Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Hell at School, Great At Home....

Due to my last post being a little bit upsetting and this one being a bit low too, I thought I would start off my showing you a little bit of artwork I am working on.

I made this with the following steps.

  • I applied some white acrylic through the SplodgeAway Fantail Mask and blasted it with the heat-gun until is blistered.

  • I then added some bright green Dylusion Ink and blasted again.

  • After that I added some Inka Gold with my finger.

  • Then I added some Barn Door Distress Ink from the bottom left to the middle.

  • Once I dried it again I decided to add some Midnight Blue Cosmic Shimmer Glimmer Mist.

  • I didn't feel that the colours worked too well so I tied the whole lot in with Inca Gold. I think it pulled the whole image together and it popped.

OK back to my life story....

I had a few friends at school but some of them still bullied me, which tended to hurt more.  Anth, Keith, Kevin & Magee were the ones I hung around with.  I remember a time when we rode our bikes down to Jesmond Dene and spend the whole day messing about in the river near the waterfall, I remember the day being really hot.  The sun was shining, the trees were still and the water was icy cold.  Surrounded by mates who were treating me like an equal, life couldn't be better. 

Me and Keith in our trendy Shell Suits.. .ha ha ha

I remember having a birthday party at the Buddle in the main theatre.  It was before all of the bullying started and it was brilliant.  My dad had a candy floss machine and was with his new "Friend who he is now married to lol"  Debbie..... 

A few of the lads including Anth, Keith, Kevin and David.... At my birthday party before it got tough.
If my memory serves me correctly, I barricaded myself in the staff only office as the girls said they were going to kiss me, I started to bubble.  God I was a wimp... lol

I remember Emily, Yvonne & Karen sorry to the other girls....

Oh I would like to apologise to Emily as in first school in sewing class I kept stealing her pencil and she kept grabbing it and jumping down on to her seat.  When she went to the teacher I decided to put her sewing on her chair with the needle pointing up, when she came back she saw her pencil and jumped back onto her chair where the needle stuck in her bum!  SORRY...

I always remember Magee being a quiet lad who didn't speak much but he was strongest and the most daring.  We decided to take a ride over to the ruins of what I believe was an old mill.  This was obviously a "No Go" area as signs adorned the walls and the tall prominent dulled iron fence was a bit of a give away.  But we thought what the hell, we wanted to see what's inside.  So Magee was the first one up followed by Anth & I think Keith, my memory doesn't serve me too well.  

Keith and Anth climbed down onto the jagged broken bits of rock and wall below and Magee decided he would climb around the walls to hone his monkey like skills, he was a strong climber and had no fear.  I couldn't see a way down the 20 or so foot of wall so shouted down to the lads for reassurance.  "There's a brick you can put your foot on just below you" shouted Keith just before getting back to exploring.  I decided to go for it so I started to move myself into a position that would allow me to climb down and caught my foot on a loose root, I almost fell of but managed to grab onto some grass which allowed me to get my balance back, my stomach churned a little bit but I managed to calm my nerves as I didn't want to appear a wimp.  

I started hanging over the edge with my feet dangling, holding onto the grass which started to make a clicking/plucking sound as it started to pull out of the soft brown dirt.  I frantically waved my feet around trying to find the foot hold but I was to small.  I couldn't reach it.  I then dawned on me, this grass is going to rip out of the ground and I will fall onto the rocks below right onto my back,  just as I started to pull myself up, the grass come away and I found myself dangling 20 feet up my nothing but my fingertips, I had almost no air in my lungs and could afford to breath as this would have sent me speeding to my demise.  All I could do was shout in a quite almost whisper "Magee".  He had spotted that I was in trouble and was already above me.  He grabbed me by the wrist and easily pulled me up.  I don't know if he realised it at the time, but Magee saved my life.   I never did climb down that wall.

As time went on in School the bullying got worse and worse and was particularly bad from Gavin and his side kick Geoffrey.  Geoffrey was what I would call nowadays as an adult "A little Shit" he was rude to the teachers, nasty to adults out side and a bully.  Its strange as he was almost as small as me, yet he had the name for himself.  

