What’s Up Doc?

Photo 2016-07-24 10.21.36 (3)

My teenage years, what can I say about them. Well, I can’t honestly remember if I was a ‘typical’ teenager or not, I’d have to ask my Mum that question.  I remember being fairly quiet at school but I wouldn’t say I was shy.  I would occasionally speak up when I felt like I had something important to say but I would never talk for talking sake. Sometimes my brain would shut down if I have to listen to monotone, uninspiring and uncharacteristic monologue. I couldn’t help it, that’s the way my brain was wired I guess. If something didn’t interest me, I would act as if it did but I could never remember what was said… the words would end up being stored to the very back of my brain along with all the other information which didn’t serve me at the time. I do love a good conversation, but it’s got to have some meaning to it, bring something to the table… have a point, you know?

My style during the early part of my adolescent years was metal braces, short hair and Doc Marten shoes… oh and Dunlop trainers. My eating was still out of control and I was fairly large for my age, my idea was if I looked like a boy, nobody would come near me or cause me any grief.  I suppose I was a little bit rebellious, not only with other teens but with a few of the teachers too. There was one particular teacher I remember who was referred to as the ‘Doctor’ of English. This teacher happened to be my English Language and Literature teacher for a number of years and for some reason he took an instant dislike to me. I had no idea why, maybe it was because he couldn’t work out if I was a boy or a girl.

There were many occasions when we had to take home a book the teacher had chosen for us to read and then for homework we had to write down our thoughts and feelings about it. Of course, I was honest… maybe too honest because there were a fair few books I couldn’t get my head around no matter how hard I tried, the words just didn’t sink in, instead they would escape into a distant corner of my grey matter, never to be disturbed again.  ‘Doc’ wasn’t happy and whenever it was marking day, my workbook would always return looking like somebody had suffered a severe nose bleed all over the pages… bright red pen marks, scribbled comments with huge question marks and ‘see me’ written in the margins. I never did see him about any of his comments, he obviously couldn’t cope with my constructive criticism.

I remember one morning before school, I was eating my breakfast in front of the TV when there was a news flash with regards to the Poll Tax riots. The footage was shocking, people pushing and shoving each other, shouting at the cameras and what I witnessed next made me almost choke on my toast. There was my English teacher amongst the rioters, red faced, shouting and shoving with the rest of them. Well, that confirmed my thoughts about him, this was a man with major anger management issues. Rather than to address the issues he was experiencing in his life, his way of coping was to project his anger and frustration out onto others.

I felt sorry for ‘Doc’ but our relationship never did change and he carried on marking my work down. So the outcome was… yes, you guessed it… I failed my English GCSE, along with Maths. I was never any good at Maths, even though I had lovely Maths teachers, I could never get my head around it all and I found it quite boring. Thankfully, on a wing and a prayer, I managed to pass both subjects the second time around. I also had a different English teacher, who at first, gave me the impression that he didn’t like me very much either… maybe because I used to skip most of his lessons due to my A Level commitments, or maybe it was because I managed to achieve the highest grade in his class…  ‘I can’t believe you got a B!’  he had announced, with a half smile. I felt a little guilty for not making the effort to attend his classes, but I did thank him for his help and support, he was a good egg.

Growing Up

 

31899193_239476783275702_6692266054619496448_n

 

From my experiences of being bullied and from losing a parent at a young age,  I became a quiet child and I rarely let others ‘in’. Even though I had a one or two friends at school, I never had any close friends.  Occasionally, I would make the effort to socialise, I would go out the front on my bike and play games with the other kids but I didn’t always feel comfortable in the presence of others, I was quite happy in my own company.

Some of the neighbourhood kids were quite troublesome… often, there would be fights, shouting matches and general disruption in the street.  I will never forget the time when a brick came flying through our kitchen window.  Mum was washing up and I was in the front bedroom listening to music. I remember hearing a group of lads arguing loudly directly outside of our house, then all of a sudden a huge crash,  I remember running down the stairs two at a time…  I’m surprised I hadn’t slipped and gone down head first.

