Tag Archives: childhood

The Magic Order

Once grown
We are thrown
Out of that magic place
Where the fairy’s face
Is by children seen.

The fairy queen
We may perceive
From afar,
Yet we must remember who we are
As it does grieve
Her when an adult crosses the border,
And disturbs the sacred order

Children should be allowed to be children, and not forced to grow up before their time.


I remember the cut-through,
People drew
Graffiti on the fence,
Perhaps deriving a sense
Of power from their obscene scrawls
On wooden walls.
The Sex Pistols featured there, and perhaps the name of some hapless girl
Was inscribed
In lust and pride.

How the years whirl
Now I can not spy
The narrow place
Where I would trace
Nature’s face
In nettle and bramble
As I did scramble
Through the thicket of my mind.

Now I can not find
the old track
That leads back
To whence I came.
A barred gate
Patiently does wait
And beyond it, my fate?


Oh sleepy cricket
Where the languid batsman keeps his wicket.
I well recall
The sound of bat on ball.
Wicket after wicket did fall.
Then with one master stroke
A boy the classroom window broke …!

The above is based on my recollection of a game of cricket in which I participated while attending a school for the blind in Liverpool. We used footballs containing ballbearings in order that those with little or no sight could identify where the ball was (cricket balls would have been far too dangerous)!

The Land Of Lost Content By A. E. Housman

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

Recollections Of Childhood

A boy on a bus, the clear plastic bag clutched tightly in his right hand. The fish wriggles but it’s watery cage holds fast. Close by the child’s beloved grandfather stands.

On reaching home the fish is transferred into the brightly lit aquarium, to be lost among others of it’s kind.

“What do fish think?” The child wonders as silent creatures glide through water heated to just the correct temperature. “Are you happy?” he ponders, his nose inches from the glass.


(As a child my grandfather built an aquarium. Being visually impaired I am unable to read print or determine details. I can, however see bright colours and I derived great pleasure from watching the fish in their watery home).


Shades Of The Prison House Begin To Close Around The Growing Boy

Walking in the park something smooth and round under my feet. I long to explore like the small boy I once was, to bend down and pick it up. What will people think, A strange middle-aged man bending over in a park full of autumn? The child thirsting for discovery contends with the staid adult who stands on ceremony. The child wins. I bend retrieving the smooth round conker. No not quite smooth but beautiful in it’s imperfection, soft in my hands. Should I take it home to harden in the dark like the small boy I once was?

Thoughts of my grandfather. Walking in the woods full of autumn. Us two together gathering nature’s fallen fruit. Opening acorns my blind hands feeling the kernel inside. Part of something I didn’t then understand.

The conker slips from my hands. I bend trying to retrieve the fallen prize. So many conkers, impossible to know which one it is.

I return home and play rough and tumble with my dog. His tail wags furiously no sad thoughts fill his head.

Russian Roulette Part 1

As a boy of 9 or 10 he had found the gun. It lay hidden in his father’s wardrobe, underneath a pile of old jumpers wrapped in a blue bath sheet. The boy had replaced everything as he found it and returned sheepishly to his bedroom. He shouldn’t have been in his father’s wardrobe let alone in his room. If dad found out that he had been there a beating would be the result. John shook with terror as he imagined his father removing his belt. He new only to well the swishing sound the belt made as it flew through the air. Swish followed by excruiciating pain as the buckle bit into flesh. Ever since he had returned from military service in Iraq dad had changed. The gentle giant much loved by John and his sister Anna was transformed into a brooding ogre. The slightest misdemeanour was likely to send him into an uncontrollable rage. After the beatings his father would hold his children close and mumble incoherent apologies as tears ran down his face. It proved all too much for the children’s mother. One day while John and Anna where at school and her husband was drinking with former members of his platoon Amie James took an overdose. It was John who had found her on his return from school. She lay on the sofa her blonde hair streaming over the cushion on which she rested.

“Mum” there was no answer.

“Mum” still there was no response.

His mum looked like a ghoul out of one of those horror movies which his parents had forbidden him to watch but which nevertheless the boy had seen while visiting his friend Mark who’s mum and dad  where more relaxed about such matters. Her face was the colour of chalk and a stream of spittle had run down Amie’s face.

“Mum” he said again reaching out his hand to touch her face. It was icey cold.

Feeling as though he was in a nightmare from which he would soon awake John had called for an ambulance. He recollected making the telephone call but everything following on from that was a blank until he woke up to find himself cradled in his father’s strong arms. Very gently mr James had broken the news to John and Anna of their mum’s death. Thinking back it was the last time that John could recollect his father as having shown any genuine tenderness or regret.

