Letters to my sons.

Trying to explain the world to two very small children.

Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

KK and all that.

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Dear son,

I said I would explain about my feelings regarding the return of Kevin Keegan (KK) to Newcastle, so here goes.

I moved to the North East in 1982 when Grand Pa John’s work took him to Birtley. Before that we (Uncle Phil, Grand Ma Audrey, me and Grand Pa John) had lived in Grimsby. It was the day after my 12th birthday that we left, having moved there in 1974 so at that point nearly all of the life that I could remember leading had been in Grimsby. I didn’t really appreciate the North East during my teenage years and waited for any opportunity to leave. It came sooner than I thought.

My cousin Iain needed someone to look after his 3 and half year old daughter for the summer of 1988 and I jumped at the chance to spend three months in Chamonix looking after Emma. I finished my A levels in June, went on a family holiday to Scotland (the Piper Alpha Oil rig exploded while we were there) and then the adventure began. Iain had paid for my flights from Newcastle to Heathrow and then onto Geneva where I would picked up by his brother Andy. The morning of my flight I woke up mega early, really excited about the three months in Chamonix ahead of me. My mum and dad dropped me at Newcastle airport and I boarded my flight. I knew that depending on the direction of the wind the plane might fly over our house so I decided to look out and see if I could see it. At that point the co-pilot announced over the speakers “If you look out to the left you will see Leicester…”.

Uncle Phil wanted me to buy him some duty free after shave and when I got to Heathrow I went looking around the duty free shops only to hear the final call being announced for my flight so I hot footed it off to the gate to be see a whole load of people queueing, boarding hadn’t even started.

At Geneva I made my way to the exit and found Andy. Before long we were dropping my stuff off at Iain’s house and then on to spend the rest of the day at Andy’s house in Les Praz.

I enjoyed my three months in Chamonix, leaning how to cook, quite a lot of French and how to placate a three year old. The cooking and French skills I soon lost but my children skills I seem to have kept. A few weeks after coming back from Chamonix and going back to the North East I was off again to take my place at the lowest seat of learning in the land: The Polytechnic of Wales. I caught the bus to London and then another bus to Pontypridd. The bus to London did pass by our house and on the way past I flicked the V signs at it – I had never wanted to live there and I didn’t ever image I would come back.

But come back I did, in late 1993 I moved in with Uncle Phil. Effectively homeless and penniless I left Wales for the North East. There were two triggers that made me move; the obvious one was being homeless and penniless. The other was home sickness for the North East. During my time in Wales I had been back to the North East to see the family and to attend weddings and it was at a wedding in 1991 the seed of my desire to return was planted. This seed was watered by a TV program called Byker Grove that I started watching in early 1993 when my contract with Welsh Water wasn’t renewed and I was at home on the dole.

The third thing that really tipped over the edge of wanting to go back to the North East was football. Kevin Keegan had taken Newcastle into the Premership and the place was buzzing. At this point I had never seen Newcastle play, coming from a non-sporting family, but I had been a regular at Ninian Park to watch Cardiff play during my time in South Wales seeing the likes of Nathan Blake and Phil Stant under the management of Eddie May. I had even been to the Auto Windshield match between Cardiff and Swansea when police horses charged the Cardiff fans who were making their way peacefully into the stadium. This provocative action by the Police lay the foundations for the later riot. And I was at Ninian Park the day Cardiff won the old 3rd Division, doing the Aiatollya on the pitch when the game finished. I was sitting in a bar in Cardiff one night and they were showing something on Sky Sports about Newcastle and I watched 30 minutes of Newcastle goals. I knew at that point that I needed to “go home”.

When I heard that Kevin Keegan had been re-appointed at Newcastle my mind was thrown back to the time when I returned to the North; all the stress of being homeless and poor, and the realisation that this was the place where I called “home”.

After these memories had been thoroughly investigated and relived my mind went on to the two years I was back in the North East and the things that I did. This was mainly a happy time for me although there were some side times – being dumped by a girl friend springs to mind.