Our windows were not like the windows we have nowadays, they were just single panes of glass.  In the cold winter months, our house would be absolutely freezing and the glass, as well as being frozen on the outside, would often be frozen on the inside too.  We had a single coal fire in the sitting room and it was only during the mid 1980s when Mum stopped using it, due to the maintenance and the fact that coal was becoming increasingly expensive. Instead, Mum would fill up hot water bottles and place them under our many layers of sheets and blankets. When it was time for bed, I would be all wrapped up like I was ready to go on an expedition to the Antarctic… wearing a vest, my flannel pyjamas, thick socks and massive dressing gown.  Mum realised we couldn’t carry on like this… the winter months became unbearable, so with the help from my sister, purchased a couple of electric convector heaters… now that was luxury.

Mum was incredibly lucky that afternoon, the brick had missed her by inches… the kitchen was a in complete mess with shards of glass scattered everywhere.  Dad was still with us at the time and thank goodness he was too, because he knew what to do… off he would go, into his little shed, his little sanctuary or what I liked to call the Aladdin’s cave.  Dad’s shed was full of little bits and bobs from cycling repair kits… with the tiny chalk and patches… to little paint pots from my brother’s Airfix kits… various garden tools, seeds, car parts… and a tin of creosote.  Every summer, Dad would be out the back painting our wooden fences with, unbeknown to me at the time, this brown toxic liquid substance.  I used to love the scent of creosote wafting through the summers air as well as freshly laid tarmac… anyway, back to the windows… after a few minutes, Dad  appeared with a pane of glass and a jar of putty and repaired the window in no time.

The kids who were responsible for the damage never did apologise, Mum would go mad and often shout at the troublemakers but at the end of the day, there wasn’t anything we could do about it.  I have always believed in the theory that all events and types of people you attract throughout life adds to the shape of who you become.  Growing up in an area which was notoriously rough became part of the norm, yes, it was a tough, but I can honestly say I am now incredibly thankful for the tough times because without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

The Fear

bare feet boy child couch
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

After Dad passed away, I slept in the same bedroom as Mum.  I wanted to stay as close to her as possible because I was so scared we would lose her too.  This might sound daft, but when it was Mum’s birthday, I would find out her age and then try to calculate the remaining years up to 100… because there were loads of people who survived until the ripe old age of 100, that’s what I liked to believe anyway. As time went by, my fear and anxiety became a lot worse and I dreaded night time, I was so scared to go to bed.  Mum would let me stay up until she was ready to ‘go up the wooden hill’.  We would sit and watch whatever was on the small portable black and white TV,  I remember watching episodes of The Sweeney or Rising Damp.  It wasn’t until the late 1980s, when we eventually purchased a colour TV.  This was a luxury for us, because most of the items we owned were either second hand or family hand me downs.

I always smile when I think about the days when Dad, in exchange for his handiwork, was happy to accept items instead of money. This must have frustrated the hell out of Mum, but she never got angry… well, apart from the one time when Dad gave me fifty pence so I could buy some sweets from the shop around the corner. Mum went up the wall ‘that fifty pence could have gone in the meter!’ she said. There was me, feeling like all my birthday’s had come at once, munching away on fifty penny sweets.  I’m surprised I didn’t have a mouthful of fillings back in those days.

I will never forget the time when Dad brought home a ZX81 with a metallic printer. Chuffed to bits he was, this was our first computer and we were so excited, until we switched it on. Sadly, it wasn’t in 100% working order and my brother, a budding computer genius, decided he would have a go at fixing it… so he took it apart and that was the end of our ZX81.  I also remember when somebody gave Dad a sofa and a couple of armchairs. They weren’t in great condition and the design was straight out of the 1960s or 70s… but they were a lot comfier than the ones we had.  One of the chairs spun around and I would spend many an hour spinning until I was dizzy, this was my happy chair and I would spin all my cares away whilst listening to recordings of the Top 40 on my cassette player.

