So, I Left Home (3)

“So put me on a highway and show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time.”                                                                                     Take it to the Limit: Eagles: 1975.

The open road is such a cleansing experience. Everything left behind with only the future ahead, a future that is as exciting as it is unknown. Jersey in the summer of 1976 was a learning curve. The Master as he has now been deemed had agreed to take me on his forthcoming trip by camper van through France into Spain, culminating in Gran Canaria for a winter of spearfishing. He made it clear that it was his way or the highway and set about re-educating me in the ways of ‘man.’ Boundaries and integrity were foremost, but boundaries and integrity had their grey area when, late one night, he ‘acquired’ an inflatable complete with an outboard motor. Jump a few months to September and we were on a French highway heading across country to Portbou, Spain. We parked on the front by the sea and within an hour a VW camper pulled up alongside. A rather large bearded man jumped out, opened the back of his van,  spat at it, kicked it and called the engine names that I couldn’t possibly repeat, but it was something to do with fornication and the dubious parentage of said engine.

‘Ask them if they are Australian,’ said Master.                                                                                  ‘You ask them,’ said I. We didn’t talk to strangers in Bradford and although I didn’t say it, I thought the Kangaroo stickers on the side of the van gave it away. He quickly established they were two Australian brothers on the Europe tour with a smoking VW engine. Tables, chairs, wine and beer were quickly set out and it became apparent that Portbou was a popular place to stopover as the first Spanish town south of the Pyrenees. By 7pm the Master, two Aussies and I were joined by six Germans, three Welshman, a young couple (English boy, French girl) and a Moroccan girl who appeared and disappeared without any of us knowing who she was. The Welshmen ended up running around the beach naked, two Germans fell from the sea wall after nodding off, they were uninjured in fact one of them stayed asleep. If this was what travelling was all about then I was definitely ‘in.’

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So, I Left Home (2)

I had arrived, Jersey, OK it wasn’t the world but it was a start. I was eighteen with £70 (a lot of money in 1976). I was a bit disappointed with the absence of beautiful girls in grass skirts to welcome me with a garland but Fantasy Island was a year from being aired on TV, so I had to make the best of it.

I calculated that the Tourism Office would have a guide to Guest Houses complete with prices and they did. So I quickly made my way to The Casa Mia Guesthouse at £2.50 a night. Within in a week I had a job Yay, although we didn’t say ‘Yay’ back then, it was more like brama? I know, weird. As a labourer on the new Fort Regent Sports Center build I was quite happy.

Fort Regent

Until they laid me off two weeks later. Apparently I was holiday cover, but I had already met a Geezer who was an Electrician turned Plasterer/Carpenter/Bricklayer he was the four-year-old me grown up. More importantly he was a Spear-fisherman. So here you have a twenty seven year-old Mancunian who catches fish underwater using a spear gun, snorkel and an eighteen year-old Yorkshire lad looking for a bit of adventure. A match made in heaven 🙂

I was re-employed and became a prodigy. Spearfishing is an expensive sport when you first start out. The equipment is costly, but for my new Master barriers didn’t exist. One Saturday morning he picked me up from the Casa Mia and we visited lots of houses where diving men lived. The Master pointed out to each and everyone of them which equipment they never used anymore and promptly relieved them of it. Three hours later I was fully equipped. That was the day I got my first nickname ‘Tramp of the Sea.’ I guess with all the cast offs I was wearing I kinda resembled Albert Steptoe. So we trundled to the bay for a days ‘flatty bashing’ (catching Plaice).

It didn’t take him long to realise that inexperience boarded on complete incompetence, so he left me to flounder. After floundering for six hours he came back to find me slightly less floundersome (don’t care if there is a red line I like it as a word) and I got some respect for sticking at it, but he had a lot of Plaice and I was dutifully impressed. It was shortly after this that it was revealed to me that aforesaid master was due to depart from the ‘rock’ in September in his van to travel down through France into Spain and from thence to Gran Canaria to spend a winter of spearfishing. 😀

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So I Left Home

Now then. In Yorkshire that means hello. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called Are any of us where we set out to be?’   I ended it by saying I had left home at eighteen and gone travelling but that it was another story. Today I thought why not? When I was ten we left the farm (Boo) and moved to Bradford (bigger boo)

By the time I was seventeen Dad was dead, Mum was spending as much time as possible at sisters and I was drunk most nights. At seventeen I had got very wet one night on a motorbike so I decided to save up, buy a Landrover, and travel the world, it seemed a dryer option. Sadly I became impatient and bought an old Austin 1800 from a guy down a back street who told me I couldn’t test drive it because it wasn’t taxed.

 

 

I was seventeen, I gave him the full asking price and drove off. After five miles I discovered it jumped out of third gear, overheated and you had to grip the steering wheel like Hercules to prevent it careering into the sidewalk (put that in for my American friends, we call it the pavement) When me and the smokin monster pitched and plunged our way back to the point of sale, he was gone and he hadn’t given me his mobile number. Possibly because it was 1975 and the cell phone was 15-20 years away. I was not daunted, I was seventeen, I could do anything, it was a challenge. I was going to repair it, supe it up and make a profit or even race it 🙂 Several months later I sold it for scrap and the world trip was postponed. I took my extensive savings of £70 and set sail for Jersey in the Channel Islands. The local bin man had worked there for a season and recommended it. OK I know this hasn’t gone well so far, but he appeared knowledgeable.