John couldn’t get the gun out of his head. He longed to take a closer look at the weapon, to aim and fire the gun as the cowboys did in the westerns which he so loved to watch. Desire to possess the prize contended within the boy with the fear of the consequences if his father discovered the loss of the gun. He would only borrow it for a few minutes the next time his father went out.

“I won’t even fire it. I’ll just hold it and imagine that I am a cop or a cowboy. Dad will never find out that I borrowed the gun” John reassured himself.

One evening, a week or so following the discovery of the weapon Mr James went out for the evening to drink with friends from the platoon. He new that he shouldn’t leave young children alone in the house but he felt that his head would explode if he didn’t get out for the evening.

“Kids grow up quicker these days. John is old enough to look after Anna” he told himself.

“I’m going out for the evening. I’ve got my keys so don’t answer the door to anyone or you’ll wish that you had never been born! Don’t answer the phone either. Do you understand?”

“Yes dad” they had both replied.

For at least 10 minutes following the slamming of the front door John sat in the living room his ears straining to detect the sound of returning footsteps. Mr James had become very forgetful as a consequence of the head wound which he had sustained while serving in Iraq and was likely to return for his wallet or some other item which he had forgotten. However after the elapse of 10 minutes John felt reasonably certain that his father would not return for the next few hours. He must, for once have remembered to take his money and would now be drinking in the local pub with his former comrades.

John gingerly ascended the stairs. Glancing round the door of his sister’s room he saw Anna engrossed on her laptop. She was, almost certainly chatting with friends on Facebook John thought. Well all the better for him as Anna was unlikely to disturb his examination of the gun.

Slowly John opened the door to his father’s bedroom. As he entered a movement caught his eye. John’s heart jumped into his mouth. He stood stock still for what seemed an age. He could feel the sweat running down his neck and soaking his t-shirt. The sound of breathing reached his ears.

“Hello” he whispered.

Thump, Thump came the response. John felt relief flood through him It was Jet dad’s black Labrador which had somehow got into the room and was now reclining contentedly on Mr James’s bed.

“Get down Jet” he said. Reluctantly the dog jumped off the bed and with a click of claws on the uncarpeted floor he was gone.

John opened the wardrobe door. What if the gun had gone or had been a figment of his fevered imagination? All the adrenaline would have been in vain. Tentatively he reached out his hands and lifted the jumpers. It was still there. At any rate the blue bath sheet remained where he had last seen it. With trembling hands John opened the towel. The pistol stirred back at him.

Sitting on his father’s bed John took a closer look at the weapon. The gun had a black butt and a silver barrel. The metal felt cold against his skin. John shivered. Had his dad killed Iraqi insurgents with the weapon? How many people had died?

Inexpertly John fiddled with the magazine. After a minute or so it opened. The gun was empty. John delved into the depths of the bath sheet. His hands closed around several circular pieces of metal. With a thrill of excitement he withdrew the bullets. Such tiny pieces of metal but with the capability to snuff out a life. John’s excitement increased. What if he inserted a bullet into the magazine? He wouldn’t fire the weapon (that had only been a silly day dream) but he could at least see what it was like to aim a pistol.

John wiped his sweating palms on his handkerchief. Holding the barrel away from him and with shaking hands he inserted one of the bullets. It took several attempts but, eventually the bullet clicked into place. John felt a surge of power rush through him as he pointed the gun towards the door

“Come in here and I’ll blow your brains out” he said.

Of course he would do no such thing but the thought of the power which he could release by a mere compression of his finger thrilled John beyond anything he had ever experienced before.

Looking around the room his eyes fell on a picture of his mother and father on their wedding day. His mother looked so beautiful and proud standing there her arm linked through that of her husband. It brought a lump to his throat

“Fucking dad you killed my mum. Arsehole you killed my mum” he sobbed burying his head in the pillow the gun quite forgotten left lying on the bedside cabinet. Gradually his sobbing ceased. He tried to remember happier times. He remembered sitting on his mum’s knee as she related stories of her ancestors. Amie’s great great grandparents had fled Russia at the time of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. They where liberal aristocrats with no love for the Tsarist autocracy, however to the newly installed Communist government anyone of noble birth was suspect and discretion being the better part of valour Amie’s ancestors had fled to Britain leaving all their possessions in Russia.

John and Anna had listened with rapt attention as their mother told them tales of her Russian ancestors. John recollected one story in particular.