Mum tried her best to carry on with the routine after Dad passed away, which included myself and my brother starting back to school in September. I wasn’t ready to go back, all I wanted to do was hideaway at home and spin around in my happy chair.  Soon enough, the news had circulated around the playground. That’s when the whispering, pointing and laughing started. I will never forget the time when one kid said out loud in class ‘I heard your Dad is dead’ I chose to ignore what was said, but I was so upset and angry. I never did tell the teacher, I just wanted to pretend it never happened.  I started to comfort eat and over time I gained a lot of weight which only added fuel to the fire, I tried to ignore the cruel remarks, but occasionally I would retaliate. I never told Mum what was going on, she had enough on her plate.

Two years after losing Dad, we lost Nan, my Mum’s mum. I had just started to cope with life again but now I was back on the downward spiral.  There was this one girl who lived around the corner and whenever I was playing out front she would always be there. We had a green directly opposite our house as well as a block of flats with some garages located behind.  A majority of the kids in the area would ride their bikes around the green or play football… even though there was a sign which stated no ball games. If a ball hit one of the windows, which happened fairly often, one of the residents would often shout and swear at us, but this didn’t stop us from playing. Anyway, this girl would run over to me and pinch me or kick me, call me names, laugh and then run away again. I tolerated her behaviour for a while until one day, I completely snapped. I chased her down an alleyway and basically gave her a taste of her own medicine and she ran home in floods of tears.

Mum went crazy when she found out and I was forced to apologise to both the girl and her Mum.  This was not one of my proudest moments and I wished I had dealt with the situation differently, I should have told Mum what was going on in the first place. Regardless of what the girl had done to me, she didn’t deserve what I did to her. She probably had her own issues and that’s why she acted like she did. I was no better than her and I hated myself, I wasn’t angry with the girl, I was angry with myself and I had no idea how to control my emotions. I needed to stop blaming everyone around me and to stop being so selfish. This was my wake up call, I had to change my attitude, make amends and to focus on what was truly important… my Mum and my family.

Life Was About To Change

adult alone anxious black and white

I was 10 years old, the month was August and the sun was shining on what had appeared to be the perfect summer’s evening.  The time was around 7pm, Top of the Pops was playing the latest ‘80s tunes on the goggle box and that’s when we had a knock on the front door.  My Mum, being none the wiser, thought it was the neighbourhood kids messing around.  Oh how we wished it had been… instead, it was the Police. My Dad had popped out that day and we had no idea where he had gone. Obviously, there were no mobile phones back in the 1980s, we didn’t even have a landline because my Mum and Dad couldn’t afford one.  If we needed to contact anyone in an emergency, we had to run to the nearest phone box which was situated a couple of miles down the road.

I didn’t hear the entire conversation, I was hiding in the kitchen at the time and what happened next was a bit of a blur… it had felt like we were in a movie playing out in slow motion. Then, we were in my sisters car and on our way to the local hospital.  Once inside, we were taken into a little room. Myself and my sister stayed in this room whilst Mum was led away into another room.  I was so frightened, nobody was telling me anything and I had no idea what was going on.

On the way home, I remember asking my Mum and my sister over and over again ‘why is Dad not coming home with us?’.  Then eventually I heard the words… ‘Dad is dead’.  No, this wasn’t happening, not really… I would soon wake up from this nightmare and everything would be fine again… Dad had gone away for a little while, yes, that’s all it was.

I was in complete denial, I could not accept the harsh reality that I would never see my Dad ever again.

My Earliest Memories

man in black jacket beside boy in pink jacket holding plush toy during daytime
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

I was lucky enough to be raised by caring and loving parents who did their very best to make sure myself, my sister and my three brother’s childhood was stable. We all grew up in a three bed house on a council estate, quite a rough council estate come to think of it.  There was never a dull moment, day or night and on one occasion the Police even gave up on the area.  Apart from this, I have many fond memories of my younger years. Especially of Christmas, my Mum always made sure the festive season was one to remember. Our house would be full of colour and sparkling lights along with hand made decorations adorning the walls. We used to go for lovely long walks in the countryside and on rare occasions we would take a day trip to London. We would catch a bus to the train station, Mum would purchase the travel cards and then off we went, we never bothered to plan our day, we would literally go with the flow and it was always an exciting adventure.

