This post is emotional, but battle through it gets better in the next post....
Ok, so where were we?
We were going to talk about Stanley Street and my mam and Neil and my little bro Sean. But before that we will talk about meeting Russell and Craig. Russell and Craig were two lads that lived a few doors up from my house in Battlehill, they were two tough lads who were brought up in a tough family. I got on well with Russell but not so well with Craig.
Although the timing is out I wanted to mention my Granda Tom (granda is a Geordie term which is missing the last D). He was a master welder in Swan Hunters and he was a brilliant man who I can still remember. To be honest I can only remember three main snippets of memory, one was my granda taking me to a shop in Howdon to buy me this green honeycomb mint chocolate bar type thing, it was huge about the size of a brick, but it was probably because I was so small.
The other memory I remember is him telling me he was a Spitfire pilot in the war. I later found out that he never flew any type of plane, he was a welder, but it sounded good....
Me and Johnny used to plan how we were going to protect our tree house (it wasn't really a house just a normal tree with one solemn plank nailed don so we could sit on it. As Johnny and I were sitting talking about how we were going to take sand into the tree to throw at them, Russell and Craig come running up the black path after us, we instantly forgot about protecting our tree and we ran into the Dean.
|The Shopping Centre At Battlehill|
We walked for a few minutes and thought we had escaped their clutches, we were wrong. We heard shouting and swearing, remember these were tough lads from Battlehill which was a tough area, VERY tough area! One good thing is they were to far away to catch us if we decided to run, so Johnny in his wisdom decided to swear back at them.
|Bedale Close Where I Lived In Battlehill|
|Battlehill Flats just over the dean from my house|
One thing you be be interested in, many years later when I was about 17 Craig and I become best friends but we will get to that in a later post.....
Neil was spending more and more time with my mother and he eventually moved into our three tier house in Battlehill. I made his life really tough as like I said earlier he was invading my home. Neil bent over backwards to try and make friends with me but I was like a child possessed. I would say "Is HE here again" to my Mother in front of him. Neil was a very sensitive and gentle man who probably got very upset about how I treat him. He did stick with me and I eventually grew to love him like a second dad and also a best friend.
|Another Shot of the Lovely Shopping Centre with one shop....|
|People were living in it with no windows....|
Neil had a big smile on his face one morning and said I have a surprise for you, he took me into the garage and presented me with a box. I opened the box and pulled out a large air pistol. Obviously it wasn't loaded and he was just next to me (I was about 11). He said, if your a good lad I will teach you how to fire it. I then realised why the garage had lots of plastic bottles balanced on chairs and benches. Was I really going to shoot a gun? Neil spend almost an hour teaching me that it was not a toy and was a tool and that guns don't hurt people, people hurt people and how I should respect it and only use it while he was there. One thing to remember is Neil spend a lot of his younger days living in Canada where guns are a necessity for living in the wilds.
|The target pistol Neil taught me how to use.|
We left Battlehill and moved into a house in Lisle grove in Howdon, all I can say about this house is it had a nasty feeling. You know, they type of feeling that makes you uneasy, that haunting dark feeling where you think someone is watching your every move. I didn't like Lisle Grove at all. Although I did have a pretty cool red bedroom with black skirting board... lol Another thing I remember about Lisle Grove apart from the eerie feeling of tension was a dog about three doors up, barking and barking and barking and barking, and on a night time barking and barking.... It was enough to drive you mad. I hated walking down the stairs to the living room as I felt someone was behind me....
|excuse the packet, it has since grown....|
|Me at Stanley Street with my Christmas Prezzie|
My mother used to protect the family, although only 4 foot 11 inches (almost registered as a dwarf) she was a formidable woman both in tongue and temper.
Once she threw me across the room so hard a table fell on me... Just kidding mam (private joke). I must have been an amateur actor as all she done was move me away from a door and I threw myself across the room and thought it would be exciting if i pulled a table on myself. I always wind her up saying she flung me... heheheh cant use that wind up any more mam!
