My first live cricket match….

Year:- About 1979 or 1980. Can’t be exact on that. What I can be exact on is the first ever live cricket match I watched.

It was Essex (my home county) versus Somerset in the old John Player Sunday League, played at Valentines Park, Ilford.

My parents took me along and the size of the crowd for a relatively small ground was incredible. There must have been 10,000 inside the ground, standing in rows of eight or ten deep. The best vantage point I could muster was on my Dad’s shoulders, until I screamed to be put back down again. 

The two teams playing were the best county sides in the English game at the time. Essex had players like Gooch, Turner, Lever, Hardie, Keith Pont, Fletcher, a formidable and winning line up. But Somerset too had match winners in the shape of Ian Botham, Joel Garner and my favourite player of all time, Sir Vivian Richards. The crowd were bubbling to see these great all stars in action, and I, too, was itching to see the play.

If I remember rightly, Essex won, but my heroes Richards, Botham and Gooch didn’t perform that well, to my enormous disappointment. But having watched the great game of cricket on the TV, this was my first taste of live play, and I was hungry for more.

This Monday, I shall be watching my first live cricket of the new English season. It won’t be as glamorous as that first live match, but I still love the game as much as I did those 36 or 37 years ago. It’s taken a hold on me that I’ve never been able to relinquish. I’ve tried a few times, but failed! 

Cricket – the best game in the world.

Allen Brooks


Dark Days….

Warning:- This post may contain some material that is sensitive and upsetting. The post goes back to a very worrying time in my life when the occasional suicidal tendency tried to take over….

One night, a few years ago, I was lying in bed. I was going through a very difficult spell once again, with the occasional dark thought beginning to take hold. This particular night, I thought about the unthinkable. Then, I thought about carrying out the unthinkable.

In the kitchen draw were some tablets, or so I thought. I just had an idea to down some and take myself out of this unending cycle of misery. I laid there, and I laid there, then I got up and went to the kitchen. I opened the draw and there were no tablets there. Perhaps it was a sign that I shouldn’t be wanting to end things like this. 

I laughed to myself. I wanted to do myself in but didn’t have the ammunition to do so. Typical. I stood there for a few moments to let the enormity of what I was going to do sink in. Then I decided to make a cup of tea and go back to bed.

I went to see my doctor the following day. He was very alarmed at the thoughts I was having. Then he fired a question at me “Do you want to die, Allen?” he said. This deeply concerned me. I mumbled weakly “No, of course not”. “Do you realise the damage that overdosing on tablets can do, Allen?”. I replied that I did not and he proceeded to explain to me, the damage and even fatal consequences if I carried out these thoughts.

To the present day, and those suicidal ideations have gone. I suffer more from severe anxiety these days, though the occasional bad day, when I feel quite low, still crops up from time to time, like the other week for example. But the deep, dark abyss that I found myself in is no longer in my mind. I haven’t had suicidal thoughts for quite a while now. I do think to myself of the people I would leave behind, and the pain and the hurt that would follow. 

I’ve been thinking of this blog post for a while now, and I’m glad I’ve expressed my feelings of that dark moment. It helps to counteract the good moments, such as recently, where things are better and my life gives no sign of returning to the abyss of depression and suicidal thoughts. Some people think it’s a game; I can assure you it’s not a game. Mental illness isn’t a game; nobody wins. It’s a long struggle of crisis management. At the moment, I’m reasonably ok, but this post is a reminder that things are not always good. I treasure the good days, the bad days have to be endured before the good days turn up again.

There will be more stories on this subject, hope it provokes some strong feelings for the reader. 

Peace and love 

Allen Brooks

Blue Sky Thinking….

Somewhere in Essex. I’ll give you a clue where it is. It has the longest pleasure pier in the world. It has a railway running along it, but today, it wasn’t working.

Just fancied getting out of London to enjoy what was a cracking day in this part of the world. Hazy blue skies, sunshine and temperatures approaching 70 Fahrenheit. Not bad for the end of March! 

As you might gather by now, I love the sea (in this case, the River Thames), the beach, the sights and sounds. Just nice. Especially with my favourite tunes on my phone and me completely lost in my own little world. 

