When Lennon was shot McCartney went to work and I was horrified.

When John Lennon was shot Paul McCartney went to work and I was horrified. I’d never been a big fan of McCartney, always a Lennon fanatic, and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t pulverised by the bloody awful painful grief that was ripping my stomach (and millions of other stomachs) open.

Since then I’ve sadly buried both my birth parents, both my foster parents, my sister, my grandson and more friends than I care to remember and though I’m still no fan of McCartney I’m not so critical of what he did when Lennon died.


Last weekend I spent several days at the bedside of my closest friend who (only a few weeks ago) had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and who was now receiving end of life care from his newly married wife; they’d married secretly two weeks previously in the hospice after a ten year relationship. The tumour hid itself very well from scans and it wasn’t until my friend began throwing up that he realised something was wrong. What was wrong was that the tumour had grown so big it was pressing on the bowel allowing nothing through hence why he was throwing up? Both my friend and his wife were qualified doctors – in fact my friend had also been my GP for more than 20 years. Eventually, after an exploratory operation, they both agreed that since there was nothing more the hospice could do that they would go home and await the inevitable. In desperation I asked my friend why he couldn’t have peg-feeding, reassuring him that I’d peg-fed people successfully myself only for him to say as kindly as possible ‘Alan what’s the point?’. His gentle acceptance of his situation was probably the most moving thing I’ve ever seen.


My time with my old friend was priceless and gave me yet more wonderful memories to cherish. We laughed out loud at old times and reminisced about musical evenings we had both been involved in. We paralleled my annual Autumn Suppers (when I would make a massive bowl of stew and invite 60 musicians and their partners to my house for the weekend) with his upmarket dinner parties when he would flaunt his fabulous culinary skills producing the paella of the century. 


For a man who began life with no shoes on the back streets of Malaysia and then rise to become a doctor and consultant dermatologist spending his entire life supporting others he had my absolute respect. And although we shared childhood similarities we also enjoyed and celebrated each other’s unique adult differences; in guitar playing he was jazz and I was rock and roll, in food he was oysters I was pies, in cars he was as good as it got – and mine was older than me. 


As an unlikely pair of friends – a sort of rough and smooth – over time we became quite a ying and yang to the point that (to me) he became the brother I never had albeit ten years younger than me. I loved him so much.


Sadly today at 7am, about 12.5 hours ago, my old friend passed away peacefully in his sleep. To the end his biggest worry was for his patients and their ongoing care. Though grieving and furiously angry at the unfairness of such a wonderful man being taken at 50, I went to work because I know he would have wanted me to. I spent time with a family who, when their daughter is born in January 2017, will need an immediate operation for a thinning aorta; I then spent time supporting a single mum of six children with all manner of challenges before finishing my day spending two hours with a dad who had totally lost all of his confidence and self esteem. 


I went to work because my friend would have wanted me to. I went to work but because I also needed to.


I’ll probably never be a McCartney fan. But I’ll never slate him again for doing what he did.


You know you’re valued when they put you in the newsletter

Recently I was head hunted into a new job supporting young people into employment (which I love) and after the past couple of years (employment-wise) it almost feels as though I’ve won the lottery.

When I speak to some of the young people I work with I would often say  it’s better to work for £8 hour with a brilliant employer than for £10 hour with a poor one. Taking a leaf out of my own book, yes the salary is slightly less but the quality of my work days has improved 1000% if there is such a thing. At the moment I’m only 3 days a week in my new job and still 2 days a week in my old one but feeling very much more hopeful now.

It’s very flattering to be still valued within my profession, even more so from an employer so I thought I just wanted to share the love X 

It was 45 years ago today…

It’s 45 years ago today that I joined the Royal Navy (27 September 1971) and had this mug shot taken for my ID Card and Passport. I still remember having the photo taken and the mixture of feelings going around inside me. I was excited to be enlisting but missing my family and had no idea what tomorrow would bring. But if I had my time over I’d do it all again. #BlastFromThePast 

Come on lads don’t be lazy, CHECK your car insurance renewal

As a typical bloke I’m hopeless at shopping around for car insurance and very often just accept the annual renewal without even checking it. This year though I just thought they were literally taking the Mickey and decided to do something about it. 

LV Insurance (which I think stands for London Victoria or Liverpool Victoria, I’m not sure) sent me their renewal quote for £346.16 – it’s probably worth me saying at this point that my car was first registered in 1994 and is therefore 22 years old. Disgusted I went online and found DOZENS of companies quoting far far less and in the end chose Privilege who were charging me £154.40 for the exact same insurance I already had. Money saved = £191.76. That’s my flight to Gibraltar next year sorted!

So come on lads don’t be lazy, don’t be apathetic, check out your renewals and tell the Rip-off merchants where to go.

Be inspired…

Finally yesterday I started my new job as a youth worker and as I sat at my desk I looked at the wall opposite. What I saw painted on the wall really inspired me and looking at it I knew it would be a real inspiration for young people too. After just one day at work, I love this job.