Happy Birthday Dad

On the 26th of April 1942, my father was born. Today is his 73rd birthday.
Watching him dozing on the sofa beside me, I see the man that worked so hard to provide for his family. I see the man that made sure we were never without. He, along with my mom, made sure that I saw the very best orthodontist to rectify the problems with my teeth, and endeavoured to see it through to the end. All the long journeys, the surgeries, the overnight hospital stays. On top of that, they always had a new gift to cheer me up at the end of it and help aid my recovery.
I shudder to think of the expense of my treatment, but they never once mentioned the cost of it all.

I see dozens of images of my dad flash through my mind. Memories of him driving, sitting in the garden reading the newspaper, laughing with my mom, timekeeping at the swimming galas that my sister and I used to attend, adding another sticker to his growing collection on the back of his 4×4, deciding which hat he will wear from his hat collection, falling asleep on the sofa, working at his desk until 4am, the list goes on…

I remember the first time I saw my dad cry. I had gone into surgery for my teeth, but the doctors hadn’t detected that I had pneumonia and it caused complications with the surgery. I wasn’t waking up from the anaesthesia and my parents were worried I wouldn’t wake up at all. I eventually woke in the early hours of the next morning, and when I did, there he was waiting for me to wake up. I will always remember how he walked over to me with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, a look of such relief at the knowledge that I was going to be okay. I can’t imagine having woken up without him there with those tears in his eyes.

I realise that I don’t know everything about my Dad. Born in England, his family left for Africa in his teens. Some of his life was lived in the likes of Kenya, where he was a part of the Kenyan regiment. He had a lot of stories to share about his days there where, I learned, he also used to race motorbikes. Apparently my old Dad was quite the rogue, always managing to get up to something. He later moved to South Africa and then finally to the country of my birth, Swaziland, where he founded a football team and raced rally cars with my mom. Later on he started his own company and worked day and night to try and make it a success and provide for his family.

I wish I could learn more about my dad, and the adventures he got up to at my age. I wish that I could sit and have a long conversation with him, laugh with him and learn from him.I wish I could thank him for everything he did for us. I wish it could be so, but it can’t…. My father has Alzheimers.

So, Dad, I may not be able to have a conversation with you, tell you about my day, get your advice or laugh and reminisce about the good old days…but I will always, always love you with all of my heart. Happy Birthday Dad, I love you.


Back to work

I’ve been finding myself needing some time off. You know when everything, every little thing starts to get to you, get under your skin and bug the hell out of you until you feel as though you are going insane. Haven’t experienced that?…Well then you have a good life. If you have….well you’ll know what I mean.

Realising I still had a week of holidays, I asked my manager if I might be able to take those days. He politely agreed and scratched me of the work rota for the next week and said I could have that week. To be honest I think he knew how much I needed it. Everyone had been telling me that I was looking “down” and “not myself”. They were right.

Well anyway, so I took this week off and I didn’t go anywhere of course as it was a bit short notice and to be honest I just wanted to relax. Besides..I didn’t have any money to go anywhere. Instead I used these days to plan my escape from this place. This place being London, the polluter of my soul.

Time, however, flies and all too soon the days have rushed past in blur bringing about the day I return to work and seemingly a deterioration in the weather to mirror my misery.


For some limitations are a guideline by which to live their lives. Happily doing so and thriving within those set boundaries.
For some, however, those limitations are merely there as a target, a boundary to be pushed. For them, the limits are there to be exceeded, to be broken and new limits set. They will never be content just living in their boundaries.
Ask yourself this, which one are you?

The precipice

He stood there, rocking slightly as he braced himself against the wind that was blowing hard into his face. A stone loosened itself from beneath his foot and fell….down, down, down the cliff face, on the precipice of which he stood. He watched it, the stone, as it fell and continued to watch it as it plummeted towards the rocky river bed hundreds of feet below. He counted the seconds until its size rendered it invisible from such a height, though he thought he could hear a faint click a few seconds later, as it landed with a clash on the rocks below.

