Monday, 17 February 2014



Living in a rough, hard area which was predominantly council housing and unemployed people, life wasn't a walk in the park, in-fact life as a child was pretty tough going.  If you didn't fit in with the so called "Crowd", the crowd made your life very difficult.  Luckily, I was one of the crowd.

Me and my first best friend Kimberly.....

I had a number of friends in first school and was quite popular, the cameras visiting my school gave me a little "street cred" and I was well liked.  I spent most nights and weekends at the Buddle honing my creative skills.

The Buddle Arts Centre where I spent my childhood 
Me holding one of my photos in the paper....

The actual image of a ticket from the opening of my exhibition

Newspaper Cutting at the time.

Its funny how you remember things while typing.  There was a girl in my school I must have been 7 or eight, she was called Shelagh and she was my first Crush... lol I even gave her my prize Roland Rat ruler!  Smooth talker or what....

Home was a little different from school, my Mam and Dad were currently in the middle of a marriage break up.  I knew this because I could hear them fighting and when I entered the room the pair of them went quiet.  I feel in retrospect that if they had just fought in front of me at least I would have been able to understand it better, although I know they did it to protect me.

It wasn't long before my Mam and me were living at my Nana's and we eventually moved into another house and I visited my Dad half of the week.  One poignant thing that stuck in my head was a little snapshot of memory, all I can remember is my dad sitting in his car and pulling away from me without saying goodbye at high speed screeching his tires.  I had never heard a wheel-spin before, it echoed in my head for days like a monster, over and over and over and over again..... Looking back on this I have done the very thing my self, screeching my tires in temper. Talk about me being over sensitive or what.

If your reading this Mam or Dad, don't get upset it was a long time ago and I'm all big now :) I am so glad everything has turned out how it has, as life wouldn't be how it is now.

I met a friend who lived next door to my Nana, he was called Johnny.  He was bigger than me and had tight curly hair which I had never seen before, we made good friends and played out together.  As the metro system was being built, Johnny and I used to play in the mud, digging up stones and looking for insects, at the time it was rather interesting, however I was only about 7 ish.

Me and Johnny in our tree in Battlehill Dean

Johnny was well into football and trying to be part of the accepted group I tried to be interested too.  We used to collect football stickers, however my mother didn't have much money so I couldn't get as many as Johnny had.  He used to sit for hours sorting the cards and offering me swaps, but he had everything I had, so I used to just pretend I enjoyed it as I didn't want to make him feel bad.  Another thing that I remember is Johnny's mother Margaret used to cook egg and chips often but we were not allowed tomato sauce with egg....  Strange...

Hand tinted by my talented mother

After a while, Johnny started being quite aggressive and started pushing me around, I used to try and give as good as I got however he was a lot bigger than me and I wasn't a fighter so I tried to just put up with it.  It came to a head one day while in the passage of his mothers house, I don't know the reason why, but Johnny pushed me up against the wall by my neck, shot me on the floor and jumped on my chest and started smashing my head off the floor.  Thank god for a thick pile carpet...  My mother decided to keep me away from Johnny and we were not the same friends as we once were.  Many years later I met Johnny on a training course and he seemed like he had grown up, although I still detected arrogance.

Please understand that the time frames may be slightly out, but you get the drift.

I used to love walking around my area taking snapshots of things, the new shiny bus station and metro system in Wallsend, The huge cranes at Swan Hunters shipyards that towered above the houses and looked like some sort of iron clad dinosaur from a million years ago and just snaps of people going about their business.  Its amazing what you could get away with when your were only 7.

This isn't my photo but it reminds me of the time.

Well, after losing my love of photography at such an early age, I reverted back to a child and continued school as normal.  I don't know if your aware but when I was a child about 150 years ago, schools in our area were segmented into First school, Middle School and High School, I thought that may be important to keep you in the loop.

