Dad Diaries 1 – SAS selection

When my father discovered that he had a terminal illness, (multiple system atrophy) he started to write about his life. From leaving Seoul in 1953 and ending up in England, joining the army, then paras before joining the Special Air Service. He had an interesting journey for the short time he was here. He was in the Sultan’s special forces in Oman, worked in Sri Lanka and Mozambique during their civil wars. trained Aga Khan’s security in Sardinia and many other jobs around the world.

Perhaps he knew that he was going to die fairly young so squeezed in as much as possible. I miss him a lot.

In this piece he talks about when he went through the SAS selection process.

Test week

The selection process lasted for 6 extremely painful months. The first phase is the endurance part known as the test week. It lasts for 3 weeks and is spent on Brecon Beacon and Black Mountains.  Each day, as soon as we’d woke up, we’d march 10- 15 miles. We had to run 4 kms in an hour, carrying a heavy bergan over rough terrain, and then for 15 kms carrying an ever-increasingly-heavy Bergen. We also had to, in less than 24hrs, complete a 40-mile march carrying a 55lb Bergen. During the test week we’d notice empty beds each morning. Often, we’d return to our units after a long march and as many as 20 beds would be emptied.   Continue reading “Dad Diaries 1 – SAS selection”

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Detox diary 1

 

It’s 5am and I’m trapped in no man’s land. My body feels like a big itch that I cannot scratch. Every sense is confused, weeping tears of pity. My very essence is torn to shreds, like a self-obsessed Siamese twin violently sliced apart.  Comfort has left me for someone who cares.  I want to cut off my arms, become like the statue of Aphrodite and never embrace another soul.

An African nurse with a kind, soothing voice senses my pain and asks if I would like her to pray for me. I stare with gold fish eyes, silently warning that the devil is inside and is trying to destroy my soul.  The concerned frown upon her round face reminds me of a Parisian clown. She places a hand on my shoulder, kneels and recites the lord’s prayer.  I try to listen, but my mind is doing acrobatics.

The acids inside my stomach feel corrosive and unkind, they bubble and burn like a witch’s cauldron. The only thing I can smell is the rancid stench of a city gone amok. I feel sick. I don’t know if I can do this.  I look up on the wall and spot the serenity prayer,

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’.

London

I wrote this piece over ten years ago, and although there’s been many changes, London will always be London, one of the best cities in the world. I haven’t edited it much, apart from including the comment about gentrification………

 

I arrived in a London that had East End nightclubs, with dodgy bouncers as big as houses manning the door, 24 hour off-licenses and burnt out cars that doubled up as illicit playgrounds. Although gentrification had yet to curse the land, it’s always been a tale of two cities.

Margaret Thatcher once famously said that there was no such thing as society. When she barked these words, she couldn’t have been living in the same London that I know and love. Whether you live in North, South, East or West, everyone’s crammed together in a sprawling, filthy, difficult, wondrous mess, together, our place our fucked up, vibrant society.  A metropolis of villages, joined unusually like Siamese twins who share their vital organs but have different personalities. Chiswick has a notably different character than Wood Green and Hoxton is definitely not Chelsea. But difference breeds familiarity

The Edgware road runs about ten miles from Mable Arch to Edgware, center to suburbs, connecting three boroughs, and at least 20 identifiable ethnic communities, but it’s all London and we’re all Londoners.  Nobody thinks of himself or herself as a Hackneyite etc., when you live in London, regardless of where you came from, you’re a Londoner, you belong even if only on a temporary basis.  Don’t misunderstand me, in many ways I love Devon (where I’m from), but I’m personally more suited to a place that’s got hundreds of languages, just as many cuisines and problems.

Eight million people in 32 boroughs.

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Every shade, creed and nationality are represented, in this transient, on-going, social experiment. One that’s created unique London vibes. Global minds with local souls. Cultural hybrids, like Lego, building without rules. I’m not talking the type of soulless, sterile, cash cow building that people such as the Candy brothers do, I the real, cultural builders, the rule breakers, the pedantic, the renegades, the fearless, the forward thinkers, the people who really make London what it is.

Why blog?

Why blog?

  1.  Instantly throw down writing ideas – Sometimes I get ideas that don’t fit in anywhere. They’re usually forgotten, never to be seen again.  That one idea you never did anything with could reappear as a best seller or box office hit. No more wasting possible nuggets of funk.
  2. Give my self-discipline a kick up the backside – Although I’m writing quite a bit at the moment, I’d like to get into the habit of writing something on this blog at the same time on the same day, each week. There’s no rules to writing and I’m generally a writer who writes when the vibe feels right. But a little self discipline is good for the soul, or so somebody once said.
  3. Engage with likeminded souls – I had a blog about 5 years ago. It was a parenting blog called dadwithtwokids https://dadwithtwokids.wordpress.com/ during the short time I blogged, I ‘met’ other fathers like myself who were taking care of their young children, it was good to swap stories, ideas and sometimes to just let off some steam (didn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger use this line in the 80’s film Commando?)
  4. Improve my writing – The more you write, the better you’ll get (probably).
  5. Use your voice – With a blog you have the freedom to go wherever you wish.
  6. You never know who might be reading – I once had a popular Saturday night DJ residence in Shoreditch, London. As well as being a great gig, it also acted like a shop window and because of this I got booked to play all over the world.
  7. Build up a platform – I would like as many people as possible to read my writing.
  8. It’s free – Words are cheap.
  9. May help to get freelance work – When I blogged previously, I did get some freelance writing work. I also got invited to several product launches / parties.
  10. Self satisfaction!

Childhood chess in Oman

pexels-photo-206904.jpegAlthough many years ago I can still feel the intense heat, it was so violent it could’ve taken the skin off a worm. As I stepped out of the car the temperature immediately slapped me in the face forcing my body to tense up. At that moment I would’ve done anything for a cold can of fizzy Fanta……….

Mohammed took my hand before guiding me down a dusty road.  A couple of skinny goats lay panting underneath a fig tree occasionally shaking their heads trying to rid themselves of flies.  The shaded area was at a premium and the goats reluctantly shared it with an ugly camel. The camel had dark, goofy teeth and a ball full of saliva coming out the side of its mouth. The stinking animal made me think of my sick grandmother who was living in a nursing home.  The rotting stench is still with me all these years later and I can still smell the camels body odour and bad breath. Back then it reminded me of a dead cow. Continue reading “Childhood chess in Oman”