Tag Archive: Life

 ‘It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to talk about what’s wrong. It’s OK to play with girls if you like them, to dress like girls if you want to, to like the colour pink if you like it, [..] to not be all that bothered about football if you’re not all that bothered about football.’

‘How Not to Be a Boy’, Robert Webb.

We’ve all read special books that really mean a lot to us. I’ve got a shelf full, but How Not To Be A Boy felt very personal for me. In my review last week I discussed the messages Webb shared and some of the shocking anecdotes he recalled, but I was wary of including too much of my own personal experiences in a review of a book that was written by somebody else. So I’ve saved them for this week (you lucky things).

I know it’s not my parents or my family who were to blame, this isn’t a dig at them, and I’m not saying that the past has traumatised me beyond repair, but the rules of the patriarchy and society that Webb discussed definitely loomed over my childhood.

For me a big issue growing up was ‘football’. I just didn’t get it. It wasn’t that I hated it (although I have grown to hate the sound of football due to a) Too much exposure of football crowds chanting tunelessly on the TV as a child and b) Now living within ear shot of a football ground.  Why can’t they sing something with words rather than sounds? Songs that I know. ABBA, for instance.) Football just never interested me. Being a fan, my Dad was, I’m sure, disappointed at first but he’s accepted it, after a lot of perseverance. As I grew up, I knew that it was weird that I didn’t like football. After all I am male and all males have to like football, right? I began to notice that people found it hard to talk to me after I dropped the ‘I don’t like football’ bomb. We’d go to parties at the local club or get visits from extended family members and every conversation seemed to go like this.

‘And what team do you support lad?’

‘Oh, I don’t like football.’

‘Ahh…..’*quizzical look*


There were rare instances where, following ‘the look’, I’d get ‘So….do you like any other sports? Rugby? Cricket?’ To which I’d fail to redeem myself by saying ‘No’ or when I was feeling particularly brave ‘No but I do like to read.’ It was just totally incomprehensible that I was a boy who wasn’t involved in sports. I started to get sensitive to it and, knowing I was odd, anxious about the conversation which I knew would come. In a lame attempt to tackle it I started to answer with ‘Liverpool’ in the hope it would shut them up.

Of course, as you get older, you realise that you’re not as odd as you thought and there is nothing wrong with being a boy who is not interested in football, but it was such a big deal for me as a child that I remember being elated if I heard a celebrity on TV admitting that football doesn’t interest him or met another anti-football freak like me. Last year, an ex-family member said, whilst I was in the room, ‘Imagine having a son who didn’t like football. You’d be devastated wouldn’t you?’ This is the kind of message I seemed to be confronted with regularly, that I’d failed as a boy because I didn’t like football. Of course, as an adult I was able to shrug off his comments and stick two fingers up behind the idiot’s back, but a comment like that during my childhood would have really upset me.

So I was already failing the stereotype via my choices of hobby, but ‘the rules’ really started to affect me when I started school (Note: this was probably the only time I was ever seen as a rule breaker during my childhood). I don’t know how it happened but I ended up having a circle of friends who were all female. Perhaps I didn’t prove myself to be included as ‘one of the boys’ or perhaps I just thought ‘God, I’d rather be sitting over there with the girls than having competitions about who can wee the highest up the urinal with the boys.’ Perhaps I took part in said competition, failed, and was therefore excluded from anything ‘Boy’ for the next ten years. I don’t know. I just preferred to stick with the girls. ‘Oh, he’s a ladies man’ teachers would tease. ‘Oh he’s gay’, older boys would decide.

I didn’t want to be a girl or dress like them. Apart from a bit of an obsession with the pink power ranger, I wasn’t overly fussed about the colour pink. To me, I just had a bunch of friends. I couldn’t understand why it was an issue for a lot of people. The way I was spoken to, it was almost like I was letting myself down by hanging round with girls. Like I was showing a weakness by associating with them, because they were lesser beings than men (which is obviously totally incorrect). The fact they were girls never bothered me, until people started telling me very bluntly that I should be bothered. I remember in the last few weeks in year six, one boy in my class gave me a bit of a thumping in order to prepare myself for secondary school, where, in his opinion, I was going to get regular thumpings because of who my friends were. Great. It’s always good to have something to look forward to, isn’t it?

And so, like Webb, the ‘Sovereign Importance of Early Homophobia’ came into play. It seemed that because my friends where girls this made me more susceptible to becoming gay and in my town that is a big no-no. Throughout high school the same message haunted me – Do Not Be Gay. Whether it was someone in my family tutting when a gay character was on the TV or one of my English teachers reacting like I’d asked for it when a bunch of nasty girls humiliated me during class. It might have been listening to my Mum use some mildly offensive term to ‘joke’ with my brother or it could have been the time someone close to me gave me a very serious talking to because my gay friend had signed off a message on my Facebook wall with a kiss and, to them, it ‘looked really, really bad.’ The message was loud and clear. Some people decided for me and took it upon themselves to spread the news. All assumed from the company I kept.