So first school was a breeze, I had lots of friends and loved my teachers, especially Mrs Horden, I don't even know if she is still alive, but what I can say is she is alive in my mind as she helped shape me as a child.

Quite an early photo with my mams dog Lynn

I remember my first day in Middle school well, very well!  The reason for is about a month before our move to the bigger school, everyone started saying that Middle-Schoolers would flush your head down the toilet and pee on your face and make you drink it.  Well of course when your that age, you believe everything you are are told, I was terrified and no doubt others were too.  So the reason I remember my first day is, on the morning I was desperate for a number two but we were running late so I had to wait and have one at school.  Once the introductions to the new school were over, our first class started, I cant remember exactly what it was but I remember putting up my hand and asking to go to the toilet.  I walked through the door and remembered how big the toilets were and how white the room was.

If my head was going to be flushed or I was to drink someone else's putrid urine, then this was the room it was going to happen in.  I was bursting and was about to slowly walk over the room when I heard voices, I bolted to the toilet and shut the door and to my horror there was no lock on it.  I pulled down my really trendy pants, (yes you do detect a hint of sarcasm) and precariously balanced on the toilet with one of my legs holding the door shut, you have to remember I was very small. I heard somebody walk into the toilet, they soon left, and to my relief my head wasn't flushed, so I wiped myself off and went back to class.

Later that day we were all asked to attend assembly in the main hall.  To my horror the head teacher announced that somebody had pooped on the floor in the bathroom and they would be punished severely if they found out who it was, I never spoke a word about it and to this day they still don't know that it was me....

I settled into school well and made lots of friends and never had my head flushed down the toilet or drank urine, in fact school was pretty good.

I remember two times I got into a little scuffle, one was with a lad called Norman who was much taller than me, I remember having a fight with him, I gave as good as I got and eventually won the battle. The second one I got into was with a really tough lad called Dean, I actually instigated this as he was teasing me so I walked up to him and punched him in the side of the head expecting him to cry, BIG MISTAKE.  He turned around and repetitively punched me in the face and gut until I hit the floor.  It was a wake up, getting hit really hurt.

I made friends with a number of people however one was a lad called Peter.  Peter had an identity crisis with superman and really believed that he was his son, other than that Peter was pretty cool.  I visited his house a number of times and we played with other mates in his huge back garden.  I remember one day Peter told a few of us that he found in his words "A dirty magazine" and he had stashed it in the garage roof.   Of course I was to small to climb up so had to make do with sitting in the garage looking at my mates feet hanging out of the rafters.....

In the meantime my dad had a couple of friends move in with him, Marie and Trevor, they had two children, Keith and Gill.  Keith was my best mate so I thought it was great.  Marie and Trevor were lovely but they were a little strange.  I remember washing my dads car with water from the toilet and Keith's dad Trevor found out and he came down shouting and screaming and actually kicked Keith in the hip, that was a big shock seeing an adult strike a child!

I also remember when I was pretty young, trying to help my dad by hammering the alloy wheel trims to his VW Beetle flat with a mallet, he wasn't to happy about that one... Sorry Dad...

Once I wanted to go into the kitchen and Gill didn't want me to go in, I tried and tried but she was older and bigger than me so I failed.  I thought I would try to be diplomatic by reasoning with her, she said nothing then all of a sudden walked over to me with a sweet smile on her face and kicked me in the balls. That's the first time I had been kicked in the balls and thankfully the last time....

My dad (Paul) was an avid CB radio enthusiast and took pride in having a powerful CB system.  One day Gordon my friend from school came over and we managed to sneak his full CB rig out of the house including the car battery that powered it and installed it on my peddle g-kart, this was an ingenious use of elastic bands, the whole system worked, and for a good four hours me and Gordon took turns pushing each other up and down the back lane.  This was great fun but when it was time for Gordon to go, my dad came to the back gate and noticed that we had is very expensive equipment on my go-kart.  I remember his mouth opening and his jaw dropping, he wasn't to happy, but he never hit me, just sent me to bed.