And then there were the thoughts regarding the events in the last 11 years – thinking I had found the one I was going to spend my life with only to be dumped on Valentines day, meeting your mother and knowing I was wrong about the other woman (this was very liberating), your birth, the death of my own mother and a hold host of other emotions both good and bad. All these thoughts played out in my mind in the few days after Kevin Keegan returned to Tyneside.

They say that smells trigger the most vivid memories and sometimes, for me, this is true. But the Return of the Messiah reminded me that I am growing older, that I have done a lot in my life and that I still have so much that I want to do.

Written by Administrator

March 18th, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Death and misery or …

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Dear Son,

last week we heard the sad news that our next door neighbour Arthur had died while in hospital for a hip replacement. The funeral is this Friday and your mother and I are both planning to go. Arthur had not been mobile for awhile but we heard his fine singing voice through the walls on many occasions as well as his instructions to the family dog to “Shatt App!”.

I enjoyed my chats with Arthur when he used to stand by his front door looking out during summers past. He told stories of an East End that has now gone forever and about being bombed during the war. One story that I remember was of his brother, who was in the Army, and back home on leave during the war. Despite a full on air raid taking place his brother was sat outside smoking and watching the bombs fall. During a lull in the bombing Arthur had tried to coax him back inside, but he refused. “I’d rather die in the open air” his brother had told him, “than cooped up in an air raid shelter.”

It isn’t just Arthur’s death has had me thinking miserable thoughts. I was listening to the Layer Cake sound track today and it features the only good Duran Duran song, Ordinary World. For someone I once knew, it provided comfort as it reminded them of the good times they had spent with a friend who had died far too young and the strength to celebrate that life.

Not long after listening to that track I heard the news from a very old and dear friend that her father had passed away this morning. He had been unwell for a while and became very ill yesterday, she was able to get the train to Sunderland and spend the night at his bed side with other family members, spend a few precious hours with him and be there as he passed away.

With all this death around compounded by the all the misery in the world heaped on us by religious fascists; praying to the god of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, money or a pathetic ideology that relegates humans to skin colours; it is quite easy to become depressed.

But death is just the natural order of things and is as inevitable as night following day. I know from personal experience that it is very hard when someone you are very close to dies but the pain eases in time and reminders of the good times bring a smile to the face. Yes, with that smile comes a longing that they could be here to see what has changed but it is not a painful experience.

“Don’t curse the darkness – light a candle” the Chinese proverb goes. Instead of moping around I have been making a conscience effort to look for good and inspiring things. Instead of mourning for the dead I want to try and make a difference to those who are still living. My mothers favourite phrase summed it up this:

Life is for the living. The dead can look after themselves.

Written by Administrator

September 5th, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Posted in Family,Memories

Market Square Heros

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Dear Son,

I saw something on the BBC web site yesterday that triggered enough memories to fill a whole book.

Way back in 1988 a singer called Fish split with the rest of a band named Marillion, a band I had followed for a few years before. I got into Marillion when my brother (your uncle Phil) was given a tape of “Misplaced Childhood” by a friend of his and it was played constantly. The album is still a fantastic listen, I’ll be putting it on my iPod tonight so I can listen to it tomorrow.

The album that came after that was called “Clutching at Straws” and was about Fish’s alcoholism. The songs are all about self pity and fitted in well with my raging 17 year old hormones. I bought the album the very day it came it out from HMV in Durham. A University and Polytechnic fair had been organised at a school hall in Durham and as Sixth formers we were all encouraged to go along and meet with people from different Universities and polytechnics. Most of us used it as an excuse to go to Durham for the day and hang out although I did pop into the fair and pick up a couple of Prospectuses.

That day in Durham was gloriously hot and fantastically rebellious – buying an album in the morning and then I ended up spending the afternoon in the cinema watching a film rated 18 called “Personal Services”. The film was based on the life of Cynthia Paine who had run a brothel. The film would be thought of as quite tame these days but then it was close to the edge of scandal. I also took the decision that day to drop A Level maths as I was spending all my time working on it but not getting anywhere – the other subjects I was doing were suffering as a result, as I was way behind with the other reading and work I needed to do for my Computers and History A-levels.

We had a shared record player in the front room so when I got home I simply taped the album and then put it away so that it wouldn’t get scratched and then played the tape until it wore out.

