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mikeverdi's (mikeverdi on UKA) UKArchive
242 Archived submissions found.
Title
No Place To Hide (posted on: 08-07-16)
Another new one. A follow on from my last one. When it's gone, it's gone.

Lost in another's dream. An accessory to the crime of love. So much to play for so much to lose. Found guilty as changed, left with tainted memories. At the scene of crime, torn photographs of a love now gone. The evidence overwhelming. When love grows cold, you just can't make it.

Archived comments for No Place To Hide
Bozzz on 08-07-2016
No Place To Hide
My English cousin runs the Garlic farm on the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight. Try the Elephant size. It feels good to be commenting aain ! My best...David

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! I don't know what to say 😂😂😂
Mike

Pronto on 08-07-2016
No Place To Hide
Ah been there done that. My problem? I kept th photographs!
Nice succinct write Mike.

Author's Reply:
HaHa!, Tell the truth, I keep't a couple myself. Thanks for stopping by.
Mike

Supratik on 09-07-2016
No Place To Hide
A very nice write with no room for ambiguity. Thank you for sharing. Supratik

Author's Reply:
Thank you for reading, just pleased you enjoyed it. I felt my last one had unfinished business.
Mike

cooky on 09-07-2016
No Place To Hide
I have a bucket full of torn pictures. Still keep picking the wrong uns. Nice write

Author's Reply:
Oh dear, it took me three marriages, and countless affairs to find the right one. I'm pleased I keep't looking as I got there in the end.
Mike

Bozzz on 09-07-2016
No Place To Hide
Your skill in writing of the human spirit remains undimmed
David

Author's Reply:
Thats a nice thing to say David. So pleased to see you back on the site old friend.
Mike

stormwolf on 09-07-2016
No Place To Hide
Well Mike, If at first you don't succeed...
You hit the jackpot in the end.
Look what an eventful life you have had. Who wants to live in a state of mediocrity? not me.
Well done.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
"A life less ordinary" I've seldom been board with my life, although at times its been a little scary HaHa! Thanks for the comments Alison.
Mike XxX

pdemitchell on 09-07-2016
No Place To Hide
For some reason, I read the last line as 'fake it'. Three marriages, and countless affairs,eh? What a muse-fest that must be! Keep writing, Mike! Mitch

Author's Reply:
"Muse fest" yes, I guess I've written a good few of them into my work. Jim said something similar. My life, warts and all, is on here. My wife and friends said I should write it. Turned into quite a read.
Thanks for reading group and your comments, fake would work okay, except I'd been faking it for a while, I wanted the play on words with 'make it'.
Mike

sweetwater on 10-07-2016
No Place To Hide
What a wonderful time they all shared with you though untill it fell apart, and once it has and you are sure of that well then there can be no fair pretence, best to leave. You were lucky and finally found the right one, so you chose the right path. You have spoken so eloquently in this poem Mike, I like it very much. One teeny tiny typo, just noticed 2nd verse 1st line you have 'changed' I believe you meant 'charged'? Great writing as always 🙂 Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Well you read my story, you know I'm not always a good man...but I try😊 So pleased you took the time to read, even more you liked and understood my words. I have changed the typo HaHa!
Mike XxX

Kipper on 12-07-2016
No Place To Hide
Hi Mike
Another 'slice' of your full (and never boring - you say) life. Perhaps had you been less forthright in your auti-bi last year, I may not have fully understand this poem.
But I did and I do..
By comparison my life is an almost blank sheet, so perhaps these comments hide a touch of envy. Could this be why you write such good poetry?
Delighted that for you it's third time lucky.
Michael

Author's Reply:
We are all different Michael, that's what makes the world go around. My life would not be something I would advocate for anyone, you need to be slightly mad. As most of my poetry is from experiences
living my life, you may be right...Nice of you to say so. As to my third time lucky, definitely😊
Thanks for reading and the kind words.
Mike


Exit Stage Left (posted on: 01-07-16)
At Last....something new! This refers to the breakup with my second wife. She would never change, I had to go.

Your promise of a new dawn brought sunlight to a dull afternoon. Despondency left hanging, a cloud on my horizon. I'm following footprints in the dust of restless dreams. We act out our parts, talk of a future without a past. Our yesterdays are meaningless in this new world of yours. I stand in the wings, waiting for my cue. Just a bit part, a spear carrier to your magnificence. Or maybe Brutus to your Caesar. You went too far. History always repeats itself.

Archived comments for Exit Stage Left
sweetwater on 03-07-2016
Exit Stage Left
I found myself rather fascinated by this poem Mike, and wondered what lay behind the words. I thought I 'got' it then thought no, I don't think it is that.
I do like a poem that keeps me guessing. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Wonder no more Sue. It refers to the time of the break up of my second marriage. She promised to change....everything would be different. Sadly I'd heard it all before.
Mike

pommer on 03-07-2016
Exit Stage Left
I got it Mike, a great write.Had to think hard so.Well done, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting Peter, all well here at the moment.
Mike

pdemitchell on 03-07-2016
Exit Stage Left
Well put, Mike - or a Gove to your Boris perhaps? Boris and Jeremy look like porcupines with so many knivees in their backs. Polly-ticks, eh? Mitch

Author's Reply:
Thanks for dropping by mate, trying hard to get back to writing.
Mike

stormwolf on 04-07-2016
Exit Stage Left
Excellento! Isn't poetry a marvellous way to exercise our demons and solidify feelings to give us some sort of peace. I know it can be hard to be stimulated to write when dealing with problems behind the scenes...but they are only waiting in the wings.
Alison xx

Author's Reply:
So true Alison, thanks for reading and leaving those kind words.
Mike XxX

Kipper on 06-07-2016
Exit Stage Left
Hi Mike

I hung back on this one I'm afraid because I could not make the connection at first reading. Resting heavily on comments from other readers and your replies I now understand a little more. I guess it's not easy at first for one who has not faced the heartache of marriage breakup to understand the meaning behind the words.

Notwithstanding my uncertainty I felt that the poem has 'feeling' and depth and I am pleased I came back to it.

Michael



Author's Reply:
I took her back, she promised to change. I knew she wouldn't, I was correct. I found someone else and said goodbye. This is the truth of it and the poem.
Thanks for taking the time Michael.
Mike

Gothicman on 07-07-2016
Exit Stage Left
Yes, Mike, needed a helping hint in the intro, or in the title, or first line, to place this poem into its right context, because the specific meaning of personal sentiments referred to, defy being duly or respectfully understood when left to free interpretation. You know how guilty I am of this most of the time! Hahaha!
Something new and so well-written means things are progressing as hoped, by us all? Another poem for inserting with the others in your autobiography?
Trevor

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Yes, I see the need now for an intro. I will sort it out. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Trevor, and for your kind words. Things are slowly getting better since Chemo finished. Scan on the 29th to see what good its done, then..... I live in hope as you know.
Mike

cooky on 09-07-2016
Exit Stage Left
Thought of my late Dad working seven days a week in the steel works when I read this and for what. Just another bit player exploited by his environment. Paid just enough so he would go back the next day. My interpretation of your poem is probably different from yours, but that is what makes it good.

Author's Reply:
We all get what we need from reading poetry, at least that's the hope of those who write. I'm just happy you chose to read it. That you liked it is a bonus for me.
Mike


A Grandfathers Story (posted on: 17-06-16)
re-post.... I was thinking of them today.

A Grandfathers Story The memories are fading years drifting past. Would they remember me Do they ever ask? How would I feel if they walked through my door. How would I cope with my feelings still raw. Have they families now, children of their own? How would they look have they moved far from home? I still call it that, though the dreams have all gone. Lost in the mists of time, our lives have moved on. I see them sometimes as you see a ghost; I turn they are there, I could touch them almost. In my mind they are children I meet them from school. They run to me laughing as I play the fool. What are they doing as I sit here alone. Cut off from their world, as if sliced to the bone. It's been so many years since that letter arrived the one that told me I was out of their lives. The sins of the parents passed on down the line, generation to generation through the passages of time. The truth? A distant memory buried in the past. I could tell them if they'd listen. no one ever asked. Mikeverdi

Archived comments for A Grandfathers Story
sweetwater on 18-06-2016
A Grandfathers Story
Oh Mike, I have read and re read this several times, such hurt, such pain. I found it hard enough to read, goodness knows how you live with it. Each time I read it I have tears in my eyes. But the more I read the more I seem to need to (?) perhaps because I very narrowly missed this terrible situation with my daughter, I don't know but I am truly glad I still have her, and terribly sad that you weren't so lucky. Sue xxx

Author's Reply:
Seventeen years now, the pain is always there. Sadly its all true, dont think I will ever see them again.Thanks for the read and kind words.
Mike XxX

Savvi on 18-06-2016
A Grandfathers Story
Very sad Mike and a poem I can relate to, I particularly enjoyed the simplistic and gentle approach and the subtlety of the end rhymes. Very Nice Keith

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and understanding. You say you can relate to the words, I do hope you're not in the same situation. As I said to Sue, it's seventeen years for me now.
Mike

pdemitchell on 19-06-2016
A Grandfathers Story
Wow, a kick in the teeth and then some. Nowt as cruel as thine own blood and Father's Day today too. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Thanks Mitch, I can never forget...I will never forgive. Parents should never use children as weapons of war.
Mike


Auto Pilot (posted on: 13-06-16)
I wrote this while writing my Autobiography, don't think I ever posted it.

Caught in the current of events, Swept along in the slip stream, ever onwards towards inevitability. A life lived transposed into written words. Once filled with movement, excitement, with opportunities now transfixed on a silver screen. I'm pinned there, a butterfly on the page. It's my life, but is it how I lived it? A thousand situations, those dammed recriminations broken now with itinerant full stops, quivering commas, bored semi colons Yet a need to see it through to the last exclamation mark! Take responsibility for my life before it's too late.
Archived comments for Auto Pilot
pdemitchell on 14-06-2016
Auto Pilot
This is what they mean by punktuation! The literal Fybogel to relieve the clogged colons of creativity. I am reminded of Dr Patch Adams counselling patients feeling that they've wasted their lives and he'd literally shake them and say "what about now? what about now?" Mitch

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Yes, Fybogel...I have that every day since Chemo. Good of you to read my meanderings, I'm feeling clear headed now so will try and add to my work.
Mike

Ionicus on 15-06-2016
Auto Pilot
quivering 'commas' perhaps?

Author's Reply:
Errr... bugger! All sorted, thanks for the heads up, and for reading my efforts.
Mike

sweetwater on 16-06-2016
Auto Pilot
A great sense of life lived and enjoyed to the full, and though now somewhat chained to circunstance, a determination to stride purposfully on. Great words Mike. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Indeed Sue, lived and enjoyed to the full. You got the whole of it. Thanks for reading and leaving these kind words.
Mike

Pronto on 21-06-2016
Auto Pilot
Bored semi colons fill me with delight tough quivering commas be a curse in any verse. I loved the quirky slant of this Mike. We can only do our best with what we have, or think we have, at the time. Regret is a dead end street.


Author's Reply:
Thanks,your right about the regrets. I try to keep any I have under lock and key. Pleased you liked it.
Mike

Pronto on 21-06-2016
Auto Pilot
Bored semi colons fill me with delight though quivering commas be a curse in any verse. I loved the quirky slant of this Mike. We can only do our best with what we have, or think we have, at the time. Regret is a dead end street.


Author's Reply:


Changes (posted on: 13-06-16)
Sent to the lady 'The Leaving' was written about....a long time ago.

CHANGES Been a long time since I saw you ran my fingers through your hair, held you in my arms and kissed you; heard you tell me that you care. Guess we both just slowly drifted, never knowing why or how. Things just get confused and tangled, nothing stays the same somehow. Life has many such surprises some for both of us it seems. Still it's hard to keep accepting we can never live our dreams.
Archived comments for Changes
Pronto on 13-06-2016
Changes
Portrays the sighing, sad acceptance of what has been and what must now be with subtle elegance.
Well done Mike.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, it was a long time ago...and yet yesterday.
Mike

pommer on 13-06-2016
Changes
lovely Mike, and so true.Memories can be great but also often sad.On chemotherapy again as you may have guessed,Hence few contributions.I shall always carry on fighting. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and your kind words Peter, I guessed there must be something up, I'm so sorry my friend. As you know I've just completed my 30 weeks Chemo, I'm hoping for some respite before my next scan and consultation. I wish you well, don't get to down over it...fight Peter.
Mike

Elfstone on 13-06-2016
Changes
"Still it’s hard to keep accepting
we can never live our dreams. " - boy, does that hit home!

Very poignant this Mike, but those last lines say it all. Elf.

Author's Reply:
So pleased you liked this one. It was all a long time ago but the effects can't be forgotten.
Mike

sweetwater on 14-06-2016
Changes
Ah dreams and fond memories, how they can haunt and hurt us so many years later. Lovely poem Mike. Sue xx.

Author's Reply:

pdemitchell on 14-06-2016
Changes
Hi Mike. Heartfelt sepia-tinged adieu to the what-ifs, what-evers and might-have-beens! Mitch

Author's Reply:
Indeed Mitch, all of that. Wouldn't swap then for now in the female department though. Just some of the times were special.
Mike

Ionicus on 15-06-2016
Changes
We all get sentimental in our old age, Mike, and sometimes we can't forget the past, however painful it may have been.

Author's Reply:
Indeed Luigi, it all looks so different with the passing of the years. The mistakes we made will always be there to haunt us.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mike


The Leaving (posted on: 10-06-16)
An very old one revitalised.

We sat holding hands like any other day. Today though, no love light shone in your eyes. There was no smile to lift my spirits. The air felt heavy with anticipation; awaiting judgment on our life together. You said ''there was no point in our relationship. We had grown apart No longer sharing the same dreams''. In the moments, before you left me sitting there, I caught a look in your eyes that told it all.. The pain, anguish and uncertainty. I couldn't bear to feel responsible for such hurt. I watched you go, taking my hopes and dreams. Leaving only pain, anguish, and uncertainty. If nothing else we had this in common.

Archived comments for The Leaving
sweetwater on 12-06-2016
The Leaving
I have always wondered why a couple still so close and still caring for the other person, break up and not try that little bit harder, but your words have answered the question, and so much can be read between the lines. Sue x

Author's Reply:
Hi Sue, people change so much in a lifetime, I'm always amazed that more couples don't split up. I see it all the time, people staying out of fear of being alone, staying just for the children. I have friends like this. This poem was for them.
Mike XxX

Pronto on 13-06-2016
The Leaving
So poignant Mike. My first wife and I split (No one else involved) because the kids were the only thing we had in common. When they left there was no point simply sharing a house when we were relatively young and able to start again.I still wish her well.
You brought memories flooding back with this mate.Well done.

Author's Reply:
Pleased you came back to this one. I was a bad husband to my first wife, played around all the time. I deserved to be ditched. It's true what they say...you don't miss it till its gone. In saying this we were young, and I wouldn't swap what I have now for the world.
Mike


The Gypsy and Me (posted on: 10-06-16)
Another old one pruned and edited. I hope you approve.

He was leaning against the wall a discarded scarecrow A refugee from a ploughed over field waiting for a new assignment. A look on his face of mild amusement. He knew I was watching him, waiting for him to talk to me. When he did he spoke in Spanish, His voice playing with words like he played his guitar. His eyes danced flamenco. My heart beating in time with his music I could barely breathe. without murmuring a love song.

Archived comments for The Gypsy and Me
Elfstone on 11-06-2016
The Gypsy and Me
I have to say I like center-justified poems; not for all of them of course but ..

I really like the hints of possible passion in this, Mike. Poems are always better to be taut, the fewest words to say what's meant the better, and you have mastered it here. Elf.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by, pleased you liked the piece. Originally it was a little longer, its always difficult to make cuts; I'm pretty, eased I did.
Mike

sweetwater on 12-06-2016
The Gypsy and Me
You took me on a lovely tour with this one, first back to much younger days, when scarecrows were a common sight, they themselves used to take me back even further when I saw them. Then I was in the countryside and fields around my home in Surrey, finally there I was in Spain, in a square with wild Spanish music, red twirling dresses and stamping feet. What a journey to have at breakfast. Brilliant Mike great poem. Sue x

Author's Reply:
So pleased you enjoyed my effort. It was one of my early posts on here, well received back then, I just thought I could try and better it HaHa!
Mike XxX

pommer on 12-06-2016
The Gypsy and Me
Nice passionate one,Liked it.Hope you are well.Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, pleased to see you still writing and commenting old friend. I'm still in there fighting, always will.
Wishing you and yours the best.
Mike

pdemitchell on 12-06-2016
The Gypsy and Me
Hi Mike! Glad to see you posting like a good 'un. It reminds of an early pink floyd song - called the Scarecrow! Mitch

Author's Reply:
Hi Mitch, thanks for reading and commenting. Just a Re-hash really, but I liked it when in wrote it, and it was well received when first posted. Still not right in the head yet...but improving 😊
Mike

Pronto on 21-06-2016
The Gypsy and Me
I loved the picture you painted Mike and wanted more. Maybe you gave the scarecrow too close a shave and took away some of his essential character; who knows? I enjoyed it, though, for what it is.

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Yep, you may be right. When you go back to old work, there is always the temptation to try and improve on the original. Ah well.....
Mike


Waving Not Drowning (posted on: 06-05-16)
Wide awake dreaming, wishing and hoping. *now edited after suggested critique*

Watching the tide flow in, gathering momentum as it reaches the shore. The ebb and flow reminding me of my life. I can never be away for long, it draws me, calling me home. Like the sea, I am affected by the cycle of the moon. A need to feel deep water. The pull of waves off a North shore beach. Sail boats skimming across the Aegean. The swell of an Ocean beneath me. I'm older now, I see these only in photographs, memories played out on a screen. Does everything revolve around things we can't control. The ebb and flow of the sea.

Archived comments for Waving Not Drowning
Elfstone on 06-05-2016
Waving Not Drowning
I like this Mike - think it may need a tweak here and there? In a rush, but will pop back in later. Good to be reading your work again. 🙂 Elf

Author's Reply:
Yep, It may well need a tweek, the main problem is I need one first 😊 I will give it a look later as off to hospital now. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mike 😊X

pommer on 06-05-2016
Waving Not Drowning
yes Mike I do like it ,but I agree with Elfstone re.: tweaking.I have little time at present. Back on Chemotherapy since last Wednesday forthe naxt six sessions. Such is life,will be in touch when I can.All the best to you and yours Peter.Hope you're reasonably well.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, nice of you to read and comment. I will work on the edit required. Like you I'm having Chemo, in fact this afternoon. 😊
Mike,

Gothicman on 07-05-2016
Waving Not Drowning
Yes Mike, brief and worthy of reading anyway, even while under the stress and pressures you're struggling with just now. Hoping for a positive outcome for you both. Thanks for the fine sentiments of this poem.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Sorry with the late reply Trevor, good of you to read and comment. This was a case e of the brain wanting to escape the body tying it down. Living by the sea is such a part of me, being in the sea completes me.
Pleased you liked it.
Mike

Elfstone on 07-05-2016
Waving Not Drowning
Mike - sorry yesterday became a bit hectic and I didn't get anywhere near my computer! I see you have tweaked 🙂 partly in the way I would have hinted at and partly not. Interesting to compare and note the differences and the subtle effect it has on the flow.

All the best with your treatment my friend. Elf

Author's Reply:
Thanks for popping back, pleased you noticed the changes. It's always a fine line when it comes to accepting critique, how much do you change things before the work is not your's anymore? I always give everything due consideration. You were correct, changer were needed 😊
Thanks again
Mike

Hello again, I looked again at this one. You were right, it still needed tweeking. I would be pleased if you would read again, see if it's any better in your opinion. I'm happy with it now. When I'm having my Chemo week I can't seem to write a thing worth a posting. 😐😕😐

sweetwater on 07-05-2016
Waving Not Drowning
I enjoyed this very much Mike, and I like the way the layout ebbs and flows in tune with the tides of which you write. Sue xxx

Author's Reply:
So pleased you liked it Sue, I was sitting taking in the view realising how much I miss swimming, not available at the moment.
Mike XxX

pdemitchell on 08-05-2016
Waving Not Drowning
Hi Mike - the revision works for me in this interest-grabbing format. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Thanks Mitch, I have to read everything I do six times at the moment, bloody Chemo drugs mess with my head more than my late night whiskey. Good of you to read and comment mate.
Pleased you liked it.
Mike

Elfstone on 15-05-2016
Waving Not Drowning
Mike I can't answer your edit above so another comment.

I'm treading on eggs here and as you're happy with it — and it IS your poem after all — perhaps I should say no more ... but, honest opinion? you've maybe cut too much. I'll pm you.
Elf.

Author's Reply:
Bugger......HaHaHa!
Mike

Pronto on 15-05-2016
Waving Not Drowning
I found much to admire here. Very concise although I would have liked a litte more on the effect of the moon. Or is that just me? Dunno Mike but it's a damn good poem.

Author's Reply:
Kind of you to pop in and read this one. As you will have read in the other comments, I've buggered about with it since the first post. I'm kind of happy now, although...I'm told may be I've cut too much. Ah well, I'm pleased you liked it enough to comment, it's all we can ask for.
Best Wishes
Mike


Italian for Beginers (posted on: 25-04-16)
The start of a short story maybe? Any comments/critique would be appreciated. Mike

Italian for Beginners Gazing up from the lay-by, above me sat the town of Voltera. A brooding mass of a town, bestriding a rocky outcrop rising from the farm land below. I was approaching from a winding road leading from the Tuscan coastal plains. It was an impressive sight. Driving on, I arrived at the huge entrance gates, to be greeted by a local police officer. His job seemed to be both directing traffic and eyeing up girls with equal abandon. He pointed me to the main car park outside the walls with a flourish of his best English, and an elegant wave of his white gloved hand. Fifteen minuets later I was back, and walking through the gate. A long cobbled street stretched into the town. Street vendors and small artisan shops decorated both sides, inviting all to spend their time and money. Sadly that would have to wait I wasn't here for this. I had a meeting to attend with a local solicitor. The journey started a few weeks ago, when a mysterious letter arrived on my desk. It was an invitation to the reading of a will in Voltera Italy, a place I had never heard of, and a country I had never been to. Even stranger, it belonged to a relative I had no knowledge of. The hint of mystery, along with a possible legacy, was an offer too good to turn down. Apparently I was also the sole beneficiary. Giuseppe Baldini had lived and died in Voltera; as did his family before him. He was the son of what appeared to be my father's brother; although one I had never heard mentioned. I knew there was Italian somewhere in my past, but it had never been talked about since I was a child. I was fascinated by the thought of a distant relative, particularly one from a country I'd never been too. Flying in from England the evening before, I spent the night in a Hotel near the Airport. The morning was spent wandering the streets below the river Arno, as far as the Leaning Tower and the Dumo. I hadn't been to Italy before, and thought I may as well do the tourist bit. See the sites, before setting out for my destination. The streets of Pisa fascinated me, as did the Italian people. My only previous experience with Italians was the local restaurant; this was completely different. I was hooked within ten minutes; an hour later I loved it. Nothing however had prepared me for Voltera. It soon became apparent not all the population was as fluent in English as the local policeman. My Italian was limited to food choices, directions were getting a bit lost in translation, even with my phrase book. I decided to stop for a coffee, try and get my bearings. Ducking into a small caf I was confronted with a bewildering selection of pastries, fortune smiled on me however, the young lady behind the counter spoke passable English. I settled in with a cappuccino and an almond slice. I had an hour before my meeting, but still needed to find the office of Antonio Petrucci the solicitor who contacted me. By now I was tingling with a mixture of excitement and a little trepidation. I'd tried to gain more information with a phone call to his office, other than adding more mystery by alluding that his death may not have been from natural causes, they gave little away. I decided to try my Italian on the waitress, studying my phrase book for a suitable sentence. 'Mi scusi SignorinaMi puo diare scendere come arrivo a Antonio Petrucci Avvocato, per favour Now I know it wasn't perfect, but I thought I had the gist of it. I'd asked for the way to the office of Antonio, and sure enough I had. I'd forgotten that when she replied, I wouldn't understand a word she said. My expression must have said it all, we both laughed and she began again in English. It appeared I wasn't far from his office. After brief introductions Maria offered to take me there when I'd finished my coffee and cake. Walking through the streets, Maria asked if I was staying in Voltera. I confessed that I wasn't sure until I had spoken with Antonio. She told me her Father owned a small hotel, to call back at the cafe if I decided to stay. On arriving outside Antonio's office I thanked her in my 'best Italian'. 'Grazi mille Maria'. She answered in her best Italian 'Prego'. Walking through a beautifully arched entrance, its polished stone floor complete with marble statues to either side, I was confronted by a stunning courtyard garden. A fountain gushed water in the centre, small trees were strategically placed it was simply beautiful. The office entrance door was across the courtyard. I walked over and rang the bell. The door was opened by a middle aged lady smartly dressed with a beaming smile. She spoke rapidly, and I was unable to understand. Her hand movements indicated that I should follow her, as she turned and retreated inside the building. On entering I found myself in a small anti room with a large desk to one side. Shelves lined with books took up one wall. ''Buon giomo, Antonio Petrucci per favour'' I said, more in hope than expectation. Si Antonio . The rest was lost to me; I gave up and asked Parla inglese? Ah! Si a little, you want Antonio? Yes pleasemy name is Robert Baldini, I have an appointment. To be continued..
Archived comments for Italian for Beginers
pdemitchell on 25-04-2016
Italian for Beginers
A passable descriptive passage but some sentences need adjusting (ie The walls surrounding the town declaring its importance.)repunctuating here and there and a frisson of intrigue could be added to the solicitor to hook the reader.

I had an hour before my meeting but I still needed to find the offices of the solicitor, Antonio Petrucci, who had drawn me here with his cryptic messages hinting of inheritances and intrigues. I decided that a waitress would probably know the area better than most and studied my phrase book frantically for suitable sentences. I dreaded parading my ignorance of European languages especially as many English tourists do not give a damn; talking English slowly and loudly as if communicating with village idiots.
Hope this suggestion helps. Mitch

Author's Reply:
Thanks Mitch, just what I wanted. Heads still in the clouds with all the Chemo. So obvious when I see it laid out.
Mike

Given it an update, thanks again for your critique Mitch.

sweetwater on 28-04-2016
Italian for Beginers
I'm afraid I hadn't noticed the 'faults' as mentioned above, I tend to get so caught up in the story I'm reading I don't notice anything wrong with the writing unless it's glaringly obvious.
I enjoyed this very much, especially as it had an Italian setting, I've always had a fascination with Italy, and the language. Looking forward to the next part. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Kind of you to take the time to read and comment Sue, so pleased you enjoyed my effort. I've changed it from the original after Mitch commented, don't know if you read the original. It was a bit pedestrian.
Mike

Harry on 02-05-2016
Italian for Beginers
There's some room for improvement here .... like 'anti room', Mike. But you've managed stir up interest in what can definitely be a light hearted story of adventure. I wish you well and I can't wait to get there.

Author's Reply:
So kind of you to read and comment Harry, it was a leap of faith for me, having Chemo has affected everything I do, writing is hard at the moment, I have trouble concentrating. I will try and come up with the rest of the plot, I have ideas HaHa!
Best Wishes
Mike

franciman on 03-05-2016
Italian for Beginers
There's a scene in Shakespeare in Love. Romeo talks of his latest conquest, and Shakespeare says - 'Don't spend it all on a baggage we never get to see. What's Romeo going to do when he meets the love of his life?'
The less you say about the Solicitor, the better. Stick to Voltera and your encounters with Italians. The intrigue of what the Solicitor has to say is the bait for the reader. Immerse him in the atmosphere of the place. Start to paint the character of your hero. Make the reader want to be with the hero when he meets the solicitor. Definitely don't mention any alluding to a less than natural death... You give away the mystery before you tell the reader there is one.
There is a great start to a story here. As Sue says, as an Italian lover it engaged her. Stick with that and save your undoubted skill for the encounters to follow.
I know, I know... I'll just get back in my box...
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks Jim, as always you get to the heart of the matter. Not right in the head at the moment, will edit and re-write it when I am.
Mike


And Then It Rained (posted on: 04-04-16)    
A new one to read if you fancy it.

The dry time, words turned to dust, and questions hung in the air. Thoughts unable to breathe in the heat of the moment, drifting like tumbleweed. Looking for a connection we sat in the failing sunlight. A song on a radio declaring love everlasting. I held out my hand for something once mine. And then it rained.

Archived comments for And Then It Rained
Gothicman on 04-04-2016
And Then It Rained
A poet's delicate touch, Mike, I hope it, like for garden flowers and ducks, brought better fortune with it! That's my hope anyway, great writing.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Nice to hear from you Trevor. This one didn't work out, just as well really, the next one was Lesley😊😀😊
Mike

stormwolf on 04-04-2016
And Then It Rained
Good one. Nice to see you writing new material. Wish I could do some too. ;-/
You captured the whole scene perfectly...the barrenness of the awkward silence, the wishing things were different. The last line perfectly summed it all up. Not the best of experiences but skillfully portrayed
There are several emotions all wrapped into this scenario. Awkwardness, hesitation, desperation, then hope followed by pain.
I liked the contrast of the words coming from the radio to the sad realisation things had changed...the rain put the tin lid on it. so to speak.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks Alison, always look forwards to your comments and critique. As usual there is a touch of reality in this work. One of those time you both want to say the right words, do the right thing. I tried to hang on to long, fear of moving on kept me there. A new experience for me.
Mike XxX

pommer on 04-04-2016
And Then It Rained
very emotional piece Mike, I liked it.Im liked the last few lines especially,expressing such a lot.Well done Mike, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and your kind words Peter. Good to hear from you, hope things are okay with you and your
Mike

pdemitchell on 04-04-2016
And Then It Rained
A sad and poignant denouement there, Mike. Missing the 'e' on the 'breathe' on line 4. Excellent! mitch

Author's Reply:
Thanks Mitch, pleased you liked it. 69 and still can't spell for shit HaHa!
Mike

sweetwater on 05-04-2016
And Then It Rained
I could feel the tension hanging in the air, the sadness of what had slipped through your fingers. The rain an added dot on the page washing away any final hope of recapture. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this one Sue. It was a sad time, no one sets out on a relationship thinking its going to end badly. There were tears on both sides.
Mike

franciman on 06-04-2016
And Then It Rained
Mike, you've found a new woman? A muse at last, with a subtle, lyrical soul.
This is real verse. You need to listen to her, she's the real deal. Don't bed her, just hold her in the dark and she'll make you a poet. She's made a start already!

'Someone on a radio declaring
love everlasting.'

The two lines are inelegant, prosaic in a work of such subtle beauty. They take the reader out of the moment.
It would get my nomination but for that, mate.
Great to see you back at it...
Cheers,
Jim


Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! Almost a compliment then😂😂😂 I've looked at the problem area, messed around with it, re-jigged it twice. It still may not suit you, but I think I'm happy with it now. To be honest... you were right and I will look again.
Mike


Webber Part Three (posted on: 01-04-16)
Re post after prune and edit, with a bit more added. previous post deleted. All comments welcome.

Webber Part Three Afghanistan The Return Chapter one The noise of the helicopter was as familiar as the heat and dust. Afghanistanwhy did I agree to come back. I shook myself, trying to rid my mind of memories. Looking across at the others, Marshal was strangely silent, Brim looked lost in his own private hell; it was the same for them. The flight down with the Dutch had been uneventful, after landing we had left for a compound on the outer edge of the Clogs area, to acclimatise. The Dutch welcome was wearing thin. It was time to go. None of us openly considered feelings that may surface on reaching the 'Stan', after all, it was a few years ago. It all came back with a bang. The memories flooded back, the horror of it all. I'd been wrong to think it was dead and buried. Like the men we left behind. The engine noise rose to a crescendo.... the chinook lifted off. We were heading out to a small American compound. The plan was to talk with tribal elders from the surrounding villages. There'd been unusual activity in the hills nearby, rumours of westerners working with the Taliban, demanding shares from the poppy fields. Rumour or not, it was too good a lead not to investigate. Delta Force found a wall of silence when they asked questions. They'd found several bodies of locals. Pegged up like scarecrows in the fields. The bullets used were from Special Forces weaponry. The thought that our own guys were involved was hard to believe, if the reports were true, we could be taking down Brits as well as Taleban. Officially we were no longer in the regiment, just contractors, advisers brought in to help with negotiations. The change in the engine noise brought me back; we were close to the drop off. ''Saddle up guys were here'' Marshall smiled back, showing me the 'swivel on it' finger. Brim just shrugged and reached for his kit. Outside the heat hit us like the door of a furnace opening, dust was everywhere from the rotors. We were back in the nightmare. Chapter two Our arrival in the villages had been greeted with open hostility. The hidden faces, blank stares, closed doors and children throwing stones, a world away from the early days; the fear was back since the West talked of leaving. At the American compound, you could feel the tension in the air, no gung-ho attitude; no one wanted to be the last casualty before the pull out. We gave our cover story, no one believed it for a moment. But no one gave a shit either. The Captain said there was talk, but then there always was. They had gone out on patrols asked questions and left it at that, no one wanted to lift the lid, to bring down heat. Maintaining then line was all it was about now. And no, they didn't want to show us around the hills. The routine was always the same. It reminded me of the old western books I read as a kid, everyone sat around the camp fire smoking the peace pipe, swapping presents before the trading began; all that was different was the head gear. In this country the chief was wearing a less stylish head dress. ''We are here to help, we are not the enemy. If you can help us, point us in the right direction we will bring down the people who cause you problems; life can be good for you again, no more beheadings''. ''Our life has always been like this, always someone telling us how to live, how to die. You come offering nothing differentwhy should we help you?'' ''Do you want the Taleban to come back?'' ''Come back..they never went away. You leave at night they arrive. If we help you we die. In the hills there is talk that some western men join with them. Others say an American is living as a war lord, that he runs things now. What hope is there for us? We are old men, the young men leave for the city or the Taleban. Our wives cry for justice, but from whom shall we seek it?'' I looked into the eyes of someone who had seen and heard it all, what could I offer that would change things. This was our second village; the first had been a total waste of time. They were polite but the look in the eyes said it all; they couldn't wait for us to leave. At the end of the meeting we decided to make a change, and left the American liaison officer at the compound, this at least got us talking. You could see the elders point, even they didn't give their army a hope in hell of keeping the Taliban out. The feeling was that things would return to the old ways within a year, and then the reprisals would start. Those who had taken the foreigners money and sent the girls to school would be the first in the firing line. We weren't here to sort out foreign policy or build schools, we were here to stop the heroin trade by whatever means. Lies were an important part of this, no matter how unpalatable. I decided on the truth. ''We are here to kill the ones responsible for the deaths and the mutilation, not just the Taliban. the westerners. They are spreading filth on our shores. If this brings death to your enemies, then so be it; our work is done''. His eyes opened just that bit wider. ''If you help us, nothing will be said, it will remain with us, we do not want your men to join us, just point the way to their camp. Maybe a name or a description?'' They looked at each other ''They know you are here, we will be questioned, some of our children are hostages. You ask for too much and your promises lack weight''. Now the lies. ''If you help us we will find your children, we will bring them back to you. And the heads of those who took them''. I paused while they took this in. ''No one need know where we found the information, who can say, the hills are alive with drones and spies''. The silence spoke volumes, then ''Leave us, we must talk of this. Mustapha will deliver goods to the compound tomorrow, look for him, he will tell you our decision''. Chapter Three ''What are you thinking Webber?'' It was Marshall. I'm thinking we are all alone out here in bandit territory, if I've got this wrong.. There was a commotion outside the door flew open and men rushed in. ''You must leave, leave nowthey are coming for youleave'' Marshall grabbed his kit and made for the door, I followed with Brim bringing up the rear. There was no time to waste. I shone a light back into the room checking for leftovers, it looked clear, we travelled light. Heading at a run to the pick-up I thought about the old manwho had told? The consequences could be devastating for the village if we were found. We sped out into the night heading for the American compound, leaving the village to its fate, it didn't seem right. ''Fuck it Webber, this is shit.there's a lot of what if's back there; we can't just leave'' ''You think I don't know that Brim, I care as much as you do; pull in over there let's talk'' We were about three Kilometres from the village, parked up behind a ditch, little cover but enough at night. ''As I see it somebody talked, we don't know who.it could be anyone, so we trust no one. If the old man is right and they have hostages, they have a lot to lose; I for one wouldn't lay blame on him'' ''Agreed Marshall, but what we do now could make it worse for them, if we go back and kill the bad guys, then all hell will happen to the village. Your thoughts Brim?'' ''I think we go back and see who it is, follow them back to their campthen kill them all. If there are too many for us, we call in a strike from the Yanks later...if they're up for it'' I thought about it, seemed like a plan, the following bit anyway. ''Okay Brim, a little radicalbut let's do it, we tab back from here a take a look; see who turns up. Marshall stays with the truck; we call in for a lift when we get the direction, if we get close enough we could get a tracker on their vehicle''. Grabbing some heavy weapons from the truck we headed back. The lights of the village stood out as we approached, taking cover where we found it. We could hear the sound of raised voices, there was a shot. Ducking into a drainage ditch we ran along keeping low. On reaching the first houses we climbed out and edged our way towards the noise. I looked at Brim, he was tight lipped. I placed my hand on his gun and shook my head; I knew what he was thinking. They were stood in a circle, ten of them, all armed. The body on the ground told its own story. Three others were on their knees, the women crying.... the kids looking shocked. It was a familiar site, reprisals were swift and devastating. This was the way of keeping order, of bringing villages back under control. This time it was our fault. we needed to make amends. Moving back we skirted around looking for the vehicles, we found them on the other side of the village with two men guarding them. There were two pick-ups, the utility transport out here. I had a tracker, but it would take a bit to place one with the men standing there. I motioned Brim back. ''We need a diversion, if I get the other side maybe you could give me the time to get in and place the trackerwithout killing anyone. I'm thinking start a fire maybe?'' ''Okay Webber, I'll do what I can'' I left him looking for something to start a fire with. On circling around I found myself within ten yards of one of the trucks, it was still dark and I could see the men by the trucks, their cigarettes glowing in the night air. I wondered if I could make it without the need of a distraction when I saw them start running away towards our old position. Smoke started to curl up from an out- house followed by flames. I didn't wait, moving swiftly I reached then nearest truck and attached the tracker under the wheel arch and returned to the darkness. I had to hope that it lasted the journey without being dislodged by the ruts in the road. ''What now Webberdo we go back and see if we can get I.D. on the men in the centre?'' ''Too risky, if we're spotted we're in deep shit, and so are the rest of the village. We need to pull out and wait for the trucks to move. Any chance they will know the fire was deliberate?'' ''Don't think so, but depends how edgy they are, fuck all else we could do anyway'' We made our way slowly back to the drainage ditch, keeping an ear out for the trucks. I phoned Marshall, told him to wait; only problem would be if they left the village on that road. If they did he would have to drive like fuck to get out the way. There was another problem, we were only three men, although armed, taking on an entire group of Taleban was not the best idea. If we could I.D. the camp we could return with back up, it was the only option that made sense. Waiting in the dark for some hint of direction from the tracker seemed to go on forever. A motor spluttered into life in the distance, the tracker started to move. Chapter four The trucks headed away from us towards the hills, we followed. No need to get too close with the tracker fixed, anyway, driving without lights there was no way we would close the gap. Ahead of us the vehicles stopped, so did we. ''What do you think Webberhave they spotted us?'' ''Shouldn't have, we must be a couple of klicks behind them Brim'' ''Maybe they have spotters outwe're fucked, if we go on they could be waiting for us, the road could be mined'' ''They could have just stopped for a piss Marshall, let's wait a bit'' ''I don't like it, someone talked, not blaming them, but it's what's happened...Marshalls right, we're fucked'' ''We could tab on to see what's up.... hold on, their moving again'' ''I still don't like it, they could have left a present for us Webber'' ''Okay, here's a plan, the two of us walk forwards check out the stop site. If they are waiting, or we find a bomb we call it a day, if nothing is waiting we phone in, you come forwards and we press on. How does that sound Marshall?'' ''You're the boss Webber, but this isn't looking good to me'' ''Brim, your thoughts'' ''Got to go with Marshall on this one Webber, either way we're out of our depth. We need more fire power to do this right. Let's call in the Yanks, see if their up for it'' ''Okay, lets back up and re visit the area tomorrow better equipped. It was stupid to come out without better coms' and more weapons. Trouble is we are not supposed to be soldiers, just advisers and negotiators, and they don't walk around in our old kit. If we get caught tooled up we're fucked''. ''If we get caught by these bastards we're fucked anyway Webber, I'd like the chance to go down fighting, what say you Brim?'' ''Fucking right'' . I thought about it, the boys were right; we were playing by different rules now. I needed to think before rushing into this, getting us all killed wouldn't be the best plan of action.
Archived comments for Webber Part Three
Supratik on 03-04-2016
Webber Part Three
Engrossing. Chapter four could have come into chapter three I think. In chapter two, 'Come back... seek it', Taliban has come with an 'e', if it's deliberate, then I have missed something.
But I must say your style of writing takes the reader in, and you know so much about the subject. Kudos. Supratik

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, your kind words are much appreciated. I will look at the points you raised. As you know I'm not myself at the moment so will wait until my head clears.
Best wishes
Mike


Sorry Doesn't Make A Good Plaster (posted on: 25-03-16)
After the recent court case involving a footballer, I remembered this one. Edited re post.

She sat upright in the chair, eyes fixed firmly in front. Their questions had been brutal, the examination brought tears. She looked across for an instant, seeking reassurance... The smile from her mother was enough. They had to believe her didn't they? His voice when it came caused a shudder. Ice coursing through her veins. She could not look at him. He said he was sorry. His words slid across the room. She remembered his other words. Sorry wouldn't heal the wounds Sorry couldn't stop the pain Sorry was a word without meaning Sorry doesn't make a good plaster.
Archived comments for Sorry Doesn't Make A Good Plaster
franciman on 25-03-2016
Sorry Doesnt Make A Good Plaster
Good stuff, mate.
Cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks Jim, the trial reports brought this one back to mind. Thought it worth a punt.
Mike

Gothicman on 25-03-2016
Sorry Doesnt Make A Good Plaster
Yes Mike, their are often fine differences on the border between lust and illegal where that witch sexual arousal is concerned. Fans and groupies often being unaware of the temptations they create in weaker emotional minds of their heroes even though being good at music or football! The crime here was exasperated by not confessing to that weakness of bad judgement, or even guilty knowledge of her actual young age, causing an amplification of teen-age hurt in the ordeal of needing to witness and relive the delayed trauma. In just this case especially, a sad and publicity-tragic situation for all involved. The press certainly know how to virtually ruin people's lives in what was an isolated stupid and irresponsible wrong-doing by someone still relatively young. In just this case, the punishment far exceeded the crime, in my opinion, with the publicity causing a worser harm for the victim. Your poem is harsh reminder of victim trauma, but, are there differences from case to case, in situation and age...and profession of the perpetrator as far as the press are concerned....?
Good, topical writing, Mike.
Trevor

She was fifteen, Mike, perhaps only a month or two from becoming legally compliant. No force involved, hand in panties and oral sex in the car, no penetration. Giving way to teenage fantasies about what, a married man with an attractive wife awaiting their first child, who now will miss his/her father at least first three-years of life? This huge fan must have known all the details of his life. This escalation and exaggeration mainly due to insensitive pursuance by police desperately trying to show competence after the latest string of failures of investigating/prosecuting paedophile politicians, aristocrats, religious types, other celebrities and Rotherham Muslims etc. The footballer deserves punishment, one year would have been more than just. The huge punishment gives the fifteen year-old girl with a hero crush the impression that she was party to an enormous personal tragedy, almost an atrocity! No, while wanting not to give any real paedophile any mitigation for losing control, I think they deserve the harshest of custodian sentences in order to protect innocents, in this case, I hope he appeals and gets the sentence more fairly assessed. The damage due to excessive publicity and punishment to the girl cannot be retracted though, I'm afraid.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and your in depth comments. I would agree with you in the most, this particular case I think not. As has been proved, he knew what he was doing. The girl may have arrived at that conclusion a little late, but she was just a child. In other cases, no question there is a pay out out being looked for.
Mike

stormwolf on 25-03-2016
Sorry Doesnt Make A Good Plaster
Hi Mike, A very timely poem and one that makes the reader think.
The repetition emphasises the futility of empty words and work really well. The title is fab and used as the last line is perfect for the kick-ass ending.

Alison x


Author's Reply:
Thanks Alison, I did a bit of pruning, it seemed to work. Originally I had a brilliant picture with it.
Mike
XxX

Supratik on 26-03-2016
Sorry Doesnt Make A Good Plaster
This poem makes me think. Especially this line:
'She remembered his other words'
A very well-deserved nib.
Supratik


Author's Reply:
Most kind of you to read and comment, you kind words are much appreciated. That you would consider it a favourite is an honor.
Mike

Bozzz on 27-03-2016
Sorry Doesnt Make A Good Plaster
Yes Mike, your words are daily ringing in my ears as I dream of confronting the surgeon who bungled the op to remove my gall bladder. Your skilful pen makes always for interesting reading, whether for fist fights or in bed scenes - you raid it all. Keep your uppercuts going my good friend....David

Author's Reply:
Upper cuts indeed HaHa! Thanks for stopping by David. Hope the world is a little better for you today. I will phone for a catch up soon, back in Chemo world at the moment.
Mike


Retribution (posted on: 07-03-16)
trying something different, see what you think.

The sun shone through the window, lighting the room with its warm glow; casting shadows into corners where furniture blocked its progress. It was here that the body lay. I turned to the duty constable ''anything to go on...neighbors hearing noises, signs of forced entry?'' ''Not so far sir, the neighbors are being interviewed as we speak; SOCO are still carrying out their investigation''. I looked around. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary. Except for the body of a man behind the table. ''Still waiting for the coroner sir'' the constable continued. The signs were obvious, he'd been struck several times to the back of the head with a blunt object, ruling out suicide; 'unless of course he was a contortionist' I thought. Murder is never easy to visit, but if it's your job, then. it becomes interesting; the original 'who dunnit'. This was one of those times. I walked back outside to the front of the house; the locals were setting up a working base in a SOCO travel van. Inside the vehicle I was met by a uniformed sergeant. ''Can I help you sir?'' he asked, blocking my entry. I showed him my warrant card; he read the name out loud. ''Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Cummings'' a sudden stiffening in his demeanor, ''Sorry sir, I had not been advised of your attendance'' ''That's all right sergeant I've only just arrived so what can you tell me?'' ''Not a lot, the house to house is continuing and SOCO are checking for prints and the murder weapon etc there are no immediate signs of forced entry'' ''Who found the body?'' I asked. ''That's the strange thing'' he replied ''We had a phone call saying there was a fight going on. We sent a response team. There was no name given, house to house has turned up no one claiming the call'' Did we trace the call?'' ''I haven't been given that information yet sir'' ''You best get on that right away then sergeant, what about ID...who is he, do we know yet?'' ''No sir, not as yet. No papers or driving license, only a wallet containing 500.00 in notes, so I guess that rules out robbery. No credit cards either. I understand that the house is with a rental company...it's supposed to be empty''. He hesitated. ''We're waiting for your lot to tell us who he was''. ''Now-now sergeant, a little less sarcasm please'' I replied, giving him a grin. It was however a good point. I stepped outside again and reached for my mobile phone, it was time to ask that very question. Under normal circumstances a murder would not demand the immediate attention of a detective chief superintendent from special branch, but in this instance it did; and that would be me. The house was a 'safe house' used by the security services to keep informants, and those considered important enough, or in fear of their lives, safe. In this case it would seem the plan hadn't worked. A man was dead. My immediate thoughts were a killing of this nature usually resulted in a shooting, but this man had been beaten to death with no immediate signs of a struggle and yet there was that call suggesting a fight. We needed a name fast. I knew who should have been here, and this was not that person. Where were the watchers who should have been on site? My thoughts were interrupted by a shout from across the road, I looked up; a young PC was standing by a car, parked about fifty meters away. I walked over and joined him; we had found the watchers. this time a gun had been used.
Archived comments for Retribution
Rab on 07-03-2016
Retribution
A nice bit of flash fiction, Mike, telling a lot in a few words. I think it's worth a bit of expansion.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Ross, pleased you think that. I have a bit more so could expand, I was just checking...like we do HaHa!
Mike

sweetwater on 07-03-2016
Retribution
Great story, I hope you have an ending planned for not too long ahead, I get over impatient waiting for the answer to this type of story! I love the way you write, you have an easy flow to your writing which makes the whole thing more real. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Your going to get into trouble reading all this prose stuff Sue 😊 I will do my best to find the murderer's for. Thanks so much for the kind words.
Mike XxX

pommer on 07-03-2016
Retribution
Good story Mike, Can't wait for the continuation.Well done, Peter

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, pleased you think so. I better get on with it then HaHa!
Keep well old friend
Mike

Savvi on 07-03-2016
Retribution
A professional Hit Mike, very well penned kept my attention and left me wanting more, as they say. Best Keith

Author's Reply:
Kind of you to say so Keith, it's all I could ask mate 😊
Mike

Bozzz on 08-03-2016
Retribution
What are you doing messing around in a new career with the cops. Murder most foul and there you are in at the deep end with minimal training. Does your mother know you are out?
Ah well, at 90, I suppose all coppers look like young boys. I can only you wish you well in your new job. A good start my friend - you held the tension well. You obviously know enough coptalk to to develop the plot. Good luck Mike - stick with it my friend - you have the talent..My best... David

Author's Reply:
All the stuff I picked up on cop's came from the other side...the crims' Thanks for reading and commenting David, your kind words and critique mean a lot.
Mike

Weefatfella on 09-03-2016
Retribution
 photo c673dadc-2d28-4407-9a21-a191bcf6d656_zpsp2y54f3y.jpg

The whole thing ticked over nicely. It read well and was interesting. Perhaps as Rab says; let's see what happens after the adverts.
Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Indeed. The adverts may be on the long side sadly. Pleased you liked it mate and thanks for stopping by.
Mike

Pronto on 09-03-2016
Retribution
A great opening for a murder story. It held the interest from start to finish leaving us wanting more. Great stuff Mike.

Author's Reply:
WOW! Can't ask for more than that mate. I will try and get back to it soon. Just got back from hospital tonight so may be a while. Your words mean a lot.
Mike

pdemitchell on 10-03-2016
Retribution
All of the above and more = good pace and descriptive. Hope you are soon well enough to flesh out the flash so to speak. Paul

Author's Reply:
Thanks Paul, words of encouragement from our peers are all we need for inspiration.
Mike


Another place in time (posted on: 04-03-16)    
just a little something.

Streets filled with shops grown new with the passing of time. The bar where once I drank my youth filled now with charity. Yet you were there .. I only had to look. Standing at the edge of infinity looking out on tomorrow. I know the price of consequence. Drank the tears of self-pity washed down with a whiskey chaser. Life's regrets hang as tapestries telling tales of broken dreams, long lost loves; kept alive in memories. I dress my dreams in lace chase them through the dark hours.

Archived comments for Another place in time
sweetwater on 05-03-2016
Another place in time
Oh wow Mike, this is just stunning, I have read it several times since yesterday, I can't find words that will praise it enough. So I will just put it into fav's and nominate it 🙂 Sue xxx

Author's Reply:
Thanks SO much Sue,that's very kind of you. In hospital at the moment, will say more when I'm out in a couple of days hopefully.
Mike xxx

franciman on 05-03-2016
Another place in time
I missed this Mike. Didn't go deep enough. Great voice, but crying out for an edit. Potentially your very best piece of work. Yes it's worthy of nomination as is, but it sounds overworked. e.g.

don't use 'like' unless you have a shiny, new simile: 'like shit of a shovel' perhaps. 'Hanging tapestries of regret'. now that paints the image without sounding contrived.

Tell me to shove it, why don't ya? I'm serious, it could be your best ever!
cheers,
Jim

p.s. I wouldn't take this much time and trouble with anyone else, you know! lol

p.p.s. I know the price of consequence (singular) is sublime verse, and I wish I had written it...

Author's Reply:
Okay Jim, I agonised over the 'like'. I'll see what I can do. Really pleased you thought it worth the effort. In hospital for a couple of days sadly.
Mike

pdemitchell on 05-03-2016
Another place in time
Jim has a point or two and I agree with him - this is a sepia-mottled corker, Mike, and the last two almost-throwaway lines were spot on; "I dress my dreams in lace / chase them through the dark hours." Ahh, nostalgia's not what it used to be! Paul

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by Paul, I'm going to look at the edit. Just pleased you all liked it.
Mike

Bozzz on 05-03-2016
Another place in time
Yes, this is a very very good one, Mike. Only one small point - I agree with Jim about 'consequence' being singular, though indeed, you have a penchant for expressing regrets in brilliant fashion - wish I had committed as many gorgeous sins as you have - yes, I am jealous. As ever, your friend...David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David , I will attend to the error. Ring you when I get out of Hospital.
Mike

Gothicman on 06-03-2016
Another place in time
Sorry to hear of your hospital stay, Mike, hope it's recovery routine, and the extra available help, means you'll be quickly sent home again. Like the others, loved this fine poem, written in your special gentle style that becomes so self-empathic to us all in its honesty. Wishing you well, my friend.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the kind words Trevor, looks like I caught a nasty bug. So pleased that you liked my effort at writing, been finding it hard with the Chemo drugs.
Mike

stormwolf on 07-03-2016
Another place in time
Wonderfully moving, descriptive and from the heart Mike. I also feel one of your very best.

My only niggle would be line line 7 where I feel 'standing' would be better grammar than 'stood' although stood can work depending how you look at it (missing out the 'I' for I stood) but in this instance I am sensing the invisible Mike 'standing' watching and seeing everything with new clarity if that makes sense?

Can I request this as one to be recited at the meeting?

Alison xxx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking a look young Stormwolf,alway pleased to have your opinion and critique. Double pleased when you say nice things😊 Yes I will read it for you.
Mike XxX

Kipper on 24-06-2016
Another place in time
Trying to catch up Mike, been playing truant and hoping that no one would miss me. (or do I mean everyone?) Found this in the Anthology page and I'm so pleased I did for it speaks so eloquently of life and love and memories, and yes, regrets too.
Sorry to hear of you stay in hospital - hope that is well behind you!
Best as always
Michael

Author's Reply:
Pleased you took the time to read and comment, always good to hear from you. Just finished six months of Chemotherapy, not writing much at the moment. The hospital stay was a bug in picked up, they stuck me in isolation for a week. Hope all is well in your world, keep writing and posting!
Best wishes
Mike


The Cancer Diaries (an update) (posted on: 26-02-16)
For Those who May Be Interested. Sorry to be so long with this. I decided to not bore you all,this brings things up to date without endless mutterings. Mike

The Cancer Diaries (an update)
Warm winds blow through my life It's the cold ones that always spring to mind. I heard a mockingbird sing out of tune, felt again, a cold wind.
The years since I contracted cancer have been and gone, leaving their mark on both me and my family. Living with cancer is not something I ever expected to be doingwho does. Friends who comment and tell me how brave I am, how well I deal with it; I know they mean well, but what did they think I would dogive up. Never going to happen. Am I scared? Of course I am. I found that fighting cancer wasn't working for me; I was giving it too much attention. It works for others, going on journeys and raising money. Starting Facebook pages etc.. this isn't me at all. I decided to trust my doctors and get on with my life, not ignore cancer, just learn to live with it, to co-exist. By doing this my family calmed down and started to react differently, a kind of peace came back into our lives. Not blind acceptance of the inevitable by any means; just getting on with it. There were panic moments when things went wrong and the cancer came back, not easy to deal with. I would ask what options there were, discuss at length and throw myself into the treatment. Nothing so far has cured my cancer, from Radio Therapy and the steroids, to a Robotic Prostatectomy to remove the cancer. This was given a 50/50 chance of working. They got the prostrate out okay, sadly not all the cancer. (This operation was not available when I first contracted it). Recently the blocker pills stopped working; they had been holding the cancer at bay. Now even I started worrying. I met with my consultant to look at available options, there seemed to be only one Chemotherapy.
Hands resting on me, holding me in place. Fingers running through the fabric of my life; looking for dropped stitches. I'm dreaming again.
This is where I am now, just over half way through. It's Shit, with a large capital letter. I have never felt so utterly useless in all my life. I can't walk very far, after just a few yards, not just tiredexhausted. My head feels permanently wedged up my arse. Thinking at times is impossible, at least in any coherent way. I suffer from palpitations, can't catch my breath. Sleeping becomes part of the nightmare, I wake up gasping for breath; scared shitless. This is not just me, I checked, it's standard with many of us. All this happens the first week after treatment. It's a three week cycle. I get treatment on a Friday, by Sunday I'm buggered. By Tuesday I can't think straight. The following week you have no immune system. Chemo kills the good and the bad cells in your body. Meeting people becomes a nightmare, are they ill? A simple cold can turn into bronchitis, leave you shattered cancelling the next Chemo session. The good cells then grow back over the third week. The third week is much easier. By now I can get out, walk the dog a bit, visit a pub and converse with friends. It's almost a feeling of euphoriathen it all starts again. The standard Chemo treatment is ten sessions, that's thirty weeks. It takes a good few months to recover after it's over. When I was diagnosed my blood count was at 26, I was told I had aggressive prostate cancer. My last test before Chemo showed it had risen to 186. There are people walking around with much higher scores than this, but it wasn't great news. I had a scan to see if it was working, along with continuing PSA blood tests at the half way point. When we went to get the results we were given the first good news in years. The blood count had dropped significantly to 126 and the cancer had been stopped in its tracks. Further blood tests have shown continuing drop; now down to 86. It's worth bearing in mind that Chemo may not be a cure; if it works at all, it may only give you breathing space while you're in remission. There may be more of this Chemo shit while we all wait for the miracle.
Dreams know no boundaries, I can change them at will. Tomorrow I'll be alive again in a land I understand; my feet on solid ground....
It's not over by a long shot, but at least we have hope again. The ten years I've been doing this has taken its toll on both me and my family, brought many changes to our lives. Physically I've changed a lot. The fit man who could do anything has been replaced by an old fat man with no hair who can barely tie his shoes. The lack of testosterone from the tablets has given me bigger tits than many of the women I've woken up with. I'm in for a double mastectomy when the Chemo's done and dusted. On the plus side, I've become a more considerate man, aware of my limitations; and those of others. Still a bit of a twat, well I can't change everything. As for my wife Lesley, my daughters and their partners, without their support and understanding I would have sunk without a trace. I will never know the strain and demands my cancer has placed on them, and they will never tell me. As I said at the beginning, in the early years we continued to live our lives as best we could. Travel continued while the money was still available, visiting some new and some old favourites around the Med. The idea that life must come to a standstill was not something that occurred to us. We hope to get back to this in the fullness of time. This journey has not been easy. I just wanted to show that the outcome is not always written in stone. I've had ten years so far, they told me two maybe at the beginning. To those who have cancer and are dealing with it.. I salute you.
Thoughts on a better day The sun came in my window, kissed me awake with the gentlest of touches. I stepped outside. grey had left the sky. Life returning to the countryside, swaths of yellow grace our hedgerows Trees look less threatening; branches in bud. Shrugging off my winter cloak I walked towards summer. Spring in my step, lightness in my heart Smiling.

Archived comments for The Cancer Diaries (an update)
Gothicman on 26-02-2016
The Cancer Diaries (an update)
You're a defiant and openly honest warrior, Mike. I hope all this wretched onslaught to your mind and person will soon ease up and bring some mental peace and end to the physical suffering. Perhaps when Spring breaks open it will signify a new healthier start for you too, when you can wander out more and take in that bracing sea air. This clear no-holds barred writing will, I'm sure, strengthen the resolve of others in their personal battles in similar situations. Out of the tunnel soon, mate, fine tribute to a supportive family too. The inset poetry was brilliant.
Best, Trevor

Author's Reply:
An openly honest warrior' I'll settle for that, thank you Trevor. Yes spring is on the way down here, the coast is within walking distance 😊
Mike

Rab on 26-02-2016
The Cancer Diaries (an update)
I loved the poem at the end Mike, so full of hope. Your diaries are beautifully written but hard to read, an honest reflection on a terrible situation. My heart goes out to you and your family; I know how hard it is on those who love you, but it sounds as if you have a good support network behind you, which is good. I wish you all the best for the future.

Ross

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking the time Ross. I wrote the diaries on request, after the second one I was in Chemo and hard to concentrate. After reading reading them in can see gaps, but hell, it's enough to give a picture. That you considered them worthy is enough for me, I thank you.
Mike

pdemitchell on 26-02-2016
The Cancer Diaries (an update)
Wow, Mike. This was brave and as clear as a bell on the hell that is chemo and the four small poems perfectly punctuated the piece as a whole. Thoughts and hopes are with you on this one as you are a man who can mine silver from the darkest of clouds. Paul

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the kind words Paul. There could have been more to say,but enough seemed enough. Bad times always seem better out than in. The other two were easier to write.
Mike

Bozzz on 27-02-2016
The Cancer Diaries (an update)
Mike this is brilliant and I am certain deserves a wider audience than UKA - if only for its value to encourage less courageous folk than yourself, try one of the Cancer groups or societies perhaps. Besides that it is beautifully written and so warming in its candour.

Author's Reply:
Brilliant?!? That's high praise from you David. So pleased you liked it that much, it's all I can ask for. Never thought of posting anywhere else, I will think about it now.
Mike

sweetwater on 27-02-2016
The Cancer Diaries (an update)
I can only add that I agree with all that has been said in above comments, reading this on Friday put into perspective my own silly ranting about the loss of all the countryside around me, still totally important to me personally, but in the grand scheme of things, with what you are up against ( and making less fuss than I am )I feel ashmed of myself. In your shoes I would have crumbled completely, I do not have your bravery and determination. You have given me a different perspective on the illness though, and I think I would take a leaf out of your book, push it into one small corner of my world and live with it there and not allow it into the rest. I look forward to reading more of your work, including your stunning poems, very soon. Sue xx


Author's Reply:
Everything is relevant Sue, our situations dictate this. Some cancers developed so quickly there is no time to gather defences; I was able to gather my self...build my 'shield wall'. I will try to keep writing in my good times.
Mike XxX

Andrea on 27-02-2016
The Cancer Diaries (an update)
Hang in there, mate.

xx

Author's Reply:
You know I will 😊
Mike XxX


To Late For Remorse (posted on: 26-02-16)
So Sorry everyone, yet another re post. I needed to get it right, thanks to Jim for help needed. Feel free to pass it by if boredom is setting in. 🙂 Mike

Too Late For Remorse The chill of the morning caught me as I stepped into the street. I turned to get a coat. Hell it's only October - get a life not a coat. I walked towards town, cutting through the park. The work-a-day world waited, but not for me. Squirrels were packing for winter; searching for acorns, or leftovers from the old lady who feeds them. She had them so tame they would eat from her hand. My first coffee of the day and a read of the morning news. Same place, same time. Creature of habit, me. With the morning paper from the rack, I took my seat. The headlines smacked me in the face. 'Woman murdered in Stonebridge Park' There was a picture of the squirrel lady. Seventy four, a widow. Lived in the next street. Had done for fifty years. She'd been stabbed. 'A Mugging Gone Wrong.' She'd put up a fight. Someone heard shouting but got there too late. A man running off toward town. She'd had a pension book; a bag of peanuts in her handbag. Was that all her life was worth? There was something about the identikit picture. I'd seen the man. I was sure of it. Hanging around the Black Prince pub. I often went there early evening for a pint. Drugs.bound to be drugs. Always was these days. The police were appealing for help with enquiries, I should tell them what I suspected or I could check it out first. At seven that evening, I was outside the pub in my car, trying to look as if I didn't matter. What was I playing at? A citizen's arrest for God's sake. The usual crew were there; pushing and shoving each other; laughing as if nothing had happened. I took a photo with my mobile, pretending I was on the phone. Bigged it up on the screenit was him alright. Shop him or what? I decided to play a little longer; see where he lived; who he lived with. I parked up and walked back to the pub. They were still outside. I brushed past, got a drink and sat by a window; watching, waiting. He came in to order a drink. Buying it with her pension I bet. A rage built inside me. What would he get if I shopped him? Life? And what the hell was that these days? Twelve years out in eight? It wasn't enough. Not for her life. Not for his indifference. I needed a plan. 'Who are you looking at Grandad? You fancy me or something?' I must have been staring. He laughed in my face. 'Past you bed time old man, best you fuck off home before you get hurt' I stared back at him 'You don't know anything about me. Maybe you should fuck off home.' Something in my voice stopped him. He looked around the bar for courage. None was on offer. 'You want to be careful you do Grandad' he said, retreating outside. I was fed up with being careful. Fed up looking away or stepping into the gutter when arseholes like him swaggered down the pavement. I waited until they'd moved on before leaving. By the time I got to the car I was shaking with anger again. I wanted him to pay for what he'd done. Jail time wasn't enoughI wanted to hurt him. Back home I started to calm down. Plans made in anger seldom work out. How could I fix the bastard without getting arrested myself? He'd need to be on his own for a start. I put things together. I toyed with a hit and run; an accident. The idea was good but a little unreliable. I needed to be sure he knew why. Obvious, wasn't it? I'd stab him the way he'd stabbed her. It would be another 'mugging gone wrong.' This time he would be lying there. I wouldn't kill him, just make sure he was hurt. The police would never believe his story. After all, I was technically a pensioner too. The only problems were how and where? Clearly he wasn't going to be in the park for a while. Then I had it. I'd goad him into attacking me outside The Black Prince with all his mates around. People in the pub would remember our altercation a couple of nights earlier. I would carry a knife and get his prints on it after I stabbed him, then scream for help and wait on the floor. In such a public place, I wouldn't have to wait long. His mates would run for it for sure. If not? Well I might get roughed up a bit, but so what? I've had worse. Like I told him he didn't know me. It went like clockwork. I knew he would take the bait. I was easy meat in his eyes. They were outside when I arrived. I walked up, asked them to move on, let people walk past. Oh that brought some ripe replies. I looked at him. 'You're just a coward. Only fit for mugging old women. Afraid of a real man standing up to you?' 'Think you're that man do you Grandad?' He stepped towards me. I grabbed his sleeve, pulling him close. Drawing the knife from my waistband I fell backwards. I stuck the knife in his side. He screamed trying to pull it out. I had control of his arms, letting myself be cut on my hands as we rolled on the floor. People were streaming out of the bar, forming a circle around us. As I predicted his mates legged it when it all went down. 'Help me! Help me,' I cried. He's trying to kill meI've been stabbed!' By the time the Police arrived he was in no state to offer anything. He was bleeding out on the pavement. They saved his life, but he would be in hospital for a while. I had superficial cuts and bruises I gave a statement, saying he must have had in in for me after words in the pub. The landlord said the same. The lock knife was standard issue for gangs, so no problem there. He tried to say I planned it; a revenge attack for our argument. The police just laughed at him. It was front page news. 'Have a Go Hero Tackles Gang. Mugger picks on the wrong man. Falklands hero, Ex Sargent Major Bill Price of H.M.Royal Marines, wrestled the man to the ground, turning the knife on him at great risk to himself. I was up for an award. Three pages in was another story. 'Police arrest the killer of Mary Bitiford - killed in Stonebridge Park a week ago'. He'd confessed, saying it was an accident and he'd never meant to kill her. He'd been in custody for three days.
Archived comments for To Late For Remorse
Gothicman on 26-02-2016
To Late For Remorse
A fine write and moral warning about arriving at preconceived conclusions too hastily! Loved reading it then, enjoyed this well-constructed story now too. Good to see you're back!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
So pleased you took the trouble to read this one again Trevor. It's been bugging me, little changes needed; all done now. That you liked it is a bonus, and yes...it's good to be back.
Mike

Rab on 26-02-2016
To Late For Remorse
Excellent story Mike, great pace and it builds really well to a good ending, particularly for the mugger!

Ross

Author's Reply:
Thank you kind sir, such words from our peers is all we can hope for. Much appreciated.
Mike

Weefatfella on 26-02-2016
To Late For Remorse
 photo 89f4a5d0-5f15-4509-881e-443a08debcc5_zps272a8411.jpg<





Excellent write Mike. The build up of tension was well done, the plot was good.I enjoyed the whole piece.



Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:

pdemitchell on 26-02-2016
To Late For Remorse
Well done Mike! Well-paced and you captured that cocky testosterone bounce of too many young arseholes. I had one lad do the diamond-stare some 15 years back and said "wot you looking at?" I shrugged my shoulders and said "4 billion years of evolution and frankly it sucks!" Luckily his firends laughed at him and he turned on them not me. Hey ho. Well writ! Paul

Author's Reply:
As an ex scaffolder and arsehole I know all about the stare...I trust you're not from Plymouth😁
Thanks for reading and commenting Paul, so pleased you enjoyed my little tale.
Mike

sweetwater on 27-02-2016
To Late For Remorse
Hi Mike, I thoroughly enjoyed this the first time I read it, and was as captivated this second time too, proof I think of an extreemly good story. Just a tiny typo (sorry) you have written 'past you bedtime, instead of your bedtime' I'm amazed I noticed actually, never notice my mistakes sadly. I love your style here and would like to read more of the same. 🙂 Sue xx


Author's Reply:
Good of you to read this again Sue, so pleased you continued to enjoy it. I will amend the typo HaHa!

Mike XxX

franciman on 28-02-2016
To Late For Remorse
I love it pal, but you've got to do something about the title!!
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Bugger...There's no pleasing some people. Whats wrong with the title???? 😊 pleased you liked the story since you had a big influence on it 😂😂😂😂😁
Mike

Savvi on 04-03-2016
To Late For Remorse
Very well written and enjoyable Mike a wise after the event cautionary tale. Best Keith

Author's Reply:
So pleased you took the trouble to find and read it. That you found it enjoyable and we'll written is a bonus. Thanks Keith 😊
Mike


Play it Again Sam (posted on: 07-12-15)    
Another one of those memory things. *apologies to those who may need it.

I recall the words to a song I once heard drifting on the winds of chance. I was standing at the edge of 67' and the times they were a changing. A horn blew jazz in a fractured key, in a smoke filled bar where no one listened. Somewhere down the road a piece It would all mean something. I would smile, tip my hat to that night to the memory of that time and place. In fifty years would anybody care The life span of a dream measured in moments, held in waiting by those who gave it life. until the winds of chance blow through our lives again. Play it again Sam.

Archived comments for Play it Again Sam
gwirionedd on 07-12-2015
Play it Again Sam
"Somewhere down the road a piece"...

What does that phrase actually mean? I've never heard it before except once, I think, on "Only Fools and Horses".



Author's Reply:
For me the phrase means a future time along your path.
Mike

sweetwater on 08-12-2015
Play it Again Sam
Loved this Mike, reawakened so many memories, a lot of the references made me rather sad, such a wealth of musicians singing to change the future back then, all full of hope and enthusiasm seeing a much brighter and better world, but all we have left, seemingly are the memories they left behind, and the world is certainly no better and in some aspects even worse. Super write, I think I must pop it into favourites 🙂 Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting Sue, there is a lot in this as always, pleased you enjoyed it so much. I wrote it to try and understand some thoughts that have been flowing in and out of my head for a while...memories. It's about time spent in Bristol, I think it's going to be a personal favourite of mine for a long time, one I will read HaHa!

Gothicman on 09-12-2015
Play it Again Sam
Fine writing capturing the afterglow of something personally meaningful, Mike. The feelings transpose to the reader well, maintain their freshness, and remind us of similar special situations we all have experienced and kept with us afterwards. That is what life consists of after all, strings of episodes worth remembering, keeping thoughts and accompanying emotions connected. Much enjoyed.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thank you so much for those kind words Trevor, I like your strings of episodes. Pleased you enjoyed it, I think it's one of my own favourites.
Mike

franciman on 11-12-2015
Play it Again Sam
You're definitely a child of your time, Mike. You have to read Omar Khayyam. He does this better than you, but not by much. I can see why it's one of your favourites. Mine too.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thought you may like it Jim, thanks for reading it.
Mike

stormwolf on 09-03-2016
Play it Again Sam
Touchingly nostalgic and poignant Mike. Well worth the accolades. Another request for the get together.
Hopefully we shall make more memories to tip future hats to down the road apiece.
Alison xxx 👍😈

Author's Reply:
Thanks Alison, as you may have read, it's one of my own favourites. I had a feeling you may like it, consider it on the reading list. 😊
Mike XxX


The Waiting Game (posted on: 20-11-15)
A complete re-write of one from yesteryear. Should have done it when Jim critiqued it, as usual he was right.

THE WAITING GAME After you'd gone the clock stopped. only the hands moved on. Counting hours that for me, ceased to exist. I prowl the house, Sitting in chairs retaining the warmth of you. Unable to break the spell your leaving has cast. Staring at the telephone, needing something, someone to reassure me life would go on. A malaise, compelling as a drug, wrapping me in a world of emptiness only your love can set free.

Archived comments for The Waiting Game
franciman on 20-11-2015
The Waiting Game
Great stuff Mike. For a Devonian you show a really good grasp of English!
This has that relentless ticking of the clock feel, almost claustrophobic.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks mate, I found it with your comment, this is the result. Pleased to get a positive this time 😀.
Mike

Bozzz on 20-11-2015
The Waiting Game
Well my friend, you have plenty of lost lovers to choose from so I will forgo asking which. An excellent piece, Mike, tempts me to try writing prose poems - even though residents in Dorset are known to have an even poorer command of English than Devonians - ah well...David !

Author's Reply:
Lost loves indeed HaHa! I guess you have a point😊 I understand that where you live in Dorset, they speak fluent Hobbit. Thanks for stopping by David.
Mike

gwirionedd on 20-11-2015
The Waiting Game
Ooh... very painful... I know this feeling. Never totally got over it.

The hours do indeed cease to exist, and cease to matter.


Author's Reply:
Better to have loved and lost..... thanks for reading and commenting.
Mike

Pronto on 20-11-2015
The Waiting Game
Heart rending stuff Mike and so genuine, so concise. It's just the right length to truly express your emotions without becoming maudlin as so often is the case with lesser poets than you sir.
Well done.
Tony

Author's Reply:
You do me honor with those kind words, thanks for reading my effort Tony.
Mike

ValDohren on 20-11-2015
The Waiting Game
Very emotive Mike, and familiar territory for me. Beautifully written.
Val xxx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this one, couldn't have been easy Val.
Mike

sweetwater on 20-11-2015
The Waiting Game
Your words sent a shiver down my spine, so final so lonely, each line frozen to the page in the harshness of your reality. I know the feeling well, and it never quite leaves you. Brilliant poem. Sue xx.

Author's Reply:
As usual, it is based on real life. It's almost impossible to describe the feeling of utter loss when a love affair ends...I tried. I hope it hasn't bruised you.
Mike

pommer on 21-11-2015
The Waiting Game
Well done my friend.A very emotional piece to experience.I can understand the feeling of being alone. Thank you for sharing Mike, Your friend peter.

Author's Reply:
So pleased you like it Peter, thanks for commenting my friend.
Mike


The Cancer Diary chapter two (posted on: 06-11-15)
Living with the nightmare

Living with the nightmare Chapter two 'Keep taking the tablets' became something of a joke. I can remember helping to make sure my mother-in-law took hers, now she was doing it for me. When the radiotherapy started Norah would insist that she came with me, we would sit in the waiting room looking around at all the others, no one was talking except in whispers, smiles were in short supply. I thought 'fuck this, I'm here to be saved not buried'. I started talking to everyone, asking names, what did they have? How long had they been in treatment? Soon everyone was at it, next we found the on switch for the TV and started watching 'Shaun the Sheep' bloody hell it was so funny. I had a go at the staff, told them to lighten up a bit. When they called you on the tanoy it was like going to the gallows. The next time I was there it was 'Come on down Mr Green' game show style, everyone laughed and laughed. Many there didn't make it, including someone I knew well, that really screws with your mind set. After the treatment had finished for good I relaxed, thinking so pleased that's over, can I forget about all this now please? In a few weeks I was tested again for my PSA count, it had dropped to acceptable. I thought I was cured. Clearly I hadn't read the program. Within six months it was creeping up again, holy shit..back on the tablets. The whole experience is so frightening, a rollercoaster of emotions. More scans, more blood tests, flow tests checking the rate of your peereally? One thing you lose with all this going on is all sense of dignity; most of the time someone is poking, prodding and jabbing you while you are in one of those ridiculous hospital gowns , the ones with no back, and your arse is hanging out for all to see. I was no longer in control of my life, to stay alive I had to hand it over to others, to trust them to get it right. I'm not a very trusting person.
The enemy within is here again Creeping through my body, dry rot in an old wall. The unseen, uncaring enemy. undermining my confidence, stabbing at my defences, filling me with uncertainty. I am not afraid. I have met my enemy. I know him well.
In order to remain sane through this, we had to step outside occasionally, be Mike and Lesley again, try and do the things we loved. We went to France to stay with our daughter and our son-in-law at his parent's holiday home in the Limousine. It was a beautiful region, but it rained a lot of the time. We drove down to the coast to La Rochelle, I liked it there, and over onto the Island of Ill de Re', very nice. For a week we were able to forget, we needed that rest. The break reminded us of who we were, it reinforced our pledge not to lose ourselves in the maelstrom of cancer world. With the return of my cancer, the three month tests became the focus of our life, would the PSA go up? How would we deal with it? I would go down to my GP to have my blood taken, they sent it off. About a week later I was supposed to go to the hospital, get the results from my consultant, maybe have a chat (no tea and cake though). This was the plan. Due to the amount of people they have to see what normally happened was, she phoned me the evening before. That conversation in part one was a phone conversation, and very real. If we didn't get the phone call, then we would just turn up at the Hospital at the prescribed time. Here's the thing, this lack of a phone call always meant bad news, stuff you didn't want to relay over the phone, imagine sitting in the waiting room for an hour knowing this. There have been many of these visits, as result of the 'bad news' we would be left clinging to each other crying, and telling each other 'we can beat this'. We went back to France in the summer, this time to the Dordogne, it rained again. Was France trying to tell us something? We loved the area and had a great time, hired a car from Bordeaux Airport and a lovely Gite, toured everywhere. but rain? Ah well, better luck next time. As if the bloody cancer wasn't bad enough, the recession was to take my job, leaving me out on the street again. Fortunately I have a good reputation, so was able to find another quickly. My previous employer has remained my friend, a friendship I treasure to this day. We saw out the year in style courtesy of Lesley's friends, who had a place in Madeira. We went for the New Year Celebrations and it was wonderful. I had been once before and was able to take Lesley to a few places of interest, the cable car up to Monti being one of them. You can come down in the famous wicker sledges through the steep and winding streets. Quite exciting, and sometimes a little dangerous. You can't let the cancer swallow you up, it's easy to withdraw into yourself, build a wall or live in a bubble. If you do, in my opinion, you will lose the plot and die. I'm a fighter by nature, so I suppose it's easy for me to say, but there are groups you can join where people will help you through the bad times, show you how to get the best out of the situation. After the first shock, don't sit back, fight it with everything you have. Believe in yourself, and never ever give up hope. to be continued...
Archived comments for The Cancer Diary chapter two
franciman on 06-11-2015
The Cancer Diary chapter two
Great stuff Mike. This is your voice, warts and all. It's no longer about Cancer, it's about Mikeverdi. That's why it's such a riveting read. The poetry is not only apt and appropriate, it is damned good too.
On the subject of 2/To/Two/too; check out this sentence:
'to stay alive I had to hand it over to others, to trust them to get it right.' perhaps:
'Staying alive meant I had to put my life in the hands of others and trust they'd get it right.'
cheers,
Jim


Author's Reply:
Why thank you kind sir, pleased you're pleased. I've tried to capture the feeling as best I can. I've returned to the fist part and given it a makeover as well, although I won't repost it. The time we spent and your confidence in me is much appreciated. I will like at your suggestion.
Mike

Bozzz on 06-11-2015
The Cancer Diary chapter two
Suspense in your usual jovial style - particularly liked the inserted poem - brilliant again good friend. May have to join you on the winding road. Yours aye, David

Author's Reply:
So pleased you liked it David, your company would be welcome at any time, not carrying the same burden though I hope.
Mike

Harry on 06-11-2015
The Cancer Diary chapter two
Strong Mike, makes a reader walk the walk with you. Harry

Author's Reply:
Thanks Harry, from you, that's like getting a medal. 😊
Mike

Pronto on 06-11-2015
The Cancer Diary chapter two
I, too, loved the inserted poem Mike. A very touching story and one of courage in the face of adversity. Keep the faith mate.

Author's Reply:
Cheers mate, pleased you stopped to read and comment. Started Chemo last week, not nice 😯 I will as you say...keep the faith.
Mike

Corin on 06-11-2015
The Cancer Diary chapter two
Brilliant Mike - When I was ill I felt so ashamed, laid low by depression when I knew that there were people like you putting up a great fight against the Ogres of Cancer and MS.

August 1968 by W H Auden (Tyranny is just another form of Cancer!)

“The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.

About a subjugated plain,
Among it's desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.”

You have defeated your personal Ogre with words, weapons far more powerful than bullets or bombs!

Best Wishes to you and Lesley


Author's Reply:
Thanks so much for the kind words. So many people suffer in silence, all kinds of illnesses. I am fortunate to be blessed with a big mouth. When I started telling people about my cancer, some couldn't handle it, as if just talking about it would pass it on to them. I believe that's true of many illnesses. Mental illness is one of those for sure. So pleased to have had the chance to listen to you read again in Bristol.
Mike

Gothicman on 07-11-2015
The Cancer Diary chapter two
Gripping real-life drama, Mike, presented with defiant humour. Your defence-systems must be on action-stations and enemy-alert full-time with that fighting spirit you exhibit. It certainly keeps the commentary style en engaging read, and with an attitude that everyone confronted with a fight on their hands should adopt. I hope the chemo does a good sorting job between strong DNA-guided cells and weak intruder C-cells till its all only original complete Mike left! You're an inspiration!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! All too 'real life' at times Trevor. Thanks for sticking with the tale and your kind words. I hope to continue with life and the story.
ps. Chemo is a bastard.
Mike

stormwolf on 07-11-2015
The Cancer Diary chapter two
Like everyone else i also liked the poetry woven in. The sense of determination mixed with humour but also the stark reality of having to live with a potential death sentence handing over you.
When my dad was terminally ill with lung cancer he was admitted to a ward in Inverness, not for any therapy, only to do a bronchoscopy where they stuck a horrible instrument down his trachea to see how much the tumour had infiltrated his windpipe.
It was a horrible ordeal and not for his benefit in any way. Upsets me to think about it even yet. However, he was just like you. When he went into the ward and all the men were sitting in bed looking like they were only waiting for the grim reaper, he went round them all asking if anyone wanted to play dominoes.
He discharged himself against medical advice the next day. Good old Dad! I was proud of him.
You are packing so much into life Mike. I can imagine it's hell many times but you are investing so much in your memory banks.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
So pleased you're taking the time to read this Alison, yes, good on your dad HaHa! It can be a bit grim at the coal face of illness. You know my saying 'Fuck them if they can't take a joke'
Mike
XxX

sweetwater on 07-11-2015
The Cancer Diary chapter two
Reading your strong and individual style, takes away a lot of the fears this dreadful disease pushes before it. I know for sure I would never cope as well as you have, I am sure I would be the one who withdraws into a bubble of total fear which would devour me long before the illness ( probably any serious illness ) ever did. So I admire everything about these accounts they show me the 'right' way to handle it and that life can, and must steer as normal a course as possible. Sue xxx

Author's Reply:
This is like my critique Sue, something I throw out there that works for me. Like my critique, others may disagree. Some cancers are just overpowering, I've lost friends in months, and nothing seemed to help. I'm so pleased you are getting something from this account.
Mike
XxX

pommer on 08-11-2015
The Cancer Diary chapter two
Just great mike, Have also read part one. Both should give encouragement to those who suffer from the same dreaded foe. Still you are showing how to survive with determination and humour.I felt very down quite often, but with Edna's help and my own Pomeranian stubbornness I survived my own type of the bastard disease so far.They say I am clear.What a relief.
We wish you all the best, and carry on the good fight. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
WOW.....your clear, how fantastic. I am so pleased to hear that Peter, for yourself and Edna.
Mike


The Cancer Diary (posted on: 02-11-15)    
I was asked to write about cancer, Okay I said.... I know a bit about that.

