Finally having some ‘me’ time in my hometown Newcastle and catching up with family and friends. It should have been last week when I came north but that couldn’t happen because the car needed servicing. If I had been able to come last week I would have had five days here but unfortunately I only have two days and so I’m striving to get around to seeing folks and also just touch base with my home town. As a boy the quayside played a big part in my life and now as a man I always feel the need to spend time there when I’m home.
Today I met up with a man who joined the Royal Navy around the same time as me and who has been reading my memoirs. His name is John (see photo below) and although we hadn’t met before we got on really well. Over a cup of tea on the quayside we talked for a couple of hours about life, loves and of course the Royal Navy before exchanging gifts; John gave me a book called Fish and Ships, the Royal Navy, and I gave him a copy of my cartoon book JL Against All Odds (you can read it here on my website). John is a wonderfully sensitive man who has supported many vulnerable people throughout his life and it was truly a pleasure for me to meet him. Thank you John for taking the time to say hello and let’s stay in touch 🙂
This weekend (3 April) is my beloved granddaughters 24th birthday and so I’m thrilled to be here for her special day. Having been the primary male in her life we are extremely close; as a child I took her everywhere with me in a papoose. What was really funny and yet very sweet today was that I needed some new clothes (jeans, jacket, tee shirt) and she chose them all for me 🙂 What was also lovely for me was that she took me to the Black Garter pub where she works and without question all of the regulars absolutely love her. I’m a very proud grandad. More photos will follow.
Really nice to meet up with my old friend and reader Brian Pears in Saltwell Park, Gateshead, while I was in the North East. As always we put the world to rights, in particular the education system and social care while we had a cup of tea. Newcastle truly does have talent! And what Brian doesn’t carry in that shoulder bag of his really isn’t worth carrying!
Naturally while in the North East we also caught up with my family Tracey, Bubbles, Mia, Elisha and Eden; great to see everyone x x CU all again real soon x x
These days I often return home to Geordieland a few times a year and I’ve just had my 59th birthday there. Somehow I always find time to wander up the back streets because they bring back childhood memories for me. Although the cobble streets are now all covered in Tarmac and the coalie holes are all bricked up I still get a feeling of home there.
The coastal pictures were taken at Blyth, Northumberland, on quite a windy day but just to see the beach huts made the trip worthwhile. I’m very envious of people who have a beach hut.
Like most folks sometimes I have a need to touch base and as they say in India visit my ‘native’ place. I’m so mentally tired that I’m looking forward to doing nothing but chilling out and catching up with my family and friends.
Life is like a piano. The white keys represent happiness, the black
keys show sadness; and as I’ve travelled life's journey I'm so
thankful that the black keys make music too.
She was 44 when she took me, a very damaged 7 year old, out of care
and in 1962 that took some balls. Social Services in the North East
in those days were a disgrace, I don't think I ever saw the same
social worker twice in years and their main agenda was to put
foster parents through as many indignities as they could with
weapons ranging from criticising the contents of the pantry to
openly suggesting there may be a better placement for the child
Not surprising that as an adult when I requested my case notes
from Durham Social Services the hapless authority couldn't find
them and so from where I'm sitting nothing much has changed -
has it Durham?
If readers (or Durham Social Services) detect a note of anger
here they're right. Having worked in Social Services for the past
28 years they're welcome have a master class course from me any
time on the importance of keeping good professional case notes,
writing them knowing that the child is entitled to see them and
respecting the incredible people that become foster parents.
She was 56 when she died of cancer of the larynx by which time
I was an 18 year old in the Royal Navy; they flew me home from
Mombasa and for the next 17 years I made an annual pilgrimage
to the cemetery to see the book of remembrance in its little glass
box. I'm nearly 59 now and have already outlived my incredible
foster Mam who passed away 40 years ago on 27 February 1974 -
that same parent who put up with the criticism, sarcasm and
interrogation of the social services; the same social services who
had the audacity to suggest I would be better placed with other
As an artist I believe every picture tells a story and the three
photos I've chosen for this post show my own personal journey; I
suppose you could say they show my life. They show (1) me before
I was placed in foster care (2) as a young adult in the RN after
12 years with my foster Mam and then finally (3) as I am today.
To imagine what picture 3 would look like had picture 2 been
different is unthinkable.
On Thursday 27 February 2014 I will again make my pilgrimage to
the cemetery to view the book of remembrance and say thank you
with love to my remarkable Mam.
I spent years searching for him and wasn't disappointed
when I finally did.It was like finding a piece of my own
life's jigsaw that made sense of the whole messy picture.
Charismatic and funny he took away a lot of the
heartache I had carried around through not knowing what
I desperately needed to know; strangely his need to tell
me was as strong as my need to listen to his every word.
Before I met him he was my father's brother - the father
who for fifty years I had mentally castigated and crucified
for the disgraceful way he had treated his family. When I
left - my father became Dad, a man who I could look up to
and be proud to be called his son: and my Dad's brother
became my uncle. My only uncle. Uncle Trevor. Someone who
to me was almost like an older twin brother.
I was blessed to have spent time with my Uncle Trevor and
loved our similarities - the cheekiness of his facial
expressions, his sense of humour, his broad accent. When I
walked into his home he almost collapsed thinking I was my
Dad screaming 'Bloody hell it's Charlie!'. When he realised
I wasn't we both fell about.
I will be at his service on Friday in Geordieland, tucked
quietly away somewhere among the gathered. It will be a
flying visit for me, such is life, not just to pay my
respects. But also to say thank you (with love x).
As a working artist for the past 35 years I don’t get too excited when people ask me if they can publish my artwork; if something to the good is going to happen then Jai Ho it will and it is always nice when it does. With retirement coming ever closer I must say I’m not adversed to picking up a pencil again and honing the old skills – after all a guy has to earn a crust.
Strangely enough my last post on here was about some old artwork of mine that I had dug out and said that I was going to digitalise although my reason for that was purely personal in that I could add said work to my on-line gallery. It seems that post must have pushed someone’s button as you can see from the pasting below. Maybe the natural flow of life is that as you get older you end up back at where you started from; those who have read my biography will know what I’m talking about – the boy with the crayons?
Anyway this particular magazine based in LA USA looks like a really great opportunity for friends on the other side of the pond (and beyond) to enjoy the scribbles and splashings of an auld Geordie Boy so I’ve replied to their mail. As soon as I know anything – you will.
The thing about the North East is that if it’s cold in the south it’s flipping freezing up here. But the great thing about Primark, aka as Primarni, is that you can get a good quality coat at a reasonable price.
This little number I bought on a whim this morning for £35 and as well as it being ‘cool’ (according to both my daughter and granddaughter) its also lovely and warm. The only regret I have is that I didn’t put it on when I met up with my friend (and reader) Brian again in Saltwell Park this afternoon because although the sun was shining it was not warm by any stretch of the imagination.
So to all of my male readers, regardless of age, if two generations of the fairer gender (family members at that) are saying this product is cool then I highly recommend you get off to Primark with your £35.
Lovely seeing my little granddaughter Aleasha dressed up for her Halloween party; and hearing the excited little people with their Geordie accents. Much love for little Jessica who is too poorly to join her sister at the party xx