I had managed to amass the Marillion back catalouge by this point with the exception of one album. I used to buy my records for a stall on Chester-le-Street market. I forget the man’s name who ran it but he some really good stories. He had gone to see Led Zeppelin at Newcastle City Hall but had only been able to get seats in the Choir stalls that was behind the stage – this was in the days when the band would turn-up on stage and play, without fancy lights and shows. He had to leave early to get the last bus back to Chester-le-Street and on his way out he got a little lost back stage and bumped into Jimmy Page who has just finished playing. He asked Jimmy, who still had his guitar around his neck, for his autograph. Jimmy patted his hands around his trousers, looked at the guy, shrugged and said: Sorry mate, I’ve got no pen.

The other story he told was when he met Jimmy Hendrix. He was going into a night club in Gateshead when someone on the way out bumped into him. The guy apologised for not looking – the guy in question being Jimmy Hendrix.

The one album I was missing was called Fugazi. The term comes from the Vietnam war and means a type of madness that would affect American soldiers. I’m not sure if the album was rare or not but the man on the market stall never had it, I suppose it was the album that nobody wanted to part with as most of his stock was second hand. Or perhaps it was the album that was hardly ever bought and then stolen – if his stock was in fact nicked goods. I was going to have pay full price for this one and I saved really hard. By Christmas 1997 I have enough money to finally go out and buy the album and I made a day of it.

The only place to buy albums was in Newcastle as Woolworths in Chester-le-Street didn’t sell it. I would have a large choice of shops once I was in Toon and might even spoil myself with some cakes from Greggs.

My favourite record shop at the time was Virgin in Eldon Square. The place hadn’t had a make over for years and was very dark and dingy but that just gave it an arty feeling. If you wanted bright and well lit you could always go to WH Smiths or even HMV on Northumberland Street. Seriously weird people lurked in the dark of Virgin and being a teenage Marillion fan made me seriously weird to my contemporaries. Although no where near as weird as the people who haunted the darkness of Virgin records – goths, punks and rockers.

Buying music in those days was very different from how it is now. Within a few years CD’s has replaced vinyl and now downloads are replacing CD’s. The thing about albums in general was that the packaging had to house a piece of vinyl that was 12 inches in diameter. This left loads of room for pictures and artwork and all the thank you’s or equipment lists. Marillion albums were two twelve inch pieces of card with a fold in the middle and had fantastically detailed artwork on all four sides. In the inside would be the lyrics printed above more artwork. I don’t remember which shop I bought Fugazi from but I do remember sitting on the bus back home and spending a good long while looking at each every detail and being enthralled by it all. You don’t get the same enthrallment with CD artwork because it is so much smaller and all you get with an iTunes download is very small cover artwork that appears on the computer or iPod screen – you don’t even get to hold the thing, turn it over in your hands, see it in different light at different angles. So much of the creative process of creating a package that envelopes the artistic process of making music has been lost with digital technology. And that is a shame.

Instant gratification is no gratification. The very fact that I saved for many months to buy the album and then had to wait for an hour to get home before I could play it, an hour studying every nuance of the cover art and lyrics to songs, only added to my enjoyment when I finally listened to it. Some of them I had heard before on Real to Reel, the live album, but most were new to me including the stunning eponymous song Fugazi.

I was lucky enough to see Marillion with Fish on their last tour together at Newcastle City Hall around Xmas 1997, nearly 20 years ago. I still have the t-shirt and program from that night. So when I read the BBC news story that Fish had been joined on stage by his old band mates I was excited and then saddened that I hadn’t been there. In the story one woman says that grown men were crying and I understand why. My Marillion years are long behind me but I still long to be a Market Square Hero.

Written by Administrator

August 29th, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Culture,Memories

An old home

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Dear Son,

Your Uncle Phil called me last night and told me that he had visited a house in Church Gresley that we (the Caudle family) used to live in. We lived in the house from 1971 until 1974 and only being a few days past my fourth birthday when we left, I don’t remember that much about the house or our time there but here are the things that stand out; I’m sure that as I am reminded of this time then more memories will flow.

