Wednesday, 8 July 2009

White Wining

After 18 months away ive returned to continue what I started back in December 2007. The purpose was to help me tell my tale of excess refreshment and the excessive hypocrisy that followed.

Bristol wasnt a bad place to grow up by any stretch of the imagination. I put my future academic achievements wholeheartedly down to my primary school. Westbury-on-Trym Primary School was a small school in a northern suburb of Bristol that was walking distance from my home. I arrived in 1977 in polyester trousers and red jumper and left in 1984 still wearing polyester trousers and a red jumper. I hasten to add they werent one and the same set of attire as my original uniform was being worn by my poor brother some 4 years behind me.

The school creates fond memories for me. I really did enjoy it. Each class was named afer a river in the South West. The lower the year the smaller the river, I wont bore you with the names, actually I will, Trym, Avon, Frome, King Sedgemores Drain, Wye, Severn.

There are three people I remember from school, Mr Royfe who was simply the best teacher I ever had, Becky Ives, my first girlfriend (aged 7!) who funnily enough did become my girlfriend again at 15 ableit briefly and Alice Roberts, she off the tele (Coast and other bits and pieces). I remember Alice because she was and I suspect still is an artist of some significant talent. She won an art competition and had her picture on the front of the christmas Radio Times if I remember. I also recall her becuase like me she went to med school and like me has found a successful career outside of clinical medicine. I think she probably earns a bit more than me though, then again I dont have to travel round the world visiting exciting and dangerous places and getting paid for it, what a relief!

Primary School was also a time where it became very apparent that I was slightly different from all the other kids. I didnt have a father. They all seemed to have a dad but I didnt. Nowadays the rate of divorce is such that kids at school probably feel out of place if they do have a loving caring parents but back then it wasnt like that. I didnt get bullied and I dont recall any nasty remarks but I suspect that was because I lied. I lied for the entire time I was in primary school. Yes I had a dad, which ws technically and genetically true I suppose but I elaborated and instead of saying he was a cowardly weak individual for just 'doing one' on us I said he was around he just worked alot. Now I know that my mother was friends with the mothers of my friends and lets be honest mothers dont have an understanding of the psyche of a complex 7 year old, so no doubt didnt think she needed to check with her son regarding the coo berating of a fictous father so I suspect everyone knew all along but didnt have the heart to tell me.

In the end the lie died when I went to secondary school. That wasnt such a nice place. Ill save that for next time.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Chinzano Dreams

I remember my first time I encountered alcohol. I must have been 7 and my mum wouldn't get out of bed until 11 and my brother and I would make dens in the lounge by pushing a chair forward so we could hide underneath it. Anyway the drinks cabinet was always a bit of a fascination. My mother didn't and still doesn't drink very much at all however at that time she seemed to have this wide range of enticing bottles that any 7 year old would find irresistible.

I think my very first drink was Chinzano, not one I would ever revisit despite my intense thirst that came to the fore from the early 90s onwards. I don't think I actually got drunk and I recall merely 'wetting my lips' with the drink and then pretending to be drunk with my brother.

We would do this every weekend morning before my mum would get up and during that time our dens became increasingly spacious and complex as an increasing variety of furniture and soft furnishings became Incorporated into the overall structure!

My grandfather died from bowel cancer when I was about 8 and this was the first time I ever met aunt, Rosalind. This is relevant for a number of reasons. My aunt was an alcoholic, I use the past tense as it killed her when she was around 45. Unfortunately she made a couple of fundamental errors for a alcoholic, one she married an alcoholic and and then she moved to Spain to run a bar! I didn't know her so didn't grieve for her when she passed away, what though is relevant is whether you believe that alcoholism is a balance between genetics and environment. I certainly don't prescribe to the idea that just because you have a potential genetic link that you will become a lush I do however think it helps you develop a thirst if environmentally you are placed in a position where you need an escape. Thats certainly what I believe happened to me.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Youngs Mild

Bristol was a fantastic place to grow up. I cant complain about my childhood given the stress my mother was under. She gave me and my brother everything that she could despite the fact she couldn't work.

I have scant recollection about the first couple of years although I do remember some of the time we spent at my grandfathers. He had a very long garden, rectangular in shape with a patio area at the top which I recall had two concrete rabbits on and at the end of the garden was a large apple tree with a large compost heap. I cant be sure if these are actual memories or ones constructed from pictures or from events when I was a little older that I attribute to that earlier time.

I suspect aspects of this blog will be like that, created memories perhaps taken from a mosaic of events that I have attributed to a particular time.

