AN ODE TO LIFE

An Ode To Life

There came a day when the worst thing that’s ever happened to me
Happened.
Talk about a wake up call
I began to be able to use the advice I’d been offering to others,
For myself.

I tried to utilise perspective and put things into context
I was able to realise that I had to move on from the past
It’s gone.
I can’t change it
I had to decide between making the best of what I’d been dealt,
Or oblivion.
I realised that some would be hurt and they would think even less of me.

I struggled to turn negatives into positives
I have to make the best of each moment,
Every day
And fight for everything.

You have to stay strong,
Stay angry,
Stay happy,
Keep smiling,
Keep crying,
Keep screaming and keep laughing!
Never lose your emotions,
Use them for your own benefit
You have them for a reason: To cope!
You can
Just try to find you
Be you and be the best that you can be!
Decide that you want to be happy and, then,
Just be happy!
It’s not a pretence.
It’s real!

Honour everyone’s memory,
But make a great life for yourself,
So that others will honour yours!
That’s the secret
For me x

Davy Craig – June 2015

TOP TWENTY ALBUMS YOU’VE HEARD THAT “CHANGED YOUR LIFE”!

I was asked to: Name the 20 albums that have had the biggest effect on you in no particular order…
1  U2   –   Under A Blood Red Sky
2  The Pixies   –   Surfer Rosa
3  Echo & The Bunnymen   –   Heaven Up Here
4  The Smiths   –   The Smiths
5  The Beatles   –   Revolver
6  The Velvet Underground   –   The Velvet Underground & Nico
7  The Doors   –   The Doors
8  The Cure  –  Staring At The Sea
9  ABBA  –   Gold
10  Kathryn Williams   –  Crown Electric
11  Jack White   –  Blunderbuss
12  The Band   –   The Band
13  Blur   –   Modern Life Is Rubbish
14  Radiohead   –  The Bends
15  Cocteau Twins   –  Treasure
16  Morrissey  –  You Are The Quarry
17  The Smashing Pumpkins  –  Siamese Dream
18  The Wedding Present  –  George Best
19  Adam & The Ants  –   Kings Of The Wild Frontier
20  The Stone Roses  –  The Stone Roses

but I then thought, “WHY?”

Here’s why:

1  When I saw U2, on The Tube, live at Red Rocks, I was totally spellbound. My mate had recorded it and we didn’t have a video recorder until July 1985, so I used to go round to his house to watch it. When the mini album “Live – Under A Blood Red Sky” came out I went straight out to by it. I had already bought a cheap bass guitar after hearing New Year’s Day on the telly and radio, but I’d soon sold that and used the money to get a cheap white Telecaster copy and very dodgy amp for £25 from a lass in Hebburn. “The Electric Co.” was the song that got me to play guitar and I strove for ages to learn it. This album influenced me think about a heck of a lot of things: war, religion, politics, love and life. Things I still wonder and worry about now. Love it!

2  After my first year at university I headed to Scotland by myself for a week’s holiday in the summer of ’89. I only lasted one night, that’s a whole different story, but I called into Stirling before heading anywhere else, having remembered the place from a number of visits when I was young and, while there, I bought a tape of Surfer Rosa, by The Pixies. I was totally blown away by everything. The vocals, the lyrics, the raw production, the massive guitars and the way the songs could be quiet and soulful one second then suddenly explode the next. I got massively into The Pixies and mentioning the band’s name, a year later, got me an audition and a place in my first band, Drill.