Geoffery made my life hell constantly ridiculing me and belittling me in front of the whole class.  It was relentless, every day I would dread going into school.  To give you an idea of how bad my school was, one time in my English class, a lad who I will not name spent the whole lesson inhaling lighter gas which he had hidden up his sleeve.  Another lad bragged about how he had stolen 5 motorbikes and another one was arrested in class for stealing his dads car, they were all around 14 years old!

Dad and Debs... "We are just friends" that still makes me giggle now... Love you both and Josh!

Geoffery had a run in with my Dad one day, even some adults were afraid of the repercussions of tackling him.  My Dad was a worker at the Buddle Arts Centre and one of his jobs was to look after the Christmas lights, in those days there was no such thing as LED's they were big coloured glass bulbs.  My dad noticed several of them broken so he replaced them, the next day more were broken.  He could not work out why as they were at least 15 foot up in the Cherry Blossom Trees that adorned the front of the building.  

I loved those trees, every time I see a Cherry Blossom Tree I get that warm fuzzy feeling of security, comfort and happiness.  When I eventually manage to buy a house I am planting as many as I can.

He decided to sit in the building early in the morning and watch.  Along come Geoffrey grasping his trusty broom shank. He climbed up onto the wall and started smashing the bulbs one at a time.  My dad took action as he was also a tough bugger from an even worse estate Biker!  Geoffrey spent the rest of the morning gaffa taped to one of the cherry trees with his feet 12 inches off the ground.  He was only let down when he promised he would not smash them again.  He didn't.   Way to go dad!  That still makes me laugh, please understand that the details may be slightly different but I can only go on what I was told at the time.

That bloody Air Gun again.....

One day the lads at school found out that Neil had an Air Pistol.  They went on and on for days relentlessly bullying me into bringing it into school.  I declined but did agree to bring it out one night after school.  I hid it in my coat and sneaked it past my mam (Sorry mam you don't know this).  I met Anth at school a couple of the other lads turned up, I nervously showed them this large gun and put it back in my coat. It was dark and Anth took it off me and said "giviz a go" he shot at the window of the school but it just bounced off.  "Its shit" he said with disgust.  He was biffing away on his cigarette and a thought popped into my head.  He was holding it in his mouth while ignoring me talking to someone else.  Ill teach him, I thought to myself.  I loaded the pistol and being a very good shot, took aim at his cigarette.  I was about 8 foot away  I was aiming at the glowing end.  I knew I had no chance of hitting it but thought I might scare him a little. I slowly squeezed the trigger as Neil told me you never pull it.  It was a shot in a million!  I actually hit the end of the ciggy and it exploded into a fireball of embers which looked like a small firework without the bang. The embers floated through the air for a second or so emphasised by the black of the sky.

I thought I was clever and got a buzz from the attention I got because of my sharp shooting, of course it was total fluke.  I agreed to take Neils gun in to school.  Looking back I know how irresponsible that was and how I should have been punished to the extreme, bullied or not!  It was stolen out of my bag that day. I later found out that Anth and Magee had took it to Newcastle and sold it.  I was upset that I lost Neils air gun but most of all, I broke the golden rule.  Air guns are not toys.  To this day my mother thinks she threw it out, but mother you threw out a realistic looking toy gun.  I'm now in trouble.    Please let me reiterate once more to whoever is reading this. Air guns are not toys, I was silly and irresponsible and I was very lucky nobody got hurt.  I was 14 at the time so should have known better.  

The bullying was getting so bad I started getting hyper stressed and started to loose my mind a little bit, I contemplated climbing up onto the Burn Bridge and jumping off, but I never had the bottle.  It come to a head one day.  It was first class and Geoffrey started his normal routine of calling me nasty names and when I ignored him making turning up the heat. I was cutting something out that day in art with a craft knife.  I wasn't much good at what I call academic art when I was younger but I did enjoy it.  Geoffery was particularly nasty and I could feel my temper growing and growing, my chest was getting tighter and tighter.  

