Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Final Piece of the Jigsaw?

Now anyone who knows me will know that I never count my chickens. However, in the future when I look back, it may be this last week or so that has seen the final piece in the jigsaw falling into place. And what particular jigsaw, you might ask. Well it’s the one related to the mindset that prevented me believing that I would ever make it in what I really wanted to do. This, despite the fact that I knew that I actually had what it takes as well as the necessary perseverance to keep going. Yes, I know it may sound strange but aren’t we all a little like that? So what’s changed?

Well, it’s a combination of factors among which are that my fourth book is about to be published. Itself, to me at least, not such a big deal. What, however, has been a big deal is the response from some of those who’ve read the manuscript, and here you might need to excuse me for blowing my own trumpet. One has said that I’m an “incredible writer” and that the book is “brilliant” while the other say that it’s “a cracking read”. This from my fellow professionals; so many thanks for that, Mike and Jem. The other is that the school project I’m working on is coming along nicely. In addition, I’ll be working with another school in September while a third also wants to go ahead at that time.

So, even this person, who finds it difficult to acknowledge his successes, is no longer able to do so and the acceptance of that in my own head has been a sea change. Now where’s that next jigsaw?

Farther On

On Saturday evening, Gaynor and I went to see Jackson Browne at the Royal Albert Hall, probably the fifth time that I’ve seen him. It’s something we look forward to and the man never disappoints.

Now most artists do a tour in order to plug a new album but not this one at this time. Instead he played, mainly, those songs the audience wanted to hear and I hope that I wasn’t the only one who listened to some of them with tears in my eyes. You see, when I got divorced in 1976 and moved from Stevenage with my children to a rundown terraced house in Harrogate, well let’s just say that there were some difficult times. Yet, at the same time, I got involved in environmental and community activism and spent hours discussing our dreams with friends. And the music of Jackson Browne saw me through those four years and was the soundtrack to them. Indeed, so much did I play his music that, many years later, Matt, my son, told me that he always knew when I was in as he could hear the albums “Late for the Sky” or “The Pretender” being played as he walked down the street.

So strong were my feelings on Saturday evening that it was as if they were physical. Indeed, I’d have given almost anything to relive those times, unhappy though many of them were. You see, although they may have been difficult, they were also the times when the life that I now lead started and his music and the words, especially “Farther On” kept the pictures in my head alive and my dreams real. They have remained that way ever since. So, my thanks to someone without whose words and music, the world would have been a lesser place.

The End of an Era?

On Sunday, Gaynor and I went out for one of our usual weekend walks. This one to Rye Mead Nature Reserve in Hertfordshire, followed by a walk along the river back to Broxbourne and the train home to north London. On the way out, we sat next to a young American reading a book about the economic future and talked about the situation in his country and ours. At which point, he said that he never thought that he’d ever say that he’d prefer George W Bush to be back. Yet I was heartened when I spoke of the difficult times that his generation faced. At which point, he described its “steely determination”; something that I sense, right now, in our own country.

Now I could wax lyrical about this and the fact that, at long last, I think that we might be starting to see the dawn that has followed a long night which has endured for much of the past 40 years; half my lifetime, in fact. During much of that time, the people of this country have had to put up with an ideology where nastiness, inequality, greed, and “Sod you, Jack” have been the defining qualities. However, I won’t do that. Instead, I’ll just refer you to an article in last week’s Guardian by Jonathon Friedland. Click on and enjoy!

A Time of Change

For more years than I care to remember, the political wisdom has been that the population of this country wouldn’t vote for a socialist party; one that believes in caring and sharing. While, on a personal basis, even though I helped other people to believe in themselves and, despite the abundant evidence to the contrary, I found it difficult to believe that I could actually achieve and live the life that I wanted to. Well, both these mantras are now, either, confounded or well on their way to being so and I can’t tell you how good that feels; on both counts.

