My Re-incarnated Yellow Dumper Truck

It’s more than 50 years since I last saw my bright yellow dumper truck. It used to be kept on top of the coal bunker, along with other toys and miscellaneous items, not necessarily belonging to me, in a room that we referred to as the outhouse. The word “outhouse” is a bit misleading, as it was part of the actual house on the council estate in Newport, South Wales, where I was brought up. It was not a separate building, but that’s what we used to call it. I knew no different.

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At about four years old, I could only just about reach the items on top of the coal bunker, as long as they were near the edge, just being able to peer over the top on my tip-toes and stretch my tiny arms into the jumble of items which are now long forgotten to me – apart, that is, from my yellow dumper truck. That is something that I’d NEVER forget.

At some point, my yellow dumper truck vanished. I know not how, or when. I remember looking for it, but it wasn’t there. I’d ask mum, but she didn’t seem to know. I’d go back into the outhouse, jump up to see if I could see it amongst the miscellaneous items – maybe hidden behind something, or underneath something towards the back. As long as I was unable to physically get up there and rummage through the piles of things more thoroughly, there was always hope that it was there somewhere.

It never materialised and I grieved my favourite toy. Mum didn’t come up with any answers. It was only as I grew into an adult that I ever began to talk about this memory. Mum had no recollection of any of this, or of the impact the loss of my yellow dumper truck had on my young heart. It became one of those family jokes where one of us (I have two older sisters) would accuse mum of abusing us as children. I always claim that I have been psychologically scarred by cauliflower, and by the fact that, because of the way she had done my hair when I was very small, someone she was talking to thought I was a girl. “Whose little girl are you?” she asked. I obviously corrected her, “I’m NOT a little girl, I’m a little BOY!” I actually have no memory of this.

The reality is that if anyone had ever been abused by anyone, it was HER who had been abused by US, with the constant teasing she had to endure from us. She was a wonderful mum and we all loved her to bits.

Mum passed away on 12th December last year. She was 86. It was time for her to go. Although she had been reasonably fit up to two days before her death, the operation she suddenly needed, that ultimately her body was unable to cope with, would have resulted in her quality of life nosediving to a very poor quality. She went at the perfect time. And she passed away peacefully with family around her reliving some of the best “mum” memories. Even to the last, she was able to respond in such a way that she knew and appreciated what was going on. I’ll bear no scars from those last moments. They were as perfect as they could be under the circumstances.

We’ve all rallied round to help each other. It’s what, on the whole, families do. In fact, it seems to have brought us all closer together as a family. I see more of my sisters than before, and we try to support Dad as much as we can. Other than the fact that his arthritis is beginning to slow him down, he is a very fit 86-year-old. He doesn’t look his age, and he has all his mental faculties. He drives very competently indeed and is able to live an independent life.

I like to think that Mum’s still with us. As I’m writing this I’m wearing her reading glasses. In my car, I keep a picture of her watching me playing guitar on stage in about 1985. It’s as if she’s still watching over me. I still talk to her, but she never answers, of course. Or does she?

Until a couple of months ago, I was driving quite an old car that had seen better days. It had become time to upgrade to something more modern and more reliable. I went for a Nissan Juke. It’s bright yellow. I can be a bit forgetful after my brain haemorrhage nine years ago, and it is now much easier to find it in a car park!

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I’ve just come back from a two-day break with Dad in West Wales. We talked about Mum a lot. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to a town where he was stationed during his national service nearly 70 years ago. As we were approaching the town, he told me of an old cinema he used to go to with a girl he was courting at the time. He said it’s probably not there now. As we drove through the town, he suddenly spotted it. The whole trip was worth it just to see the look of both ecstasy and astonishment on his face. We stopped and took pictures. I emailed them to him – he’s pretty up on his technology, you know! I doubt that there are too many 86-year-olds who use Facebook, YouTube, e-mails and generally get the best for themselves out of the internet.

As we were returning home, we were talking about how this new car had enabled us to travel more together, in comfort and without any fear of breaking down or becoming stranded. And then it dawned on me…

Maybe my new bright yellow car is a reincarnation of my bright yellow dumper truck, organised by Mum from the spirit world to make up for the trauma of my childhood and to give Dad some happy moments during this difficult period.

I don’t really go for such stuff as a rule, but I would never discount anything about things that we don’t understand – and nobody understands about what happens after death, irrespective of what they claim to know, or think that they know. It’s all a mystery, and there is only one way to really find out.

Having said that, I wonder what Mum would have thought about Dad reminiscing about a previous girlfriend while being driven around in her gift of a reincarnated dumper truck?

