Rorkes drift, January 22-23 1879, will forever be remembered as the day the Red coats told those pesky Zulu heathens to bugger off!
Just under 100 years later on the 11th of January 1979 I was born!
Heres my story, which is very much inspired by The Imperfect Modellers Memoirs posted mid last year. Here ‘tis
Forty years old?! Wow! I’m both surprised and pleased that I’m here.
I was born at home with Dad telling mum jokes and my two older sisters at school. When I was introduced to my second eldest sister she said, “oh yeah, where’s my comic (Beano I think it was called).” Nice. Nothing overly special about another baby being born into the big wide world BUT Mum wanted a boy and she got one. Dad wasn’t overly keen on having another kid after having my two sisters, don’t blame him, but was well chuffed when I came along. I’m pretty sure that as soon as I was born he couldn’t wait to have a beer with me one day haha.
Then, a few months later, it was almost all over for this golden haired brown eyed boy. I had something wrong with me, of which the name of it contains just about every letter in the alphabet. Mum remembers it. I’d wake up in the morning with a bone dry nappy. Now anyone knowing anything about babies and nappys knows that baby’s Nappys are always full of poop and piss. Something was wrong and Mum knew it. She took me to the Doctors but they just fobbed her off as a worrying new mum, except she wasn’t new at being a mum! Then I wasn’t holding down any food at all. I’d be fed then moments later I would projectile vomit. Yes that’s exactly what it sounds like. I kinda wish I could still do that haha. Mum took me to the hospital and said, “I’m not leaving until someone fixes my son.” Yep, she’s basically wonder woman. The Doctors checked me over and pretty much rushed me into surgery. My insides were all blocked up so food would go down and then because it had nowhere else to go it came back up. The operation went well and I still have the scar to prove it. For years I told people it was from a knife fight haha.
That was the first time I nearly died.
The second time came a couple of years later when I was in my sisters bedroom minding my own business playing with my stuffed snoopy dog on the windowsill when all of a sudden the window fell open and away I went. A two storey drop to, thankfully, grass below. My other sister who was at the doorstep saw the whole thing and ran to my mum screaming Luke’s Dead! A few hours in the hospital and I came home with a few bruises asking for fish and chips for dinner. Needless to say that a lot of people started calling me Luke Skywalker after that.
That was the second time I almost died.
Other times include being hit by a car when I was fourteen. I was splayed across the bonnet and hopped off and limped away. I was more embarrassed than anything else. The next day I woke up with bruises all down my leg and thigh. I chose not to tell mum and dad because I didn’t want to worry them. Also at the age of fourteen I had a sharpened screwdriver put to my throat at school. An older kid got it in his head that I’d slept with his girlfriend. All he knew was that it was a younger kid called Luke. Surprisingly I was quite calm at the time and told the boy that it wasn’t me. He eventually let me go. Again I didn’t tell mum and dad because I didn’t want them to be alarmed. Crazy!
Then in 2008 a full pallet of porcelain tiles came crashing down on top of the forklift I was driving. The shelf it was sitting on was faulty. I just curled up in the seat with my arms over my head and hoped for the best. Luckily the forklift had a roof but by the end of the downfall the roof was pretty caved in but luckily my head wasn’t.
Another time I guess there was potential for death when I chased after a gunman who had held up Pawn shop. Long story but I managed to get the make of the getaway car which eventually lead to the arrest of two dudes.
Sounds made up but there is ne
Pretty much up until I was fourteen I played with soldiers, GI Joes, cars, lego and He-Man. I remember when I was twelve looking through the Lego catalogs and seeing that the age recommendation for Pirate and Castle Lego was 7 – 12. I felt panicked by this because I felt it meant my childhood was over. I didn’t want it to be over. Ever! I had the greatest childhood. I was lost in my own far out imaginative world filled with large scale battles between green and grey plastic soldiers or huge pirate Lego islands. I’d play outside all day every day with my toy guns and cars. I remember once I started bashing up my toy cars with large rocks because I wanted them to look like Derby Crash Cars I’d seen on the telly. So much cooler than overly polished shiny cars. Dad found me doing it and gave me a long lecture on how other kids in the world didn’t even have toys. I remember thinking but I’m not ruining them I’m making them the way I want them to look.
