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Month: April 2012

Westborough Ward Hustings – That’ll cost you £2

On Friday evening between 7:30 and 9:30 the Westborough Ward Hustings will be taking place at the Royal British Legion on Northview Drive. With six candidates for the ward – and as far as I know all are expected to be there – it could be an interesting evening. If you want to go and ask a question then you need to submit it before hand to ensure no overlap etc… but the most interesting bit is that if you aren’t a member of the new Westborough Community Association then it’ll cost you £2 to enter.


I mean really?


Yes really.

So there we have it. If you want to hear the candidates speak you either have to drop a £2 coin (or any other ways to put together £2) or before a member of the WCA. I have to say I have an issue with this. Politics should not cost a penny. If people want to go then they should be free to enter and ask questions to the candidates without spending a dime.

For full details please visit the WCA website where you can submit your questions. By the looks of it all the candidates will have the opportunity to answer every single question.

So if you are around and want to hear the six of us – or however many of us turn up speak then go for it. The bar will be open and they’ll also be a raffle. I’ll also probably make a Sophie Ellis Bextor reference. Who doesn’t want to see how I can get a Sophie Ellis Bextor reference into political hustings…?

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Polls, Polls, Polls, Polls, Polls, Polls, Polls, Polls…UKIP third largest party in the UK.

UKIP are now the third most supported party. Dramatic news.

Whilst watching Arsenal play with nine men v Wigan this evening (seriously where were Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey) the bastion of politics The Sun were busy tweeting and boy they were tweeting something that will change the face of politics in the UK. It is so important I don’t think I can waffle on and can ignore typing it (well copying and pasting) any longer. No I seriously have to do it right now. Need to get the news out in case some people haven’t heard the news. So here goes…

BREAKING: Sun/YouGov poll tonight – UKIP overtake Lib Dems to be Britain’s 3rd most popular party. CON 32%, LAB 43%, UKIP 9%, LDEM 8%.

According to a poll UKIP have overtaken the Lib Dems and are now the third most popular party in Britain. This comes on the heels of the report 24 hours earlier that the Lib Dems will only have seven MPs after 2015. Not that if the poll they did has a uniform swing all over the country that is. It was a matter of stated fact. They even named the MPs who will lose their seat. The Sun are just kick arse at predicting the future.

If only Mystic Meg was right when she wrote that all Cancer’s would meet someone special. It never (expletive) happens Meg. I’m still single and if I meet anyone they’ll always find a reason for not dating me, they met someone else seconds before meeting me, they didn’t want to ruin a friendship with someone else, I’m the greatest guy ever but… yeah I’ve heard them all but damn you Mystic Meg you keep predicting the future and because your politics team can predict the future with such accuracy I’d presumed you’d be able to do so just the same.

And breathe and get back on track.

Here are the facts as I wrote earlier and they still haven’t changed:

*There is no General Election today.
*There is no General Election tomorrow.
*We are not even in a General Election campaign.
*Three years is a long time.
*Three years ago Labour were set to win another term.
*Three years ago had David Miliband challenged Gordon Brown and won then Labour would probably still be in power.

Things change.

Some other facts:

*People don’t necessarily vote the same way in the voting booth than they do on the phone to someone from YouGov.
*UKIP have no MPs. Come back to me when they have the third most in the House of Comons.
*We don’t have any type of PR. That kills UKIP at a General Election.
*We don’t have any type of AV. That kills UKIP at a General Election.
*In 1997 The Referendum Party polled the fourth most votes but got nowhere near a seat in the House of Commons.

Look I’m not saying people aren’t pissed off with the Lib Dems. A lot of people are. What I am saying is that national polls about a question that won’t actually be asked for three years aren’t exactly written in indelible ink. Things will change whether it is pro or anti any of the parties. UKIP may grow but those votes they will get won’t be from disaffected liberals but from disaffected Tories who are annoyed at the coalition.

I just don’t get why these stories are blown up out of all proportion. That is two in two days in The Sun that are showing just how screwed the Lib Dems are. These stories happen to be within three weeks of a local election and the London Mayoral elections. The timing as they say is suspect but it’s not like The Sun to do anything dodgy now is it?