“Darlings you should never play with guns. One of my ancestors, Count Gorky lived a wild life. He used to get horribly drunk with his friends. He loved excitement. One evening when he was very drunk and all his friends had deserted him the count feeling bored took out his revolver. He placed only one bullet in the chamber, spun the barrel and placing the gun to his head fired. Nothing happened. The chamber had room for 8 bullets and when he spun the magazine it ceased revolving on an empty chamber so, when Count Gorky pulled the Trigger he avoided death by pure good luck. Well children (she continued holding them close) Count Gorky continued to play Russian Roulette for the remainder of the evening and, eventually the inevitable happened – the Count pulled the trigger on the loaded chamber and put a bullet in his brain. So John/Anna promise mummy that you will never play with a loaded gun, they aren’t toys”.

At the time neither John or his sister had imagined that they would ever have the opportunity to do any such thing and being frightened by the story they had promised faithfully never to play with weapons.

John reached for the gun. What where the chances of the gun going off? As with Count Gorky’s pistol the weapon had 8 chambers only one of which was loaded. John felt sick with excitement.

“I’ll be OK. I’ll only spin the magazine once and pull the trigger. I’ll be lucky, wow what a thrill it will be”.

John spun the magazine and placing the gun against his head began to ease down on the trigger.

The door flew open.

“I forgot my wallet”

Mr James trailed off stirring at his son in horror. Very gently he said

“Son put down that gun right now”.

John let the weapon fall to the floor.

“Christ you where bloody lucky that didn’t go off. Thank god I didn’t load it” his father said.

John swallowed hard.

“There is one bullet in it” he muttered hiding his face in his hands.

Mr James’s face took on the colour of chalk.

“You stupid, stupid boy” he said “You should never, ever mess with guns.”

John shrank back. He knew that he was about to receive the beating of his life. Instead Mr James caught his son tightly in his arms.

“I love you son. You could have been killed. Please never ever let me catch you playing with guns again or I’ll beat the living day lights out of you”.


End of Part 1

Night Terrors

Why do you sleep with the light on? Is it the fear of the bogeyman who crouches in dark dusty corners ready to pounce? Or is it the dread of the hand which, when least expected glides out from under the bed to grab your leg and pull you down, down, down? What causes you when I get up in the night, to ask in a voice full of forboding

“Where are you going?”

Is it the ghastly ghoul which makes you hold me tight, pull me close as though you will never let me go?

You say that you have no recollection of anything bad happening in your childhood. Do I believe you? I don’t know but there is something not right when a grown woman must sleep with the light on. What painted devil do you fear my dear?



Below is a short biography of yours truly. I won’t claim that it is comprehensive, it certainly isn’t, nor will I state that it reveals any secrets (not that I have any secrets to reveal you understand)!




I was born in Liverpool on 6 January 1969, a year best known of course for my birth. Well no actually it is better known for the moon landings which certain peculiar conspiracy theorists still maintain never took place (the moon landings that is, not my birth).

One of my earliest recollections is of eating roast dinners, on Saturday in British Home Stores with my grandfather. Although cooked in the kitchen of a department store they tasted wonderful to a small boy but then again it is easy to look back at one’s childhood with rose tinted spectacles.

On Saturdays my grandfather and I would invariably pop into W H Smiths and buy a book. Often he bought Enid Blighton books and I’ve happy memories of him reading to me about the adventures of Julian, Dick and Ann not forgetting Timmy the Dog (who could)! Being blind it was a real treat to sit on my grandfather’s knee hearing him regail me with children’s adventures. It was from my grandfather a man who had never so much dreamed of going to university that I derived my love of literature.

As I grew older I learned to read braille which opened up a world of independent reading to me. Only a tiny proportion of books are available in braille, however it was still amazing to me, as a young boy to be able to sit with a book on my knee reading for myself. Besides braille I was also a huge consumer of spoken word cassettes, everything from Treasure Island to Wuthering Heights. I still possess almost all of the many cassettes which I have purchased and had bought for me over the years but many of them have now warped with age so are, sadly unusable. Today it is the text to speech facility on my Kindle and Ibooks (using voiceover) on my Ipad which is my favourite means of accessing the wonderful world of literature.

I attended school in Liverpool and later went onto read history and politics at university. I must be a glutton for punishment as having obtained my degree I went onto study for and obtain a MA in political theory (I can see your eyes glazing over already)!

Since 1994 I have lived and worked in London. I live in Crystal Palace a part of London high above sea level and famed for it’s steep hills. It is very green and the air is much fresher than many parts of London. I like were I live and I’m lucky that my home overlooks a large garden and an historic park.

Enough about me for now at least.