I snapped and went to grab him but he bolted and thought it was funny to run around the table, he didn't realise how close he was to getting seriously hurt,  I lunged over the table and grabbed him by the collar and threw him up against the large white enamel sink (which must of hurt) and suddenly found myself with the craft knife at his jugular.  Just as I realised what I was doing, I suddenly flew back away from him, the teacher had grabbed me by the back of my shirt collar and dragged me out of the class.  I remember the teacher shouting at me and as if in a film I couldn't ever hear her, I was just in contemplation.  I didn't want to be a monster but found myself in a battle with my sanity.  

I remember being told that I was to stay back after school to face the year head.  I had RE next lesson, I had the normal 'we are going to fill you in after school', 'we are going to burn your house down' all that type of thing.  I went into RE where Gavin was.  I used to dread RE as the teacher had no control over the animals in my class.  After 30 minutes of shit I remember Gavin picking up a large bible and smashing it over my head, it really hurt and I swear I felt a crunch in my neck.  This was the last straw.   I got up and started to walk over to the door.  The teacher told me to sit back down, I just ignored her and ran out of school with a sinking feeling in my stomach and a painful neck.  Once I got to the top of the burn I started crying and didn't stop for a good 4 hours, it was like everything came out in one go.  

I never returned to school.  My mother decided she would home school me.  But I had other ideas....

A few months later while driving up the coast road in my Dads car after visiting him we drove past a major accident.  I later found out that Geoffrey had ran over the motorway to avoid some bigger lads that were chasing him and had been hit by a car, the car apparently knocked him into several other cars and vans and he ended up over the 8 foot fence and on the other side of the road.  Obviously he was dead and had no hope of revival.  This hit me hard and for weeks I was sobbing in my room trying not to let people know.  Karma is a bitch!  I'm sorry Geoffrey, I wish you were just injured and maybe we could have had a coffee and put old demons to bed....  I forgive you mate. 

I got a computer a few years before fir Christmas called a ZX Spectrum, remember it?  I used to love to see how it worked and found it interesting to try and attempt to write little games but it had a terrible BASIC language so I couldn't write anything worth keeping.  

Neil brought an Atari ST in from college (he studied music technology and was very talented)  one day, this was state of the art.  I remember him putting on a game which was in full colour, this was unheard of.  I played on it for hours.  I cant remember what it was called but I remember you were an insect and I found it amazing that you could walk on the ceiling.  After a couple of days Neil had to take the machine back to college.  He told me he had talked my Mam into buying me an Amiga 500.  I had never heard of it.  But I was excited as he told me it was a powerful machine.  

Christmas come and I opened the box, my Mam and Neil had went in to debt to get me it.  This was the best this they could have done for me. This was to be my new education.  I didn't want to learn silly stuff like Maths and English.  I wanted to learn programming and how to change programs.  Later I found that this was actually called hacking and I got into a fair bit of trouble doing it.  But we will get to that on another post.  Living in my bedroom, working out how to create boot-able disks using LIB files I developed an array of simple programming skills.  The internet was around in those days but mostly it was bulletin boards.   These were telephone numbers of other computers that would share their files to you. I could only develop my skills by reading the help file and seeing how other people had written their coding.  

I met a lad called Peter who visited my house with his mother who was called Sonia.  Peter was a bit younger than me and seemed pretty nice but after a while I met his older brother Bruce who was about my age.  Bruce was a keep programmer who was confident. I remember he turned on his computer and showed me a green screen.  He typed in a few lines of code and I could see "Connecting to the FBI secure connection"  a load of code popped up on the screen and he typed a couple more lines of code.  Up pops a password cracker and sets to work on the system.  It found the password within 3 or 4 seconds.  The next thing that happened is it opened a file system up......  I remember thinking... It cant be that easy, then I noticed there was no modem.  After that the system crashed and it returned to the programming language.  

Bruce had written a fake program to make it look like he was hacking, however this was enough to get my mind energised by the buzz of breaking and entering into the world of computers. I started honing my skills in programming in Amos Basic then Blitz Basic, I found out how to use a hexadecimal editor to change games and hacked my first game.  Micro machines for the Amiga.  I remember changing the names of the characters to the names of my family.
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge II.... if i'm not mistaken.... 