I have a website which has nothing to do with dumper trucks or reincarnation: http://www.markdpritchard.com

 

 

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Why you should never shoplift at Poundland – or ANYWHERE, for that matter.

During my school days, while playing football, I went in for a tackle and the ball went into touch for a throw-in. The referee looked at us to see who the ball had come off. I told him that it was their throw-in, as the ball had come off my leg. Immediately, one of my classmates, who shall remain nameless, pounced with, “The trouble with you, Pritchard, is that you’re TOO FUCKING HONEST!!!” Those words, uttered over 40 years ago, have stayed with me all my life. This classmate went on to become a successful professional and international footballer, but he shall remain nameless for reasons that I’ll explain later. Similar words have been said to me by other angry people.

Today, in Poundland, I had a surreal experience. I was stopped (mistakenly, I hasten to add), on the suspicion of shoplifting. It all began with an oversight on my part. I saw a box of green tea for (as you would expect) a pound. I picked it up with another item and proceeded to the check out. As the cashier was putting it through the till, he told me that the green tea was actually “two for a pound”.

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I said, “Would you like to just put it through the till so you can serve the next customer, I’ll leave my bag here and come back for it when I’ve picked up the other box?”

The cashier said, “No, I trust you. Just go and pick it up, then go out.”

On my way back to the tea aisle, I passed two burly store detectives. I tried to catch their eyes and I considered explaining to them what I was doing. They were deep in conversation, so I decided against it. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I picked up the box of tea directly in front of them, and as I walked past them I again tried to catch their eyes. They were still deep in conversation, seemingly (and cunningly, I suspect) unaware of my presence. As I walked towards the exit, I tried to catch the eye of the man who had served me at the check out, to show him I’d picked up the extra box. He was busy. I now felt uncomfortable, even though I was well within my rights to be walking out as I put the extra box of green tea in my bag.

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I had barely exited the premises when… well, do I really need to say? Yep, the two store detectives came running in my direction. In the blur of the ensuing chaos, I think there may have been a third man, but I’m not sure. I hurriedly tried to explain what I’d done, which is not easy when this kind of thing is happening to you.

I looked up and beyond them towards the exit of the store, and thankfully an angel appeared in the shape of the man who had served me at the check out. All was explained, and the store detectives apologised unreservedly. I told them not to worry, that they were only doing their job, and I congratulated them on doing it so well (I’m too fucking honest, see!).

I then wandered around the shop next door, in a daze, breaking out into a bath of sweat – I really don’t sweat much as a rule, but on this occasion…

I’ve never shoplifted, and never will. But I found out exactly what it must feel like to be caught, other than the fact I knew that all could be explained – hopefully, in time before some busy-body of a  passer-by had filmed it all and posted it on social media. Hmmm… now there’s a thought. It’s probably all over Facebook and Twitter as I write this.

So what of my old classmate who accused me of being too honest before becoming a big (ish) name in British football?

He’s currently serving a six year jail sentence for fraud. Seriously, crime doesn’t pay, you know. Its much better to be honest.

And next time you go back into a store to pick up the other half of your “two-for-one” offer, tell the store detective before your exit. That’ll learn me!

I need a cup of tea now.

http://www.markdpritchard.com

 

Call yourself a vegan?!!

I’m now on day six of my vegan venture. It’s been no hardship. Over 90% (not an official figure, but a guess of mine) of food available in the world contains no animal products, therefore why would it be difficult? My meals, so far, have been quite repetitive. I’m not a foodie and I don’t need constant culinary stimulation. My main meals have been mostly vegetable stir-fry with nuts and potatoes (very tasty as it happens). My breakfast is usually toast with houmous and some fruit. I’ve been drinking mostly green tea. Oh, and alcohol, as it happens. I’ve had a little too much of that, but I’ll sort that. It’s just a glitch right now. Then, for supper, I normally pop to the nearest McDonalds for a Big Mac and fries – just kidding!

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One of my very basic vegan meals.

“So why the vegan diet?” you may ask. Well, it’s like this… as I said to someone recently, “One day I was eating food, then the next day I woke up and started eating vegetables!” I hadn’t planned it. It was a spontaneous act. I didn’t know I’d even last a week. Here are some reasons.