3  I borrowed Heaven Up Here, by Echo and the Bunnymen and it took me a whole week to listen to it. I had to borrow a load of albums off my mate, Kevin, because with my dad being on strike, I couldn’t afford to buy them. I’d give them to my auntie to record them onto tape for me, until I had my own Saturday job and the money to buy them myself, or would get them with vouchers, or cash, I’d received for Christmas, or as birthday presents. With this album, I listened to the first song, “Show Of Strength” and kept lifting the stylus off the record and put it back to the start, to listen again. On the second night I managed to play the first three songs and so on. I was mesmerized by it. It was beautifully gloomy, dark and uplifting, all at the same time. I think this album opened the doors for me to look at more diverse music and it inspired me to keep going with the guitar, at a time when I was struggling to play, as a total novice, with no teacher. It also got me looking at myself, my own existence, who I was and why I was here. That would hugely shape my whole life and still does.
4  I can write almost exactly the same about The Smiths’ eponymous album as I did about Heaven Up Here. Same thing happened with “Reel Around The Fountain” and the stylus. I was transfixed by the first drum beats on that song, the reverb added to give a claustrophobic feel to them and Morrissey’s voice exacerbated that feeling of escape into another world. The bass lines were beautiful and crisply dull, but the highlight of the whole album for me, despite gaping at the lyrics, as well, was Johnny Marr’s amazing guitar. He was unbelievably good and it sounded heavenly, thereby adding a real juxtaposition to Morrissey’s emotionally profound voice and words, whilst the chiming sound of the guitars lifted them above the closed in feel of the drums, making them almost angelic. I had found a new world I could escape into and my life would never be the same again. I was 14 when I heard this, along with U2 and Echo and the Bunnymen and they became the initial soundtrack to my transformation into becoming a thoughtful youth.

5  I was brought up listening to The Beatles, The Moody Blues, The Who and stuff like that, but Revolver has been the one album that has stuck in my head more than any of the others. I wanted to play guitar when I was little, because of this album. I didn’t try to learn until I was 14, because I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. The artwork even inspired me to draw! The Beatles seemed as godlike figures to me and they provided the whole basis for my love of music.

6  Listening to Echo and the Bunnymen set me on a path to listen to other music and I often delved back in time, after reading interviews with Ian McCulloch talking about his own musical influences. I asked my dad about The Velvet Underground, because I didn’t know anything about them, but he just said they were “a mad band from America in the late 60s”. They were far more than that, as I was soon to discover. Again, my mate was a step ahead and we listened together to his album The Velvet Underground and Nico. “Heroin” was the first song he played to me and I was fascinated by what I heard. He lent me the album and it truly captivated me. The production was slapdash and it seemed like it had been recorded with out of tune instruments and singers, who couldn’t sing, making strange noises with guitars, a single drum and electric violins. It inspired me to look at music and life in a different way, to try and think outside of the box and to be individual as much as possible. It was, as if, a part of my inner self had been discovered and released after hearing this album.

7  Again, inspired by Ian McCulloch and the movie, Apocalypse Now, I ventured into the world of The Doors. Once opened up and entered into, you never leave. Enough said.

8  I went on my first family holiday abroad in July/August 1986, aged 17, with two other families in a minibus and camping near Biarritz, south west France. It was also my last family holiday anywhere. As we were driving south all we could see on every poster were pictures of Robert Smith from The Cure. The radio stations seemed to be playing The Cure songs almost constantly! The adverts were for a gig in Dax, which was around 40 miles away from our camp site. Myself and the two other, older lads from the other families, decided we’d like to go and it would happen near the end of our holiday. We’d just need a lift. This was refused. I was very tempted to just hitch a lift and go, but on hearing, from my brother, that I was thinking about doing this, my own money was taken off me and I was given a small allowance to spend each day out of that money. I still should have gone, but didn’t. Regret! I wasn’t even a big fan and, up to that point, hadn’t really heard anything by The Cure, but suddenly it all fitted and hit me between the eyes. I was late into them, but they would soon become, and still are, my favourite band.

