Thursday 23 May 2013
Sorry to lob these at you. Hopefully you haven't just eaten.
Left to right...
Aged 5. Such a puppy.
Aged 10. Great collars, great teeth.
Aged 20. Slugs for eyebrows.
Aged 30. Mona Lisa smile.
Aged 42. Dr Evil / Rottweiler hybrid.
PS. There's a snap of me aged 15 at the bottom of the Ju Jitzu page. I look like such a cocky git.
Captains log - the story so far - 2010.
You know I started writing this stuff & it seemed a little cold and clinical. Then I reread it and added a bit more colour. I'm now at the point of saying sod it I might as well just start at the beginning. .
I've done some interesting stuff which has kept me occupied for the last 42 years..... You might be bored, though.... Be warned.
The things to bear in mind are... I try to be a nice chap. I give to charity. I'm a romantic. Well intentioned. I am definitely not religious.
In a way the RTW flying trip is, sadly, an attempt to get past a previous relationship. A couple of friends have helpfully suggested I've got a death wish.
I would comment that a male member of the family, no names, left this world while bonking. He was in his late sixties early seventies....
Ideally I'll bump into a female who's prepared to accept that, two point five decades from now, rumpy will be like russian roulette. Just with a penis rather than a pistol. ie. The future Mrs Hilton needs to brace herself for an awkward silence at some undertermined point in later life.
I've had some hilarious sexual experiences in my earlier years and some bizarre offers. My sister thinks I should scribble them down, to keep your attention, but I'm not 100% sure. I may add the odd bit of "extra colour" as a I scribble.
I'm as frisky as the next chap but, like I say, I prefer romance to be involved. Always have done. I like the idea of the happy ending. Maybe it'll happen for me. Maybe it won't.
Picture me as the little fellah with the teeth and collars, above. That's how I see myself.
Anyway. Like I say. I'm a smidge under 6'1"&12.5 stone these days. I hate being cold. I'm scared of absolutely everything. Live alone with a, sometimes, stroppy cat called Tiger and four goldfish (Colin, Colin, Colin & Scrap). That's where I'm at now.
The formative years
I started secondary school as a reasonably industrious little sod.
Not naturally clever, though. I tried because I thought it was expected. At about 15 I had an operation on my tum, that went wrong, and I was off school for 8'ish weeks just before the exams. When I sat them I guess I hoped the teachers (some thought I was great, some really really didn't) would take into account the time off I'd had. They didn't.
I dropped out of all the top sets & gave up on education. After the exams I'd mastered a massive 3 GCSE's, all at grade C, and mum & dad insisted I resit three of the buggers I'd failed. I did and subsequently left school with 5 GCSE's. ie. sadly I failed maths again.
If, during my later flight around the world, I bump into a "Baobab tree" I'll consider the Geaography resit to have been worthwhile.
Bless 'em, Mum and Dad somehow wangled a spot for me at a Grammer school to do A Levels - the target being a good university... but I was becoming a bit fiesty in my old age, so to speak, and declined. A mate of mine fluffed his GCSE's and was going to Bolton Technical college & I decided to go too.
In terms of females... for some reason, in my teenage years, I was considered quite good looking. Friends of my sis' used to come round to the house to have a gawp at me. Very strange.
At that time I guess I should have become a crazed sex hound bonking every female who raised an eyebrow in my direction but for some reason I didn't. Like I've waffled about before, I became a romantic. A randy romantic but a romantic never the less.
Even then I knew enough to understand that being a good person is more important than how you appear. Looks don't last I've noticed.
After a year at Bolton Tech I thought, 'blow this for a game of soldiers' and got a YTS job (basically government paid to the tune of £25.00 per week) at a small Civil Engineering firm in Bury.
Bizarrely for someone without any Maths qualifications I was put to work as an "estimator" pricing up roads & building projects. The civils industry was, it might not be now, dominated by the Irish. Great blokes. Not all though.
I was on site one day and one scrawny, short, ugly digger driver delighted in telling me how a terrier had snapped at him and he'd tortured the poor sod by return.