John Prescott tweeted, ‘Go back to your constituencies and prepare for retirement #LibDead’ and just sums up what I hate about the old ways of politics. The old ways of politics is to not talk about your policies but actually just attack the other parties. I hate this. I despise this. Maturity and politics are two words that just don’t go hand in hand and that is something one day I hope we can change.

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Reason why The Sun politics isn’t worth the paper it is written on #297 – Lib Dems to be reduced to just 7 MPs…

‘Sun poll: Lib Dem big guns face boot as MPs in meltdown at election’ booms out a headline in today’s edition of The Sun. A headline we have seen before but heck why not read it once more? Let’s have a look at the first few paragraphs:

THE Lib Dems will be almost wiped out at the next General Election — losing all but SEVEN of their current 57 MPs, a major poll predicts today.

The most high-profile casualty will be party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Other top guns getting the boot include Business Secretary Vince Cable, ex-Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.

Ex-leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy will be axed too.

Wow. Bad times. However what I don’t like. Well when I say I don’t like what I really mean is what I can’t abide is the determination in the language. Ex-leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy will be axed too. Oh will they now? Is that gospel? The Sun can predict the future three years down the line with such determination and yet the writers are still working and not sunning themselves in the Seychelles following their 17th EuroMillions jackpot win on the spin.

We need to see who they surveyed though. So who did they survey?

The survey polled 1,524 voters in the 76 key seats being created when boundary changes come into effect — in areas where the Lib Dems have previously been strong.

So they have surveyed 20 people in each constituency. Now roughly 40,000 people or so on average vote in every General Election so they have surveyed – and let me ensure this statistic is right – they have surveyed 0.0005% of the electorate in these wards and are able to conclude definitively the future. Wow that is quite remarkable. Big ups to The Sun and YouGov for that. Imagine being able to predict the future. Dang I’m jealous.

Does it take into account local issues or just a uniform swing based across this survey? Yes it does – On a uniform swing, the Conservatives would take 21 of their seats and Labour will land 18. Surely one thing we noticed in 2010 was that uniform swings were not happening and local issues were all the more important but sod that – lets go for the baseless headline that suits our political bias.

We always talk about the media and political bias but it is true. Many many moons ago I was sitting in Wapping at The Sun HQ going for a job there and I didn’t get it due in large to the fact I wasn’t comfortable with their political bias. I made it clear I liked to go with the facts and not conjecture and boy that didn’t go down well at all. They are willing to stretch the truth as much as possible to fulfil their political remit.

They have their ‘political heroes and villains’ of the week and looking back no Lib Dem has ever been a hero of the week. They have been the villain on many an occasion though. Heck they’ve even gone after Paddy Ashdown saying the following, ‘While Lord Ashdown and his bishop friends sit in their ivory tower, hard-pressed families in the real world are desperately disappointed that fairness has been swept under the carpet.’ Does Paddy Ashdown really deserve such words? No he doesn’t. However The Sun will do anything they can to get at the Lib Dems because they believe that the death of the Lib Dems will lead tp a Tory government in 2015.

They also believe they if you say something enough times then people will eventually believe it. If they write the Lib Dems are finished enough then that’ll be it. The Lib Dems make no mistake are not in a great position up and down the country but they in nowhere near as bad a state as this hard-hitting 0.0005% of the electorate survey would make out. Will the Lib Dems lose seats in 2015? Quite probably. Will they go down to 7 MPs? Highly unlikely.

So there we have it. I find the report in The Sun desperately mis-leading but depressingly the more I get involved in politics the more I see people stretching the truth. On my desk I have several pieces of literature from across Southend-on-Sea and I can see several things that are at best stretches and at worst flat out lies. Sadly this is what a lot of politics is. It is hard to swim against the tide and be open and up front but that is all I can do. If I win on May 3 then fantastic but if I go down I know i’ll have gone down with integrity and honesty. Something that the staff on the politics desk at The Sun wouldn’t know if it came up to them and bit them in the bum.

