Sunday, July 20, 2008
As a child, I went with the family to Blackpool, (a seaside resort). I was 6 years old and boys being boys, I decided to go in the Ocean for a swim. Conveniently, I forgot that my idea of swimming was to flop my arms and kick one leg, the other keeping good contact with the bottom of the small swimming pool in Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire. I was doing quite well until a large wave rolled clean over the top of me and then proceeded to drag me out about 20 feet or so. When I felt for the bottom it was gone! I immediately sunk down about 15 feet and there I found the bottom. Horrendous fear and panic arose as I had swallowed, what I perceived to be, half of the Atlantic Ocean. Somehow I struggled to the surface and before I could catch a breath another wave went over me.
There was a small boat about 10 feet away from me with 6 or 8 tourists, laughing and joking as they waited to go out for a trip. The fear, desperation and uncontrollable panic stopped me from crying out for help. I did my best but nothing came out, except seawater. Down I went for a second
time and hit the bottom again.
This time I met the God of Death. I don't need to tell what that was like. He said to me, "You're going to die today. I'll be waiting for you!" At that stage, I think I pissed myself. Somehow I got to the surface again. Once there I focused on a young man I could see in the boat. I had been taught to pray, so in a nano-second I prayed, pleaded and begged for my life to be saved. My prayer went so, " Please, please, please save me God! I will do anything you tell me to do for the rest of my life if You will please save me!! At that point I went down for the third time. The pain in my head and lungs was now at bursting point. As far as I was concerned my life was over before it had really begun and I knew He was at the bottom waiting for me. As that thought flashed through the mind, a hand grabbed my hair and yanked me to the surface. The next thing I remember was coughing up the Atlantic Ocean in the relative safety of the small boat.
The young man, who I had focused on, just before I went down again, had hauled me out. "Are you alright son?" he asked. "Are you OK?"
"I'm alright." I coughed and blurted out.
"Where's your mother? I'll take you back to her."
"No, please mister. Don't tell mi mum. She'll kill me. I'm not supposed to go in the water!"
Once he saw I was all right, he turned the boat around and put me on the beach. When I got back to where my mother was sitting, she said, "Where the bloody hell have you been, you little bleeder? Have you been in that bloody water when I told you not to?"
"No mum, only paddling."
"Stay here now with me and don't go bloody wandering off on your own. And don't go in that bloody water again. People who can't swim have drowned in the water. I'm sure you don’t want to experience that do you?"
"No mum." I said.
From that day to this, I have lived on borrowed time. I have also kept the promise I made. There has been many times over the years that I questioned my plea for help. Regardless of that I am still here, following His orders. The first time I heard that voice again, (after Blackpool) it said to me, "Leave this place and go to Australia."
By the way, tattooing my head was not my bright idea. I'll give you one guess who thought that one up!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
The day continued with Jim sitting in his rocker and Iris fussed around the house. Sandra laughed and joked around with me. The time came for me to get ready to go out or I'd be late. I threw on some good clothes just in time for the knock on the back door.
"See ya later everybody.", I said in a cheery voice and walked toward the door.
"What time are you coming home tonight Richard?"
"I have no idea mother so don't wait up for me again."
"I'll have my house key back then."
"What? How will I get in when I come home?"
"We go to bed a 11 O'clock her so if you're not home by then the house will be locked."
"Suit ya self!", I said as I threw the keys on the table.
Now I was really pissed and angry. Once I got outside with mi couple of school chums, who I hadn't seen for years, I put the domestic garbage of mi mothers' houses aside and went off for a good night out.
It was great being out with my two pals and their wives, although I felt a bit left out because everyone I met was married with children. Not that they put any crap on me, they were generous to the max and asked me all about my life in Australia.
That evening we drank a lot of beer at the Star Hotel in Upper Sowerby Bridge. I re-met a bloke called John Lodge who I'd been somewhat 'pally' with at Ryburn School. He was a very short bloke and like most short men he had a complex about it. A real chip on his shoulder!
As the night went on he got into some trouble with 3 blokes from another area. So muggins-me, thinking I was still in Australia where mates are real mates, walked over to where they were standing at the bar. The three blokes were threatening to punch his head in, so I said, "Ya having problems, Johnny?"
"Yeah Dick, these 3 blokes are hassling me."
"Leave him alone fellas. He's not on his own now. There's two of us!"
"Great!", said one bloke, then hauled off and punched me in the face. I shook my head and said, "Good shot mate! Now it's my turn!"
I cracked him in the head with a big right hand and arse over head he went, but next minute found me on the floor with his two mates on top of me! All I remember was rolling around on the barroom floor, under the round tables. There were punches flying everywhere and most of 'em were aimed at me! Out of the corner of my eye, I saw John Lodge crawling away under the tables, out of harm.
"Hey! Where are you sneaking off to, Johnny?", I called.
He never looked back. Once he was away from the fight he kept going. Straight out he door!
When it was finally over, I was in a right mess. Although the three blokes had various injuries, I'd caught a few punches myself mainly with my face. Steve and Colin helped me clean up a bit but nothing could repair my shirt which was covered in blood, with a big tear down the front.
I walked home alone that evening vowing to myself not to help anyone else when it wasn't my problem. My bigheartedness and sense of loyalty had yielded me a fat lip, a bloody nose and a bruised cheek.
'Iris is not going to like this', said the inner voice as I walked down the cobblestone street towards her house.
When I tried the door it was locked and the lights were out. It was about 1:30 and there was thick layer of frost covering the house walls. I started to feel the cold now as I was only wearing a thin shirt and cardigan. It was obvious to me that she would blow her brains if I knocked at this time, so I decided to look for some shelter or another way into her house. I tried the lower window but it was firmly locked. The coal cellar shute was wet and black from coal dust, so that was out of the question. The only other option I could see was to sit on the outside toilet until the morning and do the best I could to keep myself from freezing to death.
By about 4 O'clock my false teeth were chattering so badly they were keeping me awake so I took 'em out and put them in my pocket. It was one of the longest and most uncomfortable nights I think I've ever had. The temperature was below zero but somehow I managed to make it.
The back door opened at 7 when Jim Bailey came out for the milk. It took me a few minutes to get the stiffness out of my joints so I could walk but once this done, I walked in the house as if nothing mattered at all.
When mi mother saw me she hit the roof. I was in no mood for any of her lectures so I walked off upstairs to wash up and change mi clothes. Once I was cleaned up I felt a lot better so I lay down on mi bed for a few minutes and before long the daydream dissolved into darkness.
I woke up at 4 O'clock, washed mi face, combed mi hair and went downstairs. When I walked into the kitchen, my suitcase was sitting next to the back door.
"Who put mi suitcase there?"
"I did.", said Jim Bailey.
"Because you're leaving!"