Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Countdown 2 and 1...Yippee!!

At last! The car is bulging and waiting for us to come on board. We won't be coming home from work tomorrow but will head straight for Portsmouth. Excited or what!!??? I wasn't earlier but now I am. I really am!

Thanks for sticking with me over the last week or so as I shared thoughts on my first ten years of life.  It has really made me think seriously about getting my personal history sorted. It has been an unfulfilled goal for years now. Perhaps this will spur me on. Anyway, thanks for your comments. I've appreciated them and I'll miss you all over the next few weeks.

So here we are at the very beginning...22nd February 1952

As I could never recall a warm and sunny February in the North-East, I assume that my arrival coincided with a bleak, dreary and heartless day…the kind that forces you indoors to protect you from the lashing, cutting, wild and freezing rain.

Against such a harsh and hopeless backdrop, I like to think my arrival raised at least one smile.

Elizabeth was the last to be born two years previously and, discounting numerous miscarriages, I was number four of an eventual seven. All attention was on Elizabeth…not my sister, but the princess who was making preparations for her coronation. My arrival at 81 St Patrick’s Garth in the notorious east-end dockland area of Sunderland was in her slipstream and wasn’t subject to fanfare, jubilation or euphoria.

The real good news, other than the impending coronation, was that the war was over even if rationing wasn’t, and I was blissfully unaware that battles in the field would soon be replaced with battles in the home.

Had I known what was to come, I would surely have opted to cut my losses and return to wherever I came from.

From the moment I was able to think, I never felt my presence to be a blessing to anyone. My Mother however must have loved me dearly because she often took the lions share of pain to protect me from her drunken, out of control brute of a husband; intent on making his mark on my tender defenseless skin with his army issue leather belt which I found out some fifty years later was named ‘Suzie’.

I marvel that I could have such thoughts before coherent speech but my earliest wishes for him centered mainly on his swift exit from this world, although such wishes only ever followed a thrashing my Mother was unable to prevent.

What provoked such heartless, prolonged and brutal attacks on his apparent favorite son was a mystery to me. It would be another twenty years before I found out the truth and a further twenty before my earliest wishes regarding him were granted…his parting for my part being laced with guilt, regret and sadness rather than bitterness, and the last thing I wanted at the time.

Anyway, I digress. I had arrived, I was part of an unbroken expanding family with a roof over our heads and all my bits were intact. I was now in that awful state of knowing nothing but wanting everything. My journey had begun.

Looking back from 2010 it has been an incredible journey laced with opportunity, disappointment, pain and sheer joy. I've experience a full life and enjoyed the fruits of both wise and not so wise choices.

A prison warden once said of me that I would be back and that he would have the last laugh. Since then I have never looked back and have never been back. For the last 38 years I have been the master of my destiny in the  direction I needed to go and the type of person I needed to be. The other person is under control now and is doing okay. We are still friends and wouldn't be without each other. He's been through a lot and deserves a good friend. We shed a tear from time to time but we are both enjoying life now. We really are.


  1. Ken, this has been a touching memoir. I'm a silent cheerleader to your successes. It's amazing that you have triumphed over such a bleak start. Yes, please get this story down for your posterity. What a valuable gift to leave them.

  2. This could make an excellent movie. It's a story of grit and an indomitable human spirit. What a life; What a story!! Thanks so much for sharing. I'll miss you on this blog. Enjoy your break..:)

  3. Thank you Randi...for once, I'm lost for words. I will carry on and try and achieve this particular goal though.

    Hi Khushi
    Now there's a thought. I'll give you the role of casting if it should ever happen.
    I'm glad you enjoyed reading it and yes, I'll definitely enjoy the break. Just a couple of hours to go!

  4. Ken,
    By now you are Brittany-bound, and my best wishes go (enviously) with you. Your recollections are nothing short of gripping, the more so because of a narrative style that is never self-conscious, that engages and pulls along, dropping hints everywhere that there is more to be told. It appears that you've led a life that can be a moral beacon to others. Ken, I wish you a fertile pen, an inspired brush and a happy sojourn in France.


  5. Have a great time. You deserve it !!

  6. Oh I missed you going off. I am sorry but am going to catch up on all your missed posts.

    Have a great time

  7. I re-read this today because I did not take it in properly, so sad I was to have not said a proper goodbye. Oh Ken- you've really been through it and look at you today - you should be rightly proud of yourself