Two reasons, eight months apart.
Two reasons, eight months apart.
I don’t know where I’m going with this blog, but I felt I had to get some words written down somewhere, as opposed to swirling around my head – so here it goes.
Last Friday, 4th May, I was at work when at around 4.30pm my brother rang me. It was the worst phone call I have ever received in my life. My brother, Simon, asked me to go somewhere quiet and sit down. At this moment you start to wonder about the worst possible news – but before I could formulate an idea what it could be, he told me: Our dad had died.
My dad wasn’t a young dad – he turned 68 in February – but he wasn’t ill and so his death came as a massive sudden shock. He died in his sleep, and as people often say, there is at least that comfort – a very tiny bit of comfort.
I immediately left work (who were fantastic supporting me), Kirsten came to meet me, and we headed back to my parents’ home in Stoke-on-Trent. I was silent for the entire journey – thoughts raced through my head the whole way back. Thinking back, I cannot remember a single thing that I thought about.
I always thought my dad would be around until at least his late 80s – his nan and aunt both lived past 100 – and I thought that when he went, I would be a man in my 40s or even 50s, and it would be my kids you I’d have to comfort, rather than being 26, and needing comforting myself.
Walking into my parents home is normally such a nice feeling – but last Friday evening, it was an awful, horrible moment. I can’t remember how long I hugged my mum for – it felt like hours.
The feelings I mum felt came in waves; sorrow, regret, anger, then keeping busy nothing thinking about that, then back to sad and so on. I’ve been at my mum’s since then and the house looks like a florist such is the amount of flowers we’ve received.
We have had many visitors, phone calls and cards and I’ve received a lot of calls and texts from friends. It’s difficult for people to know what to say to someone who has lost someone that close to them. There is nothing you can say – but everyone’s support is still appreciated and genuinely touching.
My dad was an incredible well loved and respected man – with tributes from his colleagues, friends, regulars in the pub and my friends all saying how warm and kind he was. He’ll be sorely missed, by a lot of people.
It’s been nearly a week now and, as well as still being incredibly upset, I am also very numb. It’s hard to describe. I feel almost empty – as thought it hasn’t really sunk in what has happened. Maybe I’m still in shock. But even as I type this and the idea that I’ll never see my dad again sits at the front of my mind, it still feels unreal.
My emotions are all over the shop – constantly upset, but able to laugh at stuff on TV, but then also angry, then back to just sitting and thinking.
I imagine this will continue until the funeral, where I have decided I’d like to talk. That’ll be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I feel I have to. It will be a very sad day, but also a day to celebrate his life and share some of the wonderful stories he’s told us over the years – often several times over!
After that, life does go on. Sadly death is a part of life. And those that are left being must carry on. My life will carry on and my dad wouldn’t want it any other way – I just hope I make him proud.
Thanks for everything dad, x
Tonight, the 147th series of ‘Celebrity’ Big Brother began on Tits and Sharks channel, Five.
This is my definitely-not-made-up list of the celebrities who went into the house…
Now, here’s a picture of a dog wearing a hat and smoking a pipe.
Well, it’s been one hell of an interesting week as far as newspapers are concerned. Or, one newspaper in particular.
If you don’t know what’s happening with the News of the World then then was Mars? Good?
The phonehacking scandal had been nicely trundling along for a few weeks until just a few days ago when it was alleged that the NotW, under then editor Rebekah Wade (now Brooks), who for a journalist can’t even spell her own name properly, hacked into the voicemail of Milly Dowler – a schoolgirl who was abducted and murdered in 2002.
People acting on behalf of the NotW hacked into Milly’s voicemail, before her fate was confirmed, listened to messages and deleted old ones to clear room for potential new messages. This resulted in the parents believing their daughter was still alive and could’ve seriously harmed the police investigation.
Pretty shitty of them, eh? Yeah – it didn’t stop there. Apparently they also did similar to the parents of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, relatives of the London bombings and the greiving families of killed servicemen from Iraq.
The inevitable timeline followed the revelations – shock, disgust, anger, resentment and, um, what’s the one word term for “let’s stop these fuckers”, pushed of course by twitter.
And earlier this evening, it was announced that this Sunday will be the “last” News of the World. Crikey. What a week.