Picking at the running sore of my resentments I noticed the scab healing, closing over the pit. where my madness dwelt. I felt the need to shake off the shackles, escape the tyranny of anguish; light again a beacon of hope. I've been chained to the edge of insanity for too long. I need to write. Mikeverdi
The Cancer Diary 2006- 2015 It's been nearly ten years since that first feeling, the 'somethings wrong' one. Not anything I could forget. I'd gone down to my doctors to ask for an MOT, a health check. Having always been fit, I knew I was not right, not just I was older, more than that. 'Anything specific 'she said 'Well I'm peeing a lot more at night maybe check my prostate' 'Errr well I can give you a blood test, should get the results in a week or so' I don't want to wait that long, can you just feel and see if it's enlarged' (I'd been reading about it). 'NoI can't do that, you will have to make an appointment with another doctor, a male one' 'You're not serious, you're my doctor, and I'm asking you to do it, I'll get my wife to sit with us if you want?' Sorry, I'm not prepared to do that, you need to make another appointment'. I left the surgery and never went back. It took about three months to get set up in another Well Man Clinique, another doctor, this time a male one. I turned up for my first visit, spoke about my problem at the other surgery, he looked at me and said 'I can do this now if you want'. I wanted he put on a glove and did the nasty. When he finished he looked at me and said there is an enlargement, I'm going to take a blood test and have it processed ASAP. It wasn't the shock it should have been, as I said, you know your own body, and something was wrong. It was however when the resentment started, that fucking woman could have killed me. Little did I know how close this would come to being the truth. Twenty four hours later I returned from a trip into town to find my Doctor had been to our house looking for me, I was to phone him on my return as a matter of urgency, I did. He told me not to panic, but it would seem I had advanced cancer of the prostate. He'd booked an appointment for tests and biopsy at the hospital the following day. This was getting scary. This all took place in late November 2006. The biopsy was carried out by a little Italian doctor with a large grin and a great sense of humour. While inserting the dildo shaped probe in my backside, he was playing and singing along to Opera. After this interlude, I understood I could never be gay. We had the results a couple of days later, I did have advanced prostate cancer. I asked if I would be buying a Christmas tree this year, nobody laughed. More tests were arraigned, and talks followed with various consultants. Eventually I was advised to have radio therapy starting in a few weeks, after tablets were used to lower my testosterone (the cancer feeds on it). On December 7th I was to attend the hospital for the day, to have several scans and further blood tests, it would take most of the day. It was my 60th birthday. I'd joined the club no one wanted to be a member of. It's a life time membership even when you win. To paraphrase the Eagles'you can check out any time you want, but you can never leave'. Those who read this and have joined the club will understand instantly. The fear never leaves you. This was the start of my cancer journey, much was to follow that would test the resolve of both myself and my family. The one thing I promised .I would never give in. Part One Captains Log- Star Date October 2006 I had been working as an Estate agent for about 18 months, but it didn't work out, I fell out with the owners and resigned. As I looked around for other work, sadly, it was the cancer that arrived. The struggle to come to terms with my situation took a couple of months, during this time I was unemployed. I was told to sign on at the job centre, claim unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, all kinds of help was apparently on offer for those of us with cancer. I never was able to claim a thing, in the end I gave up trying. There was always a reason I could never get to the bottom of, the only one for sure, was my wife worked. Time to get my head out of my arse, find a job before we went under. A friend told me of a man with an Estate Agency that was going nowhere, needed someone to turn it around, I had a reputation as a man who could do that. After an interview I got the job. I confessed that I was undergoing cancer treatment, he asked if I could still do the job, I said yes, fire me if I can't. He laughed and said go for it, we had a deal. It was the kick up the backside I needed. In February 2007 I started Radio Therapy, it wasn't that bad, just made me really tired. I arraigned to have it after four each day, it went on for seven weeks. I always tried to go back to work after, just to end the day. If I'm honest I wasn't up to much by then. I have the attitude when you're in charge you have to show you're in charge. I'd only just started training staff, they needed to be able to trust me. Life at home improved dramatically once I was back at work, I found the will to live again. We started to smile again, make plans. I was earning money so pubs and restaurants became available. Friends noticed the difference, things were looking better. It took me six months but that's what I did. The office was back in profit, and I opened another two for him. Christmas came and went in a blur, I threw myself into the job, it was a way of dealing with stuff, the whole family was in turmoil, I had always been the strength, the rockinvulnerable. At the end of my treatment it was 'wait and see time' I continued to take the tablets and have blood tests to check my PSA level. There are no guarantees with any of these things, sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. Conversations with consultants, the waiting for results, friends offering well-meaning advice, it drains you. You try to be positive, hold onto hope like a shield, let me tell you it's not easy. Conversations could go like this:
Should I be worried doctor? Don't worry MikeI'll tell you when to worry I wonder if having to say the same words day after day sucks the hope out of them. Oh. that's good Doctor, I feel better already. The feeling of contradiction, I wasn't worried until you said that I had hope to hang onto. How long will I have to waitbefore I worry? The hesitation says it all. Unfortunately that's not something we can be certain of. Bugger I seeyou don't knowso it could be tomorrow? May as well start worrying today then get some practice in. Nothing will happen that fast Mike. Really? See you in three months then Mike. Okay Doctor... Is that a promise?
It wasn't all bad, life still had to go on. Previous to this we had been used to several holidays a year, this wasn't possible with what was happening, we made do with visiting friends and country pubs, after all we were in a beautiful part of the country. It was winter, so beaches were for walks, rather than swimming or surfing. That was okay, on a crisp winters morning its great fun walking the cliffs of the South West Coastal Path. This account of my life with cancer is to show that getting it isn't always the certain end that some experience. I have lived with the knowledge that I have cancer for nearly ten years, several times I have been given wrong information, told it had gone twice. You just have to remain optimisticand live on hope. Many give in too soon, can't do the time and treatment. I made the decision after seeing a friend give up, that I was not ready to die, I would do whatever they told me except die. I'm still fighting. To be continued.
Archived comments for The Cancer Diary
Mikeverdi on 02-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
Thanks to whoever for the Nomination and the Nib. I will try and live up the the honour if I post more. The plan was to try and offer an alternative view on life with the enemy. Many will have read my auto, and know a bit already HaHa!
Mike

Author's Reply:

Bozzz on 03-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
Mike, this was torture by the NHS, Sadly all too
common. Only a strong-willed person like yourself
could have survived and still remain hopeful. And now
despite the awful treatment you are having to suffer
right now, to come out writing the story, one can only
marvel at your tenacity. That is one thing, but to write
as well as you do in the circumstances, is another
- and gain a nib – triple congratulations my friend.
Yours aye, David


Author's Reply:
Thanks David, good of you to take the time to read and comment. I try and take the knocks, hard at times, but I can't give in. It was suggested I do this, I will try. 😊
Mike

ifyouplease on 03-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
you're strong, cancer is in big trouble. 😉



Author's Reply:
Thanks so much, I'm a fighter by nature 😀
Mike

Andrea on 04-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
Well, I don't know who asked you to write about your Big C experience, but it was a bloody good idea!

I found it quite fascinating, not to mention entertaining (if one can call such an experience 'entertaining') - what an effing stupid, irresponsible bitch that female doc was - she'd have got a mouthful from me, I can tell you!

Stay strong - you can do it! Well, look at me. On second thoughts, perhaps not, eh?

xx



Author's Reply:
People with cancer are different, we look at life differently. When you first get it you are numbered with shock, the whole family is. I wanted to give something back to those who helped me, they asked me.

If you read any of my auto, you will know I don't take myself to seriously, but then you know that anyway, we've met😊😀😁😂
As to looking at you, hell, I've got bigger Tits that you and Evelyn put together. I'm doing playboy next month😂😂😂😂😂
MikeXxX

Pronto on 04-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
Wow Mike reading of your experience had me all at sea. I lost my dear brother-in-law to prostate cancer aged 64.

I was luckier than most folk. I had a kidney stone and when they had the camera up my pleasure pipe they spotted the beginnings of bladder cancer. It was a shock to be told but I responded to the treatment and have been clear for fifteen years now. You are handling it well my friend and long may you do so.

Author's Reply:
Sorry if I brought back sad memories mate. Fantastic that they caught you early, bloody brilliant 😃
It's a bit of a bugger going through all this shit, but the alternative is not fun either HaHa!
Mike

sweetwater on 04-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
Your opening poem is a stunner, perfect for the words to come, which I found inspiring, full of humour and optimism as are all your wonderfully written experiences. There is little that I can add to what has already been said so I will join with everyone and say stay strong, keep your optimism, and humour with you and keep writing. Sue xxxx

Author's Reply:
That's the plan Sue, thanks for stopping by, so pleased you think I can still do it 😊😊
Mike xxx

Andrea on 04-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
Haha...what I meant by that (look at me) was, I had breast cancer 25 years ago - they gave me 5 years, and here I still am - so there's always hope!

x

PS. Hope it's the centrefold 🙂

Author's Reply:
I knew that of course, your in the cancer club....Fucking Cancer. Hope, my favourite saying 😊 there's always hope.
Thanks Boss
Mike XxX

Gothicman on 04-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
A really harrowing ongoing experience, Mike. From your dramatic, well-expressed personal account of being confronted with this illness, that, even with enormous advances and high percentage of successes has retained a deeply-rooted feeling of doom, and I can imagine the panic feelings after receiving the fearful news, what at 59, wanting precise information and competent professional advice, and treatment to be set in as soon as possible!. Cancer being a growth, stop the bloody thing from increasing, cut, poison, or zap it! Of course, it's a natural reaction, even if its progress, like with healthy cells, slows up with ageing. I think your keeping its discovery and progress in close context with your ongoing life and job situation is very relevant too, keeps the surreal feeling anchored in reality, keeps it a human story. I admire your resilience and fortitude, and your fighting spirit, with all aggression awoken becoming a stubborn resolution to beat it. Good luck with this renewed fight, Mike, keeping this oversight over its history is therapeutic, gives a feeling of focus and control.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
When your at the start, it's difficult to think strait. Feelings of despair, anger, total bewilderment, and why me? None of this goes away, you just find ways of dealing with it, or it will deal with you. I'm going to try to tell this story as best I can. Thanks for reading Trevor, and your kind words.
Mike

Supratik on 05-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
A splendid write! I will come back. Those who find humour in extreme situations are a class apart. Best. Supratik

Author's Reply:
If you don't laugh, you may as well shoot yourself HaHaHa! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mike

stormwolf on 06-11-2015
The Cancer Diary
Late getting here Mike but I can look at this on two levels. Firstly, the skill of writing which was excellent. It pulled the reader along , was poignant and at times funny as even terrible times can be. The second level was the pain and suffering you have endured. From reading this, I am sure the biggest distress was coping with the uncertainty and the waiting not to mention the hopes dashed again and again.

You and Lesley are lucky to have found one another. Life is so bloody unfair it just gets to me.
You are a huge soul who has weathered many storms...
I have no doubt but it IS also my prayer, that you are around for a long time yet.
Love you Mike

Alison xxx

Author's Reply:
Going to try and stay around young Storm, you know me, a stubborn old bugger. Thanks for your kind words on the writing, it's you lot that made me improve😁
Mike
XxX


The Death of a Thousand Cuts (posted on: 16-10-15)    
The thoughts of a fed up voter.

There is a scum settling on the surface of society, slipping between the cracks of reason, filling voids within our thinking. Choking half-truths we thought of as democracy. Drowning righteousness, in the bile of suppression and false patriotism. All the while this plague is supported by those we are asked to trust, sitting in the ivory towers of Westminster, with centrally heated pension pots. The left and right of it all lost in the morass of euro speak, pouring forth from lips of politicians, looking for an expense to claim. Each one characterised in turn by pundits scoring points on the evening news. He was a poison pen of a man, spouting bile by the mile, in search of a style, while looking at the world with a frozen smile. The re-birth of Generation X lauded and applauded, by those happy to hide beneath the Emperor's New Clothes. Apathy rules while we drift towards what? Wake up England, your people need you. The drip, drip of insanity, landing like acid rain on the belly of reality. While we sleep...dreaming of a new dawn. I stand in the wings banging my fists on the doors of perception, where are you now, you demigods of my past. The world has turned in its grave, we need new heroes, strong arms to hold the flag of truth aloft. Instead of lesser mortals, wrapped in the protective armour of political correctness, ineptitude and stained morality.
Archived comments for The Death of a Thousand Cuts
Bozzz on 16-10-2015
The Death of a Thousand Cuts
For me, this piece summarises what I feel in my gut every morning when I read the newspaper. Bravo Mike. Please accept my nom...David

Author's Reply:
Many thanks David, my first write for months, so pleased you liked it enough to Nominate.
Mike

stormwolf on 16-10-2015
The Death of a Thousand Cuts
Bravo! Bravo! *Rises to feet and dances round the room*
Just fab writing Mike. From the content, to the countless great lines to the passion expressed.
With you all the way. Bloody self serving, forked tongued politicians. The scourge of humanity.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Thought this would be up your street, pleased it got you dancing young Storm 😁😂
Mike xxxx

Nemo on 16-10-2015
The Death of a Thousand Cuts
I share your anger, Mike. It's time the people turned.
Great impassioned writing! See you at the barricades.
Gerald.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting, kind of you. I voted them in to sort things out, but the cuts are going too deep now. We are suffering undue hardship, now they are closing over thirty police stations, as for the NHS.....
Mike

Gothicman on 18-10-2015
The Death of a Thousand Cuts
The day of the true Statesman is past, Mike. Now it's front-man celebrities of different own-take persuasions, backed up by a motley crew of characterless, timid, civil servants lacking visionary qualities, and thick as five short planks when it comes to consequence analysis! We developed a good well-balanced pay-in/take out tax and welfare system, and then we left the door to the world-based knacker's yard wide open! Wake up indeed England! Who can draw out Excalibur's sword and fill the hay-carts with politicians and let them trundle to the Tower? Getting out of Europe would be a good starting point! Good, straightforward, tell-it-how-it-is writing, Mike, and composed with good sense and clear vision. A good balanced mixture of rant and lyrical metaphor keeping it all literally interesting and serious in its messaging. Hope you subbing again means you've got your health problems sorted?
You're a much needed contributor. Gratulations on the nib and nom.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the in depth reading and comments Trevor. You too are needed on here my friend, even if I don't always understand your technical mastery 😀 I thought your last poem was a blinder.

As to my health, that would be a no. I start Chemo next Friday, my other treatments stopped working. Bloody cancer keeps coming back. I was going to post about it, I will be a bit out of it for a while.
Mike

sweetwater on 18-10-2015
The Death of a Thousand Cuts
There doesn't seem to be much I can add, everyone else has said it for me, so well done Mike for speaking so forthrightly for all of us. Great write. Really good to see you back on here. My very best wishes go with you Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Sometimes you just have to open up and shout, so pleased you understood.
Mike
XxX

pommer on 18-10-2015
The Death of a Thousand Cuts
Like David I too feel this every day I try to read the papers.Well expressed and true Mike. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by Peter, it has to stop now.
Mike


Dear Diary (posted on: 17-08-15)
And now for something completely different. I never know what to post things in, so you decide what it is...or not 🙂

Dear Diary Forget the rain, new day new start. Yesterday is History. It was never going to work, Art is just not my thing, it sort of was, but too many wanabes, how could they judge my work. The usual platitudesI showed potential, maybe try another medium. What the fuck do they know, four years in Art College and they think they know it all. Dear Diary Writing is the new meI know I'm good, I've always been able to write. Now. poetry or a Novel, why not both? There's something exciting about a blank page, as long as it doesn't stay blank. Dear Diary Shit how hard can it be? Maybe try the poetry first. How can anyone 'wander lonely as a cloud' what's that all about? The modern poets are more 'me', I see myself as more on the edge, The Dark Rider on the Skyline sort of guy, yeathat's more like it. I hit the streets to a different beat Not walking but floating on my two left feet I met a girl who was really sweet Dear Diary Well some people on Facebook 'liked' it Maybe I'm too good for them, I should try a real poetry site like Poets-R-Us. I think I was really writing music, songs eventhat's it! I'll be a song writer, and oh yes, I'll need a Guitar
Archived comments for Dear Diary
Weefatfella on 17-08-2015
Dear Diary
The two left feet was inspired Mike. It could have been me, in the first paragraph. Why not try the ukelele Mate? There's plenty of lamposts to lean on. Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
Ha! It could have been all of us Paul LOL. In the way that you do, I went back over some early stuff...oh dear. I visited Forward Poetry. So pleased I washed up here. I've been asked to dig out my guitars again... I'll leave the lamposts to my dogs HaHa!
Mike

Andrea on 17-08-2015
Dear Diary
Haha - there is a book you really must read - you'll love it!


Night of the Earwig, third down on the left UKA Press


Here's an excerpt --> Earwig Excerpt

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked it boss, and I'll give the earwig a look HaHa!
Mike

deadpoet on 17-08-2015
Dear Diary
Well you are a multi-talent Mike- that is obvious. A bit of this and a bit of that. Pretty good. I never touch art - only to look at in galleries. Loved your little piece here.
Pia

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the kind words, its true I've had a go at loads of stuff...talent, errr... 🙂
Mike

sweetwater on 17-08-2015
Dear Diary
Had to chuckle at this, jumping from one stepping stone to another but never staying on one for long. I tried art college how many interpretations of the sun are there? Why could I not join the class I actually signed up for.. I never did know the answer to that so left. But still hanker after the canvas and paintbrush.
Throughly enjoyed reading this. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
This was just a little jibe at those who can't be told. It took me a while to get my ego under control, to realise that people will always say what you want to hear, not always what you need to hear. Some are better at telling than others 🙂
Thanks for reading
Mike XxX

Bozzz on 18-08-2015
Dear Diary
Oh Mike.you lucky bugger! - with two left feet. At least you are a hopper - from one diary entry to the next or is it from one bar to the next or even one full jug? You are now booked in for next Tuesday anyway - please confirm that is OK. Yours aye, David

Author's Reply:
Bar Hopper indeed, those were the days 🙂 the only hopping I do now is out side the public toilets waiting for my turn LOL.
Tuesday is good for us (and the dogs) stay well mate.
Mike

Pronto on 19-08-2015
Dear Diary
Ha ha! What a great imagination you have. Yer got me chuckle muscles moving with this diary of a wanna-be nerd!

Author's Reply:
Bugger! How dare you call me a wannabe Nerd!! HaHaHa! So pleased it got a chuckle out of you mate; Job Done Then 🙂
Mike

pommer on 20-08-2015
Dear Diary
Yes Mike you need a guitar, or Hurdy-Gurdy.Got me grinning to myself. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Well Peter old friend , you can remember me from Forward Poetry, I needed all the help I could get then HaHa! Maybe I still do LOL
Thanks for reading me mate.
Mike


We All Dream Alone (posted on: 14-08-15)    
A picture poem.

 photo wolf4 picture with words_zpsk6nae5k7.png

Archived comments for We All Dream Alone
sweetwater on 14-08-2015
We All Dream Alone
You took my breath away with this one Mike, then you reduced me to tears, the last three lines really hit home. For many here ( not all are spring chickens, me included ) and many we love have reached the last few hours on time's clock, and everything becomes so precious. The use of the cold rather harsh picture emphasised your words so well. I know ratings are not really used much now but in my view this deserves a 10. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
That's a lovely thing to say. Yes I had all of the comments in mind when I wrote this, so many friends all clock watching. I am burdened with dreams,not all bad, but lately....
Mike
XxX

Supratik on 15-08-2015
We All Dream Alone
Overwhelmed! Read it a number of times. Every word, every line in the poem is full with the strangest truth, dream; the poem takes the entire world inside; I have never felt that the word 'alone' could be so inclusive?

Author's Reply:
Ahhh....now I'm overwhelmed. So pleased you liked my effort, so many thoughts playing with my world at the moment.
Thanks for your kind words, always appreciated my friend.
Mike

Weefatfella on 15-08-2015
We All Dream Alone

 photo c673dadc-2d28-4407-9a21-a191bcf6d656_zpsp2y54f3y.jpg

Aye! Mike. Very well put mate. Maybe they are good wolves and have only come to show you the way. Nha! Wie Yirsell They'll be right ugly, evil buggers.
Weefatfella.

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! yes, that would be my luck all right Paul. I've never seen them as anything but beautiful creatures in truth, however.... not sure any more. Maybe Alison can help me 🙂
Mike

Pronto on 19-08-2015
We All Dream Alone
Beautifully presented work Mike and so chillingly real to those of us who have passed the three score and ten.
Excellent work indeed.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this one, the top mark and kind words. Having just lost a mate, and another on the slippery slope, I think my thoughts just spilled out after a shit night. Funny how some work gets more attention than another, I really liked doing this one.
Mike

Pronto on 19-08-2015
We All Dream Alone
Oddly enough Mike I was at the funeral of an old Army mate just this Thursday gone. I also have another dear friend who will probably not see Christmas. It gives one pause does it not.

Author's Reply:
Indeed, we are of an age where all are at risk... Best have a drink then, mine is a large one 🙂 seriously I have shed so many tears, been close myself. Now I try to enjoy what's left to me.
Fuck'em if they can't take a joke
Mike

Kipper on 09-09-2015
We All Dream Alone
Nearly missed this one Mike. So pleased I found it.
You have expressed so well thoughts that most of the old codgers in this little group of friends must all have thought from time to time.
Poetic, beautifully phrased and beautifully presented.
Stick around!
Michael (I'll just have another quick read before I go)

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! So kind of you to take the time to go back. I wondered if the picture was a bit much? I did enjoy doing it. The words were as I felt, as most of my work is.
Thanks again
Mike
ps. I sent you a message?
pps. If it was you that nominated this one....huge thanks😊

stormwolf on 03-10-2015
We All Dream Alone
OI!oi! oi!
Not ALL wolves are bad ye ken. I like the anology, the imagery and the layout too. The sparce words in keeping with the subject in hand.
I can relate but in my case my wolves will be so welcome as to bring me to tears of joy. By that I mean that my wolves are intense belonging for me if that makes sense.
Well done Mike.
Alison x

Author's Reply:
HaHa! I said to WFF in my reply to him, you may have something to say about this one. I love wolves, I think you know that. The thoughts and dreams that are possessing me are not of my choosing unfortunately. I thank you for taking the time to look back at my work, so pleased you approve of this one. If it's your nomination.....double thanks 😊
Mike XxX


Can't go back (posted on: 24-07-15)
It's in the title

Recognised her through the window, wrapped in a memory scented candles and patchouli. Stopped and stared, looking at long ago. A time of innocence. But we can't go back. Re-wind to that place in time. The music, the clothes, the hair style I'm there, and it's 'All Right Now'. She looks up, smiles, she knows me. ''How are you?'' Mimed through a looking glass window. I pretend not to understand. She laughs. I'm through the door. Over tea for two. ''Seems so long ago did you really have to go, I wondered did you ever think of me?'' ''I wrote a hundred letters, never posted one. Afraid of what you'd say, as you threw them all away''. We can't go back. can we?
Archived comments for Can't go back
deadpoet on 24-07-2015
Cant go back
This is very lovely Mike-
🙂 Piaxx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting Pia, so pleased you think so 🙂
I wrote it as a companion piece to my last one (Blue Eyes) clearly a couple of decades later.:-)
Mike xXx

Bozzz on 24-07-2015
Cant go back
A poignant piece - instant attraction - and through a window it cannot be pheromones - but what. Delightful and sad but lovely. Was it in Greece?

Author's Reply:
There was always something... Not Greece though. Thanks for dropping by David.
Mike

ValDohren on 24-07-2015
Cant go back
Would you want to go back Mike when you are so happy now ? Very poignant and wistful.
Val xxx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this one Val. In answer, no not now....but back then?
Mike
XxX

sweetwater on 24-07-2015
Cant go back
Beautiful Mike, I loved the 'Free' hint adored that record, which sets the time of your memory. The whole feeling of this stirs my memory too, if only my husband had, just once, said "Don't go" around that same time how different our lives would be. But he didn't. Later we tried again but it didn't work. So leave your memories as they are, you can't recreate what has long gone. But a wonderful memory is a precious thing.
This is such a lovely poem it's going into favourites it bursts with such a strong yearning. Sue xxx

Author's Reply:
Ah those memories, why do we do it to ourselves...because we can. Thanks so much, you honour me.
Mike
XxX

Kipper on 24-07-2015
Cant go back
Hi Mike
Curiously 'going back' is seldom an option I find. But given the chance who can say. And if you do what about all the things you'd have to leave behind.
In your own special way I think you covered the doubts and the uncertainty pretty well.
Michael
PS. Does going back to UKA count?

Author's Reply:
In truth, I don't think you can go back, not in that way. You may want to, you may need to, but there will be other memories. They will gnaw away at one or both. You have read my life, I have returned to countries,places with three wives, some things are possible. 🙂
Mike

Nomenklatura on 25-07-2015
Cant go back
"Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow...."

I don't believe we can really go back, we are not stepping into the same river, the universe is change.

Good poem.

Author's Reply:
Agreed, picking up the pieces can be hard, even harder when time had healed the cause of the rift. I often wonder what I would say if my children/grand children turned up, its been sixteen years now. As you said...the universe is change.
Thanks for reading Ewan.
Mike

gwirionedd on 25-07-2015
Cant go back
Carpe diem, carpe diem...

...But that's easy for me to say, 40 years on.



Author's Reply:
HaHa! Indeed....in this instance I'm pleased I didn't.
Mike

Gothicman on 25-07-2015
Cant go back
Often touched on this theme myself. You can of course go back in memory and by awakening nostalgia, strengthen and confirm feelings of identity, even if surging dynamic changes preclude any useful reason for doing so in reality, with the intention of trying to recover from where you left off, in later life. But that depends on whether you've lived decently according to your own standards, or/and whether you've put less positive events to rest by natural and not supernatural healing processes, including simple human forgiveness.
For love to stay fresh and worthwhile, you have to grow and change along with it, you can't fill in long gaps, for love is a subjective practiced art, not an objective spectator sport! As suggested in a previous comment, the american author Thomas Wolfe appears to have said it all best in his 1924 book "You Can't Go Back". Tender writing.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Correct Trevor, most of my writing comes from looking back 🙂
As to living decently...many would say I haven't. After three marriages and countless affairs they may well be right.
Thanks for reading sand commenting mate.
Mike

Pronto on 26-07-2015
Cant go back
So sad, so true. it reminded me of "Across a meadow to an ever closing door, a door marked never more, that wasn't there before" From the Days of Wine and Roses. Lovely nostalgic write Mike well done mate.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by, pleased you liked it 🙂
Mike


Blue Eyes (posted on: 06-07-15)
And now for something completely different.

Skin turned brown by the sun. White sheets, damp with perspiration. The sound of your breathing music to my ears. Such joy, the tender feelings of love for another, can this be wrong? I would sell my soul for just another night. To hear the words I love you, whispered from lips, I long to call my own. Treacherous moon you would leave the sky so soon, take my love, my dreams, leaving only memories. I would steal you from the sky, keep you close, make this night eternal, end this masquerade this game of make believe; that binds you to another. Wake now my love, tell me again those sweet lies, that only time keeps us apart. While I wait for that tomorrow I know will never come.
Archived comments for Blue Eyes
Yutka on 06-07-2015
Blue Eyes
Brilliant poem that in a few lines expresses the savagery of unfulfilled love. I know how much it hurts...love that line "I would steal you from the sky"!
Yutka

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading my work, your kind words mean a lot. You mentioned Greece in an earlier conversation. I spent many years holidaying and wandering there, both Islands and mainland. I am deeply saddened by the situation. I can only hope that people will travel there again on holiday, and spend money like they used too.
Mike

sweetwater on 06-07-2015
Blue Eyes
I loved this Mike, such longing expressed so beautifully, at least they were yours if only for a short time, but perhaps the loss of a taste of honey is harder to bare than no taste at all, given the choice myself (how I wish )I would want the taste too. Sue xx.

Author's Reply:
Better to have loved and lost....
Thanks for reading Sue, pleased you liked this one.
Mike
XxX

Nomenklatura on 06-07-2015
Blue Eyes
This is very good, Mike.
I might change the you of "you would leave the sky too soon" to "who" - but that would involve tinkering with the lines after, so you should probably leave it.


Author's Reply:
Kind of you to say so Ewan. You make two good points.
I'll go with the "if it aint broke" then 🙂
Mike

Slovitt on 06-07-2015
Blue Eyes
Mike: you had something to say and you said it. i believe you. perhaps

look at "music to my ears", "I would sell my soul",
"I long to call my own" as places to edit. good poem. Swep

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting. I will look at the points raised, bound to be an edit 🙂
Mike

Gothicman on 08-07-2015
Blue Eyes
Well-written, thoughtfully composed, and enjoyed as something from the heart, Mike.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Kind of you to say so Trevor, pleaded you like it.
Mike

Bozzz on 08-07-2015
Blue Eyes
Seem to be plenty of nibs in Utopia - where can I get a passport? Very well writ my shaggy friend - you can do without a few and still feel hero ! Just jealous on both counts, yours aye, David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and giving me a laugh David. Just get well and I will buy the wine 🙂 that's all that's important old friend.
Mike

deadpoet on 09-07-2015
Blue Eyes
very sensuel and emotional Mike- much enjoyed- - this is your own mark- well done.

Author's Reply:
Well thank you, so pleased you thought so 🙂
Mike X

chant_z on 09-07-2015
Blue Eyes
wonderful piece with very efficient imagery. Original to say the least. Great!

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the kind words, so pleased you liked it 😊
Mike

Pronto on 12-07-2015
Blue Eyes
A truly enchanting piece Mike I enjoyed it so much and the emotions it conjures up, too.

Author's Reply:
Well that's a nice comment *beaming* So pleased you like it 🙂
Mike

Kipper on 19-07-2015
Blue Eyes
The other side of the 'satisfied love' coin.
You would want more even though you know it's going to hurt.
Perceptive
Michael

Author's Reply:
Nice to hear from you again,been wondering where you were 🙂

Like all my "love" poetry, its from my memory box. Thanks for stopping by and leaving you're kind words.
Mike


Neverever Land (posted on: 03-07-15)
It's one of those again...

Wandering through a labyrinth, thoughts lost in a world of make believe, where all our nightmares are confined to room 101, and poetry is on everyone's Christmas list. Bad thoughts punished by extended stays in Narnia. There are no bodies on the news at ten. Children go outside to play in streets without shame, where everyone knows their neighbours name. People drink deep from taps running with the milk of human kindness; and no-one is left out in the rain. There's an amnesty on deceit and lies. Politicians and bankers line up together, handing in their broken promises, along with signed declarations to: 'Never be naughty again'. We all believe them. The Sun comes out every morning at seven o'clock, filled with interesting news stories about political correctness needing a health and safety certificate, before it can be used in evidence against us. The NHS rises up from the dead and saves us all from 'Care in the Community'. Hospitals are clean, bright, well-resourced, and run by valued, highly motivated and well paid staff, who never have to work a sixty plus hour week; and their patients sleep in wards instead of corridors. All paid for by taxes gathered in from those who should have paid all along. Instead of hiding behind their corporate shields of anonymity and greed. Well we can all dream can't we?
Archived comments for Neverever Land
ParsonThru on 03-07-2015
Neverever Land
It would be a nice place to spend your days. Maybe it was, once. Nice thoughts Mike.

Author's Reply:
We always talk of how things used to be, rose tinted glasses. I suspect it may be that if we went back it would be a disappointment. Thanks for stopping by.
Mike

amman on 03-07-2015
Neverever Land
Well written piece of social satire, Mike. The title says it all really.
Cheers.
Tony.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the kind words Tony, and indeed it does 🙂
Mike

gwirionedd on 03-07-2015
Neverever Land
I shall call you Sir Thomas More...




Author's Reply:
And I shall say thank you kind sir 🙂
Mike

deadpoet on 03-07-2015
Neverever Land
We're working on it. Utopia-
xx

Author's Reply:
Make it soon 🙂

Thanks for reading HaHa!
Mike X

Ant on 04-07-2015
Neverever Land
Hi Mike,

some wit, whose name escapes, me once said that nostalgia isn't what it used to be. You've summed up quite nicely the fact that the average person has been shafted by the powers that be for more than a few generations.

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Thanks for reading and commenting, I seem to be getting grumpy in my old age.
Mike

Ant on 04-07-2015
Neverever Land
Hi Mike,

some wit, whose name escapes, me once said that nostalgia isn't what it used to be. You've summed up quite nicely the fact that the average person has been shafted by the powers that be for more than a few generations.

Author's Reply:

stormwolf on 04-07-2015
Neverever Land
Hi Mike
Goes without saying this is right up my street.:-)
There's a good few I would like to see meet the fate of Mussolini..Obama resembles him SO much in affect and he can join the queue. Or maybe remember what happened to Nicolae Ceaușescu and wife.
Psychopaths rise like scum to the top and no real change will occur until they get their just deserts.
W bankers the lot of them!
Lots of great lines Mike.
Alison x


Author's Reply:
Thanks Alison, wondered if you would find it HaHa! You don't have to be political to hate what's been going on out there. Big business pulls all the strings and the political parties all dance to their tune, no matter who they are.some companies are so powerful they can topple governments. But you know all this 🙂
Mike
XxX

pommer on 04-07-2015
Neverever Land
Good stuff as usual Mike. Can't say much at present.Collapsed on floor last Tuesday.Blood clot on lung. Treated well at the RD&E. home again but not myself yet.Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Oh bugger, so sorry to hear this Peter, please take it easy. It seem we are all in the wars at the moment. Good of you to take the time old friend.
Mike

chant_z on 04-07-2015
Neverever Land
Proficient ... lol.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this one 🙂
Mike

Bozzz on 05-07-2015
Neverever Land
A very clever poem. Ideal situation in which to exist - but knowing you, I fear boredom might set in after a few days. My best, David

Author's Reply:
As always you are right David, I fear Utopia is not for me.I would always bugger it up... and be thrown out for shagging or fighting HaHa!

Thanks for reading it.
Mike

sweetwater on 05-07-2015
Neverever Land
No need for my comment Mike, it's all been said above. Just wanted to say I loved it. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Always happy when you're happy Sue 🙂
Thanks for reading
Mike
XxX


In Search of the Holy Grail (posted on: 19-06-15)
Never know the box to place these in, hopefully you wont think 'the bin'. Changed the layout after excellent critique from Jim...thanks mate 🙂

I feel the ghosts of yesteryear holding my thoughts to ransom, while I sleepwalk on the edge of insanity waiting for the bogey man to bring my last request. My mind dressed in twisted concepts, thoughts raging against the constraints of a flawed morality, where humanity exists only at the whim of those who would destroy it. Cruel world, where those who wish only to live, must first give credence to those who want only everything and then some. Their rollercoaster world crashing from one depression to the next, the highs achieved on the backs of others who strive to stay afloat in a whirlpool of monetary greed. Bankers jacking off to the sound of their inflated egos braying from their ivory towers, safe in the knowledge that for them, clouds will always have a silver lining. The rest of us can eat shit and die for all they care. The promises of a new tomorrow where the sun always shines, and hard work brings its own reward, lost on the young pretenders vying for their place at the trough. While the old stare out of dirty windows, a long way from paradise; their pension pots not big enough to piss in. Our world teeters on the brink of self-destruction. As we run out of fuel for our never ending consumerism, we give permission to frack ourselves in the arse to find more, is there no end to our shame our wanton lust and greed. Mother Nature must lift her skirts again. The new Barbarians clamouring at the gates of Eden, chanting the religion of death to all those who would think for themselves, their only justice meted out at the point of a gun. Freedom to think cut off at the neck by the sword of religious fanaticism. Our leaders fail to halt the tide they helped to form when meddling in another's world, without the map of history. or a back door to leave by. Pandora's Box stays open and we will all pay the butchers bill. The flotsam and jetsam of consequences, washing up against a tide of political indifference on Europe's doorstep.
Archived comments for In Search of the Holy Grail
gwirionedd on 19-06-2015
In Search of the Holy Grail
I like "frack ourselves in the arse" very much.



Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by and reading my rant. 🙂

ParsonThru on 19-06-2015
In Search of the Holy Grail
Certainly not a happy picture, Mike. I sometimes feel like we fell off the end of a golden age. Nicely said.

Author's Reply:
Sometimes you just have to Howl at the injustice of it all, this was one of those times. Thanks for reading and commenting mate.
Mike

Savvi on 19-06-2015
In Search of the Holy Grail
Bloody hell Mike i leave you alone for a few month and you go all Desmond Despondent on me, 🙂 great balance in the lines and a pleasure to read even if the topic is a heavy one, Ms Nature will bitch slap us off the planet soon enough. Best Keith

Author's Reply:
Thanks Keith, yes I was feeling the need for a rant HaHa!
Mike

franciman on 19-06-2015
In Search of the Holy Grail
Love it, love it, love it. Oh, did I say I like this? It's you at your very best Mike, if just a little overplayed. My only problem is with the layout. Yes it is prosetry, but by definition it's therefore not prose. A problem with tenses in the first two lines, but maybe take a look at the prose set in free form verse:-

I feel the ghosts of yesteryear
holding my thoughts to ransom,
while I sleepwalk on the edge of insanity…
waiting for the bogey man to bring my last request.

My mind dressed in twisted concepts,
thoughts raging against the constraints of a flawed morality,
where humanity exists only at the whim of those who would destroy it.
Cruel world,
where those who wish only to live,
must first give credence to those who want only everything
…and then some.

Their rollercoaster world
crashing from one depression to the next,
the highs achieved on the backs of others
who strive to stay afloat in a whirlpool of monetary greed.
Bankers jacking off
to the sound of their inflated egos
braying from their ivory towers,
safe in the knowledge that for them,
clouds will always have a silver lining.
The rest of us can eat shit and die…
for all they care.

The promises of a new tomorrow
where the sun always shines,
and hard work brings its own reward,
lost on the young pretenders
vying for their place at the trough.
While the old stare out of dirty windows,
a long way from paradise;
their pension pots not big enough to piss in.

Our world teeters on the brink of self-destruction.
As we run out of fuel for our never ending consumerism,
we give permission
to frack ourselves in the arse to find more,
is there no end to our shame…
our wanton lust and greed.
Mother Nature must lift her skirts again.

The new Barbarians clamouring at the gates of Eden,
chanting the religion of death
to all those who would think for themselves,
their only justice meted out at the point of a gun.
Freedom to think
cut off at the neck
by the sword of religious fanaticism.

Our leaders fail to halt the tide they helped to form
when meddling in another’s world,
without the map of history….
or a back door to leave by.
Pandora’s Box stays open
and we will all pay the butchers bill.
The flotsam and jetsam of consequences,
washing up
against a tide of political indifference
on Europe's doorstep.

cheers,
Jim

p.s. I know! I know! O.K.?

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! As I said, I'm never sure how to post this style...now I know 🙂
Thanks Jim, it means a lot that you like enough to give me your valued opinion.
Mike

Okay Jim, I've changed the lay out...it does look better. 🙂

pommer on 19-06-2015
In Search of the Holy Grail
It will never change Mike,well written .I like the idea of Mother Nature lifting her skirt again likes always.Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thank you Peter, so pleased you liked it old friend.
Mike

Gothicman on 19-06-2015
In Search of the Holy Grail
Whatever the kosher descriptive or classical labelling, or bona fide presentation form, Mike, it is important universal messaging that all can understand and well-written in proper English, and therefore, well deserving of the nib as creative writing! Hahaha! I hate the word "rant"; it's like all criticism of Israeli aggression is anti-Semitic! Anyway, must stop ranting!
Classic work, needs to be said repeatedly!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thank you Trevor, when writers I respect take the time to read and comment on my work as you have, it's more than I can hope for. That you like it is a bonus.
Mike

sweetwater on 20-06-2015
In Search of the Holy Grail
Well Mike you have said it all for me, and much better than I ever could.
Have to admit I prefer the verse layout, mainly because a chunk of writing doesn't do it for me, however I do enjoy your words whichever way you put them down, you have a fascinating way of holding interest and attention.
This one is going to be a favourite 🙂 Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks Sue, pleased you liked it as it was...I've taken Jims advice and stripped it back to poetry format. As I said in my note, I'm never sure of how to present it when its a bit of both HaHa! So nice of you to take it into your fav's.
Mike

Nemo on 20-06-2015
In Search of the Holy Grail
Injustice, inequality, greed, it's all there and we are powerless. A depressing read but you're right to be angry, Mike. We are constantly being lied to, cheated and duped. Voltaire suggested 'il faut cultiver notre jardin.' I'm not convinced he was right. There would always be somebody wanting a bigger garden or stealing our carrots.

Now that you have articulated mankind's problems, perhaps you will come up with a solution? Somebody has to.

A thought-provoking read, Mike, congrats on the nib!

Gerald


Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by old friend, we've all come a long way since FP.

Nothing ever seems to change, like you I've been here before. The market changes like the seven year itch in a marriage; it shakes itself, has a look around... then we are off again; ready to make the same mistakes at a later date. All the while the movers and the shakers are acting like puppet masters and controlling the show. I never used to believe in there being half a dozen people who run the show...now I'm not so sure.
Mike

deadpoet on 20-06-2015
In Search of the Holy Grail
I don't think it can be said too often Mike and you said it very well here. But it does seem to be the never ending story. It is my impression that most of the world's inhabitants won't accept these puppeteers - more so than for 100 years ago. But there doesn't seem much we can do to stop them and create more equality. But you try here and hats off to you! With an eloquent bit of writing.
Pia 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks Pia, I seem to touch a nerve with this one. Sometimes as I said in an earlier reply, you just want to howl at the injustice of it all.
Mike


Farewell Old Friend (posted on: 08-06-15)
Its what it is...

Wasn't sure how it would go, he was dying, and he knew it; I wasn't . He sat in the garden, a blanket around him. Looking up, he gestured me forwards; this man I had known all my life. I saw a flash of resentment, and why not? were it me I pulled up a chair. We talked, travelled back in time, where else was there to go.... forwards had no meaning. Remembering brought tears, I caught a look, was it fear? lost maybe, a rabbit in the headlights? I never saw him alive again. In truth...I don't think he was then. She told me later, his wife, he'd wanted to say more. I remembered that look.... It was me who should have said more.
Archived comments for Farewell Old Friend
deadpoet on 08-06-2015
Farewell Old Friend
I'm sorry for your loss Mike- you express it as one feels losing another person- lots of self-blame. Hope time heels you again.
Simple poem for a deep feeling- very well done!

Pia xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your kind words Pia. The loss of someone close is something we never really get over. We just learn how to deal with it. Time stitches our lives back together; only then can we carry on. For some this never happens.
Mike

Pronto on 08-06-2015
Farewell Old Friend
A lot of regret for things left unsaid here Mike but really we simply do the best we can with what we have at the time.
I read an epitaph for a very old friend of mine last year. Although it was sincere, afterwards I could have kicked myself for the things I left unsaid.
My comfort is that I know he would never criticise me for it.
Excellent and sensitive write my friend.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and leaving your kind words. I guess we all feel the same, missing them never ends but it does ease with time.
Mike

pommer on 09-06-2015
Farewell Old Friend
Hi Mike, well expressed as ever.Reminded me so much of the demise of my daughter's partner last year,when the last words we spoke were on the phone, knowing that we would never see each other again.Very sad.Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for commenting Peter. So hard to know what to say in these circumstances, even when you know them so well.
Mike

sweetwater on 10-06-2015
Farewell Old Friend
This heartfelt poem reminds me of the last time I saw my Cousin, she was quite a long way ahead of me in a bank queue, I know I should have spoken to her but the queue prevented that, I never saw her again, she had a heart attack a few weeks later and died. Life takes so much away from us. Another wonderfully expressive poem Mike, Sue xx

Author's Reply:
We all deal with grief in different ways, but we all suffer the same sense of loss. Thanks for commenting Sue.
Mike
XxX

Corin on 10-06-2015
Farewell Old Friend
There are supposed to be five stages of the grieving proces - guilt being one of them. To tudy it in depth read Tennyson’s great poem ‘In Memoriam’. This is my favourite stanza but there are many famous lines in it:-

Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,

Dave



Author's Reply:
Thanks Dave for reading and commenting, I will look it up.
Mike

Kipper on 31-08-2015
Farewell Old Friend
I'm late with one Mike but I felt I wanted to add a comment.

I'm the last of six chidren, and although my siblings all departed differently the sentiments you describe so well is largely true for them all.

I think that what many people describe as guilt is actually regret. Regret for opportunities missed.

A fine poem Mike

Michael

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking the time Michael, the person the poem relates to is Peter Tarry, who my book is dedicated too. I will never forget him. I wrote another on here 'The time before the time' about my father, These times are never easy, it must be hard for you.
Mike


The Ageing Process (posted on: 25-05-15)
Flash fiction....or is it?

When did we start getting old? The party was over, we were clearing up. Not so much a question as an admission. I had to believe it wasn't too long ago. I remember my fiftieth, we danced after the party as always, Dad dancing, only dirtier.we liked that. Was it then? Hair still not grey in the photos, I was still fit, still wanting it No it wasn't then. In truth, when do we get old? Maybe my first thought was true... It's when we ask that question.
Archived comments for The Ageing Process
Andrea on 25-05-2015
The Ageing Process
I always thought it was when all the coppers started looking about 10 🙂

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! Yes that's about it LOL
xXx

pommer on 25-05-2015
The Ageing Process
I was always of the impression it was when ward sisters looked like schoolgirls.

Author's Reply:
That's just in your mind Peter...you naughty boy!
Mike

Weefatfella on 25-05-2015
The Ageing Process
I think it's when we have to ask that question Mike. I'm 25 in my head, but 60 in my mirror. Weefafella.

Author's Reply:
Still a young lad then WFF...HaHaHa! Wish you were coming to Bristol...it's your round!
Mike

Ionicus on 26-05-2015
The Ageing Process
I am 80, Mike, and the thought hasn't entered my mind yet.

Cheers, Luigi

Author's Reply:
Or your writing Luigi...it's as sharp as ever.
Mike

sweetwater on 26-05-2015
The Ageing Process
Maybe it's when we allow ourselves to feel old, perhaps if we can keep our mind young and interested in everything, what our bodies do ( or don't do) is a small matter. 🙂 Sue xx.

Author's Reply:
This is true I think, although infirmity can take it's toll. Writing has always helped me.
Mike
XxX

deadpoet on 26-05-2015
The Ageing Process
It's when the blokes don't notice you anymore- you're just an indifferent face in the crowd- no more important than a passing dog or cat or cow. That's if you're a female at least.
Seriously- you're only as old as you feel, Mike. I say when I turn 70 I am old but when the time comes I may not feel old at all.
Good question 🙂

Pia

Author's Reply:
Well ...that also works for men, when girls stop looking at you as a catch has the same effect. People always say 'you're as old as you feel' That depends on the time of day for me 🙂
Mike
XxX

Pronto on 26-05-2015
The Ageing Process
I've always believed that we don't grow old we become old when we stop growing. Now at a mere 73 the "Newness" is, admittedly, beginning to wear off the body but the sense of fun I've had all my life is still as strong as ever.
A couple of years ago a brash young man asked me 'Why are you still scuba diving at your age?' I didn't hit him though I wanted to. I just told him as snottily as I could "Because it's the only bloody age I've got sonshine. Age is an irrelevance the only time we've got is'NOW!

Author's Reply:
I love that sentiment... It's the one I live by. People ask if I'm dieing of Cancer, I reply ..no I'm living with it.
Mike

Gothicman on 27-05-2015
The Ageing Process
It's when you stop shrinking and enter the final crusty amoeba phase! Or when you make a playful pass to a woman who looks like Margaret Rutherford's mother and she doesn't look away in disgust, but pouts and pulls the top of her corsets up! Hahahahaha!

Author's Reply:
Oh you are awful Trevor...but I like you HaHaHa!
Mike

e-griff on 28-05-2015
The Ageing Process
There's a difference between your body getting old and your mind getting old. From the comments above, people seem to have ageing bodies, but young minds. Perhaps because we are a creative bunch. I have met people who are young in body, but old in mind. And the saddest of all is those who are old in both - I would say they give in, but I'm not them, so I don't really know. As your example, some creep about 'being ill' instead of just doing what they can do and enjoying it as you do (and I do also).

Author's Reply:
Ain't that the truth though John. As it happens, I never saw you as the creep around type HaHa! I too have met people who are far sicker than me, but still as sharp as a knife. Others, my oldest friend included just give in....and die. Not while there's breath in my body will I give in.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mike

Andrea on 28-05-2015
The Ageing Process
My bod is 95, but I am 10 at heart 🙂

Author's Reply:
All lies....just remember I've seen you; you're bodies not a day over 85, and its your shoe size that's ten. 🙂
XxX

Andrea on 29-05-2015
The Ageing Process
Cheeky git!

Author's Reply:
HaHa!

MrMarmite on 29-05-2015
The Ageing Process
I reckon if you can keep a good sense of humour Mike you'll never get old.It is a bit corny I guess but if you think "old" you will be old,and vice versa.I'm 61 but still window cleaning,and doing gardens for customers,and like going to the football and the pub and mixing with people younger than me.It helps if your lucky to have that gene that makes you look younger though,as I love it when somebody says bloody hell you don't look sixty.
I just tell them it's the tablets,but hate it when they agree with that as I'm only joking !Obviously your a fighter with a cracking sense of humour so you'll never get old ! Cheers. Kevin.

Author's Reply:
So true, some get old way be for their time, some like me are still growing up at sixty eight 🙂
Thanks for reading.
Mike

MrMarmite on 29-05-2015
The Ageing Process
I reckon if you can keep a good sense of humour Mike you'll never get old.It is a bit corny I guess but if you think "old" you will be old,and vice versa.I'm 61 but still window cleaning,and doing gardens for customers,and like going to the football and the pub and mixing with people younger than me.It helps if your lucky to have that gene that makes you look younger though,as I love it when somebody says bloody hell you don't look sixty.
I just tell them it's the tablets,but hate it when they agree with that as I'm only joking !Obviously your a fighter with a cracking sense of humour so you'll never get old ! Cheers. Kevin.

Author's Reply:

Supratik on 06-06-2015
The Ageing Process
When we look at ourselves through others, it is then the mirror lies, it is then we get old, else age is just a number, and we are never too old for a party or for a dance, however dirty the steps might seem. Cheers!

Author's Reply:
I'm finding growing old is nothing a little WD40 can't sort 🙂
Thanks for stopping by.
Mike


Circle of Life (posted on: 22-05-15)
A picture poem...and yes there is more than six words.

 photo c4934640-7da4-4079-8f02-4cd3fd7200c0_zpsjh43d1rg.jpg


Archived comments for Circle of Life


sweetwater on 23-05-2015
Circle of Life
Hi Mike, I was thinking on a similar theme as I walked Harvey on Thursday, the countryside had been looking knocked about and battered, then suddenly an explosion of beauty had erupted seemingly overnight. I thought how wonderful and resilient nature is, it never disappoints given half a chance. Loved your poem, very much to the point as I look at a world of green. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks Sue,I put this together on one of my resent dog walks, it all looked so beautiful.
Mike XxX

deadpoet on 24-05-2015
Circle of Life
A wonderful ode to nature Mike- I'm off for my walk now- beautiful picture too.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by, your kind words are appreciated. Hope you enjoy your walk.
Mike


Clean Sheets (posted on: 18-05-15)
Maybe should have gone in the bio section....bitter sweet.

Face pressed against glass looking outwards. Remembering the past. 'If you don't like it you can kiss my arse' We fell out of love I fell out of life. one door closes. The sky is on fire; burning bridges. I walk on into the heat, another day, another life; leaving the future behind. I'm tying my own shoe laces. Living life in retrospect, the 'if only' world of yesterday. Dodging shadows, alleyways filled with plastic memories; glasses half empty. ''You never knew how I could be?'' Should have seen the writing on the bedroom door. I wanted everything. Not love before the watershed.

Archived comments for Clean Sheets
stormwolf on 18-05-2015
Clean Sheets
Very honest and searing. Loved
The sky is on fire
Burning bridges

Yes, we live, love, lose and learn and that's the way we know how to truly appreciate when we find contentment. Well done Mike.
Alison xx

Author's Reply:
I left that one, felt like I had to beg. I found Lesley, don't always get it wrong 🙂
Thanks for reading and your kind words.
Mike
XxX

Gothicman on 19-05-2015
Clean Sheets
Not always as successful as your new life, Mike, sometimes it's out of the frying pan, out of the coconut oil, and into the fire! But, thankfully not me either! Lol Often though committing too early when both are in flux, on their own learning curve until stabilising when more older and mature; often using partners as therapists to resolve unfinished personality kinks, but inevitably at the cost of the relationship. Both moving on as better people to more compatible partners! That's the film version! Lol!
Fine, honest writing.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
True words Trevor, we always seem to look for exactly the opposite when coming out of a bad relationship, sadly seeing your children doing the same only confirms it. We never listened to our parents on such matters, they are no different. When it comes to matters of the heart, we are all fools. Still had a lot of fun learning though HaHa!
Thanks for the comments mate.
Mike

sweetwater on 19-05-2015
Clean Sheets
At least you had a goodly choice so that you knew the right one when she came along, personally I have never really had the choice, my 'right one' is there but ..... Great poem as always Mike, I always enjoy your writing. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Guess your right Sue, I had sampled a few 🙂 So sorry things haven't worked out for you, I must be lucky, and am thankful for that. Life can be cruel where love is concerned, so much pain.
Thanks for the kind words.
Mike
XxX

Gee on 20-05-2015
Clean Sheets
Sometimes we have to go through the bad to know the good. I'm glad things worked out for you.
There's a positive feel to this, a strength gained after a bad experience. I particularly liked "I’m tying my own shoe laces". It came across as a declaration of new found independence.


Author's Reply:
I don't think any of us start out in a relationship expecting the worst, sometimes things don't work out. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.
Mike

ChairmanWow on 21-05-2015
Clean Sheets
"Leaving the future behind" Yes that is how loving and losing feels.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading. It's what happens, all the dreams die, for a while there is no future....until the next one. 🙂
Pleased you like my effort.
Mike


Morning has broken (posted on: 15-05-15)
Another dog walk....

 photo River photo_zpsdjrqch2e.jpg

Morning has broken. Trees turned silver and gold, catching the sunrise in all its glory. The morning river mist clinging to their leaves. Spider's webs hanging in the undergrowth, diamond necklaces, nature's bounty personified. The river flows on. Its serenity disturbed only by trout, hungry for mayfly skipping its surface. I stand on the bridge, mesmerised by the moment. A heron, unseen until now, rises on beating wings, gliding past, unperturbed by my presence, thinking only of breakfast. I walk on. thoughts turning to mine.

Archived comments for Morning has broken
deadpoet on 15-05-2015
Morning has broken
So peaceful Mike, like only nature can be on a morning like this. So beautifully described . I really caught the atmosphere.

Pia xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting Pia. Sometimes you just want to shout with joy...but it would scare the wildlife.So I come home and write about it. So pleased you liked it.
Mike xXx

Weefatfella on 15-05-2015
Morning has broken
There he stands our Mike of old, on a bridge a river he ponders

Here he spies metallic trees how much for them he wonders



While on the banks the arachnids,spin diamonds for their lovers

and fish with rainbows on their scales catch flies as quick as hoovers



A ninja heron with neck outstretched takes off amid this dreaming

And drops a steaming tortoise shell on Mike his specs a gleaming.



Sorry Mike couldn't resist.

A lovely mood you have set here Mike, with vivid imagery.

Aye. I've stood onmany a bridge inthe morning in awe of nature, but unlike yourself it's a call of nature I'm answering.

Enjoyed your pome Mike.

Weefatfella.















Author's Reply:
I expect nothing more from a skirt wearing taxi driver from north of the wall HaHaHa! Thanks for your rhyme mate, pleased you like my words 🙂
Mike

stormwolf on 15-05-2015
Morning has broken
Lovely Mike. The pic works really well here and the poem captures the special moment engrossed by nature.

Uplifting to read.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks young Storm, its as it was..Love my dog walks, I'm blessed with where I live. So pleased you approve.
Mike
XxX

sweetwater on 17-05-2015
Morning has broken
Lovely Mike, how I envy you 🙂 Sue xx

Author's Reply:
If you have to live in a town, Plymouth is wonderful. We have rubbish shops, but the area around us is beautiful, I see these things every day. I could write forever of the things I see out there, yesterday there was a dolphin in the sea just off Plymouth sound, it was following a motor boat, they didn't even see it! Today we will find a beach if the weather stays fine.
Mike
XxX.


The Rendezvous (posted on: 01-05-15)
Just dusted this off, changed a bit. Thoughts appreciated as I may finish it.

THE RENDEZVOUS Night had fallen when I turned the car into the driveway, I could see the outline of the turret on the gable peeking above the trees, illuminated by the full moon; it added an eerie feeling to the coming meeting. It must be thirty years since I set foot in Hawksworth Hall, thirty years had changed me in ways I could never have imagined. I was about to find out what it had done to the rest of my family. That night all those years ago, I had stormed out, vowing never to return; I had kept my promise... until now. Melissa's death had changed that, I had made her a promise too one that I meant to keep. We had all been drinking that night, I suspect that had we not things may have turned out differently. It was Melissa's eighteenth birthday, and she was never one to hold back. Out of all of us (the five children) she was the one who was 'going places'. My elder brother John was the quiet one, destined for a life in the board room of some financial institution; following in father's footsteps. Joanna, my twin sister was studying law at Oxford. Timothy two years younger than my then twenty two years, was still dreaming of travelling the world as a correspondent for the Times newspaper. For my sins, I was the lost soul. I had no idea what I wanted from life; I just wanted it not to be mundane. The thought of being locked up in an office from nine to five every day sounded like a vision of hell. Melissa was cut from a different cloth, and had made her plans at an early stage. Stage being the right word, she wanted to be an actress much to the horror of the entire family. My father forbade it, my mother refused to discuss it; as for my other siblings they simply ignored her. I however. completely adored her. As children we were inseparable, we would spend our holidays planning escapades, and acting out our stories, building stages in the basement to perform before the family who would never attend. We didn't care, it was our world and we loved it. After her A- level exams Melissa had browbeaten my father into letting her attend drama school instead of University, she could be so persuasive at times; quite capable of having us all dance like puppets to her tune. We had all sat around the big table in the dining room that night, playing silly games, as if we were still children; in a way I suppose we were. For once we were all friends. We made a promise that we would all meet up again on Melissa's thirtieth birthday; to see how many dreams had come true. How innocent we all were then, untouched by the pain and uncertainty that life has a way of bringing to the table. We were the children of the future, unbeatable, unshakable; safe in our certainty that life was ours for the taking. And why not, we were of the privileged class, our parents were healthy, wealthy and wise why would we be any different. Chapter Two As I arrived at the front of the house, I could see vehicles parked off to the side, and drove across to park near them. I couldn't help but look at the cars, try to match them with their owners. The Bentley would surely be John's, the two BMWs I guessed would be Joanna's and Timothy's, my battered old Jag looked a little sad next to them; but hell, I was never going to compete with them anyway. The other car was a Mercedes sleek and black. As I got out, the front door opened, and there was my brother John. He waved a greeting as I picked my bag out of the boot. There was no corresponding smile to match the wave, but he was never that expressive; we shook hands as I reached him. ''Hello John, it's been a long time''. ''Far too long''. He replied taking my bag and ushering me through the door. ''We're in the drawing room, I'll leave your bag at the bottom of the stairs you can take it up later''. We made our way through the hallway. The door was open, I could see Timothy, sat with his back to the door, his hair was thinning on top; but I was sure it was him. On entering I looked around, and saw that I was right. Joanna was sat opposite, near the window, a drink in her hand and a quizzical look on her face. I realised they were as interested as I was in how we had all changed. ''Simon how are you you look so well'' said Timothy. ''Still dressing like a student though'' quipped Joanna pointing at my jeans and laughing. ''Hello to you too'' I said, waving to the room. ''Let me introduce a representative of Gilbert & Clarke lawyers for Melissa's estate, this is Michael Gilbert'' said John. Gilbert rose out of the chair where he had been sitting, offering me his hand. ''So pleased to meet you, I've been discussing the reading of the will but of course we have been waiting for your arrival. Before the reading there are some things you all need to know''. This explained the black Mercedes I thought, I glanced around the room at the expressions; ''Things we ought to know?'' Obviously this wasn't on their agenda. ''Would you like me to start?'' ''Hang onthis all sound serious, and frankly what I would like is a drink'' I replied. ''Whiskey okay?'' Timothy asked, as he walked over to the drinks cabinet. ''That would be fine, ice but no water please and not a small one Tim''. ''Well now that we are all here, and fortified with a drink perhaps we should get down to the business at hand''. This was John taking on his chairman of the board role. ''Perhaps we should all go and sit around the dining room table'' I offered. ''I don't think that's necessary We'll get nowhere if all that is dragged up again''. Joanna was giving me one of her looks. I should have kept quiet, but the devil in me I wanted them to squirm in their well stuffed seats. ''I'm sorry, please forgive me continue with the reading''. The four of us took up positions around the small table in front of the solicitor, pulling our chairs in as if attending class. It all seemed surreal to me, this was our sister we were talking about Melissa. 'The golden child' we called her. She who could do no wrong. But she did. Chapter Three The night came back to me as I sat there, one minute we were all laughing and discussing our plans. the next we were all at war. ''I'm pregnant'' she said. The words echoed around the room as if a gun had gone off. Everything seemed to stand still as if our world was holding its breath. ''Aren't you pleased for me'' she added, as if she had just won a prize in a raffle. No one said a word for what seemed like eternity and then we all spoke at once, I stupidly said. ''How can you be?'' ''Oh don't be so naive'' Joanna replied. John and Timothy were trying to speak at the same time, the sentences got jumbled and we all looked at each other with one thought on our minds 'What would our parents say'. ''What were you thinking of'' John finally blurted out. ''You must get rid of it before they find out'' said Joanna ''It. is my baby and 'It' shall be called Christopher if a boy and Emma if she's a girl''. ''My God.you have it all planned out''. Timothy was incredulous. ''You're insane Melissa, quite mad, mother and father will disown you completely and so will I'' John said, banging on the table with his fist. ''What about all your plans, Drama school, your career'' Joanna asked ''You talked Father into letting you go, and for what?'' We all slipped into shocked silence as we tried to absorb the news. Melissa looked around the table with a pleading look on her face. I got up from my seat and went to her wanting to shield her from the anger that had consumed us all for a few minutes. ''Is it what you wanted, did you mean for this to happen? You're still so young Melissa''. The tears started then. The one question that none of us had asked was the one we all wanted to know the answer too. ''Who is the Father?'' demanded John. ''That's none of your business'' snapped back Melissa, ''I intend bringing the baby up on my own''. ''Dad must be told at once'' said John heading for the door. ''Stop!!'' Melissa shouted ''It's not your place to act as judge and jury over my life, I will tell father in my own time''. ''Tell father what?'' Our heads turned as he walked in through the garden doors from the patio
Archived comments for The Rendezvous
deadpoet on 01-05-2015
The Rendezvous
Family drama. Looking forward to reading this developing story Mike. Well done.
Pia xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and your kind words Pia, still thinking about this one. I have something in mind but not ready to write it yet.
Mike XxX

Gee on 01-05-2015
The Rendezvous
It's definitely an interesting start and I'd like to read more.

Author's Reply:
Kind of you to say so, much appreciated 🙂
Mike


Careful what you wish for. (posted on: 27-04-15)
Cleared for take off.

Dancing on the edge of yesterday waiting for tomorrow's dreams; today's too slow to catch my drift. Take my hand, come with me.. Cut the ropes that bind, keep me tethered to the blunt edge of reality. I'm grounded in my desperation. I need to fly. Mikeverdi
Archived comments for Careful what you wish for.
deadpoet on 27-04-2015
Careful what you wish for.
Dreams belong to tomorrow Mike- illussive as always... This is one of your best imo poems ie.
Pia

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much for reading and commenting Pia, your kind words mean a lot.
Mike X

stormwolf on 27-04-2015
Careful what you wish for.
I agree with Pia, Mike. One of your best.
Love short poems that capture a lot and this is one.
Alison xx

Author's Reply:
So pleased you think so Alison, *blushes*
Mike
XxX

sweetwater on 27-04-2015
Careful what you wish for.
Another 'agree' from me too, often the shorter the poem the more is said. Great write. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this one Sue, and for your kind words.
Mike XxX

pommer on 28-04-2015
Careful what you wish for.
Agree with every comment.Well done Mike, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thank you Peter, so kind of you to say so.
Mike

Pronto on 29-04-2015
Careful what you wish for.
Well written Mike nice and concise told much in a trice!

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking the time, your comments are much appreciated 🙂
Mike


Spring in my step (posted on: 03-04-15)
Difficult to know what to place this under, there was no section for 'A morning walk'

 photo 2015-02-21 15.19.35_zps43jtqcal.jpg

Spring is in the air The walls were closing in again, I needed to get out, find some fresh air away from the city. Maybe something different from my usual coastal walks. It wouldn't take long, Dartmoor is ten miles away, twenty minutes in the morning traffic and I'm there. The dogs were straining in the back of the car, sensing somewhere different; country air instead of the sea, new things for exploring. I headed for Burrator Reservoir lots of great walks around there. On a fine day like this you could climb Sheeps Tor, the view was worth the walk. I skirted the water heading for the far side, intending to head up the old leat walk, leading out through the woodland onto the open moor. I could see some others had the same idea, There were a couple of 4x4s parked up in the pull off. By now the dogs were getting vocal, their excitement building; it was looking to be a good morning's walk. I would have to be vigilant, apart from the ponies and sheep, there were deer and other wildlife to consider, and the dogs didn't often meet them face to face. Overhead a buzzard circled with its attendant crows, harrying it away from the tree line and their territory. Its cries of anger showed it wasn't pleased at the attention. The Leat was at full flow from the spring rain, falling higher up on the moor, rushing on down to the lake below. I had to be careful with my Westie, she would want to swim. The current was too strong for her, Ruby would wind up in the lake as well. My Mastiff would stand the strain though. Walking through the woodland section I was in awe of the beauty of this place, just a few miles from my doorstep. How lucky we are down here, so much beauty ..and all for free.

Archived comments for Spring in my step
sweetwater on 03-04-2015
A spring in my step
As with all you write Mike I get pulled into your words and live there for the time it takes to read them, this time you add that photo as well and I dont ever want to leave! I hope you don't mind but I printed it so that I can put it on my computer room wall along with other's that I want to keep reading ( teenage room forty years too late! ) May I just say ( getting my own back here, haha ) I would possibly drop the 'A' in the title, so 'Spring in my step' meaing you had a jaunty spring in your step, or spring itself was causing the need to get out. Tell me to mind my own business, I don't mind 🙂 Great writing, great walking. Sue xx.

Author's Reply:
What a wonderful thing to say, as a writer its all we can ask for. I too have the odd poem I refer to on my wall. Thanks for 'getting your own back' I will attend to it 🙂
Mike
ps. any chance you can make the UKA get together in Bristol?

sweetwater on 03-04-2015
A spring in my step
Glad to know I am not the only one still putting things on the walls. I am looking into ways of getting there, the arthritis makes travelling even into Banbury two miles away almost impossible on a bad day, ( not that easy on a good either ) and I never know when the bad ones will crop up. But I would like to meet you all and I shall have words with my trusty son-in-law, he can sort most things! 🙂

Author's Reply:
It would be good to see you, I will be looking at venues after the Easter weekend.
Mike
XxX

pommer on 03-04-2015
Spring in my step
A beautiful poem and a beautiful familiar scene.Glad you are still enjoying your walks. Peter.

Author's Reply:
Why thank you Peter, and compliments of the Easter weekend to you 🙂
Mike


Secrets and Lies (posted on: 30-03-15)
A memeory

We danced through the dangerous hours. Holding hands on the edge of midnight, tongue tied and out of excuses. The clock chimed time to go. Guilt held the door open. We looked through. and quietly closed it.

Archived comments for Secrets and Lies
sweetwater on 31-03-2015
Secrets and Lies
You won't believe how many times I have read this poem, Mike, It keeps drawing me back. I love the layout and the wording fascinates me. So many brilliant lines, especially liked the last five. The falling away to one last short word emphasising the slipping away into the night... Beautiful. Sue xxx

Author's Reply:
WOW.....thanks so much 🙂 so pleased you got it, your comments and the nomination are much appreciated.
Mike
XXX


The Winds of Change (posted on: 27-03-15)
anybody want the job? Clarksons out of work.....

The Winds of Change The backroom boys were honing their skills, along with their knives, while drinking a cheeky little number to wash away their sins. In the front office Caesar waited for the ides of May; pondering over the thoughts of others: 'Events dear boy Events' 'A weeks a long time in Politics'. Back in the theatre of errors the man who would be king was practising his victory song. The words all too familiar; and all too soon. He turned to the only one he trusted ''Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of us all.. surely it must be me?'' ''You might think that.. I couldn't possibly comment'' said the Mirror. The Sun and the Daily Express had other ideas.
Archived comments for The Winds of Change
sweetwater on 27-03-2015
The Winds of Change
How I wish I could write like this, topical, healthy sarcasm, tongue in cheek, very amusing and most of all very, very good. Whichever subject you choose it is always a great read. Personally ( don't flog me ) I like the bad boy, rough and outspoken personality of Jeremy Clarkson, I realise he's a great risk for the television but so watchable! Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Oh you're too kind Sue 'blushing' much appreciated. I will miss Mr.Clarkson, I'm sure not for long as he will soon be on another channel. 🙂
Mike
XxX

Pronto on 31-03-2015
The Winds of Change
I love the humourous cynicism in this very shrewdly observed piece. Great write Mike.

Author's Reply:
So pleased you think so, your words are much appreciated 🙂
Mike


Forbidden (posted on: 23-03-15)
I know the price of consequenses

Forbidden The memory lingers, long after the sweet taste of your lips slipped away with the dawn. I'm basking in the aftermath, reliving moments within hours. stolen from another. Leaving remorse outside the door, I dress my dreams in lace, and chase them through the dark hours. Mikeverdi
Archived comments for Forbidden
sweetwater on 23-03-2015
Forbidden
Very nice Mike softly romantic, I especially enjoyed the last two lines. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for stopping by Sue, so pleased you liked it. 🙂
Mike
XxX

ValDohren on 26-03-2015
Forbidden
Lovely Mike, beautifully written.
Val xxx

Author's Reply:
Thanks Val,bit slow on here at the moment. Pleased you liked it. 🙂


Tripping the Light Fantastic (posted on: 06-03-15)
Sorry, this is a Re-post. After a kick up the arse from Jim 🙂 Last one deleted. There I Was.....

In the last chance saloon Checking over my options, they were thinking of running out on me. In the back room, someone singing out of tune. Could have been the blues might have been me. Heard the cord of E-minor strung out on a passing breeze. Tried to sing along, just couldn't keep up; sounded likethe end of the line. Sold yesterday's resentments for a twist of fate. Caught a fast train out of my mind heading for oblivion. In a land where the punch line is 'Easy come Easy go' You don't need a map, to go with the flow. Tripping the Light Fantastic down the yellow brick road.

Archived comments for Tripping the Light Fantastic
franciman on 06-03-2015
Tripping the Light Fantastic
Yep.
Well done,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Glad you approve 🙂
Mike

sweetwater on 08-03-2015
Tripping the Light Fantastic
Have read this several times, can't quite grasp it completely, but that hasn't stopped me enjoying it and catching some of the deeper meaning. For some reason it felt song like and would go well sung along to a guitar, perhaps it was the mention of the E minor cord. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to read this one Sue. It relates to the time of my first wife and I breaking up. It may make a bit more sense now 🙂
Pleased you enjoyed it.
Mike
XxX

stormwolf on 08-03-2015
Tripping the Light Fantastic
Hi Mike
I don't think I read the first one but this is poignant and well written. I tuned into the feeling easily and there were many fine lines to emphasize the crux of the poem. There is a certain sadness, regret and bitter-sweet feeling portrayed but then, we are allowed that and no mistake.
Alison xx

Author's Reply:
Hi Alison, you got it in one:). Pleased you took the time to read, and leave your thoughts.
Mike
Xxx


The time before the time (posted on: 23-02-15)
I found him...sitting in the window.

I found him sitting in the window, long after the sun had left the sky, staring out at an unfamiliar world. Street lights casting shadows, the rumble of home bound traffic background music, to another dull day. Pinned like a butterfly, to the pages of a life already lived. I could see the uncertainty, the fear etched in his face. "After I'm gone, will anyone knowor care?" "Oh yes" I replied "you left your mark".
Archived comments for The time before the time
franciman on 23-02-2015
The time before the time
Great Stuff Mike. I can picture him. I think 'He seemed unable to move,' is redundant. Try it without and it sings (it also says what you said without saying it, the essence of poetry Imho).
Great work again.
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
So pleased you think so Jim. I wrote is as I was remembering that evening. I will give some thought to your suggestion as always...you are right of course :). Sometimes I just tell it like it was, forget I'm writing for others.
Mike

Nemo on 23-02-2015
The time before the time
The hurdle we have to jump displayed before us in your moving words. A comfort we hope if we can leave our mark, if we can still remember that is. Traffic noise, life carrying on, regardless, an effective touch. Your best, Mike, in my humble ...
Gerald


Author's Reply:
Thank you Gerald, I'm pleased you thought so. I dread the day I may be carted off to the funny farm for geriatric old farts. After my father died I shut down...this is the first time I've been able to write of him this way. I was inspired to write it after reading one of your wonderful poems.
Mike

e-griff on 23-02-2015
The time before the time
Nice description of the situation. Found the ellipses distracting though. Can't see any need for them .

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading Jim, pleased you liked it. Had to look up Ellipses.... I'll throw it open for a public vote 🙂 HaHa!
Mike

stormwolf on 23-02-2015
The time before the time
You have honed your art Mike
This one is very fine and moving. Very well deserving of the nomination. You have lived a long good road Mike. As aware a human being as one could hope to meet.
Alison xxx

Author's Reply:
Now your making me blush! I got here with a lot of help from People like you Alison. A rough diamond that need polishing, thanks for being up to the task.
Now get off and post one of your own beautiful poems 🙂
Mike
XxX

sweetwater on 24-02-2015
The time before the time
I too had to look up ellipses, have to say I agree with Jim, have to be honest I hadn't noticed them until it was mentioned so I re read and did find it flowed better without. Hadn't realised it was your Father. It is a beautifully written poem, I loved the ' pinned like a butterfly' lines. Deserves the nomination. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Hello Sue, pleased you enjoyed the words. Critique is always a good thing to have. As you know when from me to you, it is only advice...not compulsory. I have taken Jim's and yours and acted on it.
Mike
XxX

Bozzz on 24-02-2015
The time before the time
Your father will have looked into the spotlights and met the gaze of thousands. A dull traffic-ridden early evening would have been hours of rehearsal for him. Singing first, women afterwards - what a reward. Lovely piece without any doubt my good friend. Yours aye, David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David, pleased you took the time to read and comment. Hope to hear from you soon.
Mike

Corin on 22-06-2015
The time before the time
Mike - this is a very moving poem about your father?

A technical comment:- I think it would read a lot better without any of the ellipses. They just break up the flow and none of them seem to be required to me:-(

This is how I would punctuate it:-


I found him
sitting in the window,
long after the sun had left the sky,
staring out at an unfamiliar world.
Street lights casting shadows;
the rumble of home bound traffic
background music to another dull day.
Pinned like a butterfly
to the pages of a life already lived,
I could see the uncertainty,
the fear etched in his face.
"After I’m gone, will anyone know or care?"
"Oh yes," I replied, "you left your mark."

Sorry about the going into teacher mode:-)

Maetheforsbye,

Dave

Author's Reply:
Hello Dave, thanks for reading this and leaving your thoughts. You have clinched the argument, I will amend. I wrote this, as you correctly identified, about my father. When I wrote it I was crying , it came out as it was felt. You join Jim and others in seeing the need for the changes. I was guilty of posting without an edit.
Thanks again
Mike


Wrong Footed (posted on: 20-02-15)
The rules are...there are no rules

"No one ever tells the truth'' He whispered through his smile. Whilst dancing the ''it takes two'' with the woman who knew his style. ''Life is a game of give and take, give it all to me and I promise to take'' Said the woman who knew how to fake it, as she danced him across the floor. ''But you're out of step'' the man replied ''And you're out of time'' she countered. ''There are no rules in love and war'' Said the woman who played and won it all to the man who never told the truth to the woman he met who knew too much and was sadly left to rue the day when he let the truth get in his way while dancing the two step Tango.
Archived comments for Wrong Footed
sweetwater on 20-02-2015
Wrong Footed
Fascinating, think I get the meaning, bit convoluted for my basic brain! Will re read a few more times and let it soak in. Sue 🙂

Author's Reply:
Hi Sue, pleased you enjoyed it. It a poem with a bit of a tongue in cheek, reflecting the way women are from Venus etc... I take the view that they can never be trusted...even by a lying bastard like me 🙂

franciman on 20-02-2015
Wrong Footed
Love the premise.
Love the lyrics.
Love the structure.
Bold, adventurous and beautiful in it's purpose. 'Whilst' rather than 'while' in line two would scan better, Mike, but that is only so I get to criticise?
cheers,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Thanks Jim you are too kind, I thank you for your kind words, and the Nom. (if from you).
It's worth remembering...if it wasn't for you I couldn't write for shit. HaHa!

e-griff on 20-02-2015
Wrong Footed
Appreciated the structure and the change in rhythm in the last verse worked very well.

Author's Reply:
From you John, those words mean a lot, thank you.
Mike

Bozzz on 21-02-2015
Wrong Footed
Delightful skit, full of shock and awe underneath. The give and take strangely like Gerald's "synaptic sparrows". Good one Mike. Worth the nib for innovation too....Yours. David

Author's Reply:

Bozzz on 21-02-2015
Wrong Footed
Delightful skit, full of shock and awe underneath. The give and take strangely like Gerald's "synaptic sparrows". Good one Mike. Worth the nib for innovation too....Yours. David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David, just arrived and said "write me" HaHa!
Mike

Nemo on 22-02-2015
Wrong Footed
Mike, witty in your old age. Connaisseur de femmes.
Gerald.


Author's Reply:
Practice makes perfect Gerald 🙂
Thanks for your support.
Mike

stormwolf on 23-02-2015
Wrong Footed
You've got ma brain in a right fankle Mike.😳
Very original and full of double meanings. Well done
Alison xx




Author's Reply:
Ah... my favourite Wolf! Thanks for dropping by and commenting Alison, so pleased you enjoyed the read.
Mike XxX


Guglielmo Verdi (posted on: 13-02-15)
For those who may be interested. The start of my next project... my Grandfather.

William Green (Guglielmo Verdi) 1853---1915

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My Grandfather I never knew you, yet you shaped my world. The missing piece of my genetic puzzle, I found you in a newspaper, from a time before my father. You were an Opera singer, a gambler, a womaniser. A man amongst men, when such things meant something. Holding hands across the ages with a past I never knew, I stretch my mind, trying to imagine that world. Your life there before me... in pictures, newspaper cuttings, reading in books you were famous Far away in distant lands. In a time I can only read about you dared to believe, crossing oceans to live your dream. I feel your spirit inside of me The driving force behind my life. The essence of our gene running through the generations. I can never know you .but I do. And I will tell your story.

Archived comments for Guglielmo Verdi
sweetwater on 13-02-2015
Guglielmo Verdi
Is this a little taster of what is to come, will you write his story in this format ? I am really looking forward to reading about him. Sue 🙂

Author's Reply:
I still have loads of research to do.
He had such a life,I have an obligation to get it right.I will do it,that is also an obligation. Without the internet nothing would be known...how sad is that.Today I found him singing in Calcutta in 1883/4...mad or what!
Mike

Bozzz on 14-02-2015
Guglielmo Verdi
He has your slightly head-raised cheeky look expecting the answer 'yes' - that must have been the attraction of both of you - seekers of feminine charms. Let's go !...David

Author's Reply:
Such an amazing man, that I have found him against all the odds makes me SO proud. I guess I am a chip off the old block
HaHa!
Mike

Andrea on 14-02-2015
Guglielmo Verdi
Jeez, you're the absolute spit! Interesting chap indeed. Great to look these things up - I have records going back to 1600-odd. One of the Lownes was a mate of Darwin and sailed with him on the Beagle. Evelyn discovered she had cattle rustlers on the family - well, she is Irish 🙂

Author's Reply:
Darwin sailed from Plymouth, about a mile from my house. I walk past the place with my dogs every day. Should I grow a "tash" as well HaHa! Can't wait to see you both again. XxXMikeXxX


The last dream out of here (posted on: 13-02-15)
Its what it is.

Did you see me? Falling through the cracks of yesterday's dreams, the walls of illusion broken down. I woke to the sound of wings, churchyard birds sat waiting in trees, they murmured of a time to come. I poured wine on my disillusionment to keep bad thoughts at bay. Standing on the platform waiting for the joy train to arrive, I'm swept up by a wanton wind, carrying me to secret places... known only by those with stars in their eyes. Dreams know no boundaries, I can change them at will. Tomorrow I'll be alive again in a land I understand; my feet on solid ground....
Archived comments for The last dream out of here
Nomenklatura on 13-02-2015
The last dream out of here
Well done!

Author's Reply:
Pleased you liked my effort Ewan 🙂
Mike

Ionicus on 13-02-2015
The last dream out of here
A good one, Mike. Congratulations on being the first 'nibbed'. Is it a case of the early bird...?
Best, Luigi

Author's Reply:
Thanks Luigi, must be being near the front of the pack... to catch the early bird HaHa!
Mike

sweetwater on 13-02-2015
The last dream out of here
This is very lovely, Mike, have to admit I don't quite understand it all but the meaning comes across strongly. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Hello Sue, thanks for taking the time to read this one. Dreams are sometimes hard to understand,I have struggled with mine for sometime. Lately I have been badly upset by some of them. Learning to see them for what they are...just dreams, is what this is all about. The last section is that.
Mike xxx

Bozzz on 14-02-2015
The last dream out of here
Well Mike, as a much-travelled man your dreams can land you anywhere - but do you really have a choice? This a beautifully worded piece - "falling through the cracks" is the fear we all have - especially in a churchyard where big black birds lurk in the trees. Keep writing, it is still there as the Nib recognises. Good man.....David

Author's Reply:
Your correct David, there is no choice, spent to much time "falling through the cracks". I could never stop writing, just hope people keep enjoying it 🙂
Thanks for your continued support.
Mike

Nemo on 15-02-2015
The last dream out of here
'Tomorrow I’ll be alive again' - there's something about these words you can spend a long time analysing and theorising about. You've gone for profundity with this poem and it fits us all. As the Lope de Vega said 'Life is a Dream.' Congratulations on the nib.
Gerald.

Author's Reply:
There comes a time when we all live on the edge Gerald. Thanks for reading and talking me time to comment.

franciman on 16-02-2015
The last dream out of here
Hi Mike,
This is bloody good! As with a lot of your work there is a hard edged honesty. Trenchant and apt for us all.
Because it is so real for you it will always be important to avoid being maudlin. Just saying is all!
Suggest:- disillusionment; in plural it doesn't make sense.
Well done,
Jim

Author's Reply:
Good critique is always welcome Jim, points noted and will be attended to. Thanks for taking the time with me.
Mike


The Times of my Life (The Update) (posted on: 02-02-15)
The End Game

 photo 0a8982ec-955b-426d-9e09-a1abe920ed33_zpsc7joclij.jpg

Mikeverdi

The Five Year Update It's been five years since I finished writing my Autobiography, since then I have been back to it and re read the content many times; it still scares me. I have tried to sort out the glaring spelling and grammar mistakes, not always successfully. I soon realised that it was more a job for an experienced editor; I started looking. It took a while for me to find someone I could trust with the job; after all it's my life in these pages. On finding the right one I handed over the responsibility for collating, correcting and cajoling to a remarkable writer, and all round great guy... Jim Archibald. At this point a bit of an update is called for by way of explanation. Since writing this account I have taken writing a bit more seriously, I joined several 'on line' writers groups; and a local group that meet up once a month. I have written a novel, several short stories, reams of prose and poetry; allegedly I'm not too bad. It was while involved with this that I encountered Jim on a website called UKAuthors. His constant help and understanding impressed me enough to finally meet him and ask him to undertake the edit. After reading my efforts he agreed, and a deal was struck. As I'm writing this the final 'polish' is being completed before the book is ready for printing. After so long, I could almost start again; so much has happened since I 'finished'. I have decided not to at this time, so much of it hasn't been good and my feelings are still raw. However a brief update to see where we are may be prudent. Lesley and I are still together, and closer than ever. Jane and Carol have both grown into wonderful young women, sadly Carol's marriage to Matt didn't last and she has moved on. Jane ditched the dick head and has met and recently got engaged to a fine young man called Craig, Lesley and I are very fond of him. They have bought a house together and live not far away in Plymouth. We are to be grandparents, Lesley's first, such wonderful news. I still have had no contact with my own children and grandchildren. The great loss to us during this time was the death of my mother-in-law Norah; we all miss her more than we can say. Her ashes are scattered with my fathers at a place called Jennycliff overlooking the sea. I walk our dogs there often and sit on the bench thinking of them; I loved them both very much. Health issues have dominated these last few years, Lesley contracted breast cancer and had a lumpectomy, she also has had other problems; but I won't dwell on them. My cancer returned and I had an operation to remove my prostrate; and hopefully the cancer. It was given a 50/50 chance of success; sadly it didn't get all the cancer; now there is no more treatment available. I am now Living with Cancer in 'Cancer management'...keep taking the tablets! We have tried not to let the health problems stop us from enjoying life, we still get about and have our little adventures; however this is a reflective update so I am not going to detail them. Jim and I met up at a UKA poetry reading in London for the first time, after this we agreed that we would meet again when he was ready to hand his finished edit to me for approval; this happened on 13th May 2014 in France. It's where Jim lives with his wife Jackie in a beautiful area called Le Crese in central France. We went over from Plymouth to Roscoff and drove up, having a few adventures on the way. We stayed with Jim for three wonderful days (and drank a lot of wine) he and I talked over my book and the different ideas he had. He asked many questions of me, one was to resonate and bring me close to tears.how did I feel now, looking back? Could I put my feelings down in print as a footnote to my life? I will try. Jim's main thrust was about my feelings of remorse and regrets. How I felt now about my family. Did I think I could cope with seeing them after all this time. Above all what did I make of it all, now that it was laid out before me? It was not a simple thing to answer. As I said earlier, I have read my story many times, it would be easy to change the writing, to make me look better, to alter my life on the written page. But that would mean I was ashamed of my life... nothing could be further from the truth. I believe that life is what you make it, you are given choices along the way, opportunities if you will. What you do with them is what makes you who you are. If my choices have made me a bad man, then that is what I am. It's too late to stand up and apologise, it would also be hypocritical, as I think I had a great life. I truly enjoyed most of it, the rest I have tried to deal with in my own way. Clearly I regret the loss of my children and their family, not a day goes by without me wondering how they are. My regret extends to how my behaviour affected them and their life. I can only hope they find happiness, and live long and fulfilled lives. I was not allowed to be a part of their lives, they were used as weapons, in a war between two parents who could no longer be together. Simply that. What they were told I will never know... it will not have been the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; that much I do know. I have a new family, well not so new now, sixteen years later. They have accepted me and all my problems. I will agree I'm not easy at times. We have grown to understand each other and I love them all very much. I'm a lucky man. Mike Green August 2014
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (The Update)
e-griff on 02-02-2015
The Times of my Life (The Update)
OK. I presume the shaky beginning episodes have been corrected so well done Jim.

I still feel there is more to be done in terms of order, consistency and referencing throughout, but that would be a lot more work, and there is nothing drastically wrong with the current version. So good luck! 🙂

Author's Reply:
Yes Jim gave it a prune, I am going to give it another look before it goes to print. As you may remember it was never going outside the family but....

I have all of you to thank for my improvements.
So once again Thanks Jim 🙂
Mike

Rab on 04-02-2015
The Times of my Life (The Update)
Thanks for the catch-up Mike; I wish you all the best with the book and hope that your cancer remains in remission/management for a long time to come. Most of all, I hope one or other of your kids reads what you've written and gets in touch.

Author's Reply:
Ah, you found it! So pleased you enjoyed it all. Sadly the cancer is not in remission, but I am not giving up. Where there is life there is hope, and hope can take you a long way (from one of my poems). My 'new kids' will make sure they get a copy...shoved up their arse HaHa!
Again thanks for sticking with it.
Mike

pommer on 04-02-2015
The Times of my Life (The Update)
Once again Mike for sharing. Don't give up ,whatever you do.I don't know what s happening with me at present.Waiting for some test results.I hope i am still clear,I have to stay well for Edna's sake.I hope all your offsprings will read your story. I am still working on mine, but time is my enemy at present. Stay well, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Don't worry about me old friend, I will never give in or go quietly. You stay safe for Edna and all of us. We've come a long way from FP...don't want to lose you now HaHa!
Thanks again for all your support.
Your friend
Mike

sweetwater on 05-02-2015
The Times of my Life (The Update)
I do hope that at some point you will update us all on future events, and that all goes a little more smoothly for you. As I said at the very beginning I don't usually read prose, it doesn't hold my interest normally, but I have to admit your pages really caught my imagination, and I looked forward to each instalment. I wish you all the very best Mike, and if there are no more stories ( for now), I hope you will compensate by submitting plenty of your poetry. Sue xxx

Author's Reply:
When I started to post my story, I imagined 'just a couple of chapters' to get feedback....am I improving etc. Fifty two chapters later WOW! I'm so pleased you enjoyed the ride. I will be researching my Grandfather, there is a story to be told 🙂 I can't stop writing, its what we do HaHa!
Mike
XxX

deadpoet on 19-04-2015
The Times of my Life (The Update)
Good for you Mike- this post is a couple of months old. I reached chapter 33- will try to take the time for the rest of the chapters. I'm sorry about your kids but great you have Leslie's- I am estranged from my eldest son and his 2 boys-his choice. But my youngest son is faithful and a joy plus his son. Yes yours and my life are very different to each other- nice to get an insight into others lives. Funny we're all so very different!!

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking the first time. Jim was inspired after reading mine, and has been posting snippets of his life. I guess it is interesting how we all make life tick for us 🙂 families are the biggest problems of all in my experience.
Mike

deadpoet on 08-05-2015
The Times of my Life (The Update)
Hi Mike have caught up with the whole book now! I am so sorry about your cancer and Leslie's illnesses. But I am so glad that you have had an active life with its ups and downs as all of us. Though I don't always agree with your philosophies on life. It all depends on so much..Life often gives us what we get, it's not only a matter of choice I am afraid. That's my opinion. I feel honoured to have been let into your world and I am impressed by your honesty. Thank you for the journey. Good luck with The book.



Pia

Author's Reply:
Thank you so much, its me that's honoured 🙂
Mike X


The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty two) (posted on: 02-02-15)
Life goes on, same shit ...different day.