My mother suffered profound depression in the time we moved back to Bristol. We stayed at my grandfathers for a total of 6 months, I'm told before we moved to the house she still lives into today on a road called Cheriton Place in Henleaze about a mile from my grandfathers.

She bought the house with absolutely no support from my dad at all. He was too busy being 30 going on 18, trying to catch on the youth that perhaps he felt he never had. He did visit a couple of times however these were infrequent and caused me so much trauma my mother asked him to either keep regular contact or consider not seeing us at all. He chose the easy option for him and merely stopped seeing us altogether. I will never forget the last time I saw him. I was 5 and he has visited one Sunday afternoon and as he left I ran along the road to his car only to find a woman in the passenger seat. I would later, in 1995 find out that this woman was called Linda.

My mum has never recovered from the effects the divorce had on her even to this day. All my memories from about 5 till 10 have a very dark and slightly upsetting sepia type tint to them. She was clearly clinically depressed and was on a variety of therapeutics included barbiturate's for quite a significant period. At about the age of 7 I think the whole situation of general impoverishment, the stress of having two young kids and the lack of a social support network got to a breaking point and my brother and I were nearly put into care. Thank god this didn't happen.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Gin and Tonic

My first memories are living in Charlton Mead Drive in Bristol, I must have been about 3 and a half. I remember sitting on my dads motorbike, scribbling a picture or two and going swimming on a Sunday morning. Not bad for a three year old.

As well as the motorbike my family also had a red and black bubble car that you had to climb in through the front. Strange that the steering wheel was on the door but I'm slightly rambling here.

My brother came along when I was 4, there had been a previous pregnancy 2 years earlier however that unfortunately concluded with miscarriage at 24 weeks. My mother is still scared today by it. She was told by the midwife following delivery that 'it was for the best' which indicates that it was probably due to a genetic defect in all probability. There's some epidemiology for me to Google at some point.

So dad got his place at Nottingham Uni and he packed us all off to Nottingham. We lived near a canal i believe and y only other memories was that the house was open plan and my dad would lock himself away in what can only be described as a cupboard with louvre doors pouring over the not exactly difficult 1st year exams. I say not that difficult as his reason for packing us off back to my grandads in Bristol was that the exams were very taxing (bollocks dad, piece of piss even TheKnifeMan and Collosus flew them!) and having two kids and a wife around was incredibly distracting and this was his last chance of success.

At first, so I'm told, my mum, my brother who I will call Sid and myself toddled back to Bristol to live in Westbury on Trym with my grandad (he was a widower having lost his wife to an MI (heart attack when I was 6 months old) for 6 weeks.

Now my grandad was a man of the old school, he was a docker, was well over 6ft tall, heavy set and had hands like shovels. I will take some time later to describe him in depth as it would be an injustice to try and do it in one sitting.

Anyway 6 weeks turned into 10 which turned into 16 and so on. This is when I remember a very dark cloud descending over my mother.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Harveys Bristol Cream

I was born in Bristol in 1973. I was the first born and spent my first 4 years as a single child before my brother decided to make an appearance. My mother worked at Bristol Zoo and my Dad was a quantity surveyor who unfortunately had this desire to return to university to retrain as a doctor. I say unfortunate as it lead to my parents splitting when I was four after my father had moved the family up to Nottingham so that he could go to med school.

Towards the end of his first term he asked my mother, my brother and me to return to Bristol for 6 weeks so that he could revise for 'these really difficult exams'. That was the last I remember of him till I met him in 1995 briefly however his impact on my life was as I hope to describe clearly was utterly profound.

In the beginning there was lager

I have to be honest and say until speaking to The Knifeman I hadn't ever considered writing a blog. Id thought about a book but the idea of sitting down and thinking about how I would go about it and what I would actually say is rather daunting. I think Ive got a useful tale to tell, not so much from a purely entertainment value but as a matter of fact and hopefully transparent account of the horrors I have been through.

I also want to mention those who watched me descend into a pit of suicidal despair and those who stood up and helped me drag myself away from an early grave. Ive got no idea how to structure this and a lot of what I write may or may not be actually true, but it will be factual from my perspective.

I have a lot of demons still burning in my soul despite 5 years of complete sobriety and this is one way that I can perhaps help deal with those. It wont be completely self centered and there are some amusing, if not a little embarrassing anecdotes to share.

I will dedicate this blog to the person who saved me, they know who they are and no matter what the future holds for either of us I will be forever indebted.