Bath time
This memory popped in this evening when you were having your bath. I remember being bathed by my mother and someone else. The other person was female and was either Mrs Clamp or “Auntie” Gladys. Uncle Phil went to see Mrs Clamp the other night and she has been a familly firend for years but I have no idea what happened to “Auntie” Gladys. I have used quotes around her name because she wasn’t a real Auntie, my parents didn’t like us calling people who were not real Aunties or Uncles “Auntie” or “Uncle” and I agree with them. If I child is sticking the word Auntie or Uncle in front of everyones name then it becomes meaningless. My hazy recollection of “Auntie” Gladys is that she was a bit mad and talked a lot. I don’t suppose my mother could get a word in edge ways to explain her thinking on the use of the word “Auntie” before some ones name.

The one thing I remember about having this bath is having my hair washed. I, just like you did tonight, used to scream when my mother leant me back into the water to wet my hair. But this particular night I remember screaming and being conscience of the fact that I was screaming and wondering why I was screaming. Maybe this is my earliest memory or maybe it was just another example of me becoming conscience of myself.

I remember the bathroom being very white and steamy.

Bashing Uncle Phil on the Head.
I remember picking up a lump of tarmac and being surprised at how light it was for something so big. Uncle Phil was sitting down so I bashed him on the head with it. Your grandmother Audrey told me that Uncle Phil had to go to hospital and it was only when I explained to the nurses what I had done did they actually stop questioning her as if she had done it. I don’t remember the hospital visit or much else about that incident.

Locking a child in the play room
I remember that we had a play room that connected to the kitchen. I think I remember the kitchen as well but it is very hazy and not possible to describe. One day I was in the play room with a child who was younger than me and seemed to enjoy hitting and biting me. I was old enough and tall enough to open the door to the play room and escape into the kitchen and close the door behind me. The other child wasn’t able to open the door and was effectively locked in there. When my mother asked why I had done what I had done and I explained, I remember her looking at me with affection and telling me I had done the right thing.

The child next door.
I remember that there was a child that lived next to us. I think he was older then me but younger than Uncle Phil. He had a toy rifle that had a bullet on a hinge that flopped in and out of the breach. He would ask me “Are yah playing?” His voice would go up on the word “playing” and he would do an exaggerated Gallic shrug at the same time.

Going on an adventure.
I remember taking my mother by the hand and leading her down to the trees at the bottom of the garden. I learnt about Scot of the Antarctic and I claimed we were going on an adventure to the North Pole.

Need any help?
I remember that part of the garden was set aside for growing vegetables. Your grandfather John has always made room in the garden of the house where he lives to grow his own vegetables. I remember him having a bonfire and asking him if he needed any help – a ruse to get to play with the fire but my father was having none of it.

The water sprinkler and the bucket.
It was a hot summers day and the garden sprinkler was switched on. I remember being mostly naked and playing with Uncle Phil. We were trying to get the bucket over the sprinkler and getting very wet at the same time. I remember my mother laughing and watching happily while my dad took photos. This is the strongest and happiest memory of this time, if I look back on my life as a child I think this was the perfect day.

I hope I can give you at least one memory as happy as this within the first 4 years of your life.

Written by Administrator

August 22nd, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Family,Memories

2 Year olds.

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Dear Son,

A few things have happened since I last wrote. First of all the leader of the country has changed. Not much to write about here, just one corrupt person taking over from another.

More importantly you have moved into class 3 at nursery and this means that you are now downstairs. You moved down a couple of weeks ago and it has been quite traumatic for you. For the whole of your life that you can remember you have been upstairs so it has taken a while for you to get used to the idea of not doing that. Yesterday you happily went and sat down for your breakfast and didn’t cry when I left you – in fact you were too engrossed in your weetabix to notice me going.