He thought it'd be funny to take me to see what he'd done to the body. He wanted to see my reaction. I won't describe anymore.... they were literally, literally, literally my nightmares for years. I've met some nasty sh_ts throughout my life, and I've tried to think the best of folk, but this guy deserved a sticky end.
Sadly just before the firm was about to offer me a full time job one of their Salford "tunnelling" jobs went wrong. The same digger driver accidentally demolitioned a Water Main. The firm lost loads of money and they went bust.
At the point they went to the wall I sent off loads of letters to firms asking for a job but didn't get anywhere. Out of the blue I got offered an interview with a large Civils firm that specialised in tunnelling. Some how or other I got the position and spent 3 years as a Junior Tunnel Engineer.
1989 – 92 Tunnelling
Complete with Red Fiesta van (really nippy...me & my mate used to race all over the place), an optical level, theodolite, lasers and the occassional bundle of explosives I worked on a dozen multi million pound projects in and around the Northwest. ie. Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield etc.
At the same time I did my ONC in Civil Engineering.
My default state of mind throughout my life seems to have been fear but in my opinion you won't know fear until you're locked into a small diameter, compressed air, tunnel on your lonesome. Health & Safety might be a ludicrous terms these days (anyone saying school kids can't play conkers is bonkers) but twenty years ago construction sites weren't healthy places to be.
One of our projects was a multi million pound project in Ashton Under Lyne. We had a big site compound. Basically a large square area with portacabins and tool sheds around the outside. The project was worth a couple of million so it was quite a big deal. Lots of men, lots of machines.
A friend of mine was cutting wood to help secure something or other in place on one of the shafts we were digging. He lost 8.5 fingers to a rather unfriendly circular saw. I heard the screams but didn't see the accident. Fortunately.
On another day some of my miners came close to poppin' it when a crane fell down a shaft (large diameter hole in the ground) they were working in...
To briefly tell the story the crane driver was an arse. He was pulling up very heavy buckets of earth from a deep shaft we were digging and he got a bit narked that the cranes alarm bells kept going off.
So Mr Genius wedged his, encrusted, hanky in the mechanism to shut the noise off. Twenty minutes later his luck ran out whilst trying to get the crane to lift a massive amount of earth from way below ground level...
The crane couldn't take the weight & it gingerly, slowly, leant forward. The rear section of the tracks left the ground. Momentum slowly kicked in & everything then sped up as this crane (RB22) toppled forward and fell all the way to the bottom of the shaft.
Miraculously all the miners managed to leap into the tunnel they'd started digging as 5 or 6 tonnes of metal said hello.
Worst case half a dozen of Cheetham Hills finest would have lost their lives. They got lucky, though. This isn't the actual beastie but it's an RB22 so you can see the size - www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsLrFLoc6so&NR=1.
At the time I'd been working on a different part of the site & drove up just as the crane tipped up & fell down the shaft. Not a sight you see every day.
If I'd been there 10 minutes earlier I'd have been at the bottom of the shaft with my theodolite... wearing the crane as a hat.
The final straw, for me, was a twofold beastie. Partial paralisis, maybe overstating things a tad, and general fear.
Firstly, I was being lifted out of quite a deep shaft by a bigger crane. Basically hopping a ride in a big metallic, circular bucket, rather than climbing the ladders that were lashed together at the side of the shaft.
The bucket weighed half a tonne, maybe, and the miners used to fill it and then it got hauled to the surface. It had a diameter of about 5ft and a similar depth. I was an additional passenger.
As I was being pulled up I felt momentarily weightless. Strange feeling. I was sat on the rim of the bucket and I remember looking up just as the chains, supposedly pulling me up, started to fall towards me. I remember thinking, "this can't be good".
Me & my mate, the big bucket, fell about thirty feet. It doesn't sound a lot but I'd been sat on the rim so when we hit the concrete, at the base of the shaft, my spine compressed itself against the metal. Fortunately the bucket went one way I went the other. Otherwise I'd have been a gonner.