Back in Plymouth, Roger called me in to discuss the current situation. We talked it through and he asked me to consider working part-time for them. They could no longer justify my position. As there was no place else to go I agreed, and started as a two-day a week self-employed man. This was not as bad as it seemed at first, I was now able to become Norah's carer on a full time basis. Many people didn't understand how I could even contemplate this, they don't know me as well as they thought. For me it was an easy choice. How could I not? This was someone that I really cared about; someone who had taken me into her house under extreme circumstances; someone who had shown me nothing but kindness. She was old and could be a bugger; a bit like me really! She was also Lesley's mother... and the girls' Grandmother. I'd visited old people in homes before, including my own parents before they died. There was no way I was going to let this happen to Norah if I could avoid it. So much happened in the last year. The recession caused a lot of my friends to lose their businesses and livelihoods. It ripped apart the business community in Plymouth and around the country. I can only hope we all survive and stay friends. Bill and Jenny have separated, and he now lives on his boat. It's not related to the recession but has caused a big gap in all our lives. I really feel for both of them. Graham and Kym are struggling to keep things together. They are developers and it's hit them more than anyone. I really hope they can turn things around; having worked so hard to get to where they are. All of us have been here before and know what can happen. It's really all about survival now. At this time, I'm still working part-time for Alan and Lyn, attending to any problems and finding Landlords to place their property on management with them. Looking after Norah was better than I expected, and I'll keep it up as long as I am needed. In some ways I have the perfect life, except I wish Lesley could stop work as well. I hate saying goodbye in the mornings. Around this time Jane and Ben decided to go off travelling. The bugger was still around. We knew it was coming, but still we were upset. It's something that you have to do when you are young and we wished them safe journey. They were going to Bali for a couple of months, then on to Australia to stay with some of his relatives. Next over to New Zealand to stay with more, and tour around. Back via the South Pacific. Lesley cried every day for a month, then every other day for the next six months. I was not immune from the odd tear or two. Life was not the same without her around, and we were panicking she would stay over there. She didn't, and they came back after seven months, brown, tired but seemingly happy. Life for me is still the same as it's always been. I listen to the same music I always have, currently on my car CD player...Crosby Stills and Nash, a Soft Rock compilation album, and a CD of Opera. It's not that I don't like some of the music that comes around, Crowded House and even Snow Patrol are good, but they aren't The Eagles or Rod Stewart. So called Rap music just makes me want to hit something, I hate it.... that's not music. I still drink too much Wine and Whisky...eat too much. The real difference is I no longer have a six-pack; I now have a fat belly. The world keeps changing in so many ways but wars are always with us, and always seem to be about Religion. Young men, and now women, are fighting the same battles as they did hundreds of years ago. Only the weapons change. Bob Dylan said it all on one of his tracks: everybody thinks they have God on their side. We have attacked Iraq twice and apparently won both times. Now we are in Afghanistan. Apparently... it's for their own good; our own good; and for the good of the free world. Working with Alan and Lynn has been an unexpected highlight in my life. As I come to know Alan better, I find much in common, considering our different backgrounds. I hadn't expected this, and I'm sure Alan didn't either. We spend much of our time together these days looking at possible investments; new opportunities to grow the business. I believe I'm still giving good advice, we seem to be progressing. Some of our time is spent over lunch and a Pint in some real ale bar talking over life, the universe and everything. As we have got to know each other, I believe that an unexpected friendship has formed. Even Lynn has mellowed. I may not have arrived at the financial Zenith I always imagined. I haven't been this poor for many years. Things could be a lot worse, I could be dead...and anyway there is always tomorrow. And who knows what that may bring. THE DATE IS THE 13TH OF JULY 2009. The End Bit Now that it's finished, I feel completely drained, and a little bit afraid. It's as if I have undergone open-heart surgery; and everyone can now see me inside and out. There are no secrets anymore. I always was a bit of an open book anyway, so I don't suppose this will make a lot of difference. I would like to stress that this is my life as I saw it and lived it. It's not other peoples' memories, although I have included a few that friends and family thought were significant. All recorded as I remember them. There will be many that will say 'Why didn't you include this or that?' The answer is simple, if I included every little thing I would offend many more people than I already have, and it would take the rest of the life I have left to complete. There will be those that say, 'That never happened'. It did, but maybe not as you chose to remember it. My life goes on. My sister and I have found a family we never knew existed. We now have a past that was not just forgotten, but completely concealed from us. Our new family are a surprise and a window into our parents past, The Greens part one'... the family before us. Lesley and I have now been Up North to visit them and the places where my parents lived. It proved to be both exhilarating and emotionally draining; as I am sure it was for them. I believe that now, we can go on to build a new life that will be enriched by our new-found knowledge. After all we are family now. More information arrives daily, as Amanda delves ever deeper into our distant past. The revelations are not over yet. This has been the story of my life as seen from my perspective. I had always envisaged a life less ordinary, filled with travel and excitement. I believe I have lived that life. After finding out about my ancestors I think it must run deep within our family. I may never know about my children's and grandchildren's lives, but who can tell? Maybe the genes run in them too. In the meantime I must move on... I still have some life left to live. Mike Green 6th August 2009 Acknowledgement I would like to acknowledge the help and understanding shown to me during the writing of this story by my wife Lesley. Without her I would never have undertaken the task... let alone finished it. There have been times I wanted to give up, times I am sure when Lesley wanted it as well. We would talk it over and then she would always lend her support and typing skills to push me on. All of this is surprising, as a considerable part of the story does not show her husband in a good light. We have often said it's a shame we didn't meet a long time ago. Reality says, if she had known me then....she would have run a mile. I have always believed that you make your own destiny. I also believe that people can change in the right circumstances. When I met Lesley I changed.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty two)
e-griff on 02-02-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty two)
Ahhhh. Now for the 'end game' ....

Author's Reply:
Ah...the end game indeed. And you stuck with it! Thanks John.
Mike

Bozzz on 02-02-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty two)
A lot to mull over, Mike. My impressions of the whole include a philosophical element that in a strange way, brings a skein of the story of the whole of humanity – the roller coaster that life can inflict. There is also the host of important diversions that have made the holiday periods make up for the tangle of business problems – the balance of chaos and calm. Another series of sideline loops have been the scattered strings of seduction - a strong sex drive pulled by a sense of macho and love of body – sated, it seems, not only by orgasms, but by the love of the sea and its inhabitants. For me, the really big story is the emergence of a highly intelligent mind that had little formal education as a basis for what were significant achievements and learned the art of self expression and developed a streetwise awareness of self and people in a way that will be the envy of many – myself for one because I could not possibly have had the focus and patience to have written as you have done.. …. Yours in friendship....David

Author's Reply:
I am humbled by your words David. I know you as a man of great achievement, a man who has also battled adversity. We both have known the good and the bad that life can through at us. But you are right, so have many others 'The story of all humanity'. That so many people have read this account,and are still doing so, despite all the crap punctuation and spelling....well I'm really chuffed. Your support along the way has been much appreciated.
Thanks a million.
Mike

pommer on 03-02-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty two)
I have enjoyed reading this ever changing story of your life and of all those involved with you. I know they say that there is a story in everyone of us, and I am sure that is right, but it is not all of us who can write with such honesty and eloquence about their life.Thank you Mike for sharing with us all. I am sure that most off us have enjoyed it. With best wishes, and good luck with your publication. Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thank you for those kind words Peter,I tried to tell my story 'as it was'. I am blessed with a good memory thankfully. There was a moment when I thought "what am I doing?" Support from you and others helped to keep me going.
Mike

Rab on 04-02-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty two)
I've enjoyed the ride, Mike. A bit sad that it's over, but then how can you say it's over? You end by saying that you still have some life left to live, maybe we'll see chapter 53, and beyond, soon...

Author's Reply:
Thanks for sticking with it, and to being over...try the up date on this posting HaHa! I don't think anyone has found it 🙂
Mike

sweetwater on 05-02-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty two)
A fantastic journey Mike, you have taken me to lands I would never otherwise have known, been part of a very busy and at times troubled life I haven't actually lived, except through your writing, and learnt a lot about scaffolders and estate agents. Now I suppose I must settle down and live my own life once again. Thank you Mike I had an interesting and exciting time. Will miss it. Sue xxxx.

Author's Reply:
I'm so pleased you enjoyed it Sue, I was SO unsure when I first started to post it. A lot had happened since so I hope you will read the update on this posting.
Mike
CxX


The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty one) (posted on: 30-01-15)
Life goes on, difficult.... but at least not boring.

In 2008 we decided to go to Paris for a few days in March. We booked a flight from Exeter and found a hotel alongside Notre Dame Cathedral. We had a wonderful few days, wandering the streets and taking in the sites. We had both been before, with other partners. Good to be there again and this time with Lesley. Paris is a special city and long overdue our visit. We walked the streets of the South Bank hand in hand like a couple of teenagers, visited all the well known sites, and some not so well known. There is always magic in the air walking along the river towards the tower, even with the crowds it's quite emotional. Paris just has that certain something..."La Joie De Vivre". Nora still had the occasional visit to the Hospital, so I had decided to take a more active role in her care. I was thinking of becoming her carer. I had not mentioned it to anyone except Lesley, but it was an option. The decision became more relevant on the 24th of June when Nora started to talk in riddles and didn't recognise us (shades of my mother). It was obvious she had fallen over as she had bruises. We called the doctor as we suspected a stroke. She was rushed to Derriford Hospital and found to have had a small stroke; and also a urine infection. Both of these had caused the loss of memory and the fall. For a while it looked as if she might be in for a long time. She still did not recognise me and thought I was a Hospital Porter. She was eventually moved to a recuperation Hospital at Mount Gould. It was a lot nearer and suited us better. The Social Services got involved and I had to take them to task over mum's care plan. In the end they saw it my way and mum came home. The whole incident was a lot more involved than that. I am not going to dwell on it as it is far too upsetting. I can't explain why we took the next holiday. It was mad, and we couldn't afford it...but went anyway. It's what I do. We booked to go back to the Maldives. This time we went on our own and to a different Island. I had looked long and hard to find one with a house reef off the shore. I had no wish to be dumped in the middle of the ocean again; as we had on Merru. I found Villamendhoo using Trip adviser. Without any doubt we had the best beach holiday of our lives. It was so incredible. The reef was twenty feet from the shore and was teeming with fish of every type, from small sharks to turtles, sting rays and moray eels. We simply could not believe it. At the end of the day people would all meet up at the Sunset Bar, sit back with a cold one and just marvel at the sunset. Later when it was dark the music would start and we would all dance in the sand. Given the choice we would go back tomorrow; but with things the way they are we may never go back. At least we have been, some people will never see what we have seen. Work consisted of myself and Alan trying to find deals and landlords to keep the company moving forward. Alan had to clear up a couple of previous deals that had gone sour. One of these was a derelict house that he had bought at auction, now not worth what he paid for it. He had tried to obtain planning for conversion to flats but had been turned down. It was my job to sort it out. I did but it took quite a while and we didn't get the amount of units that he needed to make a decent profit. I talked it over with a developer I had met when working with Martin. I asked him if he would do a joint venture with Alan and convert the property into a ten roomed student house with four shower rooms and shared living accommodation. He agreed and that's what we did. Alan was pleased, as it was a way forward that would eventually make a decent profit for both of them. I had previously talked the builder into placing his letting houses with our agency, so it cemented the relationship. Alan also had a building plot out at Callington with planning for three two-bedroomed flats. This was to prove an impossible mission as no one wanted to hear about flats, let alone build them. I continued finding landlords and tried to promote the company in any way I could, with the designing of the company signboards; detail sheets and other little things. When you are up against it even the little things can make a difference. I must have been doing something right as I was still on the payroll at the end of the year. I mention earlier that my dear friend, Peter Tarry and his wife Kit, were having health issues. Pete had developed prostate around the same time as me. Unfortunately his was to prove somewhat more aggressive and Kit had told me he was terminal. Kit has had health problems of her own; as have the boys. All in all things have not been good for a while. They are not going to get any better for Pete and I worry about Kit and her family for the future. These people are my oldest friends, and although we don't see each other as much as we should, we have been there for each other since forever. 2009 started with some startling news from my sister Amanda. It concerned a hit she'd got from the web site at Genealogy.com. We had another brother. We were speechless. It was hard to take in, we had thought we had all the information on the children from Dad's first marriage... but no, there was more. It was not long before we were all mailing each other and the truth came out. Unfortunately my new brother, called John, had died a few months before we all found each other. He had been left like the others in a house in Scarborough, only this time no one went back for him. He was brought up by comparative strangers. He had spent his life wondering why he had been left, and his only clue to his family was that he knew my other brother Billy, who was killed in the war (He was a gunner/navigator flying in a Halifax bomber). Billy's plane had crashed on landing after a raid. John found out about this and visited the grave regularly. It was ironic that my sister was at the same grave two years before. We had to meet and we did. My new nephew, John junior now 58 and his wife Jackie, my great niece Kim and her partner had all been planning a holiday in Dawlish. They had been coming for some years; I could hardly believe it. Lesley and I went up to Dawlish to meet them and showed them where I had been brought up at Shutterdon Lane. It's all still there, just a bit posh. We all cried and I was out of it for a while. I was showing them where their missing granddad had lived. They came down to Plymouth for a couple of days and we got out all the photos. It was all a bit much and took some time to sink in. These were my blood relatives and I knew nothing about them, or they me. I find it hard to forgive my mother and Father, or the rest of my mother's family, for keeping this from us; but it's too late to do anything except enjoy the family we now have. They seem to be genuinely glad to have found us, and are simply ordinary people who have been looking for their past like us. We now have some closure. So much has come to light that to tell it would take another book. My Grandfather was not Italian. He was born in America and lived in Baltimore where he became an Opera singer using the stage name Guglielmo Verdi. His father was called Robert and was in the liquor trade. My Grandfather moved to Australia and New Zealand in the 1870s and became famous. We have pictures and books with him being mentioned as 'The finest Baritone of his Generation' I have read newspaper accounts of his Operatic life. It's all a bit much and will take a long time to think it through. William Green was my Grandfather's real name, although he still called himself Verdi on his certificates even late in life. My father's birth name is listed as Verdi. Grandfather returned from Australia to London after an illness. He met and married my Grandmother Constance and they lived in London, where my father and his brothers and sisters were born. More facts are still emerging. We know he died soon after losing all his money in a failed business venture. There was some hardship for Constance when the money ran out with no state aid in those days. She farmed out the kids until she was back on her feet. It was what happened when things went wrong, and the workhouse beckoned to those who were a little less resourceful. It was to be repeated when my own father left his wife Phyllis for her younger sister (my mother). We have arranged to go up to Scarborough and visit my new family in July and are looking forward to it. After all, they are family.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty one)
e-griff on 30-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty one)
Wow! Now we know where your weird life comes from ... 🙂

Author's Reply:
Weird??? you think my life was weird? HaHaHa! We all have a bit of that in us John.
Thanks for staying the distance, it's been a bit of an epic. 🙂 Last two bits on Monday.
Mike

Buschell on 31-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty one)
Mike, your grandfather's story is crying out for you to write it! It could be a form of therapy and a bloody good yarn all rolled into one. I'd kill for this kind of canvas with the energy of family driving it on...your prodigal cyber numpty, Dazza.

Author's Reply:
Ah...young Dazza, you make a good point. There is so much I know about him now,(since I finished my auto) I am still researching. He sang in many countries, including Milan at La Scala. There were lots of accounts of him in the Australian newspapers of this time. He was a bit of a bugger HaHa!
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mike

Bozzz on 31-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty one)
No wonder you did well in your music group, Amazing story and a delight to know that your family rediscoveries are so fruitful. Not many fish in the ocean either you have not met personally on one holiday or another. Yes, Paris always electrifies me, don't know quite why. Well done The Verdi family.....David

Author's Reply:
Very emotional times,so many thoughts. It was a shock when it all started coming together. Well Monday will finish it. I think Dazxa has a point about my Grandfather, could be my next project.
Mike

sweetwater on 31-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty one)
Wow. Your life just gets ever more interesting, my Dad found out he had a long lost sister he knew nothing about, but her's was just an ordinary story.
I am not looking forward to the last instalments, I shall miss your stories too much. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
It's been a blast, thanks to all of you reading and commenting. I'm so pleased you have enjoyed the ride....A bit of a roller-coaster HaHa!
Mike
XxX

pommer on 01-02-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty one)
Well Mike ,What can I say,What an amazing tale to tell.I have enjoyed every chapter of this life of yours.I shall be sorry when it comes to an end.I shall miss the weekly readings.I hope we shall hear of the adventures of the Verdi ancestors next.Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, I'm so pleased you have stayed with me. Your comments have meant so much to me.
Mike

Gothicman on 01-02-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty one)
Some astounding revelations make their appearance, keeps the reading more intriguing as it goes on. Good move to take a more active role in Nora's aftercare, she had helped you so much before when in better health. You might have an unclaimed fortune waiting for you in America, who knows!
Good writing.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
HaHa! No money,but a wealth of wonderful history. The newspaper accounts of my Grandfather were fascinating. Knowing you and the way you look things up...feel free 🙂 He was made bankrupt after a disastrous venture in Australia, then caught a cold when back in the UK. He had many women in his life, some again very famous in their day.
Thanks Trevor
Mike


The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty) (posted on: 26-01-15)
Time to pick up the pieces and get on. Plus a look at France (in the rain).

In January 2007, Jane went off on Holiday to Costa Rica with a new boyfriend called Ben. We knew very little about him other than he was into surfing and travelling. It spelled danger for me as I knew the type, if not the individual. He seemed nice enough, but we saw little of him, and what we did lead me to believe he was a bit immature and still self- obsessed. He was 30 years old. Having been exactly the same, I recognised the signs. We could only hope that he would move on soon. My next move was a lucky one. The world and its dog were going into deep recession; deeper than anyone knew at the time. A couple whom I'd met through Martin got in contact with me, asking for a meeting. Alan and Lynn were ex-lawyers from London who had lived in Plymouth for a few years. They had started to build up a portfolio of rental property including some commercials. They were the freeholders of the Agency Office I had run for Martin in Edbrington Street. Their relationship with Martin had gone west when he gave them some bad advice. It had cost them a lot of money. I had attempted to repair the damage by giving good advice and selling a couple of their flats. It worked for me. They still hated Martin but wanted to see if there was any way they might work with me. Alan and Lynn wanted to extend their business. Alan said they were not yet ready to retire and still had the will to push on. They asked if I had any ideas and told me of some of theirs. I questioned what they knew about some of their ideas and suggested they should stick with what they knew. Not a time for risk, which would come later; when the ending recession left things cheap. My previous advice had been to suggest acquiring their own Rental Agency. I now told them there was one available and set them up with a meeting. It had been part of an Estate Agency but had been broken up and was now rentals only. The Office was on Hyde Park Road and would come with the Freehold, including some flats on the first floor. They had taken my advice and bought the business. Talking to them it was obvious this was where their strength lay. I asked if they would like to expand the rentals business and move to a better location. They agreed and we started looking. They offered me a full time position if and when I sorted things. I did and I took the job. I was now a property consultant with a far-reaching mandate. Alan and Lynn were like no other people I had ever met, or worked with. Alan was a couple of years younger than me, and had been a high flying commercial Lawyer in London. He had worked in many other countries including Japan. He had worked at the highest level and it showed. Lynn had been a Lawyer in the same company. She was not to be messed with and had a look that could stop clocks. They were quite simply the poshest people I had met since my first wife's parents. It was to be a while until we each gained mutual respect. Carol and Matt asked if we fancied a trip to France where Matt's folks had bought a cottage. Off we went for a week in the Limoges area. The place was still in process of rebuild, but we loved it and the area was brilliant. We had a hire car so did a day trip to La Rochelle. This was a great day out as we went over the bridge to see the Ile De Rey. The weather was crap and it rained every day, but it was nice to spend time with Carol and Matt. Oh, and do what we did best... go on Holiday. The problem with Alan and Lynn was that they did not understand small business. Above all, the need to maintain good relations with other businesses you had to deal with. For them it was simple; anybody crossed them, they would scream at or sue, and sometimes both. In a small town like Plymouth it could spell your business death. No one would deal with you, and word soon got around. Martin (my previous boss) had a similar problem. I was to discover that quite a few businesses had them on their black list. I had to change this. At first they ignored my pleas, but as they ran up against increasing problems, I was asked to sort things out. I insisted they listen to me and things started to get easier. With me at the front end we started to make progress, and I had found the perfect office building on Mannamead Road. It was a huge building and had been a solicitor's office for years. It was in some disrepair and on the market for 380,000. I knew the Agent selling the building and approached him on their behalf. I clinched the deal at 300,000 much to their delight. I changed the name of the company and gave it a whole new image. It took a while to convert the building but soon we were ready for business and moved in. The current management portfolio was not large enough to support the outgoings, so my next job was to build it up. We needed to double the size and this could not be achieved quickly without buying out another company. As the brief was to double the rentals...I did just that by buying out another firm for them. The deal took forever as the company was primarily an Estate Agents, and in the beginning we were thinking of buying the lot. As the recession bit this wasn't an option. They gave in and we bought the lettings. It wasn't without its problems, as we had to take the staff as well. It took time for the dust to settle, but we had effectively doubled the business and that was the aim. Alan and Lynn were now in a strong position to weather the coming storm as the recession turned into economy meltdown. As our first holiday to France had been a bit of a washout, we decided to give it another try. On our own this time, and a bit further South; in the Dordogne area. We found a stunning gite that was part of a farm. It had its own pool, huge rooms and a beautiful location. We flew from Exeter to Bordeaux and hired a car. We toured all over and loved the place. We had loads of rain. We were getting the feeling that France was not for us. Now; what this recession cost us. I had always retained the right to trade in my own interest when working for Martin. As long as I was not doing it to the detriment of the company he was okay with it. This meant putting together deals with outside developers and speculators on the Land front, and also with Buy to Let Landlords within the Plymouth Area. It was a slightly more legal way of doing deals than I had been doing in the Eighties (This was to continue with Alan and Lynn). While working with Martin I had strung together quite a few land deals and was optimistically expecting to make 1% off the back of each of them; 2% off some. If I was to total the expected commission from these deals, they would add up to nearly 100,000. I was to see the lot go down the tubes as the recession grew. Nobody wanted to build what they could not sell. The housing market reached a critical downturn level we had not seen since 1989/1990, and people were going into negative equity all over again. It was as bad as I could ever remember and had cost me everything. I still had the odd deal with Buy to Let, but they were just a few grand and even this was to end. The final nail in the coffin was when all the Banks started to fail and lending for anything became non-existent. This all happened in the space of 18 months. A nice end to a crap year was to arrive in the shape of a free holiday offer. A couple of Lesley's oldest friends had decided to retire to Madeira. They had acquired an Apartment overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and wanted to be in for Christmas. They invited us out to see the New Year in with them. Helen and Ron are a bit old fashioned, but really lovely people and we had a great time. Madeira had changed a lot since 1979 when I had last been there. We had a fantastic New Year's Eve. They have the biggest firework display in the world. The whole of the Island joins in, with the best display on the seafront in Funchal. Lots of large Cruise Ships come into the harbour just to see the display. They all sound their foghorns at Midnight; so spectacular. Ron and Helen took us everywhere and showed us places I hadn't seen on my first visit. We even went to a grand classical evening at the Opera House, it brought a grand Finale to 2007.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty)
pommer on 26-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty)
never a dull moment Mike.Enjoyed reading as usual.It is really well written again. Looking forward to 2008.your friend Peter

Author's Reply:
So pleased your still enjoying the read Peter, much appreciated
Mike

Bozzz on 27-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty)
Mike, as the chapters mount, you have written your own CV, but it never seems to be required - amazing. I think it must come down to an old film I saw - called "The knack" perhaps. It describes your sexual behaviour as well as your work - great combination - most of the time. Yours aye, David

Author's Reply:
Ah.....you found me out! The knack and how to get it was the film HaHa! I was only interviewed for a couple of jobs, mostly it was always word of mouth from satisfied client's.... Maybe the women as well 🙂 Not far to go now old friend.
Mike

sweetwater on 27-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty)
I have never known someone have as many ( business ) ups and downs as you, but as they say you can't keep a good man.. Well you get my drift 🙂 glad to hear the new year came in with a great celebration. I am hoping the year itself goes well, fingers crossed. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
So pleased you are still with me Sue, not far to go now. Still some twists and turns.
Mike
XxX

Gothicman on 29-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter fifty)
Looking at all the various episodes and adventures in your life, Mike, you've had a bloody good life! Admittedly you've had your failure, bad luck and misfortunes, but also your good fortune, successful battles and large share of Life's luxuries! Most of those are though because of your enormous energy and determinedness, and not a little audacity and courage! You've now made 3 score and 10, so you cannot be anything but a winner, whatever happens now! (I used to say to patients older than 70 suffering from hypochondria, that they were suffering from narcissism instead, valuing their own lives too much! Hahaha!) No, there is a lot of personal success in your story, a lot to relish and be thankful for, even if earned by your own sweat and effort! Hope things don't get too bad now in the next episodes!
Anyway, you're my sort of person!
Trevor


Author's Reply:
Those are nice thing to say Trevor, that you would think them makes me more than a little humble.
I am sixty eight, and yes I still have a zest for life. My glass has always been half full. Monday will see the last of my postings of my life story, although, as you can see by my writing this...my life isn't over HaHa! I did an update five years after I finished, I will include that.
When I started I was given little chance of making it past five years, it's now been eight and I am still going. I may need to do another.
Mike


The Times of my Life (Chapter forty nine) (posted on: 23-01-15)
Life takes another turn as the Devil fires off another fart in my direction. I have to keep remembering my moto "Fuck em' if they cant take a joke".

2007 Onwards I started work for Martin as soon as I could, I knew that it would give me focus and normality outside of the treatment room. Martin was true to his word and gave me the tools to do the job. I sacked the manager on the first day and changed the whole operation around within a week. They had no procedures for sales chasing or even any contact with people who could provide leads. Two of the sales they had were already lost and re-sold via other agents; worse, they didn't even know it. I designed new paperwork and updated advertising. Matt joined me after falling out with Dick and his mother, and I advertised for staff and interviewed ASAP. There was little time to train them up. Martin would not spend on experienced staff until he had some sales, so I started from scratch. First interviews were on the telephone. I have always said that if you can't deal with people on the phone; how will you do it face to face? People would be put through to me and I would start questioning them there and then. Any who couldn't handle me at my brutal best, would not get the next interview in the office. Training was fast and furious and I lost a couple on route. My goal was three permanent staff that I could expect total loyalty from. I got there in three months. Matt was to prove invaluable. He knew the workings and was cheap to hire at this time. He wanted to learn in preparation for his next job in Land and New Homes, working for his father in law; my best friend Graham. Not due to start there for a few months, he wanted out from under Dick and his Mother. I was glad to help out. I took on three girls and off we went. It was tough as sales were hard to find. We had no saleable property on our register. Working from our office on a B road, miles from the other Agencies; but what the hell...I had nothing to lose. There was no let up as we had to make sales to get commission. The basic salary for the girls was crap; it always is in agency. Over the next six months I trained the staff; built a web site; took on new property; opened another office in Plympton; and pushed sales into double figures. Martin was over the moon. I asked for the 5k bonus he had promised; as a man of his word he gave it to me. I am proud to say I never took a day off. I went to Derriford every day at 4pm, had my squirt of Radiotherapy, and then went back to the office. It's not that I was brave, it's just what I had to do to get me through it all. The hospital treatment was not as bad as I had expected. The department was in its own building at the back of the main hospital. Best of all we had private parking just for us 'Cancer people'. Anyone who has tried to park at Derriford will know how good that is. My Mother-in-law Norah came with me most times, and would sit and wait for me in the waiting room. I was so proud to have her do this, it let me know that she cared about what happened to me. We had our own caf and comfy seats. We used to laugh at the big screen T.V. on the wall showing kids programs all day. We even looked forward to watching 'Shaun the sheep'. When I first went the place was quiet as the grave some of these people were going to end up in. I decided that I would liven things up. I started talking to everyone instead of sitting quiet, and soon we all knew each other and were laughing. Next the boring staff. They had a Tannoy system and would call you to the treatment rooms. It was like they were calling you to the gallows. I told them we weren't dead yet and they needed to lighten up. The next day when they called out my name it was like a game show. 'MR GREEN, WON'T YOU COME ON DOWN.' Everyone cheered and we laughed about it for days. The whole atmosphere changed. It wasn't all fun. I met some people I knew, and one of them didn't make it. Her name was Becky and she ran a rental company called Cosy Lets on North hill. We became friends over a period of time and would call each other up for help or advice. We were not best friends, but I really liked her. She had a family and lived in Ivybridge. She was a lot younger than me and it broke my heart to watch her struggling with Cancer, and to meet her husband and kids. I could see it was going to end badly and one day I got a call saying she hadn't made it. I went to the funeral and the wake. Her husband thanked me for being there for her, and I just burst into tears. It was a terrible time and it could have been me. I had thought Cancer was a swear word that you weren't supposed to say out loud, until I had it. Things have changed. I'm a member of an exclusive club you would rather not be a member of. We all talk openly about it, share our experiences and ring up to see how things are going. None of us wanted it; we are all simply stuck with it. The fear never goes away. Back at the office we were doing all right. Plympton was always going to be a gamble, but it was costing us bugger all to stay open, so why not? It gave us a bit of street cred, and Martin was going to do rentals from there as well. We had monthly meetings to discuss the way forward and how things were going. He always liked to be in the loop and who could blame him. Martin had a bad reputation around town but I have to speak as I find, and he never treated me with anything other than kindness, and above all, respect. He agreed I was right, and we should be located with the other Agencies to have any real chance of making it big. He said if something suitable came available he would consider it. An office at the very top of Estate Agents' Row was available and Martin was keen to take it on. I was not so sure as it was a little apart and I wondered why the current Agent was moving out. I asked for time to sound them out and he agreed. It was starting to feel like something was in the air. It was just a feeling, but I am funny about these things. The market was changing. The property world had been on a roll for the last few years with unprecedented sales figures for some major players. I knew what Connell's were doing as Jane was still working there. Other managers were telling me what they had done over the last few months. My only question was... how long could it go on. The economy was overheated, house prices were higher than they had any right to be. First time buyers were borrowing at much higher levels than they could repay. If things went wrong.. if the market slumped or they lost their jobs, they would have been in real trouble. I had twice seen it before and began to be a bit worried. Martin said I was not to worry as he could support the move. I was to plan the next office with him, so that's what I did. We took on the lease and opened a month later. It started well, with the staff fully motivated and a nice new office, but within a few months the drop-off started. My earlier fears proved to be right. I called Martin and told him I wanted to close Plympton right away. He thought I was panicking, but I held firm and it closed in a week. Within a few months everything had changed and there was talk of a minor recession. I had my first forebodings in August. By September I had closed Plympton and Ebrington Street was gone. In November I told him to get out of Agency altogether, before it was too late. We closed at Christmas. There were sad goodbyes for my staff. We had grown close working together, and had developed as a team. I was able to find a job for one of the girls at a rental office. She is still there. By January the whole world was turning upside down and I was out of a job. Martin was genuinely upset and called me in to thank me for my honesty. I had effectively put myself out of a job, so what was I to do now? I told him not to worry. We'd stay friends and I would find something else, and I did.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (Chapter forty nine)
Bozzz on 23-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty nine)
Life always has a working slot for a jack of many trades. Not much you cannot turn your hand to. "Find something else and I did", sums it up. Whatever next ? Keep us guessing Mike. Yours aye David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading mate, as always your support is appreciated.
Mike

Gothicman on 23-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty nine)
There's a lot happening just now in this period of your life Mike, and you're not a young man any more, and besides living too in the shadow of a serious health threat, but using your good experience, what you know, to get you through it all as best you can; well keeping busy is an effective distraction, but, what a fighter you are! And you don't lack energy, grit, or ambition, even now!
Good writing, thoughts remain.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your support in continuing to read and comment on my story Trevor. The 'not so young' was begining to make itself felt HaHa!
Mike

e-griff on 24-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty nine)
One tiny technical bit of advice. There are several incorrectly-used semi colons in this. They scream out 'error' to anyone who knows the correct use and therefore distract some of us from an otherwise smooth read. The answer is simple, these days just use a simple comma. That works and doesn't draw attention to itself. It's not quite as good as a correct semi, but miles better than an incorrect one, if you get my drift.

Anyway, ever onward! Next installment please.

Author's Reply:
I'll take the advice on board John, thanks for reading as always. The next is up for Monday already.
Mike

pommer on 24-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty nine)
Another interesting phase of a life. I enjoyed reading it. I particularly felt with you at the clinic.I remember my time (6 months )of chemotherapy. We were however a fairly jolly crowd in spite of the seriousness of our disease. We were mostly old and often laughed when i told them that i could not remember my hospital number, but that i had never forgotten my army number.My thoughts are with you both, Peter.
Looking forward to the next phase.

Author's Reply:


Just an Inquiry Mr. Blair. (posted on: 23-01-15)
You might think so...I couldn't possibly comment.

Behind walls of illusion built to hide the truth, tears of the dead exposed in the spotlight. Held to ransom for their beliefs; by those unfit to hold a candle. Hoist by their own petard in coats of many flags, borrowed from other inconveniences; Politicians scurry like rats into their holes. The joker now thrown out let the game begin, everything's to play for; no one ever wins. I stumbled over truth when dealt a busted flush. Tripped. and fell against a stacked deck. The chips are down, we are left again to pick over the bones; of another broken promise.
Archived comments for Just an Inquiry Mr. Blair.
stormwolf on 23-01-2015
Just an Inquiry
Hi Mike,
I liked the feeling of contempt and also frustration that ran through the poem. Some great metaphors and imagery.
Politicians scurry like rats
into their holes.
God knows where the country is heading..maybe time to jump ship haha

Alison xx

Author's Reply:
Glad you got the strength of it. Our lives are run by these people, like it or not. Sometimes I just need to say something. It doesn't seem to matter what party is governing, in the end they all fuck up.
Mike
XxX

Gothicman on 23-01-2015
Just an Inquiry Mr. Blair.
Poor old Blair, once a brilliant politician who suffered the bad luck of having gunslinger George Bush Jr as his running mate, pity he didn't have Clinton or Obama in the special Anglo-American relationship, but then what if these two had had to deal with 9/11 and Bin Laden on their watch? Presumably the miscalculated, tragic outcome would have been the same for any UK Prime Minister? But all present day politicians appear to betray the democratic masses who voted them in once in power, due to an inherent fear of upsetting somebody, anybody, especially religious and economic pressure groups, and keeping their future peerages, Lord bloody this and Baroness bloody that, trouble-free! Good one, Mike! (should there be "ed" on "hoist"?)
Trevor
"Hoisted" would match "exposed" and "held" better? Or left as it is would require a comma after "inconveniences" and lower-case "P" instead? Not sure if while in a state of "hoist" you could scurry into holes though! Hahaha! Guy Fawkes nearly provided an excellent Petard!

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and leaving you comments Trevor, as always much appreciated. I am not inclined to any political party, although by nature I am not of the 'left' HaHa! They all seem to screw up in the end. Both Blair and Thatcher went a 'Term to far'. Both were people of their time, but you are right about the appeasement in Blair's case. I don't think Maggie gave a shit about anyone, she did what she thought was right and fuck the rest.
Mike

Bozzz on 23-01-2015
Just an Inquiry Mr. Blair.
Hoist is correct as it carries both past and present meanings.
Britain had a legacy history of manipulation in Iraq - after WW1 and WW2 we were instrumental in creating a country that never really was one - just drawing lines on a map. Bandwagons can be difficult to jump off - Blair was not a bad man, but there was not enough courage in his make up.... Fierce piece that sums up the views of many. Yours aye, David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David, I looked up Hoist before posting. The British were always good at drawing maps to suite themselves, then painting them red. For me all Politicians start with a great idea, then spend the rest of there time in office screwing up. Its not always that their ideas are wrong,but if half the country don't agree how can it ever work? Look at Obama now. Big decisions (war) should always require a vote by the people who will have to fight them.
Mike

pommer on 24-01-2015
Just an Inquiry Mr. Blair.
A very strong well written piece. No doubt many will agree with you.To hell with all politicians. Peter.

Author's Reply:
You said it all in five words Peter..."To hell with all Politicians" Thanks mate.
Mike


The Times of my Life (Chapter forty eight) (posted on: 19-01-15)
The fight back begins, both at work and with Cancer. And I have a birthday I will never forget.

For the first three months my head was firmly fixed up my backside. I could not focus on a thing, and to be blunt I was terrified. I was out of a job, had no money coming in, and now I had Cancer. It doesn't get any better with the telling. My GP said I should go and sign on, claim sickness benefit and anything else available. What a complete waste of time and effort. I tried everything but received not one penny from any of the departments. I tried them all, including the local advice centre. I filled out more forms than I did when going Bankrupt, and must have made 20/30 phone calls. They said that as long as Lesley was working and had a full time income they were never going to pay me anything. I had a long talk with myself and pulled it back together. Lesley was starting to lose it as well. It must have been bad for her, watching me disintegrate before her eyes. Not good for the girls or Norah either. I had to take control of my life again for all our sakes. Charles, a solicitor friend of mine, called to say he had heard what had happened at Dick's and was I looking for a job? 'Sooner rather than later please,' I said. He told me of a man named Martin who was looking for someone to sort out his affairs and open a sales office. He had a large rental and management agency on North Hill, along with a bad reputation and a nasty temper. Just right for me I thought, and arranged to go and see him. I turned up with no real idea where it would lead, but kept an open mind and sat to hear his proposals. He wanted someone to sort out a sales agency that he had opened near the City Centre six months before. It was doing nothing under the present manager and he was after a re-vamp. He offered me the job based on my reputation as a man who could sort things out, and offered me an income that was unacceptable. I told him I was the man he needed. I would work cheap for six months, with a bonus scheme to kick in when the sales reached a certain level. I also wanted to have the shout as to who was on the staff and who was not. I told him I wanted no interference from him on any of the points, and that I was to be given a budget for advertising and additional expenditure. I said I would draw up a working plan on his acceptance of my terms and not before; as he didn't have a good reputation with staff and money. He got up from his chair and puffed on his cigar, a permanent feature I was to find out. He told me I was rude and direct. I said that would make two of us. He laughed, said we had a deal; we shook hands and I started a week later. I had contracted Prostate Cancer before the job with Martin came up, and was undergoing treatment and assessment from the word go. I was honest with Martin and told him all about my condition from the start. Could I carry on and do the job regardless? ''No problem...if I can't; don't pay me.'' I had all the tests, including some that scared me more than the Cancer. The worst came on December 7th 2006, my 60th birthday. I was all day at the Hospital having all sorts of scans including full body MRI. They let me out for lunch, so Lesley took me to the Jack Rabbit Pub on the understanding I went back for more tests in the afternoon. We met Jane and my sister Amanda there. This was to be the most unusual birthday I'd ever had. There is much to tell of this meeting. Lesley had booked flights from Plymouth to Manchester for the next day. She had bought tickets for the ManU v Man City match at Old Trafford. What a star she is, and what a birthday present. She had booked us overnight at a central hotel as well. I was over the moon as I had never been anywhere to see my team play live (typical ManU fan) let alone at Old Trafford. Next my sister handed me a card and a large tubular container. She started to tell me a story about our family. For two years she had been compiling a family tree for us, and had finished enough of it to be able to present it for my birthday. It was amazing. She had taken my mother's family back to 1752. My Father's side was quite shocking but was still unfinished. What was to come out was explosive. Back at the hospital the results were in. It was treatable and with luck I could survive. My white cell count was high but not critical, if I kept the treatment up there was a good chance I wouldn't die. Radiotherapy was considered to be the best option, as they believed the Cancer had reached the outer wall of the Prostate, but not yet broken through. This was the good news I had been waiting for. Had it escaped into the bones it was the end. I now had Hope. Now to my sister's revelations. Amanda had been planning this for quite a while, and had joined all the relevant on-line search clubs. It was fascinating stuff. On Mum's side, some of the family had actually come from Plymouth. I had always thought that they came from Liverpool, as that's where my mother was from. My Dad had always been a mystery man. He said he was born in London and had travelled around a bit. That was about all I really knew. Sometimes he let his guard down, usually after a few drinks, but then he would clam up. I had always known that there would be skeletons in his cupboard. Just how many was to be a shock. It turned out my father had another family. His previous wife was my mother's sister. No wonder my mother had been so hesitant when she told me they had never been married. Phyllis, my mother's sister, had three children from their marriage. They were Frank, Billy and Olive; although Olive died while still a child. When my father and mother ran away together, Dad had been living in Scarborough. The exact details we may never know, but the children were left with a next-door neighbour for a while, presumably while Phyllis got her life back together. We now know that my Father was not twenty-two, as it says on the certificate, when he married Phyllis. He was eighteen and she was twenty-one. The year was 1921 and they were married in Liverpool. My mother was one of five sisters and I believe she was the second youngest. I now believe she wasn't the only sister he had a pop at. Hearing all these revelations has brought back some hidden memories, and it might have been best that they stay just that. It was to be another two years before final details came out, and we were to know the whole truth. Some of the revelations were to fill in the missing pieces with regards to my paternal grandfather, who on his Marriage, and on my father's birth certificate was registered with the last name Verdi. My father was registered with the name Verdi as well; we never knew this before. Other details to come out would reduce me to tears as fresh revelations about my father's first family were to emerge.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (Chapter forty eight)
e-griff on 19-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty eight)
Can't wait! (Glad the news was good)

Author's Reply:
More to come on both counts John...much more. Thanks for continuing the reading.
Mike

pommer on 19-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty eight)
Like Griff I am glad of the good news.I know what it is like on those different tests.Interesting Stuff about your family. Is there possibly an Italian ancestor? Who knows? best wishes, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Hi Peter,thanks for reading. As you know cancer can return. As to the ancestors more to come on that and well.
Mike

Bozzz on 20-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty eight)
Loved your job interview - brilliant classic stuff. Your mind condition on diagnosis not unusual, hard for both to cope - but your happy go lucky attitude and Lesley's intelligence and kindness combined to shine through. Stay with that. Your's aye, David

Author's Reply:
"Martin" has remained a good and close friend and is looking forwards to reading his section HaHa!
Life has been a challenge David, I can't deny that 🙂 having read as much as you have of my life, you known I will never give up.
Thanks again my friend.
Mike


The Cold Side of the Bed (posted on: 19-01-15)
Re post from Friday...It needed fixing 🙂 Picture poetry....

 photo graveyardsnowgirl3_zpsc0fc2475.png


Archived comments for The Cold Side of the Bed


ValDohren on 19-01-2015
The Cold Side of the Bed
I'm quite sure your love hasn't grown cold Mike. Very good write, and so true - when love grows cold, you just can't make it.
Val xx

Author's Reply:
Written from past experience Val rather than the present. I've never been happier 🙂
Thanks for dropping by and leaving your kind words.
Mike
XxX

sweetwater on 19-01-2015
The Cold Side of the Bed
I love the beauty in your words Mike, I have not experienced this personally, I always tended to sort of drift away from someone, but then I never did find the sort of love that would bring such strong feelings as these. Sue xx.

Author's Reply:
I have always gone with heart,been hurt as often as not.Better to have loved and lost...
Mike
XxX

pommer on 19-01-2015
The Cold Side of the Bed
Beautifully worded Mike, I am glad that it is a past experience.Peter

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, the memories are still there; I can bring them back in a moment.
Mike

Nemo on 19-01-2015
The Cold Side of the Bed
Strange: it says there are 6 words in the word-count! There are some strong images in this, Mike. Congrats on the nib.
Gerald


Author's Reply:
Thanks for the kind words Gerald. Word count doesn't count the words on the picture,only the words it can find;in this case my explanation 🙂
Mike

Nemo on 19-01-2015
The Cold Side of the Bed
Strange: it says there are 6 words in the word-count! There are some strong images in this, Mike. Congrats on the nib.
Gerald


Author's Reply:

Bozzz on 20-01-2015
The Cold Side of the Bed
The picture is so apt - the lady walks away - ice maiden. Beautifully done my friend and congrats on Nib. cANNOT WRITE MORE, FINGERS FROZEN. yOURS AYE, dAVID

Author's Reply:
Why thank you kind sir, your words are much appreciated. Get well soon old friend, thinking of visiting... and you need to be able to hold a glass 🙂
Mike

Bozzz on 20-01-2015
The Cold Side of the Bed
The picture is so apt - the lady walks away - ice maiden. Beautifully done my friend and congrats on Nib. cANNOT WRITE MORE, FINGERS FROZEN. yOURS AYE, dAVID

Author's Reply:

Ionicus on 21-01-2015
The Cold Side of the Bed
Whatever needed fixing, you seem to have managed it well, Mike. Well done on the 'Great Read' accolade.
Luigi

Author's Reply:
Thanks Luigi,just needed to prune out a couple of words (like you do).
Pleased you enjoyed the read.
Mike

stormwolf on 23-01-2015
The Cold Side of the Bed
Really loved this Mike. The pic was super and the content and layout of the last stanza really rounded it off incredibly well. Another to be proud of and well done on the nib.

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much Alison, pleased you liked it. Your words are all I could wish for.
Mike
XxX


The Times of my Life (Chapter forty seven) (posted on: 16-01-15)
A new battle to fight

Norah had another visit to Hospital around this time. I remember it well as I electrocuted myself on the same day attempting DIY, always a mistake with me. Norah was in need of treatment to unblock some arteries. They planned to insert a stent which would keep them open. A recurring theme that caused her to have Angina attacks. I was trying to make space under the stairs, and found some old lead wiring which I thought must be dead. I might have ended up dead as I cut through it with a hacksaw. I was blown out of the cupboard, bounced off the wall opposite, and landed at Nora's feet. It frightened the life out of us. Norah suggested we might end up next to each other at the hospital. More likely the morgue I thought. One of the highlights that year was Carol and Matt's wedding. It had been on the cards for some time so was not a surprise. Still we were over the moon and waited for more details. Carol was nothing if not single-minded about the wedding. She knew what she wanted and was not going to settle for less. The wedding was to be held at the local Registry Office in Bristol, with the reception at Matt's parents' house in a huge Marquee. A live band, a disco, food and a bar; Bugger! She had it all worked out. Lesley went to help with the dress and things and soon the big day arrived. We all stayed in the same hotel not far from where Carol and Matt lived. As we would be on our own and would not know any of the other guests, I arranged some back up. Graham and Kym, Bill and Jenny were invited. It all went like clockwork. I can't remember any wedding I have been to that went as smoothly. Carol looked beautiful and had a stunning dress; Matt was every inch the perfect groom; his best man made a great speech. He then proceeded to sing with the band, and he was brilliant. Jane was the chief Bridesmaid and looked stunning. I was so happy for her, as I knew how nervous she was about the whole thing. We had met Matt's parents many times and got on with them well. The day was a real success and one we will remember as a happy day. They decided not to have a honeymoon and settled for a night or two in a posh Hotel. What I didn't need at any price was what came next. I had not been feeling myself for some time. When the gall bladder presented itself I thought that I had solved my problem. I had been suffering from night time toilet visits and having to pee a lot more than I used to. I asked my doctor about it. They were a bit 'so what' when I mentioned a possible MOT Test. I asked the doctor to test me for Prostrate Cancer. As my Doctor was a woman, she said she couldn't do it. A doctor is a doctor surely? I said I'd get my wife to hold my hand. They said no, so I thought Bollocks to them and found another Doctor. All the messing around took a few months but I found one at the end of Salisbury Road, a few hundred yards from our house. I went to see him and asked about a test. He said jump on the bed and I will do it now. He did the nasty and stuck his finger up my bum. He then took a blood test. I asked how long to get the results and he said a couple of days, as they didn't hang about with cancer tests. I was starting to get worried. I asked him if he could tell anything from the internal examination. He said yes he could.... there was something there. Within 24 hours he was knocking on my door. I was out, so he told Norah (my mother-in-law) to tell me to attend the morning surgery as he had the results. I was really worried. How often do Doctors come around your house uninvited? It was bad news, sadly I had cancer. Lesley and I were devastated. I had an appointment to see a specialist at Derriford Hospital. CANCER. One of the words that you don't want to hear... like Shark! when your swimming 100 yards off shore; you just know it's not good news; and you may not make it. By November 2006 I had a fight on my hands like never before. Within days we were at the cancer clinic, meeting my Italian Doctor. If I'd thought the finger up the arse was uncomfortable the next one was 100 times worse. It's like a metal vibrator with teeth, used to do a biopsy; and most unpleasant. I now know I could never be gay. Talk about weird, he was playing an Italian Opera in the background the whole time. I was still hoping it was all a mistake, and he would say... ''All okay, you can go home now'' It was not to work out that way. The news was bad, I had advanced, aggressive prostrate cancer; too far along for surgery. I asked how soon he would know if I was going to be okay. The answer didn't give much hope; and I said... ''For fucks sake, give me something to hang onto to here.'' He said that 30,000 men a year had this cancer and a third of them die. 10,000 to save you counting! At this stage there were more tests before they could tell one way or the other. As it was November I asked if I should think about buying a Christmas tree. He was pleased that I still had my sense of humour, but never answered. 8th of November 2006, a day I will never forget. I was given tablets to reduce the Testosterone in my body. It feeds the Cancer, and they need to reduce it to see what's going on inside. They told me I should prepare myself for the long-term side effects of the treatment, and recommended I visit a family cancer group. I have never been a group person, having always cleaned up my own mess. I had a chat with the main man and went off to lick my wounds. Reduction of the Testosterone causes the body to react in a similar way to a woman going through the change of life. It was certainly going to change mine. They told me I would get swelling in my chest and would end up with man boobs; that I'd eventually need Viagra to have sex. I thought 'With the removal of this male stuff would I develop a fondness for handbags and sling back shoes?' This was not sounding good. I had to keep telling myself that it was better than the alternative. A little light relief came along in the form of a huge dog called Fred. Carol and Matt had bought him a not long before. He was a Mastiff cross and needed training, so Carol had gone to training school with him. He proved to be a quick learner, and out of the blue he was put forwards for the part of Bill Sykes dog, Bull's Eye at the Bristol Hippodrome. He got the part. Carol was over the moon and went into theatre training with Fred. We all went to see Oliver, of course. Fred was the star, and had all the audience eating out of his Paw's. He had a review in the local paper and kids hung around outside to meet him.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (Chapter forty seven)
Bozzz on 16-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty seven)
I know that fiddling around in the cupboard under the stairs is alleged to bring death to may thousands of men each year. You were thrown off –which was a better outcome that being locked on by your grip. It probably means you have a dry skin after years of pole dancing.
Great wedding. Story text impressive as usual.
Admiring your courage in writing as you do, will not help cure cancer, but you and all of us will keeping hoping that something will turn up – you never know. Stay strong Mate….David. Sending you an e-mail.


Author's Reply:
Your comments as always are much appreciated David, I was lucky with the electric shock, fate saving me for the Cancer I guess 🙂 As always there were good times as well.
Mike

pommer on 16-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty seven)
Bloody hell, is that the only way to get ECT Electro-Convulsive- Therapy}? You could have got that at Ivy Bridge in less cramped surroundings. Joking apart I am glad you lived to tell the tale.I enjoyed the description of the wedding,and I sympathise with you about the bloody cancer.I was lucky, mine was benign and TURPS cured me.However, I must tell you.When I was briefed before my op the registrar told me that I might be impotent afterwards, but that didn't really matter at my age.I shocked him enough to apologise when I told him that my wife, 28 years old would not like it.You should have seen his face.Got to stay cheerful.Be lucky and brave, Peter.

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! You do make me laugh Peter, a 28 year old wife! I love it 🙂 Thanks again mate.
Mike

Gothicman on 17-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty seven)
That'll teach you to try and bridge the meter and get a free supply! Wow, prostate cancer, something every man dreads, and the waiting, and treatment, and sheer horror of hearing that word, at least at that time, even more so. Love your fighting spirit and humour in adversity, Mike. Not knowing the current situation for you now, I hope you manage to get what's needed to keep you going, and hopefully a cure, a remission, or a long stay into old age. Tough times indeed! Well-written on a difficult subject and situation to put into adequate words.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
When you find yourself in the waiting room with your back against the wall, the family around you crying; only a joke can save the day. I'm not brave or special,just can't give up. When I sat down and thought about it, it occurred to me that all the husbands of the women I had shagged got together and bought me prostrate as a unique pay back 🙂
Thanks for keeping with it Trevor.
Mike:-)


Family Ties (posted on: 12-01-15)
The first two chapters of a possible book....get your pruning knives out HaHa!

Chapter One Night had fallen when I turned the car into the driveway, I could see the outline of the turret on the gable peeking above the trees. Illuminated by the full moon, it added an eerie feeling to the coming meeting. It must be thirty years since I set foot in Hawksworth Hall, thirty years had changed me in ways I could never have imagined; I was about to find out what it had done to the rest of my family. That night all those years ago, I had stormed out, vowing never to return; I had kept my promise... until now. Melissa's death had changed that, I had made her a promise too; one that I meant to keep. We had all been drinking that night, I suspect that had we not things may have turned out differently. It was Melissa's eighteenth birthday, and she was never one to hold back. Out of all of us (the five children) she was the one who was 'going places'. My elder brother John was the quiet one, destined for a life in the board room of some financial institution; following in father's footsteps. Joanna, my twin sister was studying law at Oxford. Timothy two years younger than my then twenty two years, was still dreaming of travelling the world as a correspondent for the Times newspaper. For my sins I was the 'lost soul', I had no idea what I wanted from life; I just wanted it not to be mundane. The thought of being locked up in an office from nine to five every day sounded like a vision of hell. Melissa was cut from a different cloth, and had made her plans at an early stage. Stage being the right word, she wanted to be an actress much to the horror of the entire family. My father forbade it, my mother refused to discuss it; as for my other siblings they simply ignored her. I however. completely adored her. As children we were inseparable, we would spend our holidays planning escapades, and acting out our stories, building stages in the basement to perform before the family who would never attend. We didn't care, it was our world and we loved it. After her A- level exams Melissa had browbeaten my father into letting her attend drama school instead of University, she could be so persuasive at times; quite capable of having us all dance like puppets to her tune. We had all sat around the big table in the dining room that night, playing silly games, as if we were still children; in a way I suppose we were. For once we were all friends. We made a promise that we would all meet up again on Melissa's thirtieth birthday; to see how many dreams had come true. How innocent we all were then, untouched by the pain and uncertainty that life has a way of bringing to the table. We were the children of the future, unbeatable, unshakable; safe in our certainty that life was ours for the taking. And why not, we were of the privileged class, our parents were healthy, wealthy and wise why would we be any different. Chapter Two As I arrived at the front of the house, I could see vehicles parked off to the side, and drove across to park near them. I couldn't help but look at the cars, try to match them with their owners. The Bentley would surely be John's, the two BMWs I guessed would be Joanna's and Timothy's, my battered old Jag looked a little sad next to them; but hell, I was never going to compete with them anyway. The other car was a Mercedes sleek and black. As I got out, the front door opened, and there was my brother John. He waved a greeting as I picked my bag out of the boot. There was no corresponding smile to match the wave, but he was never that expressive; we shook hands as I reached him. ''Hello John, it's been a long time''. ''Far too long''. He replied taking my bag and ushering me through the door. ''We're in the drawing room, I'll leave your bag at the bottom of the stairs you can take it up later''. We made our way through the hallway. The door was open, I could see Timothy, sat with his back to the door, his hair was thinning on top; but I was sure it was him. On entering I looked around, and saw that I was right. Joanna was sat opposite, near the window, a drink in her hand and a quizzical look on her face. I realised they were as interested as I was in how we had all changed. ''Simon how are you you look so well'' said Timothy. ''Still dressing like a student though'' quipped Joanna pointing at my jeans and laughing. ''Hello to you too'' I said, waving to the room. ''Let me introduce a representative of Gilbert & Clarke lawyers for Melissa's estate, this is Michael Gilbert'' said John. Gilbert rose out of the chair where he had been sitting, offering me his hand. ''So pleased to meet you, I've been discussing the reading of the will but of course we have been waiting for your arrival. Before the reading there are some things you all need to know''. This explained the black Mercedes I thought, I glanced around the room at the expressions; ''Things we ought to know?'' Obviously this wasn't on their agenda. ''Would you like me to start?'' ''Hang onthis all sound serious, and frankly what I would like is a drink'' I replied. ''Whiskey okay?'' Timothy asked, as he walked over to the drinks cabinet. ''That would be fine, ice but no water please and not a small one Tim''. ''Well now that we are all here, and fortified with a drink perhaps we should get down to the business at hand''. This was John taking on his chairman of the board role. ''Perhaps we should all go and sit around the dining room table'' I offered. ''I don't think that's necessary We'll get nowhere if all that is dragged up again''. Joanna was giving me one of her looks. I should have kept quiet, but the devil in me I wanted them to squirm in their well stuffed seats. ''I'm sorry, please forgive me continue with the reading''. The four of us took up positions around the small table in front of the solicitor, pulling our chairs in as if attending class. It all seemed surreal to me, this was our sister we were talking about Melissa. 'The golden child' we called her. She who could do no wrong. But she did.
Archived comments for Family Ties
Rab on 12-01-2015
Family Ties
Interesting...I would suggest longer paragraphs, and perhaps a little less detail in the descriptions of the siblings; to my mind it makes the start of the story a bit stodgy. I listened to a radio interview with Lee Child (the Jack Reacher books) a while ago, and he spoke about trying to 'drop the reader right into the action' at the start. Why not try starting with the gathering to read the will, filling out the backstory as you go along?

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, just the sort of thing I was hoping for. I read this at an open mike the other night to see the reaction, it was good, so I thought it may have legs. you guys are the ones who's opinion I seek however. I like the idea you have given me, and I thank you. I have also read all the Reacher books 🙂
Thanks mate
Mike

sweetwater on 12-01-2015
Family Ties
Don't know if I have any right to comment on this as I am not normally a prose reader. I rather liked the descriptive beginning, gave me a feel for the characters right from the start.
It held my attention ( which is my main problem) and I want to read more.
The only gripe I have is the ' sat' ....' Was sat with,' perhaps was sitting/ seated with? Also 'was sat opposite' again sitting / seated. Just a suggestion, it's a real bugbear of mine sorry 🙁 I thought it was very good, I now need to know what happened with the Will, so please post more chapters 🙂 Sue xx

Author's Reply:
You are as qualified as anyone to read and comment on any work on this, or any other site, where my work is concerned you are more than qualified! You have taken then trouble to read my life story, you know more about me than my family.
Thanks for your critique, I will take a look 🙂
Mike
XxX

Bozzz on 13-01-2015
Family Ties
You prepare the scene and build the tension well. A promising start. I do agree with Sue on Sat - it will be easy to correct with alternative wording but it does cause a stumble in progress. To read your life story and then pause to realise that this man will develop into an excellent writer - amazing Mike. Keep it up.....David

Author's Reply:
So pleased you read this one David, I'm taking all the comments and critique on board and will adjust accordingly. I was also taken with the idea of jumping into the action, but not sure it's right for this one; I will have to think on it. With Webber that's what I did and it worked there. As for the man behind the words...I'm still an uneducated twat at heart 🙂
Mike


The War Cry (posted on: 12-01-15)
I wrote this a while ago...still seems real after Paris. Don't think I posted it back then.

THE WAR CRY I remember in 63' when JFK went down, the dreams of a nation went with him then, shot down from the grassy mound. The B52's were flying high while the whole world held its breath. We all knew how close we were to a nuclear fiery death. I remember in 67' when we all made love not war. I can still see the pictures on the TV screen; hear the sound of the gunship's roar. The bombers rained down fire and hell upon that foreign land. Was it worth the cost of all those lives; in the jungles of Vietnam. I remember the 70's, the bodies lying in the streets, the name of the place was Belfast; the Devil had come to the feast. The bombers they killed anyone to set their country free, ''we are all the same'' I heard it said; ah.. but then there's religion you see. I remember 82' when 'Our Boys' sailed off to war I watched the pictures on the evening news the feeling of 'what's it all for?' We all waved flags and sang our songs then cried when the ships went down; they left the blood of men and boys to soak that distant ground. I remember Bosnia where blood was spilt like rain, the name of the game was genocide in a war of Religion again. There were mass graves and mayhem, women raped and killed. Little children were murdered in the streets; that must take quite a skill. I remember 2002 we sailed for a distant land to fight for the people of another country, in a world made of oil and sand. I remember thinking to myself ''Did anyone ever ask me if I wanted to send our son's and daughter's to fight for someone else to be free''. I remember the start of the war on terror, and recall the reasons why. We saw the planes destroy the twin towers I remember asking myself. why? What have we done to create those feelings that would bring down so much hate. Isn't it time we all began talking. Or is already too late.
Archived comments for The War Cry
Bozzz on 13-01-2015
The War Cry
A strong poem - a reminder of what might have been - and sadly - what yet may be. Very good Mike - "Did anyone ever ask me" the most telling line for me.....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the read and the comments David; we never get asked those questions do we.
Mike

Gothicman on 15-01-2015
The War Cry
Yes, "not in my name" applies to so many things. 90% of the world are passive observers to world events, both beautiful and tragic. The butterfly wings causing the world's worst coming hurricane tragedy will be how Israeli treated Palestinian from 1948; the enormous Arab backlash and cause was always going to be a wasps's nest that USA and its allies kicked, and who can blame the Arabs and their religious enlistments; the tragedy is that the cause is primitive and exclusive, like all religious curses. The three most hideous and respectless crimes in human development, violence towards children, sexual abuse of children, and religious indoctrination of children. The last being Man's worst collective failing and crime; cancerous rot of the psyche disguised as, and perpetrated as social democracy. All born equal and equal in value, one life, one chance of experiencing life, allow and respect different growths and achievements, all for the common good, and sharing and recycling the planet's resources. Too much to ask? Of course it is. Fear of death, and the religious attempt to resolve and harness this fear will cause Mankind's own death in the end! Good poem Mike, got me thinking!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
I hate religion more than anything else Trevor,so many wars so many deaths. When mankind finally find another earth, what then... More gods to fight over? Thanks for taking an interest in my work Trevor.
Mike


The Times of my Life (Chapter forty six) (posted on: 12-01-15)
Out of the frying pan and into....

At first things went really well. I was bringing in the business and racking up a few sales as well. Dick asked if I had any ideas as to what we could do to take the company forward. I said I would think about it and bring him some proposals. I told him I thought that he needed to up the company profile as it was a bit down market. I suggested advertising an Executive section to try and get more profitable properties. There was only one First Time Buyers Office in the whole town and I knew they were doing a bomb as Jane worked for them. Why not open a department as well. I told him he needed to refresh the office decor as it was dull and uninspiring. He said he would take it all 'on-board' and get back to me. I was called in to see Dick's wife, who said they were considering my proposals and liked my ideas. Reading between the lines, I could see she was pissed off that she hadn't thought of them, and I was marked down for removal ASAP. I opened an investment department next. With so many contacts in the old letting crowd it was easy. This was the most successful idea and it really got to Dicks wife who thought she knew it all. It got to her even more when all the clients, solicitors, surveyors and builders came in asking for me. I was on first name terms with most of them anyway. In the end we had a huge row, she started to patronise me in front of the other staff in a loud voice, talking down to me; she wanted to 'teach me how to use the stapler' really?... I changed into a scaffolder for 30 seconds. 'Why don't you fuck right off out of it'... Your a know-nothing bitch, how dare you talk to me like that in front of other members of staff'. It took another 30 seconds for her to react. She ran from the office to the rest room in tears. Dick was in a state of shock and about to react when he saw the look on my face. I was in a killing mood. He asked me to come to his office when I had calmed down. I didn't back down but agreed to talk to his wife when she was in a more conducive mood. After the dust had settled the other members of staff all told me I was their hero. Most of them had suffered under her in their time but were afraid to speak out. Never a problem for me. The writing was on the wall. She tried to be all nice.. ''Let's put it behind us and move on''. I was way too experienced to fall for all that shit. I could never trust her again. In the summer we holidayed in Tuscany again. We went with our friends Ali and Pete to Giglio, an Island off the Mediterranean coast, south of Pisa. We decided we'd have a second week on our own so booked a villa in a hilltop village near Lucca on the mainland. We flew from Bristol to Pisa, stayed the night in a local hotel and caught the train to the ferry port the following day. The trip to the Island took an hour, and there we were. Ali and Pete had been before so knew quite a bit about the place. A beautiful Island with a thriving harbour, several beautiful beaches, and a magnificent village on the summit. We stayed near the top of the island in an apartment with fantastic views to the bay below. The week went by in a flash. We returned to Pisa and there we said Bon Voyage to our friends. Picking up our hire car we set out for our next destination. The villa turned out to be quite luxurious and better than we had expected. We shared a private infinity pool a short walk up the road, with another house owned by the same people. It was one of the best pools I have ever been in. You could lie in the pool and look down over a wooded valley with mountains in the background. We knew the area well so set out to rediscover all the places we loved. We went back to Lucca of course, and cycled around the walls again. All too soon it was time to return to England. Back in the office there was a dark cloud on the horizon. There is an old saying that goes: 'She who wanks the Captain steers the ship' This was Dick and his wife to a T. Dick would never go against her, and I supposed I knew it. It was only a matter of time before I was asked to leave; they just needed an excuse. All the ideas I came up with were put into practice over the year and then they decided to sack me, or I resigned rather. Dick called me up to the 'room of doom' the day I got back from two weeks in Tuscany. It was the staff's name for his office. I was totally relaxed. He told me that he was unhappy with my recent performance, and that my attitude was not conducive to a good working relationship. I was shocked. I asked how many sales had been achieved in the last month and who had put them together. Seventeen were sold. I asked him how many sales had been achieved in the same month a year before. Nine all told. He said I had been hired to get property on the books, not to sell them. I asked him who was responsible for the change in the company's fortunes. No comment. I knew what was coming but wanted to make my point. I asked him how many staff had complained about me, but he declined to say. He did say he had complaints from some clients, but wouldn't name them. It was all bollocks, but what the hell? I knew it was coming so asked him to forgo a warning and the rest of the PC crap. I told him I was leaving before I got angry and did something we would both regret. I went back to the main office and cleared my desk. The girls in the office were in tears, I had trained them all; and looked after them. His wife could not look at me. Just as well as I think I might have lost it. That would have been most unpleasant. I tried never to leave anywhere on bad terms. You never know when you might need to ask a favour. It was hard in this case. Dick and I still talk and I stop for a chat now and then. His wife fell out with all of the staff over the next year, and everyone left to find better things, making me feel better. What a twat she was... and is. One of the staff I trained while there was her son Matt. The same Matt that married my best friend Graham's daughter. In the end he couldn't take any more of her shit either; he came to work for me at my next office... vindication or what? It was a bitter pill for Lesley to swallow, as it meant that for the first time I had no income. Dick paid me a month upfront but that was it. I needed another job, and quick.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (Chapter forty six)
Bozzz on 13-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty six)
Well my friend - it seems either that if the women are not pulling you into bed for your front end, they are up your arse for the other. With Dick as such a weak manager, you were probably better off elsewhere anyway - I am hoping for the best for you.....David

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Your right,I was well off out of it. Everyone left in the end although the office is still open. I guess people always need a job. Next... Well wait and see 🙂
Thanks again
Mike

Gothicman on 15-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty six)
Intriguing reading, with all the developments and changes of fortune, Mike. I've read all the latest episodes since and am now up to date. Reading several episodes in sequence seems to make it all even more interesting giving it all a red thread reference. Yes, funny how we immediately like or not directly take to people on first meeting; could be a look in the eye, or an accompanying gesture when saying "hello". Probably good and bad chemistry! Perhaps Dick's wife felt you undressing her, you old rascal! Yes, unemployed, not good for a relation. Tough times ahead I fear. Great writing Mike.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
So pleased to read you're comments again Trevor, and appreciate the time you take to read all of my story. Some people you just want to give a slap from the off! As to Undressing her....not if I was pissed 🙂 Tough times indeed mate 🙁
Mike

pommer on 16-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty six)
Another interesting period of your life Mike.I liked reading it.Having worked with women most of my life,I can see the situation with Dick's wife,thank God she didn't fancy you, or did she and you were wiser then to bite.Dick himself doesn't come over much of a man. Well, you no doubt will see better times and tell us about them in your very honest manner which I much admire.Best wishes, your friend Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks as usual for reading and commenting Peter. Dick and Fanny as we called them were the pits, and there was no way I could have fancied her. Life never stays the same for long in my world.
Mike


Poem For Millie (posted on: 09-01-15)
For my Grandaughter

Poem For Millie photo millie_zps56ee4c96.png


Archived comments for Poem For Millie
Bozzz on 09-01-2015
Poem For Millie
just absolutely beautiful and brilliant Mike. if this does not get nib, i will lose all confidence in UKA. difficult for me to type...your friend david

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! You just rest up old friend, get better, then we can share a bottle soon.
Mike

pommer on 09-01-2015
Poem For Millie
This is absolutely wonderful Mike.One of your best.Peter.

Author's Reply:
So kind Peter, you're words are all I could ask for.
Thank you.
Mike

charliesgirl on 09-01-2015
Poem For Millie
How beautiful! It holds all that I would like to say to my own granddaughters.

Author's Reply:
Why thank you! So pleased you stopped by 🙂
Mike

sweetwater on 09-01-2015
Poem For Millie
Totally agree with every comment above, a stunning poem, wrapping around solid advice. 🙂 Sue xx.

Author's Reply:
So pleased you think so Sue. I had to get it right...its on her bedroom wall now 🙂
Mike
XxX

ValDohren on 10-01-2015
Poem For Millie
Really lovely Mike, and the picture too. Very well done.
Val xxx

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading,and your kind words. So pleased you are writing again Val.
Mike
XxX

Nemo on 11-01-2015
Poem For Millie
We worry about our children and then our grandchildren, and perhaps we'll be here to see our great grandchildren ... our concerns for their future's always there - your poem echoes my own preoccupations - beautifully penned and stunningly laid out. Well done, Mike.
Gerald

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting Gerald, praise from those you respect is always welcome.
Mike

Supratik on 14-01-2015
Poem For Millie
Absolutely brilliant!!! Every word in every line so carefully and lovingly placed makes for a good reading. Well done Mike!! Yours, Supratik

Author's Reply:
Thank you,that's a very nice thing to say. It was a labour of love 🙂 So pleased you enjoyed the read.
Mike

amman on 15-01-2015
Poem For Millie
I'm not here often, Mike but had to comment on this one. Wise, loving words stunningly laid out. Your Grand daughter must be very proud of her Grandad's talent and so should you be. Pleased to see it nibbed.
Into favs it goes.
Cheers.
Tony.

Author's Reply:
WOW! Thanks so much for reading and leaving your kind, and much appreciated, words. I thought I hadn't seen your name on the lists for a while; people do come and go on poetry sites 🙂 As I said before in a reply, this was a labour of love. It was written after holding Millie for the first time (at least I drafted it out) It had to be right so the finished poem took a little longer HaHa! That you would take on of my poems into your favourites is an honour.
Mike


The Times of my Life (Chapter forty five) (posted on: 09-01-15)
My story continues, changes are on the way again.

2005 Onwards. Nora's house at Derriford was getting to be too much for her and we had to come up with a plan. It was obvious really. Ask Brian to leave and move Norah into the ground floor flat. It would take a bit of re-arranging, but she would have plenty of money from the sale of her house to do the work, all we had to do was convince her. After a lot of arguing and tears she finally agreed. It was difficult for her, she had all her memories there; but the strain on all of us was too much. I got Roger, my Estate Agent best mate, to cast his eye over Mum's house to see what he thought it was worth; I knew, but needed her to hear it from someone else. It wasn't modernised and would require a fair amount of work. In top order you would be looking at 195/200k but as it was - 175k. And so it worked out. We explained our dilemma to our tenant Brian, who was very gracious and left as soon as he could. It was sad as we both liked him and he was no trouble, but needs must. We got Busty, the builder from the Clifton, to do the necessary works before mum moved in. It was strange for all of us at first but the benefits were soon apparent, and she loved the place. The fact we were so close at hand was a bonus. Most of my friends thought I was mad, but for me it was the only option. There was no way I was going to let someone I cared about go into a home. Norah moved in with us on 25th April 2005. My meeting with Dick went well and he asked if I would consider working for him as a valuer/negotiator. His office was in a good location on Mutley Plain. All the agents had offices there and I knew most of the senior guys, so it would be like old times. I talked it over with Lesley and we decided to do it. The downside was the money would be nothing like I could earn on a good week scaffolding. The plus side was that I would not be risking life and limb every day, or drowning in the rain every winter. I wasn't getting any younger either. I took Dick's offer and set about telling Bert. He went ballistic and said I was making a big mistake. In reality he was worried about himself. I offered to sell him the business while the clients were still on board, but he was just not interested. I stopped worrying and looked for somebody else to sell to. I asked Richard if he was interested and he jumped at the chance. Richard was the best man for the job, he had a good head on his shoulders and knew most of my clients. Unfortunately he was a worrier and could not make up his mind. He strung me along far longer than I should have let him and then pulled out. He left me with little time to find another buyer, as I had committed to join Dick at a given date. My scaffolding was now in my store and the clients had all been informed. They were forced to find a new company when Richard pulled out. It meant I was no longer selling the Business as a going concern, just selling a load of scaffolding for what I could get. It turned out to be half on the amount that Richard and I had agreed. I was not a happy man. I could have pulled out on Dick and kept the business but I needed the change and took the money. It paid most of the debt we had, and I figured that I would soon turn a few property deals. If I am honest I was still not feeling right and did not want to work that hard again. It was nothing I could put my finger on, I just didn't feel good. Bert took it badly and refused to speak to me. He went on a taxi course, got himself licensed, and I have hardly seen him since. He moaned to the other guys, who had little sympathy as they knew he had been stealing from me for years. At the same time I was to join Dicks Estate Agents, Lesley was offered a permanent post at the University. She had been temping for a while, going from one department to another on recommendation, and they did not want to lose her. It was in the Faculty of Health & Social Work, and was to prove the perfect job. She is still there. It seemed that we might have a period of stability ahead. I was looking forward to Estate Agency work again, but was still concerned about the money. Privately I knew it would be a struggle but I didn't want to worry Lesley. I believed it wouldn't be long before I was setting up deals on the side and supplementing my income. In my time honoured tradition, I decided to take a quick break before starting with Dick. I took Lesley to my favourite Greek Island, Alonissos. It had been twenty years since I'd last been there, but could recall each little detail, and I knew that Lesley would love it. When I say every little detail, I couldn't remember the name of the place where I'd stayed. We booked online and Lesley picked the Hotel. We had to fly into Skiathos. From there it was Flying Dolphin to the Island, stopping at Skopolos on route. We arrived at the harbour and offloaded our bags. A transit van was waiting and off we went to the Hotel. I knew it straight away. Lesley had booked the very hotel I had stayed in with G.G All I remember about my last of several visits was dancing with the owners. We were all drunk and I promised to return. Twenty years later - there I was. Would the original owners still be there? My question was answered when their daughter-in-law came around the corner. I knew her right away and asked after her husband Christos. Her Father-in-law was around the corner, still in the same chair, and he knew me straight away. He was really old now, but still had a twinkle in his eye. What a great reunion when his wife joined us. Their son was running the place and had made some great improvements; better rooms... and a swimming pool. Next day I showed Lesley around the harbour and surrounding area, with the promise of a great beach if I could find it the following day. We set out as promised, walking out of town on the cliff path. I remembered the way but not how far it was. The views were spectacular each time we stopped to get our breath back. We came out of the Pine forests and down the cliff path towards the sea. We could make out a beautiful bay and a beach that looked as if it might be the one. I had told Lesley that I'd gone there almost every day. There had been a small Taverna on the beach, and each morning the owner and I went snorkeling with a large net to catch whitebait for our lunch, fried on the spot and served with fresh lemon and crusty bread. There was indeed a Taverna and a guy with the usual moustache and white apron. I asked him in Greek for a bottle of water and two glasses. He asked if I was English. I said yes. I thought my Greek was not up to standard but he said it was fine. ''You have been here before'' he said. It was a statement not a question. When I answered yes, he thought about it for a minute, and then said ''yes... about twenty years ago''. It turned out he was the son of the guy I went fishing with! Some twenty years later he was all grown up with his own family. Next his father and mother came down to see what all the fuss was about. We all started laughing. Every time Lesley and I went to the beach they would bring us little bowls of apricots and figs; how wonderful. I took Lesley to the old town at the top of the island. It had been shattered by an earth quake in the mid sixties, but was back in business. It offered the best views on the Island, especially the sunsets. Another day we went on a boat trip to a beach at the far end of the island. The time passed all too quickly and soon it was time to say goodbye. All our friends said the same thing; don't leave it so long before the next visit... and bring the same wife next time. It was yet another fantastic holiday. Returning to England I sold the scaffolding for what I could get and started with Dick on the 4th July. It was strange at first as I had been out of the business for a long time, but I soon began to enjoy myself. A lot of the people I used to know were pleased to see me back. Some of them warned me to watch out for Dick's wife. It proved to be good advice.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (Chapter forty five)
e-griff on 09-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty five)
Sounds idyllic.

Dicks wife? You're not going to be up to your old tricks again, are you? 🙂

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! That's a big NO. I called him Dick in my story for a reason; what I called his wife was a lot more than that. More to come on this 🙂

Thanks for keeping at it John.
Mike

pommer on 09-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty five)
hat a lovely holiday prior to start work again.I hope you won't succumb with Dick's Wife. Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks again for reading my story Peter...and no, I don't end up in bed with Dicks wife. 🙂
Mike

Bozzz on 10-01-2015
The Times of my Life (Chapter forty five)
What a lovely reunion at Skopolos after 20 years. But in this chapter, the end of the tube erection saga (sounds obscene) was surely the right thing at the time. And news of Lesley's appointment was timely. Serenity in the text indicates clearly you acted for the best. Good for you Mike. Cheers ...David (on the mend today - stitches out on Monday)

Author's Reply:
Hello David, Yes the whole holiday was a special time. there was good and bad in changing jobs as you will see. But your right, it had to be done. This was really, the calm before the next storm sadly.
Mike


The Times of my Life ( Chapter forty four) (posted on: 05-01-15)
2004... the good and the not so good.

2004 started much the same as any other year. Work went on with me getting more and more fed up with the weather. Scaffolding is not a nice job in the wind and rain. It gets so cold that if you don't wear gloves the scaffold tubes stick to your hands, and you have to wait for it to thaw or risk loosing some skin. The splinters from the boards in the summer are not too good either. Always wear gloves! We had some bad news in February. An old friend of mine died tragically of a brain tumour. We hadn't spoken much since I left G.G, but she was still someone I had spent a lot of time with in the past. I missed her; now I would never see her again. She was the first of my friends to die. Cathy and her husband Mike had been close friends of G.G and I for years. We had been neighbours while I lived in Peverell and had spent time away together at Pebbles and St. Ives. I still think of her and her wacky sense of humour. She was someone who left an impression, and she always spoke her mind. She and Mike had been a welcome addition at our dinner table. Norah had not been well for some time and was in and out of Hospital for one thing or another. In March she gave us a real scare and was rushed in with chest pains and fluid on the lungs. A week later she had a small heart attack. This was to be an ongoing theme and constant worry. She was admitted in April with an angina attack. We began to question how long mum could stay out at Derriford on her own; and what was best for her. I could not face Norah going into permanent care. The house was too big for her to manage though, and the late night visits when things went wrong were wearing us out. We would get a phone call in the middle of a dinner party and I would have to drive half cut to the rescue. It sounds funny but it wasn't. Also in April Jane and Neil decided to call it a day. She was heart broken as this was her only real relationship and they had been together since school. It's too long a time for people at that age. They just grew apart without knowing why. Neil wanted to spread his wings and was far too young to settle down. Jane was like a lost sheep for months. Fortunately she had good friends to fall back on and help her through. On the 26th of May 2004 we at last had something to celebrate; Lesley's 50th Birthday. The girls and I had been planning it for some time. We were taking over the Knotte Inn down on the Barbican. A great place for parties and they had a restaurant with seats for about thirty people. I had invited all the gang, and there were some friends of Lesley's from long before I knew her. I rang Sandra and Vic Berry and asked if they would be the surprise guests and they said yes, they lived in London. Jane and Carol were as excited as I was, they organised all the standard things, like blown up photos of Lesley through the ages. On the night it was brilliant to see Lesley's reaction to all these friends. The food and drink kept coming and it turned into a memorable night. Another bit of good luck arrived literally on our doorstep. The other downstairs flat came up for sale. The guy who owned it was a relative of the tenant. He was living abroad and not likely to return, and he needed the money. Brian the tenant was a nice old guy, recently retired and no trouble at all. He told me one day that his relative was looking to put the flat up for sale, and asked my opinion on what it was worth. I was on the case straight away! I said it would be best to get another valuation but my guess was about 70k. He passed this on to his cousin, said I was interested, and I would settle quickly if he'd accept that amount. He did and we bought the flat by re mortgaging our own again. Brian was pleased as it meant he could stay a while longer. We now had all the flats in the house. Talk turned to what to do for a holiday. Without too much persuasion, Matt, Carol and Jane said they would like to go with us to Kalkan. Jane asked if she could bring a girl-friend and we said yes. I contacted Farte and rented a couple of his apartments. It was a great success; much better than the last trip to Cesme. This time the girls were a little more discreet in their dress, not that I needed to have worried in Kalkan; word went out that they were 'Uncle Michael's daughters. Lesley and I went out for a week on our own and the extended family joined us for the second week. We showed them all the sites and beaches. They loved Patara Beach which is about 15 miles long, but their favourite was Kalamar Bay, a free taxi ride away. It's not a beach as we know it, but a concrete bathing platform stretching along the rocks, with a Taverna sitting above it. You swim and dive off the rocks into crystal clear water, so it's great for snorkelling. The guys at the Taverna had known me for years and we had great fun, taking the piss out of each other all day. They would bring the girls a huge dish of Melon at lunchtime, and Matt and I had gallons of free beer. I wish we were there now. The end of this year was when I finally had the operation to remove my gall bladder, I hated the whole thing as you might imagine. Bill and Jenny left for the Maldives at the end of December. We couldn't afford it as we had already been away a couple of times, but said we might join them next year. On Boxing Day came the news of the Tsunami. We waited with their family and other friends, glued to the TV. We watched the footage of the death and destruction with mounting unease.Anyone who knows the Maldives will remember that the highest point on any Island is the roof of your Bungalow, so a huge wave is going to make one hell of a mess. After 48 hours we heard that they were safe. The island had been devastated but the Pakistani Navy had rescued them. They lost all of their belongings and it was a long time before they got over the experience. It was a terrible end to the year. 2005 started like the rest, with the exception that I wanted out of scaffolding and into something less arduous, I was starting to feel my age. In March we went up to stay with Keith and Cilla at Pebbles for the weekend. We met up with some friends who had bought a cottage up there. We went over to Croyde Bay to a local pub and dinned on Crab cakes and beer. One of my all time favorite authors came to town on a book signing trip. Lesley, bless her, went and got a book signed for me. I was gobsmacked. To Michael from Wilbur Smith, and I had read every book he had written, so it was very special to me. It's this kind of thing that makes her so wonderful. A few months later, a chance meeting gave me an opportunity to make the break. My best friend Graham's daughter was married at Kitley House (How the years have flown!) We were all there along with lots of others. The Groom was a fine young man called Matt. His mother had remarried and her new husband was an Estate Agent. Dick and I had known each other for some years. We had worked in the same business but had never been close friends. Up at the bar he asked if I had ever thought about going back into Estate Agency. 'Funny you should ask that,' I said. We arranged to meet when sober, the following week.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life ( Chapter forty four)
Bozzz on 06-01-2015
The Times of my Life ( Chapter forty four)
Yes Mike, and when you get even older and lose old school classmate friends, the feeling of being lucky to be alive offsets some of the sadness. But people are a thoughtless bunch - they always die at the most inconvenient time possible. In my youth I had always thought a scaffolder was a hangman's mate - shades of the French Revolution - but the possibility of your escape to a 'proper' job was a timely arrival. I do have to admit that the complete absence of a terrible disaster in this chapter makes it somewhat unique.

I think I know the blow to come, so the feeling of fear is in my heart already. Stay still strong in your excellent writing...David

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Yes David, no real personal problems for us, plenty for those around us. You are correct, things don't go smoothly for long in my world.
Thanks for reading as always.
Mike

sweetwater on 08-01-2015
The Times of my Life ( Chapter forty four)
Hi Mike, to me your life seems like a series of circles, it's rather fascinating viewing from the outside. I doubt anyone could ever say you were boring. Awaiting next steps 🙂 Sue xx

Author's Reply:
I've been through many changes Sue, some of them have been horrendous... But never any time to be bored; to busy trying to find a way out 🙂
Thanks for sticking with me.
Mike xxx


The Times of my Life (chapter forty three) (posted on: 02-01-15)
More from my memory bank plus a holiday in the Maldives.