I met my then-Best Friend in secondary school and she was a very vibrant and resilient girl. It never crossed my mind that I shouldn’t be friends with her because of her sex, I just thought she was really cool and I admired her confidence! But, by choosing another female friend, I’d inadvertently chosen five years of people telling me I was wrong, without even knowing me properly. I wouldn’t say I was bullied any more than the next person but I did have a label, which I could never shake. I was the boy who had girl friends (never to be confused with girlfriends. That didn’t start until well into my teens and the plural was never necessary). Whether it was a friend putting in a sneaky comment or an older boy humiliating me in front of the whole class just to get a few laughs, there seemed to be something every day. I’d never change it because I believe that my best friend was a better friend to me than any of the boys at my school would have been. We had a lot of common interests and we used to laugh so much! And there were others. I had a whole bunch of friends, most of whom were female, and I don’t regret meeting any one of them. But it’s a shame that my school life was tainted by the most humiliating and hurtful actions just because I chose to be friends with someone of the opposite sex. That decision seemed to put me into a category – I was a boy who chose female company so I must be weak. It didn’t seem to occur to anyone that the females I befriended were probably more bolshie, stubborn and tough than most of the year 11 boys put together. But they were also the funniest and most supportive people I could wish to be around.

Secondary school was tough for other reasons.  It was a time of unrest in my home life and I needed someone to confide in, a service which was gladly provided by all of my female friends. Had they been boys, it may have been a different story, because society doesn’t take kindly to boys who listen or care.

As for talking about my feelings, I’ve been fortunate to have plenty of people to confide in over the years, should I need to, but the pressure of ‘manning up’ has certainly been there. I had to be strong, solely because I was a man. During a particularly grim period a number of years ago, I confided in a doctor about feeling constantly on-edge and miserable (at the time, dismissive of the ideas that I might be anxious or depressed, because I’d been conditioned to think of those illnesses as weaknesses. I now know that the strongest person can suffer these conditions). The first doctor told me to buck up and fix my feelings ‘the British way’ (whatever that is….having a cup of tea?). The second one told me to find a good woman. I’m thankful that, after many dark months of feeling awful and constantly on the verge of tears, I was able to manage my feelings in my own way, but to someone less fortunate than me, that advice from a professional could have been very dangerous. Webb’s book highlighted just how dangerous the pressures society puts on men to bottle up their emotions can be and it’s terrifying to think so many suffer in silence.

So in 2017, I finally got the advice I needed twenty years ago. It might have come too late, but as I grew up I taught myself that ‘normal’ didn’t exist, that I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I was and that the problem lay in the way my life was viewed by others, not with myself. It would have been great to have been given this advice when I was younger, and I’m sure in a way it was hinted at by some people, but I can’t regret anything because it’s made me who I am. That’s sort of why I shared it (or a slice of it. I have enough material for many, many blog posts).  Yes, it’s been a bit of self-indulgent therapy for me, but I hope that if the teenage me is out there reading this they’ll realise that they don’t need to be ashamed, or feel like the odd one out because it’s absolutely OK to be themselves. You might feel like a failure at the moment, but in time you’ll realise you’re only failing a stereotype, and that can only be a good thing.


‘Be good to yourself. No one bloody else will!’

Wise words from a relative. Slightly cynical, yes, but still, good advice.

The last couple of weeks have been a bit nuts. Work, deadlines, crisis after crisis and a night in an NHS bed (My trip advisor review will leave a lot to be desired!). By Friday, I was exhausted. I love my job and there is yet to be a day where I groan at the thought of going in, but I could feel the effects of the first half term already. Weepy, snotty, moany, yawny, ratty, achy and hungry (what I like to refer to as ‘The Teacher’s Dwarves’). They were all in full swing by the end of the week. Even a staff night out to bingo couldn’t shift my lethargy (I was in bed and sound asleep by 11).

So, after the traditional weekend planning sesh, I decided to take my relatives advice and treat myself. Me and Z got dressed up and went out for a Mexican (totes nom). I then called at the supermarket (because I am just so cool I do my shopping on a Saturday night) and stocked up on comfort food. Sunday was spent on the sofa, barely even existing.

Why am I telling you all this? How is this relevant? Well, I suppose I just wanted to stress that no matter how hectic times get, how full our diaries our, how in demand our time is, we HAVE to take time out. Treat yourself. Do something you enjoy. Even if I bring home a tonne of work to do, I make sure I stop in time to spend that last hour and half before bed time reading or watching  TV. I make myself a hot chocolate or a camomile tea and I unwind. Oh, and I always stop working for EastEnders. Nothing takes priority over that.

If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy being busy and hopping from job to job, but we have to remind ourselves that it’s OK to take time out. I’ve tried to follow three rules:

  • Always have something to look forward to on the calendar (mine is usually a theatre trip!)
  • Have a no-work-Wednesday – one night in the week where I don’t bring any school work home.
  • Any staffroom treats (e.g. cake, sweets, biscuits) are fair game and never to be refused.