My own thoughts in all this is, why? Why the holy fuck were they hacking into the voicemail of a missing schoolgirl? To hear the pleading messages of distraught parents and friends? To glean what exactly? “The parents are upset chief”…”What a scoop!”. What else? The abductor ringing up and confessing on his victims answer phone?
Hi is that the police? Yeah, we know who has taken Milly….How did we find out? Um… a, er guess? By the way, on a totally different subject – is phone hacking illegal? Oh.
Same goes the other potential hacking victims. Why are they going to find out? I can see no possible for doing it? Particularly as many of these very people talked to the papers anyway.
I can see no reason or advantage to undertaking such a cartoonish level of prickishness.
Rebekakakah Brooks was firm in he flaky defence, claiming ignorance and using plenty of bad words to describe the act. The grown up equivalent of going “Errr no, I don’t like THAT it’s disgusting….just, you know, don’t check my internet history”.
But it’s OK, she had another excuse lined up for the hacking into the families of killed servicemen. “I was on holiday”. OH! OH Ok, yeah. No, that’s fine.
Come on, you know how it is…
Hey, you know our boss is off this week? Shall we finish at half 3 on Friday and go the pub? Oh, and we should take a couple of hours for lunch!
Yeah! Or, let’s hack into the voicemails of the parents and partners of killed servicemen!
Um, can we still finish at half 3 on Friday?
Well, after this Sunday the News of the World will be no more. But at the moment this will only result in the loss of jobs for a fair number of people whose only crime is working for a morally-corrupt newspaper. Many of the staff probably weren’t even there during the alleged hacking. Rebek-Kha Wade is, at time of writing, still in her job at News International.
And besides, the domain name thesunonsunday.co.uk and sunonsunday.com were both registered two days ago.
This might just be the start
This is a something I’ve been meaning to write about for several months, but never got round to it. So here we go.
In October last year I moved to London. In the absence of London-based friends having a spare room and ending up moving into a married couple’s home as a lodger. Their house was beautiful, they were friendly and there was two other lodgers living there, so it shouldn’t be too weird, right…? RIGHT?
Well, to start with the other two lodgers might as well not exist, as I saw them a combined totally of three times, in two months. It became pretty obviously that it was awkward to be be around them. I couldn’t feel I could cook proper dinners so I took to ready meals (quick) and eat in my room if I didn’t do something after work. Sad life eh? But, I didn’t expect to be friends with them. They were a married couple in their late thirties – we had nothing in common. I tried to avoid them as much as possible.
Now, they had a beautiful home and rightly requested people remove their shoes before they come in. That’s cool. Me and Kirst do that in our flat now. I always took mine off, and moved them to my room. Now, this one evening when I got in I obviously forgot. But I didn’t notice my shoes in the morning as I left…nor did I smell them. That’s an important fact.
Why? Well, because when I got home from work that evening my shoes were in a plastic bag. In my room. Tied up. TIED UP. What…the hell? I daren’t raise it.
This was just the starter. The main course, in all it’s mentalness, was yet to come.
Kirst, who at the time was still in Sheffield, came down as we were off to New York for a holiday. The evening before we went, we were having dinner in the kitchen when the following took place. For the purposes of this blog, we’ll call the man of the house Bill, and the woman Ffion.
Bill: You’re off to New York tomorrow aren’t you?
Me: Yeah, can’t wait – I love it..Have you…
B: But have you heard about the problem in New York at the moment?
B: They’ve got a major bed bug problem. They’re everywhere. I mean, I’m sure you’ll be fine… But Ffion might have a chat to you later about…the procedure…for when you come back.
My mind began to whirl. Procedure? For what? What procedure? Before I even had to time to digest this..
B: They get everywhere bed bugs and when you get them, they’re nearly impossible to get rid of. Whenever we go somewhere with that kind of problem we freeze our clothes. [cont...]
Now, I would like to state at this point that I am aware that freezing clothes to kill bed bugs isn’t that weird….BUT…
B: [..cont] That’s what that’s for [pointing at chest freezer]. That’s where we put our clothes. We’ve also got our summer clothes in there at the moment. We freeze them by season, and when we come back from holiday. Let me go get Ffion.
Right. Got that? At this point, I had a look in the chest freezer. And yes, at the bottom, there were about half a dozen plastic bags stuffed with clothes. Oh my. These people are nuts.
Ffion: Right, let me tell you the plan of action when you come back. When do you get back? What time of day?