I spent the rest of the day at A&E without being able to feel anything on my right hand side. The Doc said I'd badly compressed my spine and feeling would slowly come back. Plus he said I'd fractured one of my vertibrae, one of the lower ones you don't really need, and that I should get the incident recorded in the firms accident book. ie. just in case I had complications later in life.
Unfortunately the site agent, a big scary sod who's nickname was Barbedwire Joe, wasn't interested in pulling out the aforementioned book. No one else had been entered in the damn thing so what made me special ?
Well between that and finding out that my dad, for all the right reasons, had helped me get the job I rebelled a little and became a real arse over the next couple of months. Which wasn't smart.
My last project was a big tunnelling job in Sheffield. Maybe 10m's in diameter. I used to drive over the Snake Pass to get there & worked the night shift checking the laser to make sure we were heading in the right direction. I hated nights. Very depressing.
For the sake of reference if you want a tunnel to head where you want, and at the right level, you set a laser at the start of the tunnel and the miners (or machine), dig, or blast according to the laser beam.
This is just a video I found, not one of my jobs, but it shows the kind of thing we did. http://www.funkytv.com/video/view/476
Because of the size of the tunnel we had a small train that ran along it's centre. It had a Swedish "rubble moving" machine at the front. We'd blow up the rockface and this beast would trundle along, through the venting smoke, and with big metallic arms pull all the rocks into carriages behind it.
Kind of like a big metal ant. Smart idea.
The headache being that it worked in conjunction with human beings and we all knew it'd pulled mens arms off, by mistake, on other jobs around the world.
On one winter shift, at about 4 am, I was just stood around supervising the tunnels "line and level". The men were digging away in front of me.
It was very cold on the surface but very warm inside the tunnel. I leant against the side of the tunnel a ways away from the rock face. And just nodded off. I couldn't help myself. I woke up a moment later with this damn thing right by the side of me flailing it's killer arms all over the place. Scared the crap out of me. I categorically decided to raise my middle finger to the industry there & then.
As an aside to this, firstly, I'd like to say Irish miners are great guys & they really looked after a young, incredibly naive, me. Secondly, I can sympathise with the recent plight of the Chilean miners.
I've spent a lot of time in tunnels and it's scary. Very scary. Twenty years on I'm still glad I left the industry.... To the Irish, the Chileans, & miners the world over much respect guys.
Incidentally one bit of "extra colour" to mention here, no great details, was being propositioned by two big, short haired, lesbian ladies who used to run the local pub in Ashton. Us tunnel engineers, and a lot of the miners, used to go in on Friday nights and play pool.
A lot of banter. Good fun. The pub was pretty run down. We had a great time.
I was the last to leave, one night, and as I was heading off these two switched off all the lights and literally tried to drag me upstairs. I squirmed free and legged it.
In my defence, because some chaps will despair reading this, I was in love with my girlfriend and checking out the first floor wouldn't have been the right thing to do. Interesting memory, though !
To quote a friend of mine, "big girls are like bouncy castles... good fun but you wouldn't necessarily want your friends to know you've been on one".
Plus, like I say, I was in love. My favourite song at the time was Caravan of Love, by the Housemartins. Enough said.
1989 - Yacht.
Back peddling a bit, after I'd found out Dad had helped me get the Tunnelling job I'd taken umbridge and left home. At the tender age of 18 I bought a small, cheap, yacht which I moored in Cheshire. It can be a glorious existence watching swans swim past the portholes, floating to the pub and generally getting a tan whilst chilling on deck.
Ideally you need a few quid, and a bigger boat, to do it in any kind of style. My boat was a tad small to live upon.
Waking up, cold, with condensation dripping on your forehead isn't ideal. Not such good fun, either, on a 23' boat is having a blocked toilet. If I needed the loo in the middle of the night I'd generally have to undo the hatches, leap onto the river bank, trudge in the early morning chill to the toilet block, have a pee & then reverse the process.
In reality I just peed off the side of the boat most of the time.
My boat was similar to www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNAANpZm4Sw. I moored her with a bunch of canal boats along the river Weaver. Mixing a yacht with canal boats made me a popular chap.