So, whatever lifestyle you have, whatever career you’re following, make sure you treat yourself and be kind yourself because life is too short to not enjoy the little things.



The Summer holidays. A few weeks ago, I regarded the upcoming break as the holy grail. Paradise. Six weeks of fun. Sunshine and happiness. Non-stop laughter.

Now, at the start of week four, I can honestly say it’s been dreadful. Dreary, uneventful and, on a couple of occasions, leaving me longing to go back to work. I know, there is no pleasing me.

Yesterday, the sun was shining and I was feeling miserable so I took myself off on a little trip. I packed a rucksack – book, bottle of water, some blueberries and a Bounty…you know, the essentials – and went for a walk around my town. It’s not a famously beautiful town, and it has many faults, but it’s my home town and it was great to have the chance to walk around without the pressure of having to be anywhere. I passed shoppers, families, Pokémon trainers, drunk people (yes, it was 11am) and a lot of people who were less fortunate than myself. Unfortunately, there’s been a significant rise in homeless people in my hometown over the past year or so. On a walk around the town you can easily pass four or five people sleeping in doorways of empty shops. Yesterday, I began thinking about these people and how terrible their nights are going to become over the next few months, as winter kicks in. We’ve many empty buildings in our town centre and it seems so cruel that none of these can be opened up to provide some shelter…..but that’s another blog post. I considered myself lucky for the roof over my head and the food in my fridge.

I carried on walking, right up to a heritage centre on the outskirts of town. I ended up traipsing through a wood and following the river. I’m quite vocal about my love for Wales.  It’s incredible that such a tranquil spot is just a ten minute walk from the middle of town. I was grateful for having such beauty on my doorstep.

Of course, I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering onto work (it’s the nature of the job, right?) and I started to think about September.  In four weeks, I’ll be in my new classroom with my first batch of year ones. I thought about the activities that I’ve already planned and started to get excited about all the things we’ll get up to (trying to be positive – my strategy is to counter every thought of sheer panic by thinking about something I’m looking forward to.) I thanked whoever was watching for my job, the opportunities I’ve been given and took a short moment to feel proud of everything I’ve done in the last three years.

Then, after a cheery stop at the cemetery, I thought about my family, and found myself thanking whoever, as I do every day, that I still have everyone around me. I’m a very lucky.

Then, I wandered over to a park just a stone’s throw away from my apartment and sat in the park and read my book. I know that once September hits, free time is going to become a very rare thing, so I was thankful to be able to take time out and do something I enjoy.

I finished the afternoon by visiting a friend. It’s not been easy over the last few months, as we’ve all been busy with work and….well….life. I was grateful that, even though I might not see them as often as I’d like, we slip into comfortable conversation so easy. It’s never awkward.

So, no matter how rubbish things get, it’s important to take a minute to be thankful for what you’ve got. There’s always a positive and it’s easy to get bogged down in negatives. We’re often very quick to forget what we have got and tend to focus on what we haven’t.

It’s good for the soul to take stock.


Whenever I talk about my job, I always bang on about how much I’m learning. To be a teacher, you have to be a keen learner yourself. I’m learning so much – about the profession, about history, about the World, about children – but recently I’ve learned several life lessons in a short space of time.

It’s fair to say the last couple of weeks have been hectic. Lots of things going on in work and at home. But there’s still been time for me to learn a valuable lesson…

I would say the most important thing I’ve learnt this month is that, if you really want something and you work for it, you can achieve it. Four years ago, I was stuck in a job that I hated, I was still living with one of my parents and I couldn’t drive. I was so frustrated. In the last three years everything seems to have changed. I started volunteering in a school, which triggered the chain of events which has put me in the position I’m in today – preparing for my first class in September. It has been so hard and there were times where I thought it would never happen – through working as a TA, to training placements and to supply work – but thankfully, I stuck at it and here I am. I solved my frustration of having no independence by passing my driving test (How many tests? I will take that answer to my grave!) and finally earning enough to rent my own place. So I am in a completely different place than I was four years ago – a place I could only dream of back then.

Another big revelation came just before half term when I realised that sometimes people know what you want more than you do. Something very odd happened to me. I turned into a bit of a monster. I’d been working really hard towards something for weeks – it had become an obsession and by the end I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted! I let determination take over my body and it became all I could think or talk about. Anyway, it all led up to this one moment where, after weeks of obsessing and anxiety, it didn’t happen. Well, it sort of didn’t happen. It did happen. Just not as I expected it. (Keeping up?).  Basically, what I desperately wanted to happen didn’t happen, but instead something SO MUCH BETTER came out of it. Something that I did not anticipate. At first, thrown into shock, I was a bit disappointed in myself and was dragged down into negativity. Looking back, I can see how stupid I was for not seeing how brilliantly things had turned out and it was only as the afternoon went on that I realised what a fantastic opportunity I had been given, brimming with excitement and potential. I slowly began to realise that this was meant to be. I’d spent so much time focusing on what I thought I wanted that I couldn’t really see the many pitfalls around it. What happened in the end was absolutely perfect and I can’t stop finding positives. I’m so happy. It taught me that you don’t always know what’s best for you, sometimes other people know better in that department, and you have to accept it in order to shine.