F: Right, I won’t be in so let me talk you through. First of all, Kirsten, have you got a change of clothes you can leave here?
Kirst: Um, yeah [she hadn't].
F: Great. When you get back the first thing you need to do is go straight through the house and put your suitcases outside. If it’s raining put them in the shed. Then strip off and have a thorough shower. When I come home from work I’ll bag up your clothes to freeze Tim, and they’ll stay in there for 48 hours. Kirst, yours can stay outside until you leave for Sheffield. That’ll kill the bed bugs.
Now. We haven’t got bedbugs. And if we did, wouldn’t they die in the hold of the plane, which I understand is frigging cold? Anyway, we went on holiday to New York – utterly bemused by what we had to do on our return. We experienced no itching, bites or anything. But when we got back, we knew what we had to do. Essentially ignore most of what Ffion had said.
I came back, unpacked 90% of the clothes in my suitcase, repacked it with t-shirts, jeans and tops that I hadn’t taken on holiday. “She can freeze these – I don’t care.” We then put our suitcases in the shed – it was raining. We then went to bed.
Later, Ffion returned and was ecstatic to find out my suitcase would fit in the freezer itself! No need to bag up my clothes! It’s at this point I’ll mention that Ffion only had one hand. Yeah, I know. But I’m only mentioning it for the following. As Ffion struggled to put my suitcase in the freezer/rearranged their cold clothes, Ffion, completely by mistake asked “Would you like a hand?”…. Perfect.
So my suitcase sat in the chest freezer for 48 hours.
It was around this time I decided I had to move out. Which I did at Christmas, but not before one last slight bit of weird. They left for a Christmas break before I did and I was given a list of various door open/closed lights on/off combinations to do before I left. This was their “security strategy” – their words not mine.
I moved into a shared house around the corner, and then in February, me and Kirsten got our first home.
I haven’t seen Bill or Ffion since. I thank them very much for allowing me to live in their home and they were nice people. And they have given me a lot of stories. But they weren’t half sodding weird.
Welcome to number 1 in a series of 1 of the Greatest Men Who Have Ever Lived. But not the ones who cured diseases, ended wars, saved lives or forced change for good. Oh no. Who wants to read about them? Here I’ll celebrate those great men whose existence made the world a more interesting place. The men who when you read their obituary will make you think “Huh – I’m surprised he didn’t die sooner”.
So, let’s get this show on the road…
Number 1 – John ‘Mad Jack’ Mytton (1796 – 1834)
John Mytton was a wealthy Englishman in Shropshire and was also an MP – but we’ll come onto that later.
He started his life of really not giving a fuck when at school, when he was first expelled for fighting with a teacher, then was expelled from his next school three days later. He topped this off by tormenting his masters with practical jokes – one of which was leaving a horse in tutor’s bedroom.
Despite flunking school, his vast wealth allowed him to attend Cambridge University – where he “arrived with 2,000 bottles of port to sustain him during his studies”. He left with no degree.
He had inherited his wealth from his father, and in today’s money was worth £4.6 million. He embarked on a lifelong spending spree of drinks, clothes and animals.
After drinking his way out of the army, he set about becoming an MP through bribes and spending the equivalent of around £750,000 to become the MP for Shropshire. He attended parliament once. For half an hour.
He turned his attentions to horse racing and gambling – purchasing an already successful horse, Euphrates, which won him the Gold Cup.
But Jack doesn’t celebrate in a normal way. He wasn’t a normal man. In 1826, after winning a bet, he rode his horse into the Bedford Hotel in Leamington Spa, up the grand staircase and onto the balcony, from which he jumped, still seated on his horse, over the diners in the restaurant below, and out through the window onto the Parade. Fuck yeah!
Johnny was, of course, a keen hunter. He’d hunt in any weather at any time of day. But, being Jack, hunting like a normal human was dull – so, in the thrill of the chase, he’d strip naked.
That’s right. While riding a horse, surrounded by dogs, following foxes, he’d go billy bollocks.
He also often get up in the middle of the night to hunt, nakedly, ducks. On a frozen lake.
His hunting wardrobe made him the Imelda Marcos of the day – 150 pairs of hunting breeches, 700 pairs of handmade hunting boots, 1000 hats and 3,000 shirts. 1,000 HATS!
