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Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog: Paul

Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I guess this blog has sparked off for me as a result of the insightful words dormouse left on my last blog. Its a bit long, so you might want to put the kettle on and make a brew. I've written a little about this before, months ago when I first started blogging here. Compared to now I was pretty unknown then LOL. This is maybe a bit of therapy to out some emotion within me. I've been meaning to scribble this for a while now. Its hot off the press tonight.


I heard the bakelite 1970’s telephone ring in the hallway of my parents bungalow. Mum answered the phone and it was Michael. All I heard her say down that phone was “oh no. uh no. oh no!” I started crying. Mum didn’t need to tell me. I knew what had happened.

During the early 70’s, my aunt took the lease of a cliff top kiosk at Foreness Bay close to where I now work. My parents also got involved in running this little business selling sandwiches, hot drinks, ice creams etc. It was a very popular spot in those days. Cliftonville was then known as the posh end of Margate with all the hotels and guest houses. Things have sadly changed now with due to what was termed in the 80’s as “Dole by the Sea”. The sun seekers and beach huts at the bay have long gone. Its empty now.

For me, roughly 9 years old, this kiosk meant wonderful summers spent on the beach building sandcastles and “tide fight” barriers. It was also a wonderful opportunity for me to make new friends with the children of holiday makers and locals who owned beach huts on the promenade. That first summer I made friends with Mark and we became quite good friends. Mark had another friend, Paul, and we were duly introduced. Paul was not able to run around splashing in the surf as we did, for Paul was a fragile child born with a deformed heart. He spent most of his time sat on a sun lounger watching everyone else. Paul could walk a little, but would get out of breath very quickly. Paul’s mother Joy was also disabled, so Paul’s father Michael cared for them both whilst also running a taxi cab part time.

At first, I didn’t think Michael was Paul’s father because Paul called his father by his Christian name, Michael. I discovered the reason for this in time. Joy would call out for Michael very frequently because of her needs and as a result, Paul never learned to call his father “Daddy”. This wasn’t at all sad. It was in fact rather endearing and somewhat unique. I’d describe Michael as a jolly fellow and seemed to have bundles of energy; a very fit man who went swimming in the sea every morning of the year including Christmas day.

Paul’s fragile condition meant that he was never going to live into adulthood, so Michael crammed in as much as he could into Paul’s short life.

The 3 of us lads became firm friends. Mark and I spent a lot of our time with Paul. We would design elaborate games that Paul could play with us. This would involve flints and stones collected from the beach that we would throw at targets chalked onto the promenade. Michael would keep us fed with endless cold drinks and slices of cake. Sometimes we would all get the treat of an ice cream. Michael would always stop as the kiosk either on his way to the beach or on the way back, so my parents got to know him too. They were full of admiration for this man and his energy. Mum described him as a saint.

One particular summers day, Michael asked Mark and myself if we would like to go to the pictures with Paul. The film being shown at the cinema was “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”. This was the first of many trips to see movies. The friendship between Paul and I became much stronger. In fact I began to spend Saturdays in the winter round at Paul’s house. Paul introduced me to the wonders of Enid Blyton’s stories. We would sometimes spend an hour or two together reading “Secret Sevens” and “Famous Fives”. We would then discuss and grumble “Why can’t we have adventures?” such was our innocence. Building Airfix models was another firm favourite.

We saw less of Mark after a while because he went off to boarding school. I guess this kind of made Paul and I much closer. We would watch our favourite TV programme at the time “Basil Brush”. We were very big fans.

Another movie we went to see was “Live and Let Die”. This was my first experience of the bond movies and I was hooked straight away. Michael brought the album of the theme music for Paul. We would listen to this constantly. It makes me smile now as I remember that Paul struggled to keep up with singing along to the fast bit. My sister got married in 1972. Paul and Michael were invited along as company for me that day. Paul was a couple of years older than me but because of his condition, he was very small.

