I confess: sometimes I play solitaire.

3rd August 2012

That’s bad enough, but I’ll admit something else.  When I have a choice of moving, say, either of the black eights onto a red nine, I follow the rule I was taught when I was younger.  Move the face-up card with the most face-down cards beneath it unless you need to make room for a King, in which case do the opposite.  

In writing this, I’m faced with a similar choice.  Do I give you the
long or short version?  So are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin… I was born two months prematurely weighing little more than a bag sugar.  I died not once, not twice, but three times in the first week, this left me with spastic-diplegia a form of cerebral palsy which affects ambulatory abilities: to whit the slight limp; the cack handedness and general clumsiness.

What is less obvious are the facts that I couldn’t stand until the age of three; walk until the age of five and that practically everything I do now has been the product of not inconsiderable intensive physiotherapy and me constantly challenging and pushing myself.  Then there’s the twenty
or so major operations….

In telling you this I’m not bemoaning my lot or looking for tea and sympathy.  Firstly, I drink strong black coffee and it is merely the way things are and have been. But the physiotherapy, operations and frustrations?  No.  Not one iota.  It’s made me well… me. At the age of three I started school at Birtenshaw – where I am now a trustee, spent two years in the last year of Primary school because I’d been accelerated through the years.  The reports I’ve kept say that
I’m ‘someone who wants to be liked’ and ‘could do better for himself if only he wasn’t so easily distracted’. Where was I?  Oh, yes Primary School.  Where on my last parents evening it was discovered that I had been forging my parents signature on my reading report card for nearly a year, and quite successfully too.  In my defence, should it be needed, I was reading far more complicated and complex books.

So to secondary school - George Tomlinson School or, as we know it now, Kearsley Academy and a spell in the… ahem…‘delicate unit’ which was later renamed ‘special needs’ during my tenure.  As a mainstream school and being visibly different - spending most of the time in a wheelchair - things were not easy.  I felt the need to prove myself to
my peers time and time again, but come exam time a singular lack of interest in academic application meant that I left with only four GCSEs, and chastened.

Four years at college, studying computing and computer science, followed.  As did a degree in Business Information Systems, which I left to join the Civil Service.   Over the next eleven and a half years I
worked on the government’s planning, housing, transport and neighbourhood renewal programmes.  Meeting and briefing
ministers; Lords and Ladies of the realm and once spent a day with the Secret Service, but always representing the interests of North West (and Bolton) to those in Whitehall; for the last five years I managed a multi-million capital programme across the region.

All of which is in the past-tense, because I left the civil service in March 2011.  While the decision to reform the civil service was a political one the decision to leave it was personal.  I had worked with community and voluntary organisations in everything I’ve done so far and I wanted that to continue. Which finally brings me to the Bolton Bulls well… almost.

Music, I love it all. Or can love it. I love swing, jazz, blues, rock and roll, country, gospel,zydeco, Tin Pan Alley, roots, bluegrass, hillbilly, soul and mo’town.  Less keen on rap, hip-hop, house, R and B. Don’t hate them, just don’t like them quite as much.  This isn’t a Hornby-esq Man List in which I show off my knowledgeable, insightful eclecticism. I know a great deal less about popular music than almost all of my contemporaries. The point is that Ido want you to understand how much I love, or can love music, and radio. Which brings me to
Bolton FM and Bolton Bulls. 

I stumbled across Bolton FM while looking for someone to speak to at Bolton Council about some work I was doing.   I thought it was something incredibly interesting, exciting and fun to be involved in.  I was among the very first volunteers when we were broadcasting on the internet - early 2008 seems right but I have slept since. Believe it or not
I was tricked into being a presenter. I didn’t want to present; I couldn’t.  I
wanted to write; or produce. I was assured that ‘yes I could be a producer’ but what if ‘the presenter doesn’t turn up?’ I’d have to step in. I forget whether I was told I had a voice or face for radio but I know I enjoyed it then. I still do And that’s how I met Mr Chairman after hearing about how the Bulls needed funds to carry on competing.  A radio interview was soon booked and since then I’ve been hooked. 

I met Mrs Chairman at the quiz nights and then came the challenge… Do I want to become a Bolton Bull?  It came I was looking to be more open to opportunities, to challenge the comfort zone and soI said “Yes.” I had my first training session last night. Fantastic.  Fabulous.  Physical. This morning I ache in places I never knew I had, but I be back next week…

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