I don’t know that many two year olds. I certainly don’t know any who eat Bombay Mix and also ask for it by name. Your taste for spicy foods is welcome and I image it comes from your mothers side of the family, you certainly had good portions in the womb. I don’t quite remember my first curry but I remember then becoming a feature of family meal times around the late 1970’s. Your grand father and mother where never in to fads of any kind, certainly not food fads, we never had a fondue set for example, so curries must have become pretty mainstream for it to appear on our dining table. I do remember eating them for Sunday lunch around 1985, Grand Ma Audrey had made a load of beef curries and frozen them. She had bought the curry spices at an Indian shop on the West Gate road and used the same amounts as she had used in the past with the stuff bought from the super market. Inadvertently she had created very hot curries but at the same time they were not harsh, just very hot. Within a few mouthfuls the top of my head would be sweating, part of an overall body glow that a fantastic curry creates from the inside out.

Grand Pa Ken in Trinidad grows his own hot chilli peppers and makes his own chilli sauce which is both very hot and also very smooth at the same time. It takes a lifetime of experience to make something like that and it is appreciated by everyone who tastes it. Because Ken gives us it in litre bottles we tend to give some of it away to a select few and they all say the same thing: it is the best pepper sauce they have tasted.

Your talking and reasoning is coming along, the other day I farted loudly and you came over and informed me “Daddy done a pooh.” It smelt like it but I hadn’t, this didn’t stop you getting the nappy sack and start unpacking. “Nappy change time Daddy!” you informed me. There may actually come a time when you are changing my nappies – it is only fair, I have been changing yours for over two years. In fact we have my first attempt at changing one of your nappies on video, you were only 14 hours old. So don’t annoy me when your older or I’ll show it to your friends!

Written by Administrator

July 13th, 2007 at 8:41 am

Posted in Family,Memories

Mr and Mrs – be nice to each other…

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Dear Son,

we watched a bit of ITV’s Game Show Marathon yesterday and they were doing Mr and Mrs. The original program was screened sometime in the 1970’s and was truly awful. I remember watching it along with “Crown Court” when I was off school ill – this was in the days when there were only 3 television channels, ITV didn’t start until 9.30am (it still doesn’t start until 9.30am today officially) and Country Cricket was all there was to watch during the summer holidays.

The premiss of Mr and Mrs is quite simple; the host (Derek Batey in the old days) would ask one of the couple some questions about the relationship. The partner would have been taken away and placed in a sound proof both whilst these questions were being asked. They would bring back the partner and ask them the exact same questions and points would be given if they both agreed on the answer. They would then repeat the exercise with the partner being asked the questions.

I remember one episode when the couple were very old and I knew they were very old even as a child. Around the same time as this memory a man on the street had died and he had been fifty years old which all the adults agreed was not very old at old, indeed it was quite young. As a child I thought 50 years old was very old – today as a 36 year old I think like the adults before me – I will still be paying the mortgage when I’m 50. But back to the old couple on Mr and Mrs – they had been married for something like 60 years and one of the questions asked to man was:

Where did you give your wife her engagement ring? Was it in the jewellers shop? Outside the jewellers shop or somewhere else?

And the old man said he could not remember because it was so long ago but he guessed an answer anyway. When his wife came out she couldn’t remember either but she guessed but it didn’t match the husbands guess. The husband, a frail old man, at this point started to cry because he felt that he should have remembered this small and in the larger scheme of things, trivial, piece of information. Maybe in that one question he was reminded of his virile youth and the reality of his frail body and failing mind where presented to him.

I wasn’t that surprised to see an old man cry as old people would come to the school Carol Concert and the Harvest Festival and a few of them would always cry at the sound of the young sweet voices singing hymns. It’s only now that I am starting to understand the reasons why old people cry for a time that is lost and can never be recaptured.

Part of the magic of being young is the innocence and lack of experience that can lead to the wrong conclusions. If a couple didn’t win at Mr and Mrs they received a carriage clock as a consolation prize. We had a carriage clock in our house that chimed every 15 minutes and the chimes were very loud – they had to be as the clock was used in horse drawn carriage. The chimes had to be louder than the sound of the wheels pulled along bumpy roads and the clatter of horses hooves. My father would wind the clock up every day and almost every day he told us that it wasn’t a toy, it was very expensive and we shouldn’t play with it. The clock it’s self had a glass body inside a brass case that left the spring and all the cogs and gears exposed – it was possible to see big and small wheels going round at different speeds to move the hands.

