Hungover the next morning, it was decision time. I’d met the offers for Newcastle University and North Staffordshire Polytechnic, but didn’t know what to do. I had avoided thinking about it all summer long and just enjoyed myself. Now I had the grades, the pressure was on to get a degree. I applied for Classics and History degrees because I couldn’t think of anything else. I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do job-wise. Continue reading

Feeling Pressure


I sat bolt upright in bed, drenched in sweat and looked around the room. Faint daylight crept under the curtains. Posters were on the walls. The Specials, Madness and Bob Marley in the main. I leant on an elbow and saw the card table covered in green felt which served as a makeshift desk. Books were stacked against the wall. A chart was filled with crosses, except for one circled date. It was the last day of my exams and I smiled. Continue reading

Phantom In The Forest


During the summer break after I left school, a man jumped bail at Leeds Crown Court, drove to a picnic site near Harrogate and shot a policeman in the head. The constable was found dead by the open door of his car. A massive manhunt in North Yorkshire began. The gunman went on the run to Nottinghamshire, where he broke into a house and tied a married couple together at the elbows. They were both shot in the head. He stole their car and escaped. The husband died but his wife survived and crawled to some neighbours to raise the alarm. Continue reading



One of the sports teachers was predictably sadistic and gave us a foundation course in stress positions. Minor misdemeanours were rewarded with the culprit facing a wall with knees bent and arms parallel to the floor. A piece of paper was held against a wall by the nose. If the paper fell to the floor, the victim would be beaten with a gym shoe. It had no effect whatsoever on our poor class behaviour. Continue reading

Dog Shit Heroes


I played lots of football and was in the school team from the first term. It was an unsuccessful team, even though we played only one other private school called Mill Hall. That school had a pupil whose Dad was a professional footballer and he helped coach them. We lost for years, exacerbated by the dubiously large kids who played for the opposition’s under-fourteen team. Continue reading

Thornhill School


When it was time for secondary school, Marky and I were enrolled in the fee-paying Thornhill School. It had an authoritarian regime. The pupils were worked hard. We had three pieces of homework a night and four at weekends. The school was small with usually one class, but sometimes two per year. It amounted to about four hundred pupils in total. The main school building was Edwardian and two stories tall, with wooden flooring, high ceilings and musty air. Mainly traditional subjects were taught. Art and History were my favourites from early on. Continue reading

Court Martial


At Taylor’s place, we talked about what had happened in his back garden. Scotty really wasn’t happy and used an old climbing rope to tie Taylor to a tree out of sight of the house. With the frayed ends pulled tight, Scotty glared at him. Continue reading



The farmer’s land and forest beyond was where Scotty and I spent our time during the school holidays. Influenced by Warlord and Commando comics, as well as The Professionals, we called it HQ and spent many a happy day in the wilderness. We trained, as best we knew how, in military manoeuvres. During downtime, we settled back and watched the blue sky and floating clouds. With the trickle of the stream nearby, we stretched in the summer sunshine, chewed grass and chatted the time away without a care in the world. Continue reading



Onwards and over a rickety fence at the end of open fields. We ran down a slope to the stream below. It sounded loud at night and ripples shimmered under the moonlight. In the shallow valley, it was noticeably darker and easy to move along the banks of the meandering stream toward the distant farmhouse on a hill to the right, beyond the other side of the water. It was approaching 1 a.m. and there was only one light on upstairs as we crawled past the farmhouse. The forest and gamekeeper-country was soon upon us. We were forced to make slightly more noise as the carpet of twigs and leaves cracked and crunched beneath our feet. The going was slow to minimise sound. We traversed over an incline and into the darkness of the forest. Continue reading

Midnight Adventure


One summer evening, Marky, Scotty and I pitched a tent in Scotty’s back garden. He lived in Wolverstone Village. We crawled into our sleeping bags and waited for nightfall. As the sky darkened, we kitted up and slipped into the inky night. We melted through the shadows beside his house and listened. The amber glow of the street lamp to the front cast long shadows on the pavement. The air had chilled. No sign of anyone. We moved under the windows of his neighbour’s house and into the nearby lane. The full moon was good for when we reached the safety of the fields, but it left us exposed for about the next two hundred metres. Pavement bordered a wall to the right, backing onto houses. This provided cover from the darkened windows, but would leave us wide open if a car approached. To the left was a ditch, then a barbed wire fence surrounding a field containing two massive horses. We crept through the ditch as a compromise. Although overlooked by windows, we could keep to the shadows. Continue reading