We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into the abyss — we grow sick and dizzy. Our first impulse is to shrink from the danger. Unaccountably we remain. By slow degrees our sickness, and dizziness, and horror, become merged in a cloud of unnameable feeling. By gradations, still more imperceptible, this cloud assumes shape, as did the vapor from the bottle out of which arose the genius in the Arabian Nights. But out of this our cloud upon the precipice’s edge, there grows into palpability, a shape, far more terrible than any genius, or any demon of a tale, and yet it is but a thought, although a fearful one, and one which chills the very marrow of our bones with the fierceness of the delight of its horror. It is merely the idea of what would be our sensations during the sweeping precipitancy of a fall from such a height. ~ Edgar Allen Poe

He wondered, as he stood there balancing on the brittle edge between life and death, how it would feel to take that fateful step forward. He imagined it. Imagined closing his eyes and allowing himself to sail through the air, not watching the end as it came towards him as fast as it surely would. He imagined enjoying the sensation of flight in his descent and it continuing for an eternity, for at such a height there would almost certainly be no feeling. One would simply transition from this life into the next.

…The next? He contemplated, even though he didn’t believe in heaven or hell, if there was indeed a life beyond this one. He thought about the words of religious people promising damnation upon those who end their own life, an eternity burning in the fires of hell. He didn’t believe all that.

He opened his eyes once more and took in the scenery that surrounded him. The mountains, proud and majestic as they stood bathed in the warm golden glow cast upon them by the setting sun. The great river below snaking its way through the valley, transforming itself from the epitome of serenity into a wild raging animal frothing at the mouth as it tore over the rapids below. Even from such a height he could hear her mighty roar as it carried on the wind. He inhaled all of it, the sights, the smells, the sounds, and with a smile he closed his eyes for the last time as he let himself fall.

Time slowed as he fell. The seconds seemingly lasting an eternity as he plummeted through the air in free fall, with his arms spread wide about him. Finally opening his eyes, he reached across his chest, pulled the cord and howled with ecstatic joy as he revelled in the adrenaline filled high which only B.A.S.E jumping could provide him.


The disappointing new generation

It’s seriously annoying when you have to get off a bus that you just waited twenty mins for because of a bunch of kids thinking they are cool. Three teenage boys just walked on to the bus I was on without presenting their travel cards. Of course the driver in his duty refused to move the bus until they got off. Now you would think that any person in their right mind would think rationally and realise that they aren’t going anywhere, so is there really any point in continuing the stupidity. Of course not. These three boys refuse to get off. Why? Who the fuck knows!!
It seriously grates me that they have nothing better to do than to ruin everyone else’s evening. People wait for the buses for ages to get home after work, just to have to get off because of the stupidity of three adolescent hot shots. What point do they possibly have to prove??
It is really sad and disappointing that this has become of the youth if our generation. I know it is not all of them, but the numbers of delinquents are increasing every year.
I fear for the future where we have idiots like this bringing the new generation into the world.

I should have been a Royal Marine


Join the royal marines. There are adverts all over the TV here in the UK, welcoming men to find their way within the ranks of the royal marines, whether as a full timer or part time alongside their civilian lives.

The truth is that for myself, the idea of joining the marines came long before I saw any of those adverts. I first had the idea long before I even journeyed across the ocean to the British shores. I have always known that my life was meant to be a series of adventures and challenges and the armed forces always appealed to me.

What about having to kill people? I was asked once by a parent of a friend ” Do you think you would be able to kill someone?” Declaring that she didn’t think her son or I were capable of killing.  It was a fair question to be honest, and I agree that everyone should ask themselves that question when considering a career in the armed forces. The answer however, in my opinion, is to be well thought through. I mean does anyone know what they are capable of? No one joins the armed forces in the hope of killing other people, even though it is probably somewhat inevitable at some point. They wouldn’t train you how to do it so well if it wouldn’t be necessary at some point or other. The truth is that I don’t think anyone really is capable of killing, because killing doesn’t just involve the immediate act, but the resulting consequence. The memories, the sleepless nights and the simple knowledge of knowing that you have ended a life.  Is it justifiable? Was there good reason? War is always a topic of debate, was it necessary to protect innocents or just a cover up for ploy to rob a country of its resources. Gold, diamonds, oil, the list goes on. So then you ask yourself, have you been a contributing factor to the deaths of others for a purposeful reason or just some ulterior motive of a puppet master pulling strings.

Why then do I feel that I should have joined the marines and what was it that stopped me from doing just that? I had started training for it, I attended the interview, I had filled out the application and signed on the dotted line. All that was left was to place the envelope in the mailbox.
Adventure, tactics, espionage, weaponry, bushcraft and survival skills are all interests of mine. The comradeship and the pride of earning the coveted green beret.  The marines offered all that I was looking for. Not even the brutal training regime was a deterrent in my mind, in fact if anything it was more of an inviting factor to me. Limits are just a restraint in peoples lives and I always pushed myself beyond my physical and mental limitations. It is only in doing this that we know what we are capable of and become stronger in body and mind.

