A nostalgic video of growing up in Moss Side using art
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A history of my life to date
My Dads life story
Urban Cityscape, a Depiction of my friend Ricardo Cowie and me, we used to collect discarded pushbikes that were found in the rubbish filled alleyways of Moss Side. We would rebuild these bikes and sell them to Nevs second hand shop on the corner of Cowesby Street and Claremont Road. This was one of the ways we earnt pocket money to buy fireworks and sweets. Painted in Acrylic and Ink using the croquis method for the characters in the scene.
Original artwork with signed Certificate of Authenticity
W 20.00" x H 23.50"
Media: acrylic and ink
Surface: Boxed stretched canvas
Mind your car Mr, is a cityscape depiction of Friends and myself that used to look after cars for the fans during a manchester City Game in Moss Side. We used to earn our pocket money by minding the cars until half time. Man City used to open the gates to allow the kids to watch the second half of the game. we used to buy sweets, jubleys and fireworks, we had great fun setting them off.
The street that I used to mind cars on was Cowesby Street in Moss Side, I would often get in to fights but this was my patch. One time an Asian Lad spat in my face for no reason, I snapped and began to fight him and was beating him when Ricky pulled me away and the Asian Lad ran off. I looked down at my right hand and it was bleeding from a cut, Ricky told me that he pulled a knife on me. Painted in Acrylic and Ink using the croquis method to give movement to the characters.
Original artwork with signed Certificate of Authenticity
W 23.50" x H 19.50"
Media: acrylic and ink
Surface: Boxed stretched canvas
Manchester City, Maine Road, A cityscape / landscape painting looking back on past times when I was a child, remembering when I used to live and play in Moss Side, City used to open the gates at half time allowing the local kids to watch the second half of the game for free. We had great fun running down the tunnels and watching the game. My favorite player was Colin Bell. Painted in Acrylic with pallette Knife and ink outline using the croquis method to bring the characters to life, showing a bustling crowd going to a game.
Original artwork with signed Certificate of Authenticity
W 39.00" x H 19.50" D 1.50"
Media: acrylic and ink
Surface: Stretched Box Canvas
George's Barbers Claremont Road, Moss side
We used to go to George's barbers to play on the Arcade machines and play pool. We worked out that if you put a electric gas fire lighter in the money slot it would register free credits on the machines and we would play for hours not spending any money, until the owner worked out what we were doing. they eventually put alarms on the machines to stop us doing this.
Original artwork with signed Certificate of Authenticity
W 23.5” x H 20" D 0.5”
Surface: Box stretched canvas
Delivery in the UK only
By recorded delivery
The Moss Side Riots (Moss Side Nostalgia)
A depiction of the Moss Side Riots in the 1980s. we heard an explosion whilst sitting in the living room in 222 Princess Road. There was a riot taking place, looters were robbing the shops. turning cars over and firebombing them. My family and I sat outside on deckchairs with cups of tea watching the events unfold. Rioters and families were emptying the shops, filling up trolleys with food and goods, returning time and again. Two families started arguing in the street over a settee and 2 chairs and fights took place. My friends saw somebody with a gun and Ricardo Cowies Dad was on top of his truck with a baseball bat fending off the thugs. There was a lot of unrest within the black community with stop and search practices by the police and a programme called Roots stirred a lot of racial tension in the area as well.
Original artwork with signed Certificate of Authenticity
W 47.5” x H 15.5" D 1.5”
Surface: Box stretched canvas
Delivery in the UK only
By recorded delivery
Moss Side Carnival
Moss Side had a Carnival every year, I remember it being colourful and there was always a great party atmosphere mixed with drug dealers selling their wares.
I also remember a Pimp that used to ride down Great Western Street in his open top pink Cadillac with leopard skin seats and perched on the back were his three bitches (prostitutes) advertising their services.
Original artwork with signed Certificate of Authenticity
W 39.5” x H 19.5" D 1.5”
Surface: Box stretched canvas
Delivery in the UK only
By recorded delivery
A small selection of stories, events and happenings of my life to date,
some might say interesting, shocking or boring, but whatever you think I have lived it the best way I can, with love, laughter, some tears & fears, but mostly looking on the bright side of life.
I Have been interested and involved in Art all my life,
At the age of 11 my first painting was an oil pastel painting of a falcon that I copied from players cigarette cards. I then moved onto still life oil pastel paintings.
I left school and college and was employed as a Textile Design Separation Artist for 10 years producing all manner of design separations for the leading textile companies in the UK.
After leaving this career I undertake a B.A.(Hon's)Textile Design Degree at Manchester Metropolitan University where I graduated in 1999.
After leaving University I was able to undertake commissioned artwork for many people on a freelance basis and produced numerous paintings and designs.
When My daughter Emily was born I began to produce children's books of which I have since published
these books are;
Ted & Roly's ABC
the wizard the witch the flea and me
Harry the Dinosaur
Laura's special birthday surprise.
I Andrew Alan Matthews was born in 1968 at 12 Tatton close, Grange Estate Winsford, Cheshire England, The family moved to Whayala in Australia when I was 6 Months old as my dad got a job working on the ship yards.
I do not have much recollection of my childhood in Australia like most people of a young age, although there are a few snippets I do remember, such as, a line of Hairy caterpillars that my dad put into a circle which went around and around for ages. also during a locust invasion collecting Locusts in a jar to keep for later to play with.
On the way back home from Australia on board ship I remember collecting a toy car from Santa dressed up as a toy soldier made out of paper and I can still remember the smell of fresh baking bread wafting in from the kitchens, also colouring in a picture whilst during a storm at sea. We had to return back home to England because my Dad became ill and was given 6 months to live by the Australian doctors.
Once back in England we stayed at Grandma Dolly Matthews house in Garthorpe Road Northern Moor,
My first bike was a three-wheeler painted black with a crash helmet in black with a skull and crossbows on the front, I thought this was great.
My first School was Rackhouse Junior school in Northern Moor, we did not stay in Northern Moor for long and we moved to 222 Princess Road Moss Side Manchester.
This house was a run down and dilapidated property, it had cracks from the kitchen all the way up to my bedroom where I would often shout to my mum to put the breakfast on. The back kitchen door was old, wooden and rotten which had a 2 inch gap under the door where the cold draught went right through the house. It was always freezing even in the summertime. The mice got through this door and when we were huddled around the fire watching the black and white TV we saw mice running from the back of the gas fire to the kitchen and running back again with a piece of cheese from the trap that didn’t work.
Mice were all over the house and one night my sister screamed in the middle of the night as a mouse was sitting on her bed, my mum started chasing and bashing it all over the room with a broom and my dad shouted “stop tickling it to death”. I was laughing my head off at this.
My dog Nippy was a great ratting dog and it would often run into the kitchen to catch mice. One night I saw Nippy jump into the air and catch a mouse as it was jumping from the kitchen worktop to the washing machine and crunched its head to kill it.
222 Princess Road where we lived was a spooky old terraced house with lots of creaks and shadows. I used to have a recurring night mare in the back room where I slept, I would wake up and turn to my left to see an old woman in a rocking chair with a big hooked nose, I had this dream every night and kept running into my mum and dads bedroom every night scared stiff.
My mum allowed me to sleep in my sister’s room and she slept in mine. I did not have that dream again but my sister began to have exactly the same dream. We came to learn that the house was formerly relatives of my Great Uncle George and one of our relatives had died in the house.
There was always belongings going missing and would turn up in the strangest of places. One year a workman was fixing the bathroom and a gas bottle exploded severely burning him and the fire brigade turned up to put the fire out, I remember the toilet had a pull chain and this had melted into a fish shape from the fire. we believed there was a ghost that was responsible for all these happenings in the house and there was always a feeling of unease when walking upstairs.
The bath was old, victorian and made of steel and cemented into the wall. every bath night we had to make bubbles with a steel shaker that you put left over soap in.
My first recollection in Moss side was going to a School on Princess Road, I did not like it there and was being bullied so my mum and Dad moved me to Claremont Road Junior School. I met Mark Egerton at this School and met
Ricardo Cowie there as well,
I first met Ricky when he gave me a bit of cheek and was bragging about what he had, Ricky said I punched him in the face for bragging. He says that taught him a valuable lesson in life of not to brag and says he respected me for.
I had lots of fun at Claremont Junior School getting up to lots of mischief with two friends, Alver lindo and Geoffrey finlayson who were Black and cocks of the school. I remember Lifting up girls skirts and getting up to mischief.
We used to collect football cards that had bubble gum inside and we would flick them up against the school playground wall to win money and cards. My favorite football player was Colin Bell and we always played football on the streets.
I was in trouble a few times at School, one time was when I looked after the school terrapins, I put them in the Pottery Kiln and put the food in the teacher’s desk. I nearly got the cane for that.
My dad said that he had to come into my school on one occassion because I had pushed three kids down the stairs putting one in hospital, I do not remember doing that but my dad stuck up for me and said that if three lads were pushed down the stairs they must have been trying to gang up on me and if so why weren’t they questioned.
There was a school trip I went on with Mark and we played football in the dark, when Mr Bernstein the head teacher saw us play and picked us for the football team. I remember waiting for the team coach only to find out I was not picked, But Mark was. I was gutted.
There was also a Sunday school I used to go to with my sister on Claremont Road and it was very darkly lit and spooky, I used to play with lots of toys and table football. Geoffrey Finlayson also took me to church in Wythenshawe and we watched a weird budget film where all the actors were black. I was the only white face in the congregation.
The queens silver jubilee was a big event at this time and I watched her waving from her car on Princess Road as the crowds gathered Waving flags. There were street parties outside with everybody’s tables all lined up with decorations, balloons and union jack banners hanging across the street and everyone having a great time, it was a great party atmosphere.
One bonfire night at the back of our house there was a derelict piece of land, all the people that lived in the street had turned out to watch the fire. The street was glowing orange and the heat was intense. We put jacket potatoes in the fire and we all shared treacle toffee and played dunking the apple in the street. It was a great night with fireworks going off and people laughing and joking.
I picked up a iron bar from the fire three days after bonfire night and it burnt my hand badly. a kind lady put butter on my hand and bandaged me, there were lots of nice people in Moss Side also some bad as well.
We went trick or treating and knocked on doors every year, I came to this one house and said trick or treat, the man said hold on and he came back with a bucket full of water and threw it on me and shouted "there’s your trick", Laughing his head off. I was soaked to the skin and freezing cold.
At Christmas we went carol singing and I again knocked on a door in Caythorpe Street, A Big Black man answered and said "hold on man", he came out from his house with two large kitchen knifes and ran down the street after me shouting “come here I want something for Christmas dinner”, I legged it down an alleyway and escaped. frightened out of my wits.
The winters were always freezing and full of snow as deep as your knees, one year we chucked water onto the pathway outside Marks House on Claremont Road and it was like a skating rink, we would slide along for hours.
Alexandra Parks pond used to be full of fish. I used to go fishing with a net and there were always frogs and tadpoles and stickle backs in the pond. I collected tadpoles and toads in a jar and brought them back home. We had frogs jumping all over the yard one year.
There was also a swamp near greenheys police station and me and a friend went looking for newts and frogs in the swamp and came out stinking to high heaven having failed to get any newts but got a load of frog spawn that we brought back home, mum was not too pleased.
I was always playing outside on Claremont Road paintings getting up to mischief from dawn till dusk. Kerby, street football and riding my bike were my main activities. Running down old cobbled alleyways full of rubbish with old derelict houses, smashing windows of these houses and using them as dens to escape from the irish gang who were bullying us at the time, this was a way of life for kids in Moss Side back in those days.
We turned a whole block of derelict houses that were in the process of renovation into our biggest den and knocked holes in the walls for escape routes from these gangs. We used to jump from 1st floor windows onto sand.
I also got shot by somebody shooting an air rifle i had a dart stuck in my side.
I had to go to hospital to remove it,
Mark and I remember Jumping onto the upstairs floor of a derelict house and the whole floor collapsed sending both of us flying downstairs, only to escape through the front door in time before anything else collapsed. They eventually had to demolish this block of houses. We called it our urban redevelopment programme because they then made allotments for all the residents to use. It has now been built on and a new building stands there making the area look better.
There was an outside adventure park made of wood and obstacles where I fell off and broke my arm on the gouchie gang’s patch. A kind man took me to my house and drove me to the hospital with my mum.
