Saturday, July 5, 2014

One Year On

There’s been a first birthday, a first Christmas, a first Fathers Day and a first ‘how the hell do you prepare that surface?’ moment.

It’s not until someone has gone do you realise how big a shadow they cast and by Christ he was a big man.  We said at the time that your boots were too big to fill, that me and Daniel would have to have one boot each, but I don’t think I’m even managing that.

You’ve missed so much this year, or maybe you haven’t. Maybe they do let you look down on us via some sort of celestial Skype and you’ve seen all the nonsense we’ve been up to. I would like to think so, but either way I’ve certainly missed telling you about it.

And it’s not just all the family stuff I’ve missed sharing with you. I’ve missed playing you the new Gregory Porter CD, you would have loved him, a voice so deep it screams big bands and smoky nightclubs. We also got to see Frank Sinatra Jnr at Ronnie Scott’s and I swear to God when he walked on it was like his Dads ghost had walked on with him. I wanted to tell you about that so much that it physically hurt, it still does.

They say a black hole sucks in all matter, well it feels like your death has done the same and left a whole bunch of ‘it doesn’t matter’. Nothing seems as important, as significant, as worthwhile anymore. All milestones are being judged and measured in relation to you and your bearing on them.

What’s worrying me more is that now this year has passed so will my memory of you. I’m not sure I want it to hurt less. If I can still cling on to my pain then you will continue to feel real, to be with me. Whilst it hurts this much I can still see you every time I blink the tears away.

The passing of time hasn’t been all bad though. It’s taken a year for my first thoughts of you not to be lying in that hospital bed, slowly saying goodbye to us all without even knowing it. Some days my first thought is of you in the pub, or in the garden feeding the fish. More often than not I remember you through a child’s eyes. Could you really have been that big, that safe, that there?

I don’t know, the mind plays some cruel tricks on you sometimes but at least it’s now stopping me from ringing you up for advice. Three times this year I’ve rung you to ask you something, something innocuous, only for Mum to answer leaving me to scramble some sort of excuse for ringing.

It seems crazy that today will hurt more than any other. After all, in the great scheme of things, it’s just another day without you, just like the other 364 have been. But it does hurt more, as today is the day where all I can remember is saying goodbye. Kissing your forehead one last time, telling you I loved you one last time, squeezing your hand and telling you it’s OK to leave now, to stop hurting and leave it all behind.

I’ve spent a year being angry that your ‘ghost’ hasn’t come to talk to me whenever I take a shower, just like your Dad’s did for you. I couldn’t understand where you were, did I not love you enough to deserve a visit, but that can’t be right? My heart is so full of you it feels fit to burst and I don’t know how to manage that feeling, how to keep those emotions in check.

More often than not I just sit on the back step gazing into the garden, watching the bees, the occasional dragonfly and listening to the birds. That’s when I think I’m at my closest to you. I can almost feel you putting your arm around your tiny sons shoulder and telling him it will be alright, everything is good. So maybe that’s better then. This way I can still see you with every yellow rose bud that’s starting to bloom, every bird looking for food and every blade of grass that will never look as green as yours did.

So today I’m going to go down the pub and have a pint, well two actually – a Light and Lager me and a Guinness for you, and then maybe I can start to say goodbye properly. Start to think of you without blubbing, start to remember only the good times and not those shitty hospital times. Maybe I needed this past year of hurt to toughen me up to continue without your ever-guiding presence. I hope I don’t let you down. Like any kid, I’ve only ever wanted you to be proud of me.

Love you Pops.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dear Tottenham Hotspur PR

I just recieved this email from a Totenham Hotspur PR

Tottenham Hotspur cordially invites you to the unveiling of the world’s first fully-interactive digital experience for children to be created and developed by a football club. 
Please register your interest in interview time with Club Ambassador Ledley King when replying.
Date: Wednesday xth August
Time: 9am – 10.30am
Location: Hangar Seven, 230 City road, EC1V 2QY (Old Street overground and tube)
I hope you can join us for this event Jason.
Best wishes,

This is my response 

Dear Tottenham Hotspur PR bod,

I thank you for your email inviting me to the unveiling of your digital experience for children.  Unfortunately I feel that I am not a member of your target audience, me being an Arsenal fan and all.  There was a hint of my allegiance to Arsenal in the email address you sent your kind invitation to –  I could understand your mistake if my email was, or, or even, but I am indeed a Gooner and one called Jamie (not Jason).

With regard to the actual content of your email, asking my child to participate in ‘Tottenham’s fully-interactive digital experience’ would be akin to asking her to eat a piece of dog poop that has been laying in the sun in the gutter for so long it’s turned white – you don’t want my child to eat poop do you? 