It was in 1979, that a certain Prime Minister took office with beliefs that you couldn’t buck the market, that if you paid those at the top more, the money would “trickle down” and we would all be better off as a result, that the state should be a small as possible and that private enterprise was good and public service considerably less so. This ideology, based on little actual evidence, remained the prevailing one for the next 38 years. So much so that, even when a Labour government was elected, it had to call itself “New Labour” and change its logo from a red flag to a red rose as well as ditching some of its cherished beliefs along the way. Well, despite the ravings of some of the more loony tabloids, we now know that the people of this little island do want sharing and caring. Moreover, they are fed up with a party whose idea of government includes little else other than letting the market decide plus austerity as far into the future as many of us will actually live.

Meanwhile, on the personal front, I am now on my fifth book so that, even, I can’t pretend that that’s no big deal. In addition, after two years plugging away, along with another Speaker and Coach, I’m now working on that project that I drew up for secondary schools and, following our first session, have just received the most positive feedback.

A time for change, indeed, along with my birthday on Thursday which will herald another new year in front of me.

Taking Our Country Back

Although today doesn’t quite feel like glad new morning, it does feel that the first steps have been taken in getting our country back. For which we have to thank the younger generation. In sharp contrast to some of their predecessors who got us into this mess in the first place. At which point, perhaps I should explain what I’m on about.

You see, as anyone who’s read almost anything that I’ve ever written, I believe in a world where sharing and caring and not greed an avarice are the oil in society’s engine. And don’t tell me that someone has to pay for it, of course they do. That’s what taxes are for. They’re the price of the ticket to a civilised society.

Now I’ve had more arguments than I care to remember with people who tell me that the world doesn’t operate in the way that I see it. At which point, I refer them to an article entitled “Goodland” by John Studzinski in The Guardian some four years ago. In this, he explains that this land, that I’d like to live in, does exist, albeit with different examples of it actually working in various countries throughout the world. Meanwhile, in our own country a little over a year ago, an unnecessary referendum unleashed a torrent of bile, prejudice and viciousness, stoked by some of the gutter press, that was alien to everything that I valued about the country that I live in. It was as if a race of aliens had taken over this green and pleasant land. A race, moreover, that looked as we do but had no understanding of the motivation or mores of the country that they had chosen to invade. Now, it may just be where I live or the people I mix with, but I recognised none of these people from among those I knew or met. I felt like a stranger in a strange land.

Well, yesterday, I went to vote and, waiting for my wife, couldn’t help but notice the number of young people at the polling station. At that point, I felt a new hope and, even though I was apprehensive, the election result when it came wasn’t really a surprise. So, my grateful thanks to that younger generation; the world is now more theirs to frame than mine. The good news is that they seem to value sharing and caring more than greed and avarice and, given what we’ve all had to put up with for the past few years, with little other than more of the same to come, who can blame them?

With Thanks to Mr Burns

“O wad som power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It was frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion.

Those of you who know their poetry will recognise these lines and their accurate portrayal of the human psyche; which leads me to today‘s blog. The topic of which is that, at long last, I’m starting to see myself as others see me.

In the past, to quote my wonderful Aunt Doreen, you had to take me as I was. Until, that is, I realised that there were aspects of my behaviour that I needed to change; something that has been a continuing process for some years now. However, it’s what that change has wrought in me that has been the real eye opener. You see, addressing these issues has helped me to free up things inside myself in ways that I couldn’t previously have imagined, with the most important being in regard to my writing. The results of which has just seen the completion of my fourth book, “Why Don’t You Just Support Arsenal? The Life and Times of a Spurs’ Supporter”.

I gave the manuscript to a good friend of mine to read and his comments have actually floored me. He e mailed to say that the book was like a love story to the beautiful game and that I’m an incredible writer! What it has also done, however, is to help me to realise that I have actually achieved and you can’t imagine how good that feels.

So discover your own unrealised abilities. You may be as delighted as I am with the results. And thank you, Robbie Burns.