Edit: Here in the YouGov blurb about this survey which proves I’m a moron apparently and shouldn’t question their right to speak of this survey as a fact based on a question no-one has to answer for three years.

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If this story and video doesn’t make you cry then…

When you are down it is easy to think of how horrible and unfair the world is. Yet in reality the sanitised world that the vast majority of those who ever stumble across this post live in is nothing compared to what it really out there. I haven’t travelled the world and my spectrum is rather narrow but I know that I’m incredibly lucky compared to the majority of people on the planet.

This afternoon I was going through videos on YouTube – mostly The Voice auditions but then I came across an audition by Sung-bong Choi on Korea’s Got Talent. This 21 year-old had lived on the streets since he was five. He lived on the streets, in public toilets, in stairwells and in container boxes for all his child-life after the age of five. I just have no idea how anyone could live like that and yet sadly millions of children do across the globe.

In all honesty even had he stunk and not been able to sing it wouldn’t have mattered because his back story was inspirational enough. He didn’t seem to show any emotion. I suppose when you are so downbeat you tend to lose the power of emotion and feeling entirely. He said that singing was his only escape from the reality around him. Then he sang and if the video underneath doesn’t make you well up then I’ll be positively stunned.

Just breathtaking. It really was. He would go on to come second in Korea’s Got Talent last year and you hope that the future is bright. However you do fear for him that someone who has been alone for his whole life now has a whole country watching him. His social worker is concerned too. Speaking to CNN she said, “On the one hand, I really hope he is successful but on the other hand, I’m very worried that he might be hurt by all this somehow… all this overwhelming interest might be too much for someone who’s been abandoned all his life.”

All I can say is that every so often it is good to be grounded by a dose of reality of what is out there. We all get annoyed and frustrated when the internet isn’t working or a friend cancels on us at the last minute or whatever. Sometimes though it just pales into insignificance compared to what millions of people face each day.

I just hope that he can find some peace and a future. The sad thing is it is but one case amongst millions

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Samantha Brick just won’t go away…

Talk about having it good. Write an article that is going to be controversial and blow-up, get your 15 minutes of fame and get paid dollar bills y’all for writing follow up articles and going on daytime TV to defend yourself.

That my friends is how to do it.

So most women are jealous of her because of her looks. Interesting. She has come out and defended herself today by saying that her father installed it into her that she was/is beautiful. That is fine. Most fathers tell their daughters that they are beautiful. We can all agree with that. However what I still don’t get is why this leads to other women being jealous of her because of her looks. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

We can all believe that we are beautiful. I have no problem with that. If she believes then she is beautiful then good for her. Some of us would love that large dose of self-confidence. However just because she believes that she is beautiful that doesn’t mean that society with necessarily agree. Societies view of beauty is often different to that of individuals. I can say that Sophie Ellis Bextor is beautiful but others might disagree. Neither myself or those who disagree would be correct as beauty is all about individual perception.

I think her comments boil down in two important and distinct ways.

I don’t think many of us at all have a problem with her believing that she is beautiful. We can all believe what we like. I know that physically I am not beautiful. I know that and am very comfortable with that. One day someone may think differently as they will have a different perception of me to me and that is fine. We can all have perceptions and views on ourselves that are valid and we do not need to defend that view to others.

However the second point is whether people are jealous of her because of her looks. That is a different matter altogether. Some people might be but it seems that it is just as (if not far more) likely that people don’t like her because of her arrogance and inflated sense of self-worth.

Women always tell me that confidence is a turn-on but arrogance is a turn-off. I think this maybe apt in this situation. She is so strong and confident that she is beautiful she may well be flaunting that and that will knock people’s noses out of joint. I have never met this lady and I suspect I never will. I’m probably not beautiful enough to be in a shared space with her. However in the way she has written her two pieces and her appearance on This Morning it seems her self-confidence has spilt out into arrogance. She believes she is more beautiful than other people and that never goes down well with women or men.

