The best part of getting older is having more stories. A to Z. Omnibus A – H

As people get older they accumulate life experiences some are sad, some are funny. I am going to share some of mine in the upcoming pages. Put in to 26 categories in fact, starting from A going through the alphabet to Z. Some will be funny stories, some will not, but all will be true. So I guess this is going to be an A-Z of my life. I hope you enjoy it, I have! I will not be bringing peoples names in to any story except my Children.

A is for Alistair

Alistair is my 12 year old boy, (he will be 13 soon) He lives with his mum in Wales but I talk to him often. He’s a funny Boy. He was born in 2007 and was premature by about 6 weeks, He arrived on his big sisters birthday, she’s two years older but they share their birthday. When he was about one week old he was taken back to hospital because of Jaundice. He was so small and spent nearly a week under a light with a face mask on. He wouldn’t take milk because he couldn’t suck on the teat (he didn’t have the strength) we was given a bag of teats from the hospital because they were made from softer rubber. He soon grew.

When Ally Boo (that’s was his nickname, Not sure he is that happy with it now) was about 2 we asked him what he wanted for Christmas. His answer was Cheese. His sister had asked for a tooth fairy game. So not wanting to upset either we bought the game and also wrapped up some cheese for the Boy.

Ally is a very black and white type boy. Things are the way they are and that’s how it is. One day after he had started nursery I arrived to pick him up and was asked inside to speak to the teacher. It turns out that while the group of toddlers had been sat in a circle they had been asked to stand up. The little girl next to Ally had not been as quick to stand as the other children. So Ally kicked her. I was so embarrassed and worried about the girl. The Teacher told me Ally admitted it straight away. Telling them that he did it because she was not doing what the teacher had said. When I asked him, He admitted it, Saying “she should have done what she was told” Now Ally isn’t a violent child he just sees things different to other people (He has now been diagnosed with Autism)

I remember asking Ally what he wanted to be when he got older. He has always said a scientist, we sat and spoke (Ally must have been about 6) about his inventions, He had recently been talking about the environment at school and he was talking about the large windmills around where we lived. He said they needed something else. He suggested putting solar panels on each of the windmill blades to create more energy. He’s a very bright boy.

I asked Ally about his school life recently and if he played Football. He told me he was useless at football his words were “I always get hit by the ball so I don’t play, I can be walking past a football field and the ball will still hit me” So I asked him about girls and he said “They play football too”

I recently was on the phone to Ally and when it came time to end the call I said “right I’m going to let you go” Without a break he said “don’t drop me it might hurt”

He is a legend

B is for Bingo

Now I worked in the Bingo industry for 20 years and have many stories, not all the stories will appear here, (I have 24 letters to cover).

Now I worked in 2 different bingo halls, (both the same company, just different towns), now both were very different (and only 8 miles apart). So I’m going to split my stories into some side headings. I must point out a bingo hall (if you have never been to one) is very different to what people expect or think they know. Both the ones I worked in had seating for 1400 people + (and I have seen them full!) Imagine lots of seats, a stage, a full cafe, 2 bars, neon lights. It is more like a quite version of a bowling alley. Gone are the days of fold up chairs and a large tea urn.

Customers

Bingo Customers are some of the strangest people you may ever meet. We had 2 bars and normally at the bar you find a gap and wait to be served. Well not at the bingo. They queue!!! In lines!! It’s very odd.

As I have said we had over 1400 seats. I remember a chap came in to do a survey of the building, (it might have been for Fire Regulations I don’t really remember) I do know it was in the morning before we opened the doors (We opened at 11am and the first game was at 12:30pm but there would be a queue at 11). The doors opened and a little old lady came in. The place was empty but this chap had decided to find a spot to sit and finish his paperwork. This old dear walked straight up to him and told him to move as he was sat in her spot. 1400 seats what are the chances? Well 1400 to 1 I guess.