So when I saw a losing couple being given a carriage clock I naively thought that they were getting something worth having, that all carriage clocks were expensive and chime very loudly every quarter of an hour. It was only years later that I discovered that far from being given a hand made clock of exquisite complexity and beauty they were in fact being given a cheap, silent battery operated mass made “reproduction”. An old man had gone onto a television program, cried at his inability to remember his own past and for all of that he received something of no value to anyone – maybe he was crying because that is how he felt; in his youth maybe he wanted to be someone that people respected, trusted and treasured, someone who would survive the generations in books and TV programs but now, realising that the end was close, he had the realisation that he had archived nothing that would be recorded by history as exceptional.

Written by Administrator

May 13th, 2007 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Memories

Seven years ago today.

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Dear son,

it’s seven years to the day that I first went out with your mother. I took her to see West Ham vs Newcastle United (match report).

It rained really hard and I gave your mother my coat. At the time I never thought that we would eventually get married and have a son but my life changed that night and for the better.

Written by Administrator

April 12th, 2007 at 11:14 am

Posted in Memories

Chicken Pox

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Dear Son,

you have chicken pox at the moment although you are now over the worst although you look horrible. It is quite frightening to see you covered in yellow spots and then seeing those spots fill with blood and then turn into scabs. The scabs are now starting to get smaller but you didn’t enjoy your bath tonight or being dried.

When Grand Pa John rang and I told him that you had chicken pox he informed me that I had never had it. Luckily I was old enough when I got chicken pox to remember getting it. If Grand Ma Audrey was alive she would have been able to tell me the exact dates because we were on holiday when I got it – she could have told me which parts of Scotland we were in.

I was 8 years old; Uncle Phil went on holiday with Chicken Pox and I came back with it. We lived in Grimsby at the time and on the way back from the Borders we stopped off in Skipton to see Uncle Denis and Aunty Kath. Aunty Kath decided to lotion me up because I was at the scratching stage. The lotion helped stop the itching and the attention she gave me made me feel better. She tied my hair up and made sure my face was plastered with white calamine as well as my arms and hands.

On the drive back to Grimsby we went through either Leeds or Bradford – a journey we had done many times before. The route took us through a black area and, having rarely seen anyone non-white, Uncle Phil and I though these people were funny and had nick named them “burnt sausages”. When Grand Ma and Grand Pa cottoned on to what we were going on about we received a stern rebuke. This didn’t stop us, for being children we acted in a childish manner. But this time as we drove through the black area, black men and women of all ages would wave and smile at me in the car. It took us all a while to work out what was going on but they saw this kid with his hair tired up out of the way of his forehead, red spots and scabs all over his face and a covering of milking white liquid. Instead of staring at me like a circus attraction when they saw that something was wrong with me, they attempted to lift my spirits with a big heart felt smile and wave. Being marginalised them selves they had no desire to make anyone else feel unwanted or less than human just for looking different. The few miles of that journey struck a cord with me at the time although the memory has stayed locked away in my sub conscience until this last week. It reminds me that to be human, to be different from the other animals that inhabit this earth, we have to show our humanity to others at every possible opportunity. Something I’m afraid son, I haven’t always been that good at.

Written by Administrator

March 30th, 2007 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Family,Memories

The most pointless video every?

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Dear Son,

I installed a Widget on my Mac that allows me to play ZX Spectrum games the other day and I’ve been playing Manic Miner for the last few days. The ZX Spectrum was the first computer I ever had. My parents bought it for me and Uncle Phil for Xmas 1982, we got the 16k version for £99 – quite a lot of money in those days. The machine broke down a few times and was sent back until Grand dad Caudle asked for a refund and got one. By this time the 48k Spectrum had been reduced in price to £99 so he simply bought a 48k version.

I learnt how to program on that ZX Spectrum and spent many hours as a teenager playing games and writing programs. Because I didn’t get much pocket money I couldn’t afford the games available in the shops so I would either try and copy them (which was illegal) or I would buy cheap magazines that had printed listings for games that me and Uncle Phil would then spend hours typing in. We used to wait a month until the next copy of the magazine came out because the print outs invariably contained mistakes – nothing worse than spending three nights typing something in only for it not to run. To raise a bit of cash we also used to sell the games we had typed in at school.

