Category Archives: How We Live

Barriers, they sometimes need to be pushed.

I had a great childhood, really and truthfully. I had a happy home and loving parents.

My Dad was in the Royal Airforce (RAF) and was often away. So family occasions were important. Christmas was huge… my Dad used to insist we always were all together and we were not allowed to go out and play with friends. The whole day was just family. It was great, I loved it.

When I became a dad I set the same ground rules. We didn’t go anywhere Christmas Day, no one came to our house. If anyone was coming for Christmas Dinner they came Christmas Eve & went home Boxing Day.

It was a bit of silliness, everyone accepted it as a bit of fun.

I even used to fill a rubbish bag with all the wrapping paper and open the back door and just toss it in the general direction of the bin. After all I couldn’t go outside on Christmas Day. My children would giggle and see how close I got it to the bin.

Then my marriage broke down. Thankfully I had custody so I had my children on Christmas Day. But the joke about leaving the house on Christmas Day became real.

I couldn’t step out to put things in the bin. There was a barrier I couldn’t push through. My old jokey approach turned in to a cell.

Don’t get me wrong, part of it I still thought was fine. If I’m having Christmas guests I still think Christmas Eve to Boxing Day is the way to go. It just gets much more of the holiday spirit going. So when my Mum invited me and my Son round to hers one year, my Daughter having flown the nest and started her own family, we went Christmas Eve,we came home Boxing Day. We had fun. Yeah OK we dominated my Mum’s TV… but we had fun.

Two years ago I decided I needed to do something. My Son was 16, I wouldn’t have him at home forever. I needed to get over this self imprisonment on Christmas Day. Otherwise I would end up a very lonely man at Christmas, a season I love very dearly.

We were again at my Mum’s for Christmas. My Nephew was there too, but he was working Christmas Day; he is a chef. So I decided I would go meet him when his shift finished.

We live just outside Leeds, UK. A village called Rawdon. My Nephew works in the next town over, Yeadon. Two thirds of the route is fields so I could fairly safely avoid people. My route was planned and getting out the door was easier than I thought, not easy but I did it. I walked to meet him and walked back. It was a great feeling. However there was something nagging at me, that wasn’t my front door I had managed to cross the border of. My door might be harder.

Last year we were at home. I decided to push at that barrier again, it was harder. The time to leave the house kept being put back and I had had quite a bit to drink by the time my Son said ‘come on, Dad, we ought to go now.’ My Mum didn’t know we were going but if we left it much later it’d be a bit late to pop by. We had given her a present to unwrap but we had another, one she would like more. That helped to get me out the door.

And again, it was harder, but after ding it I felt good. More when I got home again I felt really good.

This year I didn’t leave any presents with my Mum. My Nephew and his Fiance will be there, not given them anything yet either. So tomorrow I will be pushing that barrier again. As I write I can feel tension, it isn’t easy yet. I may always feel that little tug as I cross the threshold. But I will do it and I will keep pushing.

Barriers need pushing sometimes, because something better just might be on the other side.


People are sheep; be a llama

I’ve said for years that “People are sheep”. Most people instantly grasp the basics of what I mean when I say this but there is more to it. So I recently added the “Be a llama” part.

Sheep are known to flock, to follow along aimlessly. Often sheep are perceived to be weak and they tend to move away from danger, when faced with predation sheep will flee, leaving weaker members of the flock behind. They are also perceived to be weak willed and simply follow whoever leads off, regardless of where they are going.

People do these things all the time.

For example. On a bus a few years ago, it was rush hour and the bus was full. There had been standing room only downstairs, where I was sat, upstairs was full. People had started to get off and fewer were getting on, so standing room was available downstairs, a few seats.

Suddenly roughly 20 people came downstairs, none got off. Nothing was said, some that had been downstairs in the first place spoke – perhaps there had been a stink bomb set off, like last year. No one that had come down said anything. There were several guesses, nothing replied. Someone even asked directly – no reply.

A few stops later three youths came down, they were clearly under the influence of something – my guess was that it wasn’t alcohol. The people that had come downstairs displayed fear, none got off at the same stop as the youths.

Two stops later a man came down, covered in his own blood. “Thanks everyone!” he said, then he spoke to the driver asking him to keep the footage if the security cameras were working. The man was a self employed gardener, one of the youths had taken his shears from next to him and attacked him.

20 adults did nothing! Now I am not saying I expect have-a-go heroes; that can be dangerous. I understand fear, I understands that no one wanted to also be attacked.

But they didn’t tell the driver, no one used their mobile to call the police. None of them asked someone else to call the police.

They were all sheep.

Years later, same bus route (no this isn’t a typically violent place, honest) and a man is harassing people by throwing a football at them. /He is repeatedly throwing it as a young lady, I guess she was 19. It is just past rush hour, 20 asults on the bus. One man got off, I am pretty sure earlier than I had seen him get off the week before. No one said anything – not even after I did.

I told the man to behave. He asked ‘did you say something?’ I said I had and repeated a request that he behave. He proceeded to tell me that he knew the girl and she had missed her stop because she was asleep. Utter nonsense, she was terrified and was shrinking and trying to hide. I got out of my seat, asked if she was ok. She looked very scared but thanked me for intervening.

The driver must have seen & did nothing. Half a bus of passengers did nothing.


Please, don’t be a sheep; be a Llama.