In 1975, Paul reached 14 years old. Michael explained to me at around November time (Paul’s birthday) that he would be going up to a top London hospital to have an operation. This, if successful would extend Paul’s life by maybe a couple more years. Although I knew Paul’s would not live for long, I guess it all seemed a long way away, as things did at that age. I guess I just couldn’t imagine, or dare not imagine what it would be like for Paul to not be around any more. Michael told me that as soon as Paul was fit enough to come out of hospital, he was going to treat us both by taking us to the Theatre in London to see a production of Peter Pan. This would likely be in January 1976. So I said farewell to Paul and began to consider what could happen. Paul’s chance of survival, if I remember correctly for this operation was 50/50. I can also remember night times trying to sleep with my mind full of imagination. I started to fantasise what it would be like and how I would feel if Paul were not to survive. I guess this was typical of my vivid imagination. I guess I’d never experienced any sort of trauma at that time in my life and I wondered what it would feel like.

Then came that day of the phone call. Shortly after Paul’s operation, he had developed a blood clot that ran to his heart. Apparently he never regained consciousness. I cried as mum and then dad came into our hallway and we all hugged. It is one of the very rare times I can remember my father embracing me. I didn’t look to see if he was crying too, but he likely was. This happened on a school day for me. Mum decided it would be best for me to go rather than mope around the house. I remember mixing with the other lads in the school yard before the whistle was blown, but I just felt completely detached from everyone and I was close to tears. Crying in front of your mates at age 12 was just not done, particularly in the hard nose days of the 70’s. I disappeared down a side alley by a class room and sobbed my heart out. The school whistle went but simply just didn’t care. Getting in trouble for bunking away from class meant nothing to me compared with the grief I felt right then. One of my school pals had spotted that I was upset and went to find a teacher. This sports master came round to see me and was very kind. He invited me into a classroom to talk. Eventually, he encouraged to join the rest of the school for assembly. In those days we had large hymn sheets hanging on the walls that looked like Biblical scrolls. As the school band played I tried to sing but could not see the words because of the tears flooding my eyes. Somehow I got through that school day and the next and the next.

I was many, many months before Michael and I had the courage to see each other. I didn’t go to Paul’s funeral. In fact it was a long time before my mother told me. By a quirk of fate, Paul’s funeral was on 5th February 1976, my birthday. I remember wondering why mum went out that afternoon but did not say why. She simply did not want to spoil my birthday. When I finally saw Michael, he brought round Paul’s train set to give to me. I still have that train set in the pewter covered wooden box my loft, buried under all the other bric a brac that I’ve hoarded over the years. We did tentatively keep in touch over the years. Paul’s mother died a few years later. I believe this was pretty much of a broken heart.

Paul is buried in a wonderful little church on the hill in the picturesque seaside village of Kingsdown Nr. Deal. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place and somewhere Michael told me he used to live. It was not until 1996 when my daughter was stillborn that I finally went to visit Paul’s grave. His mother is buried at the same spot too.

Michael ensured that Paul lived his life full of joy and fun. Paul was to me a real Peter Pan because he never grew up. He has remained that innocent child, never exposed to the cynical adult world. I loved Paul deeply. He was my soul mate. We never ever argued in all the time I knew him. As I have got older I seem to think of him more now. We had a perfect friendship. I can’t describe it any other way.

I need to drop in another video with this. Its about close friendship. One of my favourite films and probably the most moving ending to a film I have ever seen. Definately brings tears for me.... Another true story too.


(16 total)

This is a very endearing story, and tugs the strings of my heart. I too, lost a specoial friend I had grown up with , Ian, who was killed at the age of 15, joyriding in a car, skylarking just a little too much.So I know where you are comming from , my friend.........

