For the sake of saving the embarrassment I have removed the names. The initials used have no bearing to the real names.

It must have been one of those chaotic days when everything that could go wrong succeeds in doing just that.

Along with everything else going wrong, the telephone seemed to be ringing constantly, one call after another.

The usual British weather, it was pouring with rain as my wife ran out to bring in the washing from of the clothes line. It was at that moment that the phone could be heard ringing again in the distance. Feeling all the frustration possible, she runs in to answer the call. No one else was in the house to answer it, so it was all down to her. As she picks up the phone she reaches for a pen, just in case it was another message to record.

“I am sorry, the line is not too clear, can you repeat your name? ………… the surname …….. is it spelt the same as ……..(and then mentioned the name of a large chain of shops) ……… oh, you are the same person who is the owner”

Now, she thought, why is HE phoning us?

It was to be the first of a series of invitations to speaking engagements following the media publicity concerning my new book. Each occasion brings one in contact with differing people, sometimes a policeman, sometimes a priest, sometimes an architect, sometimes a politician. But always, more importantly, people who have taken a particular journey in life with routes that may have taken interesting turns in life.

I had already seen some of that in the research for the book. There were differing avenues I had taken as I had reached back in time. There were the books that were read, old newspaper cuttings to be gleaned, and then there was the googling the internet, as well as taking the journeys to past haunts to refresh the memory. People of the past emerged from the most unexpected of places.

Lives were not always how one imagined.

“A” was a friend who I never met since the mid to late sixties. We started to email, and then to speak on the phone. Our respective families used to have a lot of contact with each other back in those days of the past. He spoke fondly of those past days, as he also spoke of how his career had prospered so well. But, in the middle of it all he spoke of how his personal life had become one that was a mess. The public image was a mask that hid so much of the heartache that had developed since we shared the childhood friendships.

“B” was the young girl who started secondary schooling at the same time as myself. We were friends in the platonic sense. We were part of a large group of young people who walked to the school bus together. Her family domestic life she grew up in was, shall we say, worse than difficult. Those simple walks to the bus may not have seemed much, but such events for her were a haven from the pain she felt in the home she had walked from.

We both moved, and never saw each other since 1963, until two years ago. From those negative beginnings it is good to see the positive lessons were learnt and put to good use. Now, she and her husband have fostered hundreds of children who have needed a refuge out of the pain of their lives. The love she had craved for was all she had now to pass on to another generation of children seeking a haven in life.

“C”, now what can I say about this person? As a teenager, this was the first young lady that I had that closeness to in a romantic sense.

Remember I said in previous posts that my youth was very nomadic? I moved on, we wrote …… and then the letters stopped. It was only sometime later that I discovered that there were others in the district that had letter that had gone missing in the postal system. The pain of those teenage experiences …….

……….. and then, exactly 40 years later we met one more time. My wife was with me on one of my research trips, always a good idea when the past romantic memories meet up like that. I remember that both “C” and I knew who each other were, and there were aspects of the past never forgotten.

Yet we also knew that there are also aspects of the past that can never be resurrected. Whatever may have been was a teenage experience of learning, what we each have now is the maturity of the relationships we eventually came to know in the ones we later married. No one is meant to live in the past, but we all need to learn from the past as we develop for the future that is in store for us.

Now, what about those speaking engagements we began with? The research for the book had taught a valuable lesson. The listeners may be clothed with a professional external appearance, but underneath the hearts beat like everyone else. Like my friends and I, they began life just like us, children looking for the future that is right for them. So, what is there to fear?



I am married to Joan.
In addition to Faith Dawn magee, who died as a baby, I am the father of 3 dughters and 2 sons, and grandfather of 2 girls.
Author of "From Barren rocks ... to living stones".

Chaplain in a number of schools and also a factory.
Pastor of a Baptist Church.

Also a community Councillor.

Previously son of a serving member of the Royal Air Force, and I also served in the RAF for 10 years as an Electronic Technician. Consequently had a very nomadic life living in such places as Singapore, Aden, Cyprus, Malta, Germany, as well as many places in England and Wales.