Why on earth would I encourage a child to interact with a team that last won the top flight league before the rocket that took Neil Armstrong to the moon had even made it off the drawing board?  In fact I know more people that believe in the moon landing than the conspiracy theory that is a winning Tottenham team.  Of course I’ve seen the pictures of Danny Blanchflower holding the trophy and yes, I presume they weren’t photoshopped as that’s almost impossible to do in sepia tone.

As to meeting Ledley King, I do worry that he would drop my child, unused as he is to picking something up.  I also worry he may injure himself in the process and therefore be forced to sit with Darren Anderton for all eternity.

So to surmise, Thank you for your kind but misguided offer, if I am ever feeling suicidal and worthless I shall pop by and visit (much akin to visiting Asda when I’m feeling ugly).

Happy St Totteringham’s Day


Sunday, June 16, 2013

I remember

Riding home from school on your crossbars

You teaching me to ride the bike you made for me

Sacks of ice cream stolen by your best mate

How your moustache tickled

How you looked without that moustache for just one month of my entire life

Your stories, my god, so many funny stories

Feeling small when I looked up and feeling tall when you looked proud

Introducing you to your 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th grandchild

Being able to tell you anything (well, except for that one thing, that one time, in band camp)

You letting me make my mistakes and boy, there were a lot of them

(Although I wish you had stopped me from making a couple of the worse ones)

The smell of your cigars (until I guilt tripped you into giving up)

Tea and biscuits every morning in your bed, all five of us

Hunting for horseradish over Matchstick Island and you cutting your foot

Singing ‘Let’s do it tonight because the moon is smiling bright’ after a drunken meal in Barking

On more than one occasion

My driving scaring the bejesus out of you and me liking that fact

Lemonade and a pack of crisps in the Captain Cook

Or the Barge Aground

You letting me win, making me lose and settling for a draw

Introducing you to Jack and Coke and then necking the whole bottle

Hiding in your shed and watching the thunderstorms

Your hideous green garden jumper

Your somewhat eclectic taste in music and hoping I’ve stolen the best and left the worst behind

All those long walks along longer beaches and tall cliff tops

Having to be quiet all morning when you were on nights until finally, at 11am, being able to go wake you up

Watching you finally learn to drive and then unveiling that first car, a yellow Ford Cortina

Long trips down to Devon and sensing your delight driving down those sweeping hills

(Something I’ve inherited, although I may go a bit faster)

A Cadburys flake every Friday night

Swimming in Belhus Park pool every Saturday and making you throw us as high as you could over and over

Saturday night being yours and Mums night, even if you did only have a bottle of R Whites and a packet of peanuts

And boy did we hear that line ad infinitum

Teaching me the Dutch Oven trick, brought tears to my eyes in more ways than one

Sitting in the corner of the Tiger waiting for you to finish work, whilst the regulars made a fuss of me

Watching you work at your bench in the loft, that place had everything a young boy ever needed to get in trouble

Just watching you anything to be honest - paint, saw, wallpaper and collecting tips along the way

Mum being ill and you attempting to boil an egg, Gordon Ramsey you ain’t

Well maybe the swearing part

You teaching us about scrumping and then vaguely getting the hump when we stole the neighbours cherries

 Finally getting to work with you proper when we had the pub, some of my best working mornings ever

Love, family and feeling safe

Happy Fathers Day Pops

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A real bowel movement

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month and Beating Bowel Cancer are asking us all to get involved in a bowel movement.  I know what you’re thinking, easy right, I mean jeez, I can even fake a bowel movement when the kids are bugging me enough and I want to hide from them for a while.  Unfortunately that’s not the kind of movement they’re talking about, they want us to get involved in the fight to beat Bowel Cancer.  One in four lives are touched by bowel cancer somehow and unfortunately my family’s lives have been hit more than that. 

Seven years ago, after a long and courageous fight, my brother in law Stephen died from Bowel Cancer.  He was 46 at the time of his death and left behind a Wife and three young children.  Not satisfied with that, it then decided to have a pop at my other Brother in law, John.  Luckily cancer lost that battle, in no short measure to the Doctors and the endless Tottenham songs that John insists on singing at the drop of the hat (even cancer can only put up with so much drivel about ‘If you know your history’).

So with all that in mind the Mrs has decided to run the Marathon again in aid of Beating Bowel Cancer.  A tough task you may think, after all it’s been 10 years since she run her last marathon, she’d had two kids and an uncountable amount of vino since then, but do you know what’s tougher?