One blemish in an otherwise good year was that Lesley had problems at Notre Dame, the school where she worked as an Administrator. The old Headmaster had retired and the new one was a real Bitch. They didn't hit it off, and it went downhill when jobs were shuffled and everyone had to re-apply. Lesley was asked to apply for the job further up the chain; a sort of promotion. She was expected to get it by all the staff... all except the Bitch. She didn't get it and after a night of discussion... resigned a few days later. Lesley had been an Administrator at the school for fourteen years. The new broom was sweeping clean; I was tempted to shove it up her ass. Lesley went temping. She was a bit apprehensive as she had not been in the job market for a while. I was sure she would find another position though. After that brief spell temping, she got a job at the University and has been there ever since. They wouldn't consider letting her go! It has never occurred to me how good Lesley is at her job until now. She is so well thought of and her friends at work say they would be lost without her. To end the year on a high we went with Bill and Jenny to Birmingham to see Andrea Bocchelli, the Italian Opera Singer. I was in heaven. We took a lazy weekend, staying overnight in the Cotswolds on the way up and going to Warwick castle the next day. Birmingham was a real delight. I was not expecting to like it, but things had changed and the city centre was smart. Shopping heaven for the girls, with a Selfridge's and its huge Mall. The concert was wonderful, he is just so good; I loved every minute of it, and I think Lesley did as well. Everything was slotting into place. I had the business I wanted, the place to live, the support of a great family and the best wife in the world. Surely nothing could go wrong now. This is Mike Green we are talking about. Of course it could. The Devil was just about to fire off another fart in my direction. Lesley and I were always driving off down into Cornwall, with no particular destination in mind. We'd mooch around stopping here or there for lunch, enjoying each other's company and the views. Sometimes we'd stay overnight. One day we were down around Cape Cornwall and had parked the car to walk the cliffs when I felt a stabbing pain in my chest. We'd not gone far so sat down for a bit, but the pain would not go away; it got a lot worse. I asked Lesley if we might get back to the car as I thought I'd pass out from the pain. Lesley was concerned as we made our way back; I could hardly walk and was struggling to breath. Lesley decided it was time to drive us home. The unspoken thought was 'heart attack'. We reached Bodmin and I was getting worse, Lesley saw a sign saying Hospital and went for it. On arrival they took blood tests and an ECG to see what my heart was doing. I could have told them if they had asked; it was panicking! They didn't take any chances, just sent me in an Ambulance to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. With all the flashing lights I thought, bugger! this is serious stuff. Being pushed on a trolley towards the cardiac unit was really scary and a bit of Deja vu. I thought I really was having a heart attack. There was nothing I could do but cooperate and hope for the best. Lesley had driven behind the Ambulance all the way from Bodmin. What it must have been like for her I can only imagine. It must have been hell. As it happened, it turned out to be my gall bladder, it would have to go. The symptoms are similar to a heart attack, hence the panic in Bodmin. Not good, but not as bad as suspected. I was sent home to await a date and lived on Gaviscon until then. No curry, no spicy food at all, and watch out for dairy products. Worst of all cut back on wine etc... Truth to tell, I'd not been feeling right for a while, and saw it as explanation for my uneasiness. If it was my gall bladder I felt like I had a result. It was a wake up call, and I started to look at things a bit differently. My health was something I'd taken for granted till then, now it was time to re-assess. For sure I wasn't getting any younger, so how long could I keep up the scaffolding business? Lesley and I discussed a change of career. After the operation I was off work for a couple of months. It hurt us financially, as I had to replace myself at a cost of 300 per week. With a desk job I would have been off for a week, but scaffolding is a bit different. It provoked thoughts about packing in the business and selling it to clear any last debts. I said nothing to Bert but I was looking around. Jane's Birthday brought us some light relief, as usual. It was November the fifth 2003 and she was twenty one years old. We had planned to do something special for her but Neil had other ideas and took her to Euro Disney. They had a great time and it was the right thing to do. On their return we joined in the celebrations and that made us feel better. Our friends Bill and Jenny were going to the Maldives for Christmas. They had been the previous year and it had been so good they'd decided to return, and why didn't we join them? We couldn't leave Mum on her own on Christmas Day... but a couple of days later? We flew from Gatwick to the Maldives (our intended honeymoon destination) on the day after Boxing day. The island of Merru was all palm trees and white sand. We were blown away, and to be greeted on the dock by two of our best friends was surreal. We celebrated the New Year drinking champagne and dancing in the Indian Ocean. The reef was a little way off the island and outside the lagoon, but there was some great snorkelling to be had in the lagoon protecting the beaches, so I was in heaven. We did have a scary day when we signed up for a boat trip out to an offshore reef. More than either of us had bargained for; the swell was too big to swim in, and with a savage current running; our boatload of people got into difficulties and had to be rescued. Not good in shark infested waters.Just about my scariest moment in the water. We did go out again with the promise of swimming with Manta Rays, and sure enough we did. It was the best moment of my underwater life, I will never forget seeing them gliding towards me like bombers homing in on their target. You had to keep telling yourself they don't bite. They were huge, about twelve to fifteen feet across, but so beautiful. They were swimming through a channel in a reef about Fifty feet deep and very wide, the water was as clear as glass and we could see the bottom with ease. It was a cleaning station for them, we could see loads of the little cleaner fish eating all their parasites. We must have spent an hour or so in the water with them. Some of the people were not good swimmers so couldn't dive down, as I was, I was able to get up close with them. It was the Indian Ocean... so we were all on the look out for sharks; despite the boatman's promises. It made the holiday and we went home in a dream. There was a South African Free diver with us and she took some photos. I asked her to send me some... and bugger me she did!
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter forty three)
Bozzz on 02-01-2015
The Times of my Life (chapter forty three)
Well Mike I trust you came out of the manta ray cleaning area in good shape - sounds a bit sexy to me - underwater massage parlour?. Can sympathise with the gall bladder pain - you feel there is just no place to put yourself to reduce it. As for poor Lesley, it is the samwe story all over the world - new broom - punishment of the innocent and efficient and promotion of the guilty and incompetent.
Apart from that - lovely holidays comme d'habitude and chug chug at work ... soldier onwards....Yrs, David.




Author's Reply:
The calm before the coming storm, maybe a couple of chapters of these times before the shit hits again.
Mike

pommer on 02-01-2015
The Times of my Life (chapter forty three)
Hi Mike, a mixture of ups and downs.I am glad you enjoyed the Maldives.A friend of ours spent his honeymoon there.Couldn't stop talking about the Maldives.As for the gallbladder, what can I say, very painful.Nursed many a poor devil with the complaint.My own mother was a sufferer. e lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Up and down more than a whores draws, the Maldives was worth everything.
Thanks again Peter
Mike

sweetwater on 04-01-2015
The Times of my Life (chapter forty three)
My daughter and son-law went to the Maldives for their honeymoon, talked of nothing else but it's beauty. Decided to go back for their fifth anniversary, so joined a dive club learnt all the diving skills and returned as planned, they too had the joy of swimming with Manta Rays. As for the gall bladder, thats one pain I live in fear of, have heard such awful accounts from sufferers, thank goodness yours has gone. Sue xx.

Author's Reply:
So pleased they enjoyed the islands. As to the pain.... If I only new.
Thanks for commenting as always.
Mike
XxX


The times of my Life (chapter forty two) (posted on: 29-12-14)
Great times are here again

We decided to tick one of my boxes for our next holiday. There was no way that Lesley wouldn't enjoy it, so I was on safe ground. We went to Tuscany. There were lots of 1.00 flights from Stansted with Ryanair. A long way for us to go for a cheap flight, but at that price it's hard to say no; so we didn't. We flew into Forli airport, just a short way from Bologna. We booked a hire car on-line and accommodation at a hotel in Lucca. It was right across the other side of Tuscany, not far from the coast; and the town of Pisa. There was a range of mountains to get over, but Forli was well placed for an easy drive down the motorway past Florence and on to Lucca. So what did we do? We took the scenic route over the mountains. Bloody Hell... it was unbelievable. The roads were so steep in places I thought that the engine might stall. There were more hairpin bends than I had ever seen; though the views were staggering. As we crept up and over the peaks, I could not believe what I was seeing. All these cyclists, many of them older than me, going at it and peddling like mad; they were racing each other up and down the mountains. I thought I was fit but these guys were something else. Eventually we left the mountains to join up with the motorway and slip past Florence. Time was getting on and we didn't want to be driving in the dark. We arrived at Lucca and (as usual) fell in love. The most beautiful Medieval City you can imagine, surrounded by a huge wall. Our Hotel was perfectly situated inside the walls. We spent three wonderful days and nights exploring the narrow streets and wonderful buildings. I discovered that Puccini was from there, and they held concerts and Operas every year. We were to return again on other visits. Our next stop was across Tuscany again, to just outside Siena, where we had rented a farmhouse for the rest of our Holiday. It sat way back from the road on a dusty track about twenty minutes south of Siena on the road to Buonconvento. The track was lined with Poplar Trees. It had its own small pool and was surrounded by farmland. The owner used to call every day and tend the garden. He brought us fresh milk, home-made honey, and loads of his own wine. What more could we want? I used to go to the pool every morning and use a net to fish the frogs and the odd grass snake out! We toured around, visiting every hilltop village within 30 miles. Other than Lucca, the stand out places were San Gimignano, Volterra, Montalcino and Cortona, a stunning place down near the border with Umbria and Lake Trasimeno. We loved every minute of Tuscany, and were to return many times over the coming years. I have, like many others before me, dreamed of my own hilltop farmhouse. The long drive lined with Poplar Trees, just like all the paintings. Well dreams are free! While we were there we had a text from our friends Robin and Elaine. They were in Tuscany and only twenty miles away. We arranged to meet in San G for lunch the next day. What coincidence! They had booked into a Hotel in Chianti for a couple of days, on the other side of Siena. We took them back to our Farmhouse and they stayed the night, mainly because Robin and I got so drunk on the wine. The next day when the owner came around, Robert spoke with him in French. The guy spoke no English, and none of us spoke Italian. He booked himself in for the week after we left as it was vacant and they loved the place that much. How lucky was that? Jane still worked at the Holiday Inn but I could see she was not happy. The hours were not suited to going out, and the pay was not up to much. I'd tried to tell her this from the start but she always wanted to make her own mistakes, and this was one of them. I asked her if she had ever thought about Estate Agency, but got the usual blank look and mumbled reply. I persisted and she said she would consider it. I phoned up my old friend John who was senior Director with a National Firm called Connell's. I asked if he would interview her. He said he would do better than that, why didn't she spend a day or two up at their First Time Buyers office with the manager to see if she liked it? Jane went along to spend her day at the office and ended up staying five years. Jane became a Senior Negotiator and a highly regarded member of the team. It was one of the proudest days of my life; up there with Carol's Graduation. She started work at Connell's on 5th of February 2003 Another momentous occasion was Norah's 70th Birthday. All the stops were pulled out for this and we planned a big BBQ with all her relatives and all her friends. It was to be held in Norah's back garden as no one else had a place big enough. The arrangements were made, the invites went out; it looked as if we would have a full house. We bought a cheap marquee to keep off the rain, just in case, and imported our BBQ. It was all looking good. We told Norah that it was only us and that Carol was coming down with Matt, so she suspected nothing. Carol took her down to the supermarket to get some sausages. Matt, Neil and I set up the garden and blew up all the balloons, whilst Lesley and Jo sorted out the food. It went off like clockwork. By the time Carol brought her back everyone had assembled and I was afraid she was going to have a heart attack, she was so surprised. It was good to give her something back for all the good things she had done for us. This was the 4th of July 2003. I asked Lesley how she would feel about going to Kalkan. G.G and I had spent so much time there, it might be a bit overwhelming. I was surprised when she said yes; I gave her a big hug... I was over the moon. I knew G.G still went there, so was unsure of my reception with Lesley in tow. We booked into a hotel near the centre of the village, and decided to stay for one week only, to get a feel for the place again. When we arrived at Dalaman Airport, the feeling was one of coming home. I almost cried. We took a taxi from the Airport. You always arrive in the early hours so can't see a thing until the sun comes up around five thirty. At the top of the hill overlooking the village I asked the driver to stop so we could take in the view. Really emotional for me, and I'm sure Lesley could sense it. Once in our room at the hotel I drew back the curtain, and there was the harbour, laid out before us. After a rest we headed down into the village with me feeling a little nervous. I needn't have worried. I soon saw people I knew, and they were more than welcoming. At the Merkets Caf, where I knew I would find Farte and Mustafa, lots of people were there to greet us. It was good to be back. The welcome from the boys was fantastic with lots of man kisses, and I knew everything was going to be fine. Lesley loved it and they loved Lesley. We spent our days swimming and our evenings at Farte's restaurant and the Moonlight Bar. The big trip was down to Kas to see Vedci and Barbara. We took the bus. When we met it was hard for me to hide my tears. Vedci pretended to go out the back for something, but I knew he was the same. We spent the day reminiscing and went swimming at a local beach. In the evening we dined at the restaurant and one of the staff drove us back to Kalkan. We had become very close over the years and it showed. We had a great week, and knew we would return soon.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (chapter forty two)
pommer on 29-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter forty two)
It sounds as if a most enjoyable period was spent by all.A good interesting read.Happy New Year, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, your comments as always are more than welcome. It was indeed the best of times.
Mike

Bozzz on 31-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter forty two)
Yes, and your Italian must be getting pretty good by now - a book on typical holidays in Italy? Endless holidays must mean back at home is getting quite boring by now - perhaps you two should pack bags and move to an island and setup in business as a fisherman or posh holiday escort service. But I cannot see you as as a waiter without some slimming course being involved. Whatever next?....Yrs, David

Author's Reply:
Italian? Errr... not as good as my Greek was 🙂 You are correct, boredom sets in fast in the Verdi household. That's why I shall be descending on you again in the new year; we need our adventures HaHa! I have thought of moving several times over the years, too late now; ill health and more grandchildren have put an end to that speculation. As to your thoughts on my slimming, I will have you know I am going alcohol free for January, and living on a diet of chicken and fish to loose two stone by May....so there 🙂 May I show you too your table sir? HaHa!

Thanks for all your friendship and support over the last year David.
Mike


The times of my Life (chapter forty one) (posted on: 26-12-14)
.....And relax!

Business as usual, without the pressure; at least for a while. Every day Bert and I would put the scaffolding up where and when. We still had enough contacts to earn a living and at times a very good one. We would only do enough through the books to show we were trying. The rest was always cash. I had a declared income of about 16k. More than that the Creditors could come knocking, and I didn't want them looking over my shoulder. Lesley and I kept a record of the cash jobs, but it got a bit silly so we gave up. Instead we spent the money as it came in, which wasn't difficult. Without all the other outgoings it was all just pocket money. It was sufficient for us to have a life... and so we did. Some time earlier I had phoned Keith and Cilla, back in Morte Hoe, to ask if they would like to meet the new woman in my life. ''Come on up,'' they said. We went as soon as we could and they hit it off with Lesley straight away. We visited on a regular basis and it was even better than before. Now I had a family with me. On one visit we had Carol and her partner, Jane and her boyfriend Neil. We all got on well and had a real boozy night in the bar, with the youngsters showing off and Keith and I cracking up at their antics. In the morning they all came down looking the worse for wear and still a little bit pissed. After breakfast I suggested we all put on wet suits and go for a swim in the cove below the hotel. The girls very sensibly declined the offer but the boys, not wanting to look wimps, agreed. I dived straight in and swam out into the bay. Carols partner was next and swam out towards me, looking less than human. Neil was a little slower and looked like shit. By the time he reached us he was throwing up. We said the vomit in the water would attract Sharks and he should stay away from us. He was really not sure if we were for real or not and started to panic. We relented and told him we were joking, it was so funny I could hardly swim for laughing. On Lesley's birthday we had gone up to Pebbles to spend a quiet weekend. Carol and her partner turned up to surprise us. They had booked in knowing we were going to be there. We had Norah with us so it was yet another great family weekend, especially as Jane turned up for the day too. Having a family that gave a shit was the best. We loved it there, it had a great feel about it and the area was fantastic. I had spent a lot of time with Keith and Cilla over the years, and my change of partner they simply took in their stride. Over our regular bottle of Jameson's, Keith told me that they had long suspected that something was wrong with G.G and our relationship. Everyone loves Lesley, and soon it was as if she had always been with me. I took her all over North Devon, Lynton and Lynmouth, the Valley of the Rocks, Croyde Bay, and Heddon Valley. They became our playground and we soon knew all the best pubs as well. There was a great coastal walk outside the Hotel and we would use it most days, looking for the 'Morte Hoe Seals' that Keith said were there. A bit of a standing joke over the years, I even got a post card from the seals one year asking where I was. I can tell you I never saw a single flipper in all the years I went there. The list is too long to mention every place we visited. Bristol of course became a regular, as Carrie was still at the University. In the early days it was day trips, but as we acquired more money we would stay over. We found a great Hotel right in the centre called The Brigstow. Central and surrounded by great shops and bars; what could be better...? It had the added bonus of being right on the river. We'd take Carol and her boyfriend, Matt out for a meal and hit a few bars. On one trip Lesley got so drunk she fell over backwards right in the centre. We nearly fell over laughing at her. Matt was Carol's regular boyfriend after her playing the field for a bit. We took to him from the start, he became part of our gang. Believe it or not, the sense of relief once the dust settled was tremendous, and we soon put that part of our life in the past. Work was coming in and we had money to do things. Lesley wanted the house decorated, so we got a guy in to do it as no one would let me loose on the job! We also got him to build a wall outside the house to keep the bailiffs out. Only joking. Joanne left school and got herself a job as a receptionist at the Holiday Inn, I wasn't happy as it's a dead end job, and I knew she was better than that. She had a load of A levels for Christ sake! We wanted her to go to Art College, as she was brilliant at that sort of thing, or to follow her sister to Uni. But no way; she wanted to work. I blamed Neil as I knew he had asked her to stay in Plymouth with him. I think he had a lot to do with her decision. Back at work things were going nicely. Bert and I weren't falling out too much and worked well together. He thought he knew best; I knew he didn't. We had enough to keep us going and the cash was always a bonus. I used it for holidays and breaks as there was no way I could put it in the bank. There were always problems, it's the nature of the business. One being getting money out of people; it's always difficult, whether it's a big company or Mr Jones down the road. No one ever wants to pay on time. Sometimes you have to get a little bit aggressive. With most cash jobs I wanted the money as soon as the job was up. After they have painted the house or whatever it's more difficult. That's when they won't return your calls and send the wife to answer the door to say they're out. If the money wasn't there on the day I put the job up, I wouldn't lay the scaffold boards for them to stand on until they paid. This could, and did, lead to fights now and again. A little unseemly for a man of my extended years, but I had to keep my end up; and people will try it on if you let them. One guy, he was a photographer, agreed my terms and I thought he seemed okay. I erected the scaffold and boarded it out. After the job went up he was conveniently out when I knocked for the money. I took the boards off the next day and he went mad. He started shouting at me down the phone, calling me a money-grabbing bastard. He said he would not pay until he was ready. People forget that it's not unusual for others to take exception to that kind of talk; sometimes they call around... to sort the problem out face to face. When he answered the door I grabbed him by the throat, pinned him against the wall, and explained the facts of life to him. I suppose I could have argued more but it was quicker this way. He paid on the spot and apologised for his behaviour too. There were many such instances over the years; it went with the job. One of the good things about being a scaffolder is that you never have to worry about your weight. Lifting several tons of steel every day and climbing around like a Chimpanzee keeps you really strong and fit. I was getting on a bit but was still as strong as an ox, and able to hold my own with kids half my age. It was something I was really proud of. You also get a great tan in the summer working in your shorts all day.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (chapter forty one)
pommer on 27-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter forty one)
Work and play goes on Mike.this chapter flows easy, but I have to read it twice to get to grips with all the names and relationships.An interesting phase of your life. Happy New Year to you both, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Hello again Peter,I hope all is well with you. Thanks for continuing to read my story. It must seem a little convoluted at times HaHa! These were good times for me,sadly not to last; but for a while the sun shone on us.

Bozzz on 28-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter forty one)
There you go again - rearranging the pieces of the jigsaw of life you have crafted for yourself - each comes like a cyber pop-up. Your idea of chugging along peacefully is my idea of mayhem - I can't begin to think how you coped, young man.
Yours aye, my best, David


Author's Reply:
I like your view on my life, to be honest its always been a bit of a puzzle HaHa! So good of you to keep the faith David.
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter forty) (posted on: 22-12-14)
St Lucia.... and something I should be used to...picking up the pieces.

St. Lucia was incredible. Neither of us had ever been to the Caribbean before, it was a whole new experience. I had booked all-inclusive as I didn't want any nasty surprises at the end (in case they had stopped the cards by then). The original Hotel we booked was cancelled, they said it had closed for refurbishment. They quickly found another and off we went. It proved to be an eight hour flight and very boring, when we arrived all that didn't matter; we were in the Caribbean. The Hotel was sadly not on the beach, it was set back on a hill; although with good views overlooking the local village towards the sea, and the staff were really helpful. They laid on a shuttle bus to the local beaches twice a day so it was fine in the end. We discovered that they had never had people on 'All Inclusive' before, and had no idea how it worked. It was a bit of a nuisance as we were the only ones on it. We had to keep asking for things, and explaining to the staff that we didn't have to pay. After a few days the Manageress said, ''I give in... You tell me what you want and when you want it, and I will see you get it.'' I gave her a big hug and said ''everything is supposed to be free'' and everything was after that. We had two beaches close to us. Reduit was the main one and another that Lesley liked called Pigeon Island. Reduit had all the water sports and a couple of good bars. Pigeon was to chill on, as there was nothing there except us and some weird crabs. We met up with a local guy on Reduit who had a boat for water-skiing. I asked if he would take us around the other side of the bay, as we had heard that it was good for snorkelling. I negotiated a price and agreed on the next day. He was waiting when we arrived, I asked his name, he said he was called Friday, and off we went. The trip in the boat didn't take long but it was great. We got to see the island from a different perspective and decided we would want to see more of it. In the other bay we swam off the boat to a small reef leading off from the shore. The beach was private belonging to another hotel. There was a startling amount of fish; every colour and shape you could imagine. We were in heaven. We stayed about an hour and then returned to Reduit beach. I asked the guy if he would take us out for a day to some other places. After we negotiated a price he said the best place was Anse Chasenay, about an hour down the coast. We arranged to go a couple of days later as he wanted to work the beach. There were a few youngsters and he thought he could make some easy money water skiing for a few days. It wasn't going very well so I asked if I could have a go. He didn't believe I could do it, but off we went. I got up first time and stayed up, switching from side to side and jumping the wake. I stayed on two skis so as not to make a twat of myself, as half the beach was watching. We went around the bay and back to the beach. I let go as my arms were coming out of there sockets. He was over the moon as my efforts encouraged a lot more to give it a go. I skied most days after this and he stopped charging me as I was an advertising expense. The trip down the coast proved to be the highlight of our holiday. It was so good we went again. Friday brought his girlfriend with him and the four of us set out early. We called in at Marigold bay and a few other places on route, including Sofrey, a local harbour village. It was the last stop that was the best. The hotel at Anse Chasenay was five Star and was hidden in the forest just back of the beach. The main restaurant and the dive shop were on the beach itself... and what a beach. It was everything you wanted a beach to be. Palm trees and hammocks; clear water teaming with fish; a preserved reef with outstanding coral; and not too many people. We snorkelled for an hour or so and loved every minute. Lesley was a bit unsure of the shoal of Barracuda that accompanied us, but she soon got used to them. It made all I had done prior to this seem, with the exception of Mauritius, tame and bland. The colours of the fish and coral were unbelievable, as were their shapes. Snorkelling in the Med would never be the same again. We went in a taxi for a trip around the Island a few days later, but much preferred the boat trips with Friday. I saw England stuff Germany, with Michael Owen scoring a hat trick. I watched it in a bar on Reduit beach with a load of other guys, some of whom were Germans. We had agreed that the losers would buy the drinks. Mine's a cold beer please! That was a real treat. All in all it was a good Holiday, but we were still a little unsure whether we would return to the Caribbean, as I didn't get on with the humidity; and to be honest, neither of us felt safe at night. There was one other thing that put us off, when we went sailing down the coast, Friday and his girl stayed in the boat the first time, the second time I said I would buy them lunch in the hotel beach bar. He said they wouldn't serve him as he was not a tourist; and so it proved to be. They didn't even want him on their beach. It was the same in all the hotels. He lived there and couldn't get a drink outside of a rum shack, how sad is that. I felt really bad about it and complained to no avail. Prior to setting the ball rolling, I had salted away a few grand to get by on and to buy back the business. It was crazy. Bert and my other two guys went on working, doing the jobs as they came in as if nothing had happened. I paid them in cash as it came in. It was so weird that I had gone bust, but nothing had changed except they had taken my bankcards and I was not allowed a bank account. Lesley had opened her own bank account with Lloyds in preparation and I had set up a building society account with the Halifax. All the staff had gone or would now be self-employed. Roger had gone, G.G had gone; and all our problems had evaporated in a matter of weeks. It was truly astonishing. It had been a bit traumatic while it was all going through, and I'm sure Lesley has something to say about that. It worked out in the end though, and life carried on as normal. Bert and I now worked the business but he was now self-employed. If we needed more men we brought them in for cash. No stamp or tax to deduct, no contract to throw back at me if things went wrong, no holiday pay; and I could now keep a better eye on them. We didn't do the big contracts any more so there was more cash for me to play with. The best move I could have made. I'm making this all sound easy, but it wasn't and it took a lot of setting up. Only in retrospect do I realise how much. I owe some people a great deal of thanks for the help and advice they gave me. Most of all I owe Lesley for trusting me and standing by me through the whole mess. Nothing to me, as my life has always been chaotic; but for her it must have been a nightmare. There must have been times when she wondered who she'd thrown her lot in with. From frying pan to fire it must have seemed.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter forty)
pommer on 22-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter forty)
A lovely description Mike,I could see it all. Just one point.In paragraph 2 overlooking is on word.Hope you don't mind me mentioning it. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, your comments are always welcome.
Have a great festive season old friend.
Mike

sweetwater on 23-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter forty)
The holidays sound idyllic, however I do try to read without too much envy, a handful of one week holidays( mostly raining) in the south of England over a lifetime doesn't have the same appeal. This chapter reads, to me, as if you are entering a much more settled part of your life.
All the very best to you and your family for Christmas and the coming year.Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks Sue, I have always said I've been fortunate to have the times and see the things I have; but just imagine what it would have been like with just the shit times HaHa! Your support has been much appreciated.
Have a great time Sue, and don't let the bad things spoil it... Kick them into touch for a while 🙂
Mike
XxX

Bozzz on 25-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter forty)
Well, my friend, your descriptive powers make your travel writing as good as ever - a smooth time under smooth waters.
Envy-generating stuff. You seem to have a way of collecting boatmen - or is it Lesley's secret? Back at the ranch the scattered pieces remain as difficult as ever. Plough on....Yours, David Sorry for delay - Xmas invasions from Devon family lot. Best wishes for Xmas.

Author's Reply:
Much appreciated David as always. I guess the boatman come with my love of the sea HaHa! Hope that all is as you would wish for. Hope to see you and Meg soon.
Mike


The Times of my Life ( chapter thirty nine) (posted on: 19-12-14)
Some good news, and our big day. It was the calm before the storm; but I get us through it.

While we were waiting for the divorce to come through, one of the downstairs flats came on the market. It was only a studio, but would be a useful addition if I could get it. I phoned the freeholder, they came around and we settled on a price of 22k. All I had to do now was get a mortgage. By re-mortgaging the flat we were in to get the deposit, I obtained the mortgage to buy the studio. It meant we were stretching things, but it was the right thing to do. Graham sorted out a solicitor and away we went. The flat was a real bonus at that price, but the next thing was what to do with it. It was easy really, and didn't take a lot of thinking through. We moved the office downstairs and got our bedroom back. Lesley then set up the office as she wanted it; we gained the extra bedroom for Jane and a second bathroom as well. Our second bedroom became a dining room. It was a total result. Lesley and I were now well established and planning our wedding. We could not decide whether to have a big one with all our friends or to just have family. In the end we decided that we would just have the family, as it meant too much money with a large bash. We were also thinking of holding the reception at the Clifton and inviting everyone we knew. We would need to put some money over the bar and arrange a small buffet. In the end we went for 'just the family' and all our old friends complained. I thought they were not there for us at the beginning, so what was all the fuss about. The only person I really felt bad about was Mary. She would have loved to be there; but I think her sister would have killed her. None of my old friends understand why Mary is a friend to us, or why she would want to be at our wedding. I have tried to explain how much of a friend she has been over the years, but they just don't get it; and I don't care. She has always been there for me and always stood by me no matter what. We held the wedding at the local registry office, and then walked over to the Holiday Inn for a meal and a few drinks. My sister Amanda and her family came, and of course Norah, Carol and Jane were there. My best Man was Bert, who would have killed me if he wasn't, and he brought his wife Carol; a small but happy band. The date was the 9th of November 2001. I could not have been happier than I was at that moment. We didn't have the big expensive Honeymoon in the Maldives we had originally planned. To be honest, we had been so long getting the divorce sorted out we were just happy to be married. Instead we went to the Royal Bath Spar Hotel for a couple of days. In hindsight it was probably the same price as two weeks in the bloody Maldives! We had a great time. Dave and his wife came over for a meal, and it was nice to have all the pampering that a five star gives you. Mr and Mrs Green were well satisfied with the proceedings. Being married again was a bit weird. I never expected to be married more than once, let alone three times. They do say third time lucky and I hoped this was how it would be for me. It certainly felt right. Everyone I knew told me, and they continue to tell me, that I'm a lucky man to have Lesley. What they don't say is that she is lucky to have me! It's not just Lesley I've been fortunate with; it's the whole family. I could not have expected the help and support that Norah, Carol and Jane have given to me, or how happy they were for us. I will admit there were times when I doubted we would ever get there. 2001-2005 Twist, Stick or Bust? Decisions! Decisions! Back at work it was time for me to make some big decisions. I had been talking things over with some friends who had been made bankrupt. An old friend called Steven told me to go and see a company in Ivybridge who specialised in that sort of thing. I spent time with an insolvency expert who was a mine of information; the same guy I had met when Mark went tits up all those years before. I discovered that if I took my time and made sure I had all the bases covered, I could even win. The problem was I had a business that was still providing a reasonable living for me, though only just. I still had money leaking out in several directions. Roger was still being paid; I had more staff than I had work for at times; overdraft fees and a bank loan. The last year had drained me financially and emotionally; I was running on empty in all respects. It would eventually catch up with me and the bank would call me in. They had already been less than helpful. Time was running out and we were approaching 'umbrella time' with the bank. Unless more large contracts could be found, we would soon be buried in debt. Not likely in the present climate. Could I ever pay back the bank loans? Did I even want to go through all that again? The answer was probably not. I was of an age where it looked like the future held too much working for nothing while we paid off all the debt; then a poor retirement to look forward to. Working for a poor retirement didn't make any sense. I made my decision and set out to arrange my own bankruptcy. What I had been told was...even if you went to the wall you still had the right to earn a living. As it turned out no one, not even the receiver was allowed to take away the tools of your trade (and he told me this). Scaffolding was my trade. They had to give me the chance to buy it back at a reduced figure after valuation. We also made sure that the flats were mortgaged to the hilt, so there was little profit or equity in the Bank taking them back. Lesley was part owner and it was her place of residence; so all they could do was let her buy out my equity. As there wasn't any, it was game set and match. Armed with this knowledge I proceeded with all speed. I went to the Official Receiver's office to declare myself insolvent. As soon as you do this you are given a letter with a case number, and no one, not the bank nor the taxman, are allowed to hassle you or your family. For the next few months we were in limbo and just did what we were asked to do. They would have the assets of the business valued and I should assist the appointed valuer when called upon. I had to pay 300 to register my case, and that was about it. The date of my bankruptcy was 11th of February 2002. The Valuer knew nothing about scaffolding and asked where it all was. I showed him about half of my jobs. He asked what it was worth and I said about 5k. Thanking me, he left. I will not name him, but I had known him for twenty odd years. The insolvency man asked what my offer was and we settled on 2K. I even got to keep the company name. Lesley bought out my interest in the flats for 250 and became the sole owner of the property. The only people we owed money to were the Bank, the Tax Man and The VAT Man. I had squared all of our business creditors and told them what I was doing. No-one in business ever gave a shit about the Banks or the tax man; I didn't either. Going bust also allowed me to get Roger off my back. In the end we wrote off somewhere in the region of 80k and no one could get to us, as long as I kept my nose clean and toed the line. Oh and I forgot to say, Lesley and I went to the Island of St Lucia for two weeks all inclusive, on the Gold card before I pulled the plug. Thanks for all your help Nat West. It felt good to get some back for 1977.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life ( chapter thirty nine)
Bozzz on 20-12-2014
The Times of my Life ( chapter thirty nine)
Never a dull moment - your life hectic and riddled with uncertainty, but your amazing resilience as a man shines through. Same applies to Lesley - well matched. Somehow one still gets the feeling, nay hope, that some form of peace and quiet are just around the corner - it can't possibly go on like it has been. Let's get there Mike.....Yours David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading again David, hope is something of a mantra for me 🙂
Mike

pommer on 20-12-2014
The Times of my Life ( chapter thirty nine)
Well Mike,what ups and downs of a very hectic life.How will it go on? I am looking forward to the next part of this very interesting tale. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, pleased your still reading my story HaHa! Still more to come if your up for it.
Mike

sweetwater on 21-12-2014
The Times of my Life ( chapter thirty nine)
Hi Mike, finally managed to get back on here to finish the reading of everyone's submissions. School holidays = never ending grandchild minding. Your business life does not get any easier does it! You obviously have a very good business head. Still reading with interest, looking forward to next chapter, Sue xx

Author's Reply:
So pleased you are still reading me Sue, not sure about the business head as I always seem to screw up HaHa! Just back on the baby sitting ladder as Lesley became a grandmother for the first time a month ago... Loving it!
Mike
XxX


The Times of my Life (chapter thirty eight) (posted on: 15-12-14)
Doing what we do best... a break from the stress.

Our next adventure was to be Rome. No matter how bad things were, I always insisted we have our adventures together. You may have gathered that holidays and weekend breaks are what I live for. Rome has always been my favourite City, and always will be. To walk the same streets as the Caesars and sit waiting for the Gladiators in the Coliseum is just amazing. But it's not the whole picture. Rome is a feeling you get like no other. Walking through the streets from the centre towards the Pantheon; or standing at the top of the Spanish steps, and looking down across the City; it's simply breath-taking. The first time you enter the Church of St. Peter's and see the size and splendour of the place, you are left speechless; the view from the outside platform on top of the Dome is beyond compare. The Vatican is a day trip on its own, and not just for the Sistine Chapel; wonderful though it is. So much to see, and only one life time to see it in. The first time we went I booked us five days, as I knew there was so much to do and I wanted to get the best out of it for us. We arrived and Lesley was eager to start exploring. We were staying in a part of Rome I was not familiar with so we bought a map and started out towards the Spanish Steps. When we reached the junction of the Via Veneto I knew where I was. We kept seeing monuments and statues, fountains and beautiful squares. Lesley's excitement was visible and infectious. When we reached the Steps and she saw the view I knew she was hooked. Top of the list was the Trevi Fountain, a short walk from the bottom of the Steps. You can approach the fountain via a narrow lane leading off from the Via Condotti (posh shops). Half way through the lane I asked Lesley to close her eyes, and not open them until I said. I led her to the wall around the fountain, and told her to open her eyes. She was speechless. It was a dream come true for her, as she turned to me I took her photo; we still have it priceless. From then on I knew the trip would be the very best; and so it proved. We did all the tourist sites and then some. Saw the view from the Dome of St. Peters, The Vatican, The Coliseum, The Forum. Walked the streets just for fun. Our Hotel was further out than I had imagined, so eating in the Centre was difficult. We found a place like the one in Athens, a sort of bar come chip shop, and it was hilarious. We went most nights just to watch the people. There was a group of older regulars who soon got talking to us, telling us stories of the others who came in to eat. One night a group of American women came in. The old guys were soon chatting them up and moving in on them; it was so funny to watch. The food was basic Chicken and chip, but so tasty. The wine was really cheap and drinkable, so we were in heaven. After a couple of days I asked Lesley if she would like to see Pompeii and the ruins. I had travelled down from Rome before and it's a great trip. The motorway has some excellent views including the Monastery of Monte Casino, where a famous WW2 battle took place. We set off the next day heading first to Naples, a short drive from the ruins. Naples is not good to approach from the road, but the inner City is okay. You can get a ferry from the port side to the Isle of Capri. Pompeii itself never fails to impress and no matter how many times you visit you always find more to see. Lesley was fascinated and we walked the old town hand in hand marvelling at the frescoes, and how much of the City remained. They are reconstructing all the time, we visited a posh Villa with pool and beautiful archways all decorated with pictures. I showed her the brothel section and the lurid frescoes advertising the girls' specialities; not sure how that went!  Back in Rome, next a trip I had not done before. We went to Florence by rail. The train travels right across Tuscany and we could see the hilltop towns and villages. I made a promise to myself to spend time there one day. The Station in Florence is right in the centre of town, so leaving Rome at 8am you can be there in time for a leisurely breakfast at 10am.... by the Duomo. Florence is a gem of a town with an atmosphere all of its own. We went everywhere and had an amazing day. It was not possible to get tickets for the main Galleries but the Ponte Vecchio Bridge was truly amazing. The visit to Florence was a wonderful end to our trip and neither of us will ever forget it, even though we have been many times since. It was soon time to return home, look at the photos, and plan the next adventure. In April 2001, we took Carol to London for a little R&R, she was getting stressed out at Uni with her first exams. We stayed next to Tower Bridge in a decent Hotel and did all the sites, including the London Eye. The views are well worth the hanging around. We caught the tube most days into the city and walked everywhere. Covent Garden was a smash hit as there were loads of excellent buskers, and we loved them. We went up to Buck Palace to see the Queen, walking through St. James Park to get there. We did the usual suspects... Trafalgar Square and the Piccadilly bit as well. All in all it was a successful trip, and I believe that Carol was glad to let off a bit of steam. I remember we were in a pub just off Trafalgar, I looked at Carol to ask a question and she had gone to sleep in her seat. She really was tired from studying, poor girl. We had a regular joke going on while we were up there. On the tube when the doors opened, a metallic tanoy said in a loud voice 'Mind the Gap'. Carol changed this to 'Mind the Twat' apparently it was in my honour. During Carol's time at University I was privileged to have her phone me up day and night to offload her problems and fears. It may sound strange to use the word privileged, but that's how it felt. I was not her father and could never have expected that degree of intimacy and trust from her. I can only hope that I did not betray that trust or advise the wrong thing. Carol like Jane, is very special to me and I will always feel proud that she chose me as her sounding board. The 9th of July 2001 is a date filled with mixed emotions for me, as it was the day that my Decree Absolute came through. I was filled with a sense of relief and joy as I could now marry Lesley; and a sense of loss for something that I once cherished. I said before that no one goes into a marriage thinking that it's going to fail, and no-one marries someone they don't love (well I didn't anyway). I am sure that everyone must feel this.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter thirty eight)
e-griff on 15-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty eight)
Ahhh lovely! This poor chap deserved a break.

Author's Reply:
Hello John, this is Lesley Mike's wife. He will not be able to use the computer for a few days due to a neck injury and has asked me to let you know. As to the content of this chapter the whole experience was wonderful; and yes, very much needed.

Thanks for your comments.
Lesley Green

pommer on 15-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty eight)
Enjoyable description of the eternal city.Well done. Peter.

Author's Reply:
Hello Peter, Mike's asked me to say thank you as he cant use the computer at this moment due to a neck injury. Thanks for reading.
Lesley Green

e-griff on 17-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty eight)
Lesley, I'm sure everyone on UKA wishes Mike the best, and a speedy recovery.

Author's Reply:


Webber (Amsterdam) (posted on: 15-12-14)
A re post...I've taken another stab at this after some constructive crit; I think it's better now. If anyone can be bothered to read it again, I would be pleased if you could have another look. Mike

The Watchers The curtains twitched, someone was looking down at the pavement below. From his side of the street he could see only the hand holding the curtain back, a woman's hand by the look of it, too delicate for a man's; he could make out rings on the wedding finger. Wilhelm had been watching the house opposite for three days; this was his first sight of anything. He knew they were there four of them had entered; laden with bags. Others had tailed them from the train station, the photos taken had shown three men of Middle Eastern skin tone and appearance, Saudi maybe; the woman was white. Her cheek bones indicated possibly European. With the light skin and dark hair quite possibly English. The data base had given up nothing on the faces, still they were possible terrorists. They'd been under surveillance since they were photographed conversing with others in Hamburg; bags were handed over; what could have been money changed hands. They boarded a train for Amsterdam the same day; since then they had been in the house. Efforts were being made to get equipment into place to monitor the conversations, and a live feed camera to see what was happening inside. It was slow work, it wasn't enough to grab these four; they wanted the whole ring. It was always like this, time consuming. His reports, like those of the rest in the team would find their way back to the office; others would say when the net would be hauled in. A car drew up outside, the curtain twitched again; this time a face looked down. His camera clicked on fast speed, the images were relayed back to the office. On alert now he focused back on the car, its door opening; a man in a coat and hat got out. The camera whirred again. The man stood facing the door, his hat obscuring his face. As it opened, he stepped forwards into the house raising something from inside his coat 'Shit, a gun!' There was no sound, but he saw the man in front fall back the gunman caught him; pushing him back into the house while kicking the door closed. It had taken just a few seconds but the whole thing was on film. It didn't take much to work out what came next; the only question was 'do we go in?' 'Hold position! Hold position!' The Voice screamed in his ear. 'They will all die if we don't do something now' he shouted back. 'They'll be dead before we get there, our cover will be blownhold position.' 'Stefan are you still in position opposite?' the voice said. 'Yes, in position.' 'Are you able to follow his car when he re- appears?' 'Yes, I am facing the right way, I can do it but no promises in the traffic; I will need back up en route.' 'Wilhelmjoin Stefan immediately, go with him, but keep your distance; we don't want a fire fight in the main street.' 'All units stand by at intersections details of the suspect's car are being forwarded. Wait and follow if the target car appearswe need this man alive. Are we all clear on this?' Wilhelm continued surveillance from Stefan's car. It was as if nothing had happened, there was no explosion, no flashes of fire from the upstairs room; a ghost had entered the house and death had followed him. They waited but there was nothing, after an hour it was decided to go inthey found the bodies of three men and one woman the ghost had disappeared. The Ghost Stepping through the doorway he caught the man as he fell back, lowering him to the floor. He moved on up the staircase, talking out loud as he did ''Stay there and listen, someone was across the road; wait for me to call before you come back up'' He spoke in English with a pronounced accent, the ones upstairs would hear, be re-assured; stay where they were. until he reached them. At the first floor landing a face looked around a door near the front of the house. He recognised the man from the pictures on his phone. ''You are Mustapha?'' ''Mustapha, yes I am Mustapha, are you the one we are expecting?'' ''Go back in the room I need to talk to you all together'' The gun came out from under his coat; he held it by his side as he stepped into the room; shielding it from those within. They stood together with a look of apprehension on their faces another of the men held a gun, it was pointing at the floor; a mistake. ''Is anything wrong?'' Mustapha said. Once inside he looked at them to be sure. ''No nothing is wrong, everything is right''. He shot each of them in the head, and again in through the heart as they lay on the floor; it was over in a moment. The one they had been waiting for was already dead, though not before giving up his secretes. This did not save him; he wasn't expecting it too. He unscrewed the silencer, placing the gun back in a shoulder holster. From his coat he pulled a pair of thin rubber gloves, after removing the leather ones he was wearinghe pulled them on. Walking back to the landing he opened the door to a bedroom. The coat and hat he hung in a wardrobe; the leather gloves he kept. There were other clothes in there, it would be a while before they realised. Moving with precision, he searched the bodies and their belongings. It was not a long job. Placing wallets, mobile phones, passports and any identifying evidence into a shoulder bag, he moved onto the cases standing in the corner. Flipping the latch on one. It was just as they said, inside a hidden compartment were guns and explosives. He searched each in turn leaving everything as he found it. Time to go the police wouldn't wait much longer. Walking to the rear and up one flight of stairs, he found the sky light on the upstairs landing; it opened onto a flat roof. Taking the rubber gloves off, he stuffed them in a pocket, replacing the leather ones. He threw the shoulder bag out first, climbing out, he moved from house to house down the street. Reaching the end he looked over the fire escape was ten feet below; not so far to drop. Back in the main street, he crossed to walk beside a canal, finding a seat he sat and made a call on his mobile. ''It's done'' was all he said. After finishing, he dropped the phone into the water. Walking the short distance to Rembrandt Square he sat outside a bar to wait; and enjoy a beer. Across the other side of town in an upstairs room, two men and a woman had sat; waiting for the news from the phone call. The Voice ''Okay it's done, your turn to help us'' Webber beamed his 'hard' look across the desk as he spoke. ''We need to move on this now, or the trail will go cold; you don't want heroin on your streets any more than we do. It's these drugs that are financing radical groups''. ''Don't worry Webber, everything is being arranged, we appreciate your help with our 'unwanted friends'. We are flying you in on Friday; you only have to wait a day. Your work is done here. and we are grateful. Maybe one day we can return the favourI don't think your government has a shoot to kill policy either'' The wry smile on her lips covered the tension running through her. It had been difficult, but the end justified the means; at least that's what they told each other at the hastily arranged meeting twenty four hours earlier. She comforted herself that the decisions were way above her pay grade. The shooting would not make the morning papers, why frighten the public more than they already are. The need to know basis had excluded even their own special branch. If it came out we were covering the situation, a rival gangdrug deal gone bad; who would care in the end. She stood up ''I think a little late lunch would go down well, care to join me?'' ''We need to wait for Brim, can we catch up later? He won't find us if we leave now'' ''Of course Webber, ring when he gets here, for now I say goodbye'' As she left the room Marshal rolled his eyes looking at Webber ''She's one hard faced bitch, no emotions..but great tits!'' They both laughed out loud, cutting the tension that had filled the room while waiting for Brims call. Smith had sanctioned the trade off, it was hastily arranged when news of the group heading to Amsterdam was detected. The exchange of heroin for arms was filmed and shown to the group. The drugs had been brought in from Afghanistan following the route Webber was to eliminate; the 'two birds with one stone' opportunity was considered too good to miss. In exchange for the kill the Dutch would fly them in under cover to the Dutch area of operations, along with the equipment needed. They would also provide transportation on from there. No one outside of the group (now including their Dutch counterparts) would know their purpose.
Archived comments for Webber (Amsterdam)
pommer on 16-12-2014
Webber (Amsterdam)
Yes Mike, it is a long time since I read Webber, but this is decisively improved. I liked reading it again,remembering looking through the first parts, and sending you corrections. It seems ages ago.This is good. I am sorry to hear about you neck problem and I hope that it will soon improve. Thank you Lesley for letting me know.I am very busy at present with one thing and another.I find little time to write and read.However mustn't grumble. Best wishes to you both, your friend Peter.

Author's Reply:


The Times of my Life (chapter thirty seven) (posted on: 12-12-14)
Back in the normal world.... This is part two of a requested re post; the other part is also on here.

Some months later a major problem came in the form of a mini recession in the building industry. Blue Circle decided to close its factory and in so doing destroyed a third of our income. This was a real body blow. I was gutted, as was everyone. We called all the sites and local builders but there was a turn down throughout the Industry. We had also lost another contract with the Co-op. They had their own maintenance department and we did all their sub-contracted work. They closed it down and subcontracted the work to other builders, most of whom had their own scaffolding subcontractors. On the positive side, an ideal time to get rid of some of the work force.. a partner for instance. I hatched a plan. My back was against the wall again and there was no time for Mr. Nice Guy. I had to save what I could. I didn't have to lie at all as the business was in trouble. We were losing money. Too many staff and not enough work for them. I had been living on cash alone for quite a while. I called Roger in and showed him the books. We visited the accountant who agreed that things were bad and asked what we had in mind. I told him we could reduce the workforce and I would go back on tools full time. Roger would have to run the rest, and work the office side of things with Lesley, who still had a full time job elsewhere. I could see that my accountant was sceptical. He knew what Roger was like, but there was no alternative. We kept it up for a while but the lack of big contracts was killing us. I got the accountant to call Roger and try to get him to understand that we would be bankrupt if we didn't reduce the debt burden. Roger saw his life going down the pan and asked me what we should do. I told him that he should retire, and that I would try to pay him as and when I could, in cash. If we went down he would lose his house. It took him a few months to think it over but then he went. Part one was over. I should point out that we were not the only firm in trouble at the time. It was right across the industry and redundancy was everywhere. Now Roger was gone, I had to take a more direct line with the books and quoting, so I was spending less time with the men. I realised I had been right about the material going missing, and it was significant. I made up my mind to get back to basics, and work with one lorry and a couple of men until things picked up. I was paying Roger off at 250 a week in cash, so he was still a drain on the finances, but less than before. I called the men in and told them that I could no longer afford to employ them. Most of them agreed and did the right thing. One guy decided to ask for redundancy and in the end I had to pay up. This left me with a minimum of staff. One member of my scaffolding staff a bit different than the rest was Neil. He joined us a little later than most and wasn't with me for long. I mention him as he played a significant role in our lives for about six years. He was going out with Lesley's daughter Jane. Although their relationship ended I am still in regular contact with him to this day. Neil had been going out with Jane since their school days. He was a nice enough lad but came from a bad area. I was taking him under my wing, showing him another side of life that he could aspire too. For example, you don't wear a silly hat at the dinner table, although I can't believe I just said that! It was working, so I took him on as a trainee scaffolder to give him a leg up. His job had been flipping burgers at MacDonald's. He had one of those silly haircuts and a stud through his tongue that had to go. The men were partial to a Friday lunchtime drink at the Clifton, and Neil joined us one lunch time; not a good move. He tried to keep up with us; another bad move. We told him if he didn't get his hair sorted out we would do it with a Stanley Knife next Monday. He looked frightened but there was more to come. One of my men called Paul asked if he could see the stud. Neil took it out of his tongue and handed it to him; bad move. Paul swallowed the back of it and nailed the other bit to a post in the bar. Oh well, it sorted him out. The stupid haircut was gone on Monday morning. Neil became an excellent worker, though he was very young and at times it showed. I grew to like him a lot and regarded him as one of the family. He and Jane were far too young to have a serious relationship, even though they had been together nearly six years. It's almost impossible to tell someone who thinks they are in love that it's not going to work, but I tried. In the end they parted and we had to suffer the trauma for a while. It took ages for Jane to get over it. I told them both it would in no way affect Neil's job, and I meant it. He stayed with me for some time after their split. He went on to work for other firms, and has made a good life for himself. I am proud of him and his achievements, and the small part I played in them.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter thirty seven)
Bozzz on 12-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty seven)
Taken together with the previous one, the whole situation rings so true to me, for we (our whole family) suffered similar madness from a bipolar narcissistic woman who was my son's partner for seven years - a well-known Hollywood actress. Big court case - she lost.

The description of what happened to you at your erstwhile wife's hands Mike was very good writing, but understandably painful to do. The aftermath in this second piece was also painful, but in comparison, somewhat anticlimactic. Please go on.....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David, I had to split the two parts on re posting; after I placed the 'missing' bit back in it would have been to long a post. Re living some of my life is just as traumatic as the first time around. I was sorry to read of your families problem; life can be shit sometimes and you don't know what's hit you.
Mike

pommer on 12-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty seven)
Well Mike, this is a little bit of an anti-climax but still a very traumatic episode.Throughout these parts of your life I must say I admire you for not loosing your cool more often. I think I would have done, Having had a bit of a short fuse in my younger years. Well written as always, and most enjoyable to read. Best wishes to you and Leslie, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks again Peter, so kind of you to keep the faith 🙂
I spent so much time being an angry young man, I think I wore that part of me out HaHa!

Seasons best to you and yours.
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter thirty six) (posted on: 12-12-14)
a re post with the requested 'missing bit' Its not a good time for me.

I bought another guitar, a really good one. I remembered most of the songs I had written. Playing got me writing again and, as Lesley seemed to enjoy what was coming out, I kept up with it. I had no intentions of playing in public any more, it was just nice to play for friends and my own amusement. We met an old friend called Mandy whom I had known years ago. She was also a friend of Mary's and was working part time in another old friend's Pub. Peter Pratt was a great bloke and always full of fun. Tragically, he was to have a heart attack and die not long after we met up again. We all miss him and still talk about him a lot. And no it was nothing to do with me! Mandy was married and her husband played the guitar. She asked if we would we like to have a jam together? Of course I said yes. We began to meet regularly. Brian was a 'by the book' player. He could read the music but he had no soul. By this I mean that he could not improvise or play with expression. That was OK because I could, so he did the rhythm and I did the fancy bits and it worked. We strung a few Eagles' songs together and I tried him on Blues. He was crap at this and I started to lose interest. I showed him some easy riffs and he gave it his best. We were friends so I stuck with it. I taught him the chords to a few of my songs and he liked that, so things improved again. Lesley started Line Dancing classes with Mandy. It didn't last long but I wish I had seen it! The relationship drifted but it was fun while it lasted. Talking of wish lists, holidays are not the only thing you can wish for, and Lesley had always wanted her own sports car. She had always wanted a Toyota Celica GT, so that's what she got. I had a good thing going at one of the local dealerships and got a great deal. It was red and had all the bits. Like a dog with two tails, she couldn't stop smiling for days. If I'm honest I loved it as well. We kept the car for several years, but after my Mondeo went it was getting harder for Norah to get in and out. It had to go. Its replacement was another Mondeo, but a fairly new one; boring but totally reliable and practical. What on earth is happening to me??? We went to different places now to build some memories of our own. The Cotswolds, I hadn't stayed up there before, so we decided to go for a weekend. The Hatton Court is just outside Cheltenham and right on the edge of the National Park. It proved to be a lovely Hotel and easy to find. Bill and Jenny had recommended it. We toured all over the place, Bourton on the Water; Stow in the Wold, all the usual suspects. It was a great time away and helped to build our relationship. It's difficult when you have a past. You try so hard not to talk about it, but it's there like a page you keep referring to. Gathering our own memories and experiences could only help us adjust. But the Devil was about to fart in my face again. He was just waiting for me to relax and let my guard down. On the 29th September 2000 an incident occurred that was to have a devastating effect on me. A couple of months earlier my son decided to return to Plymouth, and asked if I would help him find somewhere to live, I said no problem and while he was looking he could live with us. He was with us a short while then found a flat to rent. He then decided to buy a housewould I help him to find one, of course I would; and did. I got the price down by five grand and he went for it. It was just up the road from us overlooking the park and had sea views from the rear. He wanted it completely re doing inside, new kitchen and bathroom, decorating plastering all the bloody lot. A price was agreed with a builder I was using for flat conversions and renovation work; he also did work for several agents and was well respected. I arrived home from work one evening to find my first wife sitting in my lounge; Lesley and Carol were there and had a worried look on their faces. I asked what she was doing there, she said she wanted an explanation of why I had stolen money from my son; she accused me of colluding with the builder to steal from him by upping the price of the job and splitting the proceeds. I looked at her as if she was mad, I couldn't believe my ears. That she could even think it was beyond my comprehension. Lesley asked her to leave immediately, she refused saying she wanted me to give her two thousand pounds on the spot. I told Lesley to call the police as I could feel my temper rising and was afraid of what I may do. My ex stood up and started screaming at me, calling me all the bastards under the sun, and telling Lesley and Carol that I was a shit and they would be well off without me; she said she would get solicitors on to me and have me in court. I lost it and went for her but Carrie and Lesley screamed and I just stopped myself. I told her to get out or I would not be responsible for her safety.She left. The following day my son came around and we argued on the doorstep. I asked him why he had sent her around, was he mad did he really think I had stolen from him. He said he didn't know, just that the bills were more than quoted and the builder had stopped work. One thing led to another and he then said he did believe I was responsible. I did a stupid thing, I hit him and grabbed him by the shirt, threw him into the road; he ran for his car. I should point out that he was not a child, he was in his thirties. The next few days were a blur, I was devastated. I had done so much for him, including outfitting him at a local shop from head to toe so he could go for interviews. I lent him my van for transport, gave him money, and let him stay with us until he had a rented flat. I couldn't believe what was happening. Within a few days I had a note on a scrap of paper pushed through the door from my daughter saying she wanted no more to do with me and I was not to contact her children any more. She said I had been a bad father to them and her children. As the days went by I had tried to talk sense into my son, but he was doing drugs and drinking too much; totally paranoid. It was all too much for me and I nearly had a breakdown. A meeting was arraigned between the builder and them to ask the questions, when I got there they had a gorilla on the door to stop me from entering the conversation. I phoned my men and Bert and co. arrived and dragged the bouncer off to one side. I went in to find the Ex screaming at the builder to admit that I was behind a scam to rip my son off for about ten grand; he looked terrified. When I came into the room she turned on me. I gave her one warning to back off or I would call the police myself. She then decided to leave with my son saying solicitors would be notified. I blocked the doorway and said your turn to listen. I told her this was all bollox and got the builder to tell her why the price had gone up; my son had changed the specifications several times ordering better quality units for the kitchen etc he kept changing his mind. I had walked away in the end saying I wanted no more to do with it. He was so out of his head, some days he had trouble talking to me. The builder had stopped work as my son had refused to pay him any more. The Ex didn't want to hear this as now she had the bit between her teeth and was up and running. She had the chance to get her revenge and split me away from my family.and she did. I was never to see any of them again. I was not at my daughter's wedding and have missed out on seeing my grandchildren grow into adults; by now I could well be a great grandfatherI will never know. Over time friends have tried to contact and talk to them but to no avail. Losing my family was the hardest time of my life. I should have seen the warning signs, but I was so happy I just ignored them. I was to have, as I thought, my family back. I forgot about how vindictive my Ex could be; she was never going to let that happen. My sister went to my daughter's wedding to show the family flag, she told me my Ex was preening and telling everyone how wonderful it all was, she ignored my sister. My son spoke to her saying wasn't it brilliant having everyone there. My sister asked 'hadn't he noticed someone was missing?' apparently he stormed off. My past had finally caught up with me and it was time to pay the price. I was fine with that, with the exception of the stories told to my grandchildren. As I said at the beginning of this biography, I have written it to set the record straight.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter thirty six)
expat on 12-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty six)
A horrible chain of events there, Mike. I never saw my kids grow up due to an unhappy parting with my wife so I can feel some of your pain.
You're to be commended in giving an honest view of your past as well as making it very readable.
Steve

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and understanding Steve. This would never have worked if I was to gloss over stuff. I put my hands up to my faults as a husband, but I was never a bad father; or grandfather. Children should never be used as weapons of war.
Mike

pommer on 12-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty six)
Hi Mike, what a horrific episode in your life. I really admire your honesty,and I am enjoying reading it.Just one typo as I could see,Arraigned .should that not be arranged? Hope you don't mind. Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, it was the worst of times. I will attend to the typo 🙂 So pleased you are sticking with it old friend.
Mike

e-griff on 13-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty six)
Ah, I see. Terrible experience.

Author's Reply:
Thanks John, I'm pleased that yourself and David pushed me to include the offending chapter. Sometimes you need to face your demons. Your comments are always welcome; I may not always agree, and sometimes I may need to think about them ; but that's what makes them worth while 🙂
Mike

e-griff on 13-12-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty six)
Ah, I see. Terrible experience.

Author's Reply:

deadpoet on 08-05-2015
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty six)
Oh no that's awful. my eldest son has chosen not to see me.. I've seen him 3 times these past 10 years. His own choice, nobody else''s. I think it's unfair for you and your children (our) should know better!
Pia

Author's Reply:
Thanks Pia, family should behave better, but seldom do. I've been amazed how many of us have been treated like this. Mike X


When Cold Winds Blow (posted on: 08-12-14)
Picture Poetry

 photo whencoldwindsblow_zps8c095652.jpg

Archived comments for When Cold Winds Blow
Bozzz on 09-12-2014
When Cold Winds Blow
Short love poems are the best, few words with much meaning - you practice what you preach. Good photo - Good Mike...David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David, the photo is one I took of a beach close to where we live; we walk the dogs there.
Mike

sweetwater on 09-12-2014
When Cold Winds Blow
Lovely Mike, I could feel the cold emanating from the first few lines.
Sue xx

Author's Reply:
So pleased you liked this one Sue, I like it as well 🙂
Mike XxX

pommer on 09-12-2014
When Cold Winds Blow
Short ,to the point, meaningful Mike. Great picture too.Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, pleased you liked it 🙂

Capricorn on 10-12-2014
When Cold Winds Blow
What a beautiful poem enhanced by an equally beautiful poem.
Eira

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much, I was pleased with this one; so pleased you were 🙂
Mike


The times of my Life (chapter thirty five) (posted on: 05-12-14)
Divorce is never easy

Back in the divorce world, thing were getting a little messy. Telling G.G to consult with her solicitor wasn't such a good move as she went to a tribunal as well. We went to war. She wanted to keep her job and I wanted her out of my life. I sought professional advice and we came up with a plan. As the business wasn't financially sound, I could no longer afford the office in Belair Road and needed to find alternative accommodation. It was at Flat One, 19 Beatrice Avenue Lipson; in our bedroom. The case was easy, I had the accountant prove that we were sailing on the edge of insolvency. We weren't at this time, but books can prove anything. G.G could not work in our bedroom... so she was out at last. Lesley quickly got the hang of the books and, with help from the accountant, things started to improve all over. G.G did have one last card to play. She sued me for redundancy... and won. Once Lesley and I were together we knew that we had done the right thing. It showed all over our faces, we just never stopped laughing. There was no money, due to me having to pay for two households plus Roger; but so what? What mattered was we had each other. G.G would not agree to a divorce and was still costing me a bomb. Lesley's husband knew it was over and was looking to get out. Lesley's solicitor wanted all he could win from Simon, but I said that wasn't right. He wanted to go for some of Simon's pension; and again I said no. It would be morally wrong, grabbing all we could on the way out the door. I doubt they would ever know, or believe, that I acted in both their best interest financially; but I had no wish to add insult to injury. Solicitors had been instructed and we were at loggerheads as G.G wanted everything. I wasn't about to give up the business, so offered her the house and everything in it, the car, and any money in the bank accounts. It was not enough. She wanted all of that, plus half the sale proceeds of the business. I told her that it was not on, it would be cheaper, easier and quicker, for me to make a phone call to London and have her shot. She didn't get the joke at all. After several meetings and a lot of tears we nailed it down. G.G agreed to take the money and move on. I promised to help her find somewhere to live if she sold the house in Hartley; there was no way she could afford the mortgage and stay there. I helped with sorting out finance and surveys and every other thing that needed doing. It still dragged on for another year, but at least we had an agreement. She still hoped I would get fed up with Lesley. It was just a fling, or a mid- life crisis. Lesley and I planned to get married as soon as the divorces came through, but things dragged on and we put it all on ice. I thought we would be Honeymooning in the Maldives about this time. The first major holiday we took as a family, was to Cesme in Turkey. I wanted to say thanks to Carol and Jane for treating me as well as they had. After all I split their family up. They made it so easy for Lesley and I to be together. They really had been the best. I booked two weeks all-inclusive at a hotel and hoped for the best. About a week before we flew, Jane asked where we were going and the name of the hotel. She got very excited and said all her friends were going with some parents, staying at the same Hotel at exactly the same time. All I could think was 'oh my god' Six teenage girls and all those Turkish waiters. I tried to get the girls to understand the do's and dont's in a Muslim country. Of course I was completely ignored. It turned out to be all of the above but also a great time. The couple with the other girls were called Jan and Dave. The girls all went to the same school as Jane and Carol; although Carol was four years older. Jan and Dave turned out to be great and we spent the evenings together at the table and in the bar. The Hotel however was a disaster. I had made a big mistake as it was full of morons, who sat around the pool all day getting pissed and causing trouble. Lesley and I would rise each day, pack a bag, walk out the main gate and hop on a bus to a beach two miles up the road. It was a large beach with a small caf and sun beds. The bonus was there were no Brits, only locals. Carol came with us most days, and we got to know each other over the two weeks. I taught her to snorkel, and showed her a reef I had found off shore. I went water skiing and they couldn't believe it. The old man could still do it. Jane came over a few times and it felt like a real family, though most of the time Jane was with her friends at the hotel beach. I must admit I was on tenterhooks the whole time. My fears were finally realised when Jane and her best friend, were nearly abducted walking back from a local bar. They were both more than a little drunk and a car stopped and tried to drag them in. They were very lucky. The problem for western girls is that because of how they dress and act, young Turkish men think they are prostitutes and easy. They have no respect for the girls as they think the girls have no respect for themselves. Farte explained all this to me some years before, but the girls would not listen. They listen now. Afterwards everyone was a lot more careful. Jan and Dave were a real blessing. We'd never have mixed with the other 'Guests'. Dave and I agreed we should have spent more; upped the money and added another star. It was never a three star and we should have gone for four. It was still a good holiday and Jan and Dave have stayed our friends to this day.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (chapter thirty five)
pommer on 05-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty five)
Well MIke,the story goes on.I am still enjoying it,and I am glad for your sake that you survived some very stormy times.It can't have been easy.I am only glad for you that you that finally settled.best wishes, Peter.

Author's Reply:
The story does indeed go on Peter, more things to come out; sadly not all fun and frolic.
Thanks again for staying with me.
Mike

Bozzz on 05-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty five)
So many divorces start reasonably friendly and end up hell. Your holiday - back to the style of balmier days, but more of a struggle to so do, I guess. Your text rolls smoothly along in contrast with the events your are describing - I don't know how you managed it Mike - the writing that is - amazing. Yours aye...David

Author's Reply:
Too kind David, I don't think there ever is an 'amicable divorce'. Starting over gets harder and harder the older you get....I must give it up!
Mike

deadpoet on 07-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty five)
Nice writing Mike- easy to read yet at the same time I catch all the underlying frustrations- looking forward to next part. And yes no dance on a rosebed getting divorced, for anyone. No more divorces please!
pia

Author's Reply:
Thanks Pia, so pleased you are still enjoying the read. Just to reassure you.... no more divorces 🙂

Gothicman on 08-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty five)
Still following this excellent, candid and honest report on contemporary life, Mike. The balanced presentation, warts and all, is what makes this compulsive reading, and too, the many geographical references giving it all the essential authentic ring of reality in raw state. Your friends must think you a valuable wholesome character that's for sure. Good writing.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Ah thank's Trevor, as always I'm pleased it still amuses and entertains you. None of my 'friends' has read this yet... with the exception of one of my work mates at the Estate Agency where I told the boss to shove it HaHa! She's still reading after reading the first forty chapters in one go! Must be mad 🙂
Mike


The Terrorist (posted on: 05-12-14)
After reading Harry's excellent short 'The suitcase'

The Terrorist They build their lives within our walls, plan to storm our hallowed halls. Not here for better, just for worse, They're not the last, nor are they first. Seeking to profit from our loss Old England left to count the cost. Invaders from those far off lands Come to hatch their deadly plans. Not to work and integrate, They're here to kill, and maim our state. To take our world and make it theirs destroy our lives without a care. Such burning hate that hides inside betrays a life that's built on lies. They speak in many different tongues, their words betray both old and young No God would ever justify this hatred born from pious eyes.
Archived comments for The Terrorist
deadpoet on 05-12-2014
The Terrorist
Strong feelings Mike-well put ...

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and leaving your kind words. Yes strong feelings, remembering the young soldier cut down in the street with machetes.
Mike

pommer on 05-12-2014
The Terrorist
Hear hear, Mike.I often despair when I read of those atrocities carried out often by so called "British" ,they just take, and never give back to this old country.Well written Mike, be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thank you Peter, most kind.
Mike

e-griff on 08-12-2014
The Terrorist
As with harrys story, this would would be so much more effective if it considered motivation and looked beyond the superficial. Nevertheless, it's a good rant.

Author's Reply:
Thanks as always for reading and commenting John, to be honest I didn't look any further than the need to say something.
Mike

e-griff on 08-12-2014
The Terrorist
As with harrys story, this would would be so much more effective if it considered motivation and looked beyond the superficial. Nevertheless, it's a good rant.

Author's Reply:


The times of my Life (chapter thirty four) (posted on: 01-12-14)
More from my story as things start to improve...

Lesley started to turn our flat into our home. I was not known as the 'man about the house' so was not getting too involved. I set about changing the business. Work was still coming in and I still had two lorries and a few men working. I talked it over with the accountant but things weren't as good as I had hoped. Sorting out my love life had cost me dear and it was going to be touch and go. The two wages, Roger and I, were draining us. Roger was not a fee earner and did little to help. Strictly a supervisor, now we were small again it was the last thing we needed. 500 a week dead weight, plus a split on any cash. I had to force him out or give up. I was still paying G.G a wedge as well. My main scaffolders were Bert and Richard, who'd been with me from the start. Bert and I had a history from the old firm days as I've said before. Trouble with a capital T and a real nasty bastard, he was huge. We called him 'Urko' after the Gorilla in Planet of the Apes. Most people were afraid of him. I wasn't, but I could never really trust him, he was a gambler and always borrowing money. He would sell anybody's scaffolding, including mine. His saving grace was that he was a really good rigger, and I relied on his knowledge with some of the complicated jobs. He was also loyal to me as a friend and a good man to have around in a tight spot. Richard was completely different, a kind of 'gentleman rigger' and very good as well. He had his moments and could blow up if pushed, but he was a good mate and we became friends. He came around the house with his wife from time to time. Other men came and went, as is the nature of the building industry. Lesley and I bumbled along like this for the first year or so, trying hard to stay ahead of the financial game. At this stage we still had a lot to learn about likes and dislikes. Most of our old friends still didn't contact us, we 'lived in Coventry', but we didn't care; we had made our life with the Clifton crew. Some of Lesley's friends from Notre Dame School were great. I met Ali and Pete. Ali was a teacher at Lesley's school; lots younger than me but a real laugh. Pete was years older; even older than me. He was great and a real story teller; loved to hold forth at the dinner table and talk about his life and loves. He was no bore and it was all good fun. A strange thing happened one day, as we were walking along Mutley Plain. I saw an old acquaintance of mine walking towards us, with a woman on his arm. It was Robin, an Estate Agent with his own office. I had known the family for years, James, his brother was a great lead Guitar player, and was in and out of all the local bands. I was working for Allan in the second hand shop in the 70's when James came in to look at the guitars; he was in the 6th form at Plymouth collage back then. I taught him some chords, and he became one of the best in Plymouth. Their father Jack had been a local developer and I had worked for him years before, putting his scaffolds up in the early days. The lady I didn't know. We met and shook hands as old friends do. Robin and I were surprised to see the girls greet each other as well. It turned out that Rogers partner was a teacher at the school where Lesley worked. Elaine taught in the sixth form and they had both attended the school as well; known each other for years! Now we had two more friends. Two more people in our life were Robert and his wife Clair, they had got together the same way as us; and so didn't cast us adrift. They were friends of Bill and Jenny, and products of a divorce. They knew what we were going through and didn't hold us in contempt. We saw them from time to time and they did try to put us back together as a group. It was much too early for most of them. In the first months they were a real help, offering encouragement and support. Robert and Clair were to fall out with Bill and Jenny, and it caused a real problem with our loyalties. Robert made it easier in the end by trying to drag me into his battles. I wasn't happy to be quoted out of context or lied about. Had he not done this... I would have had a dilemma. They were very kind to us in what was a bleak time. We enjoyed a great social whirl. Life was genuinely feeling good again. Lesley told me she loved Bath so off we went. My old friend Dave, from my Karate days lived in Bath so it was a double pleasure. Bill and Jenny were back on the scene; the first of my old friends, and went with us. We booked into a B&B near the centre for the weekend. It was early August and it turned out that The Green Street Festival was on. How apt we thought. The idea was to close Green Street for the duration. The pubs and food shops set tables down the middle of the street, and a huge party would take place. There were stalls with strawberries and Champagne. Butchers set up massive BBQs; Pubs sold beer at cheap prices and jugs of Pimms. Carol came down from Bristol which made it for me. The 'Carol' seal of approval as we walked arm in arm around the streets. She tasted an oyster, made the best face ever, and said never again; I still have a photo of it! Dave, his wife Jane and Lesley got on really well and we have been back many times over the years. It's so good to have Dave back in my life, his friendship means a lot. We took my daughter Tracy, and my grandchildren Kelly and Daniel up to Bristol Zoo for the day. Carrie came over and we spent the whole time laughing and enjoying each others company. A good sign for the future, as the grandchildren seemed to have taken to Lesley and her family. Lesley's mother Norah was babysitting for Tracy these days, so it was all looking good. I believed I was to have my family back, and that all things were possible. I hadn't seen such laughter on Tracy's face before. She came over and gave me a hug. I had to turn away as I started to well up. Carrie and Tracy were getting on so well that they were making plans to stay with each other and talking of holidays. It was all I had ever wanted and thought I would never find again. Eventually my old friends drifted back. Most apologised and said they should have realised things were bad between G.G and I. Some of them had found out about G.G the hard way. I must admit I did say 'I told you so'. We all kissed and made up, and I was glad to see them back. Old friends are the best friends after all. We hung out together again, and soon the past was where it belonged, in the past. Everyone took to Lesley and the girls, it seemed that things couldn't get any better; but they did. At least for a while. We went back to BBQs and meals around each others' houses. I was really looking forward to drinking wine with Graham and eating Kym's cooking. We started spending time together with Bill and Jenny at weekends, going on away days to Brixham and places. We might mooch around the Barbican on a Saturday, for a few drinks and a meal. We'd go to The Fonthill Hotel in Torquay. Nothing special but the owners were nice people, and it was a great cheap weekend. We'd wander over to Dartmouth or around the harbour area. Some times more friends would come up and it became a party with the owners joining in. Bill hired the place for his Fiftieth Birthday and that was quite a bash. There was about sixty of his family and friends. Most of them stayed over, and he had a boat standing by to sail us up to Dartmouth for the following afternoon. A brilliant idea, though half the passengers were sick on the way and came back by train! We took time to visit local places we both loved. For me it was St. Ives and it became our favourite UK destination. We returned with friends, and on our own, time after time. We'd stay at the Sloop Inn; the same Pub that, in the sixties, would not serve me a pint. How bizarre is that? Now I am welcomed like a guest of honour. Everyone has a holiday wish list, and love to tick off the places as they happen. With a list each, we decided to compare and see how far we could get. Lesley had been to some of the places I'd been, but I started with Athens. It was a big one for Lesley and I booked five nights in February 2000 and went for it. I had been a couple of times before, and knew my way around the centre, for Lesley it was a dream come true. I had no idea that it meant so much. When she stood in front of the Parthenon she burst into tears. One of many magical moments I have a picture of. The weather was fantastic most of the time, and we were in short sleeves. We spent our time wandering around the old quarter looking at antiquities and eating 'Giros'. It's a Greek version of a kebab only a million times better; and cheaper. There was a restaurant near our hotel. It wasn't much, the Greek version of a chip shop, but the staff were friendly, and we went most nights. It was a real laugh as I tried out my basic Greek on them. They thought it was hilarious and kept giving us free deserts. Our Hotel was situated on the outskirts, near the railway station. A brand new tube line to the center stood right outside our door. It was the perfect location. We decided to visit the main line train station (also near by) to see if we could do any short trips. During my Greek odyssey, I had been on the Peloponnese and visited Naflio. It's a town on the coast, with a huge Castle and beautiful Venetian architecture. Unbelievably, a train ran there every day. We booked and went next day. An incredible journey on the strangest train line ever. We travelled through the pages of History. Across the Corinth Canal, through the plains of Argos with the Red castle on the hill; every mile something else to marvel at; Lesley was enthralled. I had done the trip, but by bus. This was a whole new perspective. We reached Naflio and the sun was shining, the town was as I remembered it, and in Febuary there were few tourists. We walked the streets looking at the shops until we reached the Castle. It is set on the top of a cliff overlooking the bay and very impressive. The walls surround the cliff top and dominate the town. Steps lead up the side of the cliff, 980 in all. It takes a lot of effort to climb them and Lesley wasn't exactly fit. I insisted we do it, so we set off. The higher we went the better the view, or so I told Lesley. It took ages to reach the main gate and we were both shattered. We took lots of photos as we walked the walls and battlements. We reached the other side and I started to laugh. Lesley reached the last wall and looked over, then punched me and called me names. What she saw was a bus stop and car park. Returning to Athens we took another trip. I took us on the tube to Piraeus and we caught a ferry out to Agiana, just to say we had been on a Greek Island. It was the one day it rained. A Greek Island in February.. in the rain? Oh well I couldn't get it right all the time. Athens was a turning point in our relationship for many reasons. Lesley's reaction was better than I could have hoped for. I was afraid that walking in someone else's footsteps might be 'a bridge too far'. That she would find it impossible to relax knowing I had been to some of these places with two other wives. If there was a problem she never let me see it. It opened the floodgates and I couldn't wait to show Lesley the places I loved so much. I was to discover other places too, with someone I truly loved.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (chapter thirty four)
e-griff on 01-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty three)
one typo: 'they though it was hilarious'

two: many Rogers. 🙂

carry on!

Author's Reply:
Agreed. I will try and fix asap.....carry on!
Mike

Job Done!!

deadpoet on 01-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty three)
It's a bit easier to keep up now I have read the other chapters Mike. Nice writing and good travel descriptions-

Author's Reply:
HaHa! I can only thank you for your kind words, and for taking the time to write them.
Mike X

pommer on 03-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty four)
Hello Mike, Have read the previous part of your story and this one.It is a great piece of work. It just took me back to my days or years in Cornwall.Spent twelve years living near St.Ives.Yes, the Sloop Inn. What a place. Had many a jar in there.In fact my daughter worked there as a barmaid for a season in the seventies. I love that part of Cornwall,and your last part has brought it all home again.Now you know why Godrevy Lighthouse is on the front cover of my "Selected Poems". You can see it across the bay from St.Ives.Well done Mike, looking forward to the next instalment.Best wishes to you and Leslie, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Hello Peter, and thanks again for reading. Our path across again HaHa! I could easily have met you or your daughter in the sloop! So pleased you are enjoying my story.
Mike

Bozzz on 04-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty four)
Your ability as a travel writer back here again - we lived for 14 years in Totnes and Torquay was nearby - our company, STC/ITT at Paignton always went for the max and the Grand was our haunt. We too love Bath and have often done the same as you - booked B&B near the town centre for a few days. As for Athens, in our Greek island days we always got out of that place as quickly as possible - the smell - always relieved to get on the ferries. Good on yer Mike...David

Author's Reply:
HaHa! Yes all the big cities can pong a bit...dare I mention the sacred 'Venice' Never to be visited in August 🙂 We all seem to tread in each others footsteps through the years.
Thanks David
Mike

sweetwater on 04-12-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty four)
So glad to see life looking much happier for you now, love the travel, have never and will never experience it for myself
so it's good to get it " second hand" as it were. Sue xx


Author's Reply:
Thanks again for reading and commenting Sue, so pleased you are still enjoying it. I have been a fortunate man to have seen the places and things I have. I try not to forget that.
Mike


The times of my Life {chapter thirty three) (posted on: 28-11-14)
Getting my life back on track.

I had expected problems with some of the old crowd, but not complete isolation. We were persona non grata for about eighteen months. It was a bit harsh as I had known my best friends for years; but there you go. I had lots more 'friends' and there was no going back. I set about launching a life together by introducing Lesley to the Clifton Pub. The Clifton is a 'Real Ale' Pub. Lots of my old friends from years before drank there, and it was a home from home for me. None of them gave a damn about my new 'Lady Friend' and accepted the situation for what it was. They fell under Lesley's spell and it was a result for us. It became our place of refuge and we loved it. The landlord was called George, and his wife Gloria. He was a great bloke and we already knew each other. Gloria could be a real bugger if she took a dislike to you, but she loved Lesley from day one. I would lean around a couple of customers, when she was our side of the bar, and pinch her bum. She would chase me saying I would be banned for life... but Lesley could come back! The customers were some of my oldest friends, going back to the Seventies and the Dolphin on the Barbican. They all knew what a twat I could be, so this was nothing new to them. They all said if I messed this one about they would never forgive me. Bugger! Lesley was more popular than I was. We could always find someone we knew at the bar. Old friends like Rick and his business partner Carl. They had a brewery called Summerskills and made the beer we were all drinking. Some I met there for the first time. A couple of guys we named 'The Dangerous Brothers'. They were a real laugh and we took the piss out of each other all the time. Another plus for me was George the Landlord was a football fan. Best of all he supported ManU. I was able to get back to my beloved football. All my old friends hated sport... and football most of all. We would go up to watch all the big games. Some of the regulars were Arsenal fans, but it was a 'no trouble' Pub, so the banter was fantastic. One man I would get to know well was Busty; his nickname of course. He was a builder and we knew a lot of the same people. He had a caravan at Stoke Beach so we were to see a lot of him. New Year's Eve changed location with the change of partners, and we spent the first few at the Clifton. All the regulars would be there in fancy dress. We sang songs and danced around the Pub and got really drunk; just as you should on New Year's Eve. One Valentine's night there was a big ManU match, and I wished to combine both events without upsetting Lesley. I bought a set of candlesticks, some roses and all the table settings. I laid up a table in the pub; a reserved card on top, and told Lesley I had arranged a night out. I suggested we'd go for a drink first at the Clifton. The regulars had been briefed by Gloria and cheered when we came in. Lesley was embarrassed but played along. I think we had crisps and peanuts brought to the table, and a grandstand view of the match. I'd also booked a table at a good restaurant for after the game; I just never told her until after the match was finished. Everyone was in stitches. It was the talk of the pub for ages. At The Clifton we used to have the 'Spingo Run'. It was a trip by private Coach to Helston in Cornwall. It was organised by Carl and Rick. We would leave about 10.30am from the bus station in Plymouth, and arrive in Helston for lunch. Pasties and Real Ale at the Blue Anchor after trying all the other pubs; to Truro for more Ale; on to another venue, perhaps Lostwithiel for fish and chips; then last orders at the Clifton. It was some day out. Lesley and I went to most of them and loved every minute. Daughter's Carol and Jane along with their partners came on one. We tried out our friends Ali and Pete, as well as a couple of others, but they couldn't keep up with the drinking and ended up in a state. With the Dangerous Brothers in attendance it was never going to be dull. It was not unusual to lose people by the time we got to Truro, as no one except the driver took any notice of the numbers. Sadly the run came to an end as the coach driver and coach retired. They couldn't find a replacement. Back on the job things started to improve, and I had high hopes that I could turn things around. Sometimes I felt guilty for feeling so happy. I knew people were really hurting because of what we'd done. Taking my eye off the business was to cost me more than I thought. We were still getting the work, but there were a few more small firms out there and prices were getting lower. If we wanted to keep busy we had to be competitive. My son David lived in London, so I took Lesley to stay in his flat. A weekend break to see what he was up to. David's flat was in Forest Hill in a purpose built, 1930s block. We went to the club he was working in and travelled around with him. It felt a little strained. Dave took to Lesley straight away but I knew he would have problems with her girls. I recalled how it was with G.G's kids and the jealousy did concern me. I could see him thinking 'am I going to be happy with this?' It went off okay and Dave seemed to be fine this time. Beatrice Avenue We stayed at Salcombe Road for six months then looked for something to buy. We had no money but my credit rating was still good, so we could get a mortgage but for how much? My book earnings bore no relation to my actual earnings; they never had. On paper my drawings were some 16k a year. I was earning three times that when you added in the cash. A good income, and there were other deals. Okay until you want to borrow money from a bank or building society. Loans are governed by declared income. The best we could do at the time was a flat. I hadn't a large deposit as I couldn't declare the money, so acquired a 100% mortgage in principle. We found a First floor, two bed flat in Beatrice Avenue, Lipson. At the end of Freedom Park, it was a ten-minute walk from the City Centre. It had a roof terrace out the back so there was some outside space. We bought it for 40k and moved in ASAP. Now I felt like I was back in charge.
Archived comments for The times of my Life {chapter thirty three)
deadpoet on 28-11-2014
The times of my Life {chapter thirty three)
I have been away for a while but will try to follow this. I got it wrong at least 3 times and don't intend to try again but I suppose you're not really in charge of that are you? Good reading Mike- thank you for sharing. I'll probably learn something from reading these.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and leaving you kind comments. There's a lot on there now, it's always better with these things to start at the beginning but..... Just pleased you enjoyed what you have read so far )

Bozzz on 28-11-2014
The times of my Life {chapter thirty three)
The feeling of unsettled life still pervades your texts but hope is a strong undercurrent. You sense you owe your new partner a more stable situation. Stay with it - see us through....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David, life has been a challenge, but then it is for all of us. I've never shied away from problems, always met them head on. I think it took me a while to get my head around the fact that I had finally found the lady I had been searching for; I just had to hope she felt the same. Any ongoing uncertainty was just that 🙂
Mike

Bozzz on 29-11-2014
The times of my Life {chapter thirty three)
Mike - apologies, I deleted my own spermatozoa entry - idea interesting, execution poor. My thanks for comment...David

Author's Reply:

deadpoet on 30-11-2014
The times of my Life {chapter thirty three)
Hi Mike I spent last night and this morning reading your tale. I am very impressed by the way you have coped with your life. I think you have such a good memory. Especially your childhood years. What a lot you have been through- all those parties! Anyway good reading and really well written.
Pia

Author's Reply:
Bloody hell! I am overwhelmed that you would take the time, thank you so much. Sometimes when writing this account of my life even I was shocked; I seem to always be able to screw things up. I have learnt so much about myself reading back and editing as I post these chapters; not all of it good. We are what we are and life is what we make it.
Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. I hope you will continue to read and enjoy my story ... There's more to come 🙂
Mike X

Gothicman on 30-11-2014
The times of my Life {chapter thirty three)
Excellent writing, Mike! You really have a good sense of balance with sentence length, not too long, not to brief and staccato like; along with good use of colloquialism makes it all so interesting and easy to follow and absorb; adhering to this regular voice also allows your own personality to shine through. I think this writing style of yours is a lesson to us all, not too stilted, allowing the story being told to come over accurately and honestly. Forest Hill is just round the corner to me, can walk there in 20 minutes! (Near to Cox's Walk!) Major change to your life here, with the soul-mate you never expected to meet. Lucky man, doesn't happen to everybody! Great read and as usual well-presented, keep at it!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Hello Trevor, I am thrilled that you would think my writing worth the time you take to read it; your kind words are much appreciated. The support you and others have shown me has given me the courage to continue with this 'open heart surgery'. I know very little of London outside the centre circle around Trafalgar Square. My son spent several years up there working for the Mean fiddler club organisation. We met up a few times, but it was as I said, a bit strained.
You are right (as usual) about the changes, they come thick and fast in my life 🙂
Mike


Shout me when it's time to wake up (posted on: 24-11-14)
Dreaming again.....

Dreaming, sun and laughter slipping away. Holding onto life by the coat tails pass me another day this one's over. The clock on the wall spins out of tune. "You think too much" Says the man who sells life cheap, in blind alleys leading nowhere; while I lay counting sheep. I hate the night, sleep hides from eyes opened wide. What if tomorrow never comes? If there's no way out of here? What if. When all is sliding underground being a mole is best. Try again, see if I get it. Right? Tie a rope around the day, stop it slipping into night. Don't leave me here, it's cold; and I may lose my mind. On the dark side of nowhere there's no shame in fear.

Archived comments for Shout me when it's time to wake up
Bozzz on 24-11-2014
Shout me when its time to wake up
What an excellent first verse. One might mention that moles live alone and it is said they only meet once a year to mate - not your style my friend ! Again strangely, the poem seems me to represent drifting while looking for purpose - even for survival with heart on sleeve. It is well written and as some might say, deliberately strung agley. Good Mike.

Author's Reply:
The mind plays strange tricks on us when we are awake...let alone asleep:) I awoke in the early hours in a state of anxiety; again you may be right.
Thanks for reading David.
Mike

bethybob on 25-11-2014
Shout me when its time to wake up
Isn't that it, though? If you're ever going to think too much, it is going to be when you're supposed to be sleeping, and there's pretty much nothing else to do but think. I really like this, it's the balance between personal and relatable. Also, I like the image of tying a rope round the day.
Thummmmmmmmmbs up.
Beth

Author's Reply:
So pleased you enjoyed the read, thanks for stopping by 🙂
Mike

stormwolf on 26-11-2014
Shout me when its time to wake up
Hi Mike
I hate to think of you suffering this torture in the wee sma' hours when our fears become huge and everything seems overwhelming.
There is no shame in fear, especially of the unknown.
I have strategies to deal with times like this such as plugging in soothing music.... I also have a laser projector that covers the ceiling of my room in a multitude of stars. It reminds me of the greatness of creation and how we can never be parted from it...only seem to be in times of duress.
A good poem well worth the nib.
Alison xxx

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much Alison, good of you to read and comment on my effort. Life can sometimes surprise you; no always in a good way.
Mike
XxX


The Times of my Life (chapter thirty two) (posted on: 24-11-14)
Settling the shit storm and learning the ropes.

