Lessons From Life
I am a great believer that we learn from experience and that sharing those experiences can be very powerful. When I was a student I used to love telling stories and I would tell them over and over again to anyone who would listen.
My flatmates noticed when I repeated a story or a new one was coming and would chant “Staple Story” to warn the new listener or to try and shut me up. So it seems only sensible to have a section on this website which could include my staple stories from my career and personal experiences.
Hopefully you will find some fun, a bit of sadness but also a recognition or connection but mainly a morsel of food for thought.
When I was growing up in West London we had a wonderful next door neighbour, Mrs. Cooper, who was more like a grandmother to me. She was such a gentle yet great character, frail but immensely strong, wise and patient. As a trainee nurse she slipped while pushing a trolley and lost all her teeth when she was just 18. She drove ambulances throughout London during the Second World War. She had a budgie called Joey and deep brown eyes. If I were to describe her in one word it would be: kind.
Back in 1996 we were travelling in New Zealand and hired a car to tour around the islands for about a month. The car had a cassette player and we decide to find a record store in Auckland and treat ourselves to a tape. On impulse we bought Cheryl Crow’s “If it Makes You Happy” but we knew we needed more than one song!
I was out walking with my wife in the Yorkshire Dales beside the Wharfe, along a stretch we’d walked many times, when I noticed a different option – some stepping stones.
We’d never been on the other side of the river, the sun was out but the river was pretty full. After my first two steps I realised that the stones were very slippery. Do we go for it or go back the usual way?
Nine-year-old me, and I’m going to see my dad at Richmond railway station where he worked. Part of the draw was that he’d often buy me a coke and a packet of Smokey Bacon or Roast Chicken Smiths Crisps (#bestcrispsever!) His work colleagues were always really friendly and most were Irish like him, apart from the lovely English inspector called Frank.
And that was where the problem started: my dad’s name was Frank too. He was never known as Francis and that would have sounded so out of place in his work environment. Some of his colleagues were real characters and I knew all their names. I remember them lifting me up onto a big seat, so I could announce an approaching train – “Fast train for Clapham Junction and Waterloo only”! However, I preferred to announce the down line trains to places like Egham and Virginia Water – they sounded so much more intriguing.
Then, one day an incident happened and a number of my dad’s workmates called for “Mike!” – whoever that was?
I’m not a petrol head and when our Saab (not a proper one!) sprang yet another problem, we had to accept that at 143K+ miles it had reached the end of its road.
Then yet again I had the rigmarole of having to transfer my personalised number plate to our Japanese replacement. Why? It was and remains my brother’s fault! Michael F****** Collins that middle initial – after our dad Frank or the reaction he sometimes sparks in people?!