When the bingo was about to start we used to play music so people would know the games were about to start. I remember a lady running past because the music was playing and she didn’t want to miss the first number. She was in her fifties and a customer I knew and liked. She was quite a large lady and as she ran past her pants fell! She was running through Book Sales (that’s where we sold the bingo books) with her trousers around her ankles. As I said she was quite large but had the smallest thong you have ever seen. (Well I couldn’t see it! It was hidden in a place I don’t want to talk about.) A work colleague was walking the other way and got a different view to me. He was only a young lad and got the shock of his life. She then sat at a chair near to us trying to mark off the numbers while also dragging her pants up.

People love bingo. I’ve seen fights, riots, and people ignore them because they want the bingo to continue. I remember an old bloke having (possibly I’m not a doctor) a heart attack, He collapsed from his chair, the caller asked for help over the mic. Now if anything happens we ask for the caller to continue calling as its stops panic. We arrived at this bloke and called an ambulance as you do. Because the bingo numbers had once again started to be called, his wife was to busy playing bingo to pay any attention to her husband being removed on a stretcher.

Bad People

Now Bingo isn’t just about fun and games. I have had to deal with some pretty bad people to.

I got called to the fruit machine arcade. My friend had come to meet me after work so we could have a beer after work. I was picking up rubbish left around the club. And a customer who I knew very well came to me and said “Karl, they is a guy in the arcade having a wank” Now what would you do in this situation? I sent my friend to have a look and check all the ladies where ok. (Bingo is more women than men). The next day I checked all the cameras and yes he was!! He came (no pun intended) in ever Monday, so we spoke in the Monday meeting and confirmed he needed barring. Now I was Duty Manager on a Monday (I hate situations like this). One of my fellow managers agreed that if he came in before she left she would tell him he was barred. Well, as she was finishing and stood in the foyer waiting for her lift he turned up. Now this Gentleman (I use that title loosely) was, well let me say not of English origin and it wasn’t his first language. I then had the honour of explaining why he couldn’t come in to the building. The problem is he didn’t understand fully, I had to basically explain and say; “no you can’t come in because the last life you were playing with yourself in front of other people” He then left. My work colleague was pissing her sides in the background.

Once a chap and his girlfriend (I presume) walked in the front door and came to the counter to ask is we could split a £20 in to two £10 notes. As the person behind the counter handed over the two £10 notes the chap grabbed the notes and ran away. (I must add keeping the £20) me and another member of staff started to chase him (and caught him) Gripping this pleasant (I use that phrase loosely) man we brought him back to the foyer to await the police. He then told us if we didn’t let him go he would bite us and that he was HIV + we didn’t let him go (and he didn’t bite anyone thankfully).

Staff

The staff at both bingo halls I worked, have mostly been amazing, but some have not be

When I first started I was a car park attendant, there was 3 of us that covered the full week, one of my colleagues really didn’t like working Sunday night as this was his usual night on the beer with his pals. We did not finish until 11pm, so one Sunday he decided to get a head start (he didn’t like turning up to meet his pals sober) so he brought a load of wine to work and proceeded to drink during his shift. As it came to the end of the evening this car park attendant had to go inside for the locking up procedure. Now he was very pissed by this time, and I don’t know how but managed to mess up the telephone system and call a Supervisor at home. The Supervisor not being able to get any sense hung up and rang back and the General manager answered (I’m not sure this car park attendant realised how to answer the phone at this point) Lets just say he wasn’t in work the next day or any after that.

Now I have many more stories from my bingo days and they will show up in the next 24 letters I’m sure

C is for Concerts

Well I haven’t been the biggest concert visitor in my life (big groups of people scare me) my first concert was to see Megadeath at the Apollo in Manchester and I have no stories about that concert, I do have for others though.

Metallica

I went to see Metallica on the “Poor touring me” tour in 1996 at the Nynex Arena (now known as the Manchester Arena) in Manchester. The concert was amazing, they were supported by Corrosion of Conformity (which is a band I love) the stage was in the shape of a guitar and when Metallica played “One” was unforgettable. But this story is more about after the concert.