Life went on and was pretty uneventful for a while I remember going to Sunday school with Keith as Marie was quite religious.  I thought it was very boring and didn't at the time understand why the stories in the bible were important, I was more into Lego and taking things apart to see how they worked. Sunday school didn't last long.  

What I did find is spending equal time between my mams house and my dads house was pretty stressful for me, I needed a set base, so after many weeks of contemplation, and trying to defeat my own guilt I brought the subject up with my mam and said I wanted to visit my dad one a week on a Wednesday.

I remember one day at school in the middle of a lesson the teacher came in and asked me to grab my bag and leave class, she took me to reception where my dad was waiting for me with a smile on his face, he took me out of school about an hour early, he told me as I was walking over the yard that he had a new car.  As we walked out I spotted a small white sports cars, with major excitement I shouted "Is that yours?"  he said no, its the blue one next to it.  I knew the blue one wasn't his as it was my teachers so he walked over to the shiny white Triumph TR7 and opened the doors. 

My dads was a hard top, but you get the idea....

 I sat inside what seemed like a spaceship, remember this was exciting for a little boy.  The best car my dad had owned up until that point was a Vauxhall Viva.  It was a little anticlimactic as I was so small I couldn't see over the dashboard, so all I could see was sky.  I loved spending time with my Dad driving about in that car.

When me and my Mam lived in Battle Hill, my Mam met a guy called Neil, as far as I can remember he lived in Battle Hill too over the big metal bridge which lead over the Dene. 

Neil was my enemy, he invaded my home, was taking my mothers attention and taking my dads place.  In reality, Neil was a lovely guy and my mother was very happy and I was always put first. I made Neil's life a complete misery for a long time, even now, although i'm 35 I still feel guilty for what I don't when i was 9 and 10.  

I will continue my life story on the next post, find out about my Mam, Neil and the times in Stanley Street....

Thanks for reading.


  1. Love it, this is brilliant and to be fair when I was a kid I went through hell but I came out, survived and better for it x

  2. omg!!what is next!!keep writing son its an amazing glimpse into your life !!and i didnt know youd took dads cb stuff!!haha xxxlove itxxx

  3. This is like reading a book can't wait to turn the page and carry on.

  4. You are very good with story telling, wish I could write my memories down so they'd be understood.looking forward to the next blog post. X

  5. Loved reading this Tom can't wait for the next instalment. .
    Shell xx

  6. Enjoyed reading this. You should turn it into a book.

  7. Oh Tom, I love your story. I agree that it should definitely be turned into a book. It is far better than some of the rubbish biographies I've read on my Kindle lately!! Do think about going into print.

  8. Fantastic! And what a reason to remember your first day of Middle School ... So funny!

  9. Lovely story, looking forward to the next installment

  10. I can't wait for the next instalment, the number two story is so funny, I can't believe your actually telling us that?? Lol bless you xx Zoe xx

  11. Yes Tom I love your honesty, reading this brought an old 'toilet' issue back to me that happened when I first started Primary school!! You really have a lovely way with words...looking forward to tomorrow's installment...oh and I so know what you meant in your first post about friends becoming enemies! xxx

  12. Oh Tom what a fantastic story teller you are! You should get it into print with the photos as a gift for your Holly when she is older. She'll love it xxx awaiting instalment no 3 x

  13. Well done Tom on starting this blog.
    People are often too quick to judge someone before taking time to get to know them properly.
    I admire you for taking this step and sharing these personal experiences.
    It's a great blog x

  14. Another great episode Tom. Great reading xx

  15. Brill Tom. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Keep going....looking forward to the next adventures!!! xx

  16. Fascinating read Tom... How proud your parents must be of you.... The picture of the CB triggers many memories for me as I used one for years that belonged to my kids... I went on to take the RAE.
    Even after, just two posts, I want to read ... your book!