Celtic Illumination, part 338, Hanging in the hood.
Despite the obvious setbacks, drawbacks, knockbacks whatever you want to call them, I kept on going. Some of the people I approached I really didn’t want to, like the comedian Steve Coogan. I knew that he was a very capable and top flight comedian, but I still had come up with an idea for a book for him so thought I would give him a try anyway. He turned me down as did Steve Furst, to whom I had presented an idea for one of his characters, Lenny Beige. It was obvious that these people didn’t really need me, but there was always the chance that they may be interested in a second income stream for very little work. So there was always a torrent of suggestions and ideas passing between Jeffrey and myself. I was writing one comedy sketch per week for a radio show in Northern Ireland. It wouldn’t get me the red bricked Victorian mansion with the turban wearing Indian manservant, but it was a start and it was regular.
I was still with the air cadets and I was still refusing to wear the uniform. I remember that the Wing Commander popped in one evening and asked me where my uniform was. I could have told him that it was still in the bag it came in, on the floor of my wardrobe, but as this fellow only had his position because he was a member of the Masonic Lodges I didn’t think he deserved the proper answer. I told him that I had forgotten how to tie my shoelaces so from a health and safety aspect I couldn’t wear the uniform. It was a joke, in a way, but it was also a statement. He didn’t take it very well and I am sure that that was the exact point where my exit from the air cadets began.
I thoroughly enjoyed being in the wilds of Wales. I loved the fact that my two eldest boys were learning how to swim and canoe and camp and climb and I really enjoyed seeing them enjoy themselves. It was one of those old two edged sword type things. On the one hand it would have been better if it was just me and the boys but on the other hand they had the cadets to interact with. So although I would have preferred to have just the three of us out and about, I settled for thirty six instead. And there were other benefits in the connection my two eldest boys had with the older cadets. Skelmersdale, as I mentioned before, was where all the people from the slums of Liverpool had been dumped.
Skelmersdale was like one big council housing estate. There was an awful lot of mindless gang violence so my boys were protected by the older cadets; it was often enough to let the thugs know that you had bigger friends. And don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just the spotty youth who were a problem in Skelmersdale, most of the adults were snarling, angry, layabouts who hated the idea that someone might get on in life. I actually had the temerity to complain to the parents of troublesome local children, people who lived in our little close. I asked that they speak to their children and tell them not to play football in our front garden. I didn’t expect to get called a stuck up snob. In forces married quarters people respected each other, if children did something wrong they were spoken to about it. Here I was finding that if you complained to the parents both the mother and current father would be offering you fisticuffs.
In most of the houses I had lived in you would probably find a nice coat stand by the front door, for coats and walking sticks, but in Skelmersdale you would be more likely to find a baseball bat. The neighbours were so petulant I think they actually encouraged their children to pester and annoy me and my family. I was putting my daughter Jane to bed one evening, heard a noise and on looking out of the window saw the son of my next door neighbour throwing stones at her bedroom window. This was not in any way a romantic episode, like Romeo and Juliet with, “What light through yonder window breaks?” The little fecker was trying to break yonder window, not my daughter’s heart. “Got ya!!” I roared, pleased that I had caught him in the act. This little thug had already been classified as ‘special needs’ and was taken to and from his special school every day in a, local council paid for, taxi. Special needs my arse, with a new father every six weeks or so the young man had no one to look up to or explain the difference between right and wrong to him.
Irene actually went to complain and like myself was told that she was a stuck up snob and should move out of the area for she didn’t belong there. I began to leave a camera on the front windowsill so that if I found them up to no good in my garden, or attacking my house, I could show them that I was recording the event. Unfortunately they did see me with the camera and I say unfortunately because I was unaware of how creative the mind of an unemployed drug dealing wastrel could get. I was now being called a pervert as I was taking pictures of children. There were two huge problems with that for me. One there was no film in the camera and secondly they were not children they were little thugs, who would grow into big thugs.
The situation got so bad that I called the police and asked them for a bit of help. I remember speaking to a police man and, having explained the situation to him, have him tell me that if I wanted I could proceed with them and try to stop the problem. “However,” he warned. “You will get more abuse and called more names than you ever have been.” “I’m Irish, ex forces and a wee bit overweight,” I said. “How many more cruel names do you think I could be called?” It was pure luck that I had contacted the police as one night, just before midnight, I heard a noise. I was sitting in the front room, it was nice and quiet, no television or radio on. I was about to go to bed when I heard the strangest of noises. I tried to focus on the noise to work out what it was. It sounded very like a raging sea but more shrill.
Then I noticed what I thought was water rushing down from behind the curtains. It took a second or two to work out what was happening but I suddenly realised that the windows had come in. And I don’t mean that the windows had walked in sat down and helped themselves to a cup of tea. I raced to the front door to see three fellows, each with a claw hammer, running away. Not only had they smashed every window in the front of the house but all the windows on my car had been put through as well. I was in my bare feet; the ground was covered with shards of glass, so I did not give chase. They stood at a safe distance and jeered at me. They only ran when they heard the police sirens approach which upset me, for I now had my shoes on and was giving chase and if the police hadn’t put their sirens on, the thugs may have continued jeering at me and might have been caught.
Because each of them had a claw hammer I understood that the attack had been planned, so did the police. I had to install some security lights and cameras to hopefully prevent any further attacks. We couldn’t move house as we had bought the fecking thing, thanks very much Maggie Thatcher. Thatcher had brought in the right to buy scheme, so as the house was half price, it seemed like a good idea to squirrel away some money and put the house in Irene’s name so that the money was safe from the revenue men. There was a penalty clause that if you sold the house within, I think it was, the first three years you had to pay back some of the discount you had been given, another one of those double edged thingy’s.
I also discovered that most of them were cowards and apart from attacks on our house the worst they could do to me was call me names, which they did, every time they saw me. Fortunately someone had the sense to teach my children a bit of self-defence and when the local thugs discovered that my boys would actually stand up for themselves they soon left them alone. I began to hate living in Skelmersdale, but I wasn’t sure if I hated Skelmersdale, or if I hated myself, for actually living there. There was only one thing I could do which was work even harder and get myself and my family out of there.
I was talking to mother number one on the telephone and she asked how the writing was going. I explained that we had suffered a few setbacks but basically it was going well, I was making progress. I told her I was saving up to buy an Apple Mac computer which would allow me to stop using the ones at the local college. “How much do you need for one of them?” she asked, and I told her they cost one thousand pounds each. She thought for a moment or two and then said. “I’ll buy you one. I’ll help you in any way I can.” Without thinking, I heard myself say. “If you really want to help me, let me come home for a few weeks.” “What?” she asked. “I don’t want your money,” I explained, adding. “But you live all alone in a huge big house. Let me come home for a few weeks so that I can find a decent job, a nice house and can finally bring my family home.” “Okay,” she said. “Three weeks, you can come and stay with me for three weeks.” I bet you all wish you had a mother like mine. Three weeks to find a job and a house, any sensible person understands that it would be impossible, but we are talking about me and as we all know, sensible doesn’t come in to it.