I went to the show with some friends (my then Girlfriend stayed at home) and after returning from Manchester (having drunk quite a few beers during the show) we went back to their house for a few more beers. Now back in the time I was a bit of a lightweight and after plenty of beers I decided it was time to walk home. The time was around 2am (ish it was nearly 25 years ago, so I don’t remember exactly). It was about a 15 minute walk home, so off I went into the night. I remember walking past Aldi then the next thing I remember is being awoken by my girlfriend at around 10am outside the house. I had used my jumper (I know who wears a jumper to a Metallica concert!!) as a pillow. To this day I have no idea where that time went and why I didn’t go inside. Maybe I was abducted by aliens. (Or I may have been to drunk to figure out how a door key works!!)

The Beautiful South

Now before I continue with this story I think I need to answer a question on all your lips. Megadeath, Metallica then The Beautiful South? “That’s a very different change in music Karl?” I like music, all music, if it’s good.

So anyway, onward with the story.

Me and the current girlfriend (same girlfriend in both stories strangely) in 1996 went to see The Beautiful South at the (then) Alfred Mcalpine stadium in Huddersfield. It was a full day festival with 5 bands on the stage, Angelica, Teenage (Something, I can’t remember) then Cast and The Lightning Seeds.

The whole day didn’t go to plan.

We had to meet a coach in Rochdale centre to get to the place. We turned up and the coach was waiting so we got on and found a seat. The coach seemed to sit there for ages and the driver announced that he could not set off because he was waiting on 2 people. He was very angry (as were most of the other people on the coach) After a little bit longer he announced if Karl Burrill doesn’t turn up in the next 5 minutes he will leave without him. I was mortified (as was my girlfriend) I then had to do the walk of shame to the front to tell this (angry) driver, I was Karl Burrill and I had been sat on the coach for half an hour also waiting for me (Karl Burrill) to turn up. The journey wasn’t pleasant.

When we got to the stadium all seemed to be good for a while. We found a place at the back for to chill until the good bands came on (well at least the bands we had heard of.) So I went to grab some drinks, I queued for nearly an hour so I thought I’d buy quite a few beers so I don’t have to queue again for a while. Big mistake. Just as Cast was taking to the stage I realised I need the loo (we had made our way toward the stage and was in the thick of the crowd) so I said to my Girlfriend that I needed to go (if you know what I mean) so off I went. I found the toilet no problem (and there wasn’t even a big queue) I had said to my girlfriend to stay put and I will find her again (no problem.) Do you know how many people in the mid nineties had shoulder length brown hair?? At one point I tapped (who I thought was my girlfriend) on the shoulder to announce my return only to be face to face with a bloke. I spent most of the concert alone.

We did meet up again for The Beautiful South set so it all turned out good. But wow it was a hard day.

 

D is for Drink and Drugs

Now before I start this part, I must say these are not just stories about me being drunk or but also drunk and drug people I have met or had to deal with.  

Let’s start with drink. I drink quite a bit, But some drink quite a bit more. I have seen many people with the tell tale wet line down the trouser leg.

When I was about 13 (ish) a bloke used to walk past where me and my friends used to hang out, He always said hi to us, he was a nice chap. well I thought so until he walked up to us one day, he had pissed and shit himself. He was very, very pissed; he still stopped but then fell down. His jeans were not in a good way. His brother later murdered him over an argument over inheritance.

Back to Bingo, I remember a lady who was very drunk winning a very large amount of money (20 grand +) on the bingo, (I’m not sure how she even marked the numbers) once I got the paperwork to confirm her win and filled in the forms. She proceeded to run around with her top around her head like a footballer. She didn’t have a bra on so those boys were free for all to see.