We used to climb onto the Broadfield Baths roof to play on the peaked roof tops; we ended up being chased by workmen who thought we were the Irish gang who used to rob the lead off the roof. As I ran over the roof tops I nearly fell 60 feet down a shaft in the middle of the Baths from the chase. As I climbed down from the roof I heard Mark shout “LOOK OUT” and I managed to run with a spurt of energy as the workman nearly grabbed me, his fingers nearly touching the scruff of my neck. He ended up falling flat on his face cutting his forehead in the process and he gave up the chase halfway down the Road as I escaped into the den, this was a lucky escape.
We made bogies out of wood and old pram wheels and had races down Cowsby Street with the local kids. Ricky and I made a bogie called the tank with battering rams on with nails on the end. We test drove the tank with Ricky inside steering, Ricky put the brakes on and he veered into a brand new Volvo imbedding itself in the car, as we both legged it down the Road the man saw us and Ricky got in trouble for that, we lost the tank which was a big blow to our title chances. videos youtube videos
I wanted to make a den out of our air raid shelter one year and it was full of rubbish, so I decided to set it on fire. The fire brigade had to attend and I was sent to my room and was grounded for a week, my dad was fuming and nearly gave me the belt for that. The next door neighbour had petrol and inflammables in there air raid shelter and it nearly damaged some of there goods.
Ricky and I also went searching around the back alley ways collecting old push bikes that were left in the alleys and old derelict houses. we collected so many that they filled up my dads air raid shelter and Ricky’s air raid shelter. We began to make bikes from these parts and made around thirty bikes which we then sold in Nev's second hand shop which was located on the corner of Claremont Road and Cowesby Street. we made a lot of money.
Our last bike we made did not have enough parts, it was missing an inner tube for the front wheel, so we filled it with newspaper in a split in the tyre and painted the tyre black to disguise it, the peddles spindle was loose and the front handle bars did not fit well. We advertised it outside Nev's shop and a Chinese man took a test drive on it, he got on it peddled half way down the road, the spindle gave way, the handle bar began to swivel and he hit a ditch in the Road and the front wheel split in half sending him sprawling on the floor and grazing his face, he came chasing after us, never to catch or see us again.
We set up a puncture repair service. And Peter Egerton gave us his bike to repair, we fixed the puncture at 5p a patch, it was a measly amount to pay for just one puncture so we made a few more in the tyre, it ended up costing him a few quid. Peter also saw that we had a new set of wheels for his BMX and he wanted to buy them so we said we will fit them for a fiver. we took his bike back to Rickys yard and looked at his old wheels, they were perfectly good wheels so we cleaned all the rust off them and made them shiny and new using duraglit. we took the bike back an hour later and he was chuffed to bits and handed his fiver to us, he was non the wiser.
There was also a man called Keith. we called him keith the thief because he was the only one who conned us. we fixed his gears by taking them apart and cleaning them we charged him a fiver for this but he never paid us.
On one bonfire night my friends and I was doing penny for the guy outside the Claremont pub, a drunk came out of the pub and we said “penny for the guy”, he gave us a penny and robbed the guy. We then decided to put Peter in the box with a bag on his head, one drunk came out of the pub and booted him in the face. We then persuaded Peter to get back in the box and somebody threw a banger at him and it blew up in his lap, we all laughed our socks off at this, Peter was not amused.
One time Ricky and I was at the back of the Claremont pub and were just about to chuck water through the window on the gents standing at the urinal when Ricky’s dad caught us through the window and said we were going to be in trouble. Rickys Dad, Tony was a kind upstanding man.
Every other Saturday we used to do "mind your car mister" for the fans going to the match and we all had a Street that was our patch. we used to fight for it every week, my patch was Cowsby Street and nobody would take it off me. One day this Asian lad came up to me and spat in my face for no reason and I snapped, I started to fight him and was beating him when Ricky pulled me away quickly and the Asian lad ran off. I looked down at my right hand which was bleeding from a cut, Ricky said he pulled a knife on me.
We all used to make our money by minding cars and it was a good source of income for us even at that young age, I was able to buy sweets,fireworks, jubleys and also school dinner tickets from the kids at school,
I was also able to save some money for holidays and toys.
We would mind the cars up until half time when Manchester City used to open the gates and all the local kids used to get into the ground for free and watch the second half of the game, we used to go in the main stand and the kippax end and all down the corridors getting up to mischief. I remember watching Colin Bell and Dennis tueart who were my favorite players. We stood standing in the kippax end, coins and anything people could get there hands on were being thrown about. It cost £1.50 to get into the kippax stand through turnstiles that you had to squeeze through.
After the match there was always lots of people and it often got heated with police on horse back forcing the crowds down the road.
There was a Hair dressers on Claremont Road called Arties and a lot of the City Footballers used to go there to get there hair cut, we saw a few football players there whilst we were out playing on the street.
Nev's second hand shop was a front for drugs and we used to see him chopping up some white stuff on glass in the back of the shop (I didn’t know what it was at the time) he used to give a few of the kids little parcels to deliver to houses,
I got sections of scalextric tracks from his shop I bought most of the scalextric set from my mind your car money. and paper round money.
We used to play football on the derelict land opposite Claremont Junior School and Man City ground. we used to have competitions against the Browns gang and our gang and it was always competitive. we used to play five a side on a full size pitch and played for three to four hours at a time, I was pretty fit back in them days and seemed to run on very little food and fresh air.
There was also Mr Flood’s toyshop on Claremont Road it was a really old shop full of ancient toys and new. We used to buy toy aircraft kits and plastic toy soldiers, I used to spend hours painting them. The shop was very smelly as he had cats and there was a parrot on a perch in the shop that used to chatter away. He kept pigeons in his back yard as well.
Mr Flood was a kind and small gentle man and his wife was to us very ancient looking. He used to give Ricky treats as he lived next door to him on 162 Claremont Road. Ricky and I went on holiday with Mr Flood one year, or at least that’s what we thought it was. He got us up their on false pretence's, he had us cutting the grass, cleaning the caravan up which was in a dilapidated state, full of moths. At night I was bitten on my ear and Ricky on his nose and we jumped out of the caravan window to get away from them.
In the summer there used to be a band that practiced at the back of Nev's shop, they played bob Marley songs and reggae until late into the night, we used to dance on the street and there was a great atmosphere as we danced and played football on the street corner. We used to buy jubleys, which were triangular ice blocks and used to share them around to each other, god help you if you were the last in the queue!!!. We bought fireworks, screamers and bangers and had great fun setting them off,
There was a hair dressers on Claremont Road opposite the Beehive pub owned by an Irish man called paddy, he used to cut your hair drunk as a skunk whilst smoking a fag and drinking whisky between each cut. You usually came out with a bit of a dodgy hair cut. I did not have any haircuts in those days as my mum and dad could not afford it and she cut my hair very badly.
There was also a afro Caribbean hair dressers on Claremont Road and in the back was loads of arcade machines and a pool table, we spent many an hour playing pool and playing Galaxians and phoenix, we worked out that if you put a electric gas fire lighter into the slot then credits would appear on the screen and we would play quite a few games for nothing, until the owners clicked on with what we were doing.
My Mum used to take me to Moss Side Shopping Centre all the time and I always wanted toys but she couldn't afford them, I remember pestering her all the time and mum getting annoyed, sometimes giving in to my demands, but mostly with no joy.
I had a pet dog called Nippy who was street wise & played brilliant football, I loved that dog.
I also had a pet tortoise that I kept feeding lettuce thinking it was hibernating, Until I saw maggots coming out of it, it was my first sight of death and I was devastated. My dad took me outside into the back yard and put the tortoise on a fire and my dad sat talking to me explaining the meaning of life and comforting me.
My dad taught me how to ride a bike down the side of Alexandra Park. He also stuck up for me when my bike was stolen, I pointed out the thief called snake to my dad and he grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and pulled his arm around his back and made him reveal where my bike was. This was in his air raid shelter at the back of our street. I felt proud of my dad,
He always helped me make things and involved me in making wooden furniture in the back yard. I made cabinets and train sets with him, he has always been there giving me a helping hand, I have had nothing but happy times with my Dad and he has been my guiding star from being a child until the present day.
There were also shebeens (illegal drinking houses) all along Claremont Road where you could buy beer and also drugs, I never went in them because they were notorious for criminals and criminal activity. You could get literally anything from these places, beer, drugs, prostitutes, guns, even hired hit men.
One year somebody set up an illegal gaming place in a derelict old shop on the corner of Claremont Road and the co-op on Princess Road. There were no floor boards downstairs and just a few upstairs, there were arcade machines all over the place and everybody from around the area came to play on them. There was a lot of trouble and fighting going on and you nearly fell through the floor if you were upstairs. It eventually got shut down.
There was also the yearly carnival that took place, and I remember it being very colourful and there was lots more trouble at this time, with rival gangs competing for selling there drugs and wares.
There was a black pimp who used to drive around the streets of Great Western Street dressed like huggy bear out of startsky and hutch. He owned a pink open top Cadillac with black and white leopard skin seats and perched on the back of the Cadillac were his three bitches (prostitutes) advertising there services.
One night me and Ricky were sitting on the step of a corner shop on Great Western Street, when a white estate car pulled up and rolled its window down and a guy with googley eyes shouts us over and said to me and Ricky "where do all the prostitutes hang out", with that a Pakistani shop owner jumps out of the shop and does a flying kick into the car cursing and swearing. The car driver drives off. At that time Jack the ripper was still murdering prostitutes and I swear the person in that car looked the spitting image of the photo fits on the television of jack the ripper.
We would often sea prostitutes kicking in boarded up old derelict houses and taking their clients into the buildings. There was also a lot of pornographic material lying around alleyways and in skips. And we could not help but have a look, which was my first experience of the naked woman. We used to decorate the den with all the naked pictures until Michael set them on fire and we had to jump out of the air raid shelter quickly.
I began to show an interest in Art and used to draw pictures in school of all the super heroes from the marvel comics and was often told off for drawing them by the teacher, my favourite super hero was spider man, I used to draw them all the time. My dad saw my interest in Art and bought me some oil pastels and really good quality paper to produce pictures.
My first Oil picture was of a falcon that I copied from players cards that were given to me by Mr Webb our next door neighbour. I produced a lot of pictures and spent a long time on them at night after playing out with my friends. I produced an oil picture of a bunch of flowers for my Gran and dad got it framed for her. I brought my work into art class and my art teacher must have told the head teacher as she asked me to bring them to her room. She liked one so much that she asked if she could have it for her room, I felt a little embarrassed at this.
Cutting hedges in Fallow field and washing cars was also a good money spinner, I also had two paper rounds, my first one started at 6 o’clock in the morning and I had to deliver 150 papers from Princess Road bus depot all the way to the Y.M.C.A which was next to Alexandra Park and the paper bag was really heavy. I was always chased down a passage way next to the park on the way to the Y.M.C.A by angry wasps.
The evening paper round was straight after school and I did this for 5 years, Once I started my paper round my dad stopped my 50p a week spends, this taught me the value of money.
I used to go carol singing with my mates and earn a lot of money; the snow was as deep as your knees. One time Ricky, Manny and me pushed a huge snowball into the middle of Claremont Road in a really snowy blizzard blocking all the traffic for ages.
There was also a really hot summer where there were lots of lady birds and the tarmac on the Road was bubbling from the summer heat, we used to pop the tarmac bubbles for fun.
There was a character we called Zebedee and he had a really whacky colourful beat up van that we did a few errands for, he was Nev's side kick. I remember me and Ricky holding on tight to a bit of old rope that held the back doors together whilst sliding around the back of the van with bits of old furniture and debris falling on us.
On one occasion I was held up at knife point in Moss Side as thieves tried to take my watch, Luckily a girl who knew the thieves persuaded them to hand the watch back, I was scared and then quickly ran off. Another time Mark and I was in town and a robber got a Knife to Marks throat and dragged him up the escalator in the Piccadilly Tower where Key 103 Radio used to be. I couldn't do anything as his mate was holding me at bay with a knife as well. they got away with Marks money.
I used to drag the washing to the launderette on Princess Road every week with my Mum and it was always cold, dark and raining, I was always bored when doing this. She also used to collect green shield stamps and we used to buy shopping with them all the time. from the local shop on Princess Road.
My friends and I used to hop on a bus to go to the Civic Centre in Wythenshawe where we bought records from the market. My sisters friends brother Mr Garside owned the stall, he lived on Princess Road and looked like giant haystacks the wrestler, he had thousands of records piled up in his house and he could get you any record you liked. My first record was walking on the moon by the police. I also loved The Jam and Madness was our favourite band.