That would heavily eat into anyones wallet. As would his animals – he owned about 2,000 dogs and his favourites were fed on steak and champagne. Some dogs wore livery, others were costumed. Can you imagine that? Think about that for a second – a dog, COSTUMED, eating steak and champagne. Hell, this dog had a higher standard of life that you do now.
His favourite horse Baronet had full and free range inside of Jack’s home, Halston Hall, and would lie in front of the fire with Jack.
Jack also drove his carriages with his now trademarked Not Giving a Fuckery attitude – he often purposely crashed his carriages to “see if it would tip over”. He once tested whether a horse and carriage could get OVER a tollgate. It didn’t.
Mytton’s life was later described as “a series of suicide attempts”.
What else did he do? Well, perhaps his finest hour, and if this was the only thing he ever did would warrant inclusion in this list… He arrived at a dinner party at Halston Hall riding a bear.
Let me let that sink in for a moment. He turned up for dinner, RIDING A BEAR. The bear then bit him but he kept it…until the bear thought “fuck this” and killed a servant. Even this was too much for Mytton and he killed the bear – I can only assume by punching it.
Jack also loved a drink. He’d down 8 bottles of port a day and once killed one of his horses by making it drink a bottle of port. Fuelled by the drink, and by not giving one royal fuck, he tried to cure his hiccups by setting his shirt on fire.
Other japes included “pelting his children with oranges” and fleeing the France to avoid his debtors.
A life of his was not cheap, and so, Mytton become almost penniless at his death aged just 38. A short, but frankly stunning life.
Way back in 2009 my friend Dave told me about a thing called “twitter”… I took at look at it, and decided that it was bollocks.
It just appeared to be the facebook status section, but without the ability to add comments, like it, see people’s pictures, receive event invites etc… Utterly useless… But then I looked more.
I didn’t sign up, as Dave bet me £10 I would join by the end of year (this was July), but I dived in and virtually stalked the BBC News twitter, a few of my friends who were on it and a couple of comedians like Michael Legge.
By August I wanted to join. But I also needed a tenner. And so on January 1st 2010, I joined twitter.
Now I imagine most of you reading this are on twitter – you don’t need me to tell you its pros or cons, such as organising smashing the fuck out of stores on Oxford Street or verbally abusing 13-year-old-girls who had to sheer cheek to make a song, or militant Bieber fans, or Jedward. I’ll let you pick the pros and cons from that list.
No, I’m going to tell you how twitter directly helped me, all the space of 4 days.
I moved from Sheffield to London back in October for the sake of getting a job. This meant leaving Kirsten behind. But after what seemed like eternity, Kirst also got a job down here so we began the task of finding somewhere to live. In three weeks.
I put a simple tweet out there asking if anyone knew of anywhere around SW for £1,000 a month, near a tube etc. Some lovely people RT’d it, and someone by the name of gdorean sent me a message. Her knew of a flat in Ealing, west London, that fitted my description, apart from the location.
We went to view it, and decided we wanted it. It was so lovely, a nice area and perfect for our commutes. Fantastic.
Now, two days later, on the way back from meeting the landlady and telling her we wanted the flat, I got a message from someone on twitter working for a TV production company. Tony (@our_tone on that twitter) asked for my contact details as he wanted to talk about the blog I was written about the ITV dating show Take Me Out for
To cut an already long blog short, Tony asked if I could help out by written the script for the voiceover for a online spin off of Take Out Me for the ITV website. Right. That’s, er, nuts. But it happened.
I went to the Big Exciting TV Place Where They Make TV and met some TV People. They asked to write for them. They’ll pay me too. Oh, and Sara Cox will do the voiceover.
I’ll be paid for putting words in Cox mouth.
The day later, we got the flat in Ealing.
In the space of four days twitter had found me and Kirsten our first home and had given me a very exciting and relatively cool piece of freelance work to do.
Not only was twitter proving to be a source of great entertainment, laughs and news, it was also ruddy useful in getting me a home and some work.
We’ve lived happily in our flat for 5 weeks now and Take Me Out: The Gossip work has been and gone.
So, next time someone says twitter is useless, point them in my direction… Actually, don’t. There are a couple of revolutions currently going on might be better examples.
(My jokey, sweary twitter is @td_ward
My serious, worky, “professional” one is @timwardwrites)