The next bit is a tad embarrassing... I've always been, as mentioned, very innocent when it comes to ladies. I'm naff at reading the signs. Have a look at the picture of me with the teeth & collars. That's basically me to this day. Keen as mustard but not very bright.
I'd been a late starter with females and had only just split up from my ex when I moved aboard.
My young lady was two years younger than me and we'd learnt what went where at the same time. I distinctly remember being asked, one evening, about "cars and garages" and having no idea what on earth she was talking about. She was trying to figure out what I knew about rumpy.
The subsequent conversation went something like. "Am I doing this right ?", "I think you are", "Errr", "I'm a bit uncomfortable", "Are you ? Sorry about that... is that any better ?" We got there in the end... I was 20 at the point of becoming a fully licenced chap.
Bless her she wanted to get married, and settle down, and I felt the need to live my life before doing that.
She was lovely. Long red hair, training to become a primary school teacher, mum adored her. The boat was partly my way of running away, I guess.
In general I was moping a bit but as far as the boating community was concerned I was a nice young, happy go lucky, chap.
By the side of the river was a cafe, facing a busy road, and the boat club chaps and a few lorry drivers used to regularly eat there. There were two dining areas. One for new visitors to the place and an inner sanctum where the known customers were allowed to eat.
The lady that ran the place was what I would have called middle aged but was, maybe, late thirties early forties. She had a small skinny, bloody ugly, assistant.
I arrived late for lunch, on a Sunday, and was taken into the backroom. I sat down and shortly afterwards my Chicken and chips arrived. When I'd finished I was the only person left. I looked round and couldn't see anyone in the either part of the cafe.
Next thing I knew these two women, little and large, appeared through the doorway to the kitchen.... with bedsheets over their heads.
What the bloody hell, thinks I.... Anyway the buggers, without saying anything, started walking towards me. Neither of them had a stitch on underneath the white sheets.
I don't know whether it was the attire or that there was two of them or whether I was still pining for my ex. Or just that I was being accosted in general... but I slowly stood up, backed away and decided to leg it.
Casperella, the randy ghost, and ET blocked my way. I jumped onto the table tops and hopped from one to the other to get to the cafe's front door. It was locked. I pegged it back towards the kitchen, with them chasing me, and cackling, and ended up shutting myself in the loo.
These two were banging on the door to get in, somehow I'd accidentally got them frisky, and they weren't for taking no for an answer. I was 21 by then, still in love with my former girlfriend, and very innocent.
The loo had a tiny outside window. I squezzed my way through. Collapsed head first onto the lane outside, looked around, and then did a runner.
Both of these ladies were married and neither mentioned it for the rest of the time I had the boat. I've had some very funny experiences with females but this is possibly my most surreal memory.
Anyway when mum subsequently got in touch and pleaded with me to move back home (she was worried I wasn't eating properly). I kept the boat but moved back to Bolton. My pride was intact. Plus I got steak for a week.
With regards to work, again, I had the right experience to work on the Channel Tunnel. A mate of mine did but I left the industry and for some reason became an estate agent. Sorry.
This may sound counter intuitive but I was quite good. Friendly, chatty and easygoing. Sadly I hated charging folk full fees. Additionally the market crashed in the 80's. At the same time I accidentally blew the engines on two company cars and trashed the clutch on an XR2i (racing again, sadly) so I got sacked. My own fault.
It might be worth mentioning that, as colour, I got propositioned regularly during my time as an Estate Agent by numerous married women. I might add more later but I took the view I wouldn't want to be in a relationship and have someone play around on me. Hence I declined each advance. I must have been damn good looking !
One quick situation. I went to value a semi and a pregnant lady deliberately spilt here cup of tea on my lap and then insisted I take my pants off so she could put them in the drier. It was like a scene from Benny Hill for a while. I remember jumping over the suitee to get away from her.
She didn't get any trouser action and we didn't get the house sale, either. Funny memory.
Continues at... http://www.legalbrokers.co.uk/charity/bert-wildebeest1/index.htm