Archive for the ‘Personal life story’ Category


We’re moving. Moving away from everything I know, everything I understand. Mum and dad have a new job the other side of Bradford. It’s a long way from where I live now. Will I see any of my friends ever again? I’m overwhelmed with emotion’s, but I can’t express them. I stand there worried, scared, confused. I don’t fully understand what is happening or why. The future is scary especially when it’s so uncertain.


Getting to the top grade at school was a big achievement for me. Maths and English tests and I was selected above everybody else, just one person, me. However I soon began to struggle and was overwhelmed by the harder lessons and tougher expectations of me academically. In the grade below I was near the top of the classes and was effectively cruising at school. I coped with the lessons and homework and had plenty of time to play with my friends. School was not a worry for me. Moving to the top grade was a very different matter for me. There was more homework, tougher questions, algebra was a new concept for me, how could you do maths with letters? I’m still confused by algebra but I can add up, subtract, divide and multiply, what more do you need for life! Moving home didn’t help either. Everything happened at once, moving home, moving up a grade at school and looking back I couldn’t cope. It was all too much for me I was overwhelmed and collapsed under the weight of everything that was going on and retreated into my shell, unable to talk to anyone about how I felt because I didn’t understand what was going on and I couldn’t even begin to put into words how I felt. I felt lost in the world and took to my bed as the only place I felt comfortable and safe in the world. Maybe if I hadn’t moved away from everything I knew I would have been fine in the top grade. Maybe if I hadn’t moved up to the top grade I would have coped better with the move. Life is full of if’s and but’s and so many unanswered questions and we all have them and all we can do is think about what might have been and move on as best we can.


Teaching in the 70s and 80s at state run schools in the North of England was a vastly different experience to the ones I read and hear about today. Teachers were in charge and they let you know it. We called them sir or miss, no names to ensure there was an invisible barrier between us that we could not cross. Yes the teachers were in charge and they let us know it. I remember one teacher who would trip you up if you ran down the corridor and simply say ‘don’t run boy’ as you lifted your face off the floor. Another teacher would hit you over the head with a piece of wood covered by a newspaper and when you asked him why he did it he replied ‘because I can’. One incident I remember is being in maths and the lad behind me was talking so the teacher threw the board rubber at him which bounced off the desk and smashed the window. The teacher just pointed at him and said ‘that’s your fault boy’! and it wasn’t worth going home and complaining to your parents because you just got a clip round the ear and told to behave yourself if you did. There were plenty of other experiences that I have forgotten now and a lot of the teachers were very nice and didn’t do anything they shouldn’t but it was a very different time and I’m glad I experienced it.


It’s my first year at Tong and I’m doing well academically. I’m getting top grades in all my subjects and soon will be progressing to the top tier. I’m still living on Holmewood at this point and walking to Marks everyday to call for him and go to school with him. I’m enjoying life, enjoying school. Everything seems so easy, so much fun. Little do I know how life is going to take a turn that will forever alter my life and turn it upside down. Life won’t be as easy after this event. This is when life gets hard for me.


It’s the day when dreams come true. My first day at big school, Tong Comprehensive. I remember looking at Tong when I was at Holmefield First and dreaming of what it would be like to go there, be there, feel so grown up, feel like an adult. And now that day has come, I’m here. I stand in the playground surrounded by children and teachers. Everybody seems to know what they’re doing. Except me. I am in the eye of a storm. I don’t know what to do or where to go. I don’t feel grown up, I don’t feel like an adult. I feel adrift in space, floating like a piece of driftwood in the ocean. Is this what it’s like to grow up and be an adult? Lost and not knowing what you’re doing or where you’re going or what you want? If it is take me back to that moment when I looked over at Tong and dreamed of going there. I knew where I was that day, I knew where I was going, I knew what I wanted. Take me back to that moment when life was to be enjoyed and not now when life is a continuous series of never ending storms taking me everywhere but where I want to be.


One experience I remember vividly from Holme Middle is taken an English test comprising of spelling, grammar and a story and getting over 90% on grammar and the story and failing miserably at spelling. I still achieved over 200 marks out of 300 despite getting no more than 10 marks for spelling and my English teacher praised me for my imaginative and well written story and said had I achieved a similar mark on my spelling as I did on the other 2 papers I would have achieved the highest mark ever. At Tong I wrote a story about a racing car that had a 6th gear, at the time a 5 speed gearbox was only just coming onto the market, and how it won the race because of this 6th gear. This story got me moved up into the top class for English and maths. It was evident from an early age I had a natural talent for English and for story telling but in the 70s going to school on a rough council estate there was no opportunities to take this further and see how far I could go with it. Nobody was there to offer to mentor me or advise me what I could do with my talent to see where I could go. Maybe my life would have turned out very differently, a best selling novelist and playwright perhaps, or maybe it would have been no different to how it has turned out. I’ll never know but it would have been interesting to have known. For me this was the first of many missed opportunities to do something I enjoy doing and had a natural gift for. Don’t waste any opportunities that come your way, they don’t come along very often.