The same went for Lego. I’d build what I was supposed to build but didn’t enjoy it. I’d quickly pull it apart and build something entirely different. I love all the lego men the most. My favourite games to play was The Great Race, inspired by the movie of the same name. I’d make all these weird and wonderful vehicles and they’d all have a huge race around the house. The other one was just called Islands. There’d be one really nice island with a hospital and cafe etc and then another scary island full of gun toting pirates who’d raid the nice island. The civilians of the nice island would eventually start to fight back with pitchforks and bits of pipe haha. Brilliant. Inevitably though the bad guys always won.
Still at the table playing with my toys hehe.
In all my games, the only time the “good guys” would win was when I played with my soldiers. Basically the greens always beat the greys but only just. It always came down to my lay few, favourite, green soldiers left standing after an epic battle. Mum still laughs today about how many soldiers she’d find all over the house. She’d even find them in the freezer to which I explained they were being tortured for information haha.
At school I always forced to be Luke Skywalker but I always wanted to be Darth Vader.
When it came to superheroes though I was Superman allllllllllll the way!!!!!!!!!
Nursery school (kindergarten) was brilliant. The teachers loved me and I got along with all the kids. Then I moved into primary school which was right next door to nursery school and I’d spend my recesses and lunchtimes staring through the fence at my old school. Even then I was reluctant to grow up.
Eventually I found my place and realised I had an ability to make the other kids laugh. Either at me or with me I didn’t mind. I also discovered girls from a young age. I was 7 when I first fell in love. Her name was Claire and we’d sit together at lunch and hold hands. She’d kiss my cheeks and I’d just smile away haha.
Then the family up and moved to Australia and boy was I excited.
The only thing I missed was Claire. Every time “A voice in the wilderness” (Cliff Richard) came on the radio or Dad put it on I’d burst into tears. Hahaha.
Before coming to Australia my visions of it was dusty roads and Kangaroos everywhere. I remember being absolutely stunned and disappointed at seeing traffic lights. I think I was secretly hoping for a town straight out of a Wild West movie.
Due to my schooling in England they weren’t sure weather to put me in grade 2 or 3. They went for 3 and, luckily, I did ok. I’ve never been the smartest but I certainly wasn’t the dumbest either. Although I did a hell of a lot of dumb things.
Primary school in Australia was much the same as it was in the UK apart from the fact that everyone giggled at the way I said worlds like Water (War Ah) or Dance, branch etc. It was at this young age that I learnt girls like an accent 😉
Unfortunately the technical college I went to for high school (only four girls in my year who were quite butch) didn’t think my accent was cute at all and I was singled out and bullied for all of my first year. I was in trouble if the Poms lost the cricket and I was in trouble if they won haha. I didn’t even like cricket but my tormentors didn’t seem to care. As much as I was quite sad and lonely in this first year I also learnt how to stick up for myself and defend myself. In other words I learnt how to fight. Dad had always told me to never start a fight and never be a coward. I lived by those rules.
I remember an older boy who was twice my size wanted to fight me after school one day and I was literally shaking with fear because I knew I didn’t stand a chance. All I could hear was my dads voice though. Don’t be a coward. So, I turned up ready for my beating and even though I landed a couple of good ones I got a good kicking. However the boy never bothered me again.
The tech school was a dog eat dog environment where I learned to be thick skinned and tough as nails. I got into a lot of fights but I can honestly say I never started any of them. It was usually a case of me sticking up for my mouthy mates. In those early days I’d be getting into mischief and fights at school and then going home to play with my GI Joes hehe. Quite a contrast. On one side I was one of the lads kicking around and on the other side I was this pretty content boy playing with his toys.