She writes about how she thinks she is her fathers number one daughter. She thinks and yearns to be the favourite. She wants to desperately feel that she is better than even her siblings. That isn’t how normal people feel is it? I know I don’t feel the need or yearn to be the favourite of my mum and I never did with my dad. They loved of us equally. Some of us may have needed more love and care at times but the undercurrent of love was solid across us all. Surely that is the norm amongst all families?

I am not jealous of Samantha Brick because she is beautiful. I am not jealous of her full stop. I suspect most people who know her are not jealous of her in any way whatsoever. What they might have is a dislike of her because of her attitude. The old adage is ‘Beauty is only skin deep’ but beauty goes a lot further than that. Real beauty goes deep down and this woman seems to have missed that concept. I couldn’t care less what she looks like but the way she acts is far from beautiful.

My life would no doubt have been – and would be – easier if I was beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside but I’m quite content to be less attractive on the outside and hopefully more beautiful on the inside. That is of course up to every-bodies individual perception of me but I’d prefer to be known and seen for having inner-beauty than outer-beauty and hopefully that is how people see me.

So good luck with your life Samantha Brick. Enjoy your life. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame. I hope things work out for you but don’t think people are jealous of you for being beautiful because seeing the way you act and what you write there is very little beauty on show.

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Polling Day is but three weeks away and my local election special Focus is all but finished

Scary stuff.

As this is as they say my first rodeo it has been a bit of a leap into the unknown. As some of you will know due to personal matters my campaign has been slow to get going as I have been dealing with more important things. No matter how important this campaign is family has to come first and that as they say is that.

So anyway the funeral was last week and at the weekend I got together with my agent and Cllr Paul Collins to discuss the strategy. When I agreed to run I had a couple of very simple aims and I would not be swayed. Firstly I would only talk about what I stood for and not get involved in what the other candidates are doing or not doing, saying or not saying. That stuff irks me. In election campaigns we all see leaflets that say Cllr X says this or Candidate Y is the only person who can stand up for Z etc…

Often the matter of the fact is these statements are not true. Whether they are outright lies or just stretching the truth is debatable but what isn’t is if you see a leaflet talking about someone else other than the candidate the leaflet is trying to endorse then it probably isn’t 100% on the money.

So I am happy to say that I have now concluded my final leaflet for the local election in three weeks bar getting a photo and a couple of phone numbers but all the actual content is written. I’m even happier to say that not once does it mention any of my opponents nor even any other party. It only speaks about what I think I can bring to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council should the people of Westborough ward back me and elect me as one of their councillors on May 3.

I have only talked about issues that I can realistically influence at the Civic Centre. There are other leaflets out there from all over the town and from all parties and independents that talk about things they don’t really ave a hope in hell of influencing at local level. I think this is not how it should be done. Talk about what you can hope to achieve not what you hope to achieve. They are two very different things altogether. I can hope to achieve finding a nice girl and falling in love. I hope to marry Sophie Ellis Bextor. You can see the difference. One I can hope to actually do. One is but an unrealistic dream.

The other issue that led to me agreeing to stand was to give a different voice in the council chambers. Rightly or wrongly the vast percentage of councillors are either retired or professionals towards the end of their working lives. Yes there are are a few in their 40s and I understand one in their 30s but the voice of the younger generation is not well represented in the town. Now I’m not a teenager but I am but 28 and do see the issues that face a different generation.

I won’t be the voice of young people as it were and I would never attempt to brand myself as such. However I think it would be fair to say that I would have a greater understanding of the issues my generation face compared to the majority of elected officials in the town. I think it would be great if in the next two to three years the council saw a good handful of people in their 20s and 30s enter the chambers at the Civic Centre.

So they are my two main reasons for agreeing to run. To help bring a different voice to the debates and to how the town is run and to install a sense of positive politics to the local scene. I don’t care what candidate X said about Candidate Y because Candidate Y no doubt says something about Candidate X as well. It’s all ‘blah blah blah’ and I choose to never to trust someone whose priority is to talk about someone elses bad points rather than their own good points.