So everything was perfect, the marines offered everything that I could have wanted, so what stopped me?

In a word….family. I couldn’t imagine leaving them with the burdens that they have to deal with. I couldn’t bare the thought of not being around for my sick father and god forbid his illness take him from me while I am away. I couldn’t find it in myself to desert my mother while she looks after my father on her own, to deal with his illness and to watch his deterioration helplessly. I wouldn’t leave my sister, who has sacrificed so much for this family, to deal with it all on her own.

I made my decision, whether it was right or not I can’t say for sure. I do know that there are and always will be days where I look out my window and say, ” I should have been a Royal Marine.”


The other side.

In my dreams i’m running. I’m running and I have no idea where. No idea what it is that is chasing me. All I know is that I am consumed by fear, and I cannot, will not look back. To look back would be to die. Fear floods my veins with adrenaline. Everything slows down. I feel my heart. I hear it beating in my ears…ba-boom…….ba-boom…….ba-boom. Everything turns to slow motion. I am not ready to die this day.

Everything is white. I stand in a building facing a labyrinth of corridors. Finally I turn. There is a darkness encroaching upon me. I must not let myself be consumed by it. I run, but I have no direction. No way of knowing if I am following the right corridor. The corridors are lined with doors. I try one. Locked. I try another. Locked.

The darkness is approaching faster now. gaining on me. I’m tiring. Almost at my limit, I am ready to give up, give in and accept my fate. Suddenly I hear a voice, and another. Still running , I look around to see where they are coming from. They seem distant, fading, like whispers carried on the wind, distorted through weeps and sobs…. ” Don’t leave us.” ” Fight, I know you can do it.”

Those voices, I know those…..” NAT!” I yell out to them….”NAT, MOM, DAD….WHERE ARE YOU?”


“please don’t leave us….”

” We can’t…..let you go…”

” MOM…..NAT…..DAD…. WHERE ARE YOU GUYS??” I turn into yet another corridor.

I’m faced with a junction… ” Left or right?” I battle. ” LEFT OR RIGHT?”

“DECIDE OR DIE!” I close my eyes and grasp the golden key tied around my neck. ” This is the key that will free you.” ” You will know on which door to use it when the time comes….. If you make it.” She had had a kind smile, but there was despair in her eyes as she whispered those words in my ear. She vanished, leaving me only with the key and a host of unanswered questions.

“Nick…..” A whisper floated on the air.

“I’m coming….I’M COMING!” I tear down the right hand tunnel with all that remains of my depleted energy.

I had almost missed it as I ran past. The gleam of golden light from beneath the door has just caught the corner of my eye. By the time I had realised, I was already twenty paces past the door. I turned.

The black oblivion had devoured all and was quickly clawing it’s way towards me…towards the door…my door. I was stuck, for a moment, stuck in horror at my own stupidity. In my haste and desperation I had missed it. My feet were glued to the floor. I dropped to my knees.

This was it.

I was going to die.

I closed my eyes and a reel of images flooded my mind. Memories, of the people I loved most in the world. We were at our favourite vacation spot. Everyone was talking and laughing happily. I could feel the tears streaming down my face, then the images disappeared.

Suddenly i’m up and running back towards the door, as though i’m not in control of my body. The key is in my hand, the links of the chain that held it clinking as the fall to the floor in my wake. I slide the key into the keyhole. I turn the key, but before I am able to push the door open the tidal wave of darkness crashes over me.

“I’m sorry.”

I begin to fall into darkness, falling away  from the golden sliver of light from beneath the door leading to my salvation.

“I’m so sorry.”

I close my eyes in acceptance of my fate. I let myself fall. No longer reaching out for the increasingly distant light of hope from beneath the door. I let myself go.

“Nick?” I hear my sister’s voice.

“Mom, Dad, come quick….something is happening!” There is hope in her voice. She always was the positive one. I wish i could say goodbye.

“Nick?”…. the voice is getting louder

A golden light fills my eyelids. I open my eyes to see the door, my door, is open and the soft golden light is carrying me towards it, towards the voices….towards my family.

“Nick!” My sister’s voice clear as I reach the threshold.

I emerge into a room, A hospital room. My family smiling over me with tears in their eyes as I awake from my coma.

Written for today’s Daily Prompt – Golden key

You’ve been given a key that can open one building, room, locker, or box to which you don’t normally have access. How do you use it, and why?