Me and Bruce spent more time together and started making contacts within the field of computers.  I could get my hands on almost any software that you needed, from the latest game to topless pictures.  I could get it all.  In fact there was a little shop on Chillingham Road near Newcastle It was called the Public Domain Shop.  Of course it was a front for illegal software copying.  They supplied us anything we needed for £1.50 per disk which was still a fair bit of cash in those days.  The average game was between £6.99 and £8.99 so you still saved a good bit.  
My true education.... That's also The Terminator II game, the first Amiga game with colour full motion video in it!

Once day I had bought a few disks off a friend for 25p per disk.  I was scanning through them and I found my first Adult video disk.  This went into my secret collection.  The funny thing was, the disks didn't hold much data so the videos were in black and white and only lasted about 2 seconds.  So the programmer decided to play it then reverse it on a look, it was hilarious and to be honest you could see much on a video 1" by 2".  Another disk I found was very interesting.  It was the Infamous "Jolly Rogers Cookbook".  

Only actual screenshot I can find... 

No his was not a recipe book, well.... it was sort of.  But it was not cakes you were making it was bad things like bombs and drugs and things to hurt people.  I decided to hide this under my carpet next to my bedroom door as I hid things there from time to time.  I knew it was bad and I should have it but just the excitement of owning it was enough to keep it.  I remember one day it was on John Cravens Newsround stating that this illegal disk was doing its rounds and it was bad .  I remember me saying to my mother "That's terrible"  unbeknownst to her it wasn't more that 20 foot away from her.  

I remember printing some stuff off with my mates Dot Matrix printer. and keeping it for a rainy day.

A few weeks later I was told to come into the front room where my Mam and Neil spent a good hour shouting at me trying to get me to understand how bad it was.  The lecture ended with Neil cracking the disk in half and ripping its insides out.  They didn't know I had another 5 copies. 

Well I am aware its now midnight so I am going to end this post here.  I hope you come back for the next instalment.  Thanks for reading about my life.  

In the mean time I will post some other pictures of when I was young.

The most talented artist I have ever met and my mentor when I was young Reddish!

My Nana, Aunty Jackie and Me all had our appendix out in the same week and were in the paper...

Neil Teaching me Robotix....

My Mam, Uncle Tommy & Aunty Jackie when they were weeee

My Mam and Dad...

Me and my cousin Sara


  1. I enjoyed reading this episode as I remember the computers u so mentioned lol. Aww it's a Shane about Geoffrey but karma had other ideas and it's not your fault. Xx

  2. Another interesting post Tom. Its clear how talented you are in many fields, except climbing! Your peeling back all the layers and it's fascinating read.I LOVE the artwork at the beginning... going to try that myself .
    E xx

  3. You must have been a brainy kid to fathom out computers in those early days! Kids now would have called you a nerd or a geek! I hope all this confessing will be good for your soul! My grown up kids now let me know the dangerous and illegal pranks they got up to in their younger days. Now they have children around this age of 14 and 15 so they are finding out it isn't easy to know what they are up to all to, all the time.
    Well done Tom, I look forward to tomorrow; by the way love the art work too.

  4. Gripping Tom. Amazing how others can push our buttons. And thank goodness for Magee. Remember, when you plant your cherry trees, keep them well away from the house or any drains x

  5. Totally gripped Tom, so fascinating, what a talented man you are.
    The art work is fantastic, might have to give it a go xx Zoe xx

  6. Another brilliant installment You could be an author among your other talents.

  7. Wow Tom, the artwork is brilliant and you have been kind enough to tell us how you did it too, thanks.
    Your life story is really interesting and shows the dreadful effects bullying can have on people. x

  8. So enjoying reading your blogs xxx

  9. Would love to see the full pieces of artwork. The colours are fab. The story is so sad in parts. I hope bullies are stamped on much more quickly these days. Thanks for sharing your life.