My third lesson is just as important. I realised that it’s not just all about the choices we make in life, but about the people we surround ourselves with. I am so lucky to get up each day and head to work in a place full of people I love. That’s a very rare case. The support I’ve felt from my friends and colleagues over the last few weeks has been phenomenal and I’m lucky to have them in my life. We laugh every day and that is so important. I know that if I ever had any problem, I could go to them and I’m so pleased I’m going to be spending the next few years with them. I look forward to the good times and, I know, that even in the bad times we’ll support each other and keep smiling.

So, there you go. Total cheese-fest, I know, but what is life without a bit of cheese? Whichever profession you’re in, whether it’s something small or a huge life lesson, you never stop learning….and I would never want to.

I’ve got a phobia.

Now, it’s not Whales or lifts or peas or anything like that. (I am genuinely wary of those things but this fear is far more serious. I class this as another level of terrifying.)

It’s not something I really thought about until I was a teenager. Then it slowly started creeping in and over the last couple of years I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. The resulting thoughts have given me nightmares, pushed me to the verge of panic and had me questioning my every action.

I’ve got a phobia of turning into my mother.

Well, sort of. It’s a fear of turning into either of my parents, but many would agree I am more like my Mum than my Dad (*shudders as he types*). We’ve had a turbulent relationship. I won’t air the details publicly but I left home when I was eighteen and I vowed never to go back. Eight years on, we’re still in touch, thankfully the relationship wasn’t damaged completely, but it’s not your average mum-son set up. I would never want to upset her, but she bloody winds me up at times! (as I’m sure, I do to her). It didn’t bother me as a teen but as I’ve grown up it is something that hurts me, as I start to realise just how important that mother figure is in adulthood as it is in childhood. At 26, I still find myself in situations where I just want a mum. Thankfully, I have plenty of surrogates.

My mum has many positive attributes – she can be very thoughtful and funny and, when I was ill a few weeks ago, she came to my flat and cleaned! But, as I’m sure she’ll agree, she can also be very difficult. I find myself querying whether or not it’s inevitable. Will I one day realise I have morphed into one of the people who created me? Will we share adjectives? Will people think of me as they do her? Will I behave as she does? The thought of turning into either of my parents, is not very appealing. I want to be Me.

I’ve got a friend who has expressed similar concerns. His mother was not very kind to him as a child and he ended up leaving, just as I did. He’s still in touch with his mother, but communication is very rare, and he often finds himself avoiding her just to maintain a quiet life. His mother is a trouble-maker. She is notorious throughout the family for causing upset, chaos and drama. She appears friendly and fun to those on the outside, but she is far from kind to those who are close to her. She talks down to her elderly parents and makes very little time for them. On the rare occasion my friend visits, she sits texting on her phone or reading through facebook, barely acknowledging him. At Christmas, my friend was the only one of her children to visit her, and she spent a lot of time in a funk that she wasn’t out partying with her friends but was instead begrudgingly sitting through a meal with one of her sons – a ‘waste of time’ if the others weren’t there! She made many comments about not needing family and being happier on her own. This has left my friend feeling pretty low and he can’t help feel that pang of envy when he sees other people doing things with their families. He longs for a good relationship with his mother – to be able to share things with her, ask for her advice and take her for meals to spoil her – but he knows that is not going to happen because the relationship is too badly damaged. His mother is just not that kind of mum and that sometimes leaves him feeling like an outsider, especially on occasions like Mother’s Day.

Me and my friend were talking recently and the fear became very real. The thought of turning into that person fills his blood with ice. To be regarded as his mother is would be too much to bear and he worries that he might struggle to resist his genetic destiny. He worries that over the years he will push people away and become the lonely person his mother has become. He worries that, without knowing, he will begin to treat people as she does.

Many times I’ve opened my mouth and my mother comes out. I remember the time I laughed and my Grandad told me I sounded just like her.  I remember the time I delivered a sarcastic comment to my brother and clasped my hand over my mouth in horror, because that is just what Mum would say. Are these just things we have picked up from being around these people or are their traits infused in our blood? Is it genetics or environmental?

My answer is…I don’t know, but I suppose I need to accept that, naturally, I am going to pick up my parents’ traits. Good and bad. I might be very thoughtful, but I might also become obsessed with whinging about the weather (it WILL be cold in the Winter! Why complain?!). I might be very jolly around my friends, but I might also be grumpy and unsociable at times. I hope that I can take on board their positives and pick out the good from those around me. To tell the truth, I don’t spend much time with my parents now that I live alone, and I’m far more likely to see my Godmother, or the caretaker at school who wants to adopt me. Is it possible that I can become like them? Bubbly, fun and full of kindness? Can I magpie traits from others as well as my parents? I don’t see why not.