When it came to my studies I’d love to say that I excelled but I was too sidetracked by my mates and then by girls haha.
After year nine our school which, as mentioned, only had four girls in my year merged with a nicer, prettier and posher school that was filled to the brim with girls.
My Tech mates and I were shocked by two things. 1. How goody, goody everyone was and 2 by alllllllll the girls.
Two things happened. 1. The boys at that school feared us and 2. The girls at that school loved us. Now a bit older and wiser I started to use my accent to its full advantage. Girls would purposely want to sit next to me so they could hear the way I spoke. Despite what you lot may think I was actually a bit shy but I loved the attention. At fifteen I wasn’t quite confident enough to ask any of them out though.
One girl in my history class caught my eye but I was far too nervous to approach her but I fell in love. Then, as fate would have it, Year 10 camp came along and the girl and I hit it off and we got together. We stayed together as high school sweethearts up until we were twenty. Rare these days I’d say. We had a great five years together but, inevitably, grew apart and so I ended things with her.
Around the age of 16 my mates and I formed a punk metal band. We practiced at a rehearsal studio every couple of weeks and recorded our three note, fast hitting, juvenile lyric songs on a cassette player. I remember playing it to some girls at school who were blown away. One girl said, you guys always act the clowns but you’re actually quite clever. We had songs called Eat Me, Toxic Head, Up Yours baby and Psycho Spirits haha. A couple of ears after school we recorded and EP and had a gig at a casino in the city but then it all ended. Great times though. One night we played so hard and got so carried away that we smashed up my drum kit. Rock n Roll man. At one gig we did for a friends 18th one of my best mates met and fell in love with a girl who he is still with and has been married to her for fourteen years.
They were crazy days but we all had a blast. Those three mates are still my best mates today. They’re my brothers. We’ve been through good times bad times together. In June this year we are all heading to Bali for a much needed boys trip.
All these years later the same motley four have reformed the band and have just gone in a heavier direction. I’d say there’s still a strong base in punk but with more edgier guitar rifts, drums and vocals.
I’ve always loved music and was raised on it thanks to mum and dad. I didn’t actually pick up an instrument until I was twelve after watching Jerry Lee Lewis set fire to his piano on a video with Dad. My mind was blown. I asked for a keyboard for Christmas. Without sounding arrogant music came easy to me. It was as clear and as straight forward to me as walking. It just felt natural. I’d hear a tune and just play it. Encouraged by my folks I kept at it. Never learnt to read it but taught myself guitar and drums too. Later on I started singing too and even though I don’t consider myself a singer like Freddie Mercury I found a style that worked. Down the track my best mate and I formed a two piece blues and roots band and, for an original band, we had some nice local success. More crazy times haha. The stand out gig was our album launch. A few hundred people all cheering and getting into your original music was a real buzz. Plus the albums sold like hot cakes.
Without music I don’t know how I would have managed to get through some of the lower times of life. Without going into it too much, like a lot of us, life hasn’t always been peaches. I’ve had some incredible lows but music was my therapy, my go to for air when I felt suffocated by all the bad things thrown at me. I’d write song after song after song and, looking back, some of those songs were pretty blatant. I was telling everyone how I felt without actually talking to anyone. I was also lucky that I had two amazing parents who taught me to always be positive. So that, with the music meant I could get through anything and I did with flying colours! Apart from when I was a kid playing with my toys, the last ten years have been the happiest of my life.
I’m lucky enough to say that the happiest days of my life have been when my three daughters were born and my wedding day.
I never thought I’d be a Dad. I was too immature, too wild and to be honest too bloody stupid. However, surprise, the first one came along and changed my world. I was so scared of failing that I loaned out a whole bunch of books from the library on how to be a good parent, how to raise girls etc. Funnily enough it was my so called immaturity that helped and still helps me be a good dad. To be honest I don’t believe I’m good at much at all but I know I’m a great dad because the proof is my three wonderful girls. They’re amazing. Each one unique but all the same as well. They are sensitive, generous, caring, tough, clever, creative and bloody funny.