9  I liked a lot of music in the 70s, such as Bowie, Sweet and Showaddywaddy, when I was quite young and ELO were a favourite until I was 11. I was too young to really get into punk, but loved many of the songs, New Wave had more of an effect on me, as well, but one band’s songs stuck in my head and, I think, taught me about the beauty of melody, harmony, musicianship and the joy of music, whilst singing about some of the most painful of things. I was given an album for Christmas by someone, I can’t even remember who, or who by, but I didn’t like the band and asked if I could change it. It had been bought in SavaCentre, Washington and I, therefore, had to be taken there to perform an exchange. They didn’t have an extensive music collection amongst the clothes, lighting equipment, fridges, tellys and food, so, I settled on ABBA Greatest Hits, Volume II and loved it. It was missing my favourite song by them, SOS, but it still had some great pop songs on it. These were songs that you heard on Top of the Pops and were singing the next day in the school yard or whilst playing football with the lads on the field. I upgraded a few years later to ABBA Gold and I seem to come back and forth to this music when I’m not feeling very good. A lot of the songs are about breaking up and it’s quite apt and sad right now, but the music and vocals are so uplifting at the same time.

10  I saw Kathryn Williams at The Stand, with Phil Jupitus and Ross Noble. I knew of her, singing the theme tune to The Cafe, Beyond The Sea, which I thought was lovely, but, to my shame, didn’t know much else. She came across as funny, but very interesting and intelligent as she sat discussing dinner guests such as Ivor Cutler, Columbo and Patti Smith, over a meal. I went home afterwards, found her on Facebook and started listening to her music on Youtube. I asked Kathryn herself where I should start and she told me to get the new stuff and work back. That’s what I’ve done and bought Crown Electric and The Quickening as birthday presents to myself with the few quid I got for it. It was just so relaxing to hear something so fresh and simple sounding, yet knowing it was complex and heart wrenching at the same time. I smile when I listen to the songs, hear Kathryn singing so sweetly in her own accent with no pretensions and baring her soul to the world, whilst playing simple, but perfect acoustic guitar, that she claims to know nothing about. I’ve also been reduced to tears by Sequins. It seems to all come effortlessly to her, but you can tell from underneath it all, that it’s a battle. She has inspired me to play guitar again, for the sheer enjoyment of playing and I sit with my acoustic perched next to me, ready to be picked up and messed about with.

The rest of the albums are important: Jack White got me into listening to music again when I heard this album, I discovered The Band very late and it was almost like my dad bequeathed them to me when he died. The guitar on Modern Life Is Rubbish was a big influence on me, as was Radiohead, which probably also led to a near suicide attempt, along with Smashing Pumpkins and The Stone Roses. Morrissey helped me get out of a bad place when I was ill and I found an escape with The Cocteau Twins, whilst also discovering new ways of approaching the guitar with Robin Guthrie’s work on there. The Wedding Present inspired me to play original music and try to start a band of my own and Adam & The Ants, apart from being fun, also inspired me to play music, albeit the drums!

Funny how music can have such an effect on your life!

Responses to “30 Problems Only British People Will Understand”

RESPONSES TO “30 PROBLEMS ONLY BRITISH PEOPLE WILL UNDERSTAND”

1. Not quite catching someone’s name, meaning you can never speak to them again.

Even if I do catch your name it seems I have an inbuilt filter that immediately puts it into my brain’s junk file. I, therefore, don’t refer to anyone by name in person, in case I can’t access my junk file and call everyone “mate”, or leave out any personal reference altogether. If I’m with someone else, when bumping into a friend, I turn away from my companion, pretending to not be with them and, thereby, avoid any awkward introduction moments. If, however, my junk file suddenly becomes accessible and I remember the person’s name, I’ll enthusiastically start over, using their name and begin introductions, making it look as if the person I’ve been walking with has lagged behind, at which point I normally forget my, eyebrow risen, sidekick’s name and, in some cases, my own!

Realising you’ve entered the wrong shop and having to pretend to look around for a bit.

I find myself looking in Ann Summers’ shops a lot of late, trying to judge the acceptable amount of time that I should stay, before I sheepishly smile and head for the exit, looking as if I’ve remembered to be somewhere else.

Being incapable of placing your items on the counter in a shop without saying “Just these, please.”