Ricky, Mark, Michael and I used to go on long bike rides we would often cycle to Reddish Vale to get to see some green fields and fresh air. We would also ride to Tatton Park and back stopping off at Ashley and doing a bit of scrumping for apples in the local farms. On one occasion a farmer came out behind a tree with a shotgun and shouted "GET ORFF MY LAND" and shot the gun in the air. We were scared but had a laugh about it afterwards. On the way back home there was a steep hill 1 in 10 incline and we used to freewheel down it at speed. One time Ricky fell off at the bottom of the hill and spilled his sweets all over the Road he was nearly hit by a car as he was collecting them again.
There was an Irish gang that used to cause trouble and began to bully me, mark and his brothers also another gang with the ring leader Andy Young that used to bully us as well. After a while I told my dad and asked him what I could do to stop them doing this. My dad taught me a few self defence moves and I went to Judo classes, my dad said the only way to beat a bully is to stand up to them. So I decided that I would overcome my fears of them and as the bullies were always in a gang I decided I would get each one of them on there own.
I started with the Irish gang, I saw the ring leader walking down an alley way. I ran down a street and cut him off. I grabbed him by the neck and lifted him off the ground with one hand (I was surprised how light he was) and began to beat him up I then said if he ever came near me again I would do the same again. He then ran off. He came back later with his gang with baseball bats and lengths of wood and smashing them on the ground and banging the walls being threatening. I said to them if they want a fight I will fight them individually one by one, they were having none of this and were going to use the bats on me, so I ran into Marks house until they left. After that they never bothered me again.
Then I saw Andy Young scuttle down an alley way so I ran down a street in front of him and said “now that you are on your own lets see how tough you are now!” And he said “I don’t feel well”. I began to beat the crap out of him and then said "if you ever come near me again I will do the same again". He never came back. But when I was older and drinking in the Claremont pub when I was a teenager I saw him again with his gang, he was giving me the evil eye and talking to his mates as I was playing on the fruit machine. Ricky dragged me out of the side entrance of the pub and said he saw him with a knife waiting for me. I never saw him again.
One of my friends at school was Gary Massey I said to him he would get into lots of fights in Moss Side if he kept his attitude up. He came to Moss Side with me and He ended up being in three fights in the one day, he did well to defend himself though.
I wanted a zx spectrum computer, so I saved all my paper round money and mind your car money and it took a year to save. I withdrew the money from the post office account on Princess Road and rolled the money up and stuffed it into my socks and went to Debenhams in Manchester to buy it. I took the money out of my socks and it was all sweaty and handed it to the lady behind the counter, she was not impressed. Attic Attack , Jet Set Willy and Manic Miner were brilliant and spent many hours on this.
One holiday we went on was with my mum, dad and Ricky to pontins in Prestatyn sands Wales we had a great time and I remember my gran turning up to see us, it made my day. I gave her a key ring with my photo on and she had this on her keys up until she died. I remember my gran and aunty flo were always laughing; they were so full of life and love. One regret that I have is not being able to know her to really talk to and get to know her personally.
I loved my gran very much and remember being told when she passed away, I was at Yew tree high school at the time and ran all the way to my Grans, my uncle George stopped me in the street and took me to aunty Ivy and Uncle Dave Jones house where she was living at the time, My Dad was there and he was crying his eyes out, this was the first time I saw my dad upset as he loved her so much. we all miss her very much.
I had a good experience at Yew Tree High School, we used to get up to all sorts of mischief, I was a bit of a rogue in my first and second years getting into a fight in my first week in school and losing quite badly due to being pinned down by two sisters of Anthony O’Neil, getting beaten up by him and then thrown over the bushes landing on a rose bush. I had to go home with a blood soaked shirt from a
nose bleed, my mum and dad went mad.
We used to mess around the corridors of A Block a five storey building at that time with a lift. We used to all pile into the lift and when the doors closed we would jump up and punch the light to knock out the electric's, we would be in total darkness and then we would be fighting until the lift opened again. One time we were on the top floor waiting for the lift to open, the doors opened and we all rushed forward, but there was no lift there and we nearly fell down the shaft.
Another time in A block the teacher left the room to chastise a pupil, all the kids hid under the lecture hall at the back of the class and the teacher could not find us. when he came back again we reappeared sat in our seats, the teacher was not amused.
We also used to put the Bunsen burners hoses onto the water taps and turned the water on, there were fountains all over the classroom. One time another friend took the main gas pipe off the side of the table and lit a match it was like a flame thrower, some of the Kids at school were unruly and it was hard to get any work done due to the disruptions.
I used to take sandwiches with me because mum couldn’t afford school dinners, so with my paper round money I used to buy school dinner tickets off the kids on some occasions, I loved the school dinners which were better than cold soggy sandwiches. I used to bunk off the lessons in my first and second years and play tiggy it in the bushes at the back of the school or in Wythenshawe Park. or play around the river mersey in Northenden. My shoes always had holes in them and I had to cut cornflake packets up as inner soles and would have to sit in a cold class with my feet soaking wet and cold all day long.
My mum also used to make clothes for me, she made a pair of jeans without the crutch in, a V kneck jumper with a V down to my belly button and a polo neck with a middle arm, I always wanted addidas trainers but wasn't able to get them as mum couldn't afford them,I understood so didn't pester her about this, my sister and I saw a load of old trainers in a derelict house and brought them home and wanted to wear them, mum was annoyed and threw them out embarrassed at this, she then took Suzanne and me to the shops to buy new trainers, they weren’t adidas but at least they were new.
After my second year my dad got me to one side and put it to me straight, he said "if I was going to continue bunking off school then I would end up in a dead end job with no prospects and picking up litter in the streets or worse, in prison". He said "if you want to live that type of life then go ahead and do what your doing", after that talk I bucked my ideas up and never bunked off school again I knuckled down and managed to get a reasonable education out of Yew Tree High School getting my A level art in my fourth year and going onto Arden sixth form college gaining A level engineering drawing and design and Art.
The Moss Side riots started and my mum, dad, Suzanne and me were sitting in the living room when we heard a loud explosion. We went outside and saw that the shops on Princess Road on the junction of Claremont Road were on fire and all along the length of Princess Road youths and adults were attacking the shops with petrol bombs hammers and anything they could lay there hands on and robbing and looting the shops. Several people were emptying the co-op shop on the corner of Claremont Road and taking the shopping trolleys full of food and goods to there homes then 10 minutes later coming back to fill up again. They continued looting for about two to three nights,
One night there was one family arguing in the middle of the street over a settee and two chairs. Both families began to fight and while they were fighting a Black Maria came up and arrested them all.
We sat outside having cups of tea and coffee whilst watching the events unfold. Our neighbour’s sons got togged up with axe handles and heavy clothing ready to protect our properties while Ricky’s dad who was a truck driver was in Caythorpe Street with a baseball bat warning the thugs off his truck.
There was a lot of tension in the black community at the time due to recent stop and search practices. there was also a programme called roots that was on T.V and this did stir a lot of racial hatred towards whites at that time.
I was always being chased all over Moss Side by the Irish gang because of being British.
On one occasion Mark and his brothers were taking the mickey out of there Grandad who was a War Hero in the second World War they regularly egged him on and I decided to join in, He picked up a length of wood and hit me across my neck cutting me in the process. I ran home and told my Dad. he came down and was just about to give him what for when a policeman turned the corner. I confessed to my dad and the officer that I was teasing him and my dad turned and gave me the hardest clout around my ear I ever had. I apologized to Marks Grandad and this taught me a valuable lesson to respect people and I knew I had been wrong for doing what I did. I respected my Dad for this approach and was very sorry. this was the only time My Dad ever hit me and I knew I overstepped the mark.
One night I went on an errand for my dad to get a packet of old Holborn and some sweets for me from a Claremont Road shop. I came out of the shop and a big black man about 6ft 2” and about 20 yrs of age (I was about 12 yrs old) said to me “do you Know a man called Tony” I said no and walked off he then grabbed me from behind and held a Phillips screw driver to my throat and threw me all over the place trying to rob me and get my dads money and tobacco, a couple of black girls shoved a chip tray full of gravy in my face. I never let go of the money or tobacco and I managed to escape and run home.
I told my dad and he came out with an axe and began to run down the street, we persuaded my dad not to attack the group of black youths and called the police. In about three minutes the police arrived in four Black Maria’s and arrested and threw them in the back of the van. The next day the same man turned up at my school looking for me. I was very frightened, Luckily He never found me.
When I was a teenager and walking to Ricky’s house at night a car was driving down the street and started taking pot shots with a gun, I began to run down the street as the gunman began shooting all over the place, a bullet hit the A in Arties hair dressers sign which was just above my head, I ducked for cover and legged it down a side street as the gunman drove still shooting down the street.
I also remember a circus at Bell Vue Zoo, one year we were watching a show and the ring master chose my dad and a few other men to ride a donkey around the ring to win a huge bottle of champagne. My dad beat all the other men around the ring but at the last minute the donkey hoofed my dad in his ribs and broke them. He was off work for ages.
Ron’s fish and chip shop on Claremont Road was a regular friday night treat on my dads pay day. I used to get fish chips and peas for my mum and sue, curry chicken and chips for me and my dad all wrapped up in newspaper with print on the chips and a bottle of dandelion and burdock to wash it down. The bonus was that once the bottle was finished I could take the empties back to the shop and get 10p back on the bottle which would usually get me 10 jelly teddy bears and a few more sweets.
I also remember blue ribbon sweets, midget gems, black jacks, space invader crisp's, cola cubes, pear drops and midget gems. I used to run errands to the corner shop for my sister for 10 packets of crisp's and 5 chocolate bars and chocolate hammers and saws. My sister would give me one packet of crisp's and one chocolate bar and she would eat the lot in one night.
When my mum and dad went out on Saturday nights to the City Club, my sister used to look after me and she would often pick the lock of the drinks cabinet and drink the Q.C. sherry. Each time she finished she would top it up with water because my mum had left a mark on the label to try and catch her out.
My Mum and Dad went to the Beehive pub one night, Dad went to the bar for drinks and mum sat down, a Big Black man sat down next to Hilda and started chatting to her. My mum said "you cant sit there my husband will be back soon" Dad came back and the man said "Don’t worry man I am a hit man looking for a white man to kill" and opened his jacket showing a revolver in a holster My Dad began to joke with him and they quickly drunk up and left.
On another night they went to the City Club,it was windy, my mum was wearing her favourite wig and it blew off like a Frisbee landing into a puddle, she picked it up and plopped it on her head and went to the club my dad was in stitches.
The Ritz in Manchester used to have a Sunday disco in the afternoon for all the kids, we went there every Sunday having a great time, I won a dancing competition and really fancied a girl there. I bought her a box of chocolates but she took them and just walked off, I was upset.
Our house in moss side had an order to be demolished to make way for the road widening scheme and we moved to 32 Orton Road, Northern Moor Manchester.
During college I had a job in Shopping Giant in Wythenshawe civic centre at night collecting trolleys; I then got promoted to stacking shelves. I used to finish at 11 o’clock at night and used to ride home on my push bike. There was a lot of thievery going on there and the staff used to throw boxes of food and sweets into the skips or out the canteen windows, and sold them in the pubs at night. The extent of the theft even went to management level. My manager at the time asked me to come to the back doors over the tannoy. When I got there he asked me to load a whole trolley full of frozen meat into the back of his Mercedes car.
I used to get my wages in a small brown envelope every Friday night, I had a
wage of £25.00 and worked 5 nights and a Saturday for this. I used to ride to work at Shopping Giant in the Civic Centre on my push bike and come home at night in the dark. I rode through Wythenshawe Park at night and on one occasion somebody jumped out from the bushes behind me and started to give chase, this frightened the life out of me and I peddled as fast as I could to get away. I thought that somebody was going to murder me.
I got my first motorbike a Honda H100 and then rode this to work.
I then got a job as a petrol station attendant at the jet petrol station on Chester Road Stretford, Andy Gold straw another motor biker told me about the job and introduced me to the manager Yvonne Dunn. She was impressed with me and I then got the job.
One night an armed robber wanted to get into the petrol station where I was alone at night. He then started attacking the window with an axe handle, He was crazed and if he got in he would of beat me to death. He eventually left after 10 minutes of trying.
Also one day a brand new Audi pulled up and filled his car up with £15 of petrol and drove off without paying. I called the police and they brought him back, I could not prove he drove off without paying and he got away with it. I had my wages docked by £15 that week I only had a wage of £25 so I was not happy.