 

All my friends said I would be back in week that was forty two years ago. I wonder if they are still in the same pub that I left them in 🙂  So I landed in Jersey and………

To be continued (you don’t really want it all in one go, you’ll be sick 🙂

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Am I A Sucker?

Well, I maybe, but that will depend on your opinion of a sucker. At the age of about five my niece and I were called in from our game in the farmyard to watch the newly arrived television (circa 1961)

 

This lasted about five minutes, the activity seemed pretty pointless not to mention boring and so we went back outside to play. As the T.V. didn’t go away and I became more curious I became hooked. I believe it started with Bill and Ben, swiftly followed by Andy Pandy. At the end of every show Andy went to bed in a basket with Teddy and a girl called Looby Loo, they wondered why I had a girlfriend by the time I was six-years-old. Then came my real downfall Rin Tin Tin he was the bravest dog in the world.

 

You see how I had already started to get suckered into ‘branding’? As the years rolled on I believed what people told me, as a child you have a tendency to do that. I thought the moon was made of cheese, fairies sneaked into your bedroom and swopped your tooth for a sixpence and a large man with a white beard broke into your house by climbing down the chimney and then after drinking your Dad’s whisky, eating a mince pie and taking a carrot for his flying reindeer left you some presents and flew off. I also believed that if you didn’t go to sleep at night ‘the bogeyman’ would creep into your bedroom. I was never told what he would do to me, but with all the comings and goings of men with white beards and fairies I wasn’t about to take a chance.

 

Couple all this with the fact that if I was naughty in any way I wouldn’t go to heaven, in fact I would probably burn in hell as a result I was, in the main, a good child. On top of this I knew that Gypsies stole children, babies were delivered by Storks and left under the Gooseberry bush, thunder and lightening was just God lighting his pipe and if I ate my crusts my hair would curl. So what saved me from becoming a paranoid recluse? Books, I disappeared into them every evening. This one I read when I was ten-years-old, although my sister wasn’t quite sure what year it was 🙂

It was through this book I understood that both love and hate can be destructive and not everything is always as it seems, but you can always find a redeeming quality in everyone. So I’m not bearing grudges for being suckered into all those stories, but I still make sure the door is locked at night because the bogeyman just might be out there 😉 Although it has taken me years to realise that not everyone who says they attended the first Bob Marley concert in London actually attended as the hall didn’t hold 300,00 people 😉 and after all these years I have an iPod an iPad and just about to buy an iPhone (thanks Steve Jobs) So maybe I am a sucker after all 🙂

 

 

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Are Any of Us Where We Set Out to Be?

Do you find it amusing that some of us end our working lives in a completely different career to the one we originally chose? I’m not sure if I ever really wanted to be a teacher. From the age of about four I often played at being a tradesman, usually a different one every day. Each morning my mum had a four-year-old electrician, plumber or carpenter knocking on the door. As I recall she would then supply me with a household fault and tools accordingly. I must have been very good because I never had a call back or a complaint. During this very busy period I pursued other avenues in my spare time, Cowboy, Astronaut, Superhero and footballer were amongst them.

 

As I got older further occupations seduced me and I recently found evidence of my days as an artist, and a racing car driver. My days as a tradesman served me in good stead as I built my own state of the art F1 racing car.

I soon realised that I couldn’t paint, but I remember that particular day well. My older sister’s bedroom was directly above my alfresco studio and her favourite song at the time was Running Bear. Not sure why, as it was seven years old by then? She put the song on  her Dansette and left the arm up (as in the picture) this allowed it to play over and over. She then fell asleep.

Dansette

During the following hour or so I learnt every word to that song  🙂                                                                                                            Not long after that Jim Clark my favourite driver was killed in Germany and this dampened my racing ambition permanently. I remember one particular day completing an application for the British Army. They wrote back to me explaining that they would be only too pleased to accept me but I would have to reapply in another six years. I began training in earnest.

 

Soldier

By the time I left school at fifteen I was fresh out of ideas so they stuck me into an Engineering factory. That didn’t last long, by the time I was eighteen I had left home and was travelling, but that’s a whole different story. I wonder how many people are still doing the job they set out to do as a teenager? 🙂

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Mandalay

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Originally posted on Sandra & Stuart Wander the World:
We left our hotel to catch the bus to Mandalay in a full on rain storm. We were picked up in a little pick up, crammed in the back with our…

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Remembering 9-11 9-11-17

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Remembering 9/11

Dear Friends ~ In the wake of so much prejudice, violence and hatred, we must once again search our hearts for seeds of love and compassion. Why is it so hard to cultivate human kindness and respect? How is it that we can invent incredibly complex technology, push the limits of physical endeavor, and hone our intellects and yet be unable to transform the human heart? When will moral development and ethical evolution even catch up to, let alone surpass, our capacity for animosity and contempt and havoc? Who will be the teachers

Great compassion is the root of all forms of worship.

~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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