I feel compelled to say “no, I don’t want ear buds at discount price today, thank you!” a lot these days! Can’t help it!

4. Going in a pub to use the loo and pretending to look for a friend all the way to the toilet.

I often end up actually meeting a friend, talking for a while and then forgetting what I went in to the pub for in the first place!

Worrying you’ll be suspected a thief if exiting a shop without making a purchase.

Not if I’m thieving!

Saying you’re pleased with your haircut despite the deep inner sadness it’s causing you.

I often cut my own now and feel even sadder!

Deeming it necessary to do a little jog over zebra crossings, while throwing in an apologetic mini wave.

I move as slowly as possible and frown as if the driver, who happily stopped in time, almost ran me over.

The shock of testing Earl Grey when you expected otherwise.

Earl Grey never seems surprised!

Attempting to deal with a queue-jumper by staring fiercely at the back of their head.

..and talking about them to the stranger behind you as if they can’t hear, but knowing they can and you want them to hear, to annoy them, but they really aren’t bothered. Due to this I find that the best course of action is to tap on the person’s shoulder, saying “Excuse me! There’s a queue!” If no response is forthcoming I then walk in front of the jumper and encourage everyone behind me to do the same. It normally works!

Resigning yourself to an unusual and arduous train route, rather than risk sharing your commute with a colleague.

I find that avoiding work altogether solves this problem.

Writing a terribly modest CV, for fear of appearing boastful.

I reduce the size of the font to get as much in as possible!

12. Being unable to eat crisps at your desk without worrying your mouth sounds like a building site.

See no.10

13. Never wanting to use an exclamation mark yet worrying you’ll come across as miserable without one.

I often use far too many!!!!!!!!!!

14. Hoping your friend finishes their story so you don’t have to miss your bus stop.

I find that smiling or looking exasperated, depending on the tone of the storyteller, whilst not actually taking in a word they’re saying stops this problem, because you can concentrate fully on your stop. Traveling by car is an even safer option to avoid this.

Panicking in a sandwich shop and allowing a distressingly odd combination of fillings to happen.

Packed lunch is the only way forward, unless you favour Greggs.

16. Allowing your bladder to explode rather than wake a fellow plane passenger.

Securing an aisle seat is a must or making sure you have an, almost finished, two litre, screw top plastic bottle of fruit juice with you, preferably pineapple. Boats and automobiles are other alternative forms of transport.

Nodding silently when your barber says “Is that alright?” even when it isn’t.

This is no. 6 reworded for men!

Not being able to say “great” without sounding sarcastic.

Great Britain doesn’t sound sarcastic at all, but it’s existence is the epitome of sarcasm.

19. Not wanting to use an emoticon yet worrying you’ll come across as sarcastic without one.

What’s an emoticon?

Receiving an email ending in “regards” and wondering what you’ve done to cause so much anger.

Deleting all emails before reading them solves this problem, then, when quizzed about it in person, simply reply that it must have got lost.

21. Asking to sample an ale, disliking it and ordering a whole pint so as not to further waste the barman’s time.

Drink only Guinness and then you know what you’re going to get! Pissed!

22. Seeing someone you know walking just ahead of you, so stopping dead in the street until they’re completely out of sight.

My alternative action accounts, in part, for no. 2!

Losing faith in your delivery halfway through a joke, so just explaining what the punchline was going to be and why.

Be miserable and never tell jokes.

24. Nearly washing the skin off your hands so as not to pressure using the dryer.
Doesn’t make sense!

25. Pretending to look at things you don’t even want in the supermarket when someone else is browsing the food you do.

Comparing fruit and vegetable size is far more fun than looking elsewhere! Even better when done silently and slowly rubbing your hands over a cucumber. This doesn’t work if it’s plastic wrapped and you’ll more than likely be asked to leave the store!

Being unable to turn and walk in the opposite direction without first taking out your phone and frowning at it.

See no. 2, again!!