Now let’s talk about my drunken shenanigans

I have a scar above my right eye. Well that was from a Christmas work party. I was quite drunk, I had already had an argument with my manager (over karaoke of all things, she wasn’t my favourite person anyway) and because I was drunk I ended up having an argument with my then wife. (I’m sure she will appear in following stories) Well me and a full length mirror had a bigger fight. It’s amazing how much blood can come from your forehead. We went to the infirmary to get it sorted but we carried on arguing so we ended up leaving. In hindsight this wasn’t a good idea. The next day I had to go back (you could see my skull through the cut and it was still full of glass) Wow it hurt when they cleaned it and because I had waited they couldn’t stitch is. So now I have a scar.

I also once had to have my head glued. This is going to be a very short story because I have no memory of it. I was out for a beer, I had a few (maybe more than a few) the next memory is waking up outside the infirmary covered in blood. The middle of my head was bleeding (a lot)

Drink is bad (well for me anyway)

Ok

Drugs

Drugs, Cocaine, LSD, MDMA (Ecstasy) Heroin, Weed (pot, green etc)

I’m going to tell you a few stories about my contact with these poisons.

LSD

Now my favourite of these was LSD. Me and a friend did a summer of taking trips most nights. Gold Microdots £3 each from Wendy’s. We use to go and sit on a park and contemplate the world (all night) I remember the song 7 Seconds by Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry. We spent 8 hours discussing the lyrics. I think my worst LSD moment was either when I had to sit with my Mum and Dad watching Sleepless in Seattle (the light show was epic but not when sat with Mum and Dad), or when I organised a party at my parents house while they where on holiday, I was mashed and the house got totalled and the police were called.

Weed

I can’t smoke weed, it makes me Ill, I am the whitey king, I was in a flat of one of my friends we were watching MTV (in the old days, when they played music) having a smoke and drinking beer. I needed the loo, so off I went. I got the wrong door, I ended up in a closet with many mops and brooms, and they heard the bang and found me laid on the floor surround by cleaning products. After that I made a decision it was beer or weed, I choose beer.

MDMA (or Ecstasy)

I think my strangest story about Ecstasy was about sex on a pool table, I use to live in a pub and we had a very good contact for pills (we knew all of the bouncers in town and as we all know they are the best people to get pills from) It was a very interesting pub (and life), I lived with 4 lesbians. We used to wait until last orders, neck the pill, clean up then get changed and head to the club. The pill normally had kicked in by then. We partied then we would return to the pub. I didn’t have sex with all 4 lesbians, only some.

Heroin

Now I have never taken Heroin but I still have a story about it. This is a fairly recent one. One night I had been out for a beer and was heading home. A young girl was sat on my street obviously out of her mind and also crying, I asked her if she was ok, she opened her heart to me, she told me about everything wrong in her life. I sat with her for nearly an hour (it was her that stopped the convo) I still see her around town and I hope I helped in some way.

Cocaine

Hmm well this bad boy has got me in trouble; it’s a very dangerous drug. And let me tell you why. I am not proud of this.

A long time ago, (about 13 years) I went out with some friends and took a lot of this white powder, When I returned home I carried on. I still had my friends in the house and my wife (pregnant wife) and daughter were in bed. I was fired and it got to daylight turning up, my wife was not best pleased, she rang her mum because I was out of control, I went and got in bed. My mother in law (who I love very much and still have an awesome relationship with) turned up and was (rightly) shouting at me. So in my stupid mind I went downstairs and grabbed a knife (now I am a victim of knife crime so I find the abhorrent) I told her to leave in a very threatening way. Well I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Police cell, in the police interview I admitted everything. I went to court, 240 hours community service. I don’t believe I would have done anything like that if it wasn’t for that white powder.

I apologise to anyone I ever hurt.

