Monday, 21 February 2011


I guess seeing as I started talking about my childhood in my previous blog, its only right I tie up some loose ends which I left open... nobody likes an unfinished story. Though, this said... I would be the first to admit that most of the stories I tell here have some open ends which I rarely go back to, so don't expect me to make a habit of this!

If we all look back at our childhood, there are so many memories. It is fair to say not all of them were great. But part of growing up is facing the bad times whilst basking in the good. Yesterday I mentioned Rufus - the only soft toy I have these days. You may think that someone is too old for a soft toy, and had it had been any old soft toy you may well have been right. Though almost everyone has something tucked away in a drawer or a cupboard which means something to them. Something which has a story, or history to it. Rufus is no exception.

When I was really young, like any kid I liked bed time stories. I am very lucky to have a mother with a creative mind much like my own, she could make any story come to life. However, rather than reading me stories from a book like most parents, my mum would often make them up. I am not sure what inspired her to do so, but I think she tried to relate the theme of the story to something I needed to relate to as a child. Lets face it kids always learn better in a creative environment and I was no different. The stories featured around a dog called Rufus. I really don't remember any of the stories these days, but he was the core character and entirely fictional. There was no dog in our area called Rufus, and if I am honest I don't think we ever established what breed of dog or even what colour Rufus was, he was just a superb character which as a child I loved. The great thing about stories is that you can use your imagination to fill in the blanks and I am sure back then in my mind I could have seen Rufus as clear as day.

A fair few years later when beanie babies were around, my mum stumbled across one... a dog. Anyone who knows what a beanie baby was would know that they all had a tag which had a little story about them, their name and date of birth. For those of you who don't know what a beanie baby was - it was a collectible small soft toy, many of them limited edition - google it... they are rather cute! Anyhow, whether it was fate or coincidence, we will never know. I guess it depends if you believe in fate or not. The shop was filled with these beanie babies, yet my mum was drawn to this one design of dog. A beige/ light brown with dark brown splodges. She picked up and like mothers do, read the cute little story on the tag... what happened next really hit home quite hard, the dogs name was"Rufus", she instantly bought it for me.

Some things happen in life which cannot be explained. Some will say it was pure luck, others will argue fate, some may even say it's a sign. I try not to read into things this much, I think if you do things can lose their meaning or importance. For me, instantly this little soft toy symbolised my childhood and the bond that I had and still share with my mum. I am not at all ashamed to still have this connection to my childhood. In fact I am rather proud, so much so when in college we were asked to bring in something that had meaning to us and a story behind it - I brought Rufus.

It is strange in one sense, I am not a sentimental person, though I won't lie... I am a complete softy. I threw away pretty much all the toys from my childhood. But some things are meant to be kept forever and Rufus is one of these. As the saying goes "one persons trash is anther persons treasure".

Sunday, 20 February 2011

When I Was A Kid...

It is really strange how as we grow up our ambitions change, I remember as a kid I always wanted to be a vet. I think I must have spent 5 years of my life with this ambition, maybe more. At least the whole of infant school I was adamant this would be my future. Though equally a part of me realised that I wouldn't be able to do this. I couldn't euthanize an animal. I know in some cases having an animal put to sleep is the most humane thing to do, but part of me still feels it is killing. Even now days I am a huge wuss, I cried my eyes out when our last cat died! I always feared doing having to do this as it was part of a vets job, and I guess that was the reality which meant I would never be a vet. Even in those early years I identified this. It is strange how we have these glimmers of maturity even before we know what the word maturity means.

At the same time I always dreamed of being a star. My parents were huge fans of Status Quo, and they took me to see them once a year at Wembley Arena. I guess seeing the crowds of fans, the lighting rigs, the guitars, the huge stack amps and everything that came with being a huge rock band filled me with envy. I must have been about 8 when I first saw them, though even before that I would be singing along to the Cd's and cassettes at every available opportunity. I guess I was lucky to be exposed to real music at an early age, and to go to a rock show at Wembley on a yearly basis was really something special. My mum has always encouraged me to make music part of my life, and I will be the first to admit that many of her musical influences also brushed off on me.

I remember at about infant school age I would set myself up with cuddly toys in a stage formation whilst tucked up in bed - my bassist to the left, my rhythm guitarist to my right, the drummer and keyboardist behind me. I would then put on the Walkman and believe that I was on stage. But i didn't need the cuddly toys for my imagination to whizz me off to my imaginary rock 'n' roll dreams. Sometimes as I would be listening to the Walkman in the car, and i would imagine that I was the singer in a band. The whole surrounding of the car wasn't even there - I was on a stage, rocking it out to whatever I was listening to at the time. Or sometimes I would even imagine that I was being chauffeur driven (by my dad.... who of course wasn't my dad he was my chauffeur) to the next venue.

I guess you can say I had a creative mind back then which to an extent I still have today. though I assure you the days of cuddly toy rock bands are in the past. I only really have one cuddly toy now days and that is Rufus... maybe I will tell you about him sometime.

I guess this explains why I grew up through my teenage years with an interest in music, which I still maintain today. It would also explain why I have the most diverse mix of music on my iPhone. Literally there is old stuff, new stuff, theatrical numbers, heavy songs and even a poppy number or two. Music was a big part of my childhood, but really that needs to wait for another blog, otherwise I will never get this one finished, and it is already nearing half past 2 in the morning. None the less it was also evident that I would not end up playing in a band (though I did attempt this). I never really had an interest in learning how to play an instrument, so again where would this lead me in the future?

At about the same age as my rock 'n' roll fantasies, I remember having this little story in my head. It was set at my infant school... only there was a fire mans pole down into the foyer, in the lower part of the school. My base was above, I don't remember it being hi-tech, in fact I really don't remember much of it at all. In reality there was no second floor, but that is what an imagination is for. In my dreams there was a second floor, and the only way down to the ground floor was via the fire mans pole. If you are asking yourself how i got up there in the first place? I have no idea, there never were stairs... so again use your imaginations to work this one out! Its frustrating that I don't remember what the stories were about, but i visualised it as a TV show of some sort. I was the hero, the main character, it was great...

So what relevance do these stories have? I guess what it says is that as a kid your mind works on two levels. There is the conscious side of your mind which links things you do in real life with a career. Such as my love for animals and becoming a vet. Then equally there is the subconscious things, events that seem meaningless at the time but in fact carve who you become. I guess from that early age it was clear that I would want to be seen or heard, even if I wasn't the most socially outgoing kid in school. I never at this stage would have thought acting. But hey... that is where it lead me.

These little childish moments which sound oh so cute in fact make so much sense. I clearly longed to be on a stage. At the time I never realised this, they were just childhood fantasies and imaginations playing games. Though really they were telling me something. I went through senior school ignoring much of this. If I am truthful I had no idea what i wanted to do by this stage. The conscious side of my mind was on other matters, combating all the shit you have to deal with as you grow up - puberty is a real pain in the arse, as you have to get to grips with the person you are growing up to be. But that is all part of life.

I guess the moral to this story is that you can choose a career or ambition but in reality the ambition or career chooses you before you even know it!