Saturday 16 September 2006 - 03:24PM (PDT)

How your blog takes me back Marty. My parents had a little B&B 'The Ventura' on Edgar Road in Cliftonville during the late '60's and early '70's. They used to take in groups of special needs kids from time to time. I used to walk along the very same beach, until I moved to Canada in '68. Small world isn't it.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Saturday 16 September 2006 - 03:38PM (PDT)

That my friend was beautiful and was so well written, I had a few tears in my eyes before the end of this story, I'm sure a friendship like the one you describe must be so rare the fact that this friendship allways remained one of total innocense probably means it will remain the perfect friendship which I'm sure cannot be said of many. This is yet another very brave and touching blog from you Marty, you have a true gift of being able to get your feelings across as the written word. I hope writing this has helped you my friend.

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 12:26AM (BST)

A deeply-moving story, more so that the friend lost was so young. I wrote recently in my blog about the murder of my friend Cathy (thank you for your comment), so I understand all the emotions retelling the events can bring up.
Although the circumstances were different, the pain we feel is the same.

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 02:03AM (BST)

By the way, the film 'The Killing Fields', I agree, is a very moving story. It contains one of the most powerful scenes of any film. After Pran's escape from the "re-education camp" he is running, he suddenly stops, a horrified look on his face as he realises just where he is standing.....the camera pulls back to reveal a field littered with human remains....a mass grave only partly covered. I had nightmares about that scene for weeks after I first saw it. Imagine how it affected Pran.

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 02:11AM (BST)

Hi Marty, first time I have stopped by your page and you go and make me cry. This is a beautiful story and speaks loudly of the type person you are and were. I have a special needs daughter who has benn lucky a few times over the years to have a "Marty" in her life. I am grateful for each of them, they made her so happy by including her without always dwelling on her handicaps. So many people think that handicapped people can only be friends with other handicapped people, which can really limit you socially. Anyway, just wanted to say. thanks.. you are very special yourself.

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 12:58AM (EDT)

Beautiful Marty! stirred old memories of friends gone..

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 10:37AM (IST)

that was beautiful!! why do we realise how much we love someone when that person is not there?

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 01:49PM (IST)

Honey - it sounds like you just relived a lot of stuff which must have been really tough for you, and now that is a little bit of the grieving done - just a little - and there maybe more to do so be kind to you..


Sunday 17 September 2006 - 10:10AM (BST)

Hei Marty and a Good Sunday to U.

A very moving story told with great panache. Keep well. =)

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 12:27PM (CEST)

And I just needed to say that kids are simple creatures and know what is best for them. They like completions and don't like to leave things unfinished. Not saying goodbye to a good friend is unfinished business and that needs closing for you and will be calling for completion.
Marty - as the song says - LIVE and let him die.


Sunday 17 September 2006 - 11:58AM (BST)

Live and let die is my favourite Bond film, I wanted to be Solitare (Jayne Seymore) when I was little:) thats a truly sweet story!

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 12:12PM (BST)

I cannot watch 'Killing Fields' without tears falling.....

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 03:25PM (BST)

Hey Marty sorry I'm getting to you late on this...sorry, well what can I say? this was such an amazing story, it brought tears to my eyes with your sadness at your loss...but also tears of joy for the wonderful friendship you had that will never die. Bless you for sharing such a heartfelt story.
I haven't seen the film but even without seeing it... the power of that clip took my breath... I definatel will be watching that film sometime soon.
Bless you Marty....big hugs.xx

Sunday 17 September 2006 - 04:11PM (BST)

I'm thinking that's a terrible age to lose a friend - the onset of puberty with already so many changes in our lives and bodies to come to terms with. I understand how this would mark you Marty.
And now you've got me thinking over my childhood beach days on Walney Island off Barrow in Furness...

Sunday 17 December 2006 - 03:34PM (CET)

Its such a sad tale, marty. But how lucky Paul was to have you as a best friend at such a crucial time in his life. His poor parents must have suffered greatly knowing that the day would come and then when it did come... It's also sad to hear of your stillborn baby. You're a brave man to share all your innermost pains and workigns with us. Thank you and bless you.

Thursday 8 February 2007 - 01:25AM (GMT)


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