F is for Flying

Ok well next on the list is flying. Now I have only flown in a plane twice (there and back). It was May 2002, me and my current (then) girlfriend booked a holiday to Tunisia. This meant I had to board a plane and deal with 3 hours of being locked in a metal tube. If you know anything about aviation history then you may realise this was only 8 months after the tragedy of 9 11, the world was already full of nervous flyers, I get nervous in a car never mind a metal bomb 30,000 feet up.

Before the holiday I went to the doctor to speak to her about my panic regarding this epic (in my eyes epic) flight. I explained my nerves and she gave me some tablets she hoped would help me through this. 10 tablets of 2mg of Diazepam.

I spoke to my parents (I didn’t think I would see them again). My Mum pasted on some wise words, “Karl you will be fine, and it’s just like being on a coach”

My sister had said she would take us to Manchester airport for the flight. In the car I was in good spirits it was only when we drove into the car park I got the nerves. In an underground car park I panicked. Sat down by the car nearly in tears saying I don’t want to do this. My sister told me to go to the bathroom take one of the magic pills the doc had gave me and meet them at the check in desk. So I did.

I came back full of confidence (Diazepam can do that to you). We went for a coffee while waiting for the flight, I quiet liked this, sat drinking coffee while watching planes coming in and out of the airport. It reminded me of being a kid, my parents used to drive us to the viewing platform at the airport to watch the planes; I remember seeing my first Concorde there.

It was then I decided the best thing to do was when they called for our flight I would take one more tablet to get me on the plane. And that’s what I did. It’s wasn’t long until we were called and I said goodbye to my sister and took the walk toward my destiny.

Now the start wasn’t too bad, it was like going to the theatre, A desk where you handed your tickets over, ready to enter a tunnel to the circle. (Less fat British at the theatre to be honest and far less eager people). We handed the tickets over and took the plunge.

Walking on to the plane was a little like the wise words from my Mum. It sort of was like a coach (a bit more manic though). In that isle I decided that I really really didn’t want this anymore, so I turned around so I could get off but guess what people were everywhere, I couldn’t move, the only way to go was to my chair.

I got to my chair (not a window seat, I had no interest in seeing the floor when we crashed) and fastened myself in and decided to just concentrate on the book I had brought (Silence of the Lambs, 3 hours I read the book cover to cover).

Still with my Mums words ringing in my mind, the captain gave his speech. Now Mum I have never been on a coach when the driver tells me we are doing 500 miles an hour at 30,000 feet. I didn’t remove my seat belt (it was so tight I still have the marks).

Now as I’m sure you can guess we didn’t die, I got brave near the end, as we were coming in to land I even looked out of the window.

When we landed at Monastir airport I was very very relieved. A very different airport from Manchester. There was no nice tunnel to walk down. This was like I was one of the Beatles, A staircase to walk down on to the runway. I was waving like I was a pop star, Glad to be alive. Just like the Beatles we were rushed to a coach before the fans could touch us. No wait that’s not what happened, we had to stand in a queue for ages to get a smoking man to stamp our passports. Then the coach. All I wanted now was a beer. Now if you remember I had already taken two Diazepam’s, Beer and valium don’t always go together. After a 2 hour drive we got to the hotel and dumped our gear and found out the hotel also owned a bar on the beach. That sounded like a good reward for the horror I had gone through that day.

The bar was through a little snicket, So off we went, On our way down this Alley we came across a couple of young Tunisian lads, We obviously looked like we had just landed (we were pale as hell of course) One looked at the other and nodded, I noticed this and my first thought was “Fuck we are going to get mugged here” One of them put his hand into his jacket, I braced ready, from within his jacket he pulled out…. yes you have guessed it!! A leaflet for a golf club!! FFS I nearly twated the man.

We found the bar and I got on the beer. Thanks to the 2 Diazepam I got wankered.

It was a great holiday; we went to an Oasis, to the coliseum where Gladiator was filmed. To some salt flats, and most importantly To Uncle Owen’s house from a new hope, I stood in Luke Skywalker’s bedroom (he wasn’t in at the time).