So when my leaflet starts dropping through the letterboxes in Westborough hopefully people will get to see and read about what I stand for and why I believe I can be a good councillor for not only the good people of Westborough but also for Southend-on-Sea as a whole. What people won’t read is why they should vote for me over anyone else. What they’ll see is why I think I could be god for them full stop. I have no doubt some of the other candidates would be very good. I just hope that my case is good enough to stand up on its own two feet without needing to resort to tell-tale tactics that sadly infects politics on all levels.

One day we’ll be able to move on from that I hope and I hope my attempts are a very small step in that direction.

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Re-reading old diary entries

Today I looked through my old diary to check a date of something. Instead of just finding the date that I was looking for (which I was about two months out on) I scan-read some of my old stuff. The old style of writing I had and I could see the development both of my style and latterly my outlook on life and how I perceive myself.

Looking at what I used to say both about myself and my outlook say when I was at university it is a different person to the one sitting here writing this. The difference is so marked it is hard to believe I used to think that way. Back then my insecurities would be so pronounced I’m surprised I had any friends whatsoever. These day I wouldn’t say my insecurities have evaporated but they aren’t a defining part of me. I think this is because I have become more comfortable in my own skin and care far less about what others think.

I was told many a time that until you loved yourself then it would be impossible for anybody to love you. Now whilst I don’t exactly love myself I would say that I am not repulsed by myself, which I think it is fair to say I was for so many years. I’m don’t have model good looks but you know what that isn’t exactly the be all and end all in life. Looking back at my past witterings from many a moon ago it seems as though that was a large part of how I thought.

Also my style of writing has changed over the years. I use far less commas than I used to. I prefer short sharp sentences or adjective strewn flowing lines. The commas has all but become defunct in the way I write. My penchant for the flowing adjective strewn sentence though has grown. I like the way it adds an extra dimension to what I write. It injects more personality and I like that.

The other thing I like about the old diary is whilst many of the entries makes me cringe and shudder at how I used to think and act, it also records a few memories that I had long since forgotten. Just reading a few words can bring back a smile and memories and times come flooding back. For example this:

A few days after my birthday (name removed) & I were walking through the park after work on the way to the pub and she turns to me and says ‘So then…you and (name removed)…’ and does the old double eyebrow thing,

I’d forgotten that incident but the moment I read it I remembered it all. If you knew me at the time you’ll know exactly who I was talking about but this isn’t the time or place for talking publicly about others. Another fact I learnt following other people reading my personal thoughts in a public setting. Consider myself burnt on that one and the lesson well and truly learnt. Anyway that is another matter entirely.

These days this blog doubles up as my diary. I open up a lot in it albeit certain things aren’t recorded. My feelings are but my personal life is not because like…y’know…it’s…personal. I wish I used my private diary a bit more as I haven’t written in it seemingly since April of last year. I need to do that more to record memories and feelings but for now I’m just looking back at how much I’ve grown and changed. So much less angst and worry in my life. I suppose this is why over the past couple of years I have been more content with life than I ever have been before.

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Reaching out for help and the funeral

I’m not going to write much about the funeral. I don’t feel the need or the urge to write about the pain that I have been feeling. After the funeral I walked away from my family and found a small brook within 400 yards of the Crematorium where I stood and thought. I threw plenty of twigs and sticks into the water and watched them not really do a lot. The brook was clearly flowing in one direction but the sticks seemed to be going in the opposite direction if moving at all. Bizarre. However that really isn’t important.

I have always found water calming. Certainly moving water. It was a peaceful moment in a quite horrible 36 hours or so that was extremely trying. I am a loner and I have dealt with my emotions very much gaining strength from my own thoughts. We all deal with pain in different ways but in general I have dealt with the whole situation alone. I was alone when the news came through and I sit here alone and didn’t reach out. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that everything was all right. I just needed to be alone.

That moment of peace was an isolated moment where I could think about my dad without feeling that my attention would be taken away from my thought process. I have always enjoyed water and I suspect I always will. If I ever won the lottery – one of my dads favourite sayings – I would certainly live somewhere with a small brook or stream flowing within the grounds. I would spend so much time there alone with my thoughts. I like to think I am a rather thoughtful person and moving water is what calms me down and allows me to think.