Like being a Dad I never thought I’d be a husband either. I always said I wasn’t the marrying kind but I realised after meeting my wife that I just hadn’t found the kind I wanted to marry until her. We got married on the beach and it was small, romantic, intimate, quirky and full of love and laughter.
Funny how life goes…
Career wise I was one of those kids that had no idea what to do after school. I knew I wasn’t dumb but I just had no idea where to start with a career. At 16-17 all I cared about was girls, my band and parties haha. I still feel they get it backwards. I think at the age of 30 is when you should be able to go on to further education because then I knew what I wanted but it was already sort of too late. Anyway, I went into horticulture first because I enjoyed working outdoors but unfortunately the people I worked for just about gave me a mental break down. After being unemployed for a bit I applied for a job in printing. I told the bloke I’d sweep the floors for $5 an hour and that I just wanted to work. He took me on and then a few years later I was a fully qualified cert 3 Printer for a tile manufacturing company. Then I moved into product development and thoroughly enjoyed that because I could be creative. That’s where I learnt about colours and how they work. Next I moved into sales. Retail first which I enjoyed and eventually, after only a year, became a manager. That was a tough gig but I threw myself into it with much gusto. About a year later I left there and found another job in the building industry with an amazing company where I made some life long friends. One of which was the grooms LADY at my wedding hehe. I was there for a good solid three years then a mate of mine hired me as a sales Rep for a new company he was working for. Again it was in the building industry. I loved this job a lot and enjoyed the freedom and responsibility of being your own boss on the road. The downside was the interstate travel and also my mate (the boss) and I started to clash. After four years I made the call to move because I didn’t want us to end up hating each other (we are still great mates today). I became an architectural Rep for a company in the city and met more wonderful people. Bloody unorganised but creative and arty and funny people who I’m still friends with.
Then something terrible happened. One of my best mates son passed away from cancer when he was just twelve. He was an amazing kid. Well loved at school and at his footy and cricket clubs. It hit us all like a ton of bricks.
Something in me changed. All my life I’ve been a dreamer and had always dreamed of having my own business and this was a kick up the arse. This little man had done so much with his life in such a short time. I had to try otherwise I’d be on my death bed regretting it. So, after talking with the wife and mum and dad, I jumped in the deep end. Now, 18 months later I can honestly say that my only regret is not taking the leap sooner in life. I now run a very humble garden/landscaping/maintenance business which I thoroughly enjoy. It’s tough mentally and physically draining at times but I love it. Working outdoors, meeting new people, being my own boss is heaven. I find it very rewarding in the sense that I do a lot of work for elderly people and people with disabilities and their faces light up when they see what I’ve done with their gardens.
Back in early 2015 my best mate (same one who was in the blues and roots band), who knows me very, very well, suggested I start a blog for my miniatures. At first I was dubious and thought who’s gonna care about my little creations ? Haha. Now here I am all these years later boring you lot with my memoirs hahaha.
So, looking back, I’ve always been quite a confident chap who is quite happy to stand up to bullies, sing in front of crowds and tell funny stories to whoever wants to listen BUT there’s a different side to me too. A side not a lot of people see I guess. I’m a loner in a lot of ways. One who’d be quite happy to live as a recluse away from people and just paint my models and play my guitar. Of course I’d have my family but, even though I’m a people person, I really like my own time. I never get bored or lonely. I’m too creative and have too much going on in my head to ever feel lonely or bored haha.
I think having your own time is essential to a happy life.
I’m a dad, a husband, a gardener, a son, a brother, a mate and a nutcase but I’m also a little boy who needs to play with his toys and get lost in his own imagination.
So that’s me. Like The Imperfect Modeller mentioned in his memoirs I wasn’t too sure about this post but I’m very much the type of person who sees a button with a sign that says DO NOT PRESS and I press it haha. So why not aye?
Thanks for reading and here’s to a great 2019.