The shop did not have a till, just a drawer where you put the money in and you had to work everything out by paper and a calculator. I had to be in charge of the petrol deliveries and calculate by hand the quantities of fuel in and out of the business, the security was not very good.
I remember Jack Charlton pulling up in his black Mercedes limo ( I did not know who it was at the time) and thought he was just a rich man with an attitude problem so I gave him the cold shoulder. When he left after paying, a man came running in and said "did you get an autograph “I said no and he said "that was jack Charlton". I felt a little guilty then, but still thought he was arrogant.
I was undertaking my Duke of Edinburgh Award during college and as a part of the award we had to go on expeditions in the peak district and Lake District. On one trip to the Lake District we had to do map reading and plan a route and navigate across miles of open country and end up at a given point.
Andrew Gold straw, Ian Mamborde and me started off and Andy gold straw started map reading he was looking down and he hit a sign and nearly knocked himself out. Feeling Dazed he said "it’s this way" and we all went to the route he chose. After hours of walking and navigating we ended up in a valley. We checked the map and we realized we were in the wrong place. I checked the map and we
had walked down the side of Hellvellyn. Andy had navigated the wrong way. So we had to make a choice whether to go all the way back which would take about 9 hours or to climb hellvellyn the third highest mountain in the lakes. We decided we would climb the sheer face.
About half way up Ian Mamborde froze on the side of a rock as he was scared of heights. Andy grabbed his rucksack and put it over one shoulder with his and I pushed and carried Ian up the mountain all the way to the top, he was about 4 stone heavier than I was and by the time we reached the summit which took 3 hours to climb we were all absolutely knackered. We all clung onto each other as the clouds descended and cloud and fog was swirling all around us as we stood on striding edge, when all of a sudden a mountain runner came out of the mist fresh as a daisy running in shorts. We all shook each other off trying to look hard but we were in a right state. We then managed to navigate our way to the rendezvous point and were 3 hours late, we were greeted by the police as the mountain rescue were going to be alerted about half an hour later.
I also worked with the police as a part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s course and went to see the training centre where they trained the police. I wanted to become a policeman but at the time there were height restrictions in place and I was not able to apply to become an officer.
There was a club called the R.A.O.B club in Moss Side, Ricky and I went there one night, we went into the club and we were the only white people there, we got lots of dirty looks from the people but we thought nothing of this, we went into the pool room and I placed my 50 pence piece on the pool table, the place was very darkly lit and the only light emanating from the pool table. I turned to get my beer and looked back to where my 50 pence was and it was gone. I then said who took my marker. Someone said "there was no marker honky" where everybody laughed, I knew there was going to be trouble and arguments started. We decided to leave quickly and as we got out of the club the gang of black people started throwing bottles at us shouting racist words to us and cursing and swearing, we then legged it down the road. we never went back there again.
One night I went with Andy Gold straws motorbike crew in a pub near the Airport and had a great time getting drunk and larking about. we had lines of drinks lined up in the pub having races to finish them quickly. I drunk too much and legged it to the toilets and threw up all over one of my mate’s trousers as he was standing at the urinal. he looked at me in disgust as I collapsed in a heap on the floor trying to laugh between each vomit. Happy days.
I got my first motorbike a Honda H100 which I bought for £25.00 and rewired and Uncle Dave sprayed for me, this bike was unrestricted and reached speeds up to 75 MPH. I had many a night out with my friends Mark and Ricky driving down country lanes having fun and larking about on the road, Visiting country pubs and upsetting the local gentry.
On one winters night we were driving in the peak district and decided we would go up this dirt track, it was full of snow. We began larking about on the bikes and were going to go on a field, it was pitch black at night and we decided against it. We turned around and rode down the hill and onto the major road. We looked up to where we thought the field was and realized it was a good 500ft sheer drop to the motorway below. It was a good job we never went into the field as we would have all dropped to the ground below.
One night Mark, Ricky and I were driving around Manchester town centre when we came across this young fit girl on her knees in the middle of the road near the Palace theatre opposite the Grosvenor Casino giving a blow job to this bloke. we circled a couple of times honking our horns she did not have a care in the world and the bloke was obviously enjoying himself, we laughed our socks off.
I had a motorbike crash in June 1986 on my Honda CB 125 a night before I was due to go on a Duke of Edinburgh’s award trip to the Lake District to complete my gold award. I was badly injured by a ford Capri car that went through a red light racing a motor biker. I hit the soft part between the wheel and the window pillar, doing a somersault and a superman impression and landing hard on the ground beyond shattering the bones in my hand in several places, my wrist and arm in five places a broken collar bone and dislocated shoulder, banged head and cut knee.
As I was lying on the ground I looked at my left hand and it swelled up to 3 times its size and was restricted in my glove, the paramedic cut the glove off and it swelled so much that I panicked, I could not feel my legs. I could not move for a week and was in extreme agony and went into shock. I had to have an operation on my left hand and had pins put in place. When I got the motorbike back the tank had a huge dent where my crotch was and this is why I could not walk for a week. My bike was imbedded in the car.
The driver was found guilty a year later after going to court and he got sent down due to other offences he had committed, including trying to run down a child on purpose. I was awarded compensation of £13000 a year later.
One night I was riding home from work in mid-winter down Dane Road Sale there was black ice on the ground and I was driving at about 15 miles per hour with my feet on the ground when all of a sudden a police car pulled me over, the copper said I was doing 65 MPH I went to court and argued the case but they took the police side and gave me 3 points and £160 court costs and a fine.
I met Eileen Taylor in 1986 at the cringle wood club; she was in my way when I was getting some drinks at the bar. When I first turned around to see her I can honestly say that for me it was love at first sight. We began dating each other for a few weeks but Eileen decided not to see me after a while and when I phoned her up one day to see if she wanted to see me again she said no so I said to her "well it was nice to know you “and wished her all the best. I was absolutely gutted but decided that if she did not want me then that was that.
I went on holiday had a great time and came back home a month later, I had my motorbike accident, after my crash I met Eileen’s mum Lil in the cake shop in Sale Circle, Northern Moor and she must of told Eileen because a few days later she came around to see me, from then on we began to see each other again, I was absolutely besotted by Eileen and knew she was the one for me.
After recovering from my accident, I got a laborious job in old Trafford for six months working in a wood factory sorting out wood samples and photo copying. I took a day off work and went to Moss Side Job Centre where I saw a job at T.F.S and applied for it. I took my portfolio in and showed it to the Manager Geoff Windle. He saw my painting of the motorbike and was so impressed with it he took it to show other members of staff.
A couple of days later I got the job. I worked for T.F.S for 10 years gradually increasing my artistic skills along the way. I was employed as an apprentice separation artist that involved reproducing textile designs for the fashion and furnishing market. This was a highly skilled job and I worked on designs for all the leading textile companies in England, I had to reproduce designs fit for reproduction onto screens on rotary, flat screen and copper rollers in the textile printing industry. This was a specialized career and I really enjoyed this job and eventually became one of the best artists in the studio and most productive.
One night in winter I was driving home from work in my Ford escort mk 2 and I broke down outside Monroe's gay club, the car came to a halt opposite the club. I was trying to start it up when there was a bang on the roof of the car and this gay bloke with a leather hat on a big moustache and leather pants with his arse sticking out of open pants at the back began to shout "any business" shoving his hairy arse in the side window. I frantically tried to turn the engine on as the leery gay bloke persisted with his remarks, I finally got the engine to work and sped off. laughing my head off.
One trip to Blackpool my car had smoke coming from the bonnet and we pulled over and found the filter had fallen onto the engine and caught fire, I managed to put the fire out.
I got my first car which was a mini and sprayed it metallic blue and got hold of a blue suede interior from the scrap yard in Old Trafford. This was a brilliant car and had lots of fun in it. The car had a few holes in the front passenger foot well and every time it rained and you hit a puddle you would get sprayed with water.
One day I was driving to Hull with Ricky to go to see his dad in hospital after he had an accident in work. the mini's bonnet flew up onto the windscreen and I could not see anything and had to stick my head out of the window and pulled over to the side of the road. the welding onto the bonnet had given way and I had to tie the bonnet down with rope to keep it from lifting onto the windscreen.
I also fitted a stereo player in the car and as I was driving down towards the snooty fox just before the M56 motorway began, a live wire I forgot to tie up swung and welded itself to the steering column, immediately the car filled up with smoke and I had to wind down the window and swerve to the side of the road and pulled up to the bus stop and jump out of the car, scattering all the people at the bus stop. We had a laugh at that.
I then got a ford escort MKII and fixed that up as well jacking it up into a sporty number. One day I was driving on the M56 and I saw cars swerving into different lanes, the car in front swerved and I saw a settee in the middle of the motorway sat there in the middle lane, I nearly crashed into this but swerved in time putting my heart into my mouth.
Mark, Michael, Ricky and me decided to go to Alderley edge on Halloween one year in the mini when we got there we saw a nutter preaching about the end of the world and all sorts of nutters throwing fireworks all, over the place. we had a few drinks and got back to the car, we all slept in the car that night in a car park on a hill. somebody must of knocked the handbrake off because we felt the car rolling back and we all panicked as the car was rolling down the hill backwards, we managed to pull the hand brake and it came to a stop. we decided to call it a night and drove home all knackered.
One year me and Ricky decided to go camping in the Lake District, we went by train and then hiked to a camp site just outside Ambleside we pitched tent and began to walk towards Hawks head, on the way this car pulled up as we were thumbing a lift. We jumped in, I was in the back on top of a suitcase and Ricky in the front. The passenger in the back next to me said “I forgot to tell you my mate is an amateur rally driver” he then sped off down the road at about 70 miles an hour. Leaves and twigs were flying through the back window into my face, the driver turned this corner on the wrong side of the road and in front of him was a yellow mini. The driver swerved to avoid hitting it and went up an embankment and hit a stone wall, the car flew in the air and landed on two wheels and came to rest in a ditch. Ricky and I was shaken and we got out unscathed the driver got out and started crying saying his mum was going to kill him as it was her car and it was a write off. Me and Ricky looked at each other and said “well cheers for the lift", and promptly left laughing our socks off, we saw a pub right in front of us we went in and sat in the window drinking beer and laughing our heads off at what had just happened.
After a night getting drunk in Hawks head we staggered toward a campsite and used the urinals, we saw a pushbike outside the toilet and looked at each other and promptly jumped on it and rode it down the country lanes. I was riding and Ricky was on the seat we were going down this hill with Ricky’s torch flashing on the road in the pitch black laughing our heads off. When we both fell off the bike as a car came towards us at speed. We promptly picked the bike up and threw it over the stone wall and were just about to follow it when we got distracted by another car.
We then walked on towards our campsite. We then decided to take a short cut across a field. As we were half way across we heard a rumbling sound we turned around and shone the torch as a big bull was thundering and snorting towards us. We ran and jumped over a barbed wire hedge just in time before the bull got us. We dusted ourselves down and laughed our socks off.
The next day we began to hitch hike back to Hawks head for more beer when we passed the place where we threw the bike over the stone wall and looked over to see a 100 ft drop and a couple of farmers were discussing the crime of the century taking place the night before We promptly left giggling to ourselves.
On another occasion that me and Ricky went to the lakes for a camping trip we took my Ford escort xr3i lookalike to the same campsite, we drove all over the lakes and at night we went to Ambleside to have a drink, after coming out we got in the car and eased it out of the car park, we saw a police car going around the one way system and avoided this. we then set off towards the campsite, we got to the campsite and Ricky wanted to drive, he drove through some woods at slow speed and jumped out of the car laughing his head off with me in the passenger seat. the car was veering through the woods narrowly missing trees as I frantically jumped into the driver’s seat and stopped the car. Ricky was always playing practical jokes and in the middle of the night in the tent he squirted toothpaste on my cushion and I squashed into it and woke up with my face freezing on one side of my face with the toothpaste.
Me and Mark went to watch Man City play Hull at their ground one year and we were at the back of the goals watching the game when trouble started fires were lit and fighting began on the terraces. there was an old man beating up a copper and the police raided the pitch with horses. happy days.
Eileen and I moved in together in a flat in 29 Chalford Road, Newall green this flat was on the third floor of a block of maisonettes. Every night when we came home from work we had to buy a bag of chips and open the entrance door to the flats and chuck the chips outside as there were two Rottweiler’s prowling the corridors, we often could not get out as when we opened our door they would snarl and growl at us.
The flat below us had a prostitute in and there were drug dealers close by.