I think my main worry is that I will take so much from my parents that I won’t end up being Me.  I’ll be a mash-up of Mr and Mrs H. I hope that, in years to come, when I’m no longer here, I can be remembered for being a product of the goodness of both of them. But, most importantly, be remembered for being Me.

Behold, summer has arrived! After, surely, years of winter Britain has finally been granted a sunny weekend. Thank you, Weather Gods. We are eternally grateful.

Soaking up the sun in a beer garden yesterday, lemonade in hand, shades fixed to my face (where they will stay until mid-September), I couldn’t help but feel like a curse had been lifted. I got a bit emosh as I switched off my heating and tore away the extra blanket from the bed. This could be a dangerous move, as I’m sure winter will return by the end of the week, but for now, I’m allowing myself to get delirious at the prospect of actual summer. Summer! Here! Can you believe it?

However, as usual, it’s not all ice creams and flip-flops.  Here are the five most annoying things we will have to endure over the next few months.

5) Complaining. I know, ironic, but yes, I am complaining about complaining. Facebook has already sent me into a meltdown after just two days of warm weather my feed is littered with statuses moaning about the heat. From the same people who whinge about the cold and the rain. Now, in Wales, we rarely get a summer so to those people who are moaning that it’s too hot here’s a special message from me. ‘Shut up. It’s summer. Enjoy it.’ Thank you.

4) Topless men. Why is it that whenever the sun pops out from behind a cloud, some blokes feel the uncontrollable need to strip off? Sunday was hardly tropical yet I saw FIVE topless men wandering round. Jeez. Put it away. I worked in a petrol station for five years and one thing (of the many, many, many things) that used to send me into a ranty-rage was blokes strutting in, t-shirt carelessly slung over shoulder, after just a hint of sunshine. Have you forgotten you’re in public? Put your clothes on! In those five years, I was faced with the flabby, the buff and the downright leathery. Whatever condition your body is in, nobody wants it shoved in their face. Put. It. Away.

3) Early Birds. Can someone tell the birds that just because the sun is up does not mean they can chirp as loudly as they can until everyone is awake? If I wanted to be up at 5am, I’d have set my alarm. Oh and also, on the same note, if you feel the need to get the lawnmower out at 8am on a Sunday morning, you’re a dick.

2) Being constantly sweaty. You wake up – sweaty. You have your breakfast – sweaty. You go in the shower – not too sweaty. You get out, feeling lovely and clean but before you have even finished drying off – sweaty. In the end you give up and resort to only showering in the dead of night.

1) and my number one gripe goes to – hay fever. The most annoying thing in the world, yes? Your whole summer is ruled by your nose. You pop antihistamines like sweets in desperate attempts to stop your throat from itching. In the morning, your voice could be mistaken for that of one of Marge Simpson’s sisters.  You develop the need to cough at the most inappropriate times. You come dangerously close to clawing your own eyes out and the inability to breathe due to excess snot is almost too much to handle. You find yourself wishing away the summer, clinging on to cooling thoughts of winter when your sinuses will be relieved, the coughing will stop and your nose will return to its usual colour……And then you get a cold.

Totally infuriating but this is the price we have to pay in order for a bit of sun. So, let’s take a deep breath, embrace these annoyances (don’t embrace the sweaty topless men though *shudders*), overdose on Piriton and fire up the BBQ.





‘The doctor has told me that one of the most effective cures for high blood pressure is to have grandchildren,’ My Dad told me last summer, being as subtle as a slap in the face.

This is one of many hints dropped by my friends, family, pupils and even strangers in the last two years. It seems some people think that once I hit 24, I became ripe for fatherhood and my sole purpose was to find a girl to create some mini-G’s with (like one isn’t enough.)

Well, here’s a great big humdinger of a surprise for everyone – I don’t want children.

I know. Horror of horrors.

It’s not that I don’t like children – come on, I’m in the wrong job if I didn’t – it’s just that….they’re not for me. I have plenty of children already in my life – Godchildren, cousins, friends’ children, pupils – who I love, enjoy being around and have good relationships with, but I just don’t think I’m ready for that full time position and I can’t see myself being ready any time soon. I’m quite happy being the Godparent or the Uncle or the teacher. I’m quite happy to turn up, play a few games, read a few stories, be a bit daft, perhaps share some (rare) pearls of wisdom and then shuffle off home. In short, I’m happy to be Rafiki.

Parenting is a big job and I’m not throwing any shade on that (have I used that term correctly? I’m not sure what it means but I’m doing my best to keep up to speed with the street-lingo now that I’ve reached the ancient milestone of 26.) I’ve seen friends and family struggle with the negatives and rejoice in the positives of being a mum or dad and I know that they’ve all done a great job at raising their kids. I don’t want to put any doubt in your minds that I think parenting is a very tough thing to do, particularly nowadays where there is just so much to protect your child from and social media has put your every move under scrutiny. I admire anyone who raises a child. But it’s just not for me.

