politicsIt may have been mentioned that politics is one of three subjects that shouldn’t be discussed in polite company, along with religion and sex.  I’ve changed my mind.  I’ve decided that I am going to write an article on politics and religion but not on sex.  I’ve no idea what sex is and wouldn’t recognise it if it came up to me and hit me with a soggy sex toy!

Besides that, I’ve never kept polite company anyway.

Read more on sothisisreality.com


Terrorism Europe

Terrorism Europe.

ISIS ParisThe last year has seen a marked increase in the number of deaths caused by terrorism in Western Europe.  The last spike was in 2004, when the commuter network in Spain was attacked which resulted in Spain withdrawing from the coalition invading Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since the end of World War II, Europe has had a fair share of terrorist attacks.  Between 1970 and 1994 terrorist attacks in Europe were  more commonplace.  Organisations such as the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) to Spain’s Basque separatists and other extremist political groups would regularly conduct attacks, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries; some carefully targeted, others more opportunistic.  The one thing they had in common was that the ‘terrorist’ would try to remain undiscovered and definitely more alive.

However, now there is one striking difference.  The current threat posed by Islamic extremism, be it Al-Qaeda (AQ) or the self styled Islamic State (ISIS) has added a new dimension to terrorism within Europe.  One that may have significant consequences to the relative peace that has endured for so long.

This is (possibly) one of the most controversial posts that I have ever written.  To read more, visit my site here.

The Saddest Day

Friday 7th September, 2012 began the same way that most of my days at that time started.  My father called me early, about 8am, to check that I was ok and we chatted for an hour or so about nothing of relevance.  Just father and son talk.  We ended the call as normal, me calling him a few names and him telling me to get well.  Nothing out of the normal.

Not long after I had hung up the telephone, the phone rang and the caller ID identified the caller as my father.  I thought that he had probably forgotten to mention something and I answered the phone in my usual, playful manner when I knew it was my dad calling.  There was nothing normal or usual about why he was calling.

Even before I could say anything, I could hear my dad’s ragged and more unusually, scared voice.  I’ve never seen my father scared and I didn’t think that anything could scare him.  He was a Yorkshireman and ex-soldier.  Nothing scared him.  Except I could tell he was terrified and his words rushed out in a panicked jumble.  I had to tell him to calm down and repeat himself.  He paused and then told me that my mum had called out for him whilst she was in the bathroom and when he had got there, he had found her collapsed and unconscious on the floor.  My father is a trained medic and tried to revive her but with no success.  He dialled 999, the UK emergency service number and was awaiting an ambulance.  As he was telling me this, I heard sirens in the background, as had he and he told me that he had to go and let the medical team into the house.

Even after he had hung up the phone, I sat there, phone in hand, stunned. My mother had collapsed and couldn’t be revived.


My mum was the most important person in my life.  I loved her more than anything.  She was one of the few really nice people on this planet.  Selfless, generous, loving, caring and most of all, my mum.

Although I was in a bad way, medically, my mind was reeling and I set about getting myself down to where my parents lived.  It was only 140 miles away but, for me, that may as well have been the moon.  I had difficulty travelling and although I still held a driving license, I was in no condition to drive.  Today, though, that was an insignificant detail.  I got some things together and made my way to my car to start my journey south.  Before I left, I tried to get a message to my brother, informing him of the situation.  My brother worked on a cruise ship that was, at that time, cruising through the North Passage, north of Canada.  I left him a message to contact home immediately and then I set off.

I was only 30 minutes away from my parent’s home when my phone rang.  I had been driving like a maniac, exceeding the national speed limit and daring a policeman to try and pull me over.  I answered the phone and heard my brother’s voice.   He had gotten my message.  He asked me where I was and I told him that I was making my way down to my parent’s house and driving like a man possessed.  I was!  Without any preamble, my brother just said, “Don’t bother.  Mum’s dead.”

Don’t bother.  Mum’s dead.

My world collapsed in on itself.  My brain refused to process what my brother had so bluntly told me.  I was told, sometime later, that I had screamed and screamed.  A primal, visceral scream full of sorrow, anguish and hate.  The hate was directed at the world for being so cruel.

