“I was lucky to be born on Tuesday December 3rd 1963…”

I was lucky to be born on Tuesday December 3rd 1963. Not lucky in the sense that there were life threatening complications, apart from coming out feet first that is. This was the first day of a life that would be influenced by coincidence and impeccable timing. It was coincidence for example that the number one single on that day was ‘She Loves You’ by The Beatles, and the number one album was ‘With The Beatles’. Karma or what?! A great time to be born, when children were allowed to be children, and grazed knees and eating gravel were lessons learned, and we bounced when we hit the ground, and Fish and Chips didn’t need a national identity.

Family holidays revolved around the ‘wakes fortnight’ when the factories would shut for 2 weeks and Mum and Dad would pack the Ford Anglia, or whatever car we had at the time, and we would drive off to far away lands. These Utopian destinations had names like Silloth, Penmaenmawr, and Greenock. Places where, if you took your kids there today, you would be arrested for child cruelty. We did get the odd trip to more conventional places like Bridlington and Flamborough Head, or Trearddur Bay on the isle of Anglesey, but it was the arduous journeys into Cumbrian and Scottish industrial landscapes that have instilled in me an acute wanderlust which resulted in the desperate need to travel the world to see some of the most beautiful places. Still counting. School holidays revolved around playing football until it went dark, a scenario that in the summer months I still partake in now aged ‘nearly’ 50.

My first school was a mile walk away on the other side of Chapel en-le Frith. I remember certain things; Mrs. Coates; Mrs.Finn (who wasn’t); learning binary!; and winning the Footballer Of The Year award in 1970 and being presented with a cup shaped cardboard trophy covered in foil. The name of the trophy and my name were written in Biro on the silver coating. I was carried around the school playground on the shoulders of the boys in my class. No idea how I achieved it or if indeed any tactical voting went on.

Junior school was a little nearer to our house and it was there that my acting skills were brought to the foreground for the first time. I played Joseph in the school nativity, which was made all the more alluring by the fact that Mary was played by perhaps the ‘fittest’ girl in the school, whom I fancied like mad. That love remained unrequited, but at least we got to share ourselves in an Immaculate Conception.
British Bulldogs; Walley (kicking a football against a wall until you missed it); Wembley; Snowball Fights; Conkers; Marbles. This could be a list of what’s NOT allowed in the playground now, but these were what filled my days at Warmbrook Junior School.

Music was a bit part at this time, apart from being The Beatle’s biggest fan there was only really Marc Bolan and T.Rex that I really was into. I used to listen to my brother’s records when he wasn’t in, but it was when I moved up to Secondary school that things were about to change.