I’m a child of divorce (and I’m reluctant to play the divorce card – this isn’t the sole reason behind my choice, but it is naturally going to affect it) and, in this particular case, this child got to see at an early age just how hateful humans can be. I wouldn’t want to risk putting another child through that. Urgh. No thanks.

I think the most prominent reason I don’t want to be a parent is because….well….I don’t feel like I’ve lived MY life yet. I know that might sound selfish but how can I oversee another life when there’s still so many things that I want to do? I’m 26 and haunted by crippling anxiety that I’m not in the place I want to be.  That place changes regularly. At the moment, I’m a mess of selfish contradictions and it wouldn’t be fair to drag another person into all that. There’s so much more I want to do. I want to write more stories, I want to visit more countries, I want to meet new people. We only get a short time on this rock so, as amazing and rewarding having a child might be, I’d like to tick a few more things off the bucket list before I even contemplate settling down. And also I don’t want having a child to define who I am. I don’t want to be known as ‘Fallulah’s Dad’ or ‘Father of Darth’ (I should also not be allowed to name children). I want to establish the person I am before I introduce someone else to the photograph.

Now, never say never. I’m quite open to the idea that in a few years’ time I might be in different circumstances and change my mind, but at the moment I have firmly decided that I don’t want to be a dad. I’m quite at peace with the thought of being that mad old Welsh bloke living in a villa somewhere hot, who sits on the beach reading all day, drinking mojitos and smiling about all the great things he’s seen and done. Imagine that. My Dad is just going to have to take up Yoga or something because I’m afraid I can’t help him with his blood pressure. So, next time you bump into me, ask me how I’m doing. Ask me how my job is. Ask me about my exciting plans for the next twelve months. Ask me if I’d like a mojito. But please, don’t ask me when I’m going to have children!

Absolute Bedlam

Back to school bedlam has struck!

This blog is brought to you today by stress, anxiety and internal swearing.

Let me just take a breath and take you back about ten days.

So, picture the scene. It’s the end of the first half of spring term. Heavy eyes, chesty coughs and snotty noses are rife. You can’t take a text book from a child without reaching for the anti-bac hand wash. You can’t take a bite from your chicken salad sandwich on wholemeal without aiming your face away from a germ-ridden, sneeze-propelling colleague. You find yourself leaning backwards when talking to a senior member of staff, as even the risk of toppling head first into the Celts display is more appealing than catching said staff member’s flu-y symptoms. You have survived six weeks of viruses, colds, bugs and flus and you’re determined not to succumb in time for half term break, even if it does mean spending twelve minutes scrubbing the rim of your favourite mug, just in case it has come into contact with scabby, cold-sore infested lips.

Alas, as the half term finish line creeps into sight, you feel the crippling lethargy quake through your body and your nose begins an unhealthy relationship with Kleenex. You push through Friday, determined not to weaken that positive, professional, sponsored-by-Disney classroom persona you have striven to perfect. At twenty past three, you resist the urge to nod off in the resource cupboard. By nine thirty, you’ve sacked off your plans to hit the gym and are almost comatose on the sofa.

Sound familiar? Well, it seems that’s the standard end of term routine for teachers. I’m not saying it was mine, but it just might have been. Probably. Thankfully, for me, it got better and I had a lovely half term break. We’re very lucky to have these breaks so I always feel the least we can do is bloody enjoy them. So I did. The week whizzed by and before I knew it I was carrying out my Sunday Shirt Ironing ritual. Things still remained pretty calm. In fact, the bedlam only really began at around 8.17am this morning.

At 8.17am I arrived at school, (turning down the power ballad as I entered the car park) actually pleased to see the place after a week-long break. I started to think about the term ahead. It’s a short term. Four weeks and four days. It’ll be over in a blink. And we’ve got the eisteddfod next week. Then I’ve got that Effective Teaching course. Then there’s the observation from my mentor at the end of term. Oh, and I needed to book in some observations of AfL this week. Oh and I need to make a space for my welsh observation at some point AND make sure the children are up to speed before that happens. Then there’s that Parent’s Evening…and I need to pick my train tickets up from the station….and make that appointment….and send of that letter…

The list went on and a cold film of sweat developed on my forehead. As I entered the school, I realised I wasn’t the only one. Back to School Bedlam was spreading from classroom to classroom like a superbug, infecting even the most laid back teachers. Yes, the holidays are great, but it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking ‘Oh, I’ll worry about that after half term’, which makes the first day back horrendous. As I type this now, it’s not looking so scary, but at nine o’clock this morning the agenda for the next few weeks had me considering climbing into my car boot.

I’m not pigeonholing this to school workers. I know this is the same for everyone. My point is, where the hell does the time go? I seem to spend my life gearing up to one event (half term, in this case) and then once that’s over I have big fat panic about what lies ahead (the next four weeks!). Before I know it I’ll be in post-Easter panic and the whole process will start all over again!