1. I have a milk intolerance, so cutting out milk is very easy for me. I’ve never liked the stuff and too much of it makes me drowsy.
2. Regarding milk, I have long considered it to be a bizarre thing to consume. It’s not actually designed for humans, and I’m not aware of any animal that drinks the milk of another animal, except when given to them by… well… humans.
3. Cholesterol. Since my brain haemorrhage in 2009, when it was noticed that my cholesterol was high, I have been taking statins to keep it down. When I tried to come off them and control it by diet, it wasn’t an effective solution. Statins are the only regular medication that I take. I wish to make my body completely drug-free – apart from the alcohol, of course! I would like to see if a vegan diet would naturally help me to achieve this. Time will tell.
4. I have family and friends who rely on a vegan diet to learn from. One of these, at the age of 57, ran the London Marathon in 3 hours and 9 SECONDS. He now represents TeamGB in the duathlon (veteran category). What an achievement! Some of these people around me have introduced me to some delicious vegan meals and treats.
5. It’s easy. Supermarkets are well stocked these days with vegan food and alternatives (aside from the obvious fruit and veg sections).
6. I’m not an animal rights activist or campaigner, but I hate to see cruelty of any kind. There is much animal abuse in the meat and dairy industry, so I’m pleased to be doing something to help reduce some of the animal cruelty that exists.
7. Oh I don’t know… I expect that there are many more things I could add, and you’re probably getting bored by now.

So, what if a colleague comes into work with some cakes that contain animal fat? Well, although I may not choose to buy it myself, I’ll still probably have some. It’s not a religion, and having a vegan diet doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to take a moral stance every time you see something that has some animal product in it.

Someone may then turn to me and say, “Ha! And you call yourself a VEGAN!” Well, actually I don’t, and I won’t. Choosing to eat in a certain way doesn’t mean that you have to give yourself a label, or that you have to stick rigidly to it. It’s as ridiculous as seeing me step out of my Nissan and into a Ford (I’m not a Ford fan), and someone saying, “Ha! Call yourself a Nissan driver? I just saw you driving a Ford!” Unfortunately, one sad, common trait of the human species is a desire to point accusing fingers at as many other people as possible. It generally says more about the accuser than the accusee. I’ve never seen an animal behave like that, come to think of it.

I shall be blogging my new dietary venture. I shall tell of some interesting recipes that I find. I will be up-front about any vegan-lapses such as a packet of pork scratchings with my beer if I ever choose to do so. I’ll try to make it interesting and fun. One thing I WILL NOT do is preach.

Here’s my website, which currently has nothing to do with food or diet: http://www.markdpritchard.com

 

My winter of discontent, and a new direction.

It’s been almost four months since I last posted a blog. It may seem as if I’ve lost interest. The truth is that I’ve had a very bad winter. I’m not going to go into much detail. I don’t like to use social media as a heart-on-sleeve means of winning sympathy, or a self-indulgent, outward display of grief that serves no purpose other than to receive attention and sympathetic comments from others.

Nonetheless, it’s been a very bad winter. My last blog post was on the 7th December, 2017. On 12th December, I lost a very close family member. This, I could have coped with. But only two days later, for reasons that I don’t wish to talk about on social media, my life was turned upside down and ripped apart. Some may have noticed an absence of tweets on my Twitter page for a while, or maybe the odd, vague, cryptic post. I don’t remember too much about it as I was against the ropes.

I’m now back on my feet. But the resultant effects are that the content of my Twitter page will no longer be the same as it was. Please don’t ask questions or offer support. I’m fine, and I don’t believe that social media is the correct forum for such personal matters.

Over the last three years, I have amassed a lot of Twitter followers. I’ve tried to make my page useful, entertaining and informative. I will try to continue to maintain this. However, I may no longer tweet about the things I used to tweet about.

I have plans to compose and record more music. I will continue to make silly jokes and random comments about whatever springs into my mind. I will continue to support our fantastic NHS, without whom I, and many more of us, would not be here now. I will continue to avoid politics and religion because my employers (the UK government) would not approve.

I have recently, and quite spontaneously, ventured into a new world of veganism. I’m not sure how long I’ll maintain this, but I may blog about my first steps into this new, healthy diet regime. Today, somebody asked me, “So why have you become vegan?” I said, “I don’t know. One day I was eating food, the next day I was eating vegetables and just carried on that way.” I may, or may not, keep it up. Time will tell. But I will try to make this new dietary journey interesting for my Twitter followers.

I will still maintain my website, http://www.markdpritchard.com where you can find, amongst other things, details of how to purchase my book I’M NEVER ILL (A journey through brain surgery and beyond…), but much of the rest of the content will gradually change over time. I’m not sure exactly how – just watch this space.

All is well and I live to fight another day.

Thank you.