Hi! I'd like to tell you something about myself. It's been a weird journey so far...
The Beginning - My New Friend
I'm the son of a miner. That's how it all started. Everyone I knew was the son of a miner. My Dad made me promise to him that I would never go down the pit. I never will. I lived with Mum, Dad and Pete, my half brother. I didn't know he was my half brother until I worked it out for myself. The house was always being visited by someone or other. I was ill a lot - nothing really serious, just ill.
One day it happened - a piano arrived at home and changed my life.
The piano became my friend, my closest friend. I would play it, talk to it, confide in it. It was my present and my future. It shared my life to an extent only a lonely child would know. I had lessons from Miss Butler, an old lady from Blidworth who lived at the top of a hill opposite the Church. I thought I was Mozart, but I knew what I wanted to be.
I was loved by my Uncle Arthur who lived around the corner. He was a wise man, and let me live my dreams with him. He knew.
Secondary School was a test. I passed my 11+, much to the relief of Mum, and met the person who, although he didn't realise it, became my role model.  Mr Neaum was the music teacher. This man could teach. His piano playing was masterful and passionate, graceful and powerful. I knew what I wanted, and now I knew what it took.
The biggest thing to happen to me around that time was Pegasus, a school boy group made up of some friends. I played piano and sang. We played at clubs, halls, anywhere. We would practise in my front room on a Friday night. When my Grandmother died, Dad spent the money he got on equipment for me - organ, amp, speakers, microphone.. all of it. I was getting there. Pete and I never really connected, but the music did bring us a bit closer. I was going to be a teacher, no matter what.
Then it happened. I was playing at the Astor Club in Blidworth. Not a big place, shaped like a letter L. Pegasus had a regular Saturday night session there. I looked down the hall, and saw my life. Think about it.
I'd never seen her before, but I knew. I just knew. This girl was my future. Whoever she was. It was Summer 1972. I was 14 years old. During the interval she came up to me. She said, 'I like your Creedence'. I don't remember what my reply was. She was unlike anyone I'd ever seen before. We talked alot that night. Denise had entered my life and I loved her. We started our relationship on November 14th 1972. It will never end.
The family went camping in the summer of 1973. When we came back, Dad complained of something, so he went to the Doctor. He had an operation on his neck. Dad died of cancer in December 1973. I love you Dad. Uncle Arthur died a year later.
I joined Sunrise in February 1974. Sunrise were a well known local band who played in large places around the Midlands. It was a great time, and I knew I was growing up. I was a musician. I left Sunrise in December 1974 to concentrate on school. Denise was already at College studying music. I joined her in 1975.
College was wonderful. New experiences, an incredible belief that what I was doing was right, and Denise. I left in 1978 ready to become a music teacher. I joined Sutton Centre Community School Music Department in 1978 (thanks Meryl, Jonathan and Tom). I learnt my trade.
Denise and I were married on December 30th 1978, in the Church at the top of Blidworth Hill, opposite Miss Butlers' house. Our wonderful Daughter, Jennifer, arrived in 1985. It was, without doubt, the greatest experience of my life seeing her birth.
I became Head of Music at Hartland School, Worksop in 1986. It was a culture shock and for the first time I really met the internal politics of education. I met and worked with good people there. They know who they are. I also met some people who I hope never to meet again. They know who they are too.
My sight had been getting worse over my teaching years. I had my cataracts operated on in 1987 and 1989 before I totally lost my sight. Miracles do happen.
The last few years or so have seen great changes to our lives. When I was helping to write the music for a school production, Denise went out to do some shopping and came back with an Atari computer and sequencing software. This was the beginning of a love affair with music technology and MIDI. I wrote music for video productions, and had some recordings released.
Life After Teaching
I had to stop teaching because of ill health. That's when some of our 'friends' went missing. Denise had already stopped teaching after spending too long a time suffering fools. I had the time and space to get on the road to recovery. Those days seem distant now, as if the events happened to another person. It did allow my life to take a different direction, one that wasn't planned or considered, but along which I've grown as a person in many ways. I had a major change in career, working for a national computer support company until May 1998. I became a Technical Author, and then Quality Manager with a major computer software company. That was a time when I learnt alot about people and what drives them. It was here that I worked closely with Director level management, and began to see the business world differently - strategically.
I went back to the education world in 2000, firstly lecturing in computing at West Nottinghamshire College, Mansfield and then teaching at The Hadden Park High School, Nottingham. I have now finally retired from teaching due to ill health.
My mum died peacefully in 2008. She spent her last years in a nursing home with lots of friends around her.
I've had a great deal of support from people during my illness and recovery - most important are my family, who stuck with me through some difficult times. There have been others in my professional life who have understood my condition and put themselves out to help me. To all of them, my sincere thanks and appreciation.
The biggest achievement in the last two years has been to lose weight. I went up to 138kgs, but now I'm around 71kgs, which has transformed my life. I now eat and exercise much better than before and I intend to continue this. I've appeared on BBC programmes to talk about my experiences with weight loss. You can hear an interview I had on BBC Radio Nottingham on 03 January 2012 below.
I've met prejudice in many forms. I know I'm not alone in that, but I feel it's one of the most evil, self-defeating characteristics that people can exhibit, especially if they occupy positions of power. We really ought to do everything in our power to stamp it out in every part of our society. I've known wonderfully talented people who have been pushed aside because they didn't conform in some way. So long as ignorance is around, division gains strength.
To give you an example of some of my thoughts, I think that anyone convicted of drink driving should be banned from driving forever. If they lose their job, home and/or family that's just tough.
Also, in this week of more school shootings in America, here's my thoughts about that and the NRA's response.
Musically, life is different now to what it was. My tastes are varied, from Aaron Copland and Gabriel Faure to Nat King Cole, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Palestrina, Michael McDonald, Steely Dan, Yes, Queen, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Genesis. I also enjoy Miles Davis, Barbara Thompson and Tommy Smith from the jazz world.
You can listen to some of my music by following the site menu.
Rick Wakeman is a big influence, especially with the wonderfully positive and motivating things he has said to Jenni as she recovers from M.E. Other interests include flying, politics (my degree is from the Open University, based on Social\Political Science and Education) and the broadcasting media, especially radio.
I love reading political and social history and my library of books keeps expanding. I have Marxist sympathies - no great surprise to people that know me. I have a particular empathy with Trotsky, as he took an internationalist view of the Russian Revolutions of the 20th Century.
I've taken Microsoft and CompTIA I.T. certifications over the last few years and enjoyed the study. I'm deeply interested and active in computing, especially music technologies. Currently, I use Steinberg's Cubase Pro 8 DAW, which I love. A Yamaha KX8 is the main MIDI controller. This goes through Yamaha studio monitors (including subwoofer - always use one!).
The future? It will take care of itself. I know I'm lucky.
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