Being married to a marathon runner.


I don’t know how Paula Radcliffe’s old man puts up with it to be honest, I have to suffer it every decade and that’s bad enough, but every year?  Sod that for a game of soldiers.  Don’t understand, well let me explain.  The Marathon will take over their life and when something takes over their life, it takes over yours, make no mistake about that.  

First of all it’s the applying for the ballot to get into the marathon in the first place, the constant ‘Has the post arrived yet?’ phone calls whilst she awaits the verdict of the long-legged lottery.  And then the day when the big package arrives, the big package that means a consolation prize of a Virgin running top and a letter saying you haven’t got in and you knowing you then have to break that news to her whilst she’s at work.  Then the postman wait again, hoping that Beating Bowel Cancer are going to give you one of their ‘Golden Tickets’ so you can run for them.  Then a brief burst of happiness when they say yes, that’s it, they’re in.  Then it starts…the training.

Oh, did I miss a step?  Of course, that’s right, I forgot the buying of the equipment and by equipment I mean the running shoes and not just any running shoes, these have to be the Marks and Spencers of running shoes (just not bought at M&S because that would be just plain silly).  But apparently buying running shoes isn’t as simple as one would think.  We bought a brand new car in January and when you throw in all the options, the finance, the extras, the incompetent staff, the colour choices and all the razzmatazz that goes into buying a new school-run machine, we were still in the showroom less time than we were in the running shoe shop.  I kid you not.

Then there’s the training, the pre-training, the stretching, the after-stretching, the pre-food, the after-food, the meal planner, the new meal planner, the this is the final meal planner, the oh no it wasn’t meal planner, the corn-flakes at the right time, the injuries at the wrong time.

Oh my god the injuries.

Anyone that knows Trish will acknowledge that the things we fondly call ‘Trissues’ seem to happen to her a lot.  Who do you know that gets cramp in the jaw with every other yawn?  Who moisturises before they put their contact lenses in, then spends the rest of the day half blind?  Who walks into a closed door after triumphantly throwing a drunk out of the pub?  Who else could rip off a toenail bending over to pick up some rubbish (I know, I was shocked by that one as well, she never picks up rubbish)?

Well the training for this marathon has constantly topped that lot.  It breaks my heart but it’s been one inauspicious injury after another throughout this whole regime (I call it a regime as ‘Training Trish’ reminds me a bit of Idi Amin).  Her ankle has gone, her knee, her ankle again, flu, knee again, stomach bug and finally the old favourite…the ankle.

And as painful it’s been for her, it’s even more painful to listen to.  Trish will be the first to admit that she’s not the best patient and I’d also admit that I’m not the best nurse.  I genuinely would take her pain away if I could, not out of any sense of chivalry you understand, it’s just easier that way as Trish is an excellent nurse and I’m a fairly good patient.  Just give me the remote, leave me alone and you won’t hear a moan out of me.  Trish, however, can talk about an injury until her mouth heals over.

And then there’s the constant marathon talk, the tides going in and out are inconsistent in comparison with the talk that is all things marathon.  Seriously, give me a snickers every now and again as there is not a subject she cannot turn into a marathon.  A train ride gets her nervous because as she points out (every time), she can see Tower Hill on the map and she’ll be running past it on marathon day.  At the weekend we were strolling through Kew Gardens admiring the world’s tallest glasshouse plane, a Chilean wine palm, when out of the blue she announced that if this was marathon day she would still be running.  If we see a runner then she says it should be her, if she’s just been running and we then see a runner then it should be her tomorrow.  The marathon is never far away and it’s getting closer.

It’s less than three weeks away now, the training is tapering off and I’m trying to keep her away from anything that may injure her - like rubbish, or cobwebs, or a discarded tea-towel, or who knows what?  Our house is a veritable minefield of potential Trissues.

All kidding aside, it is close now and I’m getting nervous for her.  She has put so much pressure on her shoulders (and calves) just so she can say to Cancer ‘Fuck you.  You took my brother, tried to take another one and I’m not standing for it’.  You will not believe how tough it is to juggle training, injuries, a job, two young kids who guilt trip her every time she has to go training instead of reading a bedtime story and a wise-arse Husband that takes pictures of you when you’re stuck in an ice cold bath.

So that’s what she’s doing, all you have to do is sponsor her.  It doesn’t have to be much, everything helps but every pound note she gets will hopefully get us one step closer to maybe saving somebody you know.  Maybe they will pick up one of the 400,000 symptom awareness leaflets that Beating Bowel Cancer distributes.  Maybe they won’t become one of the 40,000 people that are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, I truly hope so.