27. Noticing a small patch of blue sky and immediately purchasing 24 cases of Pimm’s.

This is never going to happen. Ann Summers don’t sell Pimms.

Running out of ways to say thanks when a succession of doors are held for you, having already deployed ‘cheers’, ‘ta’, and ‘nice one.’

“Thanks” is a worthwhile alternative.

29. Shutting yourself in the wardrobe until the window cleaner has finished and left.

Not moving and trying not to breathe is a much better option, or turning the telly up and employing the use of mime without looking in the window cleaner’s direction is a fun alternative.

30. Assuring your hairdresser the water temperature is fine, despite a strong suspicion your scalp is beginning to melt.

I refer you back to no 6. Spluttering and pretending to drown is another alternative.

Is It Raining?

Is it raining?
Rain is a wonderful and beautiful thing to me
I love how everything shines
In the gloom under the car and street
Lights and the leaves on the trees
Have a fresh, new sheen.

I love the individual drops
That cling to a flower
Reflecting the world around
The feel of a drop on your nose or
Trickling down your back
Reminds you of being alive.

Go and get your wellies and a coat on
Maybe take a hat and a brolly

Or just get totally soaked and lap up life!

Everything!

Everything!

I love everything about you, I really love your dark brown eyes
I love the way you cross your legs then put my hand upon your thighs
I love the touch of skin on skin and seeing you full monty
I love your lips, your nose and nips, your inny and your outy!

I love everything about you, I even love your laddered tights
I also love the way you noticed my broken car headlights
I love the way your hair gets tangled and caught inside my mouth
It somehow reminds me of the times I’ve travelled way down south!

I love everything about you, I even love your dark moustache
I love your photos on the loo, as you sit and have a slash
I love the way you kiss me and I think you’re really canny
I even love your squashy bits and, of course, your foisty fanny!

I love everything about you, I even love your whiff of scampi
It makes me sit and wonder if you really hail from Grimsby.
I know that you’re a northern lass and that you come from Blyth
But when you get your hands on me, in pain I know I’ll writhe!

First Match Memories

On Saturday, 26th April 1975 my dad spoke the words I’ll never forget and which sealed my fate forever: “Come on and get ready, I’m taking you to the match!”

I’d celebrated my 6th birthday three weeks earlier but this was better than any present I could’ve received then.  My uncle arrived soon after I’d dressed in my replica black and white shirt with my neck proudly adorned by my black and white scarf. I was reluctantly forced to spoil the look by putting a duffle coat on top “because that wind might get cold” but nothing could dampen my sprits now!

We headed off in the old, white, well past its best, Hillman Hunter and drove towards Newcastle.  Some fellas were discussing the match on the radio and my dad and uncle seemed to be joining in the conversation as if they were all in one place together.  I sat in the back with butterflies in my stomach at the thought of finally seeing my beloved Newcastle United at St. James’ Park.
We parked in a car park with a sign saying ‘Van der Veldt’ and another saying ‘To Let.’  I couldn’t see any toilets and wondered why it had been mis-spelt but as I grabbed my dad’s hand and the three of us walked on I stopped wondering about that.  Other people were walking in the same direction in twos and threes.  The excitement began to grow.  I then noticed rows and rows of huge motorbikes standing next to each other as if in a queue.  We walked on across the road and I didn’t have a clue where I was.  I could smell a strange smell though.  It smelt a bit like my granda on a Sunday afternoon after he’d been to the club.

“That’s the smell of the hops in the brewery to make beer” I was informed.  I didn’t know if I really liked that smell but when I’ve noticed it ever since I’m suddenly transported back to that moment.

We came to a garage at the end of the road and there was a man selling badges and another selling programmes.  I had a few of these already as my dad would bring me one back from the match and tell me how the game went as I looked at the pictures, read the names on the back and tried to read the words inside.  My dad gave the man 10p and he handed me the programme.  It had a picture of a scarf, just like mine, on it and the words ‘versus Birmingham’ in blue down one side.