The flight home was less dramatic, I didn’t take any tablets to get home, we had been seated by a door which meant if something happened we would be in charge of opening said door. I didn’t ask for that responsibility but the fact the hostess chair was right in front of me sort of made me let them off.

G is for Gala

When I say Gala I don’t mean Gala Bingo, that isn’t the bingo company I worked for, this is a story about a swimming gala I participated in when I was either 8 or 10 I can’t remember which.

Swimming has never been my strongest skill or even my 10th best skill, to be fair I’m quite weak at it, I can swim but I am not fast or comfortable with the idea of drowning. I will give some examples.

I went to a high school that had its own swimming pool, so swimming was a big part of PE, We used to have to do the normal 5 metre, 10 metre certificates (passed both) but we also did swimming competitions, I always came last (along way behind, most of the kids where in English by the time I had finished).

One very nice summer (1994 I think) I and my girlfriend and a group of friends went to a local beauty spot, Hollingworth Lake. It was a very hot day so we decided to take a dip; now Hollingworth Lake is a manmade lake and is known to be very very cold. We were sat on a little beach (near the pub also named the beach) it was a very hot day and not far out in the lake was a little wooden platform, We thought if we could swim to that we could have fun diving in so we ventured in, It didn’t go well. The platform was maybe 10 metres from the shore (I had my 10 metres certificate so it was within range) the difference is that in a pool there is a floor, no fish and a man in an orange vest and Speedos up on a large Childs high chair ready to save you. I did maybe 3 metres and realised my feet couldn’t touch the floor. I freaked out, I grabbed at my friend to save myself, nearly drowning him, He then freaked screaming at me to get off, we made it back to shore and I’ve never swam in a lake since. So yes I’m not a strong swimmer or a good friend.

On to the main story now, The Gala.

When I was a young lad I was firstly in the Cubs then when I was old enough on to the Scouts, The Scouts use to have competitions against other Scout troops across the area. One year it was a swimming gala and the Scout leaders decided to enter me into one of the races. The swimming gala was to take place in Rochdale swimming baths (The old baths I must add, before they knocked it down and built the new place). It was an Olympic size pool which had seating galleries on both sides so spectators could watch the many competitions that went on there, it was a huge place. Not only was it an Olympic length pool, It was nine foot deep at the deep end.

On the night the place was full, every scout group in the town had entered a team, my older brother was on my team and my parents where in the audience. Lots of races went before mine, I have no idea if we won any, my thought was on one thing and one thing only and that was “Nine foot deep” I was maybe 3 foot nothing at the time. It came to my race; I lined up ready to dive in nine foot of water in front of half of the parents of Rochdale and swim like a mad man to win for my Scout friends. We waited bent double like the Olympic stars. The air horn blew for the start. Five kids set off swimming for their bragging rights. Shame is, six kids lined up on the starting blocks. I was that sixth child, I immediately started crying and my Dad had to come out of the crowd and run round the pool to come and get me. That was my swimming career over.

 

H is for Holidays

Now if you know me or have read my Anxiety blog (I will put a link to my Anxiety blog at the bottom of the page if you are interested), you will know I no longer travel very far from my home, This wasn’t always the case, When I was growing up we had two holidays every year, two weeks in June and a week in September. When I was really young it was mostly 2 weeks in Rhyl and a week in Morecambe and then as I got older it was 2 weeks in Devon and a week in Rhyl, then 2 weeks in France and a week in Belgium. (It did change some years as you will tell from my first story). I have many stories from my holidays so this could be a longish blog post.

My first story is from a holiday in Great Yarmouth I was perhaps 3 and we went to spend a day on the beach, (I must point out this is something I don’t really remember. This is a story that has been told to me many times) Part way through the day my Mum noticed I wasn’t there, She (as any parent would do) panicked, My parents soon had all of the people on beach looking for me, I can’t imagine what thoughts would be going through their heads, a missing 3 year old on a beach in a strange town, I was eventually found sat by our car, I have been told my excuse for disappearing was that I wanted my bucket and spade which I had left in the car.