We have pieced together more of exactly what happened and it gives me great comfort that my dad had his stroke in his armchair and the doctors say he wouldn’t have felt a thing. He’d of been sitting there one minute watching TV and the next he would have gone. Instant and with no pain. For a week or so we had thought he’d had the stroke but been in pain and alone on the floor for 12 hours plus but apparently that wasn’t the case. My dad should be enjoying his retirement but he’s not and the greatest comfort is there was no pain and it was quick. You don’t know just how much of a comfort that is to me.

Another thing has been the way people around me have reacted. Being a loner I don’t exactly have too many people I feel I can rely on. I don’t just let anybody in and I reach out for help to far less. Those who reached out to me though really did help and it was interesting those that did. Not just a tweet or a comment on a Facebook update but proper messages, e-mails, texts etc… and to those people I give out a heartfelt thanks.

I didn’t exactly choose to reach out for help as I struggle with that but to those I did – in the main they were fantastic – including people I wouldn’t exactly say I’m close to or have spoken to much in many years. Some people are just genuinely good people and this has only re-enforced that. Those that really went beyond are people whom I’m going to make a real effort with over the coming days, weeks and months as these are the type of people who are worth a lot of time and maybe I have neglected them somewhat.

I’m never going to be someone with hundreds of close friends but I do know some really amazing people and it is nigh on the time I learned that and worked harder to be as good a friend to them as they have been to me over the past ten days – even if they don’t know just how much their support has meant to me.

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The Liberal Democrats weak on Civil Liberties? This is one slippery slope…

Not really sure how to return to normal blogging but when the Lib Dems are seemingly backing proposals to strip civil liberties on the internet and allow everything we do online to be monitored real time then I suppose that is as good a time and issue as any.

A briefing was sent out today and it consisted of 1480 words but here is an synopsis:

Paedophiles are bad.
Terrorists are bad.
Labour are worse than us.
There was once a crime that was solved because of internet snooping.

That pretty much sums it up.

Apparently no-one will be able to read the actual content of our text messages or listen to our mobile calls or Skype calls unless they get special permission to do so but as we all know the courts will give out permission for anything. How many cases are there of council’s up and down the country who snoop on parents to check if they are in the right catchment area for a school or whether they put recycling in the right bin etc…

This is just all part of a nanny state and one thing we are liberals believe vehemently in is that we stand up for civil liberties and we allow people to live their lives as freely as possible without big brother watching you as it were. Now we all know that terrorists and paedophiles are evil and we all know that we need to monitor their activities to both save countless lives and to stop the predatory instinct to save innocent lives from being blighted by the evils of sexual abuse. However just putting the terms ‘paedophiles’ or ‘terror’ into any type of legislation as justification is beyond palatable.

I can only hope that the Lib Dems in cabinet realise just how deeply abhorrent this may be. I hope that it is something the Conservative party has drawn up and the Lib Dems are fidgeting uneasily and they need reassurance from us the membership that this goes beyond what we can stand for.

If we aren’t entitled to a private life then what is the point of it all? I have nothing to hide from my internet surfing or my text messages or what I say on instant message programs but that isn’t the point. The point is I should be free to say what I want without the fear of someone getting hold of the data. There is no full-proof way to store data. None. If anyone says that there is then they are lying. All records on every single one of us can be got at by fraudsters or corrupt officials. Sadly that is just the way it is.

If these proposals make it to law then even I would question the point of the coalition. We went in to help save the economy from the collapse a minority government would have probably seen. However if we decide that eroding civil liberties and privacy is a price worth paying then you know what I’d question their liberal values. The Tories will not. I repeat the Tories will not make this a draw a line in the sand issue so there is no need whatsoever to go along with it.

Remember what you stand for Lib Dem MPs. If you don’t then you’ll find that your grassroot support that is slowly eroding with vanish in a Tsunami of members leaving the party. You could argue the students have it better now. You could argue the NHS needed restructuring but can you really argue that we all need to be spied on 24/7?

Bollocks you can.

I am sure this is something that has come up in Recess that is gathering speed because of the Recess. It might even have been dreamt up by Tories in an attempt to get the Lib Dems to commit suicide and they are sitting back watching our angst but just to be sure we need to very publicly say what we think. This is a no-goer on any level. End.