“Keep tight hold of it!”

We started off a bit faster now and all of a sudden as we came to cross the road I looked up and there it was, St. James’ Park!  I could see the floodlights, the main stand on the left and loads of men going up a maze of winding steps up to the top of a steep bank with big bushes dotted all over.  We ran across the roads and my feet were almost not touching the ground as my uncle grabbed my programme grasping hand.  We stood in one of the queues and I looked at the other men and kids getting ready to go in.  My dad went in first, pushed through the turnstile and then I was led through by uncle as my dad had paid for me as well.

We walked quickly up the concrete steps and I noticed men coming out of part of the maze all pulling up their zips!  I had no idea what was going on but my head was turned back to face forwards as we reached the top and came to a big wall.  My dad and I went in a gap as my uncle said he’d see us further along.

I found myself amongst a sea of legs as my dad, who now had me in front of him with both hands on my shoulders, walked me along the other side of the wall.  I was then lifted up on the wall and I could see my uncle’s head peeking over the other side.  He’d put a blanket on the top of the wall so that my bum wouldn’t get cold!  All of this happened so quick but I could suddenly see the pitch and the players were coming out of a tunnel that went into the main stand.  I was here, this was really happening.  I was engrossed by the men stood around in front of me so close together, the smell of beer and the strange words they were saying.

As I looked across to the Leazes End it looked as if the fans in there were moving together like black and white waves with a big surge as the ball came closer to the goal.  I also found out why everyone had been zipping their trousers up earlier as I was taken for a wee at half time.  I thought of Lindisfarne because I was being encouraged to have a ‘wet on the wall’.  I just took everything in around me the whole afternoon but the smells down there weren’t very pleasant!

I don’t remember a great deal about the match other than some baldy player called Howard Kendall scoring for Birmingham past Willie McFaul and someone else scored for Birmingham City to win the match.  But I didn’t mind because I’d earlier watched Stewart Barrowclough running down the right wing towards the corner flag at the Leazes End, crossing the ball into the penalty area and my hero, Supermac, rose above everyone to head the ball into the goal.  The whole place just went mad.  Malcolm Macdonald, the most important man in the world to me, had just scored again for Newcastle United, but this time I was there to see it!

I was well and truly hooked!

My first game at St. James’ Park was the last match of the 74/75 season but the above memories, emotions, sights and smells come flooding back.

Many fans will be taking their kids to their first match next season.  Hopefully they’ll have a great time but can any of you remember your first match and what are your abiding memories?

Here’s to next season.  Howay the lads!

The Tunnel

When I was 17 I went out with a girl, Justine, who lived in Hedworth, really an extended part of Jarrow, which was about 2 miles, as the crow flies, from my house.  Justine was actually called Dawn, but liked to call herself Justine, for some reason. I never got to find out why, despite asking on a few occasions, but there you go, that was her prerogative! She had shoulder length dark hair, a cheeky smile and big brown eyes that contained an elusive and naughty glint in the sides. Anyway, she used to come over to my house now and then, but was only allowed to do so when my mother was in. She almost always brought her friend in any case, so we very rarely got any time alone. I was allowed to sit in her house, but wasn’t allowed to go anywhere apart from the front room and spent every night chatting with her dad, a rugby prop forward and twice the size of me, who seemed to quiz me on literature and music, but always failed to catch me out. I needed to still try and get out with my mates as well, as much as I could as nights like this were ok, but would have driven me madder if I didn’t escape from them all now and then!

One night after a few quiet drinks in Jarrow with my mates, we were quiet, but the drinks were even quieter, I decided to get the bus to Justine’s despite not arranging to see her or her dad. I hopped off the bus with a plan in my head. As I came towards her house I could see that the lights were all off. I kind of knew that would be the case, so I was able to set my plan into motion. There was no fence or gate around the garden, just bushes and hedges and a concrete path leading to the front door. Directly over the front door was her bedroom. I only knew that because she she’d told me. I’d never actually been allowed in! I stood beside one of the big, round and well trimmed bushes. I’m no horticulturalist, but this was one of the round ones, well trimmed and taller than me. That was the point, because I wanted to stay hidden. I popped my head out and started off with a call to get her attention.