One argument I had with Eileen was when I made her Sunday tea and she stormed out of the Flat, I was that annoyed with her that I opened the kitchen window and threw the roast chicken dinner out of the window cursing at Eileen, the Rottweilers then ate it. Eileen came home later and she said where is her tea and I said "the dinners in the dog". We then moved out after a year and bought our first house together in 5 Pentlands avenue Salford
I was driving home from work one day when I saw a robber snatch a Handbag from an old lady on the corner of Dickinson Road market and the A6. I was driving my grey primer ford escort and I drove after the robber and mounted the kerb cutting him off from escaping, I snarled at him and began to get out of the car to get him when the robber panicked and ran back the way he came, two security guards tackled him to the ground and nabbed him. I drove off home knowing I did a good dead for the day.
I married Eileen on the 28th September 1991, on the wedding day I had the old beat up ford escort that I sprayed primer grey. My sister went into labour and I had to drive her to Wythenshawe hospital. I had to rush back with Ricky and Mark to get to the registry office in time for the wedding. We could not afford much and we had the reception back at our house, everybody turned up and the house was jam packed, we partied all night. As the party was dying down about 1 am in the morning we got a call from my sister to say she had given birth to the twins Thomas & Daniel. the party started again and didn’t finish until the early hours of the morning.
The nightlife in Manchester was great, I used to go out regularly to all the night clubs in Manchester getting drunk and raving all night. The Manchester night scene was great and had many a good night out there with Mark and Ricky and I used to walk home from town to Salford past Strangeways prison.
We stayed in this house for 18 years, we only wanted to stay there for 5 years but there was a slump in the housing market for years in Salford and it wasn’t until 2007 that the market went through the roof and we decided to sell at a good profit.
I learnt about photography from Charlie Dodd who was head of the photo department in TFS and we became good friends. He enjoyed motorbiking like I did and photography and also hiking at that time, we went on a walking trip one year to the peak district with his family and we climbed for hours and slept under the stars at night. I cooked his family breakfast in the morning and headed back to camp. I was that knackered I slept for hours afterwards.
Charlie was a very good photographer and taught me the basics of photography and he taught me to take and develop my own black and white photos. and also mentored me on taking wedding Photos for friends. He was a good man and I respected him very much. He sadly died in 1996. I produced a painting for his family to remember him by. The family was very pleased with this, but Tracy a work colleague began to slag me off and started bitching about this to everybody. which made me very annoyed.
In the last year of my career with T.F.S I went through a stressful period in my life, Eileen and I found out that we were cystic Fibrosis carriers which meant we had a 1 in 3 chance of having a cystic fibrosis child, also Eileen’s mum was suffering from Cancer, and Charlie Dodd had also passed away.
There were a lot of good people at TFS and I was friends with most of them but there were a few people at TFS that gave me grief over the years a male colleague Paul in particular. who I believe put water in the exhaust pipe of my motorbike which made the bike unable to Start. I had to get towed to a motorbike shop to get fixed and it cost me £200 and caused me a lot of inconvenience as well. also one Christmas party my drink was spiked, I only had two drinks and I felt high as a kite and the colour drained from me, I left the party and was physically sick in Piccadilly and got on the bus home, I missed my stop as I was unconscious on the journey home. I believe he was responsible for putting a drug in my drink as he was also into drugs as well. I did not get on with him at all.
There was a lot of backstabbing and bitching going on in the work place and although Tracy was helpful to me on occasions and helped with my wedding she was also a backstabbing bitch who sent me over the edge. There were a lot of disagreements in the last year in particular and she gave me a lot of stress, She and Joanne made a cake laced with laxatives and gave it to me with the desired effect, also she began slagging off my friend Charlie after he died. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back after years of her backstabbing and bitching. So, I decided to get my own back on her.
I came into the studio early and was not thinking straight and fuming after a restless weekend from what she had done to me. I thought if she was to take the piss out of me and slag off Charlie then I will give it to her instead. A worker must of saw me putting it into her drink and I became anxious and felt guilty. I knew that I had stooped to her level and that she had won. This was the only time I had ever done something like this and felt ashamed and knew I had overreacted, I then told my Boss David what I had done and he said he was willing to let this go, and asked me if I wanted to apologise to her I declined. this was against my nature and I was at conflict with myself.
Some of the staff began to make jokes and comments and I went on the sick with stress for 6 months as I could not cope with that work environment any more. Paul commented that he will see me eating from bins and living on the street selling the big issue. This annoyed and worried me and knew he was going to try his utmost to make this happen. After looking back on this period in my life I was going through a breakdown that I did not realise at the time.
During the time I was off sick, in the middle of the night I heard the letter box open and close, I went downstairs and saw a mouse had been put through the letter box, this is something that I believe a work colleague Joanne would have done as she had been persecuting an old lady who lived next door to her and she knew where I lived. She told me on numerous occasions what she had done to this woman such as throwing paint in her back yard and putting milk through her letterbox thinking this was hilarious, this was the type of person she was.
At the time there was an advert on the TV for BT with Bob Hoskins and a mouse saying it’s good to talk. this prank with the mouse in the letter box was used by Joanne to make a big joke with reference to the advert and me owning up to what I had done. I knew that some staff at TFS were making fun of my predicament and
Joanne and Paul were both involved in causing further distress to me as they used to go out with each other and were close friends with Tracy.
I Believed Paul was a mason and he had connections with this organisation and he was going to get his revenge.
I was going through a crisis and began to suffer from paranoia, events and happenings through the media and everyday life began to affect me and I was going through constant persecutions. I believed that the media had been informed of what I had done at work and they were rolling the story out to the press and TV. I felt that the events were getting out of control and all the time the media circus was building momentum and was controlling the events around me. I was spiralling into deep depression and paranoia, insomnia took control and I was having constant panic attacks. I was out of my mind with worry, I was constantly stressed, and in constant fear for my job and family for months on end.
I felt I had nowhere to turn to for help and went to the doctors, I was very worried for my career and losing my job and was anxious. I saw the Doctor and was worried I needed time off sick as I was stressed and I had a panic attack in the doctors and as I was explaining my feelings to the doctor I felt that an invisible devil appeared next to me and the doctor looked afraid, he then passed a referral onto see a psychiatrist, it was as though I had been passed onto something more sinister.
I had a few panic attacks over the next few weeks and I went to the Citizens Advise Centre and Job centres with no help. I eventually went to a careers advisor who pointed me in the right direction,
After much heartache I decided to terminate my contract in September 1996 after securing a position at Manchester University on a B A (Hons) textile degree course. as I was able to impress the University on my portfolio and my employment in the industry, I was over the moon for gaining such a position at University and began to get my life back together again and feeling calmer, my family were very proud of me for gaining a position at University and I was happy and excited at the prospect of doing the course.
I then decided to do some fund raising for the Macmillan trust because Eileen’s mum was suffering from cancer. I went on a motorbike ride for charity and rode around Scotland collecting money and taking photos along the way to do paintings these paintings were for an idea for a calendar. On part of the journey I pulled up to a beauty spot and this man came up to me said he was the managing director of Kwik Fit and peeled off a roll of £10 notes, his girlfriend was next to him and he pushed what looked like five hundred pounds into the collection jar, I was chuffed until I handed the jar in at the Macmillan trust headquarters and there was no roll of money in the collection pot.(he was just trying to impress his girlfriend).
My bike broke down near Smoo cottage near Smoo cave at the top of Scotland and Wally McKay gave me tea as I waited for the recovery truck to collect me and the bike. The recovery truck took me to a B&B and I stayed overnight at a fishing village. I decided to go to a local pub next to a fish warehouse where they were cutting and filleting the fish at the side of the dock, I opens the door to the pub and there was silence as all the locals looked at me I walked in and they then became friendly. I sat there talking to the locals and getting drunk. The next day I had to abandon the journey as the garage could not fix the bike as a piston valve had snapped and they towed me all the way back home which cost the AA £836.00.
When I started University I learned from the tutors that they had high hopes for me and took a risk in letting me on the course as I had not taken a foundation course and this was the leading University in England for the textiles course I was on. They believed in my abilities and allowed me to gain a position.
During undertaking my degree in my first year I had a nervous breakdown in the winter of 1996, a month after Eileen’s mum died of cancer. I began to go through a lot of stress related problems caused by the trauma experienced by my old works and recent deaths. I tried to commit suicide at home after experiencing acute stress,
I was constantly being bombarded with messages from the TV and media and everyday life events and happenings such as the death of Eileen’s mum and Charlie. I believed I was responsible for Eileens mums death and believed that Pauls connections with the masons had intervened and were now taking control of all happenings around me. I believed that they made her suffer and that a higher force was at work, either by government control, thought control, mind control, masonic laws, or Gods laws.
Tom (Eileen’s Dad) came for a chicken meal with all the family, I believed that we all had to eat this meal and that it was actually Eileen’s mum we were eating, if we did not eat this we would all be massacred by an evil force that was at work. I panicked inwardly and we all ate the meal in silence, I was constantly in the belief that my family was in danger and that I was being mentally terrorized and abused on a constant basis. I felt my whole life had been controlled from the beginning and that I was being Bugged by some controlling force such as the government or police. I felt that my phone and house was tapped. I finally snapped and tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose at home.
Stress on levels unknown before had erupted into madness, slipping into a zombie state and out of control I commit suicide, as no more I can take, in the belief if I end this my family would be ok. My Heartbeat slows and stops as my last breath is taken from me, Visions of demons come to life out of the TV looking and searching for what they need. Disappointed at the suicide note, they shout condemnations and disappear to where they came. Moments later I feel a Breath of life as though an Angel was breathing life into me once more. My Life flows back to me slowly and I am dazed, sitting there confused. I hear a knock on the door and my mum and dad enter the room and find me at home collapsed and, in a state,, they drive me to the Royal Hospital on Oxford Road and I got treatment for the effects of an overdose.
I stayed in Hospital for a few nights under observation and I recover in hospital believing Jeremy
Beadle will pop out any minute to say it is all just a joke. I check for listening devices and convinced a higher force is at work, I see a priest in Hospital who took his dog collar off as I was trying to explain my feelings, He became angry and I felt confused and worried, he asks me to go to the church in Hospital and I see patients with illnesses. I believed that it was all staged for my benefit and it all felt false, I believed Jeremy beadle was about to leap out at any time and began to laugh, he never turned up and I was confused. The doctors allowed me to go home on the proviso that I saw a Psychiatrist and I stayed at my mum and dads for a while as Eileen couldn’t cope with me at that time.
I was having constant panic attacks believing that my family and friends were in danger and horrible things were going to happen to everybody around me and that it was all my fault and it was all out of my control, I was constantly telephoning Eileen, my family and friends seeing if they were alright to reassure me that everything was ok.
I saw a psychiatrist, and all is well, I just pop another pill and safety, peace and calm comes back and life slowly goes back to normal. The trauma I experienced has had a profound effect on my life and I knew I had to overcome my stress, I went back to University and home and underwent a lot of trauma and psychological happenings and events for years which also affected my speech. I lost my voice due to the stress and struggled with my panic attacks, anxiety and paranoia for several years.
I was able to enhance my abilities at University but was struggling trying to cope with my stress. I gained a part time job at Homestyle in White City retail Park and suffered a few breakdowns, One breakdown I encountered was when I was in work and the heaters were on, I had the feeling that I was in the pits of hell and the fire from the heaters were flames lashing dead bodies which were burning and hanging from the ceilings I could not see anything but felt that they were there, all the ornaments were dead people and the world had changed, peoples comments and remarks also brought this into being.
Hell was just a vision away from reality and a thin veil lay over the world that I knew. Had I stumbled upon the truth of the world or was it just my imagination and paranoia again.
I used to ride my Kawasaki Ninja 650cc to work at homestyle, on one occasion I had a panic attack at work, I believed that we were cleaning up invisible dead bodies that had been massacred through evil happenings, I had to leave my bike in the warehouse and peoples comments brought my stress levels to breaking point. I left work and came back the next day with my mum and dad, events started to happen to my dad and he became stressed and flustered and nearly collapsed due to events that I believed were happening.
My mum shouted at me and said "Do you know what you are doing to your dad". I believed that devils and monsters were surrounding us coming in for the kill, but I could not see them and I felt that other people could, My dad drove off quickly and left me there worried and panicking of what was happening to my family.
I walked behind somebody and felt that he was an angel, there were people who were angels and others that were devils and I was one of the damned. I went into work to collect my bike and believed my bike had been changed in some way. I began to ride this out of the back warehouse and my dad came around the corner in his car and followed me home to make sure I was safe. As I was riding home slowly I felt the bike was a donkey and I had been transported into the middle ages and everybody was laughing at what I was riding. People on the street were laughing at me and I was confused and worried and began to laugh slightly at the thought of this, the feeling subsided when I got home, and I thought to myself I must be going mad.