My brain refused to accept that the most important person in my life had gone.  My mum had died.  Such a simple statement that does no justice to the weight and import of it’s meaning.

As I write this I am reading my journal entry dated a week after the day.  My thoughts are jumbled, even a week later, and making sense of the emotions I was trying to articulate is difficult.  One of the sentences reads, “The traffic was a nightmare but I was hoping, with all my heart, that someone would phone me and tell me that my mum was ok.”  It goes on to say, “My mum was dead.  The words went around in my head. I know that I wailed like a banshee.  I was still driving at speed but I just closed my eyes and wailed.”

Even after these few years, I cannot think back to that time without emotion welling inside me.  I still haven’t come to terms with the loss of the most important figure in my life.  My mum was the one who imprinted her personality, her sense of honesty and sense of humour onto me.  She was part of me and part of me had died.  Literally.

Nothing can prepare a person for something like this and we all react differently; my brother went on holiday with his girlfriend whilst I locked myself away and mourned.  I cannot imagine anything being as painful as that day and the pain of the memory is still as sharp and cutting as it was three years ago.

Creative Writing

creative writingI’ve written about writing before, both physical penmanship and mechanical; be it electronic or otherwise.  It’s something that fascinates me, the way people can wrap words together to create inspiring pieces of work, be it fact or fiction.  Writing some words and creating an understandable sentence is one thing but creative writing is something altogether different.

I have written a few articles in my time and even written a couple of short stories.  I really want to write a tall story (the opposite of short!) and although I’ve made a few starts, I’ve inevitably sputtered and flamed out before I even got going.  Short stories are a little easier for me as my ‘creative’ ability seems to come all at once then peter away.  It’s like having sex, a lot of anticipation, frantic, uncoordinated action and then nothing.  Or is that just me?

Perhaps I should think of a new metaphor?

Read the rest of my random words <<here>>


coinsThey say that money can’t buy you happiness but it can certainly make your misery a lot more comfortable!

Money allows you to do things like:

This is my summer house in the Austrian Alps, near Salzburg (the home of Mozart).  Austria House SmlIt’s very comfortable, as you can probably guess and it has a wonderful view over the lake.

Austria Lake Sml

As you can see from the pictures, it’s idyllic.  Stunning scenery all year around (apart from the tourists) and clean, fresh air instead of the foul stuff where I live in the UK.

Does my bragging or showing off trigger any feelings?  Jealousy? Irritation? Loathing? Think that I’m a complete cock?

You can read the rest of this post on my site, ‘So, This is Reality?’. Find out if I really am a bragging idiot!

Dry Your Eyes

weeping-eyes‘Dry your eyes, Princess’.

That was a comment left by a former colleague from my time in the army after I posted an unguarded comment on Facebook.  I was under the influence of my medication and wrote something about the irony of the fact that the drugs I was taking to cope with my pain were slowly killing me.  Was it a cruel comment?  Was it deserved or was it just his ignorance?

The rest of the post is on my WordPress site which can be accessed here with your WordPress login and password – or as a guest.  I hope you visit.

Royal British Legion

ColourHow do you describe a colour to someone who has never been able to see?

A strange way to start an article, a philosophical question.  The relevance will be revealed later but as to the question, I don’t know.  I’m sure that there is some empathetic way that some specialist or another could answer the question but I will remain, for now, none the wiser.

My previous two articles briefly covered my injury and my inability to cope until fairly recently.  The reason I am writing about something so deeply personal is because of an aim I am hoping to achieve.  When I had hit rock bottom, medical and legal bills had made me, sorry us (my wife whom I had left in 2008 stuck by me and nursed me through the hardships), penniless the Royal British Legion stepped in and helped us.  I vowed that I would repay the kindness and decided (a New Year’s Resolution of all things!) that I would do a sponsored walk to raise money for them.  I also promised them that I would write about it and needed to write the articles, describing my past, in order for some context.

Read the rest of the article on my own WordPress site here.