Friday, 30 January 2009


Sorry I haven't been around for a while - if you read my first post of the month, you'll realise I've had a few things to work out. That, and feeling as if I'm back in 1979 all over again.

Economic woes, the country going to hell in a hand basket, strikes against perceived inequalities that threaten "jobs for Brits" - I swear if it wasn't for the receding and greying hairline, I'd feel as if it was 1979 all over again.

Mind you, it is also obvious some things are different. Take the closure of car plants and the loss of jobs - in the seventies we would have "Red Robbo", Ken Robinson barracking the assembled work force outside the Linwood car plant. Now we get people resigned to losing part of their income.

Ironically, some people are recruiting - Asda, Subway and other food providers. IT goes to show that when there is a recession - and yes this is one finally, as everyone has believed for the last year - people want to eat.

Why are we so resigned when this sor tof horror is happening? I lived in Newcastle in 1983 during the Miner's Strike - I remember the hardship then, but that seems to have been the one that broke the back of the unions.

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here, but this might be it - people are hurting, so let's do what we can to help them. Apologies are only words - let's be practical as we can be.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Free at last

It was sad to hear yesterday of the passing of Patrick McGoohan at the age of eighty. For almost everyone of my geenration, he will be remembered as Number 6, The Prisoner, although who and what was holding him as a prosioner was half the fun of the series. Before I begin, here's the opening credits.

McGoohan was known as a pef4ectionist, who only took parts he felt he could do something with. Take, for example, the earliest film I remember seeing him in - Hell Drivers. Here's a clip - and look out for for some guy called Connery in there too....

elevision, the precursor to The Prisoner was Danger Man/Secret Agent Man, depending on where in the world you are, and although he emphatically denied John Drake was Number 6 the question was always out there.

It was about this time he did a film for Disney that has been a cult favourite - Doctor Syn: The Scarecrow. About to eb released on DVD, here's a clip.

Even after The Prisoner, he picked his television roles with care - winning two Emmys for two of his four duels with Columbo, for example. In this clip, we see some of those series, includign a quirky series called Rafferty - a precursor of House.

Finally in this inadequate tribute, we have his last major film role - Edward Longshanks in Braveheart.

McGoohan was fiercly proud of his work, and protective in particular of The Prisoner, only allowing one sequel (a graphic novel issued by DC comics) and recently an update by ABC Television with Sir Ian McKellen as Number Two. Sadly, we'll never see his views on this series.

Requiscat in Pace, Patrick - Be Seeing You.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Mum and Dad

This is a strange letter to write, because I know the chances of either of you seeing it are virtually nil. Actually, in your case Dad I know you won't see it - after all, you've been dead for over 5 years now. As for you, Mum - well, you may have a computer, but we haven't spoken since Dad died, so I really don't know if you'll see this. Nevertheless, there are things that need to be said, and this is the only place I have available to me to say them so that I know they have been said.

I know you both tried, in your own ways, to bring me up to be my own man, and that you did the best you could given the circumstances. Actually, let's not kid ourselves about the circumstances - with seven of us and associated partners in the house at various times, it was chaos given physical form. That's not what I want to talk about, however - I need to talk about the wound I've been carrying around with me all these years.

Yeah, that one. The one that started way, way back in about 1973, when Mum tried to find comfort outside the family home, and it all exploded when she returned from the holiday with the twins and the other man. I was ten years old, and I had to listen as the heart was ripped out of our family, never really to be fully replaced and healed.

I don't think either of you really ever understood what that did to me. After all, Dad, you were trying to provide for five of us with the work you were doing, as well as coping with the problems Brian was having, never mind Leslie and Barbara. So I tried to tough it out, I tried to be a man about it, but ever since then that wound has been festering away inside me, causing me so much grief and hurt that at times it's almost made me cry.

Even when Mum came back with Kerry in her arms, and the two of you tried to pretend we were a family again, the wound was still hurting. Dad, you were so occupied in feeding and clothing all of us that you never noticed how much I was crying out, and Mum - well, you had changed. Do either of you know about the temper attacks or the panic attacks I had at school, when I was being bullied or in later years when people tried to bully me, and wonder why I stayed so quiet about them? I'll tell you - I didn't know how to tell you because, and it pains me to admit this, I didn't know how either of you really felt about me.

Did it ever occur to you, Mum, that when I gave you money from the jobs I had in the evenings it was because I was trying to make things better, not because you wanted me to? Did you realise, Dad, that all the time I spent out of the house wasn't just because I enjoyed being in the Boys' Brigade, but because I wanted just to be out of the house?

Without realising it, you both hurt me, and I've carried that wound all this time. Even when I left home, found God and finally made good, real friends in Newcastle, the wound still made me painfully, hurtfully shy and retiring. That's one of the main reasons I've only had two girlfriends in my life - I was so afraid of being hurt I refused to let others close until I was able to do so.

Even when I met Doreen, and we married and the boys came along, the wound has flared up from time to time, and it's caused arguments and hurt and pain for both of us. In fact, this last year it's caused more pain than either of you could possibly imagine. In having to cope with Doreen's condition, I've let the wound take control again, and this time it's hurt so much it's almost hurt me and others irrevocably. I've been inconsiderate, rude, bad tempered and lashing out - all the things I swore I would never do, and it's the hurt from the wound that is causing it.

I can't let that happen again, but I've been reading a few books and I've come to a realisation that I think God's been leading me to for some time. It has to be God, as the wound has meant I've failed to make good, close friends these last few years - which hasn't helped matters either, as apart from Doreen I've had very few people to confide in, and I've had to carry my hurt myself.

You see, Mum and Dad, here's what I've realised - and you;d think after 18 years in the line of work I do I would know this. The only way a wound can fully heal, can truly be dealt with so that I can recover and move on, is to open it up and clean it out, then let the healing process bring new growth. To clean this wound out, there is something I have to say, and as neither of you are exactly in a position to hear me I have to say it here.

You both hurt me, and although I know you tried to heal that hurt it never has been, for none of us were fully prepared to acknowledge it. So, I acknowledge it, and I forgive you for it. The time has come to finally move on.

Now, here in this place, I ask the Saviour who has saved me before to come into that wound with me and help me to fully heal it. Help me, Lord, to find the man that you want me to be and not the person I think you want me to be. Carry me through the pain I know is to come, and show me the light at the end of this long dark tunnel.