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Some more thoughts on the week that was and the passing of my dad

I feel the need to write about the events from Tuesday morning through to Thursday evening as painful as they may be.

On Tuesday morning I was sitting here working and surfing the web when I came across a story in the Huffington Post. I have no idea why I read it but there was a photo with the story of an aircraft carrier coming into Portsmouth Harbour and in the bottom left of the shot you could clearly see the Still and West pub. This pub is right next to where the Isle of Wight car ferry docks and I clearly remember thinking to myself how long it had been since I had been on that ferry. Little did I know that within six hours or so I would be doing just that.

At just gone 11 on Tuesday morning my mobile went and the name ‘Dad Mobile’ flashed up. Very very strange I thought as he never rings my mobile and always uses the landline. A female voice was on the other end – one of my dads stepchildren with the words after she had introduced herself of ‘I don’t want you to panic but…’ and before those words had fallen from her lips I knew just how serious it must be for someone to be contacting me in such a manner.

My dad had had what was already deemed as a ‘major stroke’ and had been rushed to the hospital. I couldn’t get hold of any of my family at that time. Nobody was answering their phones. Around an hour or so later people started picking up their messages and within two hours we all knew. By this time I had spoken to the doctor treating my dad and when the words which I can still hear in my head – ‘how soon can you get here?’ dropped the bomb in my head exploded.

Initially I wasn’t going to rush down because I didn’t think I could get there in time but within half an hour I knew that had I not tried and I would have gotten there in time to say my goodbyes then I would forever kick myself. I grabbed a change of clothes and my phone chargers and jumped on the next train. As I got on the train my sister called and we worked out what the plan of action was to be. There were a few people on my carriage who would have overheard my half of the conversation and must have wondered what was going on. Then I got a called from one of the stepchildren again to tell me the latest and told me that there would be no animosity if my mum was there too. Straight away I called her to tell her this and she jumped on a train too.

My brother was an hour or so ahead of us so we knew he’d get there first. I remember sitting there on the train in this surreal world of racing against time to say goodbye to my dad as the world moved on around me. I can’t describe the feeling. I knew even if I had the perfect run I wouldn’t get there for five hours and I was just sitting there willing the train to speed up. As luck would have it I made amazing time through London and put us in with an outside chance of getting the five o’clock ferry instead of the six.

My sister picked me up at Havant and we went to pick up her husband en route to the ferry. He hadn’t picked up his voicemail messages and rang her to say he was going to do some overtime but we didn’t answer the phone. I rang him back immediately and when he heard my voice he knew something was wrong. I told him we were en route to pick him up and to make sure he was out dead on time as we were rushing to get the ferry. When we got there he rushed out of the door within 30 seconds and we got down to the car ferry port just in time and got on the boat.

The journey was so quick compared to how I remembered it. We got on to the Island and got to the hospital and found the Intensive Care Unit pretty quick sharp and got in there and my brother and my dads wife were there. We got the low down and my sister and myself went in to see him. He was on a life support machine and wasn’t in very good shape at all. My sister stepped down and I started saying my goodbyes. I don’t lie when I say I was in pieces. Absolute pieces. A staff nurse came in to see if I was ok which I clearly wasn’t but I needed to say my piece and that I did.

I walked out of ICU knowing that may very well be the last time I ever see my dad. I sat in the relatives room and just sat there in silence. I had totally zoned out. People were talking but I wasn’t listening. I was away with my own thoughts. My own feelings of guilt. My own feelings of hope. My own feelings of regret. The emotions that I suppose go through everyone in that situation. I remember my mum asking me what I wanted to do and the response inside of head and that which fell from my lips were two very different ones.

Inside I was screaming that all I wanted to do was go back 25 years or so to when I was a toddler or a small child and be playing with my dad on Wecock Farm Park. I know how much my dad enjoyed those times and I would have pretty much done anything to return to that moment in time at that current juncture. I think I just shrugged and said that I didn’t know. The doctors told us that they were going to attempt to bring him out of sedation but it wasn’t successful and they ere not going to try again until the next day.