1998- 2001 A Brand New Me When Lesley and I woke up together the next morning, we had no idea where we were going to live and very little cash. There was only one thing for it, we would have to throw ourselves on the mercy of Lesley's Mother, Norah. She was living in a large semi at Birdcage Farm out near Roborough. She was a widow of six years. Lesley's father had died of Cancer before I arrived on the scene. I'd met Norah on a couple of occasions but really didn't know her at all. We decided to go and put our cards on the table. Norah knew nothing of what was taking place. It was left to me to do the talking, as Lesley had told me she really didn't get on with her mother. Things were not going well at all. I told Norah she needed to sit down, as she was about to receive a shock. I explained what was taking place and why. Give Norah her due, she took it well but asked if there was no way back? I said no, we loved each other and would not be going back. I asked if she would allow us to live with her until we found a place of our own. I expected her to say no. She didn't and we moved in the same day. Norah gave us the breathing space we so badly needed, and we will be forever in her debt. It was a kindness we had no right to expect. It was strange at first to say the least, and we were all trying so hard to be accommodating. With one bathroom it was a strain. Norah was a gem and although she must have been stunned by the changes she made little fuss. We soon got into a routine. Lesley had been working as an administrator for the last twelve years, at Notre Dame School, just down the road. She was well thought of there and liked the job. Some of the teachers had become friends and I was to meet them over the next few months. She would leave in the morning as she had done in her previous life. I left in my truck to try and pick up the pieces of my business. At Norah's in the evening we did our best to muck in and keep the house clean and tidy. She was set in her ways; it was bound to be difficult for her. Nora had a huge Poodle called Jessie, it was old but really funny, not my usual sort of dog. I felt a bit odd taking her for a walk to start with. Jessie proved to be a lovely animal, sadly she lost the will to live some months later because of her age; and had to be put down. We were all gutted. Our next big hurdle was one I was not looking forward too, the girls. Jane came around to the house after a few days and looked really pissed off. I asked if she wanted to talk things over. She was owed an explanation but said no. I battled on regardless. She asked if it would make any difference if she didn't like the situation. I said it wouldn't. ''What's the point then'' she said. She didn't want to talk about it. I was to discover that she wasn't good at talking in emotional situations, she inherited it from Lesley. I decided to let things lie for a while. Sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing. At least she was coming to see us and she could see that her Grandmother had taken us on. I hoped she would eventually see that the love between Lesley and myself was so good, it must be for the best. Lesley had said before, she felt the girls had sensed that her marriage to their Dad was not all it could be. I knew Carol would have something to say. We visited her at her flat in Bristol, and I was more than a little apprehensive. She said hello to her mother, gave her a kiss, then punched me in the chest and called me a bastard. I asked if she wanted to do it again. She asked if it would do any good. I said it wouldn't change a thing. After that we all got on okay...I think. We went for a meal and I tried to give Lesley time to talk to Carol. The first meeting was always going to be hard for all of us. Time would sort things out. The girls needed to see that Mum was happy, and I was here to stay. I still wondered if they would ever accept me, and how Lesley would react if they didn't. Would she stay? I was still trying to run the business. G.G still ran the office as she needed the money. I offered her the same money not too, but she claimed she needed to see what was going on as she had an equal share. When I say I was still running the business I'm not sure I was. I think my staff would have agreed. The truth is I was out of touch and sinking fast. Something had to be done. First I told Roy to get off his arse and help, as I was up to mine in problems and I needed him. He responded and took the load off for a while. I had to trust him as I couldn't trust myself. Next I had to deal with G.G as I could not sit and listen to her giving me grief, and run the business. She admitted she was finding it difficult too and that she was only there to win me back. She said the door was still open. I told her to consult a solicitor, as there was no way I'd be back. To reinforce the point I bought Lesley an Engagement ring. I presented it to her outside the Mall at Cribs Causeway, Bristol. I think she was pleased, but I could have chosen a more romantic spot. The date was the 27th of December 1999. I felt a little better now and started to get a grip on things. I find it difficult to remember all that was going on around me at this time. I began to get into a routine and pick up the pieces of my life. A new plan was called for if my business and I were to survive. The work continued and gradually I sorted out my head. Living at Norah's was a lot easier than I had thought it would be, and it gave us time to consider our next move. We couldn't stay there for too long. After three months Lesley and I decided to rent a house, it was time to be on our own. We found a place in Salcombe Road Lipson, an area I knew well. A three bed mid-terraced with lots of space; and a small garden. It was unfurnished so a bit basic to start with. We had little spare money at the time, due to my lack of cash jobs; but what the hell, we loved it there. Soon we had most of the bits we needed to call it home. Nora helped out with the kitchen equipment and we were up and running. Lesley's daughter Jane came round to visit and stay over. Norah came over from time to time, and pretty soon we were started feeling like a couple at last. Bert would pick me up for work and Lesley would be off to work too; almost normal. We adopted a large ginger cat called Pavarotti who hung around the place. He was a little bugger who would rub up against your leg, but as soon as you went to stroke him he would bite you! I was building a relationship between Lesley's family and my own, and it seemed to be working. For my daughter Tracy's birthday we took her and her partner Scott out for a meal to a local tapas bar. It was called Shoeless Ed's and was owned by Edmond Duvari. A really great place with lots of noise and atmosphere; ideal for a party. We had a great time and it reminded me of what I had been missing. From the start everyone seemed to like Lesley and I had high hopes that it would continue. After a few months we began to discover who liked what. We didn't know a lot about each other's hobbies and things. It was important to get it right. It was like a teenage romance. I asked Lesley if she'd ever been snorkelling. She hadn't but said she would like to; I took her to a dive shop to get her kitted out. The next decent day, we went to Stoke Beach to try it out. The tide was in which was perfect. Being mid-week there was no one around and she wouldn't be embarrassed. On with wet suit, mask and snorkel, and in we went. The shallows for the first half an hour to let her get breathing sorted out. I suggested she hold my hand and drift to the reef about fifty yards out. It gets deep quickly and it was 15 to 20 feet on the far side of the first rocks. Stoke has clear visibility, so it's great for beginners as well as regulars like me. As we drifted out we started seeing small pollock and wrasse, with the usual whitebait type shoals. I could see Lesley was enjoying the experience, so I swam around the first big rock into deeper water. There were spider crabs clinging to the rocks and the fish started to get bigger. A dogfish swam beneath us, you don't see them very often; so even I was impressed. As we swam on I felt Lesley squeeze my hand. I turned to see what she was looking at. What had startled her was a grey seal, near the bottom, looking up at us. In thirty years of snorkelling I had never ever seen one, yet here it was on Lesley's first expedition. The seal stayed to play with us for over an hour. When I dived down it would follow me, I would do a somersault, so did the seal. It was magical and unforgettable. Lesley would expect this kind of thing every time we go out
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter thirty two)
Bozzz on 24-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty two)
Strangely your swimming episode off shore seems to mirror your prior period and situations on land - adrift and trying to find your purpose as a couple, while looking at your fellow fish and sorting things out in your mind. Gentle progress and feeling your way - quite right. Good - carry on writing please...David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting David, you may well be right with your observation; it was important not to rush things; it was all too important.
Mike

sweetwater on 27-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty two)
Its very difficult to accept a huge change in a close family member's life, we had such a change with my daughter almost four years ago, she thought it would be just hers and my son-in-law's life that would be affected, but she was very, very wrong the ripples flowed ever wider. The whole family structure has been changed, and a deeply unwanted divide has opened in our lives, the only one to come out of it with a better and happier life is my daughter and her new partner. obviously I am happy that she is enjoying this new life, but it has been at the expense of the rest of us, no matter how hard we try to pretend it hasn't. I wish you well in your long awaited happier future and that everything turns out well for all involved, I await the next installment with fingers crossed, and hope you have a better adjusted family than mine, I am sure you have. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Errr.....that 'better adjusted' bit would depend on the family your thinking of. I think you know I haven't seen or spoken to my blood family in sixteen years. It's almost certain I have great grandchildren now I will never see. Adjusting is something that comes easy'er to some than others. I have had to adapt and adjust many times as you have read; I find it hard when others cant take that leap of faith. We have to move on and live the life we have, the alternative is a life not worth living; both for you and those around you. I wish you a better time as I know you have suffered.
Mike
XxX
Mike


The times of my Life (chapter thirty one) (posted on: 21-11-14)
Another ending, another beginning; could this be the love I had been searching for? It's me... so you know things wont go smoothly.

Parties and outings were opportunities for Lesley and I to spend stolen moments. We talked and laughed the whole time, finding more and more common ground. Our relationship was going to end in one of two ways. We could stop, before things got out of hand; never see each other again. Or commit and leave our partners, trusting that our instincts were right. Lesley's children were a complication. We had to think about the consequences for her two daughters. I had been through all of this when I split with my first wife. I knew it didn't always turn out the way you would wish. Lesley's relationship with the girls was as close as any I had seen, and the thought of the hurt we were about to cause gave me sleepless nights. I had met them on the beach trips, and at some of the house parties; they were very different. Carol was loud, upfront and not afraid to speak her mind. She had a great sense of humour, but I could sense she wasn't one to upset. Jane was the opposite; reserved, thoughtful and difficult to talk to except in basic terms. However, she had a smile like the sun coming out, and it was worth the wait. I thought with Jane it might be down to her age, as she was still a teenager. Carol was off to University and would be moving to Bristol. Jane was four years away from this and lived at home. As a family, they had a conventional life, light years away from mine. I worried how we would all get on. Lesley and I spent hours talking it over. She was convinced the girls would understand, believing they could see the cracks in her relationship with her husband. 'That's fine', I thought; but what would they make of me? It was still all just talk; there was time to stop and get out. At this time we had not consummated out relationship. When we did, I knew there would be no turning back; life would be changed for ever.. if we made the leap. One day, her husband suggested that we all go to a hotel in Torquay for a Valentine's weekend break. It was a special offer and we tried to get others interested. In the end it was just us.It crossed my mind that he and G.G were testing us out, and I think I said as much to Lesley. It was a great weekend for us and we danced and flirted the entire weekend. Anyone watching must have thought us the perfect couple. And they were watching. It was after this that we talked of a fully fledged affair. We started meeting; spending half days together. Thoughts of all else went out the window. All I could think of was the way we were together, and I wanted this feeling full-time. It must seem like we were being selfish, only concerned with our own world. To some extent this was true, but I was well aware of the hurt and grief we'd cause if we went ahead. Our feelings were too strong to ignore, and I now knew the difference between lust and love. It was suggested that we all rent a cottage in France for a week, around Lesley's birthday. It was a complete disaster. By now I think G.G and Simon had picked up on the vibes between us. I know my friends had. They were on edge the whole of the time, and eventually G.G pulled me to one side and asked me outright. I took the cowards way out and denied anything was going on. I was half genuine, as we were in the early days and not yet committed. It set the tone for the holiday. Shame really, as it was a lovely place. We wished we were on our own though. We toured and made the best of it. We went to St Malo, and over to Mont San Michel. On the way home we followed the coast to Roscoff. In English it's 'the Love Coast'. Lesley and I held hands under the seat all the way back. I couldn't help but see the irony in the name. The Nineties were so weird. It seems that every seven to ten years, everything has to change. The World shakes itself and the fall out can be devastating. After the Eighties and the 'loads of money' culture, it was time to re assess what life was all about. We entered a caring, sharing period, where the excesses of the last decade were seen as immoral, I don't know why; I had loved it, but then I never was very moral. By the end of the decade we were heading for the Millennium; the biggest party ever. I would be with someone else and on to the next part of my life. The Iraq war came and went in a flash (literally). I can remember watching the news and seeing the cruise missiles flying down main street Baghdad. The TV news pictures of the Basra road were just horrifying. Burned out vehicles and bodies where the Allies had caught them trying to flee Kuwait. What was Saddam Hussein playing at? They never had a chance. On the business front things were going downhill. After the balls up with the new homes contract, I was committed to seeing Roger out of the company, one way or another. With everything that was going on I had to put Roger on the back burner, but his card was marked. I decided to reduce the staff and get back to working myself. We were loosing material and I was certain that it was one or more of the men. It would save money too, and I was loosing the plot on a number of things. All I wanted to do was spend time with Lesley. I behaved like a love struck teenager, and seemed unable to help myself. 'There is no fool like an old fool' isn't that what they say? I might have thought I was having a mid-life crisis, but it wasn't the case. We now talked seriously about leaving our partners. I was all for it but had less to lose; Lesley had the girls. In the end the decision was taken and we started a full-on affair. Suffice to say we weren't disappointed; far from it. We were made for each other. No options any more. We had to be together. After Lesley and I had said yes I was awake all that night, in the morning I looked G.G in the eye and told her I was leaving. She went mad and asked why now? I wouldn't go over old ground and just said I could not go on. In two years nothing had changed. I had found a little flat a while before belonging to an aquaintance. I reached there and phoned Lesley to tell her I was out. We had agreed that she would come to me and that's what I expected would happen... She didn't. I was desolate. I'd given up everything and she had changed her mind. She made excuses that I would have none of. When the chips were down, she couldn't go through with it. It was the last thing I had expected. G.G asked to see me. I went back and talked it over. I made it plain that, no matter what, I wanted out. She begged another chance. She promised all the things I'd promised my first wife; all so familiar I almost laughed at the irony. G.G was so distraught I cried with her instead. No one sets out on marriage expecting it to fail. I had given G.G. all the time in the world to put things right. Advice from her family went unheeded and she'd never listened to me. I'm not a perfect man, I have always known it; but I gave G.G a good life.. and she took the piss. I'd loved her in every sense of the word and never thought it would come to this. She had opened the exit door and Lesley had been waiting outside. If I sound egotistic, then I am sorry. I was there, and those who were there with me know I was right. I agreed to give marriage guidance a go but even that was a waste of our time. I went to see a shrink as I thought I was cracking up. Her name was Joanne, and she was the real deal. I was losing the plot with all that was going on, and she was a great help. I was having flash backs and bad dreams. I'd started to think a lot about my parents, and what had happened to them. I'd promised myself I would not end up like them. G.G made the mistake of asking to come to a session. I warned her she would hear things that would hurt her but she insisted. When we arrived, my therapist asked her if she still wanted to sit in. She said yes and in we went. We talked about my relationship with my parents, how much I missed my Father and what he had meant to me. How I'd never understood my mother and how I felt about it. We then got onto my relationship with the women. We talked about my attitude, and what had driven me to do the things I had. How I'd acted during my time with G.G, and the reasons why. We discussed G.G's daughter and her impact on our relationship. She then asked me to explain to G.G how I felt about the current situation. I looked at G.G and said I no longer love you and I don't believe I could ever be with you again. I told her she had been less than a wife to me, and that I had found someone who made me feel like a man again. Someone who made me tingle all over at the sound of her name; someone I could never live without. The therapist asked G.G how she felt to hear me say it. She said it felt like she had a mountain to climb if she wanted to make things work. I said she'd had two years, and she hadn't made the climb. She never would. Regardless; we agreed to try and sort things out. I did a stupid thing. I agreed to go on a kiss and make up holiday. It was doomed like the one to Madeira with my first wife. The only difference was it was Mauritius and cost 4,000 more. I loved the place, but was unhappy the whole time. The thought of Lesley consumed me and I was a total mess. I spent my time snorkelling on the reef. It took my mind off what I had done. I went out on my own twice each day, for a couple of hours at a time. The reef was the best thing I had ever seen in my life. The sheer variety of marine life was beyond my wildest dreams and I vowed to return one day, but with someone else. The evenings were a disaster. G.G wanted to play happy families and dance in the sand. They kept playing the Lighthouse Family, Lesley's favourite band. I couldn't do it. It would never work. After the holiday it was back home to the real world. I went looking for Lesley but it took me a few days to track her down. I met her driving towards me on the Crownhill road and flagged her down. We drove to a lay-by in Fort Austin Avenue, I got into her car and burst into tears. I cried for about ten minutes; I couldn't speak. Lesley was gob-smacked, but I think it showed her how I felt. We were back to seeing each other and the planning started all over again. There were no recriminations. We knew what we had to do; it was just a matter of when. In the end it all happened quickly, I had lain awake all night again, hating myself and the situation. I rose at six in the morning and told G.G it wasn't going to work, I couldn't stay with her when I loved someone else. I packed a few things and left. I still had no idea if Lesley would come, but I knew I no longer belonged with G.G. I had a long wait until I could ring Lesley; it was torture. In the end I said bollocks and rang the house. Her husband answered and I asked to speak to Lesley. He said she was going out. I said if he didn't put her on I would wait outside his door till she came out. He put her on. I told Lesley it was now or never and that I couldn't stand another day without her. I asked her to pack a bag and leave. She couldn't. They had a family commitment and she had not yet told the kids what was going on. I asked her to be truthful and say whether she was going to come. She said yes, but not until late afternoon. It was the longest time of my life. In the end the phone call came - she was on her way. I broke down and cried. We met at a friends' house. They knew what was going on, and had done for some time. At the time they were the only people we could trust; Jane was Lesley's best friend. We spent our first night together at a newly built Travel Lodge on the Barbican. It was so surreal after all we'd been through. We wandered hand in hand along streets that the day before had been forbidden us for fear of being seen. We felt a sense of freedom that was quite overwhelming. We had no plans and nowhere to live, but I had never felt happier in my life. It was the 18th of October 1998.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (chapter thirty one)
Bozzz on 21-11-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty one)
You have made real life sound even more dramatic than the romantic novel - my mother used to write them. We are left on tenterhooks as to how it all panned out and how things are still going. Your self-awareness rings clear as a bell. Another excellent write Mike..... David

Author's Reply:
Dramatic.... Yes, reading it would seem like that; living this bit was another matter. Thanks for staying with me David, I have been so tempted to stop for many reasons.
Mike

pommer on 21-11-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty one)
The story continues.I read Part thirty,and thirty one.Two splendid writes. I could feel the tension especially in this last part, and having spent many years working in Psychiatry
I can only say that you have been lucky to be as strong as you are. Many others would have succumbed to the enormous stress you must have gone through, and the same must apply to Lesley.I am happy for both of you that things have finally worked out. Best wishes, and be lucky, your friend Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, I think stress has been a part of my life as long as I can remember; I must admit that most of it has been down to me though HaHa! Your life hasn't been plain sailing either old friend.
Mike

expat on 22-11-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty one)
I've followed this right from the beginning, Mike, and it's highly magnetic. I always look forward to the next instalment!
I've said before that The Times of My Life is far too interesting on a human level to even consider critique; it's a real-life story and it clearly comes straight from the heart. Good honest writing and it gets the thumbs up from me.
Steve

Author's Reply:
Mate, that anyone would think those things about something I write.... Wow. I am blown away, thanks for sticking with me; it means a lot to me,
Mike

e-griff on 27-11-2014
The times of my Life (chapter thirty one)
You know, I think the writing in the later stages is much improved (referencing my earlier critique), you seem to be learning as you go. This is fine, no big objections, and yes, I've got some dates and sequence to bite into now, so thanks).
Very honest writing, well expressed. I still think you should look over the earlier parts, you'll probably do some revision of your own volition now you are in the swing. 😀

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting John, I never know what to expect HaHa!
I have been editing again as I am posting these later offerings. Jim had given it a going over previously, but I think I held his hand too tight 🙂 I myself think I have improved in my writing...thanks to all the help and constructive critique I have had on UKA; including yours John 🙂
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter thirty) (posted on: 17-11-14)
life gets hard to take again. Back in the real World, things were changing fast. I said this would be warts and all.

As the 90s came to an end so did my time with G.G. Life got more and more difficult. Despite the warnings and the talks, she took no notice, and it came to a head at a dinner party at her sister's house. We were with some friends and the talk turned to work, business and problems. David was the big boss at a local branch of an Electronics Factory, with a staff of several hundred. We were discussing my problems with staff and with Roger...when G.G got involved. She claimed that if it hadn't been for her, we would have nothing; she had saved the company and she didn't trust my judgement. It all went very quiet; everyone expecting me to respond. I made a comment about not the time or place and changed the subject. They could see I was fuming, and her sister Mary and David could hardly look at me. At the end of the evening I said to David that I had to do something. And I did. I phoned all of G.G's family and invited them around for a family get together, a few days after the party. I didn't tell anyone what it was about. On the night, Mary, G.G's children and even her brother turned up. Once assembled, I told them I had called them to a family meeting to discuss my relationship with G.G. I asked that they be patient, and listen to what I had to say; as I was thinking of leaving her. I told them I wanted all the family to know why, so as there would be no recriminations later. Everyone looked shocked but they agreed to hear me out. G.G looked ill and had lost all colour. I pressed on. I told them that over a period of years G.G had systematically undermined my authority within my business and our private life. She had made comments in front of friends and work colleagues that were uncalled for, and hurtful. I explained that our personal life was less than I expected, and that I felt totally neglected. I suggested that if our marriage was a business, it was bankrupt. I told them that I was no more than a credit card on legs as far as G.G was concerned. I said I had tried to talk to her about the situation, but without success. It was the reason I had needed to have a family meeting. I asked G.G if she wanted to respond. It took her a few minutes to register what had been said and to pull herself together. She tried to deny it all. Her family were not so easily persuaded. Mary recounted that last dinner party and other things that she had been witness to. There was nowhere to turn. Her children spoke of what I had done for them, and of the things in their life that were better because of me. Her brother spoke of the kindness I had shown to her mother and all of them. Mary pointed out where G.G. was living when we met, and where she was now. Mary asked G.G. if she really thought it was all down to her. In front of them all, I gave G.G two years to turn herself into the woman I had married or I would leave her. I explained that there was no one else in my life, but that could change; and I might just find someone else. Mary asked her sister if she was listening to what I was saying. She said it was a 'wake up' call she should not ignore. G.G was too shocked to answer. If she felt she was the only one who could sound off, she had just learned she was a novice. I thanked them all for their time and consideration and they left. I told G.G I didn't want to talk again until she had had time to think it through. The following day she said she would change and make things better; that she loved me and valued me as a friend and husband; that she would do all she could to show me. It lasted about three months. The bad times returned and all the things I complained of were back, as if we had never spoken. The leopard wouldn't or couldn't change its spots. I started looking. The year was 1995. I had been faithful to G.G from the time we were married until that point; but that was to end. I found the lady I had been looking for all my life. Unfortunately, it was the wife of a friend. Lesley (1996-1998) G.G and I became friendly with Lesley and her husband, who were friends of friends, and whom we saw at parties. He was a bit of an old woman, but a really nice guy. He was into football so couldn't be all bad, even if he did support Arsenal. I was attracted to Lesley from the start. She was tall, and she had a quiet way about her that drew me to her. Before long we were seeking each other out. We enjoyed each other's company and spent time talking of our lives. We both expressed the wish to change things, if we had the chance. I knew this was Trouble with a capital T. The signs were there and I had been in enough affairs to read them. An added problem was I really liked her husband. It was Catch 22... I was damned if I did and doomed if I didn't. I was sure I had found the love I'd searched for all my life. It went on this way for a few months; flirting with each other; testing each other out; holding back because of the situation. I know we believed we were in control of everything. Oh how wrong we were. We were falling head over heels and plain didn't want to admit it. Eventually we had no option. As couples we were spending a lot of time together, on long bike rides and beach trips with the kids down to Cornwall to Watergate Bay; sometimes just the four of us, at other times as a group. People started to notice how much time Lesley and I were together. I started not to care.... always dangerous. I was trying to save the business and hoping G.G would change. I hadn't the time to embark on an affair. G.G and I went on a city break to Madrid with some people we had met in Kalkan. James and Judy, they had a family business in Sheffield and we all got on well. Madrid was the last straw for me. G.G treated me like a servant, by the time we returned to Plymouth, I had made up my mind to leave. I was so pissed off, I rang Lesley from Toledo, whilst on an excursion, and told her how fed up I was. I said I wished she was there instead of G.G. I was reluctant to leap from one bed to another, as I had in the past, even with someone I believed was so right for me. This time I wanted no mistakes, I was sure Lesley was the one. It was so obvious I was unhappy, that James told me later he had said to Judy he was sure I was going to leave G.G. For my 50th birthday we had a huge party at our house. Everyone we knew was there; a real bash, lots of food and drink, loud music and dancing into the small hours. I tried very hard to dance with all the women but failed. I only had eyes for Lesley. The best present I had was a photo someone took of Lesley sitting on my lap. I have it framed and sitting today beside our bed. It's my most treasured possession. The party was the real launch of our time together. I would say to her 'If not now, when?' She would smile at me... and my heart would miss a beat. Sounds ridiculous for a man of my age who's had so many affairs? Yes, I agree, but it's true. People noticed, and I found out later one of our close friends took G.G to one side and told her to keep an eye on Lesley. She said Lesley was trouble. She was right.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter thirty)
Bozzz on 17-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty)
Mike, it seems clear that Mary knew her sister very well and as a result of that, the rest of GG's family did too. I have not heard GG's story, but in truth, I thought you handled the whole situation amazingly well throughout. That leaves the writing which, with your usual charm, skill and candour, comes over very well - you as a no-nonsense man in the best Plymouth tradition.... Carry on please.

Author's Reply:
Sadly, everything I have said is true....and yes Mary knew all about it; it was however a shock to the rest just how bad I was taking it. I've never been able to stay quite when something's not working, having tried to fix it it need a BIG jolt. More to come on the subject.
Thanks for your support David, much appreciated.
Mike

Gothicman on 17-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty)
Still good writing Mike.The beginning of the end with G.G. and the end of the beginning with Lesley! That's often the problem with attempted life-partnership, changing away from the person originally chosen and liked, instead of merging due to common and shared experiences, especially joint-creation of children. A very common problem when marrying too young especially if maturing at different growth rates. I started with family building late, my wife is seventeen years younger though, so still working hard! Hahahaha! I think as well from what David has said, that your charm, skill and candour, which I suspect you've always had, made you a real catch for Lesley, and a regretful loss for G.G.? There is a lot of compassion and sadness in your writing as if you were honest in trying to get your life to work, and unfortunately this often requires making tough decisions that leave somebody regretful and hurt. Fascinating, and as usual well-written.
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks Trevor, I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. For anyone looking in it must have been strangely fascinating, a car crash in slow motion. As I say later 'no one goes into any partnership thinking it's going to fail'.
Mike

e-griff on 17-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty)
Interesting. - and I now know the date! 🙂

Author's Reply:
As long as I'm keeping you happy John, and above all INTERESTED! Dates are only ever approximate in my world HaHa! I live by a different clock than most people.
Thanks for taking the time mate.
Mike

sweetwater on 18-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty)
Dare I say I do feel a bit sorry for G.G.? I would be mortified if my husband had dragged all my family round then proceeded to " slag me off " as the ghastly saying goes, even saying our "personal life" was rubbish and also my fault. And then to have her family agreeing with you must have felt like everyone was ganging up on her. I may have read her all wrong, but she does seem to have gone along with everything you have wanted. If I have miss-read or misunderstood your meaning I apologise now. But whichever way around I have throughly enjoyed all your revelations, and hope for many more.

Author's Reply:
I did say this was 'warts and all' 🙂

I spent 18 years with G.G. It wasn't all bad as you have read, I have great memories of our time together; sadly she got to believe it was all down to her; as I said. As to going along with everything...only at a cost. There is more to come. Her sister and son are still close to me; Mary is my best friend... that should tell you something 🙂
Thanks for sticking with it, much appreciated.
Mike
XxX

sweetwater on 18-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter thirty)
Guess I didn't quite take in the whole story, if her own sister and son can see your viewpoint you must be right. 🙂 Sue x

Author's Reply:
I was told that I made a rod for my own back, in the early days I gave her everything; I loved her. She just got carried away with herself, It was a sad end. I tried to make her see sense;as did her sister. Most friends never saw it; or didn't want too. No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Friday the rest will come out.
Mike
XxX



The Times of my Life (chapter twenty nine) (posted on: 14-11-14)
Somewhere new to fall in love with

Roger wasn't the only person pissing me off. G.G started thinking our lifestyle was all down to her and that without her I was nothing. She'd reached the stage where she believed she was the font of all knowledge. Without her instructions the sun would not rise, nor set without her command. There were some things I couldn't ignore. She would tell friends that it was her ideas which made us money, and how I was nothing without her backing. She was doing the books for us and running the office. I was quite happy with this as I couldn't do it all, and Roger was hopeless with paperwork. She started to tell me how to run the contract side however, and that I couldn't allow. Other people commented on her behaviour, and I was not happy. We had some strong words, but I knew it wasn't over; though maybe it was. . We did have things in common, holidays for example. It's difficult not to be happy on holiday. Mike and Cathy, friends of ours, were swapping holiday stories with us one night over a bottle or two of wine. They said they had been to a place called Kalkan, on the Turquoise Coast in Turkey. They had stayed in a private Hotel run by a Turkish man named Vecdi and his German wife Barbara. It had about fifteen rooms and was very swish, with breakfast on the terrace overlooking the bay and Harbour; just our kind of place. So we booked and went the following August. It was a long haul from Dalaman airport to Kalkan, but they had sent a car for us as part of the deal. It was still dark when we landed, but by the time we arrived at the top of the hill above Kalkan, the sun was up and the bay was shimmering like a jewel. The Hotel was all that we had been told. Not posh, but clean and tidy, with nice little touches like flowers in the room and a good shower. Vecdi and Barbara met us at the door and said we should rest and meet on the terrace for some refreshment later. We unpacked and slept for an hour, before taking in the terrace and the view Mike and Cathy had told us about. It was like Greece, but not. The sea was the same; the heat was the same; the feel of the place was the same; but the buildings were different. We were in another world; a Muslim world. We fell in love with Kalkan and its people. The Village back then had none of the trappings of commercial tourism, and retained its old world charm. The people didn't have that world-weary, jaded look that comes with overexposure to western needs. The first visit was a taster, and we returned year after year. Vecdi and Barbara became close friends and we would spend time together in the mountains, or swimming in the bay. They introduced us to some amazing people. At a dinner party for Vecdi's family we sat with an Admiral in the Turkish Navy; one of the ruling party politicians; a Turkish ambassador; and Vecdi's mother and father. It was a surreal experience. We played Name That Tune from one of my home-made CDs of 60s and 70s music. They got more right than me! We used to hang out in the early evenings at the Merkets Caf in the Village centre. It was owned by a local family of mum, dad and three sons. When I first arrived the older brother was due back from military service. He served in the mountains, on the border with Iraq. His name was Fart, but it took him a long time to tell me his real name for obvious reasons. We became friends over the years and he called me his English Brother. The whole family were good to us, and I watched the younger brothers, Mustapha and Ali, grow up. We used to play tricks on each other all the time, much to the amusement of the other shopkeepers. I was called Michael Amca or Uncle Michael by everyone; a name I was very proud of. If I have one regret in my life, it would be not buying a house there. I could have been happy in Kalkan. Turkish people are very proud and can be difficult to get to know, but once you are accepted they are some of the best and most loyal friends you could have. We travelled to many places in the area. Kas, a village about 10 miles down the coast was one that I was to see a lot more of. The Bodrum peninsular, Patara Beach, one of the top ten beaches in the world, (according to the Sunday Times). Fethiye town and its market we came to know well. Kalkan became our second home and we sometimes visited twice a year. It has changed significantly over the last few years as the Brits have found it, and building work has reached fever pitch. None of the locals live in the village anymore and the shops mainly sell tourist crap. That look I mentioned earlier, the jaded one... it arrived as greed sets in. You can't really blame them, a house that was worth 5k to 10k twenty or thirty years ago, is now fetching 150k plus. It's a no brainer, and for us it was time to move on. Vecdi and Barbara had also had enough, and left for Kas. They ran a hotel and apartment complex out on the Peninsular, for a firm call Saville. Vecdi was too much his own man, and they gave it up to open a restaurant in Kas village called Ikbal; which they run to this day. Vecdi has had a go at property and running an olive oil business. Ever the businessman, but I think his heart is in the restaurant. Farte got himself married to an English girl and now has several kids. They have a fantastic roof top restaurant, above the Merkets caf, called the Olive Garden. They got into the property business and built an apartment complex and a couple of Villas to rent out. These are people and times I will never forget.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter twenty nine)
Supratik on 14-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty nine)
The reader gets to know about Turkey, its people and their lifestyle thanks to the effective narrative. I just loved reading it. Well done Michael Amca... the last line brings out a poem from the prose! Best. Supratik

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much for stopping to read and leave your kind words. A double thank you for making it a Favourite. The places and the people are real; you can google the restaurants along with the villages.
Mike

pommer on 14-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty nine)
Hi MIke,
hat a refreshing report on the beautiful countryside and it wonderful people.Yes, there were laces like this, but as you say greed takes over everywhere.You also manage to give the reader a positive representation of Turks, and Muslims as a whole.I really enjoyed reading this account.Be lucky, your friend Peter.

Author's Reply:
Hello Peter, pleased you liked this one. It's a wonderful country, sadly as in Greece many of the places have been over run with tourist's and their needs. It always seems to me that we go to these places to see something different...then change it to Blackpool in the sun. The saving grace with Turkey is it's a big country.
Mike

Slovitt on 14-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty nine)
Mike: well written to the point that the writing lets the story take over. fast paced, interesting, the places and the people. G.G. sounds like a challenge. is she still around? one of the old greek philosophers married a virago to teach himself patience... good submission. Swep

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your positive comments, really pleased you enjoyed the read. G.G. was my second wife, yes she is still around; just not with me. As I type this, my third wife Lesley is talking down stairs with G.G'S sister HaHa! All that still to come. 🙂
Mike

Bozzz on 14-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty nine)
Dear Uncle Michael, what a great picture that you paint - would love to have been a fly on the wall in the hotel.

The joys that go in being you own boss. When I was working for a giant American conglomerate we were allowed only 2 weeks max away from work and even the I would be summoned back several times - fly to South Africa or Australia or Moscow - usually to talk to governments - no fun. A good

and very interesting submission - carry on. Yours, Uncle David manqué.

Author's Reply:
HaHa! You would have loved the place. I am still in contact with Vedci on Facebook as well as Email, I will send you a photo. You can find all the place I write about on the internet. I have been a lucky man in many respects, but you have your own stories David; one day you should post a couple 🙂
Mike

Gothicman on 15-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty nine)
This is an excellent example of how to write a self-biographical account with a great balance kept between loaded with interesting content and yet flowing nicely and easy to read and follow. Would make even H.V. Morton envious! Secluded, natural sea resorts, untouched by commercial tourism were not too difficult to find in the 70s and 80's, then globalisation and the Euro hit Spain and Greece, and Turkey became the cheap option, for a time, till even that ruined it too eventually. You certainly had some wonderful times then, living at local level, really enjoying and appreciating the people, culture, and soul of the place. Great writing Mike!
Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks for your kind words of encouragement Trevor, the last two chapters didn't seem to reach people in the same way. In the context of so many chapters I suppose that's to be expected. I was writing about something/somewhere special in this one; that may have helped. You were saying that Nibs are not something to worry about, but they do help with the 'Hit' numbers count; not that you need to worry about that HaHa! Lots more to come about this area.
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter twenty seven) (posted on: 07-11-14)
Starting over again

When I got the idea of starting the scaffolding firm I went to speak with an old scaffolding friend called Roger. He was a few years older than me. Having been made redundant as a scaffolding supervisor, he had loads of contacts. We decided to go into partnership. We needed a yard to store the scaffolding equipment and a lorry. I found a yard in a private lock up just outside Plympton, on a back road five miles from Plymouth. The owners were nice people, and it was away from prying eyes. The lorry was a bit harder. In the end I had to travel a long way to get it, but mission accomplished we were ready to go. While transferring all the scaffold tube and boards to the new yard, I discovered how unfit I had become and what a task I was taking on. Roger was not much better as he was older than me and had been a supervisor for years. We needed someone fit to carry us until I had my strength back. He arrived in the shape of a large gentleman I shall call Bert. Bert had worked for me when I had my previous company; and I knew him well. He was a great scaffolder but a nightmare to deal with. He was huge and as mean as a snake. Anybody who knew him was afraid of him. Still; better the devil you know. He also had a few contacts for 'acquiring' more scaffold. We called the company *** Scaffolding. Roger was still a well-known name and it might attract business. I had been out of the scene for 10 years and lots had changed. We used more of my cash to buy signboards and a few extras; then started trading. The first job we were paid for was a real buzz for us all. I photocopied the cheque and framed it. I contacted an accountant I knew and set up the company books, along with a bank account and off we went. It was not all plain sailing as we had limited money, and the cost of set up had drained most of what we had. Things would be strained for a while. G.G. had freaked when Mark went down and was panicked by the thought of me going back into business. There were no options left, I had to give it a try. As the money drained away we started to row and she asked me to look for a proper job. It sounded so familiar, a bit like a mum. The scaffolding started to take off and we were getting work. We were back in the black with the bank. It was never going to be as big as my last company, but then I didn't want that kind of pressure. I was getting older. As the work came in we hired more men and bought more material. It wasn't cheap to buy, even second hand. Some had to come via other sources. The Dockyard was a place that had scaffolding to spare. Whenever we had a job there we left with twice as much as we went in with. I had a deal going with a guy who would tell me where there was a load lying down. I would go in at 6.30am the following day with an empty lorry and come out with it fully loaded. I paid him off and it saved me about a grand a load. It was a risk, but I had to take it, or we couldn't survive. Black market scaffolding is a major business in any town and we were always on the lookout for stuff being stolen from us; also for any on offer to buy. Everything was cash and you had to have it there and then. Fortunately most of the little house jobs were for cash, which is where it all went in the early days. We had taken on some great contracts. Blue Circle Industries was our big one. It was a huge Cement Works near Plymstock. We were on 24hour call, seven days a week. Roger had been looking after them in his previous job and he brought them over to us. Apart from the day to day stuff they had a shut down four times a year for maintenance. We would have a team over there day and night until it all started up again. The money for this contract was great, but it was hard and dangerous work; and I do mean dangerous. All of us who worked there will never forget it. The cement was made by crushing a type of stone, then baking it at white-hot temperatures in a revolving kiln. The kiln was so big you could have driven a bus down it. One of our jobs was to erect scaffolding inside to repair any damaged areas. As we were on a tight time schedule, we went in while it was still quite hot. When they opened the door at the front you could not stand there even after the kiln had been shut down overnight. We used to erect a safety platform at the front of the kiln so that there was a bridge over the 'fire pit' in what was called the throat. We would lower a long ladder down about six meters into the pit. It was still hot but just about safe to work there, though some times we got it wrong. I can still remember being halfway down the ladder when the guys topside started laughing. I thought it was because I was sweating so much; in fact the ladder was on fire below me. I came up that ladder like a ballistic missile. Scrap one ladder and my boots as the soles had melted too. There were many such occurrences. Bert saved another scaffolders life one day. Richard was leaning over to reach a fitting when his foot slipped and he lost his balance. He fell onto the roof we were working over, and started to slide toward the 70ft drop. Albert ran across the unfinished scaffold and swung himself over the side. He reached down, grabbed Richard by his belt, and amazingly hauled him back up. Richard was as white as a sheet. We all just took the piss, saying he was past it and should give up; but we knew it had been close. Our other major contract was for South West Water. They have sewage plants and pumping stations all over the place that are always breaking down. We were on call out for them too. This wasn't nice work; these places were smelly beyond belief. Some-times we worked inside huge tanks. We went on a special course as it was dangerous when the fumes reached a certain level. Breathing equipment was on hand and you had to know when and how to use it. I can remember taking Lesley down once and she said she didn't know how we could work there. Not all the work was like this. We also carried out street work on shops and houses. It was where the cash came from so we liked the work. Scaffolders are not generally regarded as nice people to know and with good reason. Most are hard men; it goes with the job. We were always getting into scrapes with other firms and traffic wardens and the like that sometimes came to blows. Christmas parties for Scaffolders were nothing like Estate Agents' parties, and were held in a series of dives across town, usually ending badly for someone. We would start out at midday and drink our way through to late evening, or until we could take no more. It was something out of the Wild West, thankfully without guns. I confess that I loved it. I moved between the different careers with ease, and I don't really know how. I made certain not to mix friends from one life with the other. They would never get on. As the company grew I decided it was no longer right to work from home, so found a cheap office in Peverell, not too far from the house. G.G would run the office side of things and we would have somewhere to use as a base. It was working quite well. G.G was good at keeping track of the money and was getting the hang of paperwork. Roger was not keen on G.G and kept out of her way. I think he felt she was organising him and he was not a great one for women telling him what to do. It worked both ways as she wasn't keen on Roger, so the feeling was mutual. She thought he was a lazy bastard, and she was right. After a few years I had built the company, with the help of Roger and G.G to a reasonable size. We had twelve men and three lorries, with some static sites where no lorries were needed; such as Blue Circle. Roger however, was proving to be a lazy man and everyone was a little fed up with him. He brought in the work from time to time so I put up with it until he really screwed up. We had been asked to quote on a large new build contract for Westbury Homes. I was unsure whether to go for it, but Roger convinced me, saying we could hire in the materials and that he would price for it all in. He got it all wrong, before I knew it we were 15K down and back in the shit. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. We eventually lost in the region of 25k, as the contract was connected to another for the same company. It was heart breaking. All that work to get us back to a stable situation, gone in a single contract, I was fed up and angry with Roger; I was more so with myself for not keeping an eye on him. 25k may not seem a lot of money, but when you are small it is, and it's hard to replace. Roger had to go. G.G and I were devastated, and she blamed me. I suffered this for a while then blew my top and showed her whose signature was on the contract price. Roger hadn't added the cost of hiring the material, or a contingency for extra hire costs if the job went into overtime.... which it did. It was standard practice and he knew that. No wonder we were the chosen contractor. She was right in some ways however; I wish I had taken more interest in that side of the business; I blamed myself more than I would admit.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter twenty seven)

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The Times of my Life (chapter twenty eight) (posted on: 07-11-14)
Personal Tragedy (included for my benefit) read it if you want to.

In 1991 my father died. A light went out inside of me, and a part of me died with him. I can recall almost all our time together, but without looking it up, I cannot recall the month, day or dates leading up to his death. I had to ask my sister Amanda the year before writing this section. I'd shut it out of my life. None of the family has ever been religious or spiritual. I don't think of him 'going to a better place', he was an old man and had lived his life. I would have him back with me now in an instant. The Death Certificate said Pneumonia and he died in his sleep. He slept for about four days, then just slipped away. The funeral was at Efford Cemetery. There was not one friend of his there to see it, they had all gone before him or lived I knew not where. It was just me and G.G. along with my friends. My sister Amanda chose not to attend. I still think about him every day. Sometimes, when walking my dogs, I go to our special place and talk to him out loud. I know he can't hear me but it makes me feel better. He was born in 1902, this would make him 89 years old when he died. I never told my mother as there was no need in my opinion. My best friend Graham came with me to clear his room at the residential home. It wasn't hard; two bin liners full of rubbish. I was ashamed. Not of him. of me. I have never stopped believing I could have done more, made more of an effort. I suppose in the end that's only natural. Writing this is one of the hardest things I've ever done. A year after my Father died my mother followed him in circumstances far more brutal. Jess was diagnosed with cancer and had apparently had it for about two years. It was terminal and they gave her six months. It was less of a shock as she had been a committed smoker all her life. Nonetheless it was not a nice way to go. In the time she had left she blanked the whole thing and carried on as normal, doing things she'd always done. We had her around for a family BBQ and she loved it. The kids all made a fuss of her and it was as if nothing were wrong. She was asked to spend a few days at St. Luke's Hospice. She went, and lasted one night. The following day she rang to ask me to come and pick her up. She said there were priests there and people were dying. I had to come right away. G.G. was at home as I was working, and went instead. When she arrived Mum was nowhere to be seen, and the staff were worried. G.G. rang me I told me she had disappeared, I thought about it and told her Mum would be hiding, and said to look around the entrance. She drove back to the entrance area Mum was hiding behind a wall. She had her bags packed and jumped straight in the car saying take me home please. She never went back. That was how she was, the most independent woman I have ever known. I suppose living with my dad she had to be like that. The day she died I was at the dentist. A nurse came in and spoke to the dentist, he stopped treating me and told me they'd had a call from G.G. There was a problem with my mother and I should go to her immediately. I drove to her flat. There was a group of people standing around an Ambulance outside the building. I found my mother standing in their midst. She saw me and smiled. She called my name but it came out backwards. Each time she tried to speak it was like a foreign language. For about half an hour before I arrived, the ambulance crew had been trying to get her into the van. She wouldn't get in until I arrived. I persuaded her to get in and we set off for the Hospital. When we arrived she panicked, as she had a morbid fear of such places. They sedated her and got her into a room, but she went into a spasm then a comma. To all intents and purposes she died in my arms. I think I passed out for a few seconds. I didn't cry as I was in shock. Crying was for later. After examination I was told that she had fractured her skull, which had brought on the collapse. Mum was transferred to a ward and we were asked if she should be put on life support. I said no. She finally gave up a few days later. By then my sister had arrived. Amanda did the funeral. No religious overtones at all; she did the talking and we played some songs. We scattered her ashes later at Devil's point, a place I go to walk the dog every day. It's at the mouth of the river Tamar, if you look across Plymouth Sound you can see the place where my Fathers ashes are scattered; it seemed fitting they should be apart. It transpired that she had decided to decorate. Standing on the dining table painting the ceiling, she had fallen off. Ridiculous but true; that's what she was like. A neighbour told me they had found her wandering outside and had called the ambulance. They found my number in her address book.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter twenty eight)
e-griff on 07-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty eight)
Tragedy indeed.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this bit John.
Mike

Bozzz on 07-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty eight)
Having first read your scaffolding business start up and now this description of the loss of your parents underlines the statement that you are an archetypal survivor - meaning that you somehow see a spark of opportunity and happiness round every corner. You have lead a charmed life and it is still so - reason - you are able to be sufficient honest about yourself to forgive yourself for the bad and laugh with the good. Who can but wish you well and success. Yours aye, David

Author's Reply:
You are too kind David, life has been a challenge at times.... But the alternative was less appealing 🙂
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter twenty six) (posted on: 03-11-14)
If at first you don't succeed.... I think this was written for me.

With the threat of a dramatic cut in my income I resigned from G.A. and took the job. Sally and the others understood my reasons and we all remained friends. Mark had a site in Plympton where he was building twenty four Detached houses. With the recession looming, sales were poor. I upped the Advertising and changed it around; did a deal with Sally at G.A. on a minimum commission, and gave them the houses to sell. For a while we were selling well, then the market went totally downhill. I organised a part exchange scheme and we managed to sell most of the remainder that way; including the PX's. Those that we were unable to sell, we rented. Mark was over the moon, as were his accountant and the bank. He also had development land that he owned through bank finance. A site at Lee Mill for about 30 houses, and a larger site at Kings Tamerton for 150 Starter Homes. These were to be my next projects. We decided to mothball the Lee Mill site and concentrate on the Starter homes as they were more saleable on the down-turning market. They were to be built in timber frame and could be structurally finished very quickly. At first they sold with ease, but as the recession started to bite things stalled, and soon we were struggling. We tried everything. Self-Build; Part Exchange; Buy one get one Free!! It was a waste of time. The Bank started to get twitchy and called Mark in along with his accountants. The problem was that the land had been bought two years previously; it takes that long to sort out all the planning issues. Initially land was 350k an acre; it was now worth 100k if you could get it. Mark had about 14 acres in total. The whole company was in negative equity and therefore insolvent. We were not the only Developers in this sort of trouble, and we were all dependent on the good will of the banks. I had become great friends with Mark and his family, and in a short time had become a confidant. I sat in on all the meetings as we worked on a build out plan to ensure the company and Mark's survival. Mark became more and more depressed, as he stood to lose everything, which was a lot. I felt for him as I had been there myself. The Accountant, Mark's surveyor, Mark and myself finally had a meeting with the bank. We got terms agreed on a five-year 'build out' plan that would take us through and out of the other side. It was survival only, but it was enough to save the company. We ran it past Mark's Solicitor, and it seemed to be the only way out. Two weeks later I turned up on site to find the Bank and their receivers waiting. They had had a change of heart and put the company under. It cost Mark everything. His houses, his cars, his lifestyle and his family's dreams of a golden future gone. Mark's wife and I just held each other and cried. It turned out that Mark had been talking with an overseas bank behind everyone's backs. The bank had got wind of this and pulled the plug. It had cost me a fantastic job paying 30k a year plus, a company car and a wonderful way of life. More than any of this, I had lost Mark. I learned so much from Mark with regards to building and planning and I owe him a lot. He was a good friend and a great bloke. Mark and his wife Jane were what is known as 'the salt of the earth'. Apart from this it looked as if I was unemployed in a recession. BUGGER. All this happened over a period of three years, and I have to say three of the best employed years of my life. Before everything went pear-shaped with Mark, we were living the life. With builders at our beck and call we soon had the house in Hartley looking great, and all looked to be going well. We had enough money coming in to pay for all the holidays and other extravagances that G.G. could dream up. We had a company car and a great social life; WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Well it did go wrong, so I'd better tell how I got us out of it. When Mark went into Receivership, I was asked by the bank and the receiver to stay and oversee the company until it was sold. I talked it over with Mark and Jane, but Mark had given up and told me to look after myself. This was good news for me... as I had a plan. I decided that with the Recession still in full swing, there was no point going back to Estate Agency or Property. So I thought... 'Why not try Scaffolding again?' Oh Dear. Although we had been on a good income we had never saved, or stashed money away for a rainy day. It was currently pissing down. The receiver was still paying me my basic salary, but that would soon stop. I had to salt some cash away to start scaffolding again when the job ended. I walked around the site and assessed what was available to sell for cash. There was a lot. I had a long talk with the receiver. He proved to be a mine of information and very sympathetic to the problem of looming unemployment. With the recession he could see that the situation was bleak for me, believe it or not, he closed his eyes to what was going on. He said the banks would not miss my little bit as they were into Mark for 5 million. I had to tell him something in case I was shopped by someone on site. I needed to cover my backside. I think if he knew how much I had sold, he might have felt a little miffed. I will be forever grateful to this man, as his acceptance of my situation was a great help. I was to meet up with him again way down the line. First I transported all the scaffolding to a field of a friend, and hid it there. Now I had some kit. Then I sold everything that wasn't nailed down, all for cash to other builders and friends. Now I had a few grand. The only things missing were clients and a work force. I was no longer fit and needed to build myself up with some muscle. All the years in Estate Agency and good living had made me soft. Not a good thing for a scaffolder.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter twenty six)
Rab on 03-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty six)
The tale continues. A lot of people suffered similar fates during the recession, and the building trade's still coming out of it! Look forward to the next installment.

Author's Reply:
Thanks mate good of you to read my story, each recession has its moments. I've been through three now. The one in this episode at the end of the eighties was bad... but this last one was terrible.
Thanks again
Mike

Gothicman on 04-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty six)
14 acres with development permission in Devon, Wow! You were certainly in the right branch, if only it wasn't purchased with borrowed money, otherwise riding the recession storm is never wrong, as property prices inevitably rise over time due to ever increasing populations. The housing market is though dependent on jobs from local industries and manufacturers. Lots of rich pensioners are good for stability, but otherwise what keeps Plymouth afloat, docks, small boat building, and..? Following with usual interest, Mike, and like the writing style. (Bugger is an exclamation, so "!" on end)...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading Trevor. Building is all a matter of timing, around twenty went down in this latest recession; including some big players around here. The Banks always hold the purse strings, and pull them tight when a cold wind blows.
Mike

Bozzz on 04-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty six)
Dredging opportunities from nowhere - and optimism are your strong points. It seems to be who you know rather than what you know. Now to make money from scaffolding - next week we will learn. Good on yer Mike...David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David, Knowing the people who can make things happen for you is always important. Getting them to do it is the other one 🙂
Mike

pommer on 04-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty six)
Well Mike, talk about closing one door and opening another. It seems to be very true in your life.I really enjoy reading about it, and I like the way it is presented.Looking forward to part 27.Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, so pleased I am still entertaining you.
Mike

jay12 on 05-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty six)
The receiver sounds like a nice guy. You were lucky there! They aren't always so nice I'm lead to believe.

Author's Reply:
Thanks mate, we all need a bit of luck sometimes...and no there not always so helpful.
Thanks again for dropping by and commenting.
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter twenty five) (posted on: 31-10-14)
The times they are a changing (sorry Bob)

The purpose of being in Peverell was to lose the mortgage and not have any debt. We were back on the treadmill again. I was really pissed off. I decided that I had had enough of Peverell so asked G.G. if she fancied moving again. Oh dear, I might as well have asked if she wanted to leap off a cliff. The rows started all over again. My reasoning for selling up was simple. If we had to have a mortgage on a house, this was not the house I would choose. I went to find one that would fit the bill. Trouble was she kept building nests, and I wasn't into that yet. I hadn't found the right nest, or rather we had sold the one that might have been. We did have some good times at Peverell, though it was there I was taken ill. I hadn't been feeling great and had a terrible pain in my chest. I recall saying that a good fart might clear it. We had the grandchildren around and I was going to take them across the road to the Park, to walk Max. Half way around I could hardly breathe and I told the kids I needed to get back. My granddaughter was concerned, never having seen me like that. It was bizarre being helped home by the grandkids and the dog. I told G.G. I was off to the Doctors to sort it out. I remember taking the dog in the back of the car, driving in great pain to Mutely surgery, and pulling up outside. I staggered into the surgery and said 'I need a Doctor'. The Receptionist said 'I am sorry but you will have to join the queue' I said 'Then get me an Ambulance', and passed out on the floor. I came to in the treatment room with things stuck all over me. The ambulance was on the way and they thought I was having a heart attack. We arrived at the hospital and went down a corridor with a flashing sign saying cardiac arrest. I was shitting myself, which wasn't helping my heart. After tests I was off the danger list and in a ward. I'd left my car on double yellow lines at the clinic. They had to get my son to come and let someone move it as Max was attacking anyone who tried. Everyone came to see me and take the piss, including one of our solicitor friends, who said he'd come to find out about my will. It was Pleurisy, and really painful. I prescribed three weeks on a Greek beach to convalesce. A month later, when I was well enough, that's what we did. We spent the time on the Peloponnese in a beautiful village called Koroni. It had a beach two miles long (Zagga Beach) and was overlooked by an old Castle. One of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I made a pledge that I would swim the beach before I left, if I could do that then I must be okay; and I did. I wanted to get back to Mannamead as that was my favourite part of Plymouth. There was nothing on the market that fitted the bill, I needed to find a 'fixer upper' to replace the lost 30k. I cast my net a little wider and looked in Hartley; an area that was probably a better postcode than Mannamead, and not one I had considered before. I found a large 1930s semi on the Torr Estate. It was just what I was looking for. Old people again; un-modernized and undervalued. I was in like a shot with an offer at full asking price; subject to survey. I reckoned that it would be down-valued on survey due to the amount of work required. If I knew the surveyor it would not be hard to arrange. Not nice, but that's what you do. They wanted 78k, but their kids were in London and wanted a quick sale as the old man wasn't well. I got the house for 70k in the end, and was pleased as punch. We had a buyer on our house and they were keen to move. We made a profit on the house but not a big one. I didn't care. I just wanted out of the place and the situation. And then we had burglars. They came over the back wall and were trying the door when they must have heard a deep growl. Max was asleep in the back porch.... and not tied up. All hell was let loose. The guy in the yard was trying to get back over the wall, but the dog had his leg. Looking out of the window, I was shouting to the rest of the family to wake up. G.G's son who was staying with us, was out the front door and running around the back to cut them off. By this time the men had legged it across to Central Park and must have thought they were safe. No chance. I sent Max after them and he treed one until the Police arrived. Max got a commendation from the Chief Constable for his efforts. They had been into 19 houses in the area over a number of nights, and all the goods were recovered with the help of Max and his nose. I was really pleased with Max; it was a tribute to all our training. We moved into the new place and G.G. fell in love with it, as with all the rest. It proved to be our best house and unfortunately our last together. The job with the New Agency and the 'poser' had come to an end and I had an interview with a corporate company called GA, they were part of the General Accident Group. The office was based in Wimple Street, down by the Abbey Pub. The local directors were known to me, as was the sales manager; a lady called Sally. She was in charge of three offices locally at that time, and was a good manager with a strong reputation. Her immediate boss lived opposite me in Whiteford Road, and helped my solicitor friend with the joke of putting my house on the market while I was away. The job was instruction taker. It was all that was available at the time. Sally felt I wouldn't stick it as it was way below my pay grade. I had to really plead for the job, and said I would work cheap. I told her she could place me elsewhere when another job came up. I needed to work and knew that I would soon be offered better. She relented and I started right away. It worked out well and I soon was out on the road and bringing back instructions. As soon as she could she brought me into the office, to sort out sales and motivate the other staff. We got on well and I really enjoyed working with her. The company were good to work for and most of the staff knew their job. The money was okay and I knew it would get better. I made a few new friends there and some useful contacts. The social life with the company was good as there were loads more staff for the Christmas parties. They were a riot. In my final year with them, we all went to the St Austell Branch for the Christmas do and had a staff Pantomime. G.G. was trying to get in on the act so Sally told her they had a part for her. When we all arrived at the office everyone was told to get into costume. G.G. asked Sally where her costume was and what part she had. I already knew as I had set it up. G.G. was the back end of the pantomime cow and Sally was the front. She had to go ahead with it but she was not a happy girl. I don't think she ever forgave me for it. Once again the Devil was to fart in my face. Just as I was mounting the ladder and about to be made a director, the market crashed... and my new job was cancelled. I was already the manager in all but name at the city centre office. I was in line for the Land and New Homes Director South West. I had gone up to Bristol with the local Directors' blessing and had a good interview. All was looking good. All that is, except the economic forecasts. The 1989 recession had arrived. All of the offices in the company within the South West region were called to a meeting at the Continental Hotel in Plymouth. The Chairman told us that all our jobs were under threat and to help save job cuts we were all going to have a pay cut. We would only be paid 75% of our basic salary and no commission at all until further notice. I decided not to hang around and looked for another opening. Ian, a great friend, told me a local new homes developer was in a bit of trouble and needed a sales manager. He was called Simpson, and the company was 'Simpson Homes'.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter twenty five)
pommer on 31-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty five)
Hi Mike, another interesting period of your turbulent life. I enjoyed reading it.Man, you are just like me when it comes to moving. We only moved 17 times during our married life.Not always for the better.No more now. I enjoyed reading like always, best wishes to you both, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Peter, I've lost count of my addresses, I remember the ones I owned and lived in; rented flats and bedsits etc... too many. 🙂 Thanks again for your support old friend.
All the best to you and yours.
Mike

Andrea on 31-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty five)
Good ol' Max, eh? What a hound! Would give Muscles Malone a run for his money 🙂

Author's Reply:
Yes, Max number two was a great dog; sadly like most GSDs his hips failed in the end. I held him as he was put to sleep...inconsolable.
Thanks Boss for dropping by.
Mike
XxX

Bozzz on 01-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty five)
You are indeed a man for all seasons and all circumstances. I can understand the possible feelings of insecurity for any wife in your mixed up and down situations. Your powers of observation and memory of detail are astounding. See it through to the end Mike. Yours, David

Author's Reply:
Hello David, Thanks for your support. As I read and edit the names out etc.. I begin to finally understand what a crazy life I have had. I have never found my memories dim, I remember everything. I guess I have never been an easy ride...but then that would have been a bore 🙂
Mike

sweetwater on 01-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty five)
I do hope you are not going to become a property developer in your next chapters, as my words may be rather stern 🙂 I admire Max, my spaniel Harvey needs directions ( yes, literally ) to find any thrown treats in the grass, sounds a bit like " The golden shot" up a bit, left, no right, thats it , find!! Thought I had moved a lot, but you have ants in your pants, possibly not just for houses, sorry couldn't resist. 😉 Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Oh Dear 🙁 HaHa! I was never a developer but I did work for some. Dogs have always been a part of my life, I guess they always will. Moving was always to make money in the early days, and divorce was another factor 🙂 I have been in this house longer than any, that's because the money ran out with the energy HaHa! As for the other... not any more, been a good boy since Lesley. LOL
Mike
XxX

Gothicman on 02-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty five)
The house prices for 1989 still seem so cheap and affordable compared with today's market, Mike, but then the huge influx from the EU was only just being felt in a few major cities at that time, soon to affect everywhere. Good to include all the names of city and near-lying areas, gives it due authenticity. What a full life, even while excluding all the trudge and grudge of daily living! I have made mistakes, but am loathe to admit to any regrets as other paths might have been worse rather than better, do you have any regrets, defining moments that were blatantly fate changing, or consequences that you would definitely have avoided given a second chance? We don't want to be a cause of tragic consequences for others, but personally, who wants mediocrity? An interesting and insightful, well-written journey through our times...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Hello Trevor, so pleased you are sticking with my story. Regrets, defining moments, chances missed? Yes there must have been some, I guess at the time I was to busy having fun.... or up to my arse in alligators trying to survive HaHa! With the benefit of hind site I'm sure I could find some....but those fucking Alligators are back and snapping at my arse again. I think I may add a chapter about those valid points 🙂 I have said before, it would be a little hypocritical to say I regret things I so obviously enjoyed that much.
Mike

Kipper on 12-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty five)
Hi Mike
Last in again as usual.
So much going on and never a dull moment. You tell your story with enthusiasm and as usual 'as it was'. The loss of your 'good' house and of a good job and then your illness made this a difficult period in your life, and yet you speak of it allmost without regret.
Keep at it!
Michael


Author's Reply:
Last???? I'm just pleased you think it's still worth reading HaHa! I have always tried to live a life of 'No Regrets' so you may well be right; when you plough your own furrow you are bound to trip up sometimes 🙂
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter twenty four) (posted on: 27-10-14)
A catch up on the times, amid it all life was still providing surprises; as usual not all good.

Out of the blue G.G. was offered a manager's job in the store where she worked, and went on a course for a few days to see if she suited. While she was gone I had a call from my first wife asking if we could meet, to discuss the kids. I invited her to the house and she arrived with a bottle in her hand. This was a bit provocative as she must have known that G.G. was away. We sat talking for a while and it was clear that the kids were only part of the reason for her presence. We talked about our respective lives and how things were working out. Hers was not all she had hoped, and she clearly missed the excitement of our relationship. We talked about whether we could ever get back together and how it might work. I asked why she hadn't contacted me before I had re-married. She said she had wanted to but it seemed too late. We kissed and cuddled (but no further), drank the wine and agreed to meet again. We never did. I pondered what had taken place, as I am sure she did. I believed it was indeed too late. Why would I risk a new marriage that was still good; for the old one that was still a painful memory. I'm sure she thought the same in the end, we never mentioned it again. It doesn't mean I didn't think about it. The Eighties brought new beginnings for a lot of people. Our new Government had the first Lady Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. She promised a complete reform of working practices and the Unions. She was as good as her word. She also brought in the 'right to buy' which meant that council tenants could buy their house at a good discount. Thousands got a taste of home ownership, which worked out well for most, though some screwed it up and got into even more trouble. Of course they blamed Maggie for their problems. There was a feeling of optimism about and it showed in music and fashion. Not my style, but it was better than Punk. The New Romantics had arrived, and everyone dressed like twats! Men were wearing frilly shirts and makeup. I thought they looked like a bunch of shirt lifters and probably were. The music was different again with Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran on the scene. Some of the music was okay; I just couldn't stand looking at them. I guess I will always listen to the music that I grew up with. Eric Clapton may not be God, but I bet God listens to his music and sings along to Layla. In the early 80s the Falklands War came and went. We waved our lads off from Plymouth and lined the roads and bridges when they returned. It was dreadful seeing film of ships on fire, and wounded troops all shot up. Mrs Thatcher had learned from the Yanks in Nam, so there was limited live battle coverage on the news each night. Most of the TV war came after the event, although what we saw was shocking. It was a short but costly war. I never could have done what the guys out there were doing. I'm not sure I can agree with the war, but this was a hell of an achievement. We sent men and ships half way around the world to reclaim those islands. We lived in Whiteford Road for four years; a great house and I loved it. We lost our sitting tenants when the old lady died and her husband went into a home. It was time to think again as we could now sell with vacant possession. I had an offer from a builder I knew called Tony. He had been to the house on occasion and had always wanted to buy it. He offered me 138,000 and I said yes. It was G.G. who wanted to move this time. I think she had had enough of living with other people in our house. It was an offer I couldn't really refuse, although I must admit I don't think I would ever have left if it were just down to me. I cried the day we moved. It was my dream home. I thought I would never get back to that level of property after the divorce from my first wife. Here I was, kissing it goodbye. The move was to downsize in property 'Get rid of the Mortgage'. On paper it seemed like a great idea, but it didn't turn out that way in the long run. The new house was in Edgecombe Park Road, Peverell. A nice little three-bed, end of terrace near Central Park... I never liked it. I tried, but it just wasn't me. We took advice from a Financial Consultant. He and his wife were friends of friends, and they seemed okay people. He had been in the Marines and was a big guy, with a bit of a big head; it seemed to go with the job. He advised us to take a mortgage, as it would be better for tax relief. We'd invest the rest to earn enough to pay the mortgage and maybe make a bit. It all sounded great, though I had wanted to pay outright for the house and be mortgage free. Against my better judgement we were talked into it. It proved to be the biggest financial mistake of my life. For about two years it all seemed to be going well. With all the additional money we set about enjoying ourselves. For G.G. this meant a new sports car and lots of expensive clothes; for me, more holidays and Party time. One day I heard a rumour that the financial market was in freefall and we should look to our investments. I made an appointment with our guy. He told us not to worry as we were in it for the long term and the odd drop was to be expected. We lost the lot. His advice had been crap and we were in things we had no business being in. I took advice and was told I had grounds for suing. I went and told him so, he was unrepentant and told me to go ahead. My money was lost as litigation was expensive and took a long time. I went again and asked him to use his Indemnity Insurance as that was its purpose. He told me there was no way he was going to help as it would look bad for him. As I kissed the money goodbye, I decided to hurt him where it would affect him the most. I went to a National Sunday Newspaper and exposed him for what he was. They did a whole feature on the case. I never got the money back and he did a runner to New Zealand to escape the heat. There was still no financial compensation, but I got a lot of satisfaction. I am not one to fuck with, I always come back. We'd made a lot of money from the sale of Whiteford Road and I should have gone with what I knew. I didn't and it cost me over thirty thousand, a lot of money back then...Bugger!
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter twenty four)
e-griff on 27-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty four)
Hmm.. This is an episode that's not so interesting...

Author's Reply:
Ah well....thanks for reading anyway.
Mike

pommer on 27-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty four)
Well Mike, this episode feels almost like the calm before the next storm,or the calm after the storm.Still enjoyed it.Best wishes to you and Lesley, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thank you Peter, yes it does seem like that sometimes 🙂 Pleased your still enjoying the read.
Mike

sweetwater on 27-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty four)
I am glad you didn't risk your marriage, commonsence rules thank goodness. I too left a home that had been my dream and given the choice I never would. I cried buckets, and moved into I guess depression. Took many years to come to terms with that.
I found this chapter full of interest, your highs are certainly high, the lows go through the floor!
I didn't like 80s music much either, I'm still enjoying Status Quo, Alice Cooper, and 60s / 70s music. Of course all life itself starts and ends with Don McLean. Looking forward to next chaper 🙂 Sue xx

Author's Reply:
I am always amused by the different reactions to the chapters of my life. I also wonder about the people who say the things they do. Thanks for an insight into yours; wishing you a Starry Starry Night 🙂
Mike
XxX
ps It was the eagles for me

Bozzz on 28-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty four)
I too found the episode very interesting - financially it was a disastrous period for the country too. Slippery chaps those alleged advisers and they are even worse today and on a much wider scale. Among other things that Mrs Thatcher destroyed of course was housing for the poor - all sold off cheaply and then nothing done to replace rentable housing stock. The rest of Europe did not make that mistake. Keep us fed Mike - good stuff...David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David, I was thinking of stopping.
Mike

Gothicman on 29-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty four)
Do not stop Mike, these historically interesting episodes are followed by many and also at least to me a good example of how to combine a flowing writing style with colloquial language use including slang words and popular expressions. I think you're too easily hurt by tactless comments that don't really add or help much. As long as you emotionally feel okej in reporting on difficult times and also don't feel too vulnerable in divulging personal info then continue the journey for it is interesting and appreciated, and rewards the reader who follows your progress connecting it all to events that occurred at the time. Losing everything must have been a real shock, having to start again, perhaps not though from scratch, but the anger and self-recrimination! Hard to suffer. Keep going Mike.....Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks for the kind comments Trevor. Its not that I am upset by comments, more I dont see the point in posting if no one is interested (or not many) far easier to post the whole fucking lot to those that are. However I take your point, it seems the tale still has a way to go; and people are still reading. I am editing again as I go now, to take out names etc; trying to tidy it up. As to divulging info....fuck 'um if they can't take a joke!
Mike

Kipper on 02-11-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter twenty four)
Hi mike

Somber times for you in this episode, and a change from the 'great times' from earlier chapters. While I suspect that there may be some 'grudging' envy of the good times you had enjoyed by some of your readers, the loss of your home will surely evope some sympathy.

Ref. the point about tactless comments which has been raised. First I hope that I have not been guilty of that. But I think it is worth pointing out that for most of us (I imagine) your story is beyond our normal experience. That surely is the reason that you are sharing it all with us. That said it may sometimes difficult to find just the right way to respond, and perhaps some responses are not ideal. But is that worse than not responding at all?

Keep it going Mike, and if I occasionally hit a bum note please forgive me - I'm not perfect.

No!, I'm not. No really.

Oh' go on then.

Michael

Author's Reply:
Hello again Michael thanks for continuing. My life is just the way it was, I never expect sympathy or envy...maybe a little understanding would be nice 🙂 As to the odd 'Tactless' Comments....you know my saying "Fuck em' if they can't take a joke" John and I have had our moments, but he is the same with everyone so I don't feel singled out HaHa! He is also a great writer, and his opinions matter to me...even the slightly bad ones. My story was never going to be an easy ride for me, or the people reading it; wait till my family read it HaHa!
Best Wishes
Mike


Use it and support it... (posted on: 24-10-14)
Anyone using this site on a regular basis needs to read this.

This was posted on the Forums, now on here for those like me that don't go on them much. Those who know me will also know I don't spend time on the Forums, I'm on here now to bang the drum for our site...UKAuthors. The latest Anthology is out and I know that many will buy it (I have ordered mine) I am lucky enough to be included; maybe some will think about not buying it ...please don't. The site is advertised as free, we all know that nothing comes for free that's worth having. Donations are sporadic, times are hard for all of us, but we must keep UKA at it's best; that costs money. I know many will think what the fuck does he know? Lets just say I know what it costs to run something like this; and not just in money. Please help those running our web site to keep it running; buy at least one copy.... please. The running of this site is nothing to do with me, other than I care about it, and the people that do run it. Its time to show that you do too. Mikeverdi ps If anyone critiques this.... I will hunt you down 🙂
Archived comments for Use it and support it...
sweetwater on 24-10-2014
Use it and support it...
Hi Mike, I'm with you 100% on this, in exactly one month I shall be more or less mortgage free! after 32 years, and can then actually use money for things other than pure survival. I am so looking forward to buying the book, and maybe the earlier ones too, plus I promise I shall be donating as this site has made such a difference to me, and my confidence in my ability to write. I am on several sites but none are as professional, or knowledgable as this one. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Thanks Sue, and congratulations! I'm sure those in charge will appreciate those kind words.
Mike
XxX

Kipper on 24-10-2014
Use it and support it...
Hi Mike.
I can't think of any reason not to agree with you (except perhaps the fear of being hunted down)
There is no such thing as a free meal. A phrase commonly used but I suspect often misunderstood. Everything, but everything, has to be paid for either in cash or kind. Very often both, and UKA is no exception. We are fortunate that we have a number of people dedicated to making UKA work and we should be grateful and supportive.
In this, as much as anything I am talking about money, and occasional donations, though welcome may not be enough. I personally would be happy to pay a subscription even though I suspect this option has been considered before.
I urge members to respond to Mike's appeal. To start with buy the book, and then please get out that plastic.
Michael

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much, again I'm sure the powers that be will be grateful for these kind words (and you buying the book Haha!)
Mike

Andrea on 24-10-2014
Use it and support it...
Well, for once I am lost for words. What a breathtaking piece!

You have certainly learnt your 'show don't tell' lesson perfectly, the protagonist is strong, likeable and forceful and the plot gritty, involving and gripping. The description is breathtaking in its simplicity and I love the cunning, yet sparse, use of adjectives.

Yes, indeed, you have excelled yourself here and this piece deserves nothing less than a ten!



Author's Reply:
For once I am lost for words. What a breathtaking piss take....and I love it HaHa!
Mike
XxX
ps not bad critique for a none poet 🙂

ValDohren on 25-10-2014
Use it and support it...
Quite agree Mike. I donate when I can, and I will be ordering the book shortly. Well said.
Val xxx

Author's Reply:
Well done Sue, it's so easy to take things for granted without meaning too.
Mike

Gothicman on 26-10-2014
Use it and support it...
I donate anonymously, smart move, that way no one knows whether I do or do not donate, and cannot then accuse me of not donating, me and about two thousand others! Hahahaha! Not being picky, but if Leila's in the anthology, I always buy it! I do have standards to maintain! Hahaha! (Free post over £25 so must order three)

Author's Reply:
You are awful....but I like you 🙂

If everybody who uses UKA bought one copy.....
Mike


The times of my Life (chapter twenty three) (posted on: 24-10-14)
The wild life continues swapping drugs for drink.

Living in the next street to them, it was great to have my own kids closer; they could call in whenever they wanted. It was two fingers to my Ex, she couldn't believe I'd bought it. I felt so good after her parents telling me when she kicked me out, that I was never going to amount to anything. Work wise everything was going well, when we moved to Whitford Road I was still at Kennings; the tenants were paying the mortgage so we had money to spare. We set about doing the house up to our taste, and I got a new German Shepherd. My daughter Tracy and I went to choose it and she immediately christened him Max after one of my old dogs. Life was starting to look complete; always dangerous for me. Our social life was great during this period. My closest friends were Graham and Kym, and another couple, Bill and Jenny whom I'd met during the Landlords Association days. Graham was too laid back for the landlords club, but I had made Bill my deputy and found him several properties. I also saved their marriage. Me saving marriages..... Whatever next? It took a while to introduce all my new friends to each other, in the end they seemed to get on and it was party time again. Bill and Graham were to remain my best friends, and still are. There were many others who came and went in 'our gang', we had many more acquaintances on a business level, but these were my close friends. Graham, Bill and I were like 'The Three Musketeers' and always up to something. Endless parties every weekend at alternating houses; sometimes twenty or thirty people and others just us. Graham and I had the added bonus of all the Agency related dos and there were many; particularly around Christmas. There were summer 'Treat the Client' boat trips, and The Black tie Balls. How we didn't end up alcoholic I don't know. Perhaps we are. An event that stands out from the rest was a Solicitors Summer Party, held at the Plymouth Cricket Club's Entertainment suite. It was to coincide with the Beaujolais wine run; an annual event for rich kids. A race to bring back new wine from France to their hometown. Graham C, the poser I had been working for, was to do the race in his Porsche 911 and we would all be there to cheer him on his return. It didn't happen, when he returned, we were all too drunk to care! It was a fantastic do and they had spared no expense. The senior partner at the time was a man called Steven, he was one of our drinking club and a good friend. We ended up so drunk we were in danger of falling over, so decided to go back to Graham and Kim's. Graham found me in the loo, leaning over the toilet, trying to zip myself up and find my way out. Graham maintains he had to shake the drops off, tuck me in, and zip me up; he said I was totally incapable. After grabbing a bottle of wine each we all left; I'm ashamed to say I drove us home. Graham and Kym lived a couple of streets away but G.G. said we were too drunk to carry on and wanted to go home. I felt okay so said I would leave the car at our place and walk over with the wine from the party. Well that never happened. I opened the front door for G.G. then went back down the path... walking straight into a tree. I fell over and knocked myself out. When I came to, the wine was still in my hand, I staggered back to the house and G.G. was still standing there; she helped me in the door. I have never been allowed to forget that one. We were all drinking too much and still do, I think it's part of our culture and our lives. That night shows how bad we could get. Kym remembers the time I arrived back at their house after waking up from a big session. I claimed I'd had a fight on the way home and killed someone. I was insistent she came with me to see if the body was still there. After swearing her to secrecy, we went to the spot where I thought the fight had taken place. It was in a park behind the main road, so quite possibly in full view of any traffic. We looked all over the area and in all the gardens around. There was no sign of a body or even any blood. I know I must have dreamed the whole thing, but it seemed real at the time... and curtailed my drinking for a while. Life went on and it wasn't all bad. We had my 40th birthday bash which was brilliant. My friends organised a stripping Policewoman and Policeman. They arrived when I had had a few, and everyone except G.G. thought it was a laugh. A bigger laugh came a couple of hours later, when the real police turned up because of the noise level. I answered the door in my drunken state. Thinking it was a re-run, I asked the Police lady to show me her tits... and reached out to fondle them. It took a lot of explanation from my friends to calm them down. They saw the funny side of it; Thank God. G.G's behaviour became very odd during this period. She was always picking fault and shouting at me. It became intolerable, and in the end I reacted; and started shouting back. One night after a particularly bad row, she hit me over the head with a glass fruit bowl that cut my head open. I'm ashamed to say I lost it and grabbed her by the throat. It left bruising, and I was mortified the next day. It could not go on. I was not the only one who had noticed the mood changes. After giving me a right bollocking for the bruises, Kym hit the nail on the head. She wondered if G.G might be going through the change? Apparently it could cause this kind of reaction. We went to the doctor who put her on HRT. I had my wife back. Within a short time it was as if it had never happened. It had taken a while but we had the answer at last. This was a black period in our life, and she will never know how close I came to walking.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (chapter twenty three)
Bozzz on 24-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty three)
Your own racy style is still winning - your are an expert at creating very thin ice on which to skate - some great asides to go with it all. Staying good and voicing opinion of others is the art of an entertaining biography - well done Sir. Yours, David

Author's Reply:
Thanks David, so pleased you think its back on track; as I said to another 'you can't please all of the people all of the time'. Its an old saying but a true one.
Mike

e-griff on 25-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty three)
Again, interesting happenings.

one small thing (and it's not being pedantic, it is very practical)

'when we moved here' - where? it would be easier to read as 'moved to no xx' in any case, it should be 'there'. Remember you are narrating, this is not present tense, it's past, so the location is physically removed, you are looking back at it, there is a distance in time that makes it 'there' rather than 'here' Watch out for this. People often write things like I was very angry and resolved to see him tomorrow. This is wrong for the same reason. From the distance in time, it should be 'the next day' - do you see? Same with words like now (then) today (that day) etc .

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and your comments, I will try to take it on board; I get what you are telling me. Pleased it still interests you.
Mike

sweetwater on 26-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty three)
Hi Mike, as someone who only has half a cider at Christmas I am amazed at how much you can drink, absolutely no criticism intended, pretty impressive I must say. Only once I drank so much I wasn't sure what happened and it really scared me, the thought of not being in control or aware of a situation was enough to never do that again lol.
I too get a bit lost, never quite sure where you are at times, but thought that was just me not "keeping up with you". Another entertaining chapter, thank you.Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Hello Sue , I would stick with the half of Cider; less to worry about in the morning. I am drinking less now, I cut back to excess after they took my prostrate out 🙂 I think that reading the story a chapter at a time does leave gaps to fill, with a book you can always flip back a page and see where you lost it. Always remember ....I don't know where I was, or even am now most of the time HaHa!
Thanks for continuing to read and comment
Mike
XxX

Gothicman on 26-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty three)
I was never a binge drinker, Mike, but having been legless on a few occasions in early teenage life, I know where you're coming from here, even if 40's getting a bit late for getting on an even keel! It appears you weren't a smoker, or were you? Reaching to fondle the PW was not a good idea..Hahahaha! ....Trevor

Author's Reply:
Always been a drinker Trevor, never liked cigarettes... Unless mixed with other smoking material 🙂 it was a great birthday.
Thanks again for reading
Mike

Kipper on 02-11-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty three)
Hi Mike,
In your earlier chaptersI found it possible to forgive your excesses as being the exuberance of youth (though I'm not sure how wide the term 'youth' stretches in your case) About now however I am beginning to suspect that you were not quite the nice guy we know now (at least at that time) and maybe it was your wife who was paying the price for the somewhat extravagent lifestyle you were living, and not you.
Your story still continues to enthrall, and were it not that you are pouring your heart out I might use the word 'entertain'.
As always I look forward to the next chapter with my fingers crossed.
Michael.


Author's Reply:
Hello Michael, as far as wives go and my treatment of them....to my first wife I was a shit of the highest order, in the end she was not much better to me; she just had more reason...and no I wasn't a nice guy at this time. My second wife I placed on a pedestal (according to my friends and hers) I gave her everything; you will see how that turned out shortly. My third and last wife is my best friend, lover, sole mate and my reason for staying alive. I love her more than life itself.
I'm so pleased you are finding the time to keep up with my life...frankly I struggled at times HaHa!
Mike


The times of my Life (chapter twenty two) (posted on: 20-10-14)
Moving up and moving on

Soon after we married and were settling into Gleneagles Road, I managed to cause problems again. The next-door neighbours were also called Green, and had placed their house on the market; he was in the Navy and had a new posting. It was on the market for 45,000. He asked my opinion I thought he was being a bit optimistic but told him to give it a go. We had been in our house about 14 months at the time and I was still trying to finish doing it up. A few days after he put his on the market, I discovered some dry rot in our shower room; and it ran down the wall. This was bad; the one thing everyone dreads, and it's expensive and hard to fix. I had a word with some builder friends and they said it could run into several thousand as it went through two floors and might be in the joists. A strange thing happened. There was a knock on the door one afternoon. I can't think why I was home, but I was and I answered. An old guy stood there and asked if I was Mr. Green. I said yes I was, and he told me he had come to view the house! I explained that I was not the Mr. Green he wanted, but that I was called Green. We laughed at the coincidence and he said he had knocked next door but had received no answer. He then asked if I was selling my house? 'Well, I said. 'I have been thinking about it since next door put theirs on the market'. A downright lie. He asked if he could view mine and I showed him around. He said he liked it very much and needed to move fast. He had nothing to sell and was a cash buyer, so would I sell to him? What was I to do? He said that next door's was on the market for 45K. I said I would not sell for that, but could be tempted at a higher offer. He went up to 48,500... I said yes. Alarm bells were ringing DRY ROT. He said he wouldn't bother about a survey, he knew about property and grudged the cost. I couldn't believe my luck. There was one problem with all of this. I had not had time to tell G.G. a damn thing. Oh dear. We were down at the Abbey pub after work that night and I thought a few drinks might make it a bit easier to break the news. I told her and she went ballistic. At home I pointed out that this was the house that she wouldn't view and wanted nothing to do with. Now it was the best thing since sliced bread. I wasn't about to back down and she could see that. We went ahead full steam. The guy was as good as his word and within a couple of months we were down to exchange and I still had not found anywhere to move to. 1985 Life in the Fast Lane A house came on the market in Whiteford Road. It was one of the best roads in the area; and much sought after. An end of terrace Victorian house on three floors, currently arranged as three non self-contained units. There was a couple living as sitting tenants on the first floor; I went to look. I should point out that the house in question was in the next road to my Ex and kids, and we would share the back lane if I bought it. I knew the house from the outside and had lusted after it for years. The hall was 8ft wide with beautiful ornate architraves and mouldings, stained glassed door, and more original features than I could count. The rooms were all huge. There was a double garage and a garden to the rear. The front and gable-end walls were limestone. It was magnificent and there was no way I wouldn't buy it. I would kill if I had to. The double garage used to have a Rolls Royce parked in it, and the road was one everyone wanted to live in. The owners were really old and could no longer look after it. It was to be sold to enable them to go into a retirement home together. They were really nice people and I wasn't going to mess them about. We'd owned Gleneagles Road for only fourteen months and made clear profit of 20,000, so I had a good deposit and knew I could obtain a mortgage. Incredibly they only wanted 38,500 because of the sitting tenants on the first floor. The tenants were lovely people, as old as God's dog, and they wouldn't live forever. Besides, there were still the top and ground floors. I offered full asking price on the spot, expecting to hear 'yes please'. Instead they told me that the man next door had offered full asking as well. Fuck, Shit and Bugger!! In the next breath they told me that they didn't like him, and were worried that he would throw out the tenants, who were friends of theirs. They told me he was a Greek Developer and they didn't trust him. I told them there was no way I would do that. I took them upstairs and told the tenants this as well. It worked and we bought the house. The house had nine bedrooms on the three floors, so we converted the top floor into a three bed flat, and took three of our former B&B guests with us. We lived on the ground floor and it was brilliant. My friends could not believe that I had pulled it off. They still talk about it; especially the bit about telling G.G. in the Abbey Pub. And so began the 'best of times and the worst of times' with G.G. So much happened in that house, the big Greek holidays on the plus side, the start of our problems with her daughter on the minus. Alarm bells had been ringing in my head and I knew she wasn't right.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
Bozzz on 20-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
Mike, for me this instalment has regained the good momentum you had with earlier ones. Hard to pin down, but the writing is very good and you seem to have given the subject matter new impetus. So it is very much 'Stay with it'.....David

Author's Reply:
Hello David, pleased you liked this one. As I have always said 'its a life' with all it's ups and downs. I was talking about this section with my friend Graham, he well remembers the look on G.G'S face in the Abbey Pub when I told her I had sold the house.... Oh Dear.
Momentum....I will keep trying 🙂
Mike

e-griff on 21-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
There! I think you should note Bozzz's commen. This is indeed a more interesting episode than some. A good read.

best JohnG

Author's Reply:
Thanks for sticking with the story John. You may not believe it, but I take all critique on board....yours included 🙂
Mike

Rab on 21-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
Always leaves me wanting more, the sign of a good tale!

Author's Reply:
Can't ask for more than that mate! So pleased you are enjoying it.
Mike

e-griff on 21-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
If I didn't believe that, Mike, I wouldn't bother 🙂

Author's Reply:
HaHaHaHa! Nice one John...

ps. thanks for the back up on the forum.
Mike

Kipper on 21-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
Another chapter full of life. Another episode in your extraordinary life.

As has been said you have recovered the 'swing in the tail' (little joke) that was not so apparent for a couple of chapters. Perhaps because you showed us a little more of the 'bad guy' again. Out Greening Mr Green for example.

Looking forward to more revelations.

Michael



Author's Reply:
Out Greening HaHa! It was a little bit difficult for the rest of our time there. It was too good to miss.
Thanks as always Michael for you support.
Mike

pommer on 21-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
Mike, I must agree with Bozzz,the writing is really very good, and I enjoyed reading about your good fortunes of selling and buying property.I haven't a lot of time to read these days, but I am looking forward to the next episode of the story. Best wishes to you and Lesley, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thank you so much Peter, it's kind of you to take the time to read and comment; so pleased you are still enjoying my life 🙂
Mike

Gothicman on 22-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
To me, knowing your often stated intentions with writing this life-story, it all reads good, just that some parts feel more cohesive by the inclusion of more facts and figures, and having a more natural progression, than others. Some bad luck becoming good in both house sales. Did the buyer get the dry rot sorted, perhaps not so bad after all? Any later contact with him? The new house, architecturally, sounded superb by your descriptions, and B & B guests to help pay the mortgage, which had very little left to pay off anyway!
What must that house be worth today? Following with baited breath...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Hello Trevor, thanks for dropping by. Your comments and commitment to reading my life are much appreciated. Many people have quoted 'You cant please all of the people all of the time' I think I understand that all to well now 🙂
I never saw or heard from the guy again (his name escapes me) I never left a forwarding address for obvious reasons (the dry rot was bad). The new house was only a very short distance away so I did expect too. We did have a small mortgage as we needed to convert the top floor for our tenents. You will see what I sold it for shortly, as to what it is worth today... well over £400k in today's market. I loved that house. I know you said you look places up on Google Earth, it was number two. 🙂
Mike


Gothicman on 22-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
On the corner with Lovell Road? Very nice!

