Preparation

Post64

Those days are behind me, but I’ve maintained fighting fitness through years of kickboxing. Both physical fitness and mental fortitude will be needed to push through this ordeal of cancer. I have an appointment with the ENT surgeon, Mr Hogan, who refers me to an oncologist for assessment with the parting words “See you on the other side.” I look at him and hope that’s true. Continue reading

Motivation

Post63

As my USA trip came to an end, I flew back to England and boarded a coach to the North East in time to have one last night out. I met a few mates in the local pub and my old boss, Bob Hangdog, was sat at a table with his drinking buddies. I hadn’t seen him in about four months and he asked what new skills I’d learned. All I did was spend a summer in the sun. My mates looked at me. Continue reading

Time To Leave

Post62

I was getting criticised in the workplace. Neither hard work nor decent college results seemed to do any good. I designed a system to pinpoint the company’s profit or loss on a contract by contract basis. Before this, they quoted on jobs and did the work without any data on margins. It was used to increase profitability. And the small department I managed completed its work accurately and on time. But I was given no credit at all. I’d had enough. Upstairs and at the back of the two-storey building, there was a small, windowless room. Shelves filled the walls with folders. I used to go there to spend time alone. Things were coming to a head. It was the end of the line. Continue reading

Encouragement

Post61

On results day, I got three distinctions and two merits, and accepted the offer for the Oxford Polytechnic degree in business and law. I deferred the place for a year so I could save some more money. Kaz also passed and we celebrated in the Middlesbrough pubs. By the time the goodbyes were over, I was pissed and skint. I couldn’t get a taxi back to the house so I walked over to the riverside to sleep at work. It had been raining and I walked through an industrial estate along the wet streets lit by the glow of streetlamps. Continue reading

Looking Forward

Post60

A few weeks later, we were having a house party. Rog and I hired two blokes to mind the door and deal with any trouble. Unfortunately, the party got a bit too enthusiastic and the bouncers left after only two hours. Rog and I tried to keep order. Continue reading

Fight

Post59

The beginning of the end of my time in Northern England happened after a confrontation with a gang that had bullied Rog throughout his schooldays. Name-calling and the odd schoolboy scrap intensified into something much more sinister in adult life: Threats and violence. It was time to put a stop to it all. One Friday evening in the pub, a heated argument kicked off when one of the Bullyboys spread a rumour that he was sleeping with Rog’s girlfriend. I didn’t know if it was true, but I assumed not. Anyway, Rog was not impressed and a scuffle broke out. There were five of them against Rog, myself and a few of his student friends, but only I backed Rog up. They told us not to drink there again. Continue reading

The Sun And The Cold

Post58 copy

A friend had bought a house and two rooms were available to rent. Rog took one room and I got the other. Boredom mounted at work, but I was lucky to be earning, given the lack of work in the local area. Summer holidays abroad with my mates offered some light relief from everyday life. Continue reading

Blood

Post57

I went on a night out at a local club. As the evening drew to a close, there was a commotion in the street. A fight broke out between three men, two against one, and the crowd bayed for blood. It didn’t last long as the poor sod was punched to the ground and received a flurry of kicks to the head. As his face was smashed against the pavement, I pushed my way through everyone and stood between the man on the ground and the other two with my arms outstretched. Continue reading

Tension

Post56

I served in the Paras, but decided to leave the following year. My knee gradually worsened on the regular battle marches and, literally, I limped through to the end of my time in the battalion. Initial parachute training worsened the problem as I hit the ground feet first and rolled agonisingly along my legs. However, I didn’t leave due to that injury, although it ended up causing pain for years. I was just in a hurry in life and wanted something else. I didn’t know what it was, but I was going to find it. Continue reading

Maroon Beret

Post55 copy

As we neared the end of the course, the fifty-one surviving recruits were mustered before the Dakota for a group photograph. We lined up on the grass in our crap hats. The two rows at the back were standing and the training staff sat in front with boots crossed, fists on their knees and maroon berets on. With the formalities over, we were ordered to sort our kit out. Continue reading