“Pssst. Psssssst! PSSSSSSSSSST!”

Nothing. Not a movement, not a sausage. Why anyone would want a sausage in these situations is beyond me. Come to think of it, I was always quite hungry after a couple of pints, so a sausage would have been quite welcome. I had more pressing matters to attend to other than my stomach, though. The loud whispers weren’t working, so I moved onto Plan B. I picked up a few small pieces of dried up soil from the garden border and carefully threw them, underarm, at Justine’s bedroom window. That would do the trick I thought as I ran back behind the bush. I peaked my head out to watch her sleepily open the window, before beckoning me to climb up to her boudoir in full Shakespearean style. I didn’t have doublet and hose on, though, just jeans and a t-shirt, but I didn’t think she’d mind. I peaked, moved my head out further to look, grinning as I watched for the slightest movement. Nothing!

I tried Plan B again, but with bigger pieces of soil. Nothing! Nada! I needed something that would make more noise. I scrambled around the edges of the pathway and pavement for some small stones. I collected a dozen, or so and stood in position and repeated Plan B, but with just one stone. Still nothing! Once again, nothing! Nowt! I wasn’t really thinking other than to keep going, getting louder and louder, to eventually wake her up. I did, however, decide to change my style of throw and utilised the rest of the stones I had in my hand. I threw them quite hard, but not hard enough to put the window through. That would be a disaster! As I was running back to my vantage point, behind the bush, I saw that curtains had been opened to see what was going on. However, they weren’t the curtains I was hoping to open, but those of a neighbour, who stood, bare chested, looking out at me from the house opposite. I then noticed that his next door neighbour, a blonde haired lady, dressed in what looked like a very small, silk night dress had put her bedroom light on and was in the process of opening her window. I was in the process of waking the whole flaming street! Next door, on the other side of the bare chested neighbour, was a couple leaning out of their bedroom window. They must have been watching for a while. I then heard the sound of another window opening, but the click of the latch and slight squeak of the frame opening was coming from behind me. I had managed to get behind the bush, so turned around and put the final part of my plan into action. I jumped out into the middle of the garden and started to sing the opening line of “Oh So Le Mio,’ very badly! I only really knew the opening line and the rest was going to be a mixture of made up Italian sounding words and excerpts from the Cornetto adverts. I didn’t get a chance to sing any more than the opening line though.   I looked up and her dad was glaring down at me, his bald head reflecting the streetlamp, his ample, prop forward, bulk hanging over the window frame tied in by his string vest.
At the window, wasn’t my girlfriend in her pyjamas, looking excited at the thought of being woken romantically, but a stout, middle aged bloke, with his bald head reflecting the light from a streetlamp, clad in an ill fitting, white string vest, looking like the English cousin of Rab C. Nesbitt and the bulk of his stomach hanging over the window frame as he glared, with half closed eyes, at me. Her dad!

“Davy! Can you just go home. I’m on early shift and am in here to try and get some sleep and Justine’s in with her mam!” came the exasperated cry of a very tired looking man, who couldn’t be bothered with the antics of his daughter’s boyfriend.

“Shit!” I said to myself.

“Sorry! I’m really sorry! I didn’t know!” were my pathetic pleas.

“Just go!” The calmness of this rugby player’s voice made it that bit more intimidating, but he, simply, closed the window and I saw the curtains close again.

As I came from behind the bush and walked away, the couple were hanging out of their window, laughing and applauding me. The blonde lady in the skimpy night dress, who had opened her window by this point, leant out to reveal almost all of a very ample bosom, looked caringly at me and in a velvet voice said,

“Don’t worry, pet! You can come up here with me, instead, if you like!”

