Unhappy landing….

For avid readers of this blog, you will know that I’m not a great lover of air travel. I can just about tolerate it, but I’m not a fan in all honesty. 

Which leads me onto today’s tale. I was coming back from a honeymoon in Malta. I had just recently got married and me and the wife (or the better half, or in this case the better three quarters) had spent a week in the sun kissed Mediterranean island.

The journey back from Malta was relatively trouble free, until we reached the outskirts of the UK. It was windy and the plane was being thrown a little off it’s steady course coming into Gatwick. I don’t like the landing part of a plane’s journey and as we came in to touch down, I sat bolt upright in the seat. 

Just before the wheels touched the ground, the pilot bailed out and lifted the plane back into the air. Now I hadn’t been confronted with this before. I was scared and I also realised that adrenaline was brown….

I shouted “What the hell’s going on?”, “Why are we going round again?” and generally panicking. Nobody else was, including the wife, who I managed to bawl at at the same time, for which I received a ticking off in her own inimitable and frightening way.

The plane circled the airport for what seemed an eternity. Then the pilot made another attempt to land. This time, he was successful, though the plane landed with a large thud and lurched to the right. I was relieved we were on terra firma at last.

As the plane was taxiing back to the gate, the pilot announced what the problem was. “Sorry about that ladies and gentlemen, it was rather windy the first time and we couldn’t land. We had to adopt the go around procedure”. A bit more reassurance and then the pay off line, delivered with that clipped Home Counties accent that most pilots seem to have….”but we don’t charge you for going round the airfield again”.

Er….thanks for frightening the bejesus out of me and to say we don’t charge you for the privilege of the go around was rubbing salt into my panic induced wound. Off we got, and I was shaking like a jelly on a plate. Wobble, wobble, wobble.

Walking back through the terminal building, I was somewhat shell shocked by the whole