rather than just a tangled mess of abstract thoughts whizzing about your head.
So today I stopped thinking about going down to uni, packed my laptop in my bag and headed down.
The library was quiet, just how I like it and plenty of spaces available which helped to settle my nerves.
Once I had my laptop setup I was soon into my work and enjoying studying again. I find it difficult to study at home so having an environment where I can study that is close to me is essential and Bradford University fulfils all my requirements.
I made decent progress too. I have a good idea of what Nvivo can do for me and the arguments for and against its use, but the most important thing is I did something and I got out of the house and started to put to rest the unfounded anxiety demons that plague my mind.

It’s already January 2nd!

Posted: January 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

Yep Christmas and new year have been and gone and it’s the 2nd January when life starts cranking back to some vague form of normality, roads have collapsed, train fares are up and it’s cold and raining. These are the sort of things that awake you from the festive zombie like state many of us enter and bring you back to reality with a slap round the face, a kick up the backside and a knee where it hurts!
For myself the festive period was nice and quiet and I enjoyed because it was. Nothing spectacular happened, I didn’t win big money on the lottery and buy a dream home in the middle of the Calder Valley, but I spent time with good friends and had fun.
Yesterday on the first day of a new year I did what most people did which wasn’t much. I got up late, went to watch a local fell race and then popped to the club and had a few new year beers with friends. This of course meant that one of my resolutions to stop drinking in January was already broken so it’s Plan B and drink less.
This is working so far although it has only been 2 days but we all have to start somewhere. It might have been one less dram of whisky last night had I not miscalculated how long IT the original film was on for. It’s 4 hours long not 2 like I thought!
Today I thought I’d go for a long run over the moors above Haworth, one of my favourite places and an area I know well.
I had in mind a route around 11 miles long, one I had run many times before and despite the cold rain I was looking forward to it. This good feeling didn’t last long.
The first mile and a half was fine and then I looked at my watch. I’ve just got a new watch, a Garmin Vivoactive 3 and it’s a touchscreen watch. It’s been fine previously with no problems and this included a run in the snow.
Today it went mad, screens changing all the time and deciding to stop recording my run when it felt like it. For me being a keen runner and ever so slightly obsessed with running and health stats this was a nightmare made even worse because there wasn’t a lot I could do about it being ankle deep in mud and soaking wet.
And this led to my next, far more serious problem, I was cold and getting colder. This was despite wearing a merino wool base layer and a fully seam taped jacket. The cold was getting in and my chest and stomach were getting the worse of it. I wasn’t shivering yet but I knew I would be soon and having experienced hypothermia before I recognised the symptoms and knew how quickly it could set in.
At this point I did the sensible thing and turned round and headed back to the warmth and safety of my car. This was the right thing to do as on a day like today you are very exposed on the open moors and the weather looked even worse where I intended to go. In addition there was no one else around and you are not guaranteed to get a phone signal either so anything could happen and I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
On the way back to the car I picked up speed and started to warm up and soon enough was back at my car. I had lost some of my run due to my phone going mad but I was safe, warm and alive.
Back home I got a hot bath to get the circulation going in my body again and then my first, but not last trip to my local Tesco’s of 2018.
And then home with the intention of doing some uni work but instead emailing Garmin about the problems with my watch, eating, washing and generally doing anything to avoid uni work.
And getting anxious about doing / not doing uni work and wanting to be around people but not having to talk to them. Such is the autistic life.
So with the time fast approaching 8pm it’s blindingly obvious I’m not going to et any uni work done today which means I either go into uni tomorrow or to the library to do some as working from home just isn’t happening and I need the right environment away from distractions in which to study and study I must.
But apart from my phone still not working it’s not been a bad day and I’m still here o tell the tale.

Rachel’s final blog for 2017


SOUND THE CLAXON! STOP THE PRESS! ALERT THE NEIGHBOURS! It’s finally happened. I wriggle myself around, piss on a stick, and there it is: a double line flashing before my eyes. Me and the attractive, mysterious bull elephant are EXPECTING!

IMG_0736 IT’S A BULL!!!

In writing terms, this means that the once unknown, faceless gatekeeper to my literary dreams who expressed an early interest in my submission… loves it. SHE LOVES IT! She believes in my story, and – guess what – she has invited me to travel down to the posh publishing house in a swanky part of London town to MEET HER! OH. MY. GOD.What will I do? What will I say? What will she be like? Will she like me? More importantly, will she like my bull elephant, when she meets him in person? I just don’t know.

It feels like being invited for a personal meeting…

View original post 1,195 more words

Gallery  —  Posted: December 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

Rachel continues her blog about the birth of her forthcoming book


It’s a Tuesday morning in early March 2016. I’ve just come off the treadmill at the gym, as I need to keep even the smallest amount of headspace from my attractive bull elephant other half. It was very intense at the beginning of our courtship, but this relationship needs to be sustainable – we’re both in it for the long-haul – and so normality resumes as best it can.

I stroll back to the changing room with the slightest whiff of smugness, having ticked off my dreaded speed session. Phew! Thank God that’s over. Job done. I reach for my IPhone from inside the locker, and without thinking, I click on the ‘mail’ icon in the bottom right hand corner. I find myself doing this on average ten times every fifteen minutes over any 23-hour period (I leave one hour for uninterrupted sleep), just to see how the universe is…

View original post 1,607 more words

Gallery  —  Posted: December 17, 2017 in Uncategorized