There was nothing I or anyone could do there so we decided to go back to the mainland. I went in again – this time with my brother-in-law and this time I was far more composed. Deep down I knew he wasn’t going to recover. I knew that and this was it. As I wrote the other night I hope he heard what we all said but sadly I’ll never know. We got back to my sisters just outside of Portsmouth and I didn’t sleep very well at all. Maybe two and a half hours tops.

Then I made my way back here to Southend. I recall at West Ham station this Canadian couple were lost and weren’t sure how to get to Leytonstone. I heard someone telling them the wrong way so I stepped in and got them to where they needed to be as I waited for my train home. I cried on the train. I cried a lot. Not very loudly but tears rolled down my cheeks freely as I thought about everything. I still did my Hospital Radio Show in the evening as I needed to keep my mind off of things which really did help. My sister rang me just as I got there and said they had brought my dad out of sedation but the pupils and responses were extremely worrying. By the morning he would be back under after a coughing fit.

As some of you may know I’m running for the local council here and nomination forms have to be in by Tuesday at the latest. I told my agent of the situation and we needed to get all the paperwork signed off so I said lets get it done as quickly as possible as I had no idea how the next few days would shake out. He came over on Thursday afternoon and I got all my obligations done. Not a minute before he buzzed on the intercom though my mum had rung me to say that life support would be withdrawn that afternoon. It must have been extremely awkward for my agent as I was breaking up inside but had to keep it together for a few minutes whilst we got all this sorted.

I chose not to go down to watch him die. The staff at St. Marys ICU on the Isle of Wight – which I must say were absolutely brilliant – said that they wouldn’t switch him off until those that wanted to get there had gotten there but I felt no need to watch him take his final breaths. I sat here on Thursday afternoon and evening keeping my mind off things and caught up on so much television it was stupid. Anything to keep my mind off what was going on. I then started to write my previous blog and then the call came from my brother-in-law saying ‘I’m just calling you to tell you the news’ and that was pretty much it.

After we hung up I bawled my little eyes out. Not quietly this time but loudly. Oh so very loudly. I was sat where I’m sitting right now in front of my PC all alone knowing my dad had gone. Just a horrific experience. I pulled myself together and went to bed but everyone would ring within the next hour or so. I would sleep reasonably well but Friday was a hard day. I knew there were people I could turn to but in a strange way I wanted to be alone.

Saturday my mum came over and I had company in the evening which kept my mind off things and then today the first semi normalish day since Tuesday I suppose. I’m doing the laundry. I went to Asda to get some food as I haven’t had any food in the house since Tuesday and I’ve lived off of takeaway food. For those who have known me a long time you’ll know of the tale of the older nurse that I fancied for many years and I haven’t seen her in months but I saw her in Asda. I decided that it wasn’t the best time to go and say hello and some sense of normality has resumed.

On Wednesday there is the funeral and that is something that I don’t think it is a stretch to say I’m not exactly looking forward to. I don’t think that will give me closure in any sense or form but afterwards I suppose I can start the healing process. Life will never be the same again. My dad is meant to be happily enjoying his retirement and pottering around in the garden and cursing at everything and everyone. Sadly that isn’t what has happened but I take great comfort in knowing that he didn’t fear death in the slightest as he believed he had someone extremely special waiting for him when he passed on.

Personally I’ll heal and in time life will return to normal. No doubt there will be those moments where the pain returns but I hope in time the pain is replaced in the main with the memories. They say that there is no greater pain than when a parent outlives their offspring and sadly for my parents they have felt this pain. In a way I’m happy that my dad hasn’t had to face it again but I just didn’t think his time was up just yet. I wasn’t ready for it but I suppose few people ever are.

This is the first time I have been old enough/close enough to someone to really be hit hard by something like this. I won’t say I’m finding it easy but I will say that I know that my dad would not want his passing to in any way disrupt my life and stop me fulfilling whatever it is that I want to achieve in life and after the next few days I’ll start trying to get back to normal and get on with my life – that is the final thing that I can give him.

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