In The Wars

Just lately I’ve been in the wars a little. My trusty mountain bike was stolen a while ago but I have an older bike in the garage so the other day I dug it out, cleaned it up and pumped up the tyres. After fitting a new inner tube and giving the bike a good oil and clean up I was ready for a quick test spin and luckily, as it turned out, popped on my helmet and gloves. As I went down the avenue I noticed I hadn’t tightened up the handlebars enough, so I turned round and headed back. My big mistake was in not getting off the bike and walking back because the front wheel turned sharply, I turned the handlebars, and of course nothing happened, except that I ended up in a heap on the pavement. Still, I had my helmet on, no head injuries and my natty little bike mitts had prevented any cuts on my hands. As I pushed the bike back home I noticed my leg hurting a little and later on my ankle swelled up. A two hour visit to casualty revealed no broken bones but I was pretty happy no one was around that afternoon to video my escapade and post it on you tube!

Now here’s my other scary moment; I’ve had a little mark on the side of nose for a while, two years actually and it’s a sort of red mark, it doesn’t hurt but every so often it gets inflamed and starts to bleed. Anyway, I went to the doctors about it and they sent me to a specialist who said it’s a rodent ulcer! Sounds pretty nasty but a quick look at the internet shows that it’s nothing really scary and hopefully it can be sorted out soon but the doctor decided to cut a slice of it off and send it for a biopsy. Now it didn’t hurt much as they gave me a local anaesthetic but, that needle going in was another story! That really hurt. Later, my nose swelled up and started throbbing. Anyway, you can get the picture, me looking a bit of a mess and feeling a little sorry for myself, so much so I called in sick at work. Not like me at all.

Now, a couple of days later I was feeling a little better and ready to go back to work so Liz and I went for a drink to the Links, a local pub. Monday is open mike night at the pub so we sat back and enjoyed the various singers. Now, there were three distinct groups at the Links that night. The regulars who of course are always there and never seem to me to care whoever is singing as long as they don’t interfere with their drinking. The second group was the Open Mikers, a regular group that we see at most of the various open mike nights in the St Annes area and also tonight, a third group, the outsiders. The outsiders we had never seen before. They were made up of two singing groups and a small band of their supporters. Now their performers were actually really pretty good, especially one young guy who had a great singing voice and sang some really good foot tapping songs. The thing that really bugged me though was that when the Open Mikers were playing the Outsiders sat at their table and paid little interest, unless one of their own people was performing, then they crowded the stage and gave support and applause. Hats off though to The Open Mikers, who supported and cheered whoever performed, whether good or bad, part of their group or not.

776px-Battle_of_Broodseinde_-_silhouetted_troops_marchingAnyway, I seem to be taking my time getting to the point but that night at the Links pub was the 4th August which just happens to be the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, or World War 1 as we now know it and on that night there was a lights out memorial over all the UK. At ten o’clock the pub lights dimmed and we stood for a minute’s silence, observed I might add by ninety-nine percent of the bar. It was pretty moving really, remembering those who taken part in this conflict, some who died during it in dreadful conditions, and some who lived on to return to their families. It certainly puts my whingeing about falling off my bike into perspective.

One of those who returned was my Grandad, George Higgins, who was in the Royal Horse Artillery. When my Dad, fresh from school started out as a milkman, with a horse and cart rather than an electric van I might add, his Dad, my Grandad, came to visit him at the stables where his horse was kept. He checked the horse out, paying particular attention to the horse’s teeth.

They knew how to look after horses, those Great War veterans.


If you liked this post then why not try my book, Floating in Space, set in Manchester, 1977? Click the links at the top of the page or the icon below to go straight to amazon!

Fathers Day and the Green shoots of an Apple Tree

DadSunday, yesterday as I write this was Fathers day in the UK and I thought I’d take a few minutes to look back at my Dad who died in, well, I was going to write the year but was it 2000 or 2001? Can you believe that, I can’t even remember the year he died!

The thing is, the year isn’t really important, what matters is that he’s no longer here and what’s worse is that me and my old Dad spent a lot of time not getting on with each other and that was a lot of wasted time, time that neither of us will ever get back.

My Dad and I were from different generations. Dad was born in 1928 and he was part of the World War II era. A time of shortages, of national emergency and an uncertain time when you weren’t sure if you or your loved ones were going to make it through that next air raid. Christmas for my Dad, he once told me, was an apple and an orange and maybe, just maybe, an out of the blue present like a tin of lead soldiers that were, of course, second-hand. Anyway, perhaps that’s why he couldn’t really relate to TV obsessed youngsters like me and my brother who were given a pillow case full of gifts on Christmas morning. In the seventies when I was a teenager my long hair and my denim outfits didn’t sit well with my Dad either who used to put a tie on to take the dog for a walk!

Anyway, the good thing is that when something really dreadful happened to me in my late twenties I told him about it rather than my Mum and instead of the usual moans and groans I had come to expect, when the chips were down he stood up and supported me. I’ll always remember him saying to me ‘don’t worry about your Mum, I’ll talk to her.’ It always seems to me looking back that that was the start of our relationship proper.

I describe my Dad pretty accurately in my kindle book ‘Floating In Space’. He was a big man but he was quiet and cat-like too. Everything he did had the same qualities of quiet and calm. He worked for the Manchester Highways department building roads and pavements and every day of his working life, come rain or shine, he set out for work on his old pushbike. One day the gears on his bike stripped and he took it in to the bike shop for a repair. They couldn’t fix it there and then so Dad had to borrow my bike to get to work the next day. What he didn’t know was that at the time there was a new craze -the chopper bike- and as I couldn’t afford an actual chopper bike, I had bought a chopper seat for my bike and fitted it the previous day. Looking back that bike looked pretty ludicrous and later I reverted to the normal seat but I can still see my Dads face as he pulled my bike out of the out house where it was stored and then me and my brother watched as this middle aged man set out for work on his hybrid chopper bike!

For fathers day many years ago I bought him an apple tree to plant in his back garden. When I turned up late on the Sunday my Mum was really pleased to see me and said that my Dad apparently was feeling a little neglected that day as until then, neither me nor my brother had turned up to see him.

We planted the tree in the back garden and years later, whenever I looked at that tree it reminded me of him. Of his quiet ways, of his ‘lets get on with it’ nature, of his spirit so like my Mum’s really of never letting anything get them down. Imagine my feeling one day last year when I looked out of my Mum’s back window to see the tree had been chopped down! I was seething and was all ready to get on the phone and give Manchester City Council some major grief when Mum told me she had asked for the tree to be cut down. What on earth for I asked?

Well, my Mum is a little unsteady on her feet and the tree was crowding her washing line and she was worried about falling over. So, she got the council to chop it down. It was clear she didn’t see the tree as I saw it, as a sort of living, growing, monument to the man I had given it to many years ago. Still, last time I was there, only last week, there were green shoots growing from the stump. The tree had beaten the man from the council and its indomitable spirit was still alive. I am sure my Dad, who loved nature in all its forms, would have smiled.


If you liked this post why not try my novel, ‘Floating In Space’ set in Manchester 1977? Click the links at the top of the page for more information.