On other occasions when I had panic attacks I felt that I was undergoing some kind of test of life and that if I passed, wonderful things were going to happen for everybody, if I failed then I failed everybody. On one occasion I was in work and a priest and a nun came into the shop It felt that I was undergoing some kind of religious test. I was undertaking some kind of task of which I was not able to do and the priest and nun left the shop, I knew I had failed.
I was not able to put in a 100% in University and work due to the stress. I enjoyed producing my dissertation in my final Year which was based on researching the state of the textile industry. I conducted interviews and questionnaires to many of the leading textile companies around Manchester including my old company TFS. My old manager advised me that when I left, productivity and profits went down, and he showed me statistics that proved this. I did not like going back to my old works but knew I had to face my demons, Some of my old work colleagues did not let on to me and I knew they did not like me one bit, I felt that they had unfinished business with me and I knew I made the right choice to leave the company.
I was able to produce my dissertation gaining a mark of 87%. This was a thorough research project which took a year to produce, my research uncovered many aspects of the industry that came to fruition in later years and I was able to predict the decline of the textile designers and separation artists place in the industry.
I learnt how to print my own designs onto cloth, produce my own books and make them myself. I also learnt about Illustration, life painting and drawing and numerous skills in art. I also learnt about art history and attended art lectures and produced many essays on subjects one of which was about Picasso's painting of Guernica which I enjoyed researching. I also produced a design that the university still uses to demonstrate the printing process to all the new students.
I learnt many skills at University that has benefited me in my life and jobs that I have undertaken.
During University I got a job working for Capital Photography on the Granada studios tour. This was during the University summer break and I was employed to take photographs of all the visitors on Coronation Street and all around the tour, I got to go behind the sets of Coronation Street and see some of the stars. I really enjoyed this job and was able to get free food and rides, I had a lot of laughs whilst working there. I also continued with my other part time job at Homestyle.
Whilst at Coronation Street, I had another breakdown and was taking photos on the street of the customers, I began to have a panic attack and felt the world had suddenly changed again. I believed that my camera was a gun and as I took the photo I was sending them to hell. As I was asking them to group together and asking them to smile, the people seemed nervous and knew what was going to happen, but they had to play along with it as well, I felt I was sealing there doom. I began to panic inwardly, and the Coronation Street set had a fire mark on the far viaduct wall. This was proof to me that an event had taken place, that was related to happenings on the TV etc. I became worried and was frightened.
I was sat at my computer desk at home one day when I had another panic attack, I felt that dead human flesh had been dropped on me from an evil presence that was standing next to me. I physically felt the flesh dropping onto my head, shoulders and neck. As I was typing away on the computer, an icon appeared on the screen and it was to choose a football team, I am a Man City Fan and confusion, paranoia and events that had been happening to me caused me to choose Man United, I clicked the button for United, the icon disappeared and I heard a cheer from the direction of Man United Ground I knew I made the wrong choice, I tried to find this Icon to change my choice but it was no longer there. Ever since that point Man United were winning everything.
I felt that the symbol for the devil on the Man United logo was blatant evidence that they were a part of a bigger story, I believed that higher forces were at work, conspiracy theories were running rampant and I could not help but wonder if these were real events controlled by the devil.
Later on, that day the computer crashed, and I tried to take this to my friends to fix, but he found the hard drive had burnt out. I rode my Motorbike to Ricky’s mums in Moss Side and I physically felt that I had been possessed by the devil, as I rode my bike it was as though the devil was surrounding my whole body. I went into Ricky’s mums house and sat down, she looked frightened and worried and I kept putting my hand up to my face, it felt as though I had the face and body of the devil. I felt my invisible flesh was slimy and unclean and felt I had been possessed. I left Ricky’s mums and rode home where the feeling began to go away
I was at home on one occasion and I felt that my life was in mortal danger due to constant events that were happening all around me, on the streets and in my home, I believed that I was going to be set up by a higher power and that I would be found in my home with all my family murdered and massacred all around me and that I was going to be framed for this. I was having a panic attack and at the crucial moment my friend Anthony Agar walked in, he was a police officer and I asked him if he was going to arrest me . He saw my distress and stayed with me in my darkest hour, he talked to me with understanding and the event passed, I believed he was guarding me from the fate that was about to happen to me and I am forever grateful for his help.
I worked for a company called Barry Ward design on a freelance basis, I produced separation work for them but they went bankrupt and I was owed £350 from them, they knew they were going into administration but they took advantage of me and let me continue working for them until they closed, This company knew TFS and I am certain my old employer David had put in a bad word about me for this to happen.
I also gained a work placement with Repeatz Design in my final year at University as a sales man selling designs at the into home exhibition based in Manchester gmex
centre. I was selling designs to all the leading textile companies, this was an opportunity to meet clients and possible employers in the textile industry. I had a panic attack here and I met my old Manager David who looked annoyed at me being there, I am certain that he had spread a bad word about me, I also saw the manager of Barry Ward Design laughing behind my back. I then knew he had stitched me up.
I was doing a print course in my second Year and the tutor was off ill, a replacement tutor took over, this was Pauls friend and I believed she was going to fail me, so I told Bronwen Hargreaves about this and she ensured that this did not happen, I knew Paul Had tried and failed in his attempts at causing more distress to me. There is an old saying "just because your paranoid doesn't mean there not out to get you". How true this is.
In my final year at University I went to design studio visits in New York showing my portfolio to potential employers and was offered a position from one of the studios as a Textile Designer for a fashion design company producing textile designs. I was chuffed to bits that I was offered the position and thought this could be the offer I needed to change my career and achieve my dream of becoming a textile designer. I had to make a decision to go for the job or stay in England, Unfortunately the wage was not very good and I would not have been able to send money back to Eileen so I made the decision to stay in England.
Although I was going through a turbulent period in my life I proved my abilities by finishing my degree and gaining a 2:2 in 1999 I was proud of my achievements coming from a poor background with not many prospects and trying to cope with my stress, my mum and dad and Eileen were very proud of me that day. If it hadn’t been for Eileen this could not have been achieved and I know she felt very proud of me. I love her for sticking by me through thick and thin and with Eileen trying to cope with my problems as best she could. not many people would have put up with it. Eileen is the love of my life and we know each other inside out and we are suited to each other, even though she can annoy me sometimes, but I am sure I annoy her too, on many occasions.
After Leaving University I tried unsuccessfully to get back into my art career and applied for many positions in various textile companies and art studios. I felt that odds were stacked against me with my old employer putting in bad words to those potential employers.
I then undertook commissioned paintings for people on a freelance basis such as portraits and landscapes and various paintings for people whoever required my services. This work was sporadic, and I couldn’t sell enough of the artwork to make a living out of. I also worked as a freelance separation artist for Meshtex in Poynton reproducing designs for textiles, this helped me whilst at University on a part time basis.
I continued working as a sales assistant for Homestyle in White City Retail Park from my part time job at University moving to assistant manager then manager in a couple of years with Rosebys, this was a fulfilling role and I gained valuable experience as a manager that has benefitted me in many aspects of life.
I applied for a position for a Textile designers job with Zap Creations who were children’s bedding suppliers, I knew one designer there who was from University and had the interview with a really lovely woman who was kind. I left and waited for the response if I got the job or not. A couple of days later the postman was very early and woke me in the morning as the letter dropped on the doormat, I instinctively knew this was a letter from ZAP creation and went downstairs and got the post. I came back upstairs and opened the letter in bed, the room was still dark and as I opened the letter a blue spark emerged like static electricity. I felt that the letter was sealed with Angel lips but knew I had not got the position, I felt that I had fallen from grace and this was the reason for not getting the job.
To this day I believe that there is good and evil in this world and it is a struggle over evil that is present in life. It may sound strange to some people, but I do believe that we are here on earth as a test between good and evil and whatever you do in this life will decide where your soul goes after this life. I am not sure if religion plays a part in this, but I believe that if you live your life with kind deeds and treat people how you would like to be treated yourself, then this leads to a happy fulfilling life that should account for something.
I do not know what the future holds or what the afterlife holds for me but I try to be kind and helpful and live life the best way I can, with love for my family and friends.
When I worked at Homestyle I was held up in armed robberies at the Cheetham hill shop. On one occasion I came downstairs from the office after putting the money in the safe and saw my manager shouting, “Andy Help” and I saw a masked armed robber shoot John in the back and blood spurting out. I thought my time was up, the robber shoved me to the tills and he shot me in the bottom, it wasn’t until I got shot that I realized it was a high-powered air pistol. I thought about tackling him but he was a big bloke and was not sure if his mates were waiting outside to keep a look out, He left with money from the till and the police arrived half an hour later laughing there heads off at the thought of me being shot in the bottom. I saw the amusing side as well and had a laugh.
When I was the manager for Rosebys in the Cheetham Hill Store I locked up and was the only person outside, the area was darkly lit and my motorbike (Kawasaki Ninja 650cc) would not start. I walked with my bike to the end of the retail Unit and looked up to see two Space ships hovering over Strangeways prison, they were Disc shaped and had lights on. I was shocked and then looked away, when I looked back again they had disappeared in a flash. I am not sure if I hallucinated them or not but I will never forget what I saw. I tried my motorbike again and it then started up straight away. this freaked me out and I rode home quickly.
Back in 1992 I had a car crash and went under a truck due to a drunk driver pulling out in front of me, I tried to avoid him but the road was greasy and wet and I slid under a truck getting whiplash and the pillar of the car was bent towards my head. god only knows how I got out without serious injury. Eileen was in the back of the car and she hurt her legs and had whiplash and a bad back as well. I later found out after 10 years of having headaches that I had a piece of metal imbedded in my head from the crash which is still there.
The drunk driver who pulled out in
front of me knew the police officer as he was a Landlord of a local pub. They breathalysed me, I was annoyed and demanded they breathalysed the drunk driver but they said if I caused a fuss I would be arrested and so he got off with drink driving. later it went to court and he was found guilty of driving without due care and attention.
When I worked at Roseby's in Cheetham Hill as a manager I organised a promotional weekend where all the staff got dressed up. A man called David came to work dressed as a woman, we thought this was strange but we all had a laugh about it and had fun all that weekend taking the piss out of everybody especially David who looked like a Danny DeVito in drag.
When it came to Sunday and I was in my office David came in and said "How do you feel about me being dressed as a woman?" and I said "well its a bit of a laugh". when he said "No this is how I want to be", from then on he became known as Diane and he came to work dressed as a woman.
we had lots of problems with this as the area was pretty rough and customers took offence to him. one person even threatened to beat him up. He also had to use the disabled toilets as he was going through a sex change and he was classed as neither man nor woman in Law. Before David changed to Diane I used to drop him off after work at Victoria train station to catch his train. but when he turned into Diane I couldn't exactly stop doing this, so I used to drop Diane the transgender off at Victoria train station and as she got out all the people would look stare and Laugh. What they must of thought you can only imagine !!!.
There were two transvestites that turned up at the shop before David became Diane and they must have been friends of his. I was putting wallpaper in one of the bins and I heard a rough voice say "where's the paste mate". I looked up and saw the transvestite looking down at me. I jumped with a start and pointed it out to them, what a sight they were. and they hobbled off out of the shop.
On one occasion a member of staff drunk out of the same cup with Diane's lipstick on and she was physically sick. Diane also dropped her false wig into her frying pan at home by accident and it was singed, Diane wore this wig and the makeup was plastered on and was flaking off her beard and the smell was not very pleasant.
I left Rosebys as the store was closing down and I worked for Wilsons insurance for 1 year. I did not like this company as the management were always on your back. I then worked for People’s Choice/Hastings Direct as a customer service and sales advisor for 6 years and met many good friends and had lots of good nights out in Manchester partying the night away in pubs and clubs and raving until the early hours of the morning. I was unfortunately made redundant in December 2009. I then gained a position with a large insurance company as a home claims specialist
When I was working for Hastings and I was trying to come off the tablets recommended by my doctor I had another breakdown, I was at work and events started to happen, there was a power cut in work which lasted for 6 weeks and our building was the only one left affected, we had no phone connections and I felt that I was the cause of this, peoples comments in and out of work and on TV and media caused me to believe this and my stress levels peaked to a high level. I began to retake my medication, and everything went back to normal. I felt that because I was taking my medication again this was the reason that these events went back to normal. (I know it sounds completely mad, but you had to live through it to believe it)
On another occasion that I came off my medication following doctors instructions I had another breakdown, I was taking telephone calls as usual in work and began to get very abusive calls. there began to be a constant traffic of bad calls coming in when finally, I received a call that was a recording of death threats and attempts on my life and my family. I had a major panic attack and had to leave the office straight away. My colleagues saw my distress and were worried for me, I left and went straight to the doctors,
I got home and switched the TV on, it went on the blink and I heard voices from the TV screen giving threats of violence and death threats to me and my family again, I tried to calm myself down and I called Top up TV to say I was having distortions on the TV, they advised to blow dust off the back of the wires and this then corrected itself. I was having a nervous breakdown, I began to immediately take my medication again and after a month or so of phycological happenings and events everything went back to normal again. from that day on I decided not to come off my medication and all has been well up to this date.