I was looking around the internet for Manic Miner cheats when I came across a video of Manic Miner loading. In those days games cassette tapes. Cassette tapes are, were errr I will show you one when your older. Anyway it took a full 5 minutes to load a game and you could hear the noises of different byte values. I used to be able to hear if a program loaded extra code after a screen download, I also knew when a game was close to finishing loading by learning the sounds and the patterns.

When I saw the video it brought back so many memories of spending time shut away on my own writing programs that I though would make me a millionaire. Uncle Phil would be out with his current girlfriend or his mates and this worried Grandma Audrey no end. She once told me she thought that she was blame for my lonely obsession and was never happier than when I brought people round who shared my enthusiasm – although this wasn’t often. We formed our own software company but we never created anything – we just played multi user games and talked the talk of how the girls would like us when we had money and how the popular kids would be jealous.

I think my lonely obsession has done we well over the years and Grandma Audrey lived long enough to see that and know that the guilt and worry she had was the product of a compassionate and caring bond. I still like being on my own, something that your mother doesn’t always understand. Hopefully son you will understand that sometimes I need to be alone with my thoughts; I’m not shunning you. I just need a place to reflect and think and get my thoughts and feelings in order.

Written by Administrator

March 30th, 2007 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Family,Memories

Trinidad Holiday

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Dear Son,

we have just returned from Trinidad after your first visit for carnival. You are too young for Carnival at the moment but you did have time for some noticeable firsts:

  • First trip to Tobago
  • Sang calypso
  • Took the skin off your knees
  • You felt the effects of an earthquake
  • You went into the sea
  • Ate shark
  • Stepped on a scorpion

This was your very first visit to Tobago. In the past we have always flown directly into Piarco International but this time we flew with BA into Tobago mainly because it was a lot cheaper. Your mother and I have made the hop from Trinidad to Tobago for a few days R & R in the past but this is the first time we have flown directly to Tobago.

We were all still on English time when we arrived in Tobago from London so had an “early night” – 7.30pm Tobago time, 11.30pm English time. You woke up at 4am Tobago time and we spent the next hour walking around the hotel grounds. We then got you in the shower and dressed. But it was only 6am so we had another run around the hotel grounds until around 7am when we got a lift to Crown Point and went to the Crown Point Hotel for breakfast. We arrived a good twenty minutes before breakfast started at 7.30am so we took in the view of Store Bay beach and the Caribbean Sea before a lovely breakfast.

The restaurant at Crown Point Airport has always served really nice food when we have been to Tobago in the past so we thought we would take our bags and go there for lunch before getting the shuttle to Piarco. When we tried to check in we were told that we were too early but they would try and get us on a much earlier flight – all we had to do was pop back in 40 minutes and if there was space we would be on. So we trooped off to the eatery opposite with our bags and ordered some food. You weren’t too hungry but you did drink your drink which seemed to consist entirely of sugar and colourings, it was only went you started to go mental that your mother tasted the “fruit” drink she ordered for you. But it was too late – you were all sugared up!

The food wasn’t up to much so I went to check to see if we could get on the next flight. I checked the three of us in while you and your mother were still eating – or in your case getting more and more hyper. When we went through security the guards made us take our laptops out of our bags, as we did this you ran off to cause havoc in the departure lounge – “bacchanal” is the word they use in Trinidad. When we managed to clear security you were running back and forth, still high on the effects of the sugar. We let you run around to get it out of your system before we got on the shuttle and this seemed to have worked.

When we got into Trinidad we picked up the hire car and decided to wait in Port of Spain to avoid the evening traffic. A quick recap of the times when I have shivered in Trinidad:

  1. J’Ouvert in Arouca 2002. 4am and it started to rain
  2. The Kapoc hotel in Port of Spain when I set the air conditioning was set to a very low temperature
  3. On Caroni swamp when we were moving very quickly on a mass of water after sunset

So we went to a restaurant in Movie Towne where the air conditioning was far too high. The three of us had to cuddle up to keep warm, I was close to setting fire to a menu to keep warm. The food was excellent but it was far too cold – I don’t travel to a hot country to shiver. So now I have shivered 4 times in a tropical country. You enjoyed being cuddled mind as me and your mother kept warm.