My eyes nearly popped out of my head as they became transfixed on her bozooms and part of me was willing the rest of my body to agree to her invitation.

“Er, thanks very much, but I’ll erm, have to err, get home and that.” The rest of me was quite clearly very scared, of what may have happened!

I made my way towards Felgate Estate, the amorous youth in me, being very disappointed on a number of counts, walked over the dene bridge and on around the bend to go through the old railway tunnel.  As I turned towards the tunnel there was a flash in my peripheral view and I suddenly saw someone hanging in the tunnel!  I turned quickly, but as I looked straight on I couldn’t see anyone or anything there at all!  I had a horrible, freezing cold shiver go up my spine, then right through my whole body and all of a sudden I had become rooted to the spot, absolutely terrified.  I kept looking, but there was nothing there. Just a light shining through from the other side. I knew what I’d seen though. As I came around the bend and closer to the tunnel, I saw a lamp post on the other side. Could it have been that? No, because I was now at a different angle to when I had the initial flash and vision. It certainly wasn’t just a lamp post that I’d seen. I decided not to go through the tunnel, I was too scared, but crossed the road to walk the long way and added another half a mile, or so, onto my journey.  As I walked away I saw another flash to the side of me and could again, out of the corner of my eye, see a body hanging in the tunnel. My pace quickened and my heart raced and I simply knew that I just had to get away from there.

I walked that way again quite a few times, whilst still going out with Justine, but we only lasted a few months and I got fed up with her, the limpet friend and her dad, who always tried to get one over on me.  To be honest, it was a relief and I was pleased to spend more time with my mates and branch out, away from babysitting and the like.

So! Two years later I was at university and came home for the first week’s break.  I brought some washing home, as you do, and was just about to sit down with a cup of tea when my mother suddenly turned to me and said

“Oh, I meant to tell you. There’s a lad you went to school with died last week, you wouldn’t have heard anything!  I’ve still got the paper in the cupboard, so I’ll go and have a look for it and show you!”

We kept all of the newspapers in the cupboard under the stairs, as we had a coal fire with my dad working down the pit and they were, obviously, used to light a new fire if some poor soul, usually me, had let the fire go out, meaning there’d be no hot water the following day, to the dismay and chagrin of my dad!

As she made her way to the door of the front room I, suddenly, completely out of the blue, had the same flash in my mind that I’d had two years previously.  This time, though, I could see a face!

I suddenly went into an almost trance like state and as my mam was walking away from me and shouted at her,

“It was Macca C….. and he hung himself in the railway tunnel at Felgate!”

My mam stopped in her tracks and turned back to gaze at me. It seemed as if all of the blood had drained from her face. My mother was anaemic, anyway and always looked a bit pale, but all of a sudden she was like unpolished, marble stone.  She opened the cupboard door in silence, rummaged around for the specific newspaper and walked back into the room with it, scouring through the pages as she slowly stepped towards me.

When my mam had reached the relevant page, she passed the newspaper to me and there, right in front of me, was the same name of the lad I’d just mentioned. The piece also confirmed that he’d met his end as I’d seen two years earlier.  I, suddenly, had the same icy, cold shiver go right through my body, the same way as on that strange and, extremely, eery evening.

The lad was in my year at school, but I didn’t really hang around with him at all, or know him that well.  He was a bit of a tearaway and had briefly been placed in our top band class to show him how he should behave.  He didn’t last the full five years of our school and left to get a job instead.  He’d apparently had a girlfriend, who had given birth to his child, but, for some unknown reason, wouldn’t allow him to see the child anymore.  Having trouble at work at that same time, he was tipped over the edge and met his sad end. A terrible way to go for any young lad.

I felt really awful, with a sickly and cold feeling in the pit of my stomach, that I couldn’t have done anything about this.  I also felt a measure of guilt, having seen what I’d seen. I don’t know why, I just did. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened, but it was the first time where someone had died.  It, sadly, wasn’t the last time, either!