I know I will probably be on medication for the rest of my life now, but I know that I would rather have a normal happy life where fear, paranoia, confusion and panic does not control my life.
I question reality now and I know where I would rather be, that place is a safe place where no evil can penetrate and cause paranoia, fear, distress and confusion. This life I leave behind as I take another pill and hope that the wolves do not come in the night to steal happiness away from me.
Stress of working life in an anonymous call centre
I underwent stressful periods from working in call centres particularly with one insurance company who I was a home claims specialist, where the pressures of complaints from customers, the pressures of targets, deadlines and the company adding more and more workloads and rules and regulations all contributed to having a breakdown in May 2013
The following pages highlight the causes of my stress at this time, also to note is that my manager was off sick with stress for 6 months and my work colleague Kelly was off with stress due to the constant pressure of the job for over 8 months. I was not the only person feeling the pressures I had also taken on 1 persons caseload who left and then two other colleagues were seconded to other work and I took on there caseloads as well.
I confronted my manager about the amount of work but was ignored and I felt they thought I was rocking the boat and they made my life more difficult by imposing more and more targets and rules and regulations upon me and my colleagues with unrealistic timescales. I eventually left because I could not cope any more with this oppressive regime. after I left three other people handed there notice in for similar reasons.
A list of issues regarding my stress at work which the company ignored
Attendance management policy, sickness disciplinary. I felt pressurised to come into work when I was off ill for being involved in a motorbike accident and I had to take 10 days off sick due to having had whiplash(bad back and neck) I tried to come into work and work through my illness but could not because of the pain I always try to work through my illnesses (colds sore throats etc, in the first year with the company I had bronchitis for 3 months and worked through this) and genuinely do not take time off work unnecessarily.
I also had two occasions off for sickness and diarrhoea which I was unable to come into work as was very ill. Due to this I was over the acceptable attendance guidelines (Bradford factor of 100) and received a verbal warning on written paper and lost my bonus.
This caused me stress as all occasions were genuine and I felt it was unfair to be penalised and disciplined in this manner. I understand that the company advises that it s not a form of punishment but to drive improvements this however still caused me stress
Workload, The amount of work that I am expected to complete within targets is far too excessive and not having enough time to do it in. I get Stressed when I have a lot of work i.e. post, checklists, diaries, writing letters, undertaking other handlers work whilst they are off, caseload reviews, cunningham lindsey payment reports, calling customers, contractors, suppliers, answering calls and dealing with complaints when all work has to be completed within SLA. There is not enough time allowed for undertaking all of these tasks while you are expected to be on the phone answering calls as well.
Wrap up time, there is not enough time given to complete detailed notes, instructing suppliers, writing letters updating diaries I feel stressed and pressurised to complete these within the targets given,. When you are rushed mistakes happen and if you make a mistake you get marked down for this which will ultimately lead to personal development plans and warnings that may lead to dismissal. This gives me stress.
Complaints, I get stressed from complaints from disgruntled customers and this does give me stress like everybody else on the team, home claims does have a lot of complaints that we have to deal with and it is a part of the job that we are paid to do. However it does have a large impact on you when you get call after call of complaints and this can cause a lot of stress. Most of the time you can shrug it off as a bad day. But other days it does have a large impact on your stress levels
Call accreditations, I get stressed by all the new procedures put in place in marking. I have had calls listened into and if I had made one small mistake such as missing a word off an instruction or did not set diary for a correct date then I would be marked down, this would be accounted for by not having enough time in dealing with the call in the first place. If you are rushed you make mistakes. This causes me stress.
Calls queuing, I get stressed when I have a lot of work to deal with and we get the constant shout of “CALLS QUEUING EVERYBODY BACK IN AVAILABLE” and having to drop everything whilst still expected to deal with my workload. This adds to my frustrations and stress.
Verball warnings and file notes, I got stressed after receiving the verbal warnings and file notes I was constantly worrying about losing my job as I am a hard worker and have been trying my very best at everything but it seemed that my best was not good enough for the company. The stress of this led to me becoming ill with worry and I was not able to function in my work and I went off sick because of all the build up of work stress as stated on all my other issues
Home life, the stresses from work led into my home life, I was unable to sleep for 5 nights and constantly worrying about all the issues as stated. I ended up being thrown out of my home by my wife as she could not cope with the stress I was under and she did not want this affecting Emily my daughter. I was constantly breaking down in tears worrying and not sleeping and went off my food. My mum and dad took me in for a week as I would of ended up on the streets. Whilst there my Dad had a bad fall and he ended up in hospital which also added to my stress. I began to get help from my mum and dad and my sister who has just set up a healing centre in Reddish helped me through my stress,
I went to Yoga on the advise of my doctor and I am reading self help books to overcome my stress. I also requested a time in motion study to be undertaken as this had never been done but the management did not do this and added pressure was put on me by management and I felt that I was marked as a trouble causer, they began to constructively add harder rules and regulations on me and my colleagues effectively managing me and a few other colleagues out of the company.
As you can see from the previous pages paintings and writings I underwent a huge amount of stress with working for the Home claims department. Now that I have left this company and moved onto better more stress free careers firstly with a with a finance company, then an estate agent and then finally my current employer that I realise how much pressure I was under whilst working for this insurance company as a home claims specialist.
The job was a good job and most people were friendly however the amount of workload you were expected to do was unattainable and everybody was highly stressed.
In the last year of working for this company a senior claims Manager was employed to shake up home claims to try to improve claims losses and costs and a more efficient service, however this shake up only increased the workload and pressures of the everyday job. as the company were striving for more cost savings and more efficient ways of doing things in the department this only added to the pressures of claims handlers in the department resulting in everybodies stress levels to rise and for some people including myself to come to breaking point.
My Manager was off work for 6 months with stress from the job, my colleague Kelly was off with work related stress for over 8 months I ended up having a breakdown and was off work with stress for 3 weeks and should really have been off for a lot longer but was worried about my job.
Everyday and every minute was stressfull and on top of this there where some people who were looking for promotion were constantly back stabbing and feeding back every minute mistake to the managers and people where ending up being put on disciplinaries which resulted in a atmosphere not conducive for teamwork.
There were a few people who worked there that could literally suck the life and soul out of you and thick as thieves. in particular a couple of senior claims handlers had the ability to eminate there unpleasantness into the atmosphere they were like death eaters out of harry potter sucking the very happiness out of you.
The department never went out on nights out as a team only once a year for the xmas do ,which the company did not arrange or pay for as they had a policy of no xmas party for the staff . which highlights how it values its members of staff.
The department was so stressfull that you could not even have a laugh with your colleagues, on one occassion a few of us were having a lighter moment to break the tension of the day and my colleague mentioned in a low voice how an ex employee liked oral sex, we were all laughing and I said "so she likes toad in the hole" where everybody was laughing. the death eaters on the other bank of desks overheard our jovial conversation and reported this to the management and this resulted in an investigation.
Each person was dragged into the office and interrogated, this was completely over the top and it was like a police crime investigation, you would have thought we had defrauded the company of millions of pounds the way they went about things. in the end they just gave us a verbal warning each as they could not establish what was said due to inconsistencies in peoples versions of events.
The whole atmosphere was of constant pressure and my colleagues and I always had our head in our hands with stress either from having to deal with complaints from disgruntled customers that the managers would never take on or the stress from the death eaters eminating there unpleasantness and finding ways of feeding back the smallest of mistakes to management who would then turn these into disciplinaries.
It was company policy for the claims handler to resolve a complaint within 24 hrs by himself and if the handler was not able to do this then would be passed onto the customer relations department to deal with instead by passing management, there was no management help to deal with a complaint as there was so many complaints to deal with and they would never take over a complaint call.
There was never any time to relax and a constant influx of calls paperwork and complaints to deal with.
I also requested a time in motion study to be undertaken as this had never been done and it was needed with all the changes in the company but the management did not do this and added pressure was put on me and my colleagues by management. they began to constructively add harder rules and regulations on me and my colleagues .
I had a breakdown in May 2013 from all the pressures from work, the stresses from work led into my home life, I was unable to sleep for 5 nights and constantly worrying about my job and family. I ended up being thrown out of my home by my wife as she could not cope with the stress I was under and she did not want this affecting Emily my daughter.
I was constantly breaking down in tears worrying and not sleeping and went off my food. My mum and dad took me in for a week as I would of ended up on the streets. Whilst there my Dad had a bad fall and he ended up in hospital which also added to my stress.
I began to get help from my mum and dad and my sister who set up a healing centre in Reddish and helped me through my stress, I went to Yoga on the advise of my doctor and I began reading self help books to overcome my stress returning to work after only three weeks. I should of been off for a lot longer but was worried about my job and losing our home.
I knew that management had to be seen as helping me back to work by law. but I knew because of the paintings I had depicted of the working environment in which I was in and gave the company in my stress counseling, they used this to effectively mark me out and a few weeks later changed there social media policy to incorporate a gagging order on all employees, stating that they would see this as gross misconduct if anybody stated anything derogatory about the company whether they mentioned the name of the company or not.
I began to look for other jobs after my breakdown in May 2013 as I then realised the job was affecting my health and well being and I was offered a position with a Finance company as a Sales Associate .
I found out on the friday 11th October 2013 in the afternoon from the recruitment company that I was succsesfull. that morning I had received a 4 page email from my boss highlighting how disappointed he was at me doing a mistake by not adhering to diary guidelines which had recently been changed and were excessive in the extreme. I was so relieved to find out I got the new job that I did not do any work that afternoon and began to pack my belongings up as I thought enough is enough.
My manager said to me I had to complete 69 pieces of post 65 diaries 12 checklists 6 letters, and a payment report by 5pm that night to become within target. it was about 2pm at this time, bearing in mind that a piece of post can take half an hour, a checklist half an hour a diary 10 minutes a letter 15 minutes a payment report that could take three hours all in between constant phone calls. This was not achievable.
My mind was set I was leaving the company and was not coming back. So I said to my manager "are you in at 9am on Monday", he said "why"I said "I will be there bright and early"and then chilled out for the rest of that afternoon with the biggest smile on my face as my colleagues were holding there heads in there hands under stress from the job until I finished work.
I rode into work on my bike on the Monday morning and handed a letter of resignation with immediate effect with my pass to the front security desk and left the building without saying another word to the company from that day since. that was the best feeling ever to not have to go back to this company again.
My work friends contacted me soon after I left and told me that three other people had handed there notice in as well, they also had enough of the regime.
I now realise how much stress I was under working for that company and I gained a stress free career with a Finance company, I was not drinking every night to calm myself down from a stressful days work and I have met lots of lovely people who I have got to know very well. the work was good and you get positive people on the phone as they are looking for help with their finances and not stressed at the outset.
The atmosphere was completely different to my old job everybody is happy and friendly and gets on with each other and there has been no back stabbing. they involve everybody in team activities and go out on regular nights out and organise paid for xmas parties. the whole environment is conducive for a happy work environment.
I have gained knowledge of what type of career I should go into, one that does not have an overload of work that can cause me to be constantly stressed.
I left this job with freedom finance and went to country wide estate agents as a customer relations retention advisor and the company was a very good company to work with they were very similar to freedom in the way they treated the staff they were very fair and looked after the staff. At the end of this career My dad suffered a bad fall and ended up in hospital and he had a few strokes and was diagnosed with vascualer dementia and altzheimers
This was a very stressfull time for me and I had to give my job up because I was under a lot of stress my dad was sectioned under a section 3 of the mental health act and spent 8 months in Trafford general mental health ward because of his conditions It was only me and mum trying to deal with this.