Tired now, but happy with the day.

Peace and love

Allen Brooks

If Peer Support were a film….

Then it would be this. We had seven fabulous people at the group this morning, and it went extremely well, with lots of good positivity and endless scope for future opportunities. 

The one negative aspect of the group is the lack of men there. Men are very averse to admitting their problems so consequently, we don’t get that many blokes through our doors. But today, we outnumbered the women 4-3, a point I stressed quite strongly. One thing does shine through though, is the broad range of backgrounds that the group has. We all have a range of skills and abilities that can be shared without any of us being seen to preach. It’s a formula that works extremely well.

I’m just off out to the coast to enjoy what has turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. I’ve got nothing to get home for, so why not enjoy the great outdoors and get out of London for a while. So far, an excellent day.

Peace and love

Allen Brooks

Underground…overground…wombling free

Morning again. It’s a very nice morning here in London Town. Warm too. 

The picture above denotes one of the stations I interchange at for my journey to either volunteering or Peer Support. Today is Peer Support and I’m supposedly leading the group. Heaven help us! It should be ok, quite looking forward to it. Getting there early to set up and relax before starting later on this morning. Hate being late for things. 

Slow to get going again today, in fact I had an early night last night. Didn’t feel particularly brilliant mentally, so thought an early night might be in order. As it happened, I didn’t sleep terribly well, but it must have done some good, because I’m out of the door and on the way. That’s always a start.

I wasn’t anxious or anything last night, just felt low. I have these down moments on occasions, but it’s having activities in reserve to counteract the down moments. Sometimes the low moments are bad so I don’t go anywhere, but as I said, this one can’t be too bad as I’m on my way to the office.

Anyway, that’s enough from me, catch you later.

Peace and love

Allen Brooks

Armageddon out of here….

Had a strange dream the other night. I dreamt I was in an office full of people. We had the TV screens on, probably showing some kind of daytime television dross. The people were talking amicably.

Then, on the screens, came a message. “THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO END, PLEASE SEEK SHELTER”. Everybody stopped what they were doing, and predictably, started screaming and running in all directions.

I was given a clipboard and a pen and was told to tick everyone off a list, probably to account for them before Armageddon struck. I was walking round asking people their name before ticking them off. Odd thing to do as the end of days was approaching fast. 

Then….well I don’t know…apart from waking up. My mind can dream of strange things, this was no different. Don’t know why I was dreaming of apocalypse as my life is ok at present. Hoping it’s not a portent of the future???

We shall see

Allen Brooks

Civility costs nothing….

An old proverb that is very, very true. Today at the cafe proved it. I’m one of those people that if treated properly, I will be equally nice back. It doesn’t cost anything to be pleasant.

A couple of examples. One lady wanted change and I managed to find the right amount to give to her. “You’re a legend!” she exclaimed. Usually, I’m more of a fag end, so that compliment was welcome.

I’m starting to get to know the customers and knowing what they purchase. One gentleman who orders a black tea and a white tea came in. “Black tea and white tea?” I enquired, hopefully. “No, black tea and a coffee!”. Ah well, it was worth a go trying to be a mind reader. All done with good humour.

Another lady commented favourably on the cup of tea I just made her. Though the praise was nice, what is there to making a cup of tea? Tea bag, hot water, stir the tea bag around a bit, pour in the milk and add sugar. Simple really, but I seemed to make a good one there. 

And my colleague, well she’s lovely too, so I’ll dish out the compliments. She looks after me and jogs my memory after I’ve (usually) forgotten a customer’s order. Wish I had a sieve to make the tea because my brain’s like one.

Well, not quite. Another customer praised me for working out the cost of her order. “You’re quick! I can’t believe that” she said. It’s all them years working out my late mother’s shopping bills. No calculator, just all in my head. So the brain does work, when it wants too.

So, some lovely praise from some random people. Be nice to those on the way up, because you’ll meet them again on the way down. I just think being polite and respectful goes a long way in life. A simple philosophy that my parents drummed into me. People do like me, I hope. 

Allen Brooks