My next is from a holiday in Rhyl, I was maybe 8 at the time. As with most holidays we use to get loads of leaflets for places to visit and every morning we used to walk for the newspaper then sit down and go through the leaflets for places to go for that day. My parents know North Wales very well (they had their honeymoon there) But would still let us choose different places. On one of the days we went to visit Llandudno. It is a beautiful little seaside town overlooked by a headland named the Great Orme (the Little Orme is on the other side of the bay); any visit to Llandudno must always include a trip to the summit of the Orme. You can walk up, drive up or their is a tramway. At the top was a visitors centre, cafe and a little shop, oh and a kids playground. I decided I wanted to have a go on an aerial slide in the playground. It was basically two wooden stanchions with a rope between them, on the rope was a tyre with another rope hanging from it with a loop for a place to put your foot. The main rope was perhaps 20 foot long and not really that high. So I thought I would have a go. I grabbed the tyre and put my foot in the loop and set off. It didn’t take me long to realise I didn’t like it at all, so part way down I let go. My foot as you may recall was in a loop and stayed there. I span around and as my bad luck would have it the height between the rope and the ground was the same as the distance between my foot and my face. I completed the rest of the slide dragging my face against the floor. My Dad grabbed me and my bloodied face and took me, a screaming 8 year old to the toilets to clean up my face and calm me down. While in there a man asked my Dad as he cleaned the blood and grit from my face “has he hurt himself?” Some people are not that bright I guess. Well that was the first time I broke my nose.

Years later we started to go to France for our 2 week holidays; we would drive down to catch a ferry then cross over to France. This story is about our trip down to catch the ferry one year. I think I may have been about 14, my brother stayed at home because he had started his nurse training so it was just me, my Mum and Dad and my little sister. From the Manchester area we would hit the M6 past Birmingham then across toward London. We headed toward Oxford. As we had never been there before (and had time to kill) we thought we would stop for a walk around. It’s an amazing city well until you get back to the car and find out that 2 suitcases have been stolen from the roof of the car. Both mine and my sisters clothes where gone. We pretty much only had the clothes we stood up in, My Dad was angry so drove to the police station in Oxford to report the crime. We couldn’t stay to long as we had a ferry to catch. So off we headed toward Reading. When in Reading my Mum said she was going to ring my brother to check he was ok (he was at uni in Liverpool but was coming home that weekend) to find out our house had been broken in to and we had been robbed. When we got to France all of us upset about the two robberies, we had to go shopping to buy new clothes for me and my sister. French fashions were not to my taste.

One year on we were once again heading to the ferry, we had passed Birmingham and all was looking good until the car broke down not far from Reading. Luckily my Dad was in the RAC or AA I’m not sure which but he rang them and we were told someone would bring us a car so we could continue our journey. We sat at the side of this busy road for hours, the police turned up and let us sit in the car as it might have been June but it was night time and very cold. When the driver and car eventually arrived it was nearly midnight and the ferry had gone. But it was a new ford Escort 126 miles on the clock, my Dad was very pleased. So off we went, we were allowed on to the next ferry and we had a good holiday. On the way back home the car had to be returned to a garage in Birmingham so as our car was broken we had to sort out getting home to Rochdale. My parents rang my Brother (he had a car) to come and get us. Now my brothers car was a very old Yugo which some may remember isn’t a very big or reliable car. But he drove the 150 miles to come and get us, 5 people in a Yugo with all our cases and holiday stuff then drove back home.

All I will say about them two stories is never go to Reading.

My next two are from holidays as a grown up.