I got a job working for dollar thrifty for a few months and had to give this job up and went to Manchester outsourcing selling funeral plans and I then got a job working for the COOP as a motor claims advisor I was moving from job to job trying to cope with the stress of my dad being very ill and that
it was only me and my mum trying to help my dad I was attending meetings and doing reports to get the care my dad needed, my Dad was deteriorating and I was seeing my dad every day cleaning my dad’s privates after he soiled himself and it was extremely upsetting seeing my dad in this way .
also close friends and family passed away and Maria Cowie who was like a second mum to me passed away. I eventually had a breakdown whilst working for the COOP because of all the stress with my Dad and trying to keep everything together.
I have undertaken cognitive behaviour therapy arranged by my doctor and this has helped me to overcome my stress by tackling my decades of issues head on and by setting this website up and producing my presentations of turning negatives to positives and producing my range of positive cycle t shirts.
I am currently on sick leave recovering from the stress and getting help from the doctor, physchiatrist and family. I continue to improve and will be looking to go back to work as soon as possible.
I have worked for a few companies and have come to realise that all companies and places have people who you will just not get on with and there will always be a few backstabbers in life and there is nothing you can do to change that. But there is good and bad in everybody and life is about finding the good in people to make a happy life and leaving the bad behind. Sometimes you can let your anger build up, that you snap and do something you regret with consequences that are out of your control.
It is sometimes hard to turn the other cheek when everything is against you, but remember, sometimes it is best not to act on anger but let your anger subside and find other ways of dealing with the stress. I cope with my stress now the best way I can, with a little help from my friends and family and don't look back in anger, at least not today, (in the words of Oasis,) I feel that maybe we are all part of a Masterplan in life (in the words of Oasis) and one day life’s unknown will be revealed to all. So, to all the people that have caused me stress in my life, I do not feel anger towards you, only pity that you revel in your desires to cause harm and distress to others, for your own desires and satisfactions are questionable in the extreme.
I have felt a need to write down my thoughts and happenings on my website as an aid to understanding what happened to me in my life and put a line under this as a point of reference to not look back in anger or hatred but to bring a close to those bad times that happened and reflect on the good times I had and will have to come in the future.
My biggest highlight in my life was the birth of my daughter Emily Lily Matthews who has changed everything for me. Eileen and I were worried that our baby might have been born with Cystic Fibrosis but we both decided we would love the baby no matter what. we went through a lot of trouble with the doctors as they wanted to do all types of tests on Eileen but we refused, luckily when she was born they did a sweat test and they told us she did not have CF.
Emily is what makes life worth living. I look forward to her smiles and laughter and her little ways of cheering me up. She always wants me to play with her and dance with her and it’s always daddy this and daddy that which is lovely. I loved reading to her in bed and telling her silly little stories with woolly the puppet and tickling her like my dad used to tickle me when I was a child. I like going on bike rides with her and I love everything about her, she cheers me up on the dullest of days and makes me realize how lucky I am to have such a lovely beautiful daughter, who I know loves me back unreservedly.
I began to produce children’s stories for Emily’s bedtime reading and turned them into books with illustrations dedicated to Emily. I used to work on the collections at night after work and after I put Emily to bed and was determined to make books to help with her education. The ABC book became known as the special book by Emily and
I always used to read this to her at night acting out scenes in the book with her.
Emily is the light of Eileen’s and my life and she is always making us laugh and we love her very much, we have watched her grow and every little thing she does is magic, from her first smile and her first word (Mummy), losing her first tooth and first day at school and being such a lovely happy girl has brought so much happiness to our lives that we would not know what to do without her now.
One thought I would like to leave Emily is that no matter how tough things get there will always be a brighter tomorrow, It may not come straight away but given time the light will shine on your life and bring a happier tomorrow.
So in summary I live life as a hard working family man who tries to be a kind and helpful person. I strive to be a good father and husband and like to think I am a good role model for my daughter Emily. I am constantly aware that after suffering from my breakdown in 1996 that life can change in any number of ways, but what I have learned is that life is about learning on experiences gained and trying not to let things get on top of you, I have learnt a lot from my Dad who battles every day of his life with his Medical Illnesses but he has always got a smile on his face and a joke to share and he never lets anything get him down. That's my philosophy now,
After my experiences from my breakdowns some might say I underwent a psychological event or religious experience, that I am not sure of. what I am sure of is the reason for living is all around me, with the love of my family and friends who can help by just being there and cheer me up on the bleakest of days. to the smallest of things like "I love you Daddy " or a picture drawn by Emily out of love, or my wife's ability to show me sense when I have been at my lowest ebb. or my Mum, Dad and friends who have looked after me in my darkest hours and been there for me when I needed a helping hand. I am proud to say I have been blessed with their love throughout my life and know that I have been the luckiest man alive to have such loving friends and family around me.
So here is my thankyou to all my friends and family and especially Eileen who has been my rock and also my beautiful daughter who loves me unreservedly, I love my daughter very much, she brings the meaning of life into focus, my experiences have led me to be the person I am today which is a contented happy person who has failings but lives life to the full. I look forward to the many more experiences in front of me and hopefully some that bring more happiness and love for my family and me.
A few caring words for my daughter Emily,
Whenever you are feeling down, always believe that there will be a better day to come, because it will come. Whenever you are feeling lonely and sad think of all the people who love you and think of positive things. whenever you have a decision to make always follow your heart and do the right thing. Always follow your dream because you never know how far it will take you.
Always try to be kind and helpful to others even though they may not be kind to you, for hatred only eats away at the soul. There may be times when you think all the world is against you and you cannot see an end in sight and you feel sad and unhappy, remember your family has always loved you and always will. Never let anybody take control of your life, you are a person who is beautiful, kind and loving and deserve all the happiness that life can bring,
if you do become involved in a relationship, remember you are the best thing since sliced bread and do not let anyone harm you in any way, either physically or mentally. if they do, then it would be time to end that relationship as they do not deserve you.
with all my love to Emily, Eileen, friends and family
Andrew Alan Matthews.
My dad fell under the stairs and suffered so Just to give you a background of the reason why I Andrew Alan Matthews had a breakdown
I underwent a lot of stress starting in the winter of 2016 onwards due to My dad having a bad fall under the stairs of his home address and fractured his back and banged his head. He was taken to hospital and during the time he was there his health deteriorated.
He had a bad reaction to morphine and began to hallucinate. He also had several strokes which led onto him developing vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s Alongside his other physical conditions such as polycythaemia (cancer of the Blood), Blood clotting due this condition, Insulin dependent Diabetes, Loss of sight in his right eye and poor eyesight in his left Eye. Osteoarthritis, Hip problems (need a new hip. Brittle bone disease. Hiatus hernia. Gout, He was becoming violent with his dementia.
The social services wanted to put my Dad in a care home straight away but my mum and me wanted to see if we can manage at home., I arranged the dining room to be converted into a downstairs bedroom with En-Suite facilities. My Dad came home for 6 weeks but was so confused and becoming violent that the Doctors sectioned my Dad under the mental health act and was placed in greenway ward at Trafford mental health ward.
He was there for over 9 months and was very upsetting and stressful for me. I had to give up my job to help my dad and Mum through the difficult times. And I was under immense stress. I had 4 jobs over a 1-year period. having gone through a lot of stress.
I managed to get myself a very good job with the COOP as a motor claims advisor and during working for the COOP I proved my abilities and excelled in my Job role. Even though I was going through a very stressful time. Also, five of my relatives passed away. Including Maria Cowie who was like a mother to me, this affected me deeply.
I did a lot of work in trying to attain a position for my Dad in a care home and attended meetings and did lots of letters and reports to do the best for my Mum and Dad and eventually My dad was moved to Yew Tree Manor care home which is close to my home address.
I was able to see my dad every day and trying to help him in the best way I could. I was getting very upset and crying continuously because I love my Dad very much and I was cleaning his privates etc after he had soiled himself in a diaper which he has to wear now. I was trying to cheer my dad up and do the very best I could for him in his hours of need.
I also began to reduce my tablets for anxiety and also wanted to do positive things to help a charity Blood Bikes Manchester and donated a painting to charity and this raised a lot of money for the cause in the COOP. I also wanted to become a better man and donated blood in Manchester.
I also put my opinions on Brexit online and after attending a meeting in the COOP I was given a book to read by Susan Jeffers, feel the fear and do it anyway which was a self help book to deal with stress. I posted my life story and stress and anxiety paintings online for the whole world to see.
I became anxious and worried that my employer had found out about my stress paintings and began to worry, and with all my personal stress, this ended up with me having a huge breakdown and had to take time off work because of my stress over all the problems I was having.
During the time I have been of work my Pet dog Ella also has died and this has affected me as well
The doctor sent me to CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to help deal with my stress issues. This was very helpful to me in tackling my stress related issues from the past and present.
I worked out action plans to move my life forward in a positive manner and have produced two presentations based on my work stress art collection and my anxiety and Stress collection in my personal life.
I kept the Stress Art collections hidden from the world for many years as fear of letting my employer know and the world know of my stress over the years.
The Stigma surrounding mental health was for many years a taboo subject and I felt that I would be discriminated against by employers and private individuals alike. This compounded my stress for decades.
I have now been able to confront my anxieties head on with the help of the COOP and Doctors. they have so far been very supportive to me whilst I have been trying to get back on track again with my life.
I have sent the work stress presentation to my Manager Samantha Wood who has been very supportive to me whilst I have been with the COOP. she has forwarded this onto the HR department for review.
I would like to use my Artwork in a positive way for me to overcome my stress. And, to help my colleagues and employer to find a positive and mutually beneficial way of moving forward to help people deal with stress in work and at home.
I have spoken to Joey Swift the Unite regional manager on the stress presentation Turning negatives to positives. And he is very keen to use them in a positive way for Unite Union.
I spoke to the COOP health and well being manager and they advised they were unable to use the presentation in the COOP.
The unite union advised that the COOP may want to come on board in the future. so I am keeping a positive outlook on this.
The Unite Union would have liked to have a meeting with the COOP to find a mutually beneficial way of using my Artwork in a positive way for the COOP and employee and anybody that has suffered from stress in whatever form. This would benefit everybody and to move forward with positivity, turning negatives to positives.
I want to stay with the COOP as they are an ethical caring company. I can do my job efficiently and I have been recognised in the company as a hard working diligent, punctual, reliable employee, and never been late for work. And have done my job correctly in line with processes and procedures.
I am known for my handling of complaints in a positive and constructive manner and I have gained recognition by management of how good I am at dealing with complaints and one of the best in dealing with complaints on the team.
Recognition by customers has been given to me as well and was presented with a certificate and reward for this. This impressed the management of my abilities in my job role. I have achieved my targets and gained reward and recognition.
My anxieties started due to a breakdown at work back in 1996 and I tried to commit suicide due to the stress related problems I was going through at the time. I have always been worried about letting people know of this because of the stigma surrounding my health condition.
I have undertaken CBT therapy sessions organised by my Doctor of which has helped me turn my negatives to positives. I have been referred to a psychiatrist by my doctor and currently am awaiting to see him.
My condition has not been told to me yet and I have never known what I have been diagnosed with, although the tablets I take are usually for schizophrenia I do not think I have this. But I need to speak to my psychiatrist to get a definitive answer
I have now been able to move from a negative position to a positive position in my life now, and I believe I can contribute in a positive way for myself, employees and the COOP.
I have spoken to Joey Swift the regional manager at Unite Union.He is aware of my circumstances and that I am trying to do positive things with my artwork to help myself and employees and employer in the COOP to help alleviate stress in the workplace. He is very positive with the presentation I have done for alleviating stress in the workplace and is very keen to help both me and the COOP in the future.
I have been in correspondence with joey swift the Unite Union regional Manager and he has confirmed that the training and development department for the Union want to use the Artwork presentation and art in there training department and will be conducting a meeting with me in the New Year to put this in place.
Also A local media company has arranged an interview time slot to interview me in January regarding my life story of overcoming stress and are very interested in promoting this in a positive way. watch this space.
I have conducted videos of how I do my artwork talking about my stress and how I have overcome this through my artwork and website.
I conducted an artclass demonstration and this has been uploaded to you tube and my website.
The Artgallery I sell my paintings through have contacted me and they will be promoting my artwork and videos very soon and will be contacting me early January about this.
I have contacted other media outlets and art galleries etc and have had a discussion with ITV and they are currently reviewing this as well.
After an absolutley horrible year of 2018 I am positive that 2019 will be a year of positivity for me, my family and friends.
I am currently continuing to recover fro m the stress and doing positive things watch this space for future updates.
My Dad is my best friend and I love him to bits I always look forward to seeing him and he brightens up the coldest of days.