I suppose the only antidote is to chill and enjoy it. I love being busy and I love my job so the best thing is to take each day as it comes, enjoy it and appreciate bedtime. I was thinking today about how we wish our lives away. In my old job, I would pray the shift would go quicker. When I was in school, I would pray for the weekend to hurry up. I’d hate to look back on my death bed (I’m hoping for a bed – not a pavement or a canal or something) and think ‘I wish I’d enjoyed my life more’. 2016 is already becoming the year that I got things done. I’ve found myself taking risks and ticking bucket list boxes faster than I ever have, all because of that one fear – fear of regret.

Anyway, whatever your job, – teacher, sales assistant, stay at home mum, pole dancer (or perhaps it’s all four!) – I’m prescribing positivity, power ballads, a bit of silliness and something to look forward to, to combat everyday-itis.


It started when I was fourteen. Introverted, lacking in confidence and with no idea of who I was. I was a clumsy, nervous little mouse with a bad haircut who barely knew anything of the world outside his high school. I’d endured a full year of secondary school when my best friend, K (extrovert, super confident, wore furry pink trousers to non-uniform day….you get the jist), bullied me into joining her Friday night youth theatre group. Bullying has never left me so grateful.

I jojazz hands!ined Wrexham Musical Theatre Society (WMTS) in January 2004 and remained there (give or take the odd year out) until March 2014. It was the setting of many firsts and many lasts for me, but I will always remember it as the place I first had friends. I know that sounds super sad, and of course I had some friends in school, but this was the place where I suddenly didn’t have to try to fit in. Imagine my shock when, as a fourteen year old, I discovered a hive full of people who were just like me. Imagine what that does to a boy. Many people have passed through the doors over the ten years that I was a member, and lots of them have shaped who I am today. I met a cluster of friends who I know I will never lose contact with and who will always be there no matter when I turn up at their door. I’ve trusted these people with thoughts I never dreamed I could share and I know they have done the same with me. For me, WMTS represents a home that I sometimes didn’t have when I was younger, as I spent some time being passed around the family. It’s provided me with stability as, no matter how unsettled things got, my WMTS family was always there.165909_10150927101122173_506567172_9793714_943399763_n

Being at the Society taught me how to be myself. Whether I was attending workshops or rehearsals or (as I got older) meetings, being a part of the theatre helped me realise that it was OK to express myself and be whoever I wanted to be. It’s OK to laugh, to cry, to get angry, to speak my mind, to hate who I want, to fancy who I want and, importantly, to enjoy every last moment.

Since 2012, we were aware that WMTS was not getting the support it needed and that closure sign was looming. We fought hard. We put on shows and fundraisers and tackled countless obstacles along the way, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. We spent our teenage years at the Society, and it was in these last few months that we realised we had come full circle, as we were now able to watch a new generation do exactly the same. The younger members of our group reminded us of the fun and mischief we used to get up to at their age and although it was touching to see that the Society was still able to bring people together, we were sad that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow up with that place of security that we were so lucky to have.

In March 2014, we performed our final show. It was the perfect ending to our time at the t008heatre. The energy backstage that night is something I’ll never forget. I remember being so happy that we were getting a chance to go out with a bang and sing together one last time, but simultaneously I was dreading that final number. As we joined together for one last curtain call, grasping each other’s hands and listening in the darkness to the sobs from both backstage and within the audience, I remember being utterly grateful that we were able to say goodbye on our terms.

For the next few months, WMTS remained quietly open, closing down slowly but surely, without any fuss. Many of us had ventured across the country to pursue other commitments but we all stayed in touch and listened intently for any news of the Society. Nothing came.12715413_10156573059980381_6965131466867006289_n

382985_294977330536506_1728688693_nThis week, I stumbled upon a photograph which left me devastated. It had been sometime since I was able to visit the Society as word had spread in early autumn that the building was now closed. I’d been waiting for the inevitable and this week I was confronted with an image of that beautiful building in the early stages of demolition.

I’m mature enough to know that loss and unfairness is a huge part of life. But I also can’t help but yearn for that place that was very much the hub of my youth. I’m angry that no one could save it. I’m angry that somewhere that harboured so much love, passion and talent could be allowed to wither and fade. I’m angry that a building that has been a part of our town for many years– many before I was even born – can be so cruelly torn down. I’m angry that a theatrical company that has been performing in Wrexham for over seventy years can be allowed to slowly collapse. It’s no secret that in the latter years, we struggled. We suffered many casualties and dramas, as many companies do, but we were determined to carry on. It doesn’t seem fair that a place that had so many people fighting for it can be forgotten. Towards the end, there was a small army of young, devoted people who were passionate about keeping the Society open not just in their name, but in the name of all those who came before them. I remember during the last Pantomime, standing in the wings, waiting to go on stage, and looking at some old photographs which had been unearthed from many of the hidden storage spaces. It hit me just how many people had invested themselves in the Society and I became emotional just realising how small in number we were compared to the Society’s earlier days. I remember the smiles and twinkling eyes of those photographs and, although years stood between us, we were sharing the same magic of the building.