I remember one day a fully grown neighbour called Patrick or Fat-prick as I used to call him was bullying me. I was only 12 he was like 40 or something, I remember him picking me up by the scruff of the neck one time and growling at me....
Well my mother found out about this and started to fume, you can always tell my my mother gets angry as he lips go all pointy! I remember my aunty Jackie shouting out of the window "Calm Down Fred!" My mother picked up a metal shovel and marched over to his back gate. Apparently she smashed him over the head shouting "Bully my son will ya!" , all I heard was shouting and a man screaming STOP!, she walked back and was met by my aunty Jackie who took the bent warped shovel off her and took her upstairs to calm down. The moral of the story is, don't pick on my mothers children!
|Burnside Getting Demolished, I was surprised how upset I got...|
|Me in the back lane at Stanley Street|
A huge valley separated our estate from my school, this was called the Burn. I used to get the bus from the bottom the the road outside Rosehill Social Club, it would drop me off outside the doors of the school. The odd time I used to take my skateboard, I would sit on the board at the top of the hill and ride it all the way down, once I got to the bottom I would walk up the steps and into school. I could beat the bus this way!
Well after a while the name calling started, I tried to give as good as I got but become a target pretty quickly. At this time, I was not a fighter, I was struggling to try and grow up and my main role model was Neil who wasn't a fighter. I think I grew weak. The fatal mistake was I started to put up with it and I think I hoped it would go away... It didn't. I was still friends with a few lads although they done their fair share of bullying too so in retrospect they didn't really care for me as a friend.
I had a real keen interested in science and used to ask questions that the science teacher could not answer. For example, in a class we were working on contraction and expansion and the teacher told us that when all things get cold they contract.... I asked politely and with real interest, "Excuse me Sir, but why does ice expand?" he answered my question with a simple "Don't ask STUPID questions and get out of my class!" I had to spend a full two hours standing outside the class for asking something which I really wanted answered. I thought this was unfair.
In one class I was learning about electrolysis (splitting bonds to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen)I asked the teacher, "Could you take a battery diving with you and get the oxygen out of the water and recycle it?". I was thrown out of the class once again. The funny thing is, after a few years they had developed that very thing, obviously not as simple as my idea but the same basic principle.
The bullying got worse and worse, it come to a point where I would dread going to school. I was nothing but a mental punch bag to make them feel good. They were plain wicked to me. I did make a couple of friends Jimmy, Christina, Rab, Samsy and Bruce, we were all in different years but we later became good friends.
I remember thinking that if I became a little shit then they might respect me. This is when I decided to peel my eraser into little chunks and fire it off my ruler at the teacher when he wasn't looking. Of course I was the one caught and I was thrown out of the class again. I thought it may have given me some browny points but it didn't. They continued with the ruthless victimisation, every day grinding me down.
|now how about that for a Tshirt!|
As I was taking off my trousers I remember the faces of the girls looking through the window on the door laughing and sticking their fingers up at me. Just as Norman was about to remove his trousers he admitted to taking the key. We were told to put our clothes back on and go to class.
The shit continued 10 fold after that episode, I remember Neil going into school and speaking to the teacher. That was the only time I can remember him being in a rage.
After a while the physical bulling started. I remember the first time it started was from a girl called Tracey, I thought we were friends, we even went to the roller rink together and I really had a crush on her, I remember her trying to get me and another lad at school called Neal to fight, I wouldn't so she kicked me right on the coxix, my back was hurting for days but my mind was hurting for years. I felt I was a nobody, a nothing, its amazing how quickly it can turn sour.... Bitter!
One lad made my life worse than anything, his name was Gavin and for years I plotted what I would do if I ever saw him again. Being honest the thoughts were not nice, but I think it was a case of venting my anger into a manifestation of the bullying, that manifestation was the worst bully of them all.
I think now I would shake his head as he helped mould me into who I am today. I don't take any shit any more, but we will get to that later.
Ok, I think that's it for tonight, I'm getting a little emotional and its pretty tough being so honest with the world..... Also my fingers are knacking!