We lived in close proximity to an aerodrome and my Mum and Dad would take us there during the weekends or school holidays, Mum and Dad would always walk and we would ride our bikes or roller skate. On occasions, a few of the kids from our neighbourhood would tag along too and we used to sit near the fuel pumps watching the planes take off and land. We had no idea how dangerous that was until one of the pilots shouted at us to move out of the way because we were in their blind spot.  A few years later they decided to cordon off most of the area… we were lucky none of us were seriously hurt.

I spent most of my childhood outdoors and I absolutely loved every minute of it.  I was definitely a Daddy’s girl, there was no doubt about that.  I enjoyed assisting Dad when he had to repair a bike, or plant some seeds.  Dad was a very clever man, I remember my Mum telling me he was an Engineer for a time, but he was sadly made redundant during the early 1980s. This was a tough time for our family and money was extremely tight,  we had to survive on the bare minimum.   The times we would all be sitting in the dark or by candle light due to not having enough fifty pence’s to power the electricity meter… My Dad would always shout ‘Power to the People’… a phrase used in a comedy show back in mid 1970s… to make light of the situation.  My Dad had a great sense of humour.

After being made redundant, Dad experienced bouts of depression. He also suffered with many aches and pains and I had no idea how serious these pains were.  Mum knew they were very serious and no matter how many times she would tell Dad to make an appointment with the doctor, he would always reply, ‘if I go to the doctors, they’ll keep me in and not let me go’.  Instead, Dad’s way of coping was to spend as much time outdoors as possible, so he decided to become an odd job man.  Dad loved to help others whenever he could, whether they needed items repaired or their windows cleaned.  Our life appeared to be rolling along at a steady pace for a little while, well, that’s how it seemed anyway…

A Funny Old Game

girl wearing white clothes walking on pavement road
Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on Pexels.com

Life.  What Is It Really All About?

Here we are, born into the world. From a tiny innocent baby with no knowledge whatsoever of who we are or where we are.  The various stages or milestones we face but can’t actually see or hold in our hands which we strive towards. The many strains, challenges and frightening realisations our little brains and bodies have to process as well as endure on this elevated journey we like to call ‘Life’.  Then there’s Mum and Dad, our parents. What does the word parent mean anyway?  Well, apparently it means a person who nurtures, rears and is a care taker of sorts. A parent doesn’t have to be somebody of a biological nature, anybody can be a parent.  Tiny mere mortals who have no choice than to entirely depend on this ‘alien being’ they first make eye contact with.

This is the reality… all of these experiences and many more, along with the huge responsibilities which are placed heavily on each and everyone’s shoulders for the rest of their entire lives.  We are completely oblivious to what the universe has in store for us, the paths we might follow and the types people we might meet along the way. Let’s face it, we have no idea what we’re doing or where we’re going, not really.  We’re all just ‘winging it’ towards a destination unknown.

Ok, Now Some Of You Might Be Thinking…

Why is she spouting on about the blooming obvious?

Let’s be honest here, there’s an abundance of blogs which go on and on about life from various perspectives… the lessons I’ve learned in life, the life I thought I’d messed up but then I eventually learned from my lessons, not to mention all of the hundreds and thousands of life lesson quotes… which I will hold my hands up to sharing occasionally on social media sites.  Most of us are guilty of doing this, yes we are.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to criticise life blogs or quotes, not at all, many are extremely inspirational which is why I’ve decided to jump on the band wagon.

I would like to share my own life experiences and stories with anybody who would like to read them.  Unfortunately, it’s not always been an easy ride, but I have learned a hell of a lot within the 40+ years of survival on this planet.

So let me start from the beginning…