1779064_735809426450471_415188736_nYesterday, my friend and I paid one last visit to the site. Outside, props and set pieces lie carelessly amongst rubble and bricks. The roof of the building is open, allowing for the cold rain to soak through to the studio that holds so many of our warmest memories. It’s a horrific site. Of course, the new owners are entitled to do whatever they want with the building as they have no emotional investment, but it seems so shocking and disrespectful to see a place that has been a symbol of pride and strength in my life (and many others’ lives) in such a state.

It would be easy to try and pin the blame on a long list of people, but I think it’s too late for that. Some thought the Society was being held in the past, but I strongly believe that WMTS had a future that could have been saved. In times where many young people wander lost and troubled through life, I’m grateful for the place that steered me in the right direction, and I’m sorry that the youth of Wrexham have lost another sanctuary. I overheard someone discussing a student once. ‘He might feel lonely now. He might feel like the odd one out, but trust me, one day, he’s going to walk into a room, and there will be his people, waiting for him’. Well that’s what happened to me when I was fourteen. To a lot of people in Wrexham, WMTS was a ‘derelict building’ or ‘that old operatic place by Matalan’, but to me it was my safe place and I don’t know where I’d be now without it. I’ll miss it and I will never forget the joy that it brought me.



 Brace yourself…the ‘New Year, New Me’ posts are coming.

You know I have a difficult relationship with social media. I use it every day, yet sometimes I absolutely despise it. The way people use it makes me so cross. One of my major gripes is people who create this perfect online persona – ‘Everything is great, we all love each other. Life couldn’t be more perfect’ – when in reality we all know he’s having an affair and the child is the spawn of Satan.

Anyway, another thing that bugs me is the annual ‘New Year, New Me’ status. We’re about to be inundated with them. People vaguely alluding to some crisis they’ve had recently and vowing to reap revenge or make a dramatic change in 2016. ‘2016 is going to be my year’, ‘No more Mr Nice Guy in 2016’. Oh please! Stop! Very often it’s the usual offenders posting the same promises every year.

I’ve been thinking about this and for one terrifying moment over the weekend I almost made the same the promise. I know. Madness! Reflecting on 2015, I thought about the good, the bad and the stressful of the last 12 months. After a bumpy start, 2015 turned out to be very rewarding – I became a teacher, moved into my own place, got reconnected with some amazing friends and made plenty of new ones. On the whole, a success. I’d have never predicted how kind the year could be last December. So it goes to show we don’t know what we’re going to get given, all we can do is make the most of each moment. However, this was the year of the PGCE, therefore I spent a lot of nights reading/writing/planning/preparing and my social life did suffer. So I do hope that in 2016 I can make more time for my friends and general social-ness.

2015 started with a bit of crisis. After a sickly Christmas, I rushed into the year a tired, anxious, frustrated mess. In January I turned 25 and I had a bit of mid-mid-life crisis (fingers crossed for 100). I began to question my life choices and sank into a low funk that I couldn’t dig myself out of.  It didn’t help that my family started to make hints about ‘settling down’ and (goodness me) ‘Growing up!’. It appeared that as I was close to securing what they saw as ‘a good job’, the next steps would be to ‘go out, find a girl and have children’. For Christ’s sake. *Takes a deep breath*. Those close to me know that this is not my cup of tea at all and I have my own opinions on marriage and children (which is another blog post you can look forward to!). How could I expect someone to attach themselves to me when I was feeling like I didn’t really know myself? One family member even told me that now I was ‘older’ I needed to wear more neutral colours – ‘the plainer, the better, at your age’. I questioned everything from friends to lifestyle choices to underwear (yes, I know, ask no further questions) and I realised I didn’t know who I was. In February, I accidentally discovered a secret that changed my circle of friends (sorry, now I’m doing it! Alluding to a secret! Please, forgive! I promise it’s relevant) and when I returned home as a fully-trained teacher I felt very much like I was building my life from scratch. In November, I moved home which kick started a chain of events that has led to me ending the year very differently to how it started. At the moment, I’m happy, confident and determined to have lots of fun in 2016.

This is mostly down to the freedom I’ve been granted since moving out. I can do anything I want now and I feel like I’ve finally started to express myself. When I lived with my parents, I couldn’t start the morning with a yoga session, have last minute gatherings of friends, burn incense in the bathroom or play music into the night because it disturbed the people I lived with (and I’m sure they’d have something to say if I slipped into down dog over breakfast). For the first time, I can be myself and I’m looking forward to exploring that more in the New Year. So what I’m saying is not ‘New Year, New Me’, but ‘New Year, MORE me.’ I want to be able to get to know this person I’ve carried around for 26 years. I want to express myself, try new things and live. Exist.

So here’s to a happy, healthy 2016. I’m not promising to stamp on all my enemies, see the world or anything dramatic. I just want to enjoy the good times and make the most of living. And if it doesn’t work out….well….there is always next year.