In 2000 my friend was due to go away to St Tropez with his family and his girlfriend but not long before they were due to go he split with her and had a spare place and asked me I wanted to go. I said yes. We drove down to Watford to then catch a coach to the south of France, It was a 17 hour journey to get to the site where we were staying, first a car, then a big coach, and then we were moved to a smaller coach and on to our destination. Port Grimaud. We arrived at about 8am and dumped our stuff in the Caravan, (it was a caravan for me and my friend and the one next door was for his Mum and Dad). After such a long trip we wanted a beer (even if it was 8am) so headed to the shop to grab some. I had no money on me as my money was all in travellers cheques (it was what most people used before chip and pin) We had to wait until the nearest bank was open before I could go and get some cash so we had a few beers played some tennis (we bought a tennis game from the shop). He suggested hiring some bikes to go to the bank (the place had a bike hire shop) so we did and off we went. The roads were mad, not only was I riding on the wrong side of the road but the road where very busy with coaches bringing people to their holiday locations. But we survived and I went and got some cash and we headed back to the site. After surviving the busy roads back we both entered the site on these rental bikes, I was quite happy to get through it, my friend was in front of me and headed over the speed humps back toward the caravan. He hit a divot on the hump and seemed to fly off the bike, straight over the handle bikes. He had hurt himself so off he went off to the nearest hospital, Bad news. He had managed to break his arm after only 2 hours of our holiday. He was rightfully a bit grumpy for the rest of the 2 weeks we spent in France, I spent a lot of time on my own, but it was the year 2000 and in June so the France Euro tournament was on, I spent a lot of my time finding bars to watch the footie. I found a great bar on the beach; I could sit and drink while watching the crazy people sunbathing in the wind (if you don’t know the south of France is very windy because of the sirocco wind from the Sahara). One day I was sat having a very cold Stella when a commotion began behind me, all the guys from the bar ran out and started chasing a chap down the beach. He had been spotted taking photographs of the topless girls on the beach. The police turned up and gripped him and put him in a van. Good entertainment on a sunny windy day. That same day I learnt a lot about how the wind and sun can combine to cook your skin to a crisp, my skin peeled like paper, one of my tattoos is damaged to this day. One evening at the same bar (I had figured quite quickly which bars to visit and in what order, Happy hour was different in each pub) after a couple or eight pints I left to go on to my next haunt but thought it would be nice to walk along the beach. Not far along the beach I came across a barrier of massive rocks. This wasn’t going to stop my night time walk so I thought I would climb over them. I slipped and took a chunk from my shin, it hurt really bad, There were loads of people around so not wanting to look like I had hurt myself I stood straight up and carried on until I was out of site. That was when I let the painful scream out and looked at my bloodied leg.

My final story is from about 2004. Three of us (me along with two good friends) had gone for a week away, a week of sea fishing in Filey. We did some beach casting, we had a few beers, and it was a jolly time. We decided that we would book onto a boat out of Bridlington for a day catching Cod and Mackerel.  We turned up at 6am at the harbour to meet the captain and set off on our voyage to the fishable waters of the North Sea. I remember most of the trip out, it was quiet pleasant until. Well I felt something stirring in the pit of my belly. Then it hit me like a train. I was not going to return. I was about to die. I then pretty much lost it.  It all starts with biting my lip, and looking around for a safe place, a way to escape.  They had to pin me to the deck of the boat, my friend later told me he thought I was going to jump overboard. I remember it very clearly; it was as if my mind no longer had control of my body. My whole body shook, my breathing got faster and faster, and with several people holding me down, I could hear the Captain radioing the mainland. As was the practise then I was given a bag to breath into (this isn’t done anymore, it increases CO2 in the blood) now remember this was a fishing boat, they don’t carry a whole load of brown paper bags, so I got a plastic bag with fish guts in the bottom (yummy.) Fair play to the RNLI they were pretty quick (I think). I was put on oxygen and transferred to what I can only call a dingy. (That was pretty scary on its own) and I was whisked across the sea to a waiting ambulance parked on the beach. Then onto a hospital for a dose of Valium before I was released to fight another day.

I think you can now understand why I don’t go on holiday anymore.