It’s January 1977 and I’m on a school trip to Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales. Like many kids journeys when you was younger seem to be much further away and take much longer than when you grow up and the world seems to shrink around you. I remember this trip well as it was one of the first school trips I went on. We went down Capnut cave which I remember for the freezing cold water pouring over the top of my wellies and onto my feet turning them from red hot to ice cold in an instant. One of the teachers Mr Exely had to carry one girl out of the cave as she couldn’t stand her feet being cold and wet. Another instance was when we stopped up late one night in the hostel thinking we were the biggest rebels who had ever lived! We were all playing games until we heard a noise at the window and looked out to see the teachers there coming back from the pub very drunk with a large case of beer in their arms! They said that if we didn’t tell on them for coming back late they wouldn’t tell on us for stopping up late. Of course being young kids we were scared stiff of getting into trouble so said nothing to anyone not realising until later on in life that the teachers would have got into far more trouble than we would have done! the most memorable incident though was when we walked up Ingleborough in snowy and icy conditions over 20ft snow drifts wearing nothing more than a jumper, jacket, jeans and Doc Martens. We got to the top and Mr Exely told us to hold hands. When we asked why he said that Gaping Gill the deepest pothole in Europe was somewhere around and he didn’t want anyone to fall down it! That was health and safety in 1977!


I still remember two people from my early days at Holme Middle. One is a lad called Thomas. He was mixed race, what we called half caste at the time although it must be remembered that we quite often used terminology without understanding it and there wasn’t the awareness back then that there is now. Thomas lived in the children’s home on the other side of the valley. I don’t know the circumstances of why he was in the children’s home and never asked him. The children’s home was the biggest house on the estate and stood out because of this. I can’t remember anyone thinking any differently of the children from the home, they were just kids like us. I started hanging around with Thomas and he started coming back to my house. This ended when my mum caught him stealing money from her purse. I never saw Thomas again. Another lad whose name I can’t remember stood out because he dressed in a more feminine way. It didn’t bother me or anyone else, not in the way it seems to do in today’s society. He was a nice kid and we never said a bad word to each other. I met him again many years later. I was collecting loans on an estate and he lived in a flat there. He’d had a sex change and was engaged to a man who loved him. I was really happy for him. Despite growing up at a time when it was perceived that acceptance of difference was less tolerant he’d trod his own path and become the person he always wanted to be and believed he was, and he’d found love as well which is a very special thing indeed.


It’s September 1976 and the start of a new school year at a new school, Holme Middle. It’s further away than Holmefield First but not by much and I enjoy walking to and from school. Some of my friends from Holmefield First have gone to different schools and I will never see them again, but I make new friends here playing games in the school yard and in lessons. It’s a great start to a new chapter in my life, one without any cares, worries or stresses, one where I can be me and no-one else and live a carefree, happy life. Looking back this could be the last time I felt like this for so long without the changes that growing up is and the stresses and pressures that come with the change of age. With a new school comes new teachers and one of the first to make an impression on me was an elderly gent, probably approaching retirement but one of the nicest teachers I knew. I can’t remember his name now but I do remember that he was kind and knew how to get the best out of you and always had time for you. He drove a Triumph 2500 which at the time was one of the best cars on the market and I loved it! I remember wishing I had one every day I saw it.


Despite mums best efforts money became increasingly tight and we started to get behind with the bills. I think we kept on top of the rent but I know for certain that we got behind with the gas and electric because we had it cut off. Two men came round to do the job, one in an overcoat and bowler hat who looked the stereotypical enforcement officer of the time, the other stayed outside keeping watch. Everybody on the street much have known what was happening. No gas and electric meant no fire, no TV, no lights, no cooking. Everything we take for granted now and to a certain extent did then was gone in seconds and would not be restored until the arrears had been paid. We huddled round a coal fire watching it go from a blaze to a pile of smouldering embers. The TV was replaced by a battery powered portable radio. Lighting was done by paraffin lamps carefully placed around the house to ensure they could not be knocked over potentially causing a fire. My mum cooked on the coal fire pans of vegetables and potatoes and I can only assume we had some meat. I always marvelled at how my mum could prepare and cook a meal to perfection with everything coming together at once. It was even more remarkable how she did it during this period swapping pans of food on the coal fire but still making a lovely meal for us all. I can’t remember how long it was before we had the gas and electric restored but I do remember one lad from school asking if he could come to my house and me having to say no. I instinctively said no and instinctively felt shameful for saying no and for not being able to say why I said no. I don’t think I fully understood why I was saying no or why I felt ashamed at the time but I knew deep down it was the only thing to say. We kept living in the house but I can imagine that was only just. Things were so tight during those times and no one helped us.