We left Movie Towne and managed to get stuck in traffic on the way to Arouca but arrived at Maraj Street in time for the Soca Monarch competition. Although you were in bed before the competition started, there was a party in the back garden as we watched the various artists performed on a big screen and consumed alcohol. The song I thought I would win was Crazy’s “Cold Sweat” and I have been singing the chorus for a while. You have recently been singing songs such as “Twinkle twinkle little star”, “Row, row, row your boat” and “Meunier, tu dors” so picking up on my rendition of “Cold Sweat” didn’t take you long. So now you are singing calypso much to the amusement of those in the know.

After settling in at Maraj Street you were able to run around in nothing more than a vest, with the cold weather in the UK you have always walked around in long trousers. So with you falling over every now and then, it was no surprise that you would take the skin off one if not both your knees. For some reason you managed to keep taking skin off your right knee. Just as it was starting to heal you would fall over again and take the scab off it. We eventually put a massive plaster over it and changed the plaster when you fell over.

The earthquake we felt was reported by The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Unit as:

February 23, 2007
At approximately 10:48am local time an earthquake occurred near Port of Spain, Trinidad at 10.61°N 61.48°W. The preliminary magnitude for this event is 4.7 and the depth was 41km. The event was felt in Arima, Cunupia, San Fernando, Point Lisas in Trinidad as well as Tobago and Upper Hopewell, St. Vincent. There has been at least one small aftershock since the earthquake occurred.

We certainly felt the shock on Maraj Street in Arouca. I had just changed your nappy and picked you up off the bed when I heard a loud bang and the whole room shook. I thought at first that I might be having a dizzy spell as the heat, lack of sleep and time difference were getting to me. The thing was, the whole room wobbled. The walls rippled and it was very odd. When we went downstairs the rest of the family confirmed that yes, there had been an earth quake and it wasn’t me.

You have been to Southend but you have never been into the sea proper. We went with Uncle Wayne and Aunty Helen to Maracas Bay for the afternoon on the same day as the earthquake where you experienced the sea, the Caribbean Sea, for the very first time. You were a little frightened of the waves coming in and out and weren’t happy when the water, although only a centimeter deep, washed over your feet. You cried out and made a run for land.

You did make a friend on the beach when you had got used to the sand and started wandering around. In a very romantic gesture you pointed up at the sky and said “moon”, and you were correct – the moon was out and overhead even though the sun was still beating down. The little girl you were talking too was not impressed – but you’ll find that in life.

There was a pelican flying over the beach and diving into the water to catch a fish or two. It had white markings on it’s head which made it look like it was wearing on old fashioned crash helmet to protect its head when it hit the water. It wasn’t the only bird I was watching on the beach but I was with your mother so I had to be discrete!

After we had finished Carnival we hopped back to Tobago for a few days R & R. The first full day we were there we went to Store Bay beach for the day. Your mother had shark for her lunch and you tried some, enjoyed it and ate some more.

On the last morning there you were playing near the bed when you moved some shoes and a scorpion came out and with bear feet, you stood on it. Luckily it didn’t bite or sting you or any one else. We vacated the room at speed and when we came back in it was no where to be found. We thought that it must have shuffled off somewhere. What worried me was that none of us had checked inside our shoes before putting them on each morning – scorpions like hiding in dark places and shoes and boots are a particular favourite. I checked my shoes and did a reccie of the room but no scorpion was wandering around. I did notice what looked like some fluff against the wall which them moved and morphed into a scorpion – I stuck a glass on it and it was then sprayed with insecticide before being removed. The hotel owner had never seen a scorpion in Tobago and hopefully we will never see one again.

I think we all had a good holiday although we are not sure when we will be going again.

P.S. We spent the night before we flew out in your God Fathers house as he lives a couple of minutes drive from Gatwick. During the night you said in your sleep “Toon Toon” and your mother, also talking in her sleep, replied “Black and White Army”. Priceless.

Written by Administrator

March 8th, 2007 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Family,Memories