Author's Reply:
The internet is a wonderful tool, now you have that... you can look up the sale HaHa! I was talking to the currant owner not long ago, I met her outside when visiting my Dentist. Not much has changed and I still wish I hadn't sold it; but then it would have gone in the next divorce anyway...Bugger!

sweetwater on 23-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty two)
Hi Mike there's not a lot I can add to the comments, but wanted to say I am still reading and enjoying. 🙂 Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Hello Sue, your words are all that's important; so pleased 🙂
Mike
XxX


The times of my Life (chapter twenty) (posted on: 17-10-14)
Moving through the gears in Estate Agency

After Kennings I still wanted to do Estate Agency, so looked for a job with other local agents. I had experience and a growing reputation. I got my next job with a company called Willsons Estate Agents. They were at the top of North Hill and owned by a man called Jim. It was a one-man band and had been around for a while. Lots of people I knew had worked there, including my best friend Graham. It was a good place to learn the trade; and I was still learning. Jim and I seemed to get on all right and I was soon selling well. I was keen to try valuing at this time and asked Jim to show me the ropes. He let me follow him for a while, and I was soon out on the road. This was something I really liked. It was different and you were on your own. If you got it wrong then it was all down to you; but get it right and the boss, the client and your mates had something they could sell. They loved you for it. The more you registered; the more sales and the more commission. It was always about 'the commission'. Jim made me manager after a time, as I had pushed the sales figures to a new high and was on a roll. It was my first real office manager position and I loved it.As soon as I could I bought myself another BMW. I was a long way from my Hippy roots now HaHa! There was one fly in the ointment. A woman, she was the bitch from hell. We first crossed swords when I was promoted over her, and she would not let it go. She was going behind my back the whole time I was there, and the other staff could see it. It was as if she had some kind of hold on Jim. I never really knew what, but I had an idea. Our secretary told me when we were on a night out that she hated me. I knew my days were numbered. I carried on for a while, but I hated her too. I had to go. I resigned following a meeting with Jim. It was obvious it was to remain a battleground... and I would never win. My next position was with a guy who had an investment and financial consultancy up on Mutley Plain. He was called Johnathan, he was a complete poser, and he knew it. His favourite saying was, 'I am only interested in six figure incomes; anything less is not worth considering'... What a twat! At the time I needed a job and he wanted an Estate Agency. He was prepared to pay me to set one up, so I signed on. It didn't last long but it was fun. He turned out to be good fun as well. It went okay initially, soon we were selling a few every month; then the market turned against us and we ran out of property to sell. I had good times with Johnathan and his friends before it all went wrong. He had a big house with a pool, a Porsche and loads of money. G.G. and I went to all the parties and helped him spend it. The parties always ended in the pool, with topless piggyback fights and flirting in the Jacuzzi. It was great fun, but I had learned my lesson, and kept away from any wife swapping that may have been on offer; tempting as it was. After the market died on us he decided that Estate Agency was not such a good thing after all. I was on the street again. It was odd but I just didn't care at the time. I had confidence in myself and believed that something would turn up. It did. My family life was a bit hit and miss. I tried to be all things to all people all the time. My own kids were jealous of G.G. and her children, as they spent so much time with me. G.G's kids were still wondering if I was real or not; and whether I was going to stay. We still spent time together as a group, and went to all the theme parks and local beaches. We even had a caravan at Stoke Beach, for a couple of weeks one year; it was brilliant. I had my parents to think about too, and used to take the kids to see them as often as I could. It was difficult with my dad as he lived in the bedsit. God knows I knew all about that. My mother was always good with the children, but she did not like G.G... and it showed. She said that she had too high an opinion of herself. My father was of different opinion and thought she was good for me. I thought they were both right. Any divorced Father will tell you it's hard to keep the relationship going with your children with their ex in the background. It's bad enough being a weekend dad, but I had it in Spades. David was going through the Punk Rock thing and would hide all his Punk clothes in a bag and change at a mate's house when they went out. One night, my friend Graham and I were driving across Mutley Plain. There he was, all done up like Sid Vicious with his mates in tow. I wound down the window and shouted his name. He nearly shat himself.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (chapter twenty)
e-griff on 17-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty)
Hmm. I'm now quite confused about your work and your marriages and kids. Because they are mostly told separately and sometimes out of sequence, I'm unsure about the dates and order of what is happening. It might be ok read all in one rather than episodes, but I suspect the point I made in the last post applies. But I enjoyed it despite that apart from a couple of things nothing of real significance happened and it could do with cutting down a lot.

Author's Reply:
I suspect you may be right John, pleased your still enjoying it in spite of my meanderings. It's a life story not a short story, there will be times when the infill is boring to any other than my family; sorry about that.
Mike

Bozzz on 18-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty)
As with Ch 19, Mike, it is as if you are sprinting breathless along the last 200 yards of your marathon and have little time to dwell upon the your feelings - more a catalogue of change. The spirit of your excellent poems about adventures in the Greek islands seems drowned in the pace and detail. A collection of stories about them would be a book in itself. These are just my impressions and part of a wish to hear more about it all. Apols, pressed Post too soon. Just to add that I realise it is very difficult for you to make judgements on what to include when things get closer to the 'now'...My best, David

Author's Reply:
I have stripped a lot out of the last few postings, Mr. Gruff was critiquing that I included too much detail; as did a couple of others. 'A catalogue of change'... you may be right; change is a constant theme in my life HaHa!
Thanks for you attention David
Mike

Gothicman on 18-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty)
I suppose running an estate agency at various locations and with different people has been your main type of work since the scaffolding and building days? Keep going, it makes no difference how it's all structured and what's included or excluded at this stage, Mike, serves its purpose and is a very interesting and open read. On to Part 21! Trevor

Author's Reply:
Yes, for a while anyway,In one form or another I have spent much of my working life involved with land and property; more to come on that. Anyone who reads this will draw their own conclusions about the structure; for some it may be unreadable, others seem to accept it as part of my crazy life.
Thanks for keeping with it.
Mike

pommer on 18-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty)
Hi Mike,a very interesting read, almost tame compared with your previous chapters.I think you have neglected your personal feelings , and some of the story seem to be rushing along a bit.I nevertheless enjoyed reading it as usual.As far as wife swapping is concerned I am surprised you did not suffer withdrawal symptoms.Only joking. be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:

sweetwater on 19-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty)
No matter where you go or what you do you almost always gain good friends, that says a lot about a person. I get dizzy just reading about your hectic life, although I guess it's not as "condensed " as it appears. Still reading and enjoying 🙂 Sue x.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Sue, both for continuing to read and for commenting. I was, and still am, blessed with forming lasting friendships. It's always said if your have a couple of good friends through out your life your lucky...I guess I've been very lucky. Re the 'condensed' bit, yes this is a life; and in amongst all the stuff you read a normal life went on (or tried too) 🙂
Mike XxX


The times of my Life (chapter twenty one) (posted on: 17-10-14)
Greece, G.G. and me.

It may sound as if I was crashing from one problem into the next. In reality it wasn't like that, and anyway, as I caused most of the problems, it was my own fault. Life with G.G. was a mixed bag, but in truth only the last four or five years were suspect. In between we did have some fun. After my trip to Greece and her invasion of Germany, I asked her to come to Poros with me. She jumped at the idea and we were off. We arrived on the island to find Lucas on the dock. He grabbed me in a bear hug and pretended to throw me off the dock. G.G. and the other passengers thought it was for real, until he put me down and they could see the tears of laughter in our faces. G.G. was so embarrassed, more so when Lucas did the same to her. It was two weeks of fun and laughter all over again, this time with a partner; brilliant. Greece became an annual destination, only now we would backpack it. No one who knows G.G. could believe what we did, or how I got her to do it. We travelled all over the country on local buses, boats, hydrofoils, and sometimes just walking. The local buses were a joy as they would have all types of passenger, including animals. It was not unusual to share your seat with an old man clutching a chicken or two, or maybe a goat! This is the time I like to remember with her. It was all new to us then and we were in love with each other, and with life. During our Greek period we visited at least 15 islands, most at least twice, and travelled the Peloponnese from the Corinth Canal down through Sparta, Tripoli and on to Koroni (spent three weeks here). Then down again through the Manni peninsular all the way to a beautiful place called Monemvasia. It was a truly amazing time. We would decide on a direction or Island group that we wanted to visit, fly in to Athens, and either bus down to the port or catch a bus from the main terminal to another destination. This is what we did the first time we went to the Sporades Group of Islands. We caught a bus north from Athens to a small port at the town of Volos, it took forever and we went through some stunning countryside. We stayed overnight and the next morning caught the ferry to Skiathos. We stayed a couple of days there, then on to Skopolos. Here we planned to stay three or four days; however, a storm came in while we were eating and drinking in a bar, and the whole place was locked down. It came in so fast that we and a group of Dutch people had to spend the night there. Outside, the tables and chairs were flying around and some of the boats broke their moorings. It was a real storm. Inside we carried on drinking and singing songs. The next day wasn't much better but we made it back to our room. Unfortunately, G.G. went down with alcohol poisoning after the night in the Bar. Our first trip to this Island would be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The old lady we stayed with was brilliant. Despite the language problem she knew what to do and G.G. was back on her feet in a couple of days. It made me realise that I needed to speak at least basic Greek. We caught a ferry to the next Island Alonisos as soon as she was able. It was a bad crossing and nearly everyone was sick as the storm had left the sea pretty lumpy. I don't get sea sick as a rule and I don't think G.G. had anything left to come up! Alonisos was beautiful and at that time not a tourist Island. We had been once before as a package and had always wanted to come back. Every one remembered us, and it was a magical week. We moved on to Skiros. We spent a couple of days there but we knew we would return. It was a real hippie Island, with a wonderful town spreading out over a small mountain; it had to be seen to be believed. We caught a boat over to Evia, the second largest Island after Crete. It's close to the mainland and linked by a causeway. We were on our way to the Island of Andross, in the Cyclades. It looked as if we might get a boat from the tip of Evia. The Greek buses don't always run where you want them to or when, and we were having a bad day. We had stood by the bus stop for about two hours in the heat of the day. We must have looked knackered, as an old lady appeared bringing G.G. a chair to sit on! Using my crap Greek I found that there would be no buses that day, so we decided to catch a bus back across the Island and onto the mainland. Once on the mainland we could find our way to Piraeus, then head down via the ferry to Poros to see our old friends. When we got to Poros we found that Lucas had died. This upset us so much that we moved on further down the Island Chain to Hydra Island. It was what we did. We drifted from one place to another, finding rooms as we went. It was the best of times; and we did it for years. We also took City Breaks in the winter months visiting Paris, Rome, Madrid, Toledo and Athens. We went from Rome to Pompeii to see the ruins. We were living the dream. It would take up too much time recounting all our adventures. I already feel like a holiday bore, but in truth it's all I lived for. Ever since Malta I had thought of little else. This is what drove me. There were many holidays, and they were all great. Favourite Greek Islands include Allonisos, Hydra and Skiros. Greek Mainland would be Koroni village where we spent three weeks while I recovered from illness, and not forgeting Monamvasia, both on the Peloponnese.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (chapter twenty one)
e-griff on 17-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty one)
Ah, that's more interesting 😉 enjoyed it.

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! I'm pleased you did... As your comment arrived three times on the site you must have liked it a lot 🙂
Mike

Gothicman on 18-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty one)
Feels all like a very happy period, apart from losing Lucas; those Greek islands had/have a special charm and atmosphere, and so cheap; you could last a month on £20 in the late 70's, and eating well. Have you been back there since? Or did Italy take over? Very informative and enjoyable reading...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Hello again Trevor, yes this was a happy period, or the holidays were. As I said before these were the only thing that keep me sane I think. I have been back to Greece, as you will read if I keep posting. Turkey came next then Italy..along with a few others for 'one off's'. As I said when I had money this was what I did.
Thanks for your continued support.
Mike

pommer on 18-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty one)
A great read and very good descriptions of an obviously enjoyable time of your life.I have never been to Greece, but having read classics I could see it all.A really good read. Best wishes,your friend Peter.

Author's Reply:
Hello again Peter, thanks for taking the time to read and comment; so pleased you are still enjoying the story.
Mike

Kipper on 19-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty one)
Hi Mike, catching up again I'm afraid. Where does the time go?

Still reading and still enjoying your story. It is strange how your life moved between crisis and calm. From heartache to the happiness, as in the period of the Greek Islands.

But through it all one detects ( I think) a growing level of maturity and an awareness that I don't think was apparent when you were younger, of the needs of others who came into (and out of) you life.

Keep writing, Michael.

Author's Reply:
Hello Michael, yes heartache and happiness, that just about sums it up 🙂 My life has never been easy, whenever things started to seem settled...I had the ability to screw things up. Some people never grow up , I guess that's me. On reflection you may well be right, I think I began to understand myself; but I would always revert to type when pushed 'Estate Agent to Scaffolder in a split second'... a complete bastard.
Mike

sweetwater on 19-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty one)
All colour and light this one, I have always wanted to visit Greece this is almost as good, I can picture it all thanks to your brilliant writing. :-)) Sue x.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Sue, pleased you enjoyed this chapter, Greece and her people have always had a place in my heart.
Mike XxX

Kipper on 19-10-2014
The times of my Life (chapter twenty one)
Just a PS Mike
We only know you through your writing so we only know what you tell us though perhaps here and there we may have to read between the lines to catch a glimpse of unspoken meaning.
That being so I would just like to comment on the last three words in your reply to me.
I can see why you might have used that phrase to describe the man you once were, but I cannot believe that someone who writes about himself with such candour can still be so described.
I hope you don't prove me wrong.
Michael

Author's Reply:
I use the phrase to describe the man I was when this period was taking place, still volatile. I do change...but not yet. I am still in my thirties here 🙂 I promised myself I would not lie, or shy away from painful stuff; I haven't. I will not be messed with or taken for granted, harm my family and I will seek retribution. I have never turned the other cheek. The book runs fro 1946 to 2008 or there about's... and I do calm down.

I'm a nice guy ask Bozz or Alison, Jim or Andrea, they all know what will happen to them if they say other wise HaHaHa!


The Times of my Life (chapter eighteen) (posted on: 13-10-14)
A bit of infill and a look at my crazy life.

After our wedding at the registry office, we held the reception at home in Gleneagles Road, with friends and family. I was a happy man; I thought I had it all. We couldn't afford a big honeymoon so decided we would stay one night with my travel agent friend who was to lay on a party for us. Then it would be up to Gatwick and fly to Paris for a couple of nights. The time at my friends was great, but on the way up to Gatwick we decided to stay in Exeter. We spent the night at the White Hart Hotel; I had always wanted to. It was an old world place and had a great reputation. After the evening meal G.G. came down with food poisoning and had to be taken to hospital. That was the end of the honeymoon. I've not really talked about G.G's family, though from here on in they play a significant part in my life. Her Mother and Father lived in a council house in Manadon Vale. They were nice down to earth people. I only knew her father for a short while as he had a stroke and died shortly after. I got to know her mother really well. She was a lady with simple tastes and so easy to please. I know she thought a lot of me and I was fond of her. My wife didn't treat her as well as she should, and we had a few words over the years. G.G. was a social climber and was a little embarrassed by her background, especially now mixing with 'wealthy people' and living in Mannamead. My how quickly we all change given the opportunity. My wife's brother had the same birthday as me but was a lot younger and very different. So much for star signs! When we first met he was a draughtsman in the dockyard. He seemed a nice enough guy, but we were never going to be 'good' friends; and so kept our distance. It turned out that he and G.G. had never got on and I was conditioned by that G.G.'s sister Mary was a different kettle of fish. Down to earth and knowing what she wanted from life, though getting it was proving a problem. She'd just returned from a world cruise when we first met. Mary had recently been divorced and decided to let off some steam. The cruise was her way of doing it. We got on from day one, and over the years built a good friendship. I helped her get on the property ladder and she has always been grateful for that. She was ever ready to listen rather than talk, unlike her sister. She proved to be one of the best friends I have ever had, and through all my problems has supported me and been there for me. This was often at the great personal cost over the years after my divorce from her sister. I have always thought of her (and still do) as a much loved sister. In the early days G.G. and Mary would double date with Tony (my Karate friend) and me. We had some good times and some weird ones. One time by accident, we were involved in a bar room brawl with some football thugs. Tony and I had a great time but the girls were terrified; for us it was nice to know that all that training worked. I had a bit of a reputation as a man not to mess with and it wasn't the only scrape I got myself into. I didn't start a lot of fights but I seemed to get involved in a few. I didn't lose many either, so must have been an okay fighter in my day. G.G's sister is always telling stories about the scrapes 'I' got us into. One night we were queuing to get into Ronnie's Club on the Barbican. It was on the 2nd floor with entry up a long flight of stairs. We were standing near to the top. There was a commotion below us as a guy came powering up the stairs, telling everyone to get out of his way. He claimed to be a member and didn't need to queue. I placed my leg across the stairs blocking his progress, so he tried to push me out of the way. I was wedged in and he couldn't do it; he grabbed my shirt front and demanded I let him through...Oh dear. The others started to laugh as they knew what would come next. I told him we were all members and that he should go downstairs to join the queue. He was having none of it; so what was I to do? I was half way through a cheeseburger with onions and ketchup. I screwed it into his face and threw him down the stairs. He went arse over tit with everyone squeezing out of the way to let him fall. There were many similar incidents; some were funny and some were not. There was a time 'way back when' everyone at the local pub called me the windmill man. It went back to a time when I had been out with my first wife at the Dolphin. We were all quite drunk and on our way to Ronnie's night club as usual. I had stopped at the burger van (as you do) whilst the others stood by the railings overlooking the harbour waiting for me. In the queue someone jumped on my back, holding onto my neck. I swung around to try and get them off, thinking it was one of my friends. There was another one waiting and he started punching me in the chest and stomach, with the one on my back holding my head. Fat chance of hurting me, I was doing 100 sit-ups every night; and training for this situation three nights a week. It must have looked really strange. I had one man on my back and another at my front. I also had no idea why they were doing it. The guy punching me decided to hit me in the face; that was enough! I said ''right, now it's my turn''. I kicked the front man in the balls and as he went down I caught him again in the head. The one on my back tried to escape, but I was sobering up fast and angry as I could see all my friends laughing at me. I was swinging my arms like a windmill trying to get him off my back. Eventually I pulled him over my head; lifted him in the air, and walked over to the harbour railings. I was going to throw him in but the tide was out, he could have been badly hurt. Just then his girlfriend decided to help him out. She stabbed me with her umbrella, bugger! Now that hurt! I placed him at her feet and told them to piss off as we could hear the police on the way. Like I say I didn't start many fights but I seemed to get involved anyway. The stab wound needed attention and I ended up at the hospital. After treatment I went home. The name Windmill Man stuck; it was a source of embarrassment to me for a long time.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter eighteen)
pommer on 13-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter eighteen)
Hi Mike, what a story. You were quite a good mate to have around when in trouble.I enjoyed the story so far.Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
I was wild Peter, the training several days a week keep you pumped up. Pleased you are still reading mate. Keep well old friend, give her a hug from me.
Mike

sweetwater on 13-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter eighteen)
I have to admit to my shame, that I was rather surprised you were, and stayed, just good friends with your wife's sister. sorry but track record and all that!
Another fascinating glimps into your world, did think it a waste to shove the burger into someone's face, but I suppose if needs must! Another great installment, thank you 🙂 Sue xx.

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! I tried to answer this on my iphone seems I failed. I can see why you would think that Sue...it never happened 🙂 Pleased it still interests you; the next one on here is not as funny.
Mike XxX

Bozzz on 14-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter eighteen)
Dear Mike, the Green Party needs you - they keep getting arrested by the score and somebody is needed to keep the police in order.
But perhaps you were one of the undercover cop blokes that had orders to sleep with your target ??? Infill? Nonsense, it is the most thrilling instalment yet. Reminds me of Chaplin's knockabout comedies. Yours, David

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! I was a bit wild when younger, add to this the drink and it was a bit of an explosive mix, as it is with all young men. Thanks for the continuing support.
Mike

Gothicman on 16-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter eighteen)
Still following your life as a young lecherous thug with great interest, Mike. Hahaha! Was all this low life going on in Devonshire? I just saw cow's ears on the hedges of narrow roads, old farmhands chewing straws, and old people playing bowls in Plymouth, serene and gentle country folk! Now on to next episode....Trevor

Author's Reply:
Lecherous thug HaHa! Well you may be right I suppose. Time now (other than holidays) spent in the West Country playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe with Sir Francis.
Thanks again Trevor
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter nineteen) (posted on: 13-10-14)
A look at a dark period

G.G's children were nothing like mine and it took a while to get used to them. I must have been a shock for them too. Her son was close to leaving school and needed space as all teenagers do. Her daughter was younger but very volatile and unpredictable. I didn't know why at the time, but I was to find out. They both blew hot and cold with me, but I persevered and we seemed to be making progress. They joined my old karate club and I helped them with their training. They seemed to like it but they weren't very good. I tried to broaden their horizons by telling them about places and things I had seen. I got them to read a newspaper every day and asked them questions after school. We had quizzes to help them with their general knowledge. It seemed to be working out for all of us. However the dreaded teenagers' 'know it all' trip was about to ruin everything. When her son left school he started to feel his weight and we came to blows. He came home drunk one night and G.G. got upset as it wasn't the first time. She tried to reason with him but I could see it was no use. She told him to go to his room and he went upstairs and started swearing at her. She went up to see him and he pushed her down the stairs. It was enough for me. He came down, stepped over her and started on me....wrong decision. I kicked him in the guts and knocked him out. When he came around I told him it was the last time. I gave him 50 and threw him out. G.G. was badly shaken and upset at what had happened. I think she was glad I was there, and supported my decision. In the morning we found him in the shed, full of remorse. I told him he could only stay until he found somewhere to live. We had a much better relationship after that; and we are still in contact. The daughter was a real problem. I had no way of knowing that the troubles were deep rooted and from before my time. After I moved in I noticed that her behaviour would flair up for no apparent reason. I assumed that it was because of me. I asked her to talk things through and she said that she wanted to have contact with her Father. He was an alcoholic and lived not too far away. He had married again and by all accounts was a bit of a twat. G.G. was against it, but she had a point. I went with her, laid down a few ground rules, and all seemed to be OK. When we moved to Mannamead, her daughter came with us. She had her own room and we gave her the freedom to come and go within reason. It became obvious to me that all was not well with her. I became aware of a possible drink or drug problem. With my past it wasn't hard to spot. I told G.G. what I suspected. She said her daughter was just a girl, and that it wasn't possible. I tried to tell the rest of the family, but they were all deep in denial. Things went from bad to worse so I sought advice from a drug and alcohol counsellor I had sold a house. She worked at Broadreach Rehab Centre, and agreed to interview her if I could get her there. G.G. could no longer pretend that all was well, and so I told her what I'd done. My plan was to say I was going to Tesco, and that I wanted her to come with me to give me a hand. I would then drive to Broadreach and make her go in for a chat. That's what I did. She fought against it, but in the end went in. She and I sat with the counsellors and talked about her life and her family. She was in denial and could see no problem. The rest of us knew differently. The people were fantastic and talked her into staying 'for a few days'. She was there for eight weeks, and it was hell. We weren't allowed to see her while she was in Detox, so it was a week before we were able to visit. God! She looked terrible. She was smoking non-stop and could not keep still. Her face was thin, discoloured and covered in spots. I felt like a criminal for taking her there, but it was for the best. I still don't know how I did it, as the centre cost 6k for the 8 weeks... and we paid nothing. The rehab programme is very strict; there are no short cuts and definitely no guarantees. But it's the only hope. Every Saturday of those 8 weeks I would attend the family group session, when families of the patients discussed their loved one's behaviour. It was horrendous and even now I am shaking as I write this. G.G only attended one session; she just could not handle it. This is not a criticism as it was incredibly stressful. The session she attended was probably the worst. They made her daughter stand on a chair in the middle of the circle of other people and their family members, with G.G. and I on either side of her. They told her to hold her hands up like she was the puppet master making us dance to her tune. It was SO true, and painful to experience in that way. G.G's son was there and I believe it had a bad effect on him. He never came again. Even after all of this, she remained in denial. On completion, she re-joined our household. She was okay, but still needed to continue with counselling at AA or an equivalent group. It was not to last and she was soon back to her old ways, going from bad to worse. We asked her to leave and in the end threw her out. She was stealing from us and her Grandmother. We could no longer have her around. After she left she returned to run a screwdriver down both sides of our car. I could write a book about G.G's daughter, and maybe one day I will; but not now. Suffice to say she was in and out of rehab till finally sectioned in a mental institution. I was with her all the way; picking her up from the Hospital, the Police Station and the gutter. She was a complete mess and we didn't know why. Some years later we had a call to say she was in a rehab centre in Bournemouth, and would G.G. travel up there to see her; she had something to say. We contacted Broadreach, who said that G.G. should go on her own, or with her sister; but not with me. I was concerned, but they said it was important and off they went. It was 'the big one'. What came out was truly shocking. Over an extended period of time she had been abused by a babysitter, when she was still a child. I was never allowed to know his name for fear of what I might do. This was the root of her problem and there was nothing we could do about it. It changed nothing for her. She continued to have problems and I believe still does. We'd had an explanation, and I was glad her Grandmother was not around to hear it. The effect this had on both G.G. and her son was devastating, neither of them could understand why they didn't know; they blamed themselves. She got married during one of her 'dry periods', and asked if I would give her away. I was a proud man that day, as her real father was also there. This was after G.G. and I had gone our separate ways, so it was very moving for me. She set up house and had a life for the first time in years and years. They have a couple of kids and I hope that they are doing well. We are not in contact for reasons I will come to cover later, but I wish her well. If you read between the lines you may get an idea of how traumatic all this was. It spanned a period of 10 to 12 years and dominated our lives.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter nineteen)
pommer on 13-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter nineteen)
Hi Mike, made a bit of time to read this. Time is precious,for me at present. I can feel for you on this particular period, having spent a long time of my nursing career in Psychiatry, and having seen sad situations like the one described by you many a time. Often one feels very helpless in these situations.I hope that the young lady and her two children are doing OK now.Well MIke, you are full of surprises. What a colourful life.I am looking forward to the next episode.You write really well, different to the first bits of Webber.I try to make time reading and writing when I can,but it is sometimes difficult being a full time carer now.Take care, stay well and be lucky, your friend Peter.

Author's Reply:
I was out of my depth but I couldn't let her go, I had to try. As I said we had to break contact when she went off the rails again. I did my best, sometimes nothing works.
I know about being a carer, sometimes it seems to take over your life, in saying that I would have my mother-in-law back in an instant. I wish you well Peter.
Mike

Bozzz on 14-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter nineteen)
Mike, I found your poem of anguish when you parted with your daughter so very moving, but clearly even that hid the depth of the problem. Strangely I suspect that your writing in this piece gives a sense of limited catharsis, but perhaps never to be complete. One of your best written instalments I have read.
Your friend, David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this one David, this story was not about the daughter my poem 'Cutting the ties' was about; that was my blood daughter. That story comes a little later. The pain of these times never truly goes away. This whole episode was like a car crash in slow motion, I could see it coming but could do nothing to stop it.
Mike

Gothicman on 16-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter nineteen)
Yes, much more serious and heart wrenching content now, Mike. Very trying and difficult times over a long period with no idea about outcome, highlighting the more negative side of forming responsible relationships, of caring about what happens to people related or acquainted with. She appears to have pulled through that dark period at the end and got some vestige of a life with own family together, but, as you say, more to come...Tough writing, Mike..not all fun!....Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks for understanding Trevor, this was a dark time in my life, but we still had to live. I guess we partied hard to push the bad stuff away. Sadly she is in and out of her addiction, I don't think she will ever be clear of it; although I may never know as we can no longer be in contact. Mary (G.G.s sister) and I made a pledge never to discuss that situation.
Mike

sweetwater on 16-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter nineteen)
It does seem that so far your life has consisted of lost relationships, that must be very hard. I am hoping the next instalment is a bit happier for you. Sue xx

Author's Reply:
Hello Sue, yes it must seem like that but I tried in my own way to make things work...14 years with the first, eighteen with the next, sixteen on Saturday with Lesley and still going strong. I've been married a long time...just with three different women that's all 🙂 we wont mention all the others LoL
Nice bit coming up, two more chapters on the site.
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter seventeen) (posted on: 10-10-14)
Back from the dead, a new man (although still a bit of a twat)

Around now I was invited to become a Freemason. It seemed a good idea as most of the influential people seemed to be in it. I became a Master Mason and attended all the meetings. Was it of use in the business world? Not much. I enjoyed the early days as it was a 'Gentleman's club'. We'd turn up once a month; go through the ceremonial in the Lodge; then sit to a cheap meal and get pissed. It was here that we swapped cards and offered each other help when needed. The system worked on the odd occasion. I got a lot of money back on an Insurance policy that was technically out of date when my Father died. I stayed for around ten years. I was always being urged to progress up the ladder like most of the others. I had no interest in it, so eventually I said bollocks and left. I'm not really a club person and don't join in with all the group activities. It takes up so much time. I've been approached to go back on many occasions but I've always said no thanks. I got a few other friends to join, it spiced it up a little, but it really wasn't for us. So mote it be. Looking back I have no idea what the fuck I was doing in there in the first place! With all my new friends and contacts, I found it difficult living in a council house. I know how that sounds... but it simply wasn't me. My best friend Graham started scouting for me and I talked to my contacts. A solicitor friend agreed to act for me at no charge, and Graham found a property in Gleneagle Road, Mannamead - my favourite post code. It was a five bed mid terrace built about 1915 and The owners were in trouble. They were asking 38,000. It was in a poor state and stank of damp and smelly feet, they had let the place go. It had been on the market for several months with no offers. After a bit of negotiation we agreed a purchase at 28,000. I was so happy I cried. Through other friends a 100% mortgage was arranged. No deposit to find and they waved the survey fee. A dear friend called Bill (a speculator who I'd found houses for) sent in his workmen to clean and decorate my house from top to bottom free of charge. Prior to buying the house I took my girlfriend to see it. I told her what I intended.... she refused to go in and take a look. She said I had no money; how could I possibly afford the Mortgage. Her sister was with us at the time and viewed it with me instead. She told my girlfriend she was being stupid. I never mentioned it again. After I had bought it and it was cleaned and decorated, I drove my girlfriend and her sister back to the house. I told her it was mine and would she like to look inside. She looked at me as if I were mad. We went inside and she could not get her head around it. She accused me of lying and trying to make a fool of her. She thought I'd taken her to a different house. It was too big a jump to take in, and she ran outside in tears. I wanted her to be proud of me; to join in my happiness, but she couldn't. She still thought I'd done something illegal to get it. I suppose it was a big jump as we lived in a three bed council house. I'd talked her into buying it via Maggie Thatcher's 'right to buy' scheme for all of 11,000. It had taken me months to talk her into doing that; so a Five Bed Victorian house in one of Plymouth's best areas was hard to take in. She knew of my past; that I had no real assets or money in the bank. Not really a surprise that she thought I had stolen it. The house was a couple of streets away from Thornhill Road where my first wife still lived with my kids. Eventually we both moved in and let the other house. We later sold our ex council house on for a small profit. My children were happy and started to see me as settled. It was easy to pop in and see Dad as we lived so close. My mother and father loved the house, as it was 'just like the last one'. Everyone seemed happy. To help with the Mortgage we did B&B for a while. It worked a treat with me doing the breakfasts and my girlfriend the evening meals. We had an all male clientele, as they were less of a problem; and we had some great times. We were always playing tricks on each other and most of our guests became friends. There was a fantastic atmosphere in the house. For the first time since the split with my first wife I stood straight; and could look at myself in the mirror. I began to believe in myself. It was whilst living there that I rediscovered my love for horses and riding. I was fed up with my children, David and Tracy, telling me all about the brilliant rides at the weekends. I said bugger it, and went to the stable to see if I still had it in me. The short answer was no. I had the knowledge but my body was out of tune with the horse. It took me a few weeks to find the rhythm again, much to the amusement of my kids who now rode like jockeys. It did come back and we had some amazing times. Sometimes there would be twenty riders on the Hack, and it was like a Cavalry Charge. I loved it. After the first year G.G. (girlfriend's nick name) gave it a go. To start with she had to go on the beginners' treks. She learned on the hoof, so to speak. To give her credit, she never gave up. When she started coming out on the experienced rides, she fell off more times than I could count. We'd charge off on a long stretch and by the end, two or three riderless horses would arrive. G.G was always one of them, and I'd have to find her and reunite her with the horse. To hers, mine and everyone else's amazement she became a good rider; and she learnt to jump fences as well. She never lacked spirit. We'd been riding for a couple of years and knew most of the regulars. We became friendly with the owners. They used to do 'invite only' rides. Those who were invited would turn up early on a Saturday with a packed lunch and a flask or bottle and we would ride to Meldon Dam or Princetown. Great days out and we'd get to see the Moor from a new perspective. At Christmas there would be a ride to Pubs like the Fox and Hounds or the Brentor Arms. It was experienced riders only, as we'd get drunk and ride back without our saddles; jumping over hedges and streams just for fun. Tracy went minesweeping the tables one year. She got so drunk we had to tie her to the stirrups to get her back. Fantastic days that came to an end after I had a bad fall. My horse bolted down a bank when I stupidly threw a helmet I had been adjusting back to its owner. Half way down I managed to turn him, but he flipped and off I went. I landed on a rock and broke my wrist in several places. We were a long way from the stables and I had to walk or ride back to my car. We drove back to hospital in Plymouth. It took an age and I was in a lot of pain. G.G kept telling me what a twat I was, but I could see she was worried. It was a good two hours before I reached Derriford Hospital. I was in plaster for 8 weeks. We started looking for another hobby. I did go back from time to time but it was never the same. G.G really wanted a wedding and eventually I gave in, we had been together for a good three years by then. I booked it without telling her. I arranged with her boss to get the time off and set it all up without her knowledge. G.G was working in one of the fashion departments in Dingles at the time. She was always into clothes and the job really suited her. Her work friends were over the moon and looked forward to the trick I was playing... and to G.G's reaction. She was at work when I came in and I asked her what she was doing on the 8th September. She said 'I don't know. Why?' 'I know what you're doing' I said. She looked at me, 'So what am I doing?' 'You're getting married' I said. She almost collapsed. Everyone cheered and gave her a hug; it was so funny.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter seventeen)
Rab on 10-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter seventeen)
Coming along nicely Mike.If I could make a small suggestion - when the 'times' are (is?) complete, read through it as a single piece, and try to spot areas where you could cut the odd sentence or paragraph. Writing it the way you are it's difficult to apply that kind of discipline, but as you see it as a single piece of work I think you'll see more clearly where it could be tightened up. It's a worthwhile exercise, as it will turn your life story, interesting and entertaining as it is just now, into a really great read!

Author's Reply:
Hello again Steve and thanks for reading, I take your point and have tried to prune out some bits in the last two chapters. I don't know how much you have read but I am going back over it (for the 101st. time) It was never going to be put 'out there' all the detail was for family, but I agree its only important to them. I now have two versions 🙂
Mike

Bozzz on 10-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter seventeen)
Reads as well as ever, though for your book version I would consider shrinking the para that starts "It was a five bed ....". Awaiting eighteen with interest, yours, David.


Author's Reply:
Pleased your still enjoying the read, I will look again as you suggested.
Mike

All done have another look!

e-griff on 12-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter seventeen)
OK, finished to date. My verdict? A bit of a curate's egg: some of it fascinating and involving, well worth reading, on the other hand some of it a bit flat, some of it repetitive. I would regard it at the moment as a work in progress, a draft.

I think it's imperative you sort out the timeline in an orderly manner. For instance you start episodes 'by now I..' or words to that effect, and I wonder'what 'now'? ',' when is this'.

Like all writing, this would benefit from drastic cutting. If something is not directly important, cut it. Be brutal. If you have several passages that illustrate something about your character, cut all but one or two. (I've already mentioned sexual prowess)
You'll end up with all the good parts, a continuous narrative of great interest, carrying the reader along with no flat spots or boring repetition. No puzzlement for the reader, no confusion, just a clear exposition of the story with no 'noise' or interference.
I can tell you've put a lot of effort and a lot of yourself into this, and I hope my comments help rather than discourage. I wouldn't want that.
Looking forward to the next episode.
JohnG

Author's Reply:
I am both pleased and suprised that you have read it all. I take what you have said as an honest opinion. Were I thinking of publishing this as 'For Sale' I would spend the next six months doing some of what you suggest. Most of the many comments I have had through out the posted chapters have been happy with the way I have recorded things (my life was and is chaotic...why not my story?) I have ajusted the last couple of chapters when others also suggested changes in them, so you are not alone; and I take that on board. I appreciate the time and effort you have taken reading and commenting, most unexpected.
Mike

sweetwater on 12-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter seventeen)
Hi Mike, You sure do fall on your feet, with maybe one wrist as an exception! How lucky were you over the house wow, I'm so envious. I like your style of writing, and as you say, it's not for general reading, If it were too polished I may get bored. I have been given various biographies as gifts and each one is so perfect, boredom set in and I gave up. Yours however keeps me glued to every word. I can see the person behind the writing here, which I cannot do in those biog's. :-)) Sue x

Author's Reply:
I have been blessed with people that believe in me all of my life, and still am; I have never understood why. Thanks for your kind comments. After such a mad, bad life I decided that the only way to write this story was with total honesty...no matter what; I have tried to do that. I said at the start I would try and record the facts in a way that was entertaining, most of the comments I have received have indicated that I have. At times this story has shocked and saddened me as I recall those times. Sometimes when the madness is going on around you it all seems normal. I am posting two chapters next as they fit together.
Thanks again for your continuing support.
Mike XxX

Gothicman on 12-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter seventeen)
Still reading with great interest and aligning the timeline, the fads and fashions of the times and trials and tribulations we face as we get older, to similar episodes re. my own learning curve, Mike. It's good you've been offered some technical advice from a couple of prose and book specialists. The information and advice given is always good to read and take on board. I think though this comes over more as a personal narrative of life events as both a personal therapy and identity-strengthening, getting things clearer, function, and also an explanation to those closely associated with your past history, perhaps even named and included, and sympathetic to your life and the struggles and joys you experienced together. The closer you are to a person's work and especially with regard to location, the more you tend to enjoy all added detail. I enjoy reading it because of it's plain downright honesty which is refreshing in itself.. I have looked at some of your earlier poetry, Mike and I think a lot of it is very, very good IMHO. Keep up the good work....Trevor


Author's Reply:
Thank you Trevor, you have read and understood. I am what Jim calls a 'pantser' someone who fly's by the seat of his pants. I have done this all my life; too late to change now. You have been generous with your time and praise; both are much appreciated. I am more than aware of my short comings, I try and learn by my mistakes; I don't always succeed. This account of my life will not be perfect in the way it was written because I am not perfect, nor would I want to be. There was only one recorded perfect person and they nailed him to a cross...I get enough stick on here as it is 🙂
I'm both pleased and flattered that you have read and like my poetry.
Mike


Its a Dogs Life (posted on: 10-10-14)
A rant of a different kind. Its in the title, and I hate people who do this.

You're going again, as you do every day. After cornflakes and toast The same time, the same way. Just a pat on the head to tell me you care and I lift my paw as you taught me... in the air. I roll over hoping.... but I'm in the way. Now you're gone, leaving me to get on with your day. In the house all alone, It's just me and the phone. No one to answer, just a message. 'You're not home' The voice when it rings, I know that it's you I bark when I hear it though I never see you. Alone on the mat, every day is the same; It's hours till' I hear the door open again I will always be here when you walk through the door You seem pleased to see me as I give you my paw. I run for the back door to show what I need Too latefor me; as I pick up my lead. Then the shouting, the scolding, I've been a bad boy. What do you expect? I'm a dog not a toy. I need help to go out, I'm not the cat; I can't escape through the hole called a flap. Alone for eight hours is too long and that's that.
Archived comments for Its a Dogs Life
Bozzz on 10-10-2014
Its a Dogs Life
Man's best friend deserves man's best behaviour. You in another mode Mike, able to translate your own social experience of pain to the situation of others. Excellent, very moving and some great touches. Rhythm good, though some opportunities to improve it if you wished. Bravo...David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting David. It's something that happens all to often, people buy pets without truly thinking it through; they are not toys. Dogs can go mad when left alone day after day.
Mike

sweetwater on 11-10-2014
Its a Dogs Life
I hold my hands up to this Mike, I have had dogs since I was five, and worked with them in kennels for many years. When my beautiful retriever died, I researched every breed to find one that ( should the situation ever arise) could cope with being left for a few hours. A year later I found the right puppies, home reared, with kids, used my knowledge of dog behaviour to select the right pup. Lucky I did, two years later things changed and I had to work 8 hour shifts. I had four cats so he wasn't completely alone and my daughter let him out for me. When I got home though he had a walk and all my attention. I didn't go out again on workdays. I'm home every day now. He managed well when I was away, but I felt terrible guilt every day, and had I not chosen so carefully things could have been so much more difficult for him.
Thoroughly enjoyed your poem, but it did bring back a lot of guilt! Sue xx.

Author's Reply:
Hello Sue, there are times when leaving pets is unavoidable, I don't condone it, but I understand it; and we all do it. The shopping, the hospital etc... these are a couple of hours max. It's the young people who buy a border collie because they have a nice face, or a staffie as an accessory to their life...and then go off to work, or down the pub and the dog sits at home for hours at a time. A quick walk around the garden in the morning and a visit to the park in the evening; as long as it's not raining. Not good enough.
Mike

Savvi on 11-10-2014
Its a Dogs Life
You have touched a nerve with this one Mike my little dog is home alone all afternoon, but she is so small she can get through the Cat-flap so she seems happy, lots of walks is the key. I like this one, its not easy to tell a story and keep the rhyme going without sounding forced so job well done. Best Keith

Author's Reply:
Thanks Keith, in truth I was making a point to my daughters; both have been guilty. My dogs were rescued from them after they could no longer cope; and I could no longer stand it 🙂
Mike

e-griff on 12-10-2014
Its a Dogs Life
Yes. Dogs are pack animals. If separated from their pack (in this case humans, and their preferred one) They become distressed, chew furniture, etc.

People who claim to love dogs but leave them alone all day are torturing them.

Author's Reply:
So true John, I couldn't agree more. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mike

e-griff on 12-10-2014
Its a Dogs Life
Yes. Dogs are pack animals. If separated from their pack (in this case humans, and their preferred one) They become distressed, chew furniture, etc.

People who claim to love dogs but leave them alone all day are torturing them.

Author's Reply:

Kipper on 14-10-2014
Its a Dogs Life
Hi Mike


I have never owned a dog (or a cat) so perhaps my voice has less value than others on this topic. Setting aside for a moment the moral aspect of dog care the poem is good and has produced some interesting replies.


While all agree that the dog is man's best friend, 'man' it seems, is not allways the dog's best friend.


Michael

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this one Michael, There is a responsibility in owning a dog that I wish would be made clearer when people buy them.
Mike

Gothicman on 16-10-2014
Its a Dogs Life
Strangely enough, never had a dog, had a cat when very young, name of Smudge; like all cats in those days, got run over when the automobile appeared on the streets, but in Smudge's case it was a red London Omnibus, trampled on by the front horses! Hahahaha! Not just for Xmas, should be not just for evenings or weekends too. Nearly everyone I know has a dog, with a long lead, so that I'm pushed off the pavement ......Your fine poem has convinced me, I'm getting a parrot! Friend...Trevor

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! and a wooden leg to go with it maybe 🙂

I've had dogs most of my life, (as you know) cats and horses at odd times as well....never a parrot!
Thanks Trevor for reading this one.
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter fifteen) (posted on: 06-10-14)
Re post after a prune and sort out (thanks for the critique guys) sorry I took so long. I should point out that names from now on will be changed to protect the guilty.

About this time my Mother announced that she was leaving my Father and moving to Plymouth. I couldn't believe it. Why now after all these years? What had tipped her over the edge? My sister and I had been expecting it for years, but it had never happened. My father said he wanted to move down as well. I was pleased that they were to be near us, but how would they cope on their own? Mother got a flat in Lipson through a private Landlord. It was at the top of a large semi with loads of stairs. It was nice and would be fine for a while but not in the long term. Dad was another problem. He wasn't able to rent a flat on his own as he needed looking after; he needed to be with people. He wouldn't listen to me and opted for a bedsit in Stoke, with breakfast provided. Truthfully, my Father had become more aggressive as he grew older, and my mother said she was in fear of her life. My sister confirmed that it was what had brought on the move. They hadn't told him (or me) about the separation until the last minute for fear of what he might do. It was hard to take, but I had to concede that he was changing. He had become irrational and was prone to outbursts of anger. Trying to fit in visits to both of them each week was hard at times. Neither of them understood that we had to work, and had our own problems. My sister lived in Launceston thirty miles away, and wouldn't speak to my Father whom she hated. She didn't speak with my father ever again. Not that I blame her. She had her reasons, she had seen the change in him first hand. It was all very strange. Then came a revelation as I was driving my Mother across town. She asked me to pull in as I would be upset by what she had to say. Fearing the worst I pulled into a parking bay and switched the engine off. 'Michael' she said 'I have to tell you, you're Father and I were never married'... I started laughing saying, 'Is that all? It just confirms what everybody always thought of me.' Mum was really upset, and I was to regret saying it. It was just reaction because I was expecting cancer or some other terrible disease. For me it was nothing. For my Mother it was everything, and I didn't realise the significance for another thirty years. Had I not reacted in such a flippant manner, a lot more might have been said that would have explained so much about our lives. Life went on; them in their separate lives and my sister and I trying to make them happy. It was sad to see two people their age separating after so many years. I kept reminding myself that not all the years had been happy. It was for the best, and should have happened long before it had. When I looked in the mirror I couldn't help draw comparisons with my first wife and I; if we'd stayed together. The rest of my family were in disarray. My son was reacting to the separation and had become aggressive at school to the teachers and other pupils. My wife and I had to try to sort it out with the Head teacher. He had been in trouble, and was taken to task by a teacher he didn't get on with. He'd lashed out and hit the teacher. I asked to meet the teacher, who seemed decent enough; but after my problems at school it all sounded familiar. I wondered if my experiences had been the result of a similar home life. It was painful for me knowing I was probably to blame, and there was nothing I could do about it. My daughter had turned in on herself; as if pretending nothing had happened. I was the stereotypical 'weekend dad', with the visits to the Zoo, the Cinema etc... It was hard from a bedsit. I had been staying over at my girlfriends' house again, and she asked if I would like to move in. I was still resistant to a full-on relationship, as I knew in my heart it was way too soon. However, it felt right, so I went for it. It was good to get out of the bedsit, and it felt good to be with a 'normal' family. I prayed it was the right decision for all of us, as she had been married before, there were her children to consider. She had been in the Territorial Army since the break-up of her first marriage. She said it was a way of meeting people, and getting her confidence back after a shit end to her marriage, plus she was earning a few bob at the same time. She was involved in Crusader 80, an army exercise for the Territorials, taking place in Germany; we were invading them again. It was a brave thing to do and I admired her for doing it. Her mother and Father looked after the children. She had two kids from her previous relationship, a boy who was the eldest and a girl. She also had a brother who was married and worked in the dockyard; and a sister who was divorced; (and getting over it on a world cruise). The children were understandably reserved when we first met and I knew I was being tested. I must have passed, because it seemed to be working out. I introduced both families and waited to see what happened. There was a bit of jealousy on both sides as you would expect. I was sure it would settle down when they found that I didn't do 'favourites' nor take prisoners if I was messed about. We did a few trips to the beach and into Cornwall. They seemed to be getting on and it made me happy to have my family back again. I knew my wife would be sniping away in the background, reminding them what a bastard I was; so true after my mothers revelation. I was always on the lookout for signs of this, but saw nothing to worry me. On the work front things were looking up and about to take a significant change of direction. One day a guy called at my Flat Agency/Folk Club. A budding landlord and erstwhile property developer, he'd called in to see about renting out his rooms and ended up hanging around for the rest of my life. He became my best friend; he still is. He and I have seen and done it all. We have been well off; with all that wealth brings. Exotic holidays, the Champagne life-style, wonderful food and beautiful restaurants. Whether the sun shines or it's pissing down, we sit back with a glass in our hand, look at each other and say, 'I wonder what the poor are doing now?' It wouldn't matter if we didn't have a pot to piss in;(quite often the case)it was our joke to each other. It's just the way we are. We've seen the other side; both been bankrupt, and more often than not broke. Like all good and lasting friendships we have fallen out occasionally. We've looked out for each other in the bad times and celebrated in the good. We've stood at our parents' funerals together, and cried in each other's arms. True friends are rare as hen's teeth, and I count this man and his wife as true friends. He came from London, and when I first met him his girlfriend still lived there. She had two boys from a previous marriage. He was an Estate Agent with a firm called Kennings that had opened in Wimple Street. He'd been in the game a while and seemed to know what he was talking about. He said his company had been asking about me and whether I'd be interested in joining them. He set up a meeting and I passed the interview. I talked it over with my estate agent friend who said it would be a good move for me. He said they were a brash, big-selling organisation, obviously looking to try property management and lettings. I accepted the job and took my secretary with me. My friend and I parted on good terms, and I still see him. We meet in the park most mornings as I walk the dog; and he collects his morning paper. The move back into organised employment took some getting used to, and I did fall out a few times with management. In the end Lettings proved not to be what they thought it would. After a few months I was asked if I would switch to the selling side. I talked it over with my new friends and decided to give it a go. We tidied up the lettings and sold on the management property. I became a sales negotiator for Kennings Estate Agents. Oh yes - the Secretary did not end up in bed with me. She was the girlfriend of a folk singer who turned up in my old office and played guitar with me. We became good friends. She left to go back to college and we lost contact. Had I turned over a new leaf?
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter fifteen)
Bozzz on 07-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter fifteen)
This reads so well - I suspect because it is mostly about and relationships than things and your humour shines through, especially when your mother told you that she was not married. Keep going and judge by reads - for few people are minded to comment these days - system needs a shake up.....Yours aye, David

Author's Reply:
Thanks again David, I never thought I would get many reads the second time around; just wanted to keep the flow for anyone following on. I'm pleased you think it's still readable. A little calm before the next storm. I am changing names now unless I have asked.
Mike

Gothicman on 07-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter fifteen)
Yes, David's right, Mike, it's your humour and openhearted honesty that makes this so refreshing to read and makes this type of life-reportage so readable and interesting, and unfortunately often comforting for we feel better knowing others tell of similar struggles, mistakes, and difficulties, even if we sympathize with negative outcomes as well as admire brave attempts and successes as well. I've just been testing in stretches a renovated, ancient long-distance hiking path for signposting and map accuracy before public use, it's a pity we can't "test-drive" our lives beforehand, but then, who would really want to, given of course a fair start! Good idea to conceal names unless included with permission, as right to reply is missing in this context. Good stuff Mike....Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thank you so much for re reading my effort Trevor. Your continuing support is much appreciated. I think there was always going to be a lull somewhere in the story; after all its life not fiction. The family will want to know details of normal life... as well as all the other stuff. HaHa! Test drive our lives....bugger who then hell would take mine on after reading this 🙂
Mike

Kipper on 07-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter fifteen)
Hi Mike,
Just a quick ref to David's and Trevor's comments. (Hope that's OK with you guys) It's good to see that your story is being read by a good number of people, but perhaps not surprising if comments are fewer. I guess it can be difficult to know where to start.
And this is good writing, honest from the beginning, not boastful or seeking to justify.
While I am sure that there are more revelations to come I do get the sense that you are growing up. I will wait with bated breath to see if I am right or wrong.
Michael

Author's Reply:
Hello Michael, it's good to see that YOU are still reading HaHa! I have been amazed that so many have been following, it wasn't until I look back that I got the message.Having to do things like cut out detail and change names has caused me a few problems; I now have two copies. This is because the family detail will be important to them (but not so to you) The names....well I don't want to piss people off any more than I am. In saying that, up to now I haven't slagged anyone off; except myself that is 🙂 Growing up?????me????? really?????
Mike

e-griff on 12-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter fifteen)
Got a bit confused by all the 'friends' - which were which?

And I also lost track of where this fitted with the 'association' from earlier.

Author's Reply:
Agreed... it can get a bit confusing; I will try and look at it.
Mike


The Times of my Life (chapter sixteen) (posted on: 06-10-14)
Re Post after constructive critique (thanks guys) I hope this reads better.

I'd persisted with song and poetry writing, and the guitar was coming along as well. My girlfriend encouraged me, and soon I was trying it out at the local folk clubs for real. I found that I suffered from nerves to start with, and it was a real strain at times. I played a few gigs with my folk singer friend, but we didn't compliment each other as well I thought we might. I was more into blues and wanted to try my own stuff. I looked around and found a really good lead guitarist called Julian. He was incredibly good at both chords and lead guitar, he backed me at a few gigs behind my finger picking. Singing my own songs instead of others went down a storm and gave me a lot of confidence. We decided to record them. Julian and one of his friends set up a session for me, and we laid down about six tracks with me singing and playing. Julian harmonised and took lead guitar; we added a drum machine with Julian's friend playing bass. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was really good and we were all excited. We had a cassette made from the master tape and I took it home for my girlfriend to listen to. She couldn't believe it either. About a week later Julian committed suicide and the whole deal fell apart; I was devastated. Julian and I had become great friends, he was one of the best and most gifted players I had ever had the privilege to listen to, let alone play with. His girlfriend told me that he had a depressive personality and was prone to periods of deep despair. Then more bad news for me; the tape that we had recorded was lost. I later found out that my girlfriend's daughter had trashed it after we had a row, and the master was taped over by Julian's friend. I was gutted. I continued to write and play but gave up on playing the clubs. In the end I gave up playing altogether and sold my guitar. Julian's death affected me a lot more than I had let on. It made me focus on the knife-edge people walk between true happiness and the depths of despair, and what can cause you to take your own life. I remembered that not so long before I had been close myself. When my girlfriend went to war with Germany, I decided to gather my own troops and invade Greece. A good friend of mine had a Travel Agency and told me I would love Greece. My friends from Karate; Steve, Tony and myself, booked two weeks on an Island called Poros in the Saronic Gulf, not far from Piraeus. It turned out to be the best holiday ever. None of us had ever been to Greece before, so we were really up for it. Arriving in Athens we met the travel girl and bussed it to the port. They had a Hydrofoil waiting and this was a new experience as well. We stopped at another island Called Aegina on the way, then we were there. After unloading we looked around the port area. It was so small compared to Athens but really beautiful. There were lots of little tavernas and shops along the harbour and people sat outside eating and drinking. We were taken to some small boats tied up on the harbour wall. One took all the bags and we were loaded into another. At the helm was the biggest man I think I had ever seen. Hands like shovels, feet too big to wear shoes, 6ft wide at the shoulder; and a smile wider than that. His name was Lucas; and we were to become best friends. Our hotel was a short ride around the bay and it was not long before we were unpacked and gathered for the pep talk on the dos and donts. My travel agent friend had already told me to watch it with the local women. He said the Greeks would cut off my dick and feed it to me if I messed with their women; so I was warned. We needn't have worried as the island turned out to be a stopping off place for an English travel firm, taking female university students to classical sites in the area. What a result. The next day we went to town to explore and to get our bearings. We stopped for a beer at a caf on the harbour wall, and there was the boat man Lucas waving at us. It turned out he was one of three brothers who had a Taverna as well as the boat. Lucas was only allowed on the boat, his brothers said he frightened the customers in the Taverna. He was so funny and took us off on his boat for a trip around the Island with a load of others. We didn't stop laughing the whole day. Lucas became our best mate, even though we couldn't speak Greek and his English was crap. He'd pick us up at lunch time, get us drunk then return us in the boat in the evening. He didn't charge us the whole time. It turned out he had been the Greek Heavyweight Boxing Champion years before, and had appeared in films. The story was that he'd been in the film 'The Boy on a Dolphin'. He was the boatman who ferried Alan Ladd and Sofia Loren around. He had buggered off with Sofia Loren for two days and so became a local hero. He became our hero when he saved Tony's life. We were coming back from one of our drunken escapades and Tony was at the bow waiting to jump off and tie up. He fell over the side and was trapped between the boat and the wall; he would have been crushed like a grape. Lucas ran the length of the boat, reached over the side, grabbed Tony and lifted him back onto the boat with one hand. It was an extraordinary feat of strength and agility for someone of his size, and I will never forget it. We found out later he was at least 70 years old. Poros was a dream come true for me and I fell in love with Greece and her people on the first date. It was one love affair that would never end. Moving in with my girlfriend, life became easier and I had a sense of purpose; however I didn't like being without real money and resolved to do something about it, and to get back into house ownership. I discovered that the former beatnik and hippie had become a bit of a snob, and I resented living in a council house; let alone a bed sit...what a twat!
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (chapter sixteen)
Bozzz on 06-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter sixteen)
Mike I this does hold together much the better for your edit. The drama of your musical adventures the Greek scenarios stand out well - the meat in the mix. Good storytelling stuff. See yer....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking the trouble to read this chapter again David, I hoped that it would improve with the edit. I think as I said before'sometimes I am too close' I don't see what others are reading. In the 80'the drugs and adultery will take a break (for a while) I hope my story continues to interest people as I grow older, but not wiser; I swop drink for drugs and the parties continue.
Mike

Gothicman on 07-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter sixteen)
Yes, enjoyable and much better written in this revised form. I'm bracing myself for the coming deluge of sin and iniquity and blind endeavour, even while some things will be more serious and difficult to report on than others at a personal level, Mike...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Hello again, you are a glutton for punishment 🙂

The eighties was the 'Loads of money' period, everybody seemed to be making it; and we all danced to Maggie's tune (well I did). A complete change of life for me; as usual I dived right in!
Thanks again
Mike

Kipper on 07-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter sixteen)
Hi Mike

The loss of your friend clearly had a great effect on you, and I detect that this period might have been a turning point. A musical career perhaps snatched away from you!

I look forward to the next episode.

'Loads of money!'you say. That never happened for me so I am keen to know how you dealt with it.

Keep writing,

Michael

Author's Reply:
Yes Michael Julian's death still weighs heavy on me, it came from no where. We were so happy, or so I thought. I was to meet up with him that day...and then he was gone. Twice in my life music was on the cards and twice it never happened. I now think for the best, I would have got into heavy drugs in the seventies, in the eighties it would have been drink. All bands take it to the limit; I had no limit. Here is a clue to the money question....I spent it all 🙂

Over the next few chapters I am dealing with some family things, I hope you don't get fed up, just tell me if it's boring.
Mike

pommer on 09-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter sixteen)
Have read 15 and 16 Mike.Yes, this is much improved I enjoyed every minute of reading.Looking forward to what is coming next,Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much for sticking with me Peter, much appreciated mate. 🙂
Mike

expat on 09-10-2014
The Times of my Life (chapter sixteen)
Riveting reading, Mike! You've had an interesting life, one way or another and I'm sure you won't be looking back on it saying 'I wish I'd done xxxxxxx when I had the chance,' like I've heard several people in their fifties and sixties say.
I'm pretty happy with my experiences, even the bad ones don't come anywhere near the positive ones. I could have been Wayne Rooney or Tony Bliar ffs! :-O
Steve

Author's Reply:
So pleased your enjoying it Steve, I may look back and see a few things I wont want to do again HaHa!
Mike


Webber Amsterdam (it's only the start) (posted on: 03-10-14)
Re post with a new chapter to keep in context. Head out of arse now so writing again.

Webber Amsterdam (It's only the start) The curtains twitched, someone was looking down at the pavement below. From his side of the street he could see only the hand holding the curtain back, a woman's hand by the look of it, too delicate for a man's; he could make out rings on the wedding finger. Wilhelm had been watching the house opposite for three days; this was his first sight of anything. He knew they were there four of them had entered; laden with bags. Others had tailed them from the train station, the photos taken had shown three men of Middle Eastern skin tone and appearance, Saudi maybe; the woman was white. Her cheek bones indicated possibly European, with the light skin and dark hair quite possibly English. The data base had given up nothing on the faces, still they were possible terrorists; this much was known. They'd been under surveillance since they were photographed conversing with others in Hamburg; bags were handed over; what could have been money changed hands. They boarded a train for Amsterdam the same day; since then they had been in the house. Efforts were being made to get equipment into place to monitor the conversations, and a live feed camera to see what was happening inside. It was slow work, it wasn't enough to grab these four; they wanted the whole ring. It was always like this, time consuming. His reports, like those of the rest in the team would find their way back to the office; others would say when the net would be hauled in. A car drew up outside, the curtain twitched again; this time a face looked down. His camera clicked on fast speed, the images were relayed back to the office. On alert now he focused back on the car, its door opening; a man in a coat and hat got out. The camera whirred again. The man stood facing the door, his hat obscuring his face. As it opened, he stepped forwards into the house raising something from inside his coat 'Shit a gun!' There was no sound, but he saw the man in front fall back the gun man caught him; pushing him back into the house while kicking the door closed. It had taken just a few seconds but the whole thing was on film, it didn't take much to work out what came next; the only question was 'do we go in . or wait and see?' 'Hold position! Hold position!' The words screamed in his ear. 'They will all die if we don't do something now' he remonstrated. 'They'll be dead before we get there, our cover will be blownhold position.' 'Stefan are you still in position opposite?' the voice said. 'Yes, in position.' 'Are you able to follow his car when he re- appears?' 'Yes, I am facing the right way, I can do it but no promises in the traffic; I will need back up en route.' 'Wilhelm join Stefan immediately, go with him but keep your distance; we don't want a fire fight in the main street.' 'All units stand by at intersections, details of the suspect's car are being forwarded; wait and follow if the target car appearswe need this man alive. Are we all clear on this?' Wilhelm continued surveillance from Stefan's car. It was as if nothing had happened, there was no explosion, no flashes of fire from the upstairs room; a ghost had entered the house and death had followed him. They waited but there was nothing, after an hour it was decided to go inthey found the bodies of three men and one woman the ghost had disappeared. The Ghost Stepping through the doorway he caught the man as he fell back, slowly lowering him to the floor. He moved swiftly on up the staircase, talking out loud as he did so ''Stay there and listen, someone was across the road; wait for me to call before you come back up'' He spoke in English with a pronounced accent, the ones left upstairs would hear, be re-assured, and stay where they were until he reached them. As he reached the first floor landing a face looked around a door at the front of the house. He recognised the man from the picture on his phone. ''You are Mustapha?'' ''Mustapha, yes I am Mustapha, are you the one we are expecting?'' ''Go back in the room I need to talk to you all together'' As the one called Mustapha ducked back in he brought the gun from under his coat, and held it by his side as he stepped into the room; shielding it from those within. They stood together with a look of apprehension on their faces ''Is anything wrong?'' Mustapha said. Once inside he look at them to be sure, then shot each in turn through the head, and again in the heart as they lay on the floor; it was over in a moment. The one they had been waiting for was already dead. ''No nothing is wrong, everything is right'' He spoke out loud to himself; the dead hear nothing. Removing his coat, hat and leather gloves, he then removed the silencer and placed the gun back in a shoulder holster, the silencer went in the inside pocket of his Gilet. Reaching inside the coat pocket he removed a pair of thin rubber gloves and placed them on. Walking back outside to the landing he opened the door to a bedroom. Taking the coat and hat he hung them inside a wardrobe; the leather gloves he kept. There were other clothes in there, it would be a while until they realised. He moved with the precision of a man who knew this work, taking care with every move he searched the bodies and their belongings. It was not a long job, placing the mobile phones, wallets and purse with passports and other identifying evidence in a shoulder bag, he moved onto the large bags standing in the corner. He undid the strap on one and looked inside, it was as they had told him; inside were the guns and explosives. He searched each bag in turn leaving everything as he found it. After returning downstairs to complete his searching of the dead man, it was time to go; the police wouldn't wait much longer. Walking through to the rear of the house and up one flight of stairs, he found the sky light on an upstairs landing; it opened onto a flat roof. Taking off the rubber gloves he stuffed them into a pocket, putting the leather gloves back on to protect his hands. Throwing the shoulder bag out first, he climbed out and moved from house to house down the street. On reaching the end he glanced over and saw the fire escape ten feet below him; not far to drop after hanging over the side. He walked back into the main street, crossing over to walk beside a canal, finding a seat he sat down and made a call on his mobile. ''It's done'' was all he said. After finishing he dropped the phone into the water, and then walked the short distance to Rembrandt Square where he sat outside a bar to wait; and enjoy a beer. Across the other side of town in an upstairs room two men and a woman sat waiting for the news from the phone call. The Voice ''Okay it's done, your turn to help us'' Webber looked hard across the desk as he spoke. ''We need to move on this now, or the trail will go cold; you don't want heroin on your streets any more than we do. It's these drugs that are financing radical groups''. ''Don't worry Webber, everything is being arranged, we appreciate your help with our 'unwanted friends'. We are flying you in on Friday; you only have to wait a day, your work is done here and we are grateful. Maybe one day we can return the favourI don't think your government has a shoot to kill policy either'' The wry smile on her lips covered the tension running through in her. It had been difficult, but the end justified the means; at least that's what they told each other at the hastily arraigned meeting twenty four hours before. She comforted herself that the decisions were way above her pay grade. The shooting would not even make the morning papers, why frighten the public more than they already are; a need to know basis had excluded even their own special branch. If it came out we were covering the situation, a rival gangdrug deal gone bad; who would care in the end. She stood up ''I think a little late lunch would go down well, care to join me?'' ''We need to wait for Brim, can we catch up later? He won't find us if we leave now'' ''Of course Webber, ring when he gets here, I will send a car for you. For now I say goodbye'' As she left the room Marshal rolled his eyes looking at Webber ''She is one hard faced bitch, no emotions..but great tits!'' They both laughed out lowed, cutting the tension that had filled the room while waiting for Brims call. Smith had sanctioned the trade off, it was hastily arranged when news of the group heading to Amsterdam was detected. The exchange of heroin for arms was filmed and shown to the group. The drugs had been brought in from Afghanistan following the route Webber was to eliminate; the 'two birds with one stone' opportunity was considered too good to miss. In exchange for the kill the Dutch would fly them in under cover to their area of operations, along with the equipment needed keeping everything 'off book'. They would also provide transportation on from there. No one outside of the group (now including their Dutch counterparts) would know. Any information gained from the hit would be shared.
Archived comments for Webber Amsterdam (it's only the start)
pommer on 04-10-2014
Webber Amsterdam (its only the start)
fascinating stuff Mike, Can't wait for the next instalment.Hope you are well, Your friend Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thanks so much for reading and commenting Peter, so pleased you enjoyed it! I working on the next chapters.
Mike

Bozzz on 05-10-2014
Webber Amsterdam (its only the start)
Perhaps you were an MI6 bloke disguised as a scaffolder, what better way to peer into people's windows. What dark secrets lie behind those seductive charms? Interesting principle that looks virtually simultaneously at all sides of a crime scene, in this case through eyes of the experienced rogue - brownie points for that...your accomplice and friend...David

Author's Reply:
Just call me Bond....James Bond HaHa! Thanks for dropping by David, as always your support is much appreciated.
Mike

expat on 09-10-2014
Webber Amsterdam (its only the start)
Hi, Mike,
An interesting start, for sure. I'm guessing this is 'work in hand' so I'll make a couple of observations if I may.
‘They will all die if we don’t do something now’ he remonstrated.
Perhaps 'shouted' would be more effective than 'remonstrated' as this is an 'action' scene.

The 'Ghost' section:
I think you might be letting your foot off the accelerator by using the 'passive voice' in what should be a fast-paced scenario.
A few examples:
Removing his coat, hat and leather gloves...
Reaching inside the coat pocket...
Walking back outside to the landing...
Taking the coat and hat...
Walking through to the rear of the house...
Taking off the rubber gloves...
Throwing the shoulder bag out first...

There's a fair bit on the Internet about (not) using the passive voice and you might find your story gets its edges sharpened by cutting it right out. Generally speaking, opening a sentence with the first word ending in 'ing' removes the immediacy and also implies a lack of confidence in the writer's character/s according to one article I remember reading.
It's an easy fix if you agree with those opinions.

This: 'Removing his coat, hat and leather gloves, he then removed the silencer and placed the gun back in a shoulder holster, the silencer went in the inside pocket of his Gilet. Reaching inside the coat pocket he removed a pair of thin rubber gloves and placed them on.'
could easily be re-jigged to something like:
He took off his hat, coat and leather gloves, removed the silencer and slid the pistol back into its shoulder holster. Then he put the silencer into his Gilet's inside pocket and removed a pair of thin rubber gloves from his coat. He put them on and stepped back onto the landing etc.

You might consider padding out the shooting scene a little, maybe describing the victims putting their arms up in defence or diving for cover behind something or crying out.

The Voice got everything going nicely. Another thought - I wonder if there's another way to fill the reader in naturally on the the past events rather than condense it into a five-line 'tell' paragraph. Maybe it could be revealed in a discussion between two agents.

Ignore me if I'm bending your story out of shape. 🙂

Anyway, I look forward to more instalments. Does The Bulldog get a mention. 🙂
Cheers,
Steve











Author's Reply:
Thanks Steve for reading and taking the time to critique. This is the next part of my novel Webber, the other parts on on the site. I'd stopped writing for a while as everything was shit. I will take on board all you have said and see what I can do. I cant remember if you had commented on any other chapters, I will look back.
Mike

Steve, just to let you know I have re written the second part; you were right it was not good enough. Thanks for being honest.
Mike


Bring me Dreams of Roses (posted on: 03-10-14)
Re post of 'Love me do' Changed a few things after good critique (and a re think); it's better now.

Bring me dreams of roses find me not in solitude. Let me rest in the arms of contentment, not neglected, to rust in dark places. Hold me aloft, that I may touch the sky; feel the sun on my body. Swim with me in clear waters, as I dive deep, into the depths of your affection. Promise me nothing if not everything. for I love you.

Archived comments for Bring me Dreams of Roses
Gothicman on 03-10-2014
Bring me Dreams of Roses
That's a lot better now, Mike. Thought at first even the first and last lines could be deleted totally, not just because they were in bold type (leaving the title as it is) but it looks alright with them and suits your more direct temperament (and precious nature!) Putting in your monogram, place and date further down from the poem centers it vertically better i.e. MG:Plymouth:2014, leave about an eight line gap and move ending center command to after this monogram. Excellent work...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this one again Trevor, it had 80 hits before, but I just felt the title was wrong; and you were right about the 'bold bit'. Your thoughts as usual are much appreciated.
Mike

Bozzz on 03-10-2014
Bring me Dreams of Roses
Hi Mr Mike Nibworthy - himself at it again. This is excellent and I loved it the first time. I do have a thing about the trap of repetition and I mention it because some others do too. 'Delving deep into the depths' makes me want to find another word for 'depths'. yes it will reduce the aliteration but I would always sacrifice that for finding the most elegant word. Because it is a love poem, the word 'heart' comes to mind - just a thought. Yours aye, David


Author's Reply:
AHHHHHHH! More work to do. I do understand about your concern, and I will look at it....Bugger!
Thanks so much for reading again, your support and help are always appreciated David.
Mike
ps. the first round is on me!

sweetwater on 03-10-2014
Bring me Dreams of Roses
I think I may be going against the grain, but I find this version does not touch me anywhere near as much as the original did and I wish I'd had the ink in my printer to run off a copy before you changed it, as I absolutely loved it, one of my favourites. However I still enjoyed this and tried to work out what was different but I couldn't. So cannot explain the reason for my preference. 🙂 Sue x

Author's Reply:
Bugger! I'm sorry Sue, I just had to do it; compelled 🙁 I remember your comment 'like a prayer' I may still have the original, if so I will PM it to you.
Thanks for reading again anyway.
Mike

ValDohren on 03-10-2014
Bring me Dreams of Roses
How very beautiful Mike, loved it.
Val x

Author's Reply:
Thanks Val, so pleased you liked it. It's about my feelings when Lesley and I were getting together; the turmoil of that time. I found it just as traumatic as when I was young 🙂
We have been together sixteen years this month....and they said it wouldn't last HaHa!
Mike
XxX

stormwolf on 04-10-2014
Bring me Dreams of Roses
Lovely Mike me old spud!
A beautiful and genuine declaration of love. I would change 'delve' to 'dive' simply because you are using a water anaology and it's in contrast to the the previous verse where you are being held aloft

(river deep mountain high!) 😉

Congrats on the nib

Alison x

Author's Reply:
Opppppps! Yes, obvious really....call it a senior moment; all better now 🙂 Thanks for dropping by Alison; even a true literary genius such as me needs help some times HaHa! So pleased you like this one, I hoped you would read it.
Mike

Marvo on 05-10-2014
Bring me Dreams of Roses
Short and simple to read, yet beautiful!

Author's Reply:
As was your comment 🙂 So pleased you liked it; thanks for stopping by.
Mike

amman on 06-10-2014
Bring me Dreams of Roses
I like this, Mike. Good layout, some choice phraseology and great sentiments succinctly expressed. Congrats on the nib.
Cheers.
Tony.


Author's Reply:
Hi Tony, thanks for the kind words. Always good to know people like your work, your comments are much appreciated.
Mike


Home Sweet Home (posted on: 12-09-14)
I've seen this so many times. I wrote this in response to a post by Nemo. It hit a nerve.

Home Sweet Home Sitting together in the sunshine, three wise men; combined age. maybe 250 years. They had to know stuff living that long. Only things that came near them were pigeons; looking to mug them for a crust. So much to give, so much to tell no one to listen. Wheelchair warriors fresh from the home front. Marbles still intact, a little loose from the passing of years, still on active service; keeping the home fires burning. Waiting for the last post in a land fit for heroes. They sit there every day, talk about the past, live in the present; the future is for others. The state took their houses, they live in rooms. An all inclusive arrangement; even the boredom is free. One less soon, something to talk about sunnysidehomeforthelost@nevertobefound.co.uk
Archived comments for Home Sweet Home
Nemo on 12-09-2014
Home Sweet Home
Hi Mike,
I'm pleased my poem inspired this one! 'Wheelchair warriors fresh from the home front' - great irony.

I'll join you in getting angry about the treatment of the old. It will be our turn soon. My mother had to sell her house to pay for care. There was nothing left.

I'd think about putting the first stanza into the present in line with the rest.

Regards, Gerald.

Author's Reply:
Hi Gerald, pleased you liked it and thanks for commenting. Getting old and being poor is no fun, as to when you get old...I guess when you feel old 🙂

ps This morning I was 110 HaHa!

Pilgermann on 12-09-2014
Home Sweet Home
110? You look just a tad over 37....

Like the "all inclusive arrangement" description. Good structured flow leading to the inevitable.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, pleased you liked it 🙂
Mike

pommer on 12-09-2014
Home Sweet Home
Hi Mike, I like, I agree with Gerald about the first stanza. However, you have hit one of my pet subjects.The times I think about the treatment of the elderly are numerous.If only people would think.One day they will be old.How would they like to be treated? No more,I only get angry.Take care, Peter.

Author's Reply:
Knew this would ring bells with you Peter, I could write a book about our experience with the Social Services.... Or the S.S. As I call them. Still not getting the first stanza thing; PM me.
Mike

Bozzz on 12-09-2014
Home Sweet Home
IMHO there is nothing wrong with the tenses in this clever and intensely felt reflective poem. Each verse is a different snapshot. A great poem Mike

Author's Reply:
Thanks old friend, most of the time I would never really know unless someone told me. 🙂 Just pleased you enjoyed it.
Mike

Gothicman on 12-09-2014
Home Sweet Home
Difficult to resolve this problem of healthier lives during the best years, leading to greater longevity, due often also to specialized medication; vital minds in bodies straining to keep functioning. One hospice in London had a policy of wheeling their patients out into fresh air onto the lawn at breaking point to see the sky, green trees, and the sun, as they slipped away, but had to wheel them back in again, living on average six months longer - we should learn something from that. The half bottle of whisky might have helped! Dread the day I'm unable to distance hike with half my own weight on my back! (Could survive a whole winter if a mishap should befall me!) Good poem, Mike, straight on the chin style!

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading and commenting Trevor, pleased you liked it. I too dread the day I am left to vegetate in a room; hope I have the guts to 'off' myself.
Mike

ParsonThru on 12-09-2014
Home Sweet Home
Great poem carrying a grim message with gentle observation. Yes, nobody has time to listen to these old men. That’s maybe the worst of it after losing everyone then everything. Why do we pay people so little to care for our parents? Imported carers from the Philippines and Rumanía. As a nation we just want them out of the way at the lowest cost. No pension for me. Teaching English in Argentina maybe. Or something like. Get sick, die. On a brighter note, enjoyed reading the poem, Mike. Keep batting!

Author's Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to comment, much appreciated. It's a sad reflection on our way of life that this happens.
Mike

Kipper on 22-09-2014
Home Sweet Home
Hi Mike
It's a dark tale you tell, but perhaps it's not all gloom. At least your trio are not sitting alone and abandoned.
Nevertheless your poem is very perceptive. Old people do talk of the past if they are lucky. The unlucky ones are those who have no one to talk to.
Cheers, Michael

Author's Reply:
Thanks Michael, I had to place my mother-in-law in a home after repeated falls, I had been her carer for five years. I visited every day and took her out; some in there had nobody. It was a good standard of care home, but nothing can replace the love and attention of a close family; or the security you feel in your own home. It broke my heart to see some of the desperate and abandoned faces.
Mike


The Times of my Life (part fourteen) (posted on: 05-09-14)
In this chapter, one door closes and another opens for me.

I should have seen it coming but I didn't. Before I knew it we were in bed. I would like to say I was filled with remorse, but it would be a lie. We promised it wouldn't lead to anything; ships in the night; two lonely people, all that shit. For me it was just another day at the office. Now I had my ex-secretary, my new girl, and my ex- partners soon to be ex-wife; it really was business as usual. I'm not good looking in the conventional sense, but I have never had any problem with women. I listen to what they have to say, treat them decently, have a great sense of humour... and I'm persistent. If that's not it then I don't know what is. It's been both delight and curse. It reached a peak when I had sex with all three in one day. It had to stop. My partner then lobbed me his bombshell. He asked me to join him in Exeter, as the business was getting too big for one. My new girlfriend was upset but saw the point, whilst my secretary from Plymouth said goodbye and went back to her husband. My partner's wife then said I could live with her, in Exeter... until I found somewhere. My ex-partner thought it was a good idea too; and with his wife hinting at a confessional, I was blackmailed into moving in. He told me he wanted me to keep an eye on his wife for him; but he of all people knew what I was like. I don't know what he was thinking. There were many, many reasons not to go; but bugger it I did; and that was that. He used to pick me up most mornings and we'd go to his storage yard to sort out the men and the day's work. I was getting back into working for a living. At night I'd go back to his old house... and his old wife. Most evenings I went out, usually with him. We would hit a few pubs and then I'd go home to his wife. It was a bit too bizarre, even for me. I had to get out. I moved in with him, ostensibly to help him do up his new place. It was a double-edged sword as she was jealous. We'd go out every night to get pissed and laid. I knew it would end badly, and it did. He didn't suspect, and I didn't tell him. I acted like a real shit. After I moved in I invited my Plymouth girlfriend and my kids to stay and we played happy families at the week end. It all seemed to be going well. Did I mention that his wife was jealous? She lost it one day and, just to hurt him, confessed all to him. The shit hitting the fan caught me, and everything around me. A real shit storm. I tried to reason with him. I pointed out that he had deserted her, but he wasn't about to let me off the hook. Once again I was caught in my zip. It was back to Plymouth, tail between my legs; no job and no money. I'd shared lots of adventures with my ex-partner in Exeter and we'd had a lot of fun. There were good pubs and clubs and some great restaurants. We tried them all. Lunch-times we went to Coolings, a great wine bar in the old part of town. Great food, and a good place to watch people. I went out with a bar maid in one of the pubs. Too young for me but a really nice person; we spent a bit of time together and she'd stay over. We had little to talk about, so it was soon over. In the summer, we'd go down to the Double Locks, a pub on the canal. It was a great place to have BBQ and drink loads of real ale. There was the time we were at a club in the city centre, doing the usual and getting pissed. I'd been dancing with a woman with big hair. I lost sight of my partner, so decided to carry on with Big Hair. I remember the taxi but not a lot more till the following morning. She was still asleep when I got up and went to the window. I pulled back the curtains and had no idea where I was. I couldn't wake Miss Big Hair and just then a kid came in with a cup of tea! I was in my pants. I said, ''good morning, is that for me?'' He dropped the cup and ran. So did I. From a phone box down the road, I asked my partner to come and get me. Of course he didn't know where I was either, and had to use a street map. My kids would stay regularly and we went to all the local adventure parks. Sometimes my Plymouth girlfriend would bring them up and stay over; other week ends I would go down to Plymouth. Staying in contact and trying to maintain a relationship with your children is hard, as any part time dad will tell you. I did my best. On one of his visits my son broke his arm, trying to swing on a scaffold outside a house. He wound up in The Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. My wife was not amused and blamed me. It was not my fault, but so what? While he was there I dated the staff nurse from the ward. She was Greek, had her own flat, and I stayed with her a few times. She must have liked me because suddenly my son had his own colour TV and loads of other perks. There was a downside to the Hospital. My son went down with salmonella poisoning and was in isolation for a month. During the time he spent in hospital, I ended up back in Plymouth after the row with my partner. I had to travel to visit him for the last couple of weeks. I bought a motorbike thinking I could ride up to Exeter. I thought my son would be impressed with my new toy. I hated it from day one. It was cold and wet and every time a lorry passed I shit myself. It lasted four weeks then rusted away from lack of use. Another complete waste of money. Back in Plymouth things looked bleak. I now had nowhere to live and my money was running out fast. Secretary and I went our separate ways after a tearful last day. She left for New Zealand with her husband; I sighed in relief. My Plymouth girlfriend remained keen, and we still saw each other. She knew about Exeter, but reasoned that I was still single so it was okay. After a lot of searching I found a bed-sit on North Hill near the Wellington Pub. It was incredibly small and I hated it, but promised myself I wouldn't be there long. It was embarrassing when my kids came around. After a couple of failed attempts at work; including an attempt at time-share selling with a guy I knew, I came up with a plan. I had such a problem renting, I decided to open a flat agency. I knew little about the business and set about asking questions in the agencies I had been a customer in. They were all crap and I was certain I could do better. I approached, an Estate Agent on North Hill, about opening an office in his back room. After brief discussions he offered me the upstairs room for free, with use of the phone; if I helped out when required. I was up and running. There wasn't a lot of foot traffic to start with, as it takes a while to get your name around the landlords. I put a few adds in the paper and a sign outside and people started drifting in. To pass the time I took my guitar with me, practising as much as I could. A few of the people who came in were musicians and we'd hold impromptu jam sessions. It must have been the only flat agency in town to double as a folk club. I have fond memories of my time there, and my little room upstairs. I got in with the student's accommodation office and started to do OK. It was hard to get landlords to give me flats to let as most were with other agents. I advertised and got some on the strength of the Estate Agency, but not enough. I came up with the idea that would make my name in the Plymouth property world. It was obvious that letting agents were not that organised. I decided to form a Landlords' Association. I placed another add in the local paper, saying that the inaugural meeting of the Plymouth and District Landlords' Association, was to be held at the Highlands Hotel Plymstock; I picked a date four weeks away having already sorted the Hotel. I asked interested parties to contact our 'Lettings Department' for further details; then I waited. The waiting was stressful, but we eventually had about 50 people committed to come. On the night, the estate agent, his wife, my girlfriend and I all arrived early. We set the room up as best we could and had a large drink; there was a bar available at the hotel. People arrived, and arrived, and arrived. We had nearer 100 landlords and their wives and the room was packed. When everyone settled down with a drink, I bid them welcome and introduced myself. I spoke for about thirty minutes. I said I'd talked at length with many of them regarding the need for an association; a united voice for the private rental sector. This was a blatant untruth! I spoke of the unfair system with Plymouth City Council and their rent payments for the unemployed (this was the truth). I suggested there would be strength in numbers, and that the time had come to share experiences and pool resources. Most of them were meeting for the first time, but they shared the same problems; I pointed out. I'd done my homework and it was well received. I asked for a show of hands and it was unanimous. My estate agent friend called for a vote to elect a Chairman. I was elected in a landslide and a new life began. It's worth remembering that I was broke and lived in a bedsit. My landlord was sworn to secrecy. Not good if they found out their chairman lived in a shitty bed sit. The estate agent was over the moon as he would get sales off the back of it, so we were all winners. I had a thriving little business and was really enjoying myself. I was rubbing shoulders with all kinds of influential people from City Council, Local Solicitors and Estate Agents. It was strange having them phone me up to ask for advice, or requesting I call round and see them. I had gone from Zero to Hero in the space of three months. I knew I could only blag it for so long; I needed to read up on the regulations. I arranged for a City Councillor to speak to the landlords at one of our meetings. Word had got round and I realised the Highland Hotel was going to be too small. I contacted the Holiday Inn and one or two other large hotels. I selected one on the Hoe, with amazing views across Plymouth Sound. The Councillor phoned and asked me to call at his office prior to the meeting. He suggested we should work together to prepare the ground so as to show that the council was fully behind the Association. 'Are you?' I said 'We're doing the best we can,' he replied. 'Let's hope it's enough, or we will evict all tenants with more than six weeks arrears in rent.' He went white. At the meeting the council agreed to pay rents direct to the Landlords for tenants who were behind in rent by more than one month. They also agreed to increase the rent payments to cover back rent until it caught up. It was an amazing victory. I invited all kinds of people to speak at our meetings, from Surveyors, Timber & Damp companies, Solicitors; anyone who could provide useful information to the Association. Everyone benefited from this arrangement. The social side was excellent as well. We held an annual Christmas bash at the Hotel and we all got to know each other. I can't remember ever buying a drink the whole time. It was a runaway success. I ran the Association for three years. It made me no direct money but the plan had worked, as it opened so many doors. I formed a committee to advise and help with the running of the organisation. I could not have run it on my own. It grew into almost a full time job and was very exciting. The only problem was that I was not being paid. After three years I had to step down and start putting my new contacts to use. I told the committee and there was a vote to find a new chairman, but in twelve months it had folded. It was such a shame but I couldn't run it forever. I had to earn a living. A new association was formed some time later; but I had moved on. I had built the flat agency into a nice little business and was also managing a few properties for people. It was a whole different ballgame, taking a lot more effort on the admin side, and I needed a secretary. Oh Dear!
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (part fourteen)
Bozzz on 06-09-2014
The Times of my Life (part fourteen)
What the hell else can this chap get up to - best form the Association of Semi-Retired Plymouth Shaggers - that would last more than a year or so as there is an endless supply of new members. That's it - now exposed - the man has the gift of the gab - if he can manage to land the Plymouth girls then holding their hardbitten landlords must have been a doddle.
Holding my precious breath for No 15... David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading this chapter David, I've had several existences; and worn many hats while trying to find one that fitted HaHa! The next chapter is a little less frantic than some...but that won't last long. 🙂

Mike

Gothicman on 06-09-2014
The Times of my Life (part fourteen)
Still following your story with empathic understanding, Mike. But, in spite of all the shagging, with a few, I'm sure there was some tender romantic love involved, svn if short-lived and failures? Though there are guys with the Don Juan complex i.e. desire is extinguished after attaining full nakedness and first blagg, to be repeated ad infinitum, never to feel deeper emotions than that, rising to the challenge and winning being only what is important! If you started David's suggested association I bet half of Plymouth would qualify to join lol. And that's just the women! Look forwards to a more sober period, even if only a pause. Trevor

Author's Reply:
Hi Trevor, thanks for sticking with it. Yes there were a few, my secretary being one; for most it was simply lust for lusts sake. I found the chase was almost as entertaining as the act itself. Not all of my ladies were from Plymouth, I was not adversed to traveling 🙂
Mike

sweetwater on 06-09-2014
The Times of my Life (part fourteen)
Gosh, you don't give us much time to catch our breath, You must have been as thin as a rake with all your physical and mental endevors. Damn good read though! carry on lol. Writing that is 😉 Sue x

Author's Reply:
Hello Sue, pleased your still enjoying the read. Life was full on during the seventies, I paid my dues in full; but it was a hell of a ride 🙂
Mike

Kipper on 07-09-2014
The Times of my Life (part fourteen)
Hi mike

Another two in one comment again. Haven't lost interest I promise (how could I possibly) it's just that at the moment my time is taken looking after my wife and home while she is not well.

In my previous remarks I said that I hoped your experiences had taught you some lessons, so I was pleased to read that you had. Not so pleased that you chose to ignore them all. But that of course is what your story is about. It reads like a fictional adventure story and I can't help thinking of Michael Caine's 'Alfie". But then we are reminded that this is for real. What,s more your writing has a swing with it that keeps it moving from one crisis to another.

it is to your great credit that the 'arrogance' you describe of your conduct is not apparent in your narrative, and neither it seems is contrition. More simply you are saying this is me. I think most people will like you all the better for it.

Chapter 15?

the best Michael



Author's Reply:
So Sorry to hear of your home problems, I too have suffered from these; Lesley my wife had a bad twelve months. Pleased to say things are settling down again for her (and so for me). I hope that this will apply to you and yours, as there is nothing so bad as when you watch your partner suffering and are helpless.
Thanks for keeping on with my saga, the whole thing is a little sureal now, I am sorting the photos before going to print a few copies to scatter around the family, only my wife has read it so far 🙂 Not sure how it will go down. Its interesting to read how others look at it, I think you are right in that I am saying in effect 'this is me, this is what happened' I never sort to glamorise or to vilify; just to tell it like it was. As I said in the forward, I have tried to make it interesting to read and let the facts speak for themselves. My poem /prose piece 'Beached' said it in fewer words.
Mike

e-griff on 12-10-2014
The Times of my Life (part fourteen)
I think, having read this one and going back to my previous comment, that you should cut all your direct explanations about your sexual prowess and just let the events speak for themselves. This is the reason for the 'show not tell' advice. Readers aren't stupid, and get annoyed by being told the same thing more than once.

Author's Reply:
Only you so far 🙂 I will take a look though.
Mike


The Times of my Life (part thirteen) (posted on: 01-09-14)
It's 1979 and things have to change

My affair with my secretary came to an end along with the business, and in 1979 so did my marriage. My wife had known or suspected about my affair with my secretary, and eventually it came out. It was more than she could take. Thank God she didn't find out about all the others. I will confess again that I was a serial adulterer, and that I seduced most of our friend's wives. I had more one day stands than one night stands, simply because it was easy for me. I was a man with a lot of cash, a big car and an even bigger ego. I had a seemingly endless supply of office girls from Taunton to Bodmin and spent my long lunch hours with them whenever I could. I came to know every hideaway pub in Devon and Cornwall. I can make no excuse for my behaviour. I have said before that I will not name names. I am still in contact with some of these people and I couldn't remember all of them anyway. I made myself a pledge that I would stop; and I did... until the next time. My wife and I were finished, though even then I found it hard to accept. I made all the useless promises that you do - 'I won't do it again; I can change; give me another chance' etc.... I had screwed up big time and now I had to pay. I tried to make a go of it for a few months, we went to Madeira on a winter break in the January of 1979. It was not to be, and on our return she showed me the door. Telling the kids we were splitting up was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I was devastated. It was time to face the music and pay for all of my mistakes. I left the house with a kettle and a record collection; and only what was in my private bank account. I will not dwell on the divorce as it still hurts. My wife had every justification, and I have no doubt that from her point of view it was the right thing to do. I had proved over and over again to be a piss poor husband; and I can have no complaints. I've had years to reflect on what I did, and the way things worked out. Even if I had not acted the way I did... I think we would still have ended in divorce; we grew apart. I was simply taking too long growing up; and she was worth a lot better. I moved into a small rented flat, and my daughter went with me. I was a total wreck and was barely able to look after myself, let alone my daughter. After six weeks I took her back to My wife, and I was on my own. I had all the usual feelings; self-pity; remorse; and anger with everyone. In the end I had no one to blame but me. It was hard to look in the mirror in those days. The end of my marriage and the loss of my business was the end of an era. I struggled on for another year or so with the scaffolding, to clear my debts; but my heart wasn't in it. In the end I leased all my kit to my now Ex-business partner, hit the bottle and went back to dope. It numbs the pain, right? Rubbish! I went back to familiar hippie friends and looked up Mudge. He was living part time with some others, in a cottage near the village of Lifton. They were great people, and gave me the space I needed to think things through. I started playing guitar again, and found I could write my feelings away in songs and poetry. Some of them were quite good, others were crap and self-indulgent. Mudge was impressed with my guitar playing and encouraged me to keep it up. I went to Exeter and looked up some of my friends. Pete and Kit were still there and took me in, but most had gone to live in North Devon or in deep Cornwall. I realised I was being a fool thinking I wanted, or needed my old life. I knew I couldn't stay for fear of ending up like some of the others. A drunk; junkie; or both, wasn't for me. I remembered how close I had come to being a basket case, and said my goodbyes, promising to return. I never did. There was no way back; and I had to face that. I made plans for a new start; a new life. My partner was having a bad time in marriage too. His wife kept phoning me, asking questions I didn't want to answer. He was no better than I at fidelity, and had fallen for a married woman in Cornwall. It was a disaster waiting to happen. He confessed all and his wife went mad. He came to Plymouth to declare his undying love for the new woman. As far as she was concerned it was only a fling. She told him to piss off. By now I was back in Plymouth trying to sort my life out. It was early 1980. I had a flat in Mutley on a cheap rent from a friend, and was in contact with my old flame and secretary. She had been around to 'comfort me'. She was married now, but she still loved me, and said she would leave her husband if I asked her. It was tempting, but I had only left my wife and the kids a few months before. I asked for some time. We'd been lovers for years and both knew that if it had been going to happen between us, it would have. It was time to let go. I was soon out and about, getting up to my old tricks. I took up with a young girl. She was nineteen and I was thirty four. Some might say, 'nice work if you can get it.' True to a certain extent, but you can't have a conversation with someone that age. The attraction dissipated over breakfast, all within a few weeks. I searched for a replacement in all my old haunts, but my reputation had preceded me. My old friends had yet to forgive me and my treatment of my wife. One evening at the Sailing School, I saw a woman more my age, talking with a guy at the bar. She was really attractive and bubbly. I waited for the man to step outside then marched up and asked for a phone number. I ended the evening with a date for the next weekend. During the early months of my separation, I was living off capital and savings. I had no income other than the rental paid in cash by my Ex-partner for the scaffolding; and was starting to feel the pinch. This lady mixed with the money set and was out of my financial league. Something had to be done if I were to pull her. I had very little of real value, and no car. I did something I now regret and have never rectified. Quite some time before, when into Martial Arts, I bought a matched pair of Samurai Swords complete with a provenance certificate. They were made in the 1650s for use by a Samurai Warrior, and so cost a lot of money. They were irreplaceable. I also had a Rolex Oyster Date watch; not cheap either. I sold the lot and bought a fast car and some new clothes. I was off again. Far from being from the posh part of town, the lady lived in a council house in Eggbuckland. Bugger! She was out of place there and it showed, and as far from the old hippies I'd hung around with as you can get. She dressed well and always looked her best. It was a case of opposites attract. Our date went well and we started seeing each other on a regular basis. I still played the field and my secretary was in the picture too. With the new car and a new girl I was able to hold my head up again. I started to feel more like my old self. I'd visit my partner from time to time. He was doing quite well and had found his feet in Exeter's business world. His marriage was in disarray. He had finally moved out and bought a large property to live in, not far from where I'd lived as a child. His wife stayed in the family home near the football ground with their two boys. They had views of the pitch; perfect if you supported Exeter City. She phoned one day and asked if she could come down to Plymouth and see me, to talk about things; and try to make sense of what had happened to us all. It seemed innocent enough; I said okay... Oh Dear.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (part thirteen)
pommer on 01-09-2014
The Times of my Life (part thirteen)
Oh dear,Mike, I can see disaster brewing in part 14.Once again enjoyed reading every sentence.What a kaleidoscope of life.I am sure I would not have survived.I admire you to be so frank about it all.Well done, Mike,
Peter.

Author's Reply:
Thank you again Peter for reading my story, It has been one hell of a journey; I can see that now. At the time I was just living it, it seemed quite normal. Now, looking as if from the outside.... I see it may not have been. The comments have told me this as well. I always said if I do it I will tell it as it was.
Mike

Bozzz on 02-09-2014
The Times of my Life (part thirteen)
Balls wiser than brain - an old story - started with Adam. Good job you are not religious for there would be many millions of tons of bricks waiting to descend. But then chance has hit you even harder than bricks could possibly do so. I take you as how you have stood by me. OK. That said, roll on fourteen.....David

Author's Reply:
It was never an easy ride (for all of my bravado) It was just the way it turned out; I never planned to be who I am, or what I am. There is so much pain for me, and those around me at times, and although I am not always responsible...I feel it. Much is left unsaid, much is left to come.
Thanks again David for sticking with it.
Mike

Andrea on 03-09-2014
The Times of my Life (part thirteen)
Crikey, wot a Lothario! Pity I didn't know you then, I reckon I was the female equivalent 🙂

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! Well it was a time of 'Make Love Not War' I guess we were just following the rules; only no one told me when to stop 🙂

Thanks for dropping by Boss
Mike
XxX

Gothicman on 04-09-2014
The Times of my Life (part thirteen)
You dirty old stop out at night! A real rogue tom cat in the neighbourhood of the whole Cornish peninsular + Plymouth. But, also some remorse, admittance of mistakes, and self-retribution, though when you're young often only as the result of hindsight. Even without personal reference to both place and person, it is an interesting timeline document, and I even look up the place names you mention on the map to remind me, and I do like your writing style, which gives it good flow with no pockets of distraction. The pay off in human terms is to come I know ...Trevor

Author's Reply:
Hi Trevor, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I made a pledge that when this was finished there would be no regrets, either of the life or the writing of it; I will admit that some of the results of my life have cause me some. When I started this I just wrote it as I remembered it, that would account for the sometimes jumbled look. I think it works like this as it sounds more like me! There is always a price to pay, and there are those who would think that Prostrate Cancer is mine; (mainly husbands I expect) it certainly curbed my sex life. There have been other 'pay off's' and those will come a long as the story proceeds. If you want more info on places or other thoughts etc... just mail me 🙂
Mike

e-griff on 12-10-2014
The Times of my Life (part thirteen)
I don't mind you bragging about your sexual conquests etc. Once or twice is fine. But you seem to do it a bit too regularly. And it becomes repetitive, so I was sighing and muttering 'Yeh, Yeh, you told us that before half a dozen times, why?' so I'd cut them out, and just place a few (non-repetitive) instances in the right places.

Author's Reply:
Again I'm not bragging... just saying, most readers seem to understand that. It was the driving force in my life, to understate it would be a denial on my part. My inability to keep my zip done up cost me everything, twice.
Mike


The Times of my Life (part twelve) (posted on: 29-08-14)
The rise and the fall of my first business 1973/79

The next five years were a roller coaster ride for my scaffolding business. I was out every day looking for contracts and trying to oversee what we had. My partner was putting the quotes together and making presentations to possible major clients. We had three staff by now in the office and Dell was out of the picture. We had the tiger by the tail with contracts coming in every week; and chasing our own tails just to keep all our sites together. My partner and I got on well, and we thought it would never end. We even talked about selling out when we were in our 40s and retiring. Yes dear Reader, we were that naive. I was in an affair with my secretary, and would take her out with me for the day. My partner was jealous and decided to find himself someone, so we ended up with another office girl for him. I have learned to my cost, a time comes in every small business that makes or breaks you; depending on how well you've prepared. If you have a degree in Business Studies; graduated with distinction; have parents who've been there and done it; or more important, you have a good accountant, you know what's coming. If not, you sink or swim. We arrived at a point I now know as overtrading, though I didn't realise its significance until a major problem in 1977. I let the Tiger's Tail go and it turned and bit me in the arse. There was a slump in civil engineering, and a major company we were working for stopped paying its sub-contractors. They said they'd a temporary cash flow problem, and on one site at the Exeter end of the M5, it left us with twenty-three men to pay from the bank. Other contractors were starting to hold back on payments and it began to bite. In total our workforce in 1976 was seventy-two men, one contracts manager, four office staff, and a wage bill of around 20,000 per week; before our drawings and expenses. It was not really a small business. I made the mistake of not employing a full-time accountant. Neither my partner nor I had any idea how to manage a business of such size and complexity. We only saw the upside. We had taken on more contracts than we could control, and were over-exposed on cash flow, with no assets to back it up. The downside had arrived. This one company took us for 37,000 and we could do nothing to stop them. They told us they had their own staff to pay; and not paying any of their subcontractors for a period of two or three months would cover their wages and get them through the recession. Every time we invoiced them they would counter claim for some trumped up charge, like 20 men and a supervisor on Sunday, at double time, to check our work and tighten up loose fittings. It was the same for all their sub-contractors. They finished off many other contractors as well as us. When the slump ended they simply found more. It wasn't just the one company that did it; all the major contractors were pulling the same deal. The knock on effect was that in the end nobody was paying anyone, and the guys at the bottom paid the price, going out of business. None of us had the resources to fight them in court. As the money dwindled into overdraft the bank called me in. The Nat West Bank went from being our best friends to our worst nightmare in 10 seconds flat. They demanded their money back within seven days, or else. This was the first, but not the last time, I heard about the 'umbrella situation'. When the sun shines the bank hands you an umbrella, when it's pissing down they take it away. I sacked everybody on the following Friday and we split the partnership with my friend going back to Exeter. I worked from then on with two others I re-employed, and paid off the bank rather than go bust. It took me the best part of two years. I was very proud of what I'd achieved and devastated to lose it all. It took me a long time to get over what had happened. I accept that had I been a little more astute and traded a little more cautiously we may have put aside the cash reserves for that rainy day. I was completely naive and far too sure of myself to see the warning signs. To demonstrate how pissed off I was I will relate what steps I took to show this one company how I felt about what they'd done. The Quantity Surveyor and Structures Agent acting for them at M5 Exeter contract were no help; and wouldn't talk to anyone. My final conversation with them was by phone from my office in Plymouth. They just laughed at my problem and said there was nothing I could do. They said their head office employed people whose sole job was to find ways of not paying sub-contractors. I dropped the phone and got into my car. I drove up to the site at Exeter; they saw me coming and locked the office door. I kicked it in and beat the shit out of them. It was one thing I could do. No charges were pressed and the pair of them disappeared from Exeter. It didn't get my money but it sure made me feel better. There had been another option open to me; one that will seem unbelievable to you, but I promise its true. It's a long story but I think it is worth telling. Tom and Jerry When I won the Exeter M5 contracts, I took on work with several other major contractors who were involved in the bridge structures. With this amount of work we needed a Foreman to run the workforce of some twenty men. A couple of guys turned up out of the blue at one of our Exeter sites, and asked to speak to me. I was in Plymouth at the time and they arranged via our office for me to meet them on site at the main contractors offices the following day at 10am. The next day I travelled up to meet them, and as promised there they were. They said that they had heard that I was looking for an experienced scaffolding forman to run the contracts in Exeter, and offered their services. I was a bit taken aback as I had not advertised, so asked how they knew about the job. ''Was the job available?'' I said yes. ''Good, they said, so how we know isn't important, is it?'' My considered response: ''Who the hell are you?'' Tom was about 6ft 3in and a ten-minute walk across the shoulders. He had a big beard and a barrel chest. His friend Jerry was similar but without the beard. It turned out they were from London and had worked out for themselves after visiting the sites, looking for work, that I needed help. After talking on the phone with my partner, I talked with our men on site. They'd already met Tom and Jerry and seemed to like them. Tom gave me the name of their last firm in London called 'Swoop Scaffolding'. This made me laugh. I hadn't bargained on two men, but I told them the wage; saying 'take it or leave it and start today'. They thanked me, said yes, and we went for a tour of the sites. They seemed very knowledgeable. After they'd been with us for a few months I asked Tom to a party in Plymouth, though I still didn't know where they lived. He said he'd have trouble as they lived in North Devon. I was gob-smacked and asked why they worked so far from home. He asked if he could trust me; then told me his story. They were Londoners who had once been Scaffolders. In recent years they'd been working as enforcers and drivers for a 'firm' working out of the East End of London. Their last job had been a hold up on a security van, which had gone wrong. They had to disappear and were living on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I wished I'd never asked. I asked why they had decided to tell me; bearing in mind they could have said anything. They said in their line of work they'd an instinct for knowing who to trust. Tom invited Dell and I up to their farm the next Friday. We met in Bideford and followed them to their farm in the middle of nowhere. Dell and I were just a little apprehensive as you might imagine; but they were charm itself. We were introduced to Tom's wife who was half Jamaican, and their three kids. A party had been arranged in our honour. By seven o'clock we were being introduced to all manner of characters. They spoke with the same London accent and looked out of place in North Devon. Later we noticed something else that was a bit weird. They all carried guns, which left me as scared as I had ever been. I took Tom to one side and asked if we were safe. He said we were his friends, and honoured guests; that we had nothing to worry about. The party got underway and everyone was drunk. The music was Reggae and Bob Marley the man of the night. About one in the morning Tom decided we'd all go out and hunt rabbits. I pointed out that I didn't have a gun, and someone brought me a shotgun. I didn't know what to say; I nearly shit myself. We all jumped into cars and drove after the rabbits, firing every time one appeared in the headlights. It was terrifying, but at the same time very exciting. I couldn't believe it and neither could Dell. Next day the others said their goodbyes; lining up to thank me for looking after Tom and Jerry. It was just too bizarre. Tom took me into Bideford for a drink and told me not to worry about what I had seen and heard. He said he trusted me and would repay my kindness, I only had to ask. As the year came to an end all my dreams were going up in smoke. I had to tell the men what was happening and what the result would be. Tom asked to speak to me in private and we went to the nearest pub. This is what he said. ''You and your partner have been good to us, and we told you we'd repay you one day. Give us a week; we will get your money back; it will be our Christmas present to you''. I asked how they could do that, and he said I didn't need to know. I did need to know of course, though I still shudder when I think of their answer. Tom said one of their jobs in London was debt collecting. There were many ways of getting money from people who didn't want to pay, he said. One was to kidnap them; put them in a mail sack with a six inch concrete block, and lower them over the side of a dock wall. He said it worked every time. In my case it would be a little more complicated. First they'd discover who the man at the top of the food chain was. They planned to photograph his house; to follow and photograph his wife and kids, his friends. Then they'd kidnap him; show him the photos; tell him what they wanted, and then set the photos alight. The message was clear, if their demands were not met, he and his family's lives would never be the same again. I had asked so he told me. I knew that they had my well-being in mind, and that I had everyone's jobs to think about, but I could not let them loose on this; so I begged them not to do it. They said not to worry, as they'd never had to carry through on threats that they made - nobody ever died! I thanked them again but said no; I just could not do it. It was my decision and the rest is history. Tom gave me a London number to ring if I ever needed help. They left when the company folded, and I never saw them again; though they were to crop up in conversation at a later date. I had come to like Tom and his family. Jerry was not so easy and always seemed cold and a little remote, though he was good to me. They didn't like my business partner. To my wife and I, they were really nice, polite, generous, and fun loving people. Underneath they were extremely dangerous, and I was glad they weren't looking for me in a bad way. It had been a possible way out; but I was not a mad man. In my rage I did beat the shit out of the other men myself, but Tom's way was a step too far. Had my life or my family's life been under threat it might have been different; but in the end it was only money. I can now acknowledge the other contributing factors in my demise. Apart from my distinct lack of business skills, there was wine, women and a rock and roll life-style. Though I do have a few regrets (the loss of the life style) I had one hell of a time.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (part twelve)
pommer on 29-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part twelve)
Hi Mike,
another well written description of another exciting almost violent episode of an interesting life.Do I detect some similarity with some of the characters and places in "Webber"?I enjoyed reading it.Keep it coming Mike.Take care, looking forward to reading part 13.(Re-check some of the spelling, Mike.}Be lucky, Peter.

Author's Reply:
The only link with Webber is that both are in the West Country Peter HaHa! I agree the spelling gets a little out at times, I will go through it again before printing. Pleased you are still enjoying the read .
Mike

Bozzz on 29-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part twelve)
Mike you have survived where many would have found themselves on the scrapheap of humanity. Honesty, drive plus lack of forethought were strange bedfellows in a very intelligent mind, Being mind-boggle-proof in the affairs of industry is no protection when it comes to the effects of sex - one has to don one's shagproof boots as well, Roll on No 13 my friend for not much worse can possibly occur.....David

Author's Reply:
Thanks for still reading me David, 'shagproof boots' oh dear HaHa! I bought a pair of 'drinking trousers' at an early age; they have helped at times 🙂 You say things can't get worse...really?!? it is me were talking about 🙂
Mike

Kipper on 29-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part twelve)
Hi Mike,
A distinct change of mood. Gone now was the anything goes - having a great time. Serious stuff this, and i hope some lessons were learned. Is that too much to ask?
Cheers, Michael

Author's Reply:
Hi Michael
There is always a down side...something it took me a while to find out. Lessons learned...? You'd think so wouldn't you 🙂
Thanks for sticking with me.
Mike

Gothicman on 31-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part twelve)
Mike, I can only say again, what a full and rich life you've had the courage to let yourself be part of. At the end of the day, it is the depth and contrast of experience that brings feelings of fulfillment, even allowing for the tragedy and more distressing moments and aspects which I know now are going to follow later. This is real living that must be kept in the context of a person trying to make their way and function well with the naivety that is part of the learning curve; no point in judging or doing a revaluation with hindsight. Thanks again for sharing your interesting life. Trevor

Author's Reply:

sweetwater on 31-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part twelve)
Distinct change of mood here, not so happy and carefree, but still full of interest and excitement. My first husband and I lived in a cottage on a remote farm, just over the water from Bideford, think it was Underhill Farm. Luckily it was before your Tom and Jerry were in the area lol. Sue x

Author's Reply:

e-griff on 12-10-2014
The Times of my Life (part twelve)
Very interesting, keeps the attention. However, I was confused by the jumping around. In the last episode you talked about the 'split' and the business going broke and splitting with the partner, in this one that hasn't happened and you have to realign yourself. That bogs the reader down a bit, which is not what you want.

Onward!

Author's Reply:
Thanks again John, I will look at it.
Mike


The times of my Life (part eleven) (posted on: 25-08-14)
A fool and his money, wife, family, and his life are soon parted...but not just yet!

Back at work things were going well and we found it unsuitable working from home, as people called in at all hours. We took the decision to open an office. When I say we... I mean my business partner and I, we didn't consult Dell, just told her. She was upset and said she couldn't work away from home because of the kids. Not to worry, I said, we'll look for a secretary. Oh dear. The office was in New Street, on the Barbican; a great location. We advertised for a secretary and picked the best looking one we could. She was a real looker. It took me a week to get into an affair and five years to end it. I never got addicted to drugs, but I may have been addicted to sex; I was at it all the time. The social scene was fantastic. Ronnie's club was still the place to be. It had been a jazz club, but as music changed it catered for the likes of us. The DJ played Free and Fleetwood Mac and the air was thick with the familiar smell of Dope. Another was the Sea Angling Centre; great music and everyone you knew was there. There were loads of pubs with live music and some great local bands, so we were always off somewhere. The Barbican was a great place in the 60s and 70s, well away from all the trouble in Union Street. It would be a few years before that all changed. We drank in the Dolphin. It was, and still is, the most original pub down there. It was full of artists and musicians, business men and bums like us, a great crowd. Some of the friends I made became great friends. 'John the Pot', a reference to his ability as a potter, not with dope, had his studio in New Street. He has an international reputation. Local historian Chris, has an office and shop there, and the clairvoyant Acora. A good friend and Restaurateur, Steve who fronted the newly opened Piermasters restaurant, Steve and I have remained life long friends. Last but not least a friend from the late sixties, Robert Lenkavich the painter. He would call in the Dolphin to 'absorb the atmosphere' as he put it. Robert could talk for England. Not a drinker but great to listen to. He was a greater womaniser than me. He seduced them, painted them, and made money out of selling the paintings later. I used to joke with him about it. He would just smile and say, 'Michael, that's what artists do.' Robert's claim to fame at this time, was his amazing mural, painted on an outside wall; near his studio on the Barbican. It was so big I had to put scaffolding up for him to work on. He put everyone he knew into it, and in some style. It became world famous and so did he. I thought him the most wildly outrageous man I ever knew. He died not so long ago, way before his time. People used to flock to him like he was some kind of Guru. He had a library of first editions that was worth a fortune. Robert would do the weirdest things to promote exhibitions of his work. He actually preserved a famous tramp's body, like Damian Hirst did with the shark. I think his outrageous behaviour detracted from his reputation as a truly great artist. I consider it an honour to have known him. When I first met him he lived in a house on Clifton Street with his first wife, and another artist called Jack. I think they had a couple of kids, but by the time his fame grew, I understand he had about 19 children from his many lovers. Robert always claimed that fame counted for nothing, but I think he loved it. Everything was pantomime with Robert. I once offered to help him move house and turned up to find the biggest handcart I had ever seen piled high with all his kit. About a dozen of us pulled the bloody thing across town; a simple but effective publicity stunt. Beryl Cook the artist was a regular at The Dolphin, along with prominent Solicitors and their sometimes shady clients. Local hard men drank there, and of course fisherman from the local boats. We all got along and there was very little trouble, except on occasion from 'outside'... and then all hell would break loose. Billy Holmes ran the pub with his wife Betty. He was a short guy but would have no nonsense and would be across the bar in a flash. When Billy died his wife stayed, and their son, also called Billy, still runs the place to this day. It's not the same, but what is? The Barbican was the only old part of Plymouth left after the war and the re building. Now it's changing with the times and people come and go as we have. Some of the charm disappeared with the fishing boats, and the atmosphere is different though it's still a great place to visit. We started to spread our wings courtesy of the in-laws. Dell's parents had a villa in Malta they used for holidays, and we'd go out as well. We went with them the first couple of times, then on our own with our kids. It was a dream for me and very exotic. At that time we had only been to Spain for a week, but I thought that Malta was amazing. We holidayed there every year, sometimes twice. We had a Mini Moke out there, and I used to drive all over the Island. Malta was our family time and the kids loved it. They had so much freedom there. It had that typically Mediterranean attitude; kids could do no wrong and everywhere we went they were given treats by the locals. The villa was in a village called Masascala at the head of an inlet. Only small boats could navigate the harbour so it was really beautiful back then; no big hotels. We used to hang out at the Coxswain's Cabin. It was a bar and restaurant right on the harbour front run by an English family. He was called Tony and was an ex-navy diver who had washed up there and never left. They had a fantastic farmhouse outside the village with a pool. We became great friends and would go to the bar most nights when we were out there. The kids were allowed to wander the place and earned drinks and crisps by clearing the tables. Sometimes they fell asleep on a bench seat and remained all night until we went home. David loved to get up early and wander down to the harbour with his fishing rod. He spent hours sitting with the locals trying to catch mullet. Tracy was more interested in the beach and learning to swim. My kids were a joy when they were young and Tracy was a real dad's girl. I taught her to duck dive with a mask on. She was too small and couldn't descend, so I gave her a rock to hold and she went to the bottom, about 8ft, with ease. She was soon doing it on her own. We'd go diving for octopus with our masks and snorkels. Great fun, though I didn't like the taste of them. We would gaff them with a large barbed hook and bring them to a rock and turn their heads inside out with a flick of the wrist. They died instantly. The Maltese divers used to slap them onto their wet suits and they would stick there with their suckers. I could never do that. We used to give ours to Tony at the Bar and he would cook and serve them in the restaurant. There was a place we used to go near our villa called Peter's Pool. It was beautiful and only the locals knew about it. There was no beach you just dived in off the rocks. The water was so clear you could see the bottom, about 10 meters below. On one side it was quite a drop to the water and all the local lads used to line up to impress the girls with their dives. We went snorkelling there, as it was full of fish. There was a ledge below the surface in one spot, and one day Tracy was sucked down under the ledge. Dell screamed out to me and I dived in and pulled her out. She was shaken but unharmed and hadn't swallowed too much water. It was a warning of how unforgiving the sea can be. We went water skiing in St Paul's Bay, where Dell and I learned the basics and became quite good. We could not get Dave in the water for 12 months, let alone on skis, after he had watched Jaws. Tracy however, although only six years old, was fearless and demanded a turn. We borrowed a small pair of skis and joined them in the middle so they wouldn't separate. I held her until the boat took off and away she went, going all around the bay. The people onshore clapped and cheered when she reached the raft. I was so proud of her, but David was really pissed off. Our party lifestyle continued out there, only in the sunshine. There were loads of beach parties and trips to other villas. We'd walk to St Thomas's Bay, taking a case of Chisk Lager and a picnic, stay all day then have a BBQ, and party on down into the early hours. Everybody went skinny-dipping; and sometimes we would all wake up on the sand. There were some really wealthy people out there at the time. They were known as the 'sixpenny settlers' as that was the tax they paid at the time; sixpence in the pound. Their Life was good as everyone spoke English and they lived in the sun. Some lived in huge villas with all the luxuries; some lived on beautiful sailing boats or 'Gin Palaces' as they were known. One couple we all became friends with, lived in a stunning house built into the walls of the old City. It dated back to the time of the Knights Templar and the Crusades. It was part of the Castle wall and had views to die for, all over the Island. They were the richest people I had ever met and even Dell's father admitted that. The husband was always dashing off to see how his shares and things were doing. In those days he had a telex machine. Their names escape me but they were a fantastic couple and she was French and truly stunning, to top it all. Another time at St. Paul's Bay, a guy lost his false teeth when diving in, and offered free beer to anyone who could find them. All the men dived in as it wasn't deep, about 10ft. There was a lot of weed on the bottom so it was difficult to search through, but I found them and got pissed on the winnings. It was so weird seeing those teeth looking up at me through the weed. We had many great times out there and I remember them as the best family times ever. With the benefit of hindsight, why did I screw it all up? We listened to The Eagles; Crosby Stills and Nash; Pink Floyd; anything with Clapton in it; Fleetwood Mac; Hendrix and of course we still loved Dylan. Some things never change. We had some good friends, and we had both taken up Karate. We trained twice a week learning Shotokan Karate at a Dojo run by a guy called Les. He was a black belt 1st Dan when we started, and there was a great spirit in the club. He kept it very traditional and there were strict rules and regulations. I had started a few months before Dell but she would not be left out, and was soon doing well. We progressed through the grades and went to many competitions. I did well in the fighting and won many trophies including the club championship twice, and was second in the South West at my grade. We became friends with an instructor and his wife. It was him who got me through my first few grades, and gave me private lessons. We became firm friends and went on several short breaks together, most notably to Rome. It was my first trip to Italy, he and I wanted to act out the Bruce Lee fight at the Coliseum; and we did. It was a great club and everyone was supportive at competitions. In the Watney Mann challenge Cup one year, I was fighting a guy who had cost me first place at the South West Championship. He'd also got me disqualified in a major event some time before. It was a team competition,I asked our team manager if I could take him out. As we were way ahead, it was agreed. Before the fight started I told him he wouldn't need to fake injury this time. He was shitting himself and rightly so, as I had waited a long time to fight him again. I kicked him in the head with a roundhouse strike called a Miwashi Gerri, and he went down like a shot rabbit. I was disqualified but it was worth it to see him lying there. We won the competition and were presented with a huge chest filled with beer, wine and spirits, and a big silver cup. For around five years or so Karate was the main thing in our lives; and we travelled all over the country to train with the top guys. Dell continued with the club long after our divorce and reached the exalted Third Dan Black Belt. I was advised to train somewhere else after we split as she had taken up with one of the instructors. I wasn't worried on a physical level, but I used to train with him; and we were good friends. I didn't need to be told twice and left. I went on to other clubs but it was never the same. At the back end of the Seventies I re-discovered my love of horses. Tracy had a friend who was into riding, so wanted to have a go herself. I was all for it and she started lessons at a stable down at Wembury. Dell or I would take her and she would trot around a field. As she got better she would ride out up the lanes. As soon as she had the general idea I bought her a pony from a local stable, it was called Brandy. It was a bit too strong for her but you would never have known as Tracy was fearless, and rode it out at local Gymkhanas. She has a few rosettes to prove it. Dell decided that it was too strong for her to take out hacking, so I sold it on and bought her one from a guy I knew. The pony's name was Dainty. Tracy kept the horse until the split and then sold it on. While she had it I would take her up every night and muck out the stable and walk her round the lanes and fields. I loved it as I had done it all before. Tracy kept up riding after the split, from a stable at Mary Tavy on the moors. Dell then joined her followed by David, who would never be left out. They joined a stable at Horndon, just down the lane from a pub called The Elephants Nest. I was to join too a few years later. It's difficult to time and date all that was happening to me and those around me. It was the seventies and really was life in the fast lane. Around then I had a vasectomy, on the grounds that we had two wonderful kids and that was enough. It wasn't nice for a few weeks but then ... Freedom! I had a tie with 'I shoot blanks', which was brilliant. It was great for the other women in my life as well. It isn't my intention to name names or dwell too much on my sex life, suffice it to say I had my share and then some. I still see some of my 'ladies' from time to time; some are still with their husbands. In the end it all came out though, and I paid the price. I'm still paying emotionally to this day. I know it's a well-used clich to say I still loved my wife, even while all the mayhem was going on, but it was true. I don't think I respected the sanctity of marriage or appreciated the devastation my actions were going to cause. I was caught up in the ego trip of a lifetime, and I thought it would go on forever. Would I now do things differently? Would the outcome be any different if I had? I don't think so. Dell and I never should have married in the first place, and would have separated sooner or later. Better sooner than later while there was still time to re-build. The way it happened could have been better, and I was to blame and take full responsibility. I simply lost the plot. Do I regret the life I led back in the day? All I will say is it's hard to regret something you enjoyed so much, however much I regret some of the consequences.
Archived comments for The times of my Life (part eleven)
Gothicman on 25-08-2014
The times of my Life (part eleven)
Throwing all that wonderful life away? You daft prick! As Spikey would say! But, I do sympathize, during those years a promiscuous lifestyle was almost obligatory for anyone in their best years! I must say I do like your writing style, with just hints of emerging risks etc. before supplying more detail later. I like too that it's not a tale of woe, but presented with a lot of self-irony and acceptance of how it was then, and not with the advantage of knowing long term consequences. You've had the privilege of knowing and meeting many fantastic characters, and lived a rich and full life, what more does anyone want? Thanks for sharing, there's a lot of what you've done in us all, and it reawakens many fine memories for those who were around at that time, even if geographically different. Tough times ahead, I fear! Trevor

Author's Reply:
In a weird way I agree with you, in that my life has been a privilege; I think maybe the prick bit as well 🙂 I thank you for the kind words....from you also a privilege. There are those who would not agree with my life, those who would doubt it. As I told you before, it was never going to be 'put out there' it is.... so I live with it. When printed it's for those who never knew me.
Thanks for your support Trevor.
Mike
ps and yes it gets harder in every respect.
Mike

Kipper on 25-08-2014
The times of my Life (part eleven)
Hi Mike
Sorry I didn't get to comment on you last chapter, so this is for two.
Where to start. You are older now and everything seems to be going your way, but still meeting life head on. It seems incredible that there is so much going on and yet there is always another chapter just waiting to start.
And it's harder still to believe that you are about to throw it all away.
Michael


Author's Reply:
Thanks for sticking with me 🙂 it does seem like a roller coaster, even when I read it HaHa! I'm just about to let a couple of people in it read it.... That should be interesting! Some of it still upsets me, even after all this time. A lot of sadness to come ( but also some great times!)
Mike

Bozzz on 26-08-2014
The times of my Life (part eleven)
Bloody hell - what I have missed. Whatever your social tangles you do come through as a kind bloke who has a devotion to pleasure and to giving it to all...See Yer, David

Author's Reply:
Hi David, not sure you missed anything worth having nightmares about! My life would not suite many people; although I remember John Betjeman saying in an interview that he wished he had more sex HaHa! The next couple you may have trouble with, not sure about posting.
Mike

pommer on 26-08-2014
The times of my Life (part eleven)
Hi Mike,
Sorry for not commenting on your previous chapter. I have read it however as well as this last one. I really enjoy your style of depicting a very active life in many ways.I am glad that you can relate it so well. I am also pleased that you have so many memories of a well lived life.In some ways you were really privileged to have been "allocated" such a role by whosoever hands out lifestyles.My own "allocated "place was quite different,but also enjoyable. I have no regrets.Well, that is not quite true,but only a few. I hope you will be able to continue with an equally enjoyable life as up to now.(Go easy on the fornicating Mate) Ha Ha.Take care of yourself and your family,
Peter.
Looking forward to the next part.

Author's Reply:
Hi Peter, I'm just pleased you are taking the trouble mate. So pleased you are able to enjoy it, that means a lot to me. The memories came flooding back once I started. Despite all of my problems (mostly caused by myself) I have always felt I had the life I wanted, never dull always exciting; normal would never have suited me 🙂 Fornicating stopped with the prostrate cancer, some would say it was the husbands finally getting their revenge HaHa! And I met the right woman a bit before that.
Mike

Legion on 28-08-2014
The times of my Life (part eleven)
Mike - This is the first chapter I've seen. Reads a bit like deja vu. I also was married (Numero 3) to a very talented artist, and at the time was the creative director of an advertising agency. There's something about creative people: we live life at a different frequency to ordinary mortals, starting each day with a blank sheet of paper and ending up receiving the approbation of a succession of comparative strangers. It can go your head, or in my case, somewhere else. When a woman says to you that you are 'interesting', the outcome can be taken as read. Oddly enough, one of the most enjoyable phases of my life was when I took five years out to be a coach driver, fulfilling a childhood ambition. I was also working freelance at the time, both as a graphic designer and a motoring journo, so there was never a dull moment. I don't do dull moments. Enjoyed your account: sounds like we have much in common. My UKA name offers a clue to my polymathic life. There is a passage inn the Bible (Mark 5.9), when Jesus confronts a lunatic and asks his name. The lunatic replies: " My name is Legion, for we are many." Regards Graham

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading my account, much appreciated. We all have a story to tell, my life would not suit many. You seem to have 'lived a bit' as well 🙂
Mike

sweetwater on 28-08-2014
The times of my Life (part eleven)
As always enjoyed every word, looking forward to next naughty installment. You do realise that when you have reached the present day, you'll have to start making things up because we'll all have withdrawal symptoms ! 🙂 Sue x

Author's Reply:
Hi Sue 🙂 Thanks for keeping the faith. The next couple of chapters have been hard for me on a personal level; I was not going to go any further. After talking and thinking I have said bugger it!
It was always going to be 'warts and all' and I have reached an age that it doesn't matter any more. Lesley (my wife) was the first to read it; followed by my mother-in-law HaHa! and she read it twice.
Mike

expat on 02-10-2014
The times of my Life (part eleven)
If this was a book, it would be difficult to put down. I'm going to save the other instalments for another night. It's like watching Lost in Space in the sixties and being barely able to wait until the following week to see what happens.
I reckon many of us can see bits of ourselves in your experiences but how many would be brave enough to write them up for the world to see!
A cracking read as usual.
Steve

Author's Reply:

e-griff on 12-10-2014
The times of my Life (part eleven)
Ah, now, contrary to my previous comment there are people listed here who are interesting.

Two things in this one, I know the London barbican, and was confused for a moment (as I was with the earlier mention) - maybe 'Plymouth's Barbican'. Also, most will have no idea what 'trouble in Union street' means.

Just picking little things as I go.

Author's Reply:
You are a glutton for punishment 🙂 The Barbican is Plymouth, Plymouth is where I live. Union Street is in Plymouth and is the street where all the trouble takes place (known all over the world by service men, like the 'Gutt' in Malta). My family will know every place mentioned, that's all that's really important to me.
Mike


Hey You! (get off of my case). (posted on: 22-08-14)
The Thought Police They confused me with another Mike...one who gives a shit.

Mutterings of miss-informed maladjusted malcontent's, their opinions, held together with sealing wax and string. They fill the air, humming quietly.... a background noise to my life. I soldier on, confident in my beliefs, they shine with the polish of exuberance; happy days are here again! I march on to face the music Life jacket tied at the waist. (Wellyou never know) The song remains the same; Played in a different key is all.

Archived comments for Hey You! (get off of my case).
Andrea on 22-08-2014
Hey You! (get off of my case).
Lovely bit of alliteration going on there 🙂

Author's Reply:
Thanks Boss, nice to hear from you; and thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
Mike XxX

ps. I looked up alliteration, I thought you were being smutty 🙂

Rab on 22-08-2014
Hey You! (get off of my case).
Nice healthy outlook on life Mike. When I read the title I thought it was going to be a reworking of the Stones song, but i like this just fine.

Author's Reply:
Cheers mate, thought someone might get the connection... Oppps there goes another one! Thanks for taking the time to read it; it's just a little thing... But you can't always get what you want 🙂
Mike

stormwolf on 22-08-2014
Hey You! (get off of my case).
Hi Mike
I enjoyed the imagery and analogy but got a bit lost as to who it was addressed to?
If it's people who don't understand you or walk to the best of your drum? Well bugger 'em all that's what I say.
I think the last couple of lines are saying you get these people everywhere you go. I hope I've got it right.
Yes, there are always those who like to bring us down. Usually a sign of their own lack of self esteem.
Nice to get reading again.
Alison xx



Author's Reply:
Hi there young Storm 🙂 Thanks for taking a look at this one. Yes you have the idea of it, there are some people who try to belittle you or your efforts (not on this site). I was just responding in words instead of my old way...with my fists; too old for that now. You know my words "Fuck em' if they cant take a joke". I will try and get to some reading but a bit busy at the moment.
Mike

Bozzz on 23-08-2014
Hey You! (get off of my case).
Mike, what monster is this disturbing the greenery in our UKA forest? Surely not the Rhyme Police for they don't care either? The "polish of exuberance' will conquer all....David

Author's Reply:
Hello David, 'disturbing the greenery' HaHa! Love it! Just a few assholes, not on UKA as I said to Storm, I just wanted to respond with words; I couldn't punch my way out of a wet paper bag these days. 🙂 Thanks for reading mate...not long now, will early ring next week.
Mike

Gothicman on 23-08-2014
Hey You! (get off of my case).
Mike, I too was worried that on not seeing your next installment of your continuing story that by naming people and places someone recognized him/herself and resented to being confronted with past sins. But even with what little I know of you, you wouldn't give a monkey's left about that as long as it represented the truth and anyway it's all from too long ago to do any harm. The only people you need to be careful about in these circumstances are your children, whose basic Identities are wrapped up intimately with yours and your feelings towards them. I wonder if those two last lines means you've had to change something? Don't worry my friend, every cloud has a silver lining. (sorry for the Jaggerism!) Get it off your chest, but don't repeat the Donovan response, we need you here! Good catharsis and does its job. You're a real person, Mike!
Trevor.

Author's Reply:
My story, you still want more? 🙂 You are correct, some things have had to change. I have taken names out. I felt that it was not right as I hadn't asked them; it was never going public. You were also correct...I don't 'really' care. After all what are they going to do...give me cancer? LOL The next couple of posts will be heavy, but I promise the whole thing is the truth. It would have been pointless if it wasn't. Oh yes and another thing you were right about...I am real 🙂
Mike

Legion on 23-08-2014
Hey You! (get off of my case).
Mike - "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing." These words of the American philosopher Elbert Hubbard (who perished aboard the Lusitania) seem apposite. Regards Graham




Author's Reply:
Not heard that before, nice one 🙂 thanks for reading me, and taking the time to comment.
Much appreciated
Mike


The Times of my Life (part ten) (posted on: 18-08-14)
this time with an attempt at a photo...the man behind the words.

 photo scan0004_zpsec27863a.jpg


Life in the fast lane (just about to lose my mind) I took on an old friend as a partner in about 1972. He had just got back from South Africa where he had managed a scaffolding company for S.G.B., the company he had worked for in Exeter. He had done well for himself and he knew his job, so it seemed the right thing to do. Del was OK with it, but I could tell she had some reservations. He'd left the drugs and Hippie lifestyle earlier than the rest of us, got married and went to work abroad. I had more work than I could handle on my own. Every contract I went for I was getting. It made sense to take someone on. Soon I was running the men and contracts; he handled the paperwork and prepared the quotes; and Del tried to keep up with the books. I was way out of my depth in a business sense, but was blissfully unaware of it. I should have taken on an accountant, not a partner. We had started to accumulate cash so decided to use some of it to buy ourselves a couple of flash cars. I went to see a guy I knew who dealt in good, used BMWs. We bought two for cash on the same day; they were two years old. I had the 2.5 saloon and my friend got himself a 2002tii. We were so proud of ourselves and why not? I drove up to see my Mum and Dad and took them out for a drive. Boy, were they impressed! I saw one of the girls I used to hang around with when we were kids. She told me that everyone saw me as the one least likely to succeed; and the one no mother wanted their daughter to get involved with. She said "They'd all have to eat their words now". As my business flourished, the people who taught me all I knew, even Sammy and Brian, were working for me. It was weird; they were all five times better than me, and they didn't see the irony. When my new business partner arrived they were all a bit upset. I think they expected me to pick one of them as a partner, though that would never have worked. We'd all been too close; most of them were not well blessed with brains; and they were all better than me at rigging. It would have led to some big-time arguments. Some of the contracts were truly amazing. The most notable was the Frigate Complex in Devonport Dockyard. It was the biggest thing in Plymouth for years and we had all the scaffolding on a labour only basis. It was a license to print money. We had twenty men all on price work, and being paid by the amount they erected and dismantled per week. We were paid by the main contractor the same way. The building industry was corrupt from top to bottom and the worst were the Quantity Surveyors. They worked for all the contractors and came to measure the work you were claiming for. Every week we'd produce a record of all the jobs we'd done and they would check off the list and accept our invoice. This was provided they got a 10% kick-back for themselves in cash. Some buildings were scaffolded twice over on paper. It was a huge scam. One Q.S. had a firm of bricklayers build him a bungalow for free. You had to pay to get anything done. The tower crane-driver was earning twice his wages in pay-offs, to move stuff around the site. When the first contract came to an end, we moved on to the Nuclear Sub Base, further up the Yard. French Kier, the same main contractor was used. The same Project Manager was in charge of the whole thing; it was him who gave us the first contract. Each Christmas sub-contractors would take around gifts of drinks etc, as a thank you to all the people who brought or gave you work. It was standard practice; the more important the client, the bigger the gift. I gave out Rolex Watches, plane tickets, package holidays, one even asked me to set him up with my secretary; but that wasn't on as I was seeing to her myself. The Christmas before the new contracts for the next stage were due to be given out, I arrived at Kiers on-site office to find the biggest Harrods Hamper ever, blocking the doorway. I had a case of really good wine and a mixed case of spirits with me. I simply took them home and lost the contract. Business in the Construction Industry was like that in the 70s, and anyone who says different is a liar. By the mid-seventies, my wage bill was escalating, which brought unforeseen problems as the men were paid weekly, on site; and in cash. As the average wage was 300 per week, and I had twenty men working on some sites, I might be travelling with 6,000 in cash for that one site. This was a lot of money in those days, and I was worth bashing over the head. As we grew, sites were spread from Taunton to Bodmin, I had upwards of 20,000 in my car. I was worth shooting. I decided to take up guard-dog training. I got a black German Shepherd we called Inky. He was huge and the kids loved him. I was introduced to a guy named Ken who did work for the police and lots of security firms. He was very quiet but knew his stuff. Using normal commands like sit and stay meant anyone could tell your dog what to do, he said. I would never have thought of that. We trained Inky by hand signal and numbers, it seemed strange but it works just the same as sit and stay. Obvious really; dogs don't speak English, do they? In the end I could order him to chase someone; stop half way and lie down; come back; go and find them in a building; and attack them on command. Anyone who came near me in a threatening manner was suspect, and the dog would let out a deep growl as a warning and wait. When I said 'nine' he would attack. Brilliant! I got another dog called Max and trained him too. It worked as word got round that I had two trained German Shepherds, and I was never hit. Dog training was a great hobby and I kept it up for quite a while. I also worked my way through the grades in Karate which was useful as well. The next house move was to be the last, in every respect, for Dell and I. It should have been the perfect move. A big old Victorian mid-terraced house with three floors, and everything we wanted. Five bedrooms; large living rooms; you could see the sea from the top windows, the lot. It was in need of work, but we knew all the builders, and it was slap bang in the best area of central Plymouth. We moved in around 1975. We went at it with a will and decorated ourselves. The kids went to a decent school at Hyde Park Road and were doing a lot better. We were still as wild as ever. One of our parties was raided but we were off dope, so it was just drunken behaviour and noise. Not surprising as there were around sixty people there. One of our friends was caught half way up a drainpipe on the other side of the road, trying to reach a girl who had been waving to him from her window. We lived the good life. We had decent cars; I bought a small dory to coast hop for snorkelling and fishing, made out of polystyrene. I figured it would never sink. It had an outboard and we'd pile in Dog and all, and follow the coast to Wembury and the Mewstone Island. We were probably mad but the kids loved it. We must have looked like pirates. There is a special place along the coast from Plymouth, in the South Hams, just past Wembury. It's called Stoke Beach. In those days it was quite a secret and difficult to find. We made it our own and went with friends and family all the time. You walked a track from the road to a camp site. The tents were privately owned and hidden in a valley leading to the cliffs. The beach was a magical place you found when descending a metal ladder from the cliff to the first cove. You could see others leading along the coast, but first the ladder. It was a challenge to start with. David was a little scared but he soon got used to it. Tracy treated it as a game. Once among the beaches and coves we were in heaven. A shore reef formed three gullies, and was snorkelling heaven. I discovered it in 1969, and have been back ever since with all three wives. Not all at once though. The ladders have improved, but it's still hard to get to. We all grew to love the place and even after the tents became caravans it still held a place in my heart. We had BBQs there and lots of friends would turn up. The kids would swim and fish and the guys would go out with spear guns to see what they could get. One Sunday, a friend and I were 200 metres out in the gullies, in about 10 metres of water. I lifted my head to see how far out we were, and saw people waving and shouting to us. We were too far out to hear what they said, so I swam to a rock and climbed out so as to see what they wanted. We were surrounded by basking sharks. I banged the water and shouted to my friend. When we looked around we were really stunned. We knew they were not supposed to harm you, but they were big and the sight of one of them gliding down the gully would've made you shit yourself. We counted fifteen in the area, so we sat and waited till they left, remembering 'Jaws'. It was the magic summer of 1976; the best summer on record for weather, and all kinds of sea-life was turning up, even a turtle on the beach. David and Tracy loved swimming with me from one cove to another, through the onshore gullies. The current would suck you through like a flume at a water park, and we had a lot of fun. David was a great rock diver and would climb up the tallest he could find at high tide, posing for the audience, before pulling off a great dive. I was so proud of him even if he was a show off. These were the days that you hoped would never end; the so called 'days of wine and roses'. But they wouldn't last, thanks to my inability to keep my flies zipped. Later we bought an 18ft sailing boat. It wasn't much of a boat, but we wanted to try sailing. I was crap to start and Dell wasn't much better. My sister's husband Ken was a sailor and gave us a few lessons, but we learned more by trial and error; more by error. The boat was a bilge keel and wasn't much use in light wind. I remember I crashed into the reef off Drake's Island. I was so embarrassed. Another time, sailing in towards the Barbican to reach our moorings at Turnchapel, a bloody great tanker came up behind us. It looked as if it was going to run us down. We were in trouble and of course the outboard wouldn't start. It was a bad moment, and I was really panicking because the kids were on board. In the end Dell started the engine and we escapedno thanks to me. The lesson was: Keep out of the shipping lanes until you know what you're doing. Dell kept on sailing after we split up. She went on to take her yacht masters and has made it her life. Good for her.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (part ten)


Gothicman on 18-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part ten)
You're quite a handsome devil on the quiet, Mike, in that collage. There were certainly some extremely good times there and during those early years. waiting with heightened interest for the coming lustful years without scaffold support! Compelling reading, which is what a book on real life usually is, and should be. I think it will generate more than local interest.

Author's Reply:
And here you are again:) Your wish will be with you soon. I'm both pleased and honoured you are reading my story Trevor; thank you. I had not considered this for other than the family, to remember me by; with it now 'out there' you may have a point.
Mike

Rab on 19-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part ten)
Sounds like a blast! The construction world in the 70s, like a lot of other things in that wonderful decade, was pretty wild. While there were lots of bad things going on then (as we're finding out almost daily) I kind of miss the looseness of these times. We're in a managed society these days; safer but not nearly as much fun!

Author's Reply:
Got to agree with that Mate! There was a lot of bad shit happening, but I had a blast; to borrow your words 🙂 thanks again for dropping by
Mike

sweetwater on 21-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part ten)
Another great installment, no idea how you can recall such vivid details, did you keep a diary, no maybe that wouldn't have been a good thing to do! 😉 Ah yes, the summer of '76 a very good year for me..... Sue x

Author's Reply:
Thanks for sticking with it Sue 🙂 A diary? Errrr.... no, not a good idea HaHa! I don't really know the answer as to how it all came back, I just started writing and after a while it just flowed. I phoned a few people to try and pinpoint dates and times; they were as lost as me. As many have pointed out it was none stop,so I guess that some things you never forget. As I read it now it does seem crazy, I'm more surprised I survived it all... (and you haven't read it all yet!)
Mike X

expat on 02-10-2014
The Times of my Life (part ten)
These instalments are just flying by - so engrossing and easy to read! More coincidences (earlier ones lost in the disqus transition) - my father used to work for SGB in the Exeter area.
Off to the next part now.
Steve

Author's Reply:

e-griff on 12-10-2014
The Times of my Life (part ten)
Mike, just a comment on (I think) 6. After an interesting start, which revealed your character and the events that formed it, plus historical details of the 50's,which resonated with me, we come across sections where you merely list people you met. As most of these seem to have no significance in shaping your life, they are not really interesting. I'd take them out, as the narrative slows and becomes flat.

Also, I noticed the narrative jumps around timewise. For instance, when you describe David you compare Tracy with him. Then some time later, she is born. This tends to confuse. Anyway, Onward.

Author's Reply:
Hello again John, as I thought you are reading this as a fictional story bound for the book shelf... its not; its my chaotic life written only for my family in the first instance. It documents my life in a warts and all way. You may also recall from your early visit that you praised Jim's edit, now you seem to think differently. I posted it after much thought and prompting. It would appear that although it is chaotic, people are pleased with it. I am not taking offence in your critique, I welcome it; please don't take offence if I don't always agree or accept it.
Mike


Old Writers (posted on: 18-08-14)
I like the new page, and what's on offer; it makes you think though....

Unfamiliar faces. When pressed, the words beneath still light up the screen. Immortalised on the back pages. What are they doing now...? Did life stutter to a halt? Are they waiting to pass the block? Sitting expectantly, edge of the seat; frozen in the moment. Is this how it ends for all of us? Old writers never die They just get blocked.
Archived comments for Old Writers
Supratik on 18-08-2014
Old Writers
'Old writers never die
They just get
blocked.'

I find the lines wonderful, fertile with multiple interpretations. Thank you Mike for sharing this poem which questions and also responds at the same time.

Best.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading, and leaving your encouraging words. So pleased you enjoyed it.
Mike

Gothicman on 18-08-2014
Old Writers
It's called resignation in face of the inevitable, Mike; inspiration withers and the sap dries out; life itself becomes just one big long poem with one reader, never submitted or published, criticized only by the visiting nurse. On the other hand, some old, somewhat younger, poets do return at irregular intervals, when the stress of modern living affords them a moment of creative contemplation. I think poets remain poets all their lives, it's finding the time in this modern age that's the problem. As your fine poem says, lots of good poets listed with last submissions a year or two old, with us hoping they'll be posting again, not blocked, but busy.

Author's Reply:
A bleak and desperate future, I'll not go there without a fight. I am always amazed that the likes of me can write words that others read and applaud. I had never considered myself a writer; even when writing songs. I read yours and others work on here and feel moved that you all would consider my work. Our Poet Laureate in Plymouth, Michael Sullivan, says I'm a poet; I think now I can say I'm a writer. Thank you for returning to UKA; your work inspires me. Not easy for a man pushing sixty eight to change, my life has always brought it I suppose.
Thanks for taking the time.
Mike

ValDohren on 18-08-2014
Old Writers
All writers get blocked Mike, most come out of it with fresh inspiration, whilst for others it may be the end of writing for them. I often feel this way these days, and I remain unconvinced that my work has much value anyway. Sometimes I think it is time I just stopped trying and throw in the towel, so to speak. You are an excellent writer/poet, with whom I cannot compete, as with many others here. I am sure you will never get blocked, as you continue to captivate us with your very fine writes.
Val x

Author's Reply:
Your too kind Val *blushes* I struggle as we all do. I'm blessed with a vivid past to draw on when inspiration flags. As to you and your writing, just look at your hit list. You have a strong 'fan club' who would be devastated if you stopped; myself at the top of the list. The summer has seen a drop in readership and various problems with changes and personalities, it will all turn around. Writing is what we do, what we must do; to give us a reason to get out of bed!

Mike XxX

Rab on 19-08-2014
Old Writers
Not with a bang but a whimper, as some other poet chap put it! Nice one, Mike, made me laugh. You don't seem to suffer from the blockage much yourself though...

Author's Reply:
Hello mate ! how are you doing? I do get a blockage...depends what I've been eating; some things are easy'er to digest than others 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mike

Kipper on 19-08-2014
Old Writers
Hi Mike, who are you calling old; I'm not even eighty yet (until Nov)
Most of us have to balance our writing with all the other things in our life, not least reading. Then for some there's kids and grandkids. So I don't think we are any more blocked than younger writers. It's just that the time goes faster with each year!
And of course the health thing can't be ignored, which for some can be a major factor.
So buck up young Mike and keep writing. As you said in one of your replies, you have a lot to draw on and never doubt your ability to do so.
Always the best, Michael

Author's Reply:
Hello Michael
Thanks for reading me again.
Agreed, life gets in the way sometimes HaHa! The post was as much about the writers both young and old that disappear into the back pages, the new front page has brought them back. I was just wondering why they stopped. I shall carry on until no one leaves a comment any more...then join them. LOL
Mike

pommer on 20-08-2014
Old Writers
A good write Mike, I feel blocked at present having so many other commitments.However,I shall not give in, perhaps like the Phoenix return from the ashes.I am glad that you don't appear to suffer this so called blocking. Enjoy reading you always.Wished I could be half as good as you.By the way, still working on my own biography,which sound like a Sunday school outing compared with yours.Looking forward to reading the remainder.Be lucky, your friend
Peter.

Author's Reply:
Hello,Peter, thank you so much for your kind words. I think sometimes the health issues take over our lives, it's hard to function on any level; let alone write 'nice' poetry. I'm sure you will get back on track, you have shown great spirit in the past. Be strong old friend. Pleased you are still enjoying my story.
Mike

Pilgermann on 21-08-2014
Old Writers
There is no blockage here, you have moved past it poetically.

Author's Reply:
Hi there, thank you for reading and commenting, nice of you to drop by.
Mike

Legion on 21-08-2014
Old Writers
Mike - Old writers don't get blocked, They just suffer a stranded preposition and simply turn their computers off. Nice piece.

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! I can live with that :). Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mike


The Times of my Life (part nine) (posted on: 15-08-14)
My life takes on different challenges...but I'm still a twat.

Changes 69/79 first part. We moved back to Ladysmith Road, but not before another huge event; the birth of our daughter Tracy Louise. Tracy was born in another hospital over in Devonport, I don't know why, and I was too late arriving to see her pop out. She was so beautiful, I held her in my arms and cried. The emotions I felt were almost indescribable, as shortly before I had been down and out with nothing to live for. Ladysmith Road meant a period of stability was also on the cards. I was working full time and learning a trade. I became a top hand and knew my job. Sam decided to move on. It's just the way things worked out; I owed Sam a lot and we remained friends over the years. I stayed with the company and worked with Brian, a new charge hand. Brian and I hit it off right away. Again he was a fair bit older but a similar sense of humour helped, and we just got on well. We moved companies together and went to work for George Wimpey. Work was a lot less dangerous but really dirty in the winters. We were working on a site at Launceston in Cornwall when I was asked to help out at Wembury near Plymouth for a few weeks. The rigger had been off work through injury, and when I arrived he was trying to work with a leg in plaster. His name was Martin; he was self-employed, and he said if he didn't work he didn't get paid. I told him to go and sit down and I'd take care of things for a while. At the end of the day we went for a drink and he told me all about self-employment and how much he could earn. He said he was leaving for his home in Durham soon. After a week with him I made up my mind to give self employment a go. After talking it over with Dell I went looking for a site. I found a small builder, he was building houses in Forder Valley on the outskirts of Plymouth, called Sutton Builders. I started with them at the weekends. It wasn't enough to support us so I approached the site I had been working on with Martin. They had seen me work and said if I got my S/E certificate, there would be no problem. Everything worked out, and I said goodbye to my friends at Wimpey. Within a week I was my own boss, which proved to be the best and the worst of things. BACK FROM THE BRINK. Life was looking good for us. I was earning good money and was fit in both mind and body. I limited dope to weekends, and was drinking less as scaffolding with a hangover was not a good idea. Even my in-laws were impressed, or so they said. It had to be time to screw things up again! I haven't mentioned my parents or sister during the last few chapters, as they were in and out of our lives only as bit players. The life of drink and drugs was a bridge too far for them. There was more of a gap than I had realised between their reality and ours and. I know that my Mother never gave up on me. My Father however, just ignored what he didn't agree with and we tiptoed around each other. While in Exeter, my Mother's behaviour with my son David had caused real problems with Dell. She kept calling him Billy; wanting to bring him up; telling us what to do; and not just your normal interference but really quite heavy. It climaxed when she told us she was going to take him away from us as we were unfit parents. A real fight broke out and before I knew it Dell lost it and threw things at her. She threw a knife which stuck in my mother's arm. We left and didn't speak to her for some time. Years later I discovered the significance of the name Billy and its connection with the weird 'don't forget the telegram' night. That explained a lot. Living the life we did seemed quite normal, but it must have been every parent's worst nightmare. I understand that it must have been hell for them. I know my sister struggled with it and still does; but we were just different, that's all. Our kids were loved, well fed and happy, and that's a lot more than can be said for some. Although we lived a rock & roll lifestyle, we did all the things other family's did. We took the kids to the beach, the park, visiting relatives, shopping at Mothercare. The fact that we also took them to folk clubs, smoked the occasional joint, and were into all night parties just wasn't acceptable. Now it's more the norm, or so I am told. There was quite a lot of swapping in the late 60's and early 70's. It wasn't the way you see it films. It just sort of happened; nobody made anything of it. We didn't throw car keys in the pot. It was never as random as that. If you fancied someone you just told them and got together. I remember a party at a friends flat where we all swapped. I ended up with his wife, and he ended up with mine. We thought it was just for fun; and nobody asked questions after. I remember in 1970 when I had my silver Mini, we had all gone to see Julie Felix at a folk club in Exmouth. It was late, we were all drunk, and I decided to drive every one back. So six people got in the Mini and off we went. It had a racing engine and went like hell. Coming into Exeter we met a load of cars, travelling at thirty miles an hour, on a straight road. I overtook them at just over ninety, and passed the police car at the front. I was chased, stopped, booked and arrested for drunken driving then taken to the police station. I still didn't pass the breathalyser next morning, and was told to return that night. The same lady said she would go with me and we made love in a park, on the way there, and on the way back. There was never any pressure to do it. If someone said no then that was that. We never talked about leaving our partners; we just enjoyed the moment and moved on. In the end we all grew out of it. I was later banned from driving for twelve months and fined. My parents now visited us in Plymouth and we returned the visits to spent Christmas and things like that; normal things. Right out of the blue my father won 11,000 on the Bingo. It was a huge amount, and he was in the paper. It drove him completely mad. Neither of them had ever seen that much money before and it knocked them for six. They wanted to give us a load of it but we settled for 500.00 and bought that mini. I tried hard to make Dad see the sense in buying his house. The landlord was up for it but Dad couldn't get his head around it and in the end I gave up. He gave mum some, bought a car, a new stereo etc..., and in no time it was gone. I have thought a lot it, and whether I could have done more to help them understand money. In the end would it have changed the way things turned out? I don't believe so. And as for their dropout son? I think that everyone breathed a sigh of relief and hoped that I had turned a corner. By 1970 we were doing OK money-wise and our relationship was a bit more stable. We wanted to move on, and the in-laws were keen after all that had gone on there. We found a house in Chesterfield Road, Laira. We used the equity in Ladysmith Road as the deposit and paid the mortgage ourselves. It was very modern and split-level, with four bedrooms. It also had a rear garden like the north face of the Eiger. David and Tracy loved the fantastic views over the park alongside the house. We had room for friends and relatives to come and stay, and even my sister came with a boy-friend. How the years had come and gone. Dave and Sara, a couple that we thought we knew well, came on two occasions. A few months later they phoned to ask if they could come for the weekend. I said yes, brilliant. Dave said that there had been a few changes that we should know about. 'What's that then?' I asked. Dave said they'd swapped partners, so I replied, 'well that's okay'. 'Not the way you think,' he said. 'I'm with the guy and Sara is with the girl'. I thought about it for a split second then replied, 'well that's a bridge too far even for me Dave, so I think we'll call it quits'. Even we weren't up for that. David started school at Lipson Vale Primary. It was not a good school and we were soon unhappy with the way things were going. It came to a head when we fell out with the teacher, and it prompted a move to a better area. We were still Hippies but with a bit of money, and wild by normal standards. We had a few problems with some neighbours, whilst others thought we were great. Our problem was the Efford Housing Estate was right above us, where there were some real nasty people. The kids used to take delight in smashing windows and scratching cars. Some days they'd roll rocks down the hill into the park. Several kids were injured before the police would do anything. One rock bounced over the wall of the end house and smashed through the bay window. With this and the school problem it was soon time to move on. As money came in we learned enjoy it; expensive meals out, good wine, generally spoiling ourselves. We bought things which a year earlier would have been way out of reach, and got a bit carried away. At one time, I had five cars outside, along with a Mini Van with the front cut off, which became a trailer I could put my dogs in. The parties were more upmarket. Less dope and more wine consumed. It was about then I started having affairs, swapping one problem for another. God knows how it all started. I do know it wasn't one sided, as most of the women came on to me. I thought'Bugger this looks fun!' I knew it was wrong and I shouldn't do it, but that's what made it all the more appealing. By the time we left Chesterfield road I was shagging everything I could; including most of my friends' wives. It was the ego trip of a lifetime. I can remember sitting on the floor playing chess with one friends wife, she asked what we should play for. I said how about kisses; she said how about winner takes all. What was I going to say? It was a win/win for me. The money was indeed rolling in, and I was proud of myself and way too big for my boots. I was throwing my weight and my money around, behaving like an arrogant twat. My problems with women went from bad to worse when the money arrived. We had all finished with swapping,(most of the wives including mine weren't keen on it anyway) but I had always had an eye for the women, and I lost the plot again. Work-wise it seemed I could do no wrong, as by now I was a boss with a few men working for me. We were doing OK and I had a couple of good sites, but the first Wimpey one was due to end and I needed to replace it. The big man at Wimpey head office didn't want to know. I tried everything from flattery to down right bribery, but to no avail. Dell and I were out for a meal and a drink at a pub on the edge of the moors called 'The Who'd Of Thought It'. It was an old world pub with a stream and everything, and it was packed. We got talking to an older couple sitting next to us. They were really nice and very posh, like Dell's mum and dad. We bought each other drinks as you do. I told them my story about becoming self employed. They seemed interested and asked who I was working for, so I told them about the contracts I had, and the problems with Wimpey. I could see his wife trying not to laugh and in the end I had to ask what was so funny. When she told us, we laughed till we cried. Her husband was the Senior Director for Wimpey Homes South West and the boss of the bugger I had been trying to get to see. You really could not make this up. We arranged to meet in his office later in the week and within three months I had three new Wimpey sites and was employing more than a dozen men. How bizarre is that. I was twenty-four years old.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (part nine)
Kipper on 15-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part nine)
Mike

Do I get the feeling that even you are somehow finding it hard to believe all this is true. What a time you were having. When I think back to when I was twenty four it seems so vastly different. I'd had five years in the RAF, was back working for the same firm I started with when I left school, unmarried and still untested. (I'm sure you know what I mean).

But yes I do believe it, for somewhere you used the phrase "you couldn't make it up"?

Michael





Author's Reply:
Yep... There were times when I had to stop and think. Times when I struggled to hold it all together; times I cried my heart out. you don't know what's coming. Was I having a great time.... Is it all true? The answer is yes.
What do you think... I could make all this up? HaHaHa!
Thanks for staying with me. I was with some people from the 1980 section tonight, they haven't read this yet HaHa! They want too though.
Mike

Supratik on 16-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part nine)
Mike, I enjoyed the part nine bit very much. I am a new entrant and would like to know how I can get to read the preceding parts please.
Best regards,
Supratik

Author's Reply:
Hello again, thanks for reading and commenting. If you would like to read more of my ramblings just click on my name, and this should take you to my page. The times of my Life should be there; it runs from 1946. The earlier poem you commented of is about one of those times, in 1962/3. Thanks for even considering it 🙂
Mike

Bozzz on 16-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part nine)
Mike, I think I am almost as confused as your parents must have been - fast-moving stuff - never an opportunity missed for either a shag or mischief - you have been spoiled for choice young man. I am enjoying what I missed, but glad it's you not me. Keep up the pressure. Nibworthy as ever. Yours....David

Author's Reply:
Hi David, when I read it now I can hardly credit it myself 🙂 Different times in a different world old friend; I was lucky to survive the drugs, drink and angry husbands 🙂
see you soon
Mike

roger303 on 17-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part nine)
Hemmingway it ain't - well written, and intriguing it is. When a writer offers an honest and intimate peek at their lives it offers compelling reading when delivered well, at least when the life was lived! It's possible that we were separated at birth as there seem to be a number of parallels! I too am still a twat even though I'm probably getting too long in the tooth to be! Not sure if your piece is partly literary self-flagellation or a general apology, if so, it shouldn't be. Better to live like a lion for one day than a lamb for many years! Rock on David! I will seek out the preceding chapters.

Author's Reply:
Thanks for dropping by Roger, separated at birth HaHa! That would make you sixty eight this December. If you do make the journey back in my time, you will find no apology or regrets; some may see this as unredeemable arrogant. I think it would be hypocritical to do so...after all I had one hell of a time!
I look forwards to you commenting again.
Err... its rock on Mike 🙂

Gothicman on 17-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part nine)
Still reading and following your life story and with great interest!

Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! Trevor!!!! I'm pleased to see you back, I thought I was going to have to come looking for you, you naughty boy 🙂 Promise me you will try to stay a little longer this time LOL Thanks for sticking with my Saga; at my age I think Saga is the right word. 🙂
Mike

sweetwater on 17-08-2014
The Times of my Life (part nine)
Another chapter that makes me stick like glue to your every naughty word. I rarely read anything under the fiction title, it takes a very good piece of writing to hold my attention. And your writing certainly does that, it just grabs the hand and jogs you along. 🙂 Sue x.

Author's Reply:
Hello Sue, thanks for continuing to read my Autobiography, you said fiction...I take it you knew it's real? HaHa! I have posted a picture with the latest.
Mike X

expat on 02-10-2014
The Times of my Life (part nine)
Hi, Mike,
I'm back again after being waylaid by life's trivialities. This sub makes as much magnetic reading as the previous eight - I'm off to catch up on the rest. Sod any critique - I'm in this for the cracking autobiography!
Steve

Author's Reply:
I'm so sorry Steve I thought I had replied to you kind comments. Thanks so much for sticking with my story.
Mike


Lost in the City of Dreams (posted on: 15-08-14)
Me, London, 62'

In daylight it all looked different, the night time crowds lost their ability to scare. I walked on soft soled feet, tripping the light fantastic over cobbled streets, glazed with the night's rain. Wandering beneath a wakening sky, the noise of the city playing tricks with my emotions. The sound of footsteps echoing,through the subway, an alien world going about its business. Street lights cast their last shadows, laying them across my path; a last throw of the dice. ''Don't step on the cracks, the bears will get you'' I jump across them, a game we used to play. When me and the world were younger; and we both had different dreams.
Archived comments for Lost in the City of Dreams
PilgrimBM on 15-08-2014
Lost in the City of Dreams
Mike, I've rad this a number of times now and am still trying to get to grips with what you're trying to convey. My immediate feedback is that it is overwritten; you can shorten and sharpen may of the lines. For example:

Wandering beneath a wakening sky -
The city beat, a heady mix,
My emotions tricked - footsteps echo,
Distant thunder drumming through the subway,
A solo rising up, out to greet the day,
The world spinning about its business.

Also trying to capture the sound and the rhythm of the city.. just my simple first perspective. Will continue to read.

Author's Reply:
Hello and thanks for taking the time to read and comment. The words were to illustrate feelings. I was fifteen and lost in London; stoned out of my head all night on drugs and cheep drink. I was overwhelmed by London; and the heady mix of people. Your critique is valid and I will look again, however the words for me expressed how I remember that time.
Thanks again for your consideration, it was kind of you.
Mike

I looked again and changed a bit, it still wont make you happy....but I feel better 🙂 thanks for making me look anyway.
Mike

ValDohren on 15-08-2014
Lost in the City of Dreams
Visited London a few times, and it seems to me to be an eternal city. It just grinds on like a mighty mill wheel. Its a great place to be, but good to get back home and relax ! Your perspective was obviously highly colorful if you were as 'stoned' as you say. Enjoyed reading your poem Mike, an interesting write.
Val xxx

Author's Reply:
Thanks Val, and yes, it was an interesting time. I don't want to go back though:)
Mike
XxX

Kipper on 17-08-2014
Lost in the City of Dreams
Mike
We know you somewhat better now and so perhaps we are more able to read between the lines of this poem.
It does paint a picture almost of bewilderment, almost like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
Just the same I was surprised in view of the closing lines to find that this was you as a fifteen year old.
That apart the picture you painted was very real; a bit scary but exciting. Maybe that's just what it was.
Michael.


Author's Reply:
HaHaHa! Yes I think you do know me by now 🙂 You were spot on... as you read in the story I was out of my depth. I looked again at the age, I think I may have been just sixteen; I will check with my friends wife as she has his diary. But you get the picture. 🙂
Mike

Kipper on 17-08-2014
Lost in the City of Dreams


Author's Reply:


The times of my Life (part eight) (posted on: 11-08-14)
the start of a new life is on offer, if I can only see it.

The return to Plymouth was not what it might have been as we had nowhere to live, and virtually no money. We couldn't return to Ladysmith Road as it was tenanted. I had a van, and for the first week or so we lived out of that. Not easy with the two of us and a baby, not forgetting we had a collie then, as well. After a bit we rented a flat in Embankment Road; not up to much, but better than the van. We gave the dog to Friends in Exeter, as they had a garden. It was time to get a steady job. I tried out several, including a factory cleaning job in Newton Abbot. We were taken in a van to a huge empty shed, where they gave us some 'put together' towers, ladders, loads of buckets and some cleaning liquid. They told us to wash down all the roof girders and upright stanchions. This was one of my 'twenty minute' jobs. I was strait on the phone to Dell, and she drove down to get me. She nearly wet herself when I showed her the job. Even she knew there was no way I would do that. I can't remember all of the jobs I had then. Some lasted only 20 minutes, and others three days. During this period, A guy I had worked for in Exeter came back into my life. He had moved to Plymouth after he fell out with his business partner over their Hot Dog business, and wanted to start up in Plymouth. Although we met and talked, it wasn't until he opened a second hand shop that I went to work for him. His first shop was a success, so he opened another in an old building in Western Approach. I went to work there for a while and started bringing a musical flavour to the business. It became quite a meeting place for local musicians and I tried again to learn guitar. I played a lot and got better by the day. He also opened a caf in the same area, but it was a bit of a dive and I kept away. The shops thrived and he leased a shop in the City Centre. I worked there for a while as well, though his well known fiery temper and my inability to keep my mouth shut caused a split. We drifted apart, but not before we had some amazing times. He talked me into dropping a tab of LSD with him. It was my first time. We went up the river Plym thinking the peace and tranquillity would create a good atmosphere. It did, but my God we were in some state. We walked in the river fully dressed, waving to fairies in the trees, falling in love with the fish and the Technicolor stones on the river bed. In the end we got a bit worried, realising we could fall over and drown. We got out and went back to his car. I don't know how but we drove back to the Barbican, parked up and got out. We were still out of our heads and soaking wet, so we must have looked a mess. When we looked around, it was as if we had stepped back in time. Everyone was dressed in Victorian clothes and there was a horse and carriage. It was too much for us so we got back in the car to think it through. Next to the harbour wall was a huge sailing ship called the Kathleen May. It looked so real we began to think we were in a time warp. I got really stressed so headed home to hide in the house. It's an illustration of what LSD can do to you; one minute OK, the next paranoid. Not a good drug and the only time I tried it. We found out later that a new shop had opened selling Victoriana and antiques. It had been their opening day and they'd put on a show with everyone dressing in period clothes. We'd do mad things, going up into Plym Forest with Cross Bows trying to shoot Deer, never even got close. We attempted to shoot salmon in the river, and when we failed at that, we went back with masks, snorkels and a couple of spear guns. Despite falling out every so often, we always made up and we hung out together all through the seventies. Even though I couldn't work for him, I still considered him a friend. I bumped into him in Plymouth quite recently and told him about the book. He laughed and asked if he was in it. I just said 'what do you think?' In the early 70' we'd go camping with our families on Dartmoor. We camped on the banks of a river. We used to put on wet suits, float down the river, and do a bit of body surfing on any rapids we found. A farmer told us to piss off as we were on his land. We asked him to do the same, and he called the police. When they got there we'd started to pack up, though the tents were still intact. Seeing them coming from way off, I put the dogs in the tent. The police decided to search the campsite for drugs. I told them it might be better if I preceded them into the tents, but they ignored me and paid the price. As soon as the tent flap was opened Inky and Max, my German Shepherds, attacked them. It was touch and go for a few minutes. Fortunately the dogs were well-trained and I called them off after scaring the shit out of the two policemen. I had warned them to let me in first and they'd ignored the warning. They could tell the dogs were well-trained, so no more was said. However they gave us one hour to leave or be arrested; and that was the end of our little adventure. Now would be a good time to talk of the influence that drugs had on my life. I started smoking cannabis at around my sixteenth birthday. I had never liked cigarettes, but this was mind blowing. In the Sixties the dope on offer was pretty much unadulterated, unlike the stuff the kids use now. It was a lot weaker than Skunk. It heightened your senses; listening to music or having sex was beyond belief, which was its attraction. Some people had bad experiences and suffered paranoia, but for me it was always great. I continued to smoke into my thirties. The problems come when you use a drug as your way of life rather than as a recreational experience. It takes over and conventional normality is usurped by the temporary euphoric state induced by it. With continued use, dependence sets in. This happens with all drugs and alcohol. Drugs in the class A category bring an early death or long term illness. The inability to work leads to crime and prostitution. Right and wrong get blurred or cease to exist as a concept. I feel qualified in saying all this, as I have had many friends, family and acquaintances that have gone that way. You've read how close I came. The cannabis that we used was not like the new enhanced stuff, and you could say no; which most of us did eventually. I tried many other drugs, but in the end, with a little help from my friends, I was sensible enough to leave them alone. I never became truly addicted to any of them, though can now confidently say that I was so close to loosing it that it's a miracle I survived. Alcohol can still be a problem for me, and I watch myself to this day. I lost lots of friends and acquaintances to drugs and drink. George never came out of the acid years. in the end we lost contact, and he lost his family. The last time I saw him he was living in a caravan in a field. Denis was never really into drugs and we stayed in contact. Mudge went on with music and the Hippie lifestyle. He travelled the country in a van, putting on puppet shows for kids. Having survived drugs it was the life he chose. I haven't seen him in many years but I wish him luck and I'll never forget him. Pete and his wife Kit still live in the house at Okehampton and we are still in contact. Pete could never adapt to a normal life. He still enjoys a daily smoke, good wine and trips to France, and to my knowledge has never held a steady job. Kit trained as a nurse and midwife and works every day. I have so much respect and love for her. They had the life they wanted and brought up two great kids, though illness has blighted the last few years. Pete has terminal Cancer of the Prostrate. Kit also has health problems. We all have choices to make; making the right ones is not always as easy as it should be. In the early seventies Pete and Kit bought a house in Exeter. They had been renting a flat for a while but with kids on the way it seemed a good idea. For all the Hippie lifestyle and non-conformist attitudes we were all snobs in a way, and there was no way Pete and Kit's kids would end up in a shit school. The house was far removed from Pete's mum's place; we could hardly believe it. Built by Wimpey, it was a mid terraced box. It was good for them however, and in the end we went there on a regular basis, along with their other dead-beat friends. It became a drop-in centre and we loved them for it. We had great times there and bless them, they brought me through all my bad times and heartaches. I would turn up completely out of it and always be given an emotional blanket and a space to sleep. I had my own key, that's how good they were to me. Even when Del and I separated, they were still there for me. I owe them so much. Life was quite a bit different after their Exeter move. They took to parenting much better than Dell and I. The boys went to the best schools and had a first class education, passing all the required exams on route. How this was achieved midst the chaotic lifestyle, says a lot about Kit as a mum and a person. Pete was always a bit of a Peter Pan, but somehow it worked for them, and the boys didn't turn out too bad either. Doug, who had been in our commune in Exeter, came back into my life. He was from Liverpool and had been at the University. He'd drifted in our direction looking for dope and girls. He left Uni in Exeter and got a job at the new and aspiring Plymouth version, which was why our paths crossed again. He became a firm friend until his untimely death a few years ago. He lived in several parts of the city, but finally chose the waterside area of Turnchapel, next door to one of the best real ale pubs in the area. We saw a lot of each other over the years and his death affected me badly. He had a heart condition and had been ill for some time. He hid it well, but it proved too much for him in the end. I miss him. Getting the right job was again proving difficult. I'd cut back on the drug-fuelled life style but was still a long way from what most employers wanted. Then I had a flash back of the positive kind. I remembered that back in Exeter I had worked as a scaffolder's labourer. Denis had got me the job where he worked. He was now a real top hand, and fit as could be. I thought I could do it and gave it a go. Oh dear. No way was I ready physically for it, and after a month I was fired. It's hard work and the men take no prisoners. Despite enjoying the work, I was simply not up to it. In desperation I decided to give it another try in Plymouth. I went to all the firms. Most looked at me and said, 'sorry you are not what we want'. In the end I was taken on as a trainee by a firm in Stonehouse called M.A.C.Scaffolding. I was put to work with a team of men run by a guy called Sam. He was short, stocky and really strong, and he had a foul temper. He told me I was a piece of shit and not to talk to him unless I wanted a slap. I was informed that I had to bring the things he asked for quickly, and not to get it wrong. Definitely the start of a new phase of my life. The work was fetch and carry, with the added problems that it was in the upwards direction. It involved climbing ladders with scaffolding on your shoulders or buckets of fittings. At times we would be spread across the platforms, pulling up hand over hand the long tubes and the scaffold boards. I was simply not fit at the time, and was the butt of all the jokes and swearing. I was a piece of shit, and I knew it. One thing it did was make me give up drugs. There was neither the place nor time for them. After a few weeks of torture and back breaking work I began to feel I might be winning, and started to feel like one of the gang. I got it wrong though, and after answering back to one of the gang, I was punched in the face and ordered back to the yard. It was right across town and I had to walk all the way. When I got there, the gang was waiting for me and I thought I was a goner. I was shitting myself, as I thought I was about to lose my job as well as getting a beating. I'd have to go to Dell and tell her I had failed again. Sam took me to see the boss, a man named Sid Danes. To my great surprise, Sam said he wanted me to be his trainee top hand, and I should be given a raise. Sid said OK and from then on I was one of the boys, having served my initial apprenticeship. Wiggy, the guy who hit me was moved to another gang and I took his place. He wasn't happy and I felt sure we would meet again. Sam and I became great friends over the years. He was a lot older, and from him I learned all about the scaffolding world. He was utterly fearless and would do things that left me gasping. I was glad he was my friend.
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listening post (posted on: 04-08-14)
Is there anybody out there Bozz, are they listening Storm?

Prophetic words echo from our poets Shouted from rooftops... they crash land on deaf ears. The clowns play party politics while the murky waters rise. News of invaders massing on the borders... Any plumbers among them? Maybe a doctor or two? Ah well, we need more waiters to feed us cake, or a taxi out of Dodge before too late. Wars of words conducted while our leaders sell our birth right to moles who dig the soil. I'm all right frack, too fracking right you are. Tear down the writing on the wall lest' someone reads the truth. Beneath a subterfuge of carefully tended lies our countryside ripped apart to house another's tribe. Let's all play a game of blame, It's always the other side; we can make it last till polling day. When there's nowhere left to hide.
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The Times of my Life (part seven) (posted on: 01-08-14)
The Wilderness years

(1967-1970) David's arrival stopped us in our tracks and made me think about what we were doing. Del was way ahead of me in the growing up department and I guess the whole mother thing swung into operation. We were so not ready to be parents, but then who is with the first? We bought a pram and pushed David all over the city. One day we went to the local shop, came out and walked home, then realised we'd left David in the pram, outside the shop! The owners knew us and were waiting for us. We ran all the way and they just laughed at our embarrassment. We were not the first apparently. Anyone who has been a parent will know all about four hour feeds and the crying in the first few months. It was hell. I can remember walking up and down the back lane at all hours of the day and night with David in the pram. The cobbles made him go to sleep; which was better than the crying. We soon gave up on old style nappies and changed to disposables. All that stinking towelling no thank you. When Tracy (my daughter) came along a couple of years later, we were able to deal with the problems in a more rational way. She wasn't a moaner like her brother. David was a difficult child. He was a real drama queen, if you can say that about a boy? Nothing was ever simple with him. Tracy was the opposite and rolled with the situation. She was able to adapt and amuse herself. If she fell she just got up., Dave would act like he had a broken leg at the least. He was a hypochondriac and still is, I expect. Back on the work front I had tried working on a building site for a while and also a packing store. I wasn't ready to give up my life of sex, drugs and rock & roll, as my head was still in the single world. To be honest, neither of us was ready for any of it, but we were learning. For a while it was happy families, but the lifestyle continued. We had several tenants at Ladysmith Road and we tended to pick ones just like us. A couple called Norman and Connie stayed for quite a while. Buzz and Brady were house guests who stayed with us for a few weeks. They were really into drugs, and he was hooked on Heroin, so we were a bit spooked by it all. They got married while they were with us and we went to the wedding at the registry office. It was a Hippie affair and we all wore extravagant clothes. I had a bright yellow, Chinese silk jacket, with huge dragons front and back and purple jeans. Del was into her Indian look and wore a sort of sari with lots of silver embroidery and jewellery. There must be a photo somewhere, as the local paper covered it in the evening news. Norman and I got into 'Light Shows'. We had a slide projector and some multi-coloured oils, which we would drip onto the glass slides. The light would heat up the oils and they would form the most amazing patterns on the wall. Sometimes it got a bit out of hand when the whole thing would catch fire. We had to get it out of the house and into the garden before we all went up in flames. It got better when we acquired an overhead projector and you could mix the oils on a flat surface. We held parties for all our friends when we'd get stoned and put on a show! 'Real Hippie stuff, Man'. We had loads of parties. A band called Hawkwind came back with us from a gig at the Van Dyke Club and stayed the night. They were really wild, and they had more dope with them than I'd ever seen before. Several groups came, but they were the craziest of the lot. Their van turned up outside, and when they rolled down the window, you would have thought the van was on fire with the amount of smoke. I was surprised they could see, let alone drive. The Van Dyke was a great venue and we went to loads of gigs there. We saw some big names at the time. One night Fairport Convention played and the police raided the club. What a waste of time, as everyone with a stash on them just threw it on the floor. You could have opened a chemist with the amount of drugs on the deck. A guy called Greg became a close friend for a while. He was at the local Naval College, though God knows why as he was a complete loon. He'd hang out with us and stayed over a lot. He was from South Africa and always going on about the great dope they had. He said he would bring some back on his next visit home. Later in the year he went back on holiday, and within a week or so we had a parcel arrive. Mum and Dad were down for the day and we were all at the kitchen table having lunch. I had started opening the wrapping when a thought came into my mind. I stopped and took it to one side. Inside was a cornflake box stuffed full of marijuana in a sealed plastic box. I'd nearly opened it in front of my Mum and Dad. We could not believe he'd done it. Greg eventually gave up the college as he was so out of it all the time he couldn't function any more. He found himself a girlfriend. Lydia was an incredible Artist and she did some work for me when I was trying to do something with gift cards. She was gifted. They moved out of town to the village of Yealmpton and we lost contact with them. People came and went in our lives during the Sixties and early Seventies. Some you'd never forget, like Greg and Lydia, others you'd remember but not their names, and others you would rather forget. Looking back it wasn't surprising we started to have problems, living the life we did. At the time we saw nothing wrong; but obviously we were getting out of control. Eventually the neighbours, unsurprisingly, had had enough. They called the police and we were raided. They had a warrant to search the house. All they found was a razor blade that we had cut resin with. They arrested me anyway, and I was charged with using dope and allowing the house to be used. They knew so little about drugs in those days, they left a slab of resin weighing about two ounces, on the side of the kitchen cabinet. This should have been a wake up call, but I still didn't see it and life carried on. I got myself a lawyer and we went to court. The case was found 'not proven through insufficient evidence' and I was home free. The one problem was it made the newspapers, and Dell's family found out. There was hell to pay. They told me I was a monster; that I would never amount to anything; and that I wasn't fit to be a father. Now that was a wake up call. Looking back it kind of riles me that they never thought of their daughter in that light. After all she was with me, and doing the same stuff I was. They convinced Dell I was never going to grow up or make a decent husband and father. They took Dell and David back to their house in Guildford, and they threw me out of the flat. I went back to Exeter to stay with friends. Telling my Mother and Father that I'd completely fucked up and lost my wife and son was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. I spent a week feeling sorry for myself and blaming anyone but me; listening to anyone who would tell me what I wanted to hear. I drank, smoked dope and generally wallowed in self pity. I started using Opium, and that's so strong you forget everything; time and space have no meaning. I can recall sitting in a room listening to 'A Saucer Full of Secrets' by Pink Floyd. I got up and went to the loo. Five minutes later I had to ask someone if they'd seen me go and I started feeling myself to check that I had. Another time, I got on a bus out of my head and asked the conductor to take me back to my wife in Guildford. I was nearly arrested again, as I got a bit stroppy when the guy refused. There are whole sections of this time that are still a blank to me. A friend of mine called OXO, (real name John) sat me down and asked me if I wanted my family back. I looked at him and said yes. He said 'well you are going the right way to never see them again'. He told me I was a mess and needed to 'get my shit together'. He made me look in the mirror and see the waster I was. As you can see, I was not very stable and was going downhill fast. I needed that bollocking from Oxo to stop me from loosing my sanity altogether. I signed up with a job creation program. Before they'd allow it they sent me for a psychiatric assessment because I look so spaced out. The result was that instead of a job, I ended up on a rehabilitation program. I had to attend several meetings and was told I was in danger of being sectioned if I carried on. I was shocked and cried my eyes out. I promised to change and get to grips with life. They thought I was an addict. I don't think I was, but I wasn't far off for sure. After my re-assessment, I was sent to Bristol on a 'let's find out what you're good for' course. Dell and I were still in contact and she was pleased I was trying. The course was fine if you wanted to be an Electrician or a plumber, or maybe a painter and decorator. I had none of the required educational skills for electrics, and plumbing was not for me. They sent me to learn how to make garden furniture in the woodwork department. I remembered woodwork from school and how it had ended. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I rang Dell and told her I wanted her back and was coming to fetch her. I told her I would get a job, cut down on the drink and drugs, and we would start again as a family. We cried on the phone. I walked out of the program and headed for Guildford. Her parents weren't pleased to see me, but I had a new strength. I told them to back off; I was taking my family and we were returning to Exeter to start again. Exeter had changed whilst we had been away, and not for the better. Most of our friends were either making a normal life for themselves, or had lost the plot after taking too much L.S.D. Acid was now the drug of choice, but not for me or Dell. You had no control over events whilst under its influence. I had already experienced this problem with Opium and promised I wasn't going there again. Some of our friends had already died from various concoctions. I knew that I had had a complete breakdown. It was obvious we no longer fitted into the Exeter scene; we had kids, and I had to earn a living or lose them again. We rented a flat not far from the old house, but closer to the river. It was a start. As winter came on we decided to see it through and move back to Plymouth in the spring. Getting back together was a real challenge as I had a lot to prove. For the life of me I can't remember what I did to earn money during our time in Exeter, I was so spaced out it is all still a blur. I remember buying real fur coats from a second hand shop, and us looking like mountain men from the Wild West. Dell made one from some cut up fur for David. I had one of the first kiddie back packs, so we must have looked weird, but we loved it. I tried Scaffolding with a firm called S.G.B. I didn't last long as I was totally unfit, and the work was too much for me. I was to return to it later in Plymouth. We had a family Christmas at home with my parents. They were over the moon to see us back together and to have access to David. Winter turned to spring and, as soon as we could, we returned to the relative sanity of Plymouth.
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The Times of my Life (part six) (posted on: 25-07-14)
The start of the sex drugs and Rock&Roll years

The Vietnam War was just about to kick off, and we protested against it along with every other teenager. I was protesting because we'd heard our government were going to introduce conscription again and send us all out there. FUCK THAT for a game of soldiers. I didn't give a shit about the Americans, and the bad stuff didn't start till 1966. We were about 'Make Love Not War'. We were certainly not about short hair and army rations, or fighting in the jungle with real bullets. We smoked dope every day now and a lot of our time was spent out at Pete's Mother's house on the edge of Dartmoor. A huge detached property in the middle of a wood near Okehampton. It was on a lane you could only access by Landrover, fortunately Pete and his Mum had one each. The house was as bad nick as some we'd slept in on the road. Pete's mum was a head teacher and had moved down from Poole, near Bournemouth, to teach at the local school in. Mrs Tarry was an amazing woman. There was no Mr Tarry. She was truly inspirational and had no problem about all of us long haired bums hanging round her house as long as we helped out in the garden some times. She was a no nonsense woman who had grown up as a free thinker and had her own ideas about the way life should be. She bred dogs; Saluki's and Cocker Spaniels. They were everywhere and the whole place was like a mad house. To us it was the 'dogs bollocks'. I loved it out there. We were free from parental control and prying eyes. We would play our music, smoke dope, make out with girls. For me it was paradise. In the summer we would pile into Pete's jeep, head down to Dawlish Warren, and camp in the sand dunes overnight. We cooked over an open fire, went skinny-dipping in the sea at midnight; a grown up version of my childhood, Paradise I called it. Cornwall was the place to be and we got to know it well. As well as St Ives, we would hang out in Mevagissey and Falmouth on the south coast. We went down to Padstow every May Day for the Celebrations, when we would pile into Pete's Landover. We took as much money as we could scrape together; a load of local cider; then spend the whole time dancing and singing around the town. It was so different down there then, and not so many tourists. I remember Robbie, one of our crowd, running down the street after midnight shouting he was going for a swim. He plunged off the harbour wall only to find the tide was out! He broke his leg and went home in an ambulance. There were no lock gates then and the harbour was tidal. We were all crazy then, though the whole place is sanitised now; all the old atmosphere gone and forgotten. Padstow was one of many that we visited and some of our crowd set up communes in Falmouth, Helston and St Ives. Some are still there. It was the time of change. Of Kennedy and Castro; the Bay of Pigs and Ban the Bomb; the C.N.D. protest marches to Trafalgar square. Mudge and I went on one march from High Wycombe to the Square. There were so many of us it took two days to get to Central London. We were put up in Church halls along the way. In the morning we were given a cup of tea and a boiled egg with bread and butter. We marched alongside all kinds of people, and wound up with the IRA and a group of Anarchists who gave us a huge black and red flag to carry. We had no idea what or who they were, but back then they were just another bunch of protesters. When we got to the Mall it was all cordoned off, so we charged the police lines just like you see on TV. God, when I think about it now, we were charging the police under the Anarchist flag backed up by the IRA. It's a good job there was no CCTV back then. When we got to Trafalgar Square all the politicians and religious leaders were there. Bruce Kent I had met at a meeting in Exeter along with Michael Foot. He was a sort of figure-head, very intelligent but a bit of a bore. It was all an anti climax as, after a few speeches, everyone went home. I'd thought we would storm the barricades and take over the country, but what the hell? It was fun while it lasted. I remember someone saying it was the right of the young to rebel as, without it there could be no change, only stagnation. Sounded good to me so I rebelled as often as I could. It was all exciting and new. Hippies hadn't been invented and dope was clean and good. L.S.D. wasn't yet on the menu. We'd sit on Cathedral Green in Exeter and hold court on the issues of the day, playing guitars and openly smoking dope. The Police at the time had no idea what it was. We never claimed unemployment benefit, instead we went hop picking in Kent, at a place called Headcorn; just outside Maidstone. There was a kind of job centre for seasonal farm labour in Maidstone. You turned up and they gave you the addresses of owners looking for pickers of fruit or hops. We got lucky. The people who owned the farm were so good to us; we didn't look for any others. We lived in an old Oast House with a windmill attached, and made friends with a family of real Romany Gypsies who lived in caravans down the road. They had their own language and tried to teach us but we were crap They spoke English, sort of, when we were around. We thought they were brilliant; and boy could they drink! We did the trip for a few years and got to know the farm owners and all the locals well. We got invited to the village fete one year and had a riot of a time. I met a girl there. I forget her name but we had a thing going for a while until her parents met me. We were young and stupid I suppose; but who's to say we were wrong. We didn't claim dole money or live off the state. We were respectful to older people, and we weren't criminals. We drifted from town to town working where we could. We did the hops up near Birmingham at Malvern. It was okay, but I preferred Maidstone. We used to go into Maidstone once a week to use the public baths, as we had nothing except a small stove to cook on and our sleeping bags. The owners would laugh at our efforts at cooking, and they'd bring us a cooked chicken or some eggs and bread now and again. I remember fried apple sandwiches were rather nice. It was some of the best times I ever had. I had formed friendships with a couple of other guys; George and Denis. We went all over the country together in the summer months, hitch-hiking from one place to another. We picked soft fruit in Kent, peas in Cambridge, and potatoes in Cornwall. Time off was usually in St.Ives on the North Coast of Cornwall; the most beautiful place in the world. I still go back to this day. It was the heyday of Artists and surfers and we loved it. Unfortunately, the locals didn't like penniless, long haired yobs like us littering up the town. We only had one pub that would let us in and we were always being told to piss off by the local Police. We lived in old World War Two pill boxes up on the headland, or barns in fields. We lived on beans, bread and pasties, fish and chips, and anything we could scrounge. Busking was a money-maker, so we learned to play an instrument and sing. We were crap and I reckon they gave us money to stop, but we didn't care. Time moved slowly but we were all getting older. Some of us were into fairly close relationships. We always returned to Exeter to catch up with our families, so decided it would be a good idea to rent a house together. Sleeping out in the winter was not good, and derelict houses were cold and damp. It was somewhere to bring girls back that they might want to stay in for a while. As none of us had a steady job it was left to steady girlfriends to sort the landlord out, and the lease. Nobody in their right mind would rent a house to us the way we looked then. George, Denis and I had steady girlfriends who were keen to stop us travelling, so we rented a house in Exeter City Centre opposite the Hospital. We quickly turned it into a sort of commune. People would turn up at all hours and it was one long party. Every Monday we'd pool the money and draw straws to see who'd shop for dope for the next week's stash. The house became notorious and we had several police raids, though we were never busted. Lots of friendships were formed there, and some quite famous people stayed over. Mark Fleischer hung out with us. I don't know if I have spelled the name right, but his father was the American film director Richard Fleischer; very famous at the time. With all the different partners coming and going, we became familiar with the hospital and a certain clinic. I had a steady girlfriend and wasn't sharing, so avoided this problem. We wised up after a while as one of the girls was a nurse. My girlfriend and I met when I talked her, and a friend, into letting George and I stay at their bedsit, for a couple of nights. A couple of nights turned in to fourteen years for me, as eventually we married and had two children. Del, or Delyth as was her given name, was an extraordinarily tough, bright-eyed beauty whom I fell for right away. She was so energetic and full of life. She worked at Lloyds Bank in Exeter, and had a steady boyfriend called Robert from Lyme Regis, who was supposed to be a bit of a hard case. However, she left him and her job after a while, and came on the road with me. We went to the hop fields and down to St.Ives, and she loved every minute of it. We fell in love. In the winter months we all had to find alternative money-making schemes. Hot Dog Vans were invented for just this purpose. We worked them for cash as it seemed easy money. Not true as there were risks involved. One van caught fire and a guy was badly burned. Another van was held up and robbed. One van was turned on its side and the van man badly burned by hot fat. Easy money my ass. In Exeter, the main hot dog man was called Allan, a hard man whom everyone was a little scared of. His partner, Chick was totally different. A great trumpet player, who loved jazz and was really nice. Who did I end up with? Allan. We had an on/off relationship. He was a complete bastard and liable to do anything. I saw him fighting and he was really good. His trademark was the 'head butt'. He was way too much for me, so the right side was the only side of him to be on. One night he lost it in an Indian Restaurant called The Taj Mahal and wrecked the place in a fight with several men. We worked the vans and sometimes slept in them. Our problem was that you couldn't get rid of the smell of fried onions. Allan and I were to meet again when I worked for him in Plymouth, but not on the vans. In the end, the inevitable happened and Dell got pregnant. We narrowed it down to a derelict house in Southerhay, East Exeter. We spent the night there on our way back to Cornwall from somewhere. We never told our son that he was conceived in a derelict house though. I wasn't bothered and said we should get married. She laughed and said I hadn't met her parents; who would kill me. We were cherry picking at the time, on a farm near Headcorn. She suffered from morning sickness and the farmer and his wife were really good to us. They offered to take me on full time and give us a bungalow to live in for free. They said we were the best workers they'd ever had. I thanked them for the kind offer and said we'd consider it. We wanted to get married first, so that meant I had to straighten things out with Dell's parents. We decided to get married straight away and tell her parents later. We set out for Gretna Green; yes we were that nave. We hitched all the way to Carlyle without much trouble. We got a lift with the headmaster of a village school. He said we could stay the night in his caravan. It was dark when we arrived and went in to crash out. In the morning we woke to shouting and screaming. I looked out to find that the caravan was in the middle of the school playground. We left and the guy simply waved at us. Some people were really good to us and made the whole time seem special. Others were absolute bastards. They offered me money to shag Dell; some even wanted to shag me. Eventually we reached Gretna to find you had to post 'banns' on the church door and wait three weeks. We decided this was out of the question, so set off again to face the music. They didn't kill me but it wasn't a good meeting. Who could blame them? We found out they'd hired a private Detective too look for us. Fat chance he had wandering around Exeter. As it turned out her father was an extremely wealthy man; an Oil Refinery Manager for Shell Petroleum in Bombay. They had a country house in Lyme Regis, a flat in London and a holiday home in Malta. The family home in Guildford was out of this world and way out of my league. A bit better than the rented dung heap in Southernhay East. They called round, took one look at us all, then took me to one side to offer me a blank cheque not to marry Dell. I was stunned. You might think I'm making all this up but it's true; every word. I said no and they went crazy. They tried everything to talk her out of it. Looking back you could understand their point; I wasn't the best they could hope for. In the end they agreed and we got married on the fifth of August 1967; the Summer of Love. The hippies had arrived. The wedding was a joke. I had a hair cut and borrowed a suit whilst Dell got a dress. We had no friends with us but Mum and Dad came. Her parents organised the whole thing and it was over in about 30 minutes. We all went for tea and sandwiches at a pub, and that was that. I can barely remember it, though on reflection I believe that my cousin Pete was there with his wife Joan. After the wedding, Dell's parents shifted into gear and asked if we would like to move to Plymouth. I was working in a bakery, doing twelve-hour shifts to save for baby things, so it sounded like a good idea. Before we knew it we were in Plymouth and looking at a house they had found in Ladysmith Road. Neither of us knew Plymouth outside of the centre, but it looked like a great place. It turned out that Dell's Father was from Plymouth and still had family there, so there was method in their madness. As they were abroad a lot it meant someone to watch over their daughter, and keep an eye on me. They bought the house and converted it into two large flats, one for us and one to rent out and pay the mortgage. They had bought it cash but I never knew until years later. I wish I could claim I changed into Norman Normal, and we all lived happily ever after; but that wasn't the way it went. I worked at various jobs but none seemed to last. I still thought I was single and life could go back to how it was. We were 19yrs old, and soon to be parents with no idea what that meant. Living in Plymouth was very strange, as we knew nothing about the place, except the centre, the El Sombrero Caf, and a couple of pubs. It seemed really large and in some respects it was beautiful. It had the Hoe and the sea front, Dartmoor was close and several beaches like Wembury. On the work front it had the Dockyard, but I was never going to work in there. We stood out as Dell wore mini skirts and hippy beads and I wore beads and sandals, multi coloured shirts, long hair and a beard. Plymouth was a little behind the rest of the world so we looked as if we were from another planet. We were still into cannabis and it all went on 'business as usual'. Although Del stopped smoking way before the birth. Eventually Dell went into labour and we walked up to the hospital. The following day she presented me with a baby boy; David George Green. She said it was like shitting a coconut.
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Sleeping with the Beast (posted on: 25-07-14)
FUCKING CANCER

Dark clouds sweeping in, crows bring news of a coming battle; They wait in trees for their due. Impertinent wings flapping. They call my name. The naked hours, eyes wide open. I'm sleeping with the beast. Is there still time.? Dust off my trusty shield, the old enemy is back. The thousand yards stare. Seeing nothingbut everything; wishing for a faith I can never have. Bring me my battle axe Let trumpets sound, bang the drums of war; I will not go quietly. I have the strength to fight, the will to overcome. Stem this tide of malignant filth before my day is done.
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All you need is Love (posted on: 21-07-14)
If at first.........

Warm wine and candles, the dessert of cold shoulder left for another day. We stitched the hours of night together mending broken promises. The threads of our relationship wrapping us in scented sheets. The dawning. A new day, rescued from the edge of indifference. I looked at you and remembered. For better for worse, richer or poorer.
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The Times of my Life (part five) (posted on: 21-07-14)
Okay, the sixties have arrived bringing my fall from grace (or the fun!)

My parents never talked about their early life, and we never asked. Sometimes Dad would listen to 'his Music' and I would ask what the hell it was. Opera, he would say. He told me that my Grandfather was an Opera singer. It made no sense at the time as he never ever talked about his family, so they were never flesh and blood to me. It was sung in Italian so why would I listen? Years later I have come to love Opera and I bitterly regret not talking to Dad about his family. My Mum and I had a strange relationship. I know that she loved me very much, but it was claustrophobic, and I found it hard as I could never live up to her high expectations. Conversations about her life were short, and in the present. We met her sisters and friends and so could relate to them. There were visits to Liverpool where she came from, and some of the family visited us. They seemed nice and everyone was jolly, but no one ever talked about my Father's family and I never ever met any of them. It didn't bother me at the time; little did I know what was to come many years later. My mother had various part time jobs, mainly cleaning or other hotel work. She cleaned at a business unit on the trading estate for some years. They thought the world of her and told me so. In later years she worked at a special needs hospital. I know little of that as I was long gone and had my own family. I truly didn't understand my mother, and our relationship was spoiled because of it. At times she was a complete stranger to me. It was down to me rather than her; I didn't spend the time with her that I should have; a constant regret I have. I believe Mum ended life a bitter woman. She felt that life had been less that fair to her. She worked hard and loved her family, but felt let down by my father and myself time and again. Thank God she had my sister to be proud of. I never appreciated the sacrifices she made keeping the family together nor how hard she worked to feed and clothe us. My father was old school, what was in his pay packet was his, and he always left mum short. She did what all women did in those days, she scrimped and saved to make ends meet. There was a time when she had three or four part-time jobs. It was a hard existence, one I was too self-centred to care about. By the time I realised, it was already too late. At the end of her life my Mother asked me if she had been a good mother. It took me along time to answer. I told her she had done the best she could to look after us all. I didn't know what else to say. She died not long after. I loved my mother and I know she loved me, but I never understood her. Dad was all things to all people. To some he was the life and soul of the party; to others a spendthrift and a waster; a womaniser and a chronic gambler. Mum said that his family had been wealthy but he'd gambled it all away on horses and cards. Mum's sister Marjory and Mother's friends confirmed it. At the time I thought it was sour grapes and not my problem. It wasn't far from the truth though. He'd never discuss things like that and when Mum brought it up he would leave the room in a rage. I loved my Father very much. For all his faults he was a constant source of fun to my own family and me. He was prepared to talk about the war years. According to him he was too old to enlist and had flat feet. He got a job in the civil service, handling the ration books and making sure that goods got from one place to another. As my father was a bit of a lad, and knowing what I do now, it must have felt like he had the keys to the kingdom. God only knows what he really got up to. He did admit that the war wasn't too bad for him. He was a part-time air raid warden and was on duty the night of the big raid on Exeter. Most nights families left their homes to go to the high ground at Exwick and Dunsford Hill,where they could see the bombs falling and watch the town on fire. It must have been terrifying. Dad told me that when he was on duty at the Cathedral one night, a bomb dropped close to the Bishop's Palace and they were ordered onto the roof to throw the incendiary bombs off. I just can't imagine what that was like. I prefer to see my Dad as basically a good man who did some bad things. That may not be how it was, but it's how I see it. As I will relate, I followed in his footsteps without really knowing it. Around 1962/63 the Sixties kicked in and teenagers began to have their way. In the Fifties we had the 'Teddy Boys', with their drain-pipe trousers, flick-knives and bicycle chains. They had slicked back hair, thick with Brillcream, combed like a D.A.(standing for 'ducks ass') at the back; with a big Elvis-style wave at the front. We were told to avoid them. They'd hang around intimidating everyone. We had seen them come and go, and now it was the Mods and Rockers fighting everywhere. I once saw a scooter and its Mod rider thrown off Exe Bridge into the river. The Mods were the smart set; always dressed in suits and smart jackets, with button down shirts. They had coats called 'Parkas' with badges all over them. They listened to music like ska and blue beat; bands like the Small Faces and The Who. They all rode Vespa and Lambretta motor scooters. Their drugs of choice were pills like 'Purple Hearts' and 'speed balls' made from cocaine or anything that gave you an instant high. The Rockers were leftover Teddy Boys in black leather, who rode motor bikes like the old Royal Enfield, BSA, and the Triumph. The two groups hated each other and fought all the time. The Rockers weren't into drugs then, but they drank like fish. I was into other things, namely girls, and kept out of the way. I started to hang around the El Zamba. It was just a caf, but one like I'd never seen before. The people in there talked about Art and Politics,or what was happening in America. They all wore the same kind of clothes; donkey jackets, reefer coats, desert boots and sandals; the girls all pale and interesting. The music was different too; Latin American, Modern Jazz by Dave Brubeck, Thelonius Monk, and a guy called Miles Davis. It was like nothing I had heard before. Dave Mudge seemed to know everyone so, taken on trust, I entered the world of the Beatniks. It was great, all the talk of writers like Allan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouwak, Huxley and The Doors of Perception; it sounded like my kind of party. I sat back and took it all in. The world was changing, these guys seemed to be the ones to change it, and I wanted to be at the front. There were Intellectuals and Teachers; Artists; Writers and Musicians; people from all walks of life. There was revolution in the air; an atmosphere you could have cut with a knife. I felt it would happen soon and didn't want to miss it. No one questioned my right to be there, and I was never talked down to, or excluded from the conversation. I seemed to fit, even though I was by far the youngest person there. I can't say I understood everything being discussed. I was learning about things on another level from School and home life. Conversations ranged from the politics of the day to the effect that socialism was having in other parts of the world. How communism was destabilising Eastern Europe to the potential for a Nuclear third world war. There were men who had fought with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. I hadn't ever thought about things like this before, let alone been asked for an opinion. Soon I was an 'Expert'. I remember Michael Foot being there. At the time I had no idea who he was, though I was to meet him again at a CND meeting. I'd never smoked cigarettes; not liking the taste, so when Mudge passed me his one night, I said no thanks. He laughed and said it's not what you think. I took a drag and those doors of perception opened right up... I marched right through. It was my introduction to a substance that was to affect my life for many years - Marijuana. The saying is that if you can remember the 60s, you weren't there! I was there, and I'll do my best on the memory bit. I'd left school with no certificates to prove I was worth a dam and no idea what I wanted to do. My home life was going down the tubes and I was alienated by the constant rows and bickering. My sister was doing great at school and I thought she was okay. How wrong I was. Home life took a dive when my mother caught me on the floor of the front room with a girl. Jenny and I were in a state of undress and it was all a bit embarrassing. My parents hit the roof and told her to leave. My mother called her a slut and that did it. I had been seeing Jenny for only a couple of weeks, but said if she goes then I go with her. That's the way it worked out. I was arrogant enough to believe it was okay to do that sort of thing. Jenny later went out with Doug Benson, one of my friends. I believe they had a kid together. She ended up with a well known Folk singer called **** . It was a bit like that in the 1960s. The incident was a catalyst, as I realised my parents were never going to condone me bringing girls back. At the time I couldn't understand their attitude. I was a teenager and forgot they paid the rent, so it was their house. I also forgot the whole age-gap thing. The music scene was growing, with new bands sprouting every week. The days of the Shadows and Elvis were numbered. It was the age of the Beatles and the Stones; the Yardbirds; the Searchers. Eric Clapton was only a guitarist but was soon elevated to God-like status. My musical tastes changed to acoustic folk music, with bands and singers I discovered in the smoky clubs of London, Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth. The Troubadour in Bristol was a fantastic club. It was in Clifton village and had two floors, with the acts playing on both. We heard Bert Yanch and John Renborne, who later became Pentangle with Jackie McShea. Ralph McTell played there; and my all time favourite, Al Stewart. Al had a flat near the club (at least I think it was his) and we used to go back after a gig to drink cheap wine and get stoned. Mudge played at the clubs and had a bit of a following himself. He wrote Al a few songs for his 'Bedsitter Images' album and got his name on the cover. We were all proud of him and helped spend his royalties. Mudge moved to Bristol and got himself a flat just off St. Paul's, in a place called Syndam Road. After a fight developed between rival Drug Gangs, one of the guys who lived on the floor below Dave had his bay window taken out by a shotgun blast. I was up there at the time, though fortunately we were out. It frightened the shit out of us. That was enough and he moved back to Exeter. It was in Bristol that I first encountered Black people in any number. In Plymouth and Exeter there were none, and I don't remember any when I was growing up. In Bristol there were lots and they all went to a club called the Dug Out. It was in a basement and was dark and moody. When you arrived you felt all their eyes on you but, as they were all coloured people, you couldn't see their faces in the darkness, which was spooky. I don't mean to sound racist, it's just how it was. The music was Jamaican Blue Beat and ska, and the air was thick with the smell of Grass. You were stoned just by being there. It used to freak me out, and it was a while before I got used to it. When Bob Dylan arrived I took up the harmonica. I played blues and sang with some friends around the clubs. I believe I was quite good and loads of people asked us to play. In the seventies I was offered the chance to go professional with a known band, but by then I had a wife and kids so it wasn't practical. They were doing more drugs than I was at the time, so I would be dead now. In Exeter I took a leading role in starting some new clubs with Mudge. We had been banned from all the traditional ones like The Jolly Porter. They still believed that folk music was sung with half a pint of beer in one hand and your finger in your ear; no guitars allowed. We changed all that. I was banned from the club after I got drunk one night and took the piss out of Donovan. He had been telling everyone about his time in St.Ives, and how he was the next Bob Dylan. We'd all just got back from Cornwall and I called him a liar as we never saw him there. An argument developed at half time and he got upset. I was well pissed by then and gave him a left hook which stretched him out. He had a bouncer with him, but there were a lot of us; so they just kicked us out. It was the first and only time they let non-traditional music be played there and I fucked it up. No wonder they banned us. The best of the clubs we ran was a place called the Barn. I can't remember the name of the family that owned it, but it was an outbuilding to the rear of their huge house on the outskirts of Exeter. It was a fantastic place and we turned it into a real venue for folk and blues. The most amazing man to play there, whom nobody had heard of at the time, was Paul Simon. It was just before his first album came out. He'd been touring the country, playing anywhere he could, and writing songs about the people he met; as you do. Little did we know. He was really short and we took the piss out of him a bit. He was a nice guy and he really was that good. Recently I found that there is a sound only tape of the gig on the internet, I listened to it. The last club we had was down by the river. Again it was a barn type building, this time with a huge cellar which we would fill on a good night. It was a great club but music and drugs were changing. It was a great place to be, but time caught up with it; and us. Meeting Mudge that day in the El Zamba was a turning point in my life. Everything changed; my views on life, the universe, the lot. In a short space of time I was growing my hair even longer and hitch-hiking all over the country; living a life my parents would never approve of. I met all kinds of people from dead beats to politicians. We travelled light. A sleeping bag, a sheet of polythene, a change of clothes. That was it; we called it our doss bag. Everyone bought ex-army, as they were the best and had a waterproof base. We took pot luck in where we slept. Sometimes we found others like ourselves, with a house or flat. Other times we'd sleep rough anywhere we could. Old barns in the country and old buildings in the towns. Cleanliness was something we all worried about in those days, though all towns had a 'cleaning station' called the public baths. We would go as often as we could. No girls would sleep with a smelly man. Hitch-hiking was our mode of transport, and in those days it was easy. You went to the nearest roundabout and stuck out your thumb. At first I was nervous on my own, but you learned to tell who were the queers and the bad guys. For safety reasons we all carried knives. I used mine once in all of my travels and that was on a queer who wouldn't leave me alone. I stabbed him in the leg and hand so he crashed the car into a hedge. I got out and left him there. He drove past me a little later and tried to hit me, but I was too quick for him. Most of the time it wasn't like that, and I met some great people on the road. One person, Pete, was to become my lifelong friend. I first noticed Pete in the El Zamba. Mudge introduced us over a joint of good grass and we became immediate friends. Pete was in the merchant navy, not long back from the States. He had jumped ship over there and gone to New York to check out the music in Greenwich Village. The Beat generation was flourishing and Pete had all the trappings. With his shoulder-length hair and scruffy jeans he really looked the part. He brought back music none of us had access to, like Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and some of the blues greats like Howard Johnson and Howling Wolf. They sung of things the rest of the music scene had yet to notice; and they sung to me. Mudge and Pete took me to London for the first time since I was a child. I was 16 years old. We walked out to the Honiton turn off, and thumbed a lift in a lorry. It took forever, but the excitement kept our spirits up. We were dropped at the old Staines roundabout and walked in to the nearest tube station. After that it wasn't long before we were in Trafalgar Square. I could hardly believe it. It was the most exciting thing I'd ever done and it showed on my face. Mudge knew London. We were soon talking to people he'd met when he was there, and going to Covent Garden for a cheap meal. I felt I was on another planet. The pubs where all the Beatniks and travellers hung out were The Duke of York, in Goodge Street, Soho and Finch's Bar in the same area. Mudge and Pete asked friends where we could stay. Most people were living in what are now called Squats. Back then they were called derelict houses. We broke in and set up home until the Police threw us out. We stayed in one off the Tottenham Court Road. Just getting there was a feat in itself. We stayed in town for about a week. We weren't there as tourists, but I couldn't help behaving like one at times and I am sure I embarrassed my friends. They were trying to be cool and calling every one 'Man'. They clicked their fingers to show appreciation after a song was played in a club; all so weird to me at the beginning. I soon discovered that many of our so-called friends were not as friendly as we thought. They stole from us, and mugged queers for money to feed their heroin habit. I wasn't happy about it and was eager to return to the relative sanity of Devon
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e-griff on 11-10-2014
The Times of my Life (part five)
and I played the blues harp in pubs!

Author's Reply:
HaHa! just maybe there's more in common than I thought.
Mike


The times of my Life (part four) (posted on: 18-07-14)
For those still reading (or interested) this takes me from leaving School to the start of the sixties; and my fall from grace. (Or the start of all the fun)

1960 A Brave New World. My Mother had just about given up on me ever making anything of my life 'I was just like my Father.' as for my Dad? He was in a world of his own; all he wanted was peace and quiet. All I wanted was to join the real world. In the interim there were fairgrounds and girls to think about. My sister was doing well at school, much to my mother's delight. I think she must have passed her 11+ as she later went on to Nottingham University, which was really something in those days. I can't remember any of my friends who achieved that. We were proud of her, but I never told her. I was a self-centred bastard and probably jealous. It was 1960, I was going on fifteen, the world was changing and I was part of it. I got Dad to buy me a drum kit and took lessons from a guy in a band. I practised all the time, dreaming of forming a group and playing out like the guy teaching me. I thought I was the coolest thing on the planet, and for a couple of years I had a ball; and I did form a band. Friends I hung out with then didn't last in my life, but I remember some of them with affection. Allan Hill lived in the next road and was my buddy. He tried to learn the sax to be in my band. Terry Walsh was a Canadian and lived down by the river. He played guitar in the band and had a nice sister. The base guitarist was a boy called Andy, very quiet but a good base player. A guy named Dave Mudge arrived one day and said he would play lead guitar; and he did. Dave was to change my life forever. Dad bought a little van and took us around to practise in church halls. They would let us use the place if we played for free at their youth club dances. Girls didn't seem to mind if you were crap. They were always hanging around much to the consternation of boyfriends. It caused a few fights. Dad was proud of me and I think Mum was too; for a while. The guy who taught me drums taught me about sex and how to go about it. Before him it had all been groping and fumbling, now I was on a roll. Being in a band, or hanging around with one in 1960, was like being a God. Tony, my drum teacher became my mentor in all things Mother warned me about. He was the coolest guy on the planet. He was older and played swing and modern jazz in a city centre nightclub. His girlfriend favoured fishnet stockings and tight sweaters. God, I wanted some of that! They were good to me and didn't talk down. Tony showed me a world I would never have seen any other way. He taught me to fire a shotgun at pheasants, and to ride his motor bike. We'd go to his club and he'd let me sit in on the drums early in the evening. I met all the local gangsters and hard men. I became a sort of mascot and they would say hello and give me money to fetch drinks from the bar. It was to stand me in good stead as I got older. I was never threatened by anyone when I was out on the town. It was truly amazing, I was still at school but I was nearly six feet tall and didn't look like a scholar. Tony went his own way eventually and I gave up the drums and the band. Something new arrived that sounded ok to me. 'The Times They Are a Changing' sang Bob Dylan and so did I. My interest in music continued to grow. Though I had forsaken the piano I still longed to play an instrument and admired anyone who could. Drums were ok but I always wanted to play the guitar. It took me twenty years to be any good, but I did it. Tony was well travelled and would tell me about his time in America and Spain. He had done a stint on a cruise ship. It sounded exotic and I got the burning ambition to follow in his footsteps. I'd never met anyone who had done the things he had. Films played a big part in my life. The Cinema was where we escaped to before we had television. The 50's and 60's were its heyday, I saw Ben Hur every day for a week and cried at each performance. All the Epics were out, and another I went to many times was Spartacus. I loved the Westerns and still do. I read all Louis Lamour's books and a lot of Zane Grey's. I remember one called 'The Big Sky'. It was made into a film, but the book was better. 'Jeremiah Johnson' was another great book; made into a film much later. Robert Redford took the part and he was great. The Sixties brought change to the cinema, and films about 'real life' became popular. The start of the kitchen sink dramas like 'Cathy Come Home'; 'Up the Junction'. All too serious for me until 'Beat Girl' with Adam Faith arrived, and that was more like it. The Elvis Films like 'Jailhouse Rock' were good too. The film from the early sixties that took my breath away was '2001 A Space Odyssey'. It was so different from anything I had seen before. Back in the Fifties, my Father knew a man called Bibsey Whitelegg, who ran a fairground called Whitelegs Fair. They came to a site by the river Exe called Haven Banks every Bank Holiday. Dad would take me down and I got a free pass on most of the rides. I felt special. They had these shooting galleries where you fired air rifles to knock down little men and win a prize. They would let you build up your wins to get better prizes and I set my heart on winning a tea set for Mum. I was a good shot even with crap guns thanks to Tony and in the end I took it home. Mum was delighted and kept it for best. It never came out the cupboard, so I will never know if it was truly crap or if she really did like it. They played the latest songs on the rides. It was where all the girls hung out, Oh so great to be young. We'd listen to the Everley Brothers and Elvis, Johnny Tillerson and Roy Orbison, Brian Hyland and Billy Fury. The girls liked them. I met my first real girlfriend at the fair. Her name was Janet and we went out together for a while. I was fourteen I think, but she was a Roman Catholic and wasn't going to give up her virginity, though god knows I tried hard enough. After a few grope sessions I decided to shop around rather than remain a virgin myself. I kept meeting catholic girls, it was a real problem. Still at school at this time, I needed to have money to impress the girls, so did something I've been ashamed of all my life; I stole from my Dad. He kept a bag of change as a float for his work which hung on the back of the door. One night, due to meet a girl and having no money, I took some change from the bag. The second time I did it he challenged me and I lied. He knew I was lying and gave me a hard slap that knocked me out. When I came to I apologised and promised never to do it again. It was never mentioned but I knew he had marked my card. The gap between fourteen and sixteen is not great, but in terms of growing up it's a life time. These changes affected my relationships with all my family, and not for the best. My mother and father never forgave me. My Father was upset with my behaviour and refused to talk to me for a while. In retrospect he saw himself in me and it frightened him. I did not consider my sister who was so much younger than I. Something that in later years I would come to regret. # The School Board said I shouldn't expect to amount to anything; I had nothing to recommend me to an employer. I was asked to leave ahead of most of my year, so I suppose they'd had enough of me. I thought 'fuck you too.' I could tell my Mother and Father were concerned and, to be honest, I was a bit lost myself. It was strange out in the real world and I took a while to get my bearings. I got a job in Wrides, a tool and wallpaper shop on Fore Street Hill in Exeter. It was a well known family business and had been around for years. They were nice people and explained what was expected of me. They set me to work in the wallpaper and paint department. For a while it was all fetch and carry, but after a few weeks I was allowed to approach customers. I was well brought up and could talk to anyone, so it wasn't long before I was doing okay. The senior salesman was a guy of about 50yrs old, with a military way about him. He told me if I kept my nose clean and continued to do well I would have a job like his in twenty years or so. TWENTY YEARS! I was earning three pounds a week. I left within the month. The sixties generation started to think for itself. We wanted no more of the 'work for twenty years shit', and above all we wanted fun back in our lives. Music changes from generation to generation. The 50s was ballads and Matt Monroe; Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Then we discovered Rock and Roll. It was preceded by Skiffle with Lonnie Donnigan and Tommy Steele in Britain, and in America the great Bill Hailey and Gerry Lee Lewis. He was a piano player and singer who made some great music. Elvis was the undisputed King of Rock & Roll and everyone knew it. There were others (dear old Cliff Richards). We played their records - but Elvis was God. Even Gods lose their way. A new sound arrived with the Sixties - the Mersey Beat. In the vanguard were The Beatles and best of all they were English. For a few years we ruled the Music world. We also had the Rolling Stones, we still do; they were bad boys, the ones you were warned about. The flood Gates opened in 1958 and a tide of exuberance swept away the dark clouds of the War years. Clothes changed. Frocks to mini skirts; suits to jeans and jackets. Yes we had the threat of the 'Big Bomb' but it was lost in the euphoria of sexual freedom. By the mid sixties 'Make Love Not War' was the one thing that mattered. Things would never be the same again, even in the provinces. Mothers had always stayed at home, tied to the kitchen sink, bringing up the kids. During the war years they found the workplace, they earned money. They wouldn't give it up and men were going to have to get used to it. The Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, told us we had never had it so good. He was right. Everyone wanted a television; a washing machine; a fridge; and above all else a car. By the end of the Sixties they had them. I took my next job for the money, as it paid twice as much. It was a wholesale store near where I lived. It was boring and I wasn't planning to stay long, but I got in with the older guys and it seemed to be going well. They had a card school most lunch breaks and played three-card brag. I watched for a while and then asked to join in. The older women told them to leave me alone, which made me feel small and so I kept on. They allowed me to sit in on payday and I learned the hard way that you can never trust anyone. They bragged me out of my wages, down to the very last penny, then sent me home. It took me forever to tell my parents. I expected my Dad to help get the money back, but he had other ideas. I got the biggest bollicking I had ever had; a backhander that laid me out; and Mum said "He's just like you" and wouldn't speak to me for several days. At work the women tried to get them to return the money, but the damage was done and the lesson learned. That day and the next I stole a load of tins of sweets and biscuits, bottles of whiskey etc...I hid them at the back of the warehouse, in the railway sidings. I went over the railway line that night with Alan Hill and we split the money we got from selling the goods. I paid my mother her keep and spent the rest. I told her the men had given it back. I left the job the next week. It had been a bitter lesson, but in a way it was for the best, and I never played cards or gambled again. I also learned you shouldn't trust people you don't really know, a lesson that has stayed with me. I panicked after that and jumped at the first job that came along, not wishing to upset my folks. I got a job in a dairy shop for a while. I think it was called Babcock's. The people were good to me and I enjoyed it, but the money was poor and the prospects were not good. There was a girl there but even that wasn't enough to keep me, before long I was off again. About this time we had the big freeze, when the whole area was blanketed in snow. It was so cold the River Exe and the canal froze solid. We rode our bikes under Exe Bridge, it was that frozen. Stupid I know, but we did it. After the big freeze we had the big thaw, along with heavy rainfall, and our part of town turned into a lake. The St. Thomas area flooded really badly, and the army had to rescue people. It lasted several days, so my friends and I built rafts from old oil drums, planks of wood and rope. We sailed across the fields down at Marsh Barton by the Canal. It was like being ten again. Our house avoided the flood as we were that bit higher than other streets. For kids it was really exciting, but for the people flooded it must have been devastating. I remember the pubs and houses down by the river having a watermark eight feet up the walls. It was time for a radical re-think as I seemed to be drifting. It wasn't that jobs were difficult to get; I just didn't seem to fit the mold. I tried factory work but that lasted less than a day. I tried really hard and in the end got a job with Redifusion, the T.V. Company. Mum and Dad thought this would be the making of me, I got my next steady girlfriend, thing's were looking good. The job was crap like the rest, but it had promise. The men were divided into three streams. The clever ones, as in with 11+ and college, did all the technical stuff on TV's. The guys in the second stream laid the cables and wired up the outside stuff. The rest did the shit jobs. Guess what job was earmarked for me? It didn't happen though, as the big boss took a liking to me. I was soon promoted from the shit to the sunshine and became a trainee wireman. Bugger! Things were looking good. Fred, the old guy who ran the workshop, became a kind of mentor. He took me under his wing and helped me see what the work thing was all about. He had a small boat and we went out fishing in it a few times, down near Topsham and Starcross on the Exe Estuary. Fred was really good to me, but I was never going to settle, and I think he knew that. When I left he was the only thing I missed. I went back to see him after I had left, and we were always pleased to see each other. He was the one who gave me my nickname, "Beatle", because I had long hair and was one of the first in Exeter to wear it that way. The name stuck for a lot of years. There's always been dilemma in my life. This one arrived in the shape of Dave Mudge and the El Zamba coffee bar. When we gave up the band thing, Dave had gone off to try his hand up in London and the music scene there. When he came back we took up where we had left off. He had loads of stories of what was going on in the outside world, and it sounded exciting. My fall from grace was imminent. I left Redifusion not long after Mudge returned, as I wanted to see the places he had been and do the things he'd done. I wanted fun in my life, and he promised a life less ordinary. Family feelings didn't influence any decisions at this point of my life. Like a lot of youngsters I was fixated on me and what I wanted. I didn't give a thought to the consequences of my actions, though you only ever see these things in hindsight. I must have been a real disappointment to everyone, especially my Mother. They were a different generation, and the 60s terrified them. My father was born in 1902 and was 45 years old when I was born, my Mother a little younger. My sister was six years younger than me. The things in my head they'd never understand; or so I thought
Archived comments for The times of my Life (part four)
stormwolf on 09-09-2014
The times of my Life (part four)
Oh Mike,
You are a bit older than me (ya old bugger) but reading this brought up so many memories of my adolescence.
The fairground, the music and the deep need to experience all that life had to offer. Things beyond what we felt our parents had settled for. Of course in our ignorance we did not know any better.
Apart from all that, I will honestly say that you have a very readable energy about you.
You are honest and self depreciating but not scared to show wisdom that you learned through life too.
I can usually know if I will read a book by the first chapter and sometimes the writer's personality comes over as off-putting....but not here m'dear.
You are capturing a time gone forever that many can relate to and miss.
Your dad giving you a right slap but you learned your lesson.
You are able to look at your parents with understanding of their human frailties.
I wish you every success with this book.

I am going to keep reading too.


Alison xxx

Author's Reply:
Thank you Alison, thank you SO much. Its a big ask for you to keep reading, (we are up to chapter sixteen now) but I hope that you do. Along with the fun there's a lot of bad stuff to come; I hope your okay with it. It is all true, the sad, the bad and the truly amazing; it's been a life.
Mike
XxXxXxX

e-griff on 11-10-2014
The times of my Life (part four)
I'll make a longer comment on the latest submission. Suffice to say, shamed by your kind attention to my accounts, I am reading all of your life story from the start. I have read some of them before but not commented.

There are significant parallels in our lives, and also complete differences of course. I was born in December 1945. We lived in a terrace house in Liverpool, and as you say, no TV no car (my dad had a motorcycle for a time)until the 60's. My parents never had a telephone. I was around 6ft at 14, and have a sister 12 years younger than me.

I'll now read on 🙂 G

Author's Reply:
Thanks for reading, please don't feel any obligation; this is a life story not a travelogue. I'm sure there are bits you will not relate to. We are very different people John, and I know my style is not one you subscribe to 🙂
Mike
ps. The spelling etc. will drive you mad!


Survival Song (posted on: 18-07-14)
I used to play and sing this, altered a bit to read as poetry (I hope) This was in the eighties...nothing seems to have changed; I found it and dusted it off.

I had a dream of storm tossed seas, winds that shook the roots of trees. Rain that fell and drowned the earth; a time when nothing was of worth. I was sailing over dark seas, just looking for survival. I was heading for the high hills, and reading from the bible. The greed of man had raped the land, we've stripped and taken all we can. Torn the life out of the soil; bled dry the natural fields of oil. I woke to find that time had come We had ignored the starting gun. We sold our children's legacy all in the name of democracy. Now we turn upon our selves with chemicals and bombs, tell me who'll be left to sing the victory songs? There are two roads out of here, both I know too well. One road leads to heaven the other...straight to hell.Archived comments for Survival Song

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The Times of my Life (part three) (posted on: 11-07-14)
The continuing saga of my life.... for those that are interested

I was still being a bit of a bugger, so my mother thought it would be a good idea for me to join The Boys Brigade; an organisation for the advancement of those "manly values" that I seemed to be missing. I don't remember joining, just being in it. They got my interest with the idea of camping on Dartmoor. They didn't mention the bullshit; the spit and polish; the marching through town to Church for a boring sermon and Hymns. I was not there long, though I do remember some of the trips to Dartmoor. We camped up at Hay Tor a couple of times at a site they had there. The big deal at Hay Tor was that I got to ride horses again. There was a stable next to the camp and as I was the only kid who had any idea about horses, the stables took me out for free. Boy did I feel special. We rode up and around the Tors and I loved every minute of it. Other than that, the whole thing was rubbish as far as I was concerned. I gave it up ASAP. It did get me interested in horses again; so back in Exeter I went looking for a local stable. I found one in what was then a suburb called Exwick. I got Dad to take me there the first time. After that I made my own way. I would hang around, muck out the stables and rub the ponies down, all to get free rides. One of the girls taught me the basics and I was in heaven for a couple of years until other interests took priority. I would return to it much later though. Something else we kids did was Saturday delivery boy. Different from being a paperboy; you rode a bike all over town delivering meat from butchers to old people stuck in their homes, or merchandise from shop to shop. It's what I did every Saturday for a chemist with four shops in different parts of Exeter, on my bike with a big basket on the front. I delivered to private houses as well, which usually meant a tip. I looked forward to that. Time spent with my dad meant I knew my way around the city. Bikes with three gears were considered a luxury. I had none. I became very fit. I had two shillings and sixpence for wages, 12 pence in new money. It was a lot then. About this time I first became aware of my sister, as though she had just appeared. I decided I loved her and was always doing things for her. She was still a baby but could say my name. Walking and talking made her human. On a Saturday afternoon, I would take my pocket money and any wages I had and walk into town. On my return I always had a present for her. The age gap meant we would never hang out together, but we were close for a few years. Life was all about hanging out with other kids. We learned about relationships, we discovered how it all worked. We knew about 'sex' but had no real understanding of how it would fit into our lives. Those with older brothers and sisters were a mine of information. Most of it was faulty but we all hung on every word. Sex mags were naff, so reality remained a mystery, at least until girls grew breasts and we had something to fumble with. We would play for hours, building tree houses down by the river Exe and along the canal. We all had dogs and would go 'ratting'. There was a scrap yard on the canal bank, and the owner was a friend of my dad's from the dog-racing. He kept lots of greyhounds. The kennels were at the back of the yard and the dogs were almost wild and really fierce. There were hundreds of rats there because of the food the dogs were given. He would boil up sheep and pigs' heads and tripe, and other disgusting animal parts in an old oil drum. These were mixed with any old rubbish vegetables and thrown in a big bowl. Each dog had to be fed separate from each other or they would fight and be hurt. The bones were thrown over the back of the yard where the scrap cars and lorries were. We would catch a few rats in traps and set them free in a dead-end yard. When they reached the far end we set our dogs free and climbed the walls to watch. Blood Sport I know, but very exciting. We also sat on top of the scrapped cars and shot the rats with air rifles. What a great place for a kid. I grew up in a world still in shock from the war. The reminders were all around us. Bomb sites were still everywhere, even into the sixties. Kid played on them all the time. We were warned not to pick up anything strange, in case it was a bomb. Even I knew bombs were bigger than ten year olds, but we got the point - and that intensified the search. We found old bullet casings amongst the shapeless bits of metal that might have fallen from the sky. This was in a small provincial town. God knows what it must have been like in London or Plymouth where there had been raids every night. They still find unexploded bombs in Plymouth to this day. My Father still delivered bread but on a different round. It was a countryside round and took him all the way down to the Warren. The villages of Kenton, Starcross, Cockington, Kenford and the many farms and cottages in between, became familiar to me. I met some really nice people. It was a big treat when we delivered to Powderam Castle; amazing to a kid like me. A castle as in "Knights of the Round Table" with a real deer park. I never did meet the Earl of Devon but I felt as if I rubbed shoulders with nobility. Another bonus was the wild life we encountered. We would leave the yard at about 5am as Nature was waking up. We'd see badgers, foxes, deer, weasels, pheasants. I loved every minute of this time with Dad. I also learned a lot about nature. We met Peter Scott, who I later found out was a famous naturalist and on the T.V. Dad said he was the son of Scott of the Antarctic and that impressed the hell out of me. He lived in a beautiful house by a private lake. They had herons, moorhen, coots, teal and all manner of ducks. It was a posh version of the marsh at the Warren. He told me that some of the wild geese had travelled all the way from Russia. I had to look up where that was and suddenly, I was into Nature World. The garage became my Zoo and museum. I had loads of stuffed animals that people donated from the farms and cottages we delivered to. I had foxes, owls, birds of prey and even a huge stags head complete with antlers. It was weird in there. I had lots of lizards and slow-worms, grass snakes, frogs, newts. It was unreal. I don't know what happened to them all, I suppose I just grew out of it. God knows how the neighbours put up with me. You made your own fun and became very self-reliant. Nobody told you what to do; you just got on with things. If you got it wrong or pissed someone off, you paid the price with a smack round the ear. Nobody got sued. There was no way you would tell your parents and earn another slap. The rules we kids lived by were different from today. We were taught to respect our elders and to respect ourselves. We were taught right from wrong and the consequences of the wrong choice. I was brought up to carry ladies' shopping bags, to call older men sir, and to stand up on a bus to let a lady or older person sit down. I had to raise my school cap when introduced to an older person. I suspect if you went to help someone with their bags today, they would think they were being mugged. Dad still didn't have a car, so we hired one when the mood took him. We spread our wings and travelled further; down to Goodrington and Brixham. Brixham was my favourite; it was fantastic, lots of rock pools, a swimming pool up at Shoalston, a real harbour and loads of fishing - male heaven! The added bonus was Gillian Burvill for a girlfriend. The Burvills used to go there most Sundays so it was a win-win situation. Both my sister and I loved it there. We learned to swim in the swimming pool at Shoalston. I have a photo of me taken with a load of large eating crabs I had pulled out from the ledges under the shore reef once the tide had gone out. Other kids couldn't understand how I could do it without being hurt. Then they hadn't grown up in a fresh fish shop in Dawlish. On days when Mum and Dad had spare cash, I was allowed to go out on the boats, mackerel fishing with long lines. I always caught plenty and could keep as many as I chose. Dad would take them home and cook them for tea. It felt great. I learned to snorkel there and was soon off the rocks ducking and diving in all the gullies, seeing the fish and crabs I had first met in the shop at Dawlish. I still go back at least once a year. It brings a lump to my throat. My parents were happy there, so I like to remember those times with them. I developed a love of snorkelling and the sea that has never left me. My mother loved to swim. In the summer she would go in with my sister and I. Dad never did. I don't remember ever seeing him swim or kick a ball. He always encouraged me but wouldn't show me how to do sporty things. Mum swam well into her 80's, either in swimming pools or the sea. She really loved it. On one occasion, in her latter years, when swimming at Mount Wise pool in Plymouth, she dived in at the deep end and then didn't surface. We panicked and I was about to go in after her when up she popped with not a care in the world. Stoke Beach, about tem miles down the coast for Plymouth was my favourite local beach. It was a hell of a beach to get down to but even in her 70s Mum made it. As soon as we got there Mum was off, swimming around like a dolphin. I was with Glenis, my second wife. We couldn't credit it when she came out to dry herself and we saw her pull out a wig. The kids didn't see it and Tracy looked at her and said 'Grandma how does your hair dry so quickly?' I fell about laughing, though I didn't know she wore a wig either. I never thought about Dad's age, but he was way older than most kids' fathers. It may explain his lack of instruction, or maybe he wasn't bothered. I know he used to play a bit of tennis and golf when he was much younger, and he loved cricket though I never saw him play. Family life was a mixed bag for my sister and I in those days. When Mum and Dad were getting on they would be fun to be with and we'd go out for walks along the canal, or Dad would hire a car and we'd go exploring to places like Fingle Bridge or Dartmeet. I loved these places as it gave me the freedom to be myself; to climb the tors and seek out the wild places, looking for adders and other wildlife. I would disappear for hours. I'm sure they must have worried but, as I keep saying, we were given much more freedom then. I came to know Dartmoor well as I returned time and again with my own family to the scenes of my childhood. Things were to change for families and kids freedom. Mira Hindley and her accomplice, Ian Brady, cast a long shadow. They were known as the Moors murderers and killed several children on the Yorkshire Moors. They were the first really bad people we ever heard of, and what they did effected how children would henceforth be looked after. No-one dares let the kids out of their sight now. At home we'd play cards and board games in the evenings or read. No one we knew had TV; we had to make our own entertainment. I liked card games as everyone could join in. Some of my extended family from 'up North' would come down and we all sat around the table playing 'Catch them and Skin them'. My cousins still remember it. It was the best of times. Dad was a whiz at cards and knew loads of tricks. I later found out that he'd been a magician's assistant on stage when he was younger. Sometimes when my friends came around he would put on a little show and I would play his assistant. He would teach me and I would pretend it was all real, that I was on stage and not in my front room. There were always the radio shows. We would sit and listen to 'Journey into Space' and 'The Goon Show' or 'Round the Horn'. There was 'Two Way Family Favourites' on a Sunday. They played music requested by servicemen abroad for their families back home. We still had National Conscription so it was always a big hit. All men over the age of 18 had to do two years in the Services. We would hear messages from men and women all over the world, read out to their families. It seemed sad to me and I thought, if they're so unhappy why do they have to do it? Conscription ended the year before I was of age; leaving the regulars to sort out the problems overseas. When Vietnam kicked off, I went into a cold sweat along with a million other teenagers. We needn't have worried. Dear old Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister at the time, was having none of it. Something really weird happened around this time and it was only years latter that its true significance came out. I was at home with mum, listening to the radio and drinking my 'go to bed after' Cocoa. The Saturday night short story was on. It was always the last program but, as there was no school the day after and dad was down the pub till late, I was allowed to stay up. It was a story of the War and the Royal Air Force. I remember it well, even after all these years. It ended with a plane being shot down just before it reached base, killing all the men on board. Mum had been strangely subdued throughout the story. When it ended the announcer said his bit and, as happened every night, the national anthem played as the station closed down. Two minutes later, from the radio, a low male voice said, 'Sorry about the Telegram.' My mother turned pale and froze. She screamed then asked whether I had heard it. I said yes. I told her she was frightening me and asked what was wrong. She gathered herself, saying it had made her jump. She went out into the street to see if anyone was out there. When Dad got home he asked why I was still up. Mum retold the strange tale. It freaked them both out. They contacted the BBC to ask if it had been part of the story. It hadn't. They asked the neighbours, who said no it had nothing to do with them. It was the only time I had seen my Father really thrown. He was as white as Mum and they both shook. It would take many years to discover the cause; this forms the latter part of my story. I had heard of one old guy who'd set up a boys club a couple of streets away. I went along to see what it was about, having heard that there were free drinks and cakes on offer. When I got there I discovered lots of kids in their pants and shorts doing gym exercises in the man's front room. I went home to tell my parents. Dad went mad, he was all for organising the other parents into a lynch mob. The club was closed in no time. We knew when something wasn't right. We were possessed of a common sense not so evident in kids today. Being out on the street taught me a lot about survival in the real world. Today's kids just don't seem to get it. I am not talking about fighting, but learning responsibility for others and our environment. No one seems to care anymore and the feeling is contagious. I don't recall hearing about kids beating up old people. We'd fight each other but you would never consider mugging or beating a girl or the elderly. Maybe it was different in the big cities. After my failure at the eleven plus I was sent to John Stocker Secondary Modern school for the terminally crap. A new life was starting with the teenage years. **** I was scared of the big school, we all were. The tales of bullying proved correct, and for the first year we lived in terror of third and fourth year boys. They took our money, sweets, lunch, and the time to give us a punch or two to help us on our way. Fighting back was not an option for us first years. I wish I could say that I stood up to them, but that's just on television. In the real world you keep out the way until you grow a little. Education continued much as before. The bottom class, and bottom of that class in most subjects. I developed a passion for History and as a result, rose to near the top in the subject. It meant some archaeology, and going out on 'digs'. We went to old burial mounds and dug up pottery and flint tools, arrow heads and sometimes bones. I loved it. Mr. Jenkins, our teacher was an absolute bastard. In History he was great and I excelled, but he also took us for English and that meant spelling. I was crap and I am still. According to him if he caned me enough I would get better. He set us to learn twenty words overnight. The following day he tested us and I got NINTEEN WRONG. He gave me nineteen strokes of the cane in that lesson. No one could believe it. Did it make me spell? No; I'm still rubbish. Corporal punishment was still going on in my school days, and plenty of it. The stick, as it was named, was the main source of pain, although the slipper/gym shoe was also in use. Some Teachers invented their own form of torture. An Art Teacher at school cut a piece of lino, used for making ink prints, into a mini 'cat o' nine tails'. He used it to good effect. We accepted it as the norm, though sometimes you had to say enough. The real pain for me was Metal and Wood Work Classes. I was rubbish and everyone knew it. The woodwork teacher was ok and simply ignored those who didn't get it. The best I achieved in four years was a pencil sharpener, formed from some sandpaper attached to a piece of wood. The metalwork guy was a different man altogether. A bit like Mr. Jenkins, he thought if he shouted loud enough I would improve. He would stand over you and shout whilst you worked on a piece of machinery. How was that going to help? Mr.Tippet hated me and I him. It came to a head when I was in fourth year. I was the tallest in the class, and having served my time with the bullies, was not to be taken lightly. So it wasn't me he picked on so much, it was Brian Gill whom he'd reduce to tears on a regular basis. Brian attempted to run off this day but Tippet grabbed him; so I grabbed Tippet and threw him to the floor. When he got up he tried to outface me. I was in no mood to back down and he must have seen it in my eyes. He told me to wait outside the Headmasters office. There was an enquiry. We were all in the Head's office; both sets of parents and the school representatives. The Gills were apologetic but my parents, having listened to what was said, asked why Mr. Tippet had allowed the situation to develop. Mr Tippet could not imagine what he might have done wrong. Brian and I were asked to leave the room. When they came out my parents took me home and gave me hell, though I could tell they were more angry with the school. No more was said on my return, but I was excluded from Metalwork. Poor Brian had to stay but for me it was a result. At the end of term I was asked to leave the school. I was near to completion in any case, though my parents were upset and my Mum never really forgave me.
Archived comments for The Times of my Life (part three)

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Norah (posted on: 11-07-14)
My mother-in -law....I loved her very much.

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I'll take those moments, keep them close, wrap them in my history; cache them in my subconscious. On days when clouds close in, and darkness rules... those are the times they will shine. I will remember you. and all you were.

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The Times of my Life (part two) (posted on: 07-07-14)
To those who read part one and enjoyed it...here's part two 🙂 For those who didn't....Ah well 🙂

1953-1956 Learning the Ropes the School Years Life goes on. When you're a youngster everything revolves around playtime, so as long as you feel safe and get fed that's all that matters. I don't recall any friends from that time but there were. I can see their faces but their names will forever be a mystery. My sister remained an enigma, babies weren't something I cared about so I ignored her. School was okay but the attraction was fading, I would rather be somewhere else and it showed. My parents were called to the school to discuss my progress, I stood there with Mum saying I was just a kid and a late starter who would catch up when he went to 'big school'Big School? Did she mean there was more of this? Around this time, my father got a 'proper' job. He delivered bread and cakes on a baker's round in various parts of the city. He got up really early to go to a depot where he loaded his van. I don't think home deliveries and sales of this type exist now in the same way, but back then everything was delivered to your door; not just the post, but coal and logs for your fire. A lot of food, like fish, milk, vegetables, even meat. No internet meant no ordering 'on line'. Everything was fresh that day and paid for in cash on the door step. Not many people had cars, and supermarkets had yet to make an appearance. Even household telephones were rare. People in rural areas lived in a time warp. People got to know what was going on in town from men like my father. We had the rag and bone man with his horse and cart or his wide barrow. He would stand in the back lane calling to people and ringing a bell; telling them to bring out unwanted items, especially metal objects which he would buy. It seems such a long time ago now. Having regular hours, Dad was around a lot more. He had a regular wage as well, though how much of the money Mum saw was anybody's guess. It was a time when men handed over what they liked and kept the rest. Mum's share was called the house- keeping and she was expected to make it last. Whether all these changes were good for the marriage was open to debate. It was great for me and on Saturdays I could go with him. That was fun and in no time I knew my way all over town. Kids had far more freedom then. I frequented the parks, playing with the other kids. We had freedom to come and go as we pleased, perhaps because there was always someone to look out for us. Everyone knew everyone in most streets and mums rarely went out to work. It was not uncommon to be dragged home by the ear for some reason best known to grown ups, taken to your mother by some complete stranger who would complain to your mother. Once deposited with your mother you would get a right telling off or worse. Different rules then, but better. The cattle market was on the edge of an area called Marsh Barton and was held twice a week. It was big and had every farm animal and bird you could think of. On Wednesdays they held the horse sales. It was brilliant, and I was soon bunking off school to go there. It got me into loads of trouble with the school and my parents, but I didn't care. I became friends with farmers and stall holders. I'd be allowed to walk the horses in the sale ring or herd the sheep into the pens. I was tall for my age and not afraid to speak my mind. I learnt to talk my way in and out of most things. It all came to a head when I was brought home by the police who thought I was a runaway. My parents had had enough of my behaviour so I was grounded, given a beating with the strap and warned it was the children's home for me if I didn't buck up. They took me too a children's home to show me what was waiting. I had never been so scared in my life. I took the warning, made my peace with them, and tried hard to be what they all wanted. We used to go to Alphington, a village just outside the city. There were fish in the stream; sticklebacks, minnows and baby trout. We were six or seven kids, all with jam jars or home- made fishing rods. We'd our sandwiches wrapped in paper and tied with string. Someone's parent would go with us as it was quite a trip, but eventually we went on our own. We might be gone all day. By the time we were nine and ten years old, we would make bows and arrows or catapults, then wage war on the gangs who dared fish our bit of the stream. Kids sometimes got hurt. Pointed sticks tend to do just that; stick in you. Cuts and bruises were commonplace but I don't recall kids loosing an eye or getting killed. It was great fun but you can't do it now, what with terrified parents and Health and Safety Issues. You might suggest I wear rose-tinted glasses, but I think Enid Blyton was a lot closer to the truth than people realise. The Famous Five did exist, kids did play Swallows and Amazons. No dodgy BBC accents with us though; more like Worzel Gummage. And then we moved again; in time for me to join junior school. We moved to a part of Exeter called Heavitree, and into a flat. I hated that flat. It was tiny after our previous house and I was torn from the friends I'd made. There wasn't a garden or outside space, but I loved the area. The street was Posloe Road. There was a great park across the road with conker trees and I was close to Ladysmith Junior School. It was also a lot posher than where we had been, although I didn't know that until later. We weren't there long and shortly after moved back to St. Thomas. Sad to say, I have no memories of our time there at all. My parents must have run into money problems and had the sense to move back before it got worse. I was to become very familiar with the area as I attended the school there for the next four years. Back in St.Thomas we lived in a rented house on Willeys Avenue; number 49. This was to be the place where I would spend the most time, the place I finally called home. Dates and times are becoming harder to remember. I envy those people who had the foresight to keep a diary. Events I'm good at, dates are a different matter. 49 Willeys Avenue was a mid-terraced, turn of the century house that my parents rented from a private landlord called Mr.Batton. He would call round for the rent at the same time each week. He seemed a decent sort, but then what did I know? The things we take for granted now we didn't have then. There was no central heating or fitted kitchens and bathrooms. They were the days of the burco boiler, the mangle on the side to wring out the clothes. The boiler was just that. You put the clothes in, filled it with water, and boiled them clean. The mangle squeezed the washing between two wooden rollers, the water left and that was that. No fridge so everything was kept in the pantry, a large cupboard with loads of shelves and an open window to the outside covered by a fly screen. We did have three bedrooms though, for which I was extremely grateful. We had a small garden that became my mother's pride and joy. The habits of the war years lingered on and she still grew vegetables. Later she grew flowers, carnations being her favourites. We had a large shed and that became mine, but more of that later. I remained with the school in Heavitree at Ladysmith Road, though it was a mixed blessing being on the other side of town. I was forced to leave the house early in order to take the bus. The bus ride was great; loads of other kids and lots of girls to see. Girls were the new thing in my life and I took them seriously. Definitely different from boys, they needed careful study; and I had a lot to learn. School remained problematic, and I in turn was a problem for school; and most of the teachers. I was good at very little and bad at so much else. Maths was another world and I had neither map nor means to learn the language, I didn't understood it and still don't. I loved Art and I was an avid reader. I couldn't spell and hated homework. I was crap when it came to football and cricket too, so was deemed a total failure by all of the teachers. I was popular with my contemporaries. I made a lot of friends, mainly because I didn't take shit from anyone; teachers included! There were a couple of exceptions. One was Michael Morgan. He came to teach English Literature and Geography. He was inspirational, and if all the teachers had been like him, I would have taken school more seriously. He opened the world of books to me and I plunged in. He did such amazing things. After telling us about Africa and why our school was called Ladysmith (you'll need to look it up yourselves) he produced Zulu spears, shields and war clubs. There were loincloths, beads and headdresses. It was incredible. He needed a volunteer to demonstrate them. What a lark! I was at the front of the queue. He stood me in a corner giving me a shield to hide behind, and then he threw the spears at the shield to show how effective it was; Brilliant! What health and safety? He had the class write stories about their own lives and what interested them. This was like a light being switched on. Better still, he didn't care if I mis-spelled words, he tided them up afterwards. My stories made the School Magazine and were read out in the school hall, sometimes by me; a star then for a brief period. While he was at the school I shone; when he left the light went out again. Something else I was to excel at was sports. I never then considered football and cricket sport so I didn't bother with them. I proved to be a good runner, excellent at cross-country and at most of the track and field events. Mr Morgan started a boxing club for the fourth year boys. He believed in respect for others; which would stand us in good stead in later life. I was rather good at it and became big-headed. I turned into a bit of a bully but Mr. Morgan dealt with this by finding bigger boys for me to box. I received a well deserved bashing. He then gave us a lecture on bullying, a lesson I never forgot. It was about fair play and shaking hands afterwards. For the first time I heard the saying "it matters not if you win or lose but how you play the game" I must say I always found winning best. Most of my time at school was spent in the bottom class and near the bottom of that. School I never engaged with. I didn't get it. I wasn't lazy; there was just something else I would rather be doing. Some of the other teachers were neither as nice nor as good as Michael Morgan. Kids like me were dismissed as a waste of time, not worth the effort. One teacher, Mr. Fraser, made the mistake of screaming at me because I was not up to speed. He threw a tennis ball, hitting me on the temple. What he didn't know was my father was delivering bread in the area. I screamed back and told him he would regret what he had done. I ran from class and went to find my father. He wasn't far away, as luck would have it. I was in tears and he could see my head was swollen. My father was a man of direct action. He stormed into the classroom, dragged the teacher into the corridor and laid into him. The Head came to sort it out but Dad was having none of it, and so the police were called. Dad was cautioned and the teacher suspended. My mother went ballistic, but she already knew my father wasn't a man to mess with. Life at school was different after that. We had less bullying from teachers. No further action was taken against my Dad, and though the teacher came back later, he never spoke to me again. My interest in girls developed apace. I had two major crushes; Sally Dawson and her friend Gillian Burville, and I was mad about them both. They were way out of my league; rich parents, big houses, good looking; and they both attended ballet classes. All I had was persistence. It paid off though and I had my first kisses. When Sally moved away from the area it broke my heart. I found out later she became a Bluebell Girl in Paris, a famous dance troop. Gillian and I became good friends and our parents met, but it was a school thing and we moved on in time. I finished this school at eleven. I had to sit mock exams for the eleven plus. My mother did her best to motivate me to study; she even enlisted my Auntie Marge's help to no avail. I was hopeless, and on the day of the exams I lost the plot. I couldn't remember a damn thing, so I did my usual. I walked out. Mum's hopes for me died that day. She vowed it would be different with my sister. She never blamed me. She blamed Dad, saying he hadn't been strict enough. Me? I thought 'Thank god that's over'.
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Perfect Bliss (posted on: 04-07-14)
Sometimes you never know who your talking too.

I watched her from a distance; she was crossing the road ahead of me. I quickened my pace, aiming to reach her as she arrived on the pavement. Without breaking into a sweat, I could make it look as if it was 'just a coincidence' it wasn't of course; I'd been planning this for a week. Her name was Clair, she worked in the local branch of Lloyds bank; my new bank. We'd never spoken more than a cursory few words at the till, the weather and such. She always seemed to welcome the contact; I hoped it wasn't just 'being polite'. I felt a bit like a stalker, but how else could I meet her outside of that environment; without everyone knowing? Clearly I could be shot down in flames, but I had to try. Everything about her made my heart beat just that little bit faster, tantalising me. It was her lunch hour, she always left at the same time and crossed in the same spot; always alone. She would usually window shop on her way to The Snack Shack, a little sandwich bar with some outside tables; and a small sit in area for when it rained. She would order a Panini, and a cappuccino with sprinkles; I liked that about her. I liked to take time planning my dates, no point in rushing things. I would sit at home looking at the photos I'd taken of them, savouring each moment; they were only ever one night stands. I'd parked my van in the car park leaving the back doors unlocked. She always walked through the car park, a short cut to the caf; it should be easy. If there were too many people around it could wait for another day, I wasn't ready to be caught yet; having too much fun. What was that word mummy used to describe such moments? Ah yes Bliss! I fingered the Taser in my jacket pocket as I approached her.
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The Times of my Life (posted on: 04-07-14)
This is the start of 65 years of my life, written by me, and edited by Jim Archibald (Franciman). A special thanks to him for turning my badly punctuated and appallingly spelt story into something readable. I don't know if there is an interest in this sort of thing, if there is you can have more. The 60's was fun.

The Times of my Life My sister Amanda gave me a present on my sixtieth birthday. It would change forever the way I looked at my family. She had researched our family tree. The revelations were shocking and intriguing, and her search goes on. It's difficult to obtain information on distant family and events. Impossible at times; and frustrating, though the end result has been worth all the effort. It's made me think of my own life and times. Talking it over with family and friends convinced me that I should record everything I remember. I'm still amazed at the result. I've tried to be accurate, though some dates may be a few months out. All facts and incidents are as true as I remember them. This isn't fiction. It's not a Novel, so the facts will speak for themselves; but in a format that I hope is entertaining. At times it was anything but, and I've shed my share of tears in the process. The idea of writing my life story seemed a little arrogant. Why would you want to know about my life? What's special about me? A more pertinent question is: Why not? As family history and an account of the times in which I lived, it has some merit. For me it has exorcised a few demons. It has also clarified a few of my more misguided memories. I expect there to be other versions of what I have to say. But it's my life and they are my memories; I live it and have paid the dues. I hope in the years to come my grandchildren will read this and get to know their Granddad. Have a laugh, maybe a tear or two. I had a ball. Let me tell you about my life ......... CHAPTER ONE 1946-1953 The Early Years Although I've no memory of the occasion, I do know I was born on 7th December 1946 at Mowbray House maternity hospital in Exeter. A joyous occasion I'm sure, as I but lately found out my mother had a still born child before having me. I have no idea why my parents lived in Exeter, but I believe they had a house in Blackall Road. I have a photograph of my mother and I, I'm ten weeks old and it's the earliest photograph I have. The hospital closed years ago and I have been back to see the site. It holds no memories. I have no record of a christening, though the birth certificate has my name as Michael Alexander Green. Not long after we moved to Dawlish Warren. It's where my memories begin. My first memories are from around 1949. Dawlish Warren was a small coastal village with only a few houses along a stretch of road separated from the Warren itself by a railway line. A tunnel bridge gave access to the sand dunes, and out onto a fantastic beach. The village had a small railway station and, at the time, very little else. You will find it ten to fifteen miles from Exeter on the coast road to Torquay. Until the 60's it was a quiet place and retained much of its beauty. Now it's taken over by mass tourism; go-cart rides; and caravan parks. The nearest large village was Dawlish 5 miles away. Back then it might have been a million miles away. We lived in a caravan in the middle of a field that later became The Welcome Stranger Caravan Park. I have no memories of this, I just know it was so. A few months later we moved to one of a number of wooden shacks set in large gardens at Shutterdon Lane; not far from the field. This is the first place I have memories of and feelings for. I was still a small child. I have photos of me at three and four years old. I clearly remember we had chickens, and pigs that one family had. I was more interested in hunting frogs and tadpoles in the nearby marshes. I was also in charge of feeding the chickens. Life was great for a child there. Great for kids, living like Hillbillies, but not so good for adults. This was not long after the end of the Second World War. Rationing was still in force and everyone grew their own vegetables. Potatoes were all right, but I liked strawberries and the other soft fruits, raspberries and gooseberries. With the chickens and access to local farms we seemed fairly self- sufficient. We did eat a lot of rabbits. Ginger was our cat. He was huge, and was always bringing home rabbits, birds, rats and other unlucky creatures. He would lay them on the front porch for us to admire, as if to say 'see what I can do'. Everyone had cats and dogs; something to do with keeping the rats and mice down. We certainly had lots of them. We had family visits, though Auntie Marjorie, my mother's sister, is the only one I can now identify. The others remain unnamed, although I have a memory of showing an Uncle Peter how to catch frogs in the marsh. Looking back, the marsh was dangerous if you got lost or walked off the paths. It was full of fantastic birds; herons, moorhens wild ducks and coots. Mallards would nest there, and swans. A very special place for me. My love of wild life started there, and has stayed with me all my life. By today's standards we were poor living there, and many people would have looked down on us. At the time I felt loved and protected, and at the centre of all things. At that age it was all that mattered. It's hard to hold onto memories from that time, but some are so vivid you can't forget. These are things I remember and it's how I felt. We had a standpipe for water at the bottom of the garden. An outside loo that was a hole in the ground, with torn up newspaper hanging on a nail. I remember oil lamps, tin baths and real fires. Having a bath in those days was quite an event; especially for the adults. It's a dream now, the accommodation very basic by modern standards. I have a few incredible photos from this time. There was no gas for heating or hot water. I can't recall electricity never mind central heating. I don't know whether my parents worked then. I suppose my father did as he was sometimes away for several days. The big treat for me was being taken to the beach. We would often go with Auntie Vena and her husband Jack Isaac. They were Mum's best friends, not real family. I don't remember where they lived. We would take picnics and light fires so Uncle Jack could thread sausages on a stick to cook in the flames. They were great days filled with laughter. I was taken in my pushchair along the sea wall that stretches from the Warren to Dawlish. We'd wave to the steam trains as they rushed past. We might stand on the bridge and let the smoke surround us; our faces covered in soot, everyone would laugh. I remember Auntie Marjorie would hold me up so I could see too. It all changed when we moved to Dawlish in time for me to go to school. We lived in a flat above a fresh fish shop. It was by the river that runs through the centre of town, and near the main bridge. It was to be our home for only a short time and it remains a mixed memory. My father worked in the Fresh Fish shop below the apartment. He also delivered fish and crabs to nearby hotels and guesthouses. I'd come down early some mornings to find the catch of the day; crabs, lobsters and all kinds of fish crawling, flapping and snapping around the floor. For a kid of four or five, it was exciting. I didn't like the conger eels. They were as big as me and had a habit of trying to catch you. I can still smell the shop. That smell drifted upstairs and through every room. It was a while before we got used to it. I don't know where my father learned to gut and dress the fish. He could also gut and paunch a rabbit, and I once saw him and a neighbour at the warren, cut up a deer. My life was a series of adventures, with the nearby beach at Corrigan Cove playing a big part. We'd catch crabs in the rocks at low tide and we'd fish from the pier. I learned to tickle trout in the river outside our front door. I don't know who taught me, but I did it, much to everyone's amusement. I would lie flat on the ground without looking over, so as not to cast a shadow, I would slide a hand into the water and feel under the ledges of the river bank. If I could feel a fish, I'd slide my hand underneath. You had to stroke it gently, then with one sweep scoop it onto the bank. I can remember doing that. I was always told to throw them back as they would die out of water. I have no idea how I came by this odd skill; but it's true, I did. Dawlish was a small town with lots of local shops and a small cinema. It didn't have a sand beach like the Warren, it was shingle, mixed with red sand from the cliffs surrounding the bay. It was different to our last home, more cars and more people. I don't remember any friends although I must have had some. My mother worked part time at a hotel called the Langston Cliff; It's still there. I don't know what her job was but she was happy there. It was midway between Dawlish and the Warren, and I thought it was the biggest place I had ever seen. The owner let me ride on his daughter's horse, so he was soon my 'best friend'. Horses were to crop up throughout my life. Then everything changed; I started school. I hated it, and can see the first few days even now. I was taken by my mother and as soon as I could, I walked out and went home. Of course everyone got mad and I was told I had to stay there or else. My mother tried to bribe me with the promise of cakes and sweets in my lunch box. Sometimes she let me buy little Hovis loaves from the bakers. We'd cut them in half, spread with loads of real butter and a large helping of cheese. Those were the days. It was okay when I was interested in what was being taught but, as soon as I got bored, I would up and go. It transpired that this was to be a consistent theme throughout my life. I soon learned that if I went home, they'd bring me back. I started playing in the park or fishing with a jam jar and string in the river. I would stick some bread in the jar, let it sink to the bottom so the small fish would go in to get the bread and 'whoosh'! I would whip out the jar and see what I'd caught. As I could not swim then, it was not a good idea. No wonder my parents were always worrying. I must have been a nightmare to them. The next move to Exeter ended this part of my life. I've been back many times over the years to both Dawlish and the Warren and still feel a tug at my heart when I drive down Shutterdon Lane. The wooden shacks at the Warren are all modern bungalows now. Where we lived is still called "Larks Home". I cry each time I visit, yet don't know why. I grew up in Exeter in every sense of the word. It's where I learned that not all things are what they seem, and that trust has to be earned. We moved to St. Thomas, an area of Exeter beside the speedway track. It was our first real house. It had two floors and loads of bedrooms and we used all of it. It had a small garden that I thought crap after Dawlish. I think the address was Church Road. There was a large Church and a pub opposite, so it would fit. I was enrolled in the local school and told to behave. No need to have worried. I liked this one; for the time being. Things were a lot different. There was no beach but lots of parks; a real town and I thought it was great. I was alarmed by the amount of cars and people. It was a shock after the Warren and Dawlish. My father worked for a man called Scadding; Frank Scadding a local bookmaker Dad was his runner, taking the bets and sounding out the opposition. He doubled as a "minder" at local horse racing venues like Newton Abbot. They must have travelled quite a bit, as dad was away a lot in those early days. The place I remember well was the greyhound track, which was also used for Speedway. It was at the top of our street, and a source of excitement for all us kids. We watched the dogs arrive and sometimes saw them run. Now that was really something. The Speedway wasn't important to me, though I must have gone to see it. Maybe if they'd had to chase a hare round the track it might have excited me more. By then I was six - going on seven; old enough to know when things aren't right, and things between my mother and father were not right. There were frequent arguments, occasional fights about matters I didn't understand, and not nice to hear. I was told to go and play or sent on an errand. I got the impression it was dad's lack of help that was the problem, and the usual one, lack of money. All I know was that it frightened me. One fight in particular I remember. My mother had locked Dad out and he was trying to get in through a window. He had me lift the latch and he climbed in. Neither of us realised that Mum was outside the room with a broom handle! She laid into him, calling him everything under the sun for using me to get in. Then she started on me. Dad and I did a runner and he took me to the racetrack till she calmed down. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry; it was so weird. At the racetrack, Dad was still wound up. He got into it with a man he had been talking to. It quickly went sour; Dad knocked him flat on his back, and we had to do a runner again. We hid under a lorry until the fuss died down; then went home. My mother was only too glad to see me in one piece and let us in, thank God. It all happened so fast I'd no time to think but it must have been really scary at the time. There were lots of incidents like that but there were good times too. Like most working class families we never had a car, so Dad would rent one from one of his many friends and we'd go for trips to the countryside; to Dartmoor, back to the Warren or Dawlish. I remember it well; places like Fingle Bridge, Becky Falls and Hay Tor were soon familiar to me. And then my sister Amanda arrived. I was six at the time and this was the first of many changes. I was taken to stay with mum's friends, the Isaacs, for about a week. It was my first time away from the family and I hated it. I was not amused. For the first few weeks, I hated my sister as well. It was quite an event in our lives, and for a while Mum and Dad seemed to get things together. But it didn't last. Dad was "Jack the lad" and always off somewhere. Mum said he was a waster and a bastard. She was probably right, but he was my Dad and I loved him. As for my Mother, the jury was still out after the broom handle incident. In those early fifties life was much as it had always been. Men ruled the house, wives did as they were told. Men went to the pub most nights whilst the rest of us stayed home. Weekends were for family fun. We would make like we were a happy family and go visiting mum and dads friends, some of whom are faces without names. There was an Auntie Penny and her husband. She was really lovely, but he was a complete Pratt. I think their last name was Chowings. He worked for the council cleansing department; I think he might have been in charge. Most of my mother's friends came from her work during the war years in the R.O.A.C. Something to do with plotting German aircraft, I think. We were always on our best behaviour during these visits, especially Dad. He was charm itself when he knew Mum was watching him. Life with Dad was not easy for her but in those days you lay in the bed you had made. We spent time with Dad's boss, Frank Scadding and his family. They had a big detached house outside town with a lot of land. They had what I now know was a small holding, and lots of farm animals. One place I loved to go. They had a German Shepherd dog called Figaro, so big I used to ride on his back. I have been in love with German Shepherds ever since. The Coronation came and went in fifty-three. We had a street party and all us kids ran wild. All the parents cooked food and made lemonade. Tables were laid all down the street and everyone dressed in their Sunday best. There was music; people laughed and sang songs; kids ran races and won prizes. It was like nothing ever before and we all made the best of it. Someone Dad knew turned up with a horse and cart. All the kids rode in the cart. Well except me, that is - I rode on the back of the horse, feeling very special. The streets were strung with flags and bunting. It was amazing. We were given mugs with a picture of the new Queen. Kids my age didn't have a clue what the hell it was all in aid of - we just ate the cakes. I had an enquiring mind which at times got me into a lot of trouble. Like when I found our baby sitter and her boyfriend stark naked on the floor in our lounge. When I asked what they were doing, the silly cow told me in detail. She said he was her Fucker Man. I didn't understand, so I asked my mother to explain it when she came home. We never did see the baby sitter again, but then I had seen more of her than was good for a boy of my age anyway.
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A Dangerous Kind of Love (posted on: 30-06-14)
its a re write of an early attempt; better I hope. Perhaps you could let me know?

I glanced across the room, they were standing in the entrance smiling across at me; a bottle of red in Tom's hand. ''Happy birthday Alan'' He was holding out the bottle as I reached them. ''Thanks for that old man'' I replied, laughing. ''Happy birthday Alan''. Anna reached for me, kissing me on both cheeks. The smell of her perfume as intoxicating as any drug. ''How old is it now?'' As if she didn't know. ''How does twice twenty one sound?'' I had known Anna for the last three years, and loved her since the day I met her. ''Let's get you something to drink''. I was moving towards the kitchen, trying to break the spell Anna wove around me. ''So how's the new job going Alan?'' Tom's words brought me to my senses. ''Oh not as bad as I expected, it's the travelling that's killing me. The trouble with Exeter is, even with the M5, and the improvements to the 303, London is still a long way and let's not mention the trains''. ''Have you thought of moving up there?'' ''I have to admit, I'm considering it''. ''What do you think Julia would say about moving?'' ''Why don't you ask her yourself?'' I replied, as my wife arrived. He turned and Julia smiled that radiant smile of hers the one that used to melt my heart in an instant why not now I thought? ''Hello Tom'' she said. ''Julia, you look as lovely as ever''. He leaned forwards kissing her on the cheek. ''I wish'' she sighed, ''The kids are turning me into an old bag before my time''. ''I was just asking Alan if you had considered moving with his new job to save on all this commuting''. ''I would move tomorrow, it's just the kids and school Anna would know what I mean. You men don't take things like that into account''. ''That's a tad condescending I think'' said Tom half laughing. Anna joined us and stared right into my soul ''What's all this about you moving?'' I felt my heart slipping ''It's only an idea at this stage; we need to think about it more''. ''A lot more'' said Julia sharply. ''Oh dear, I've said the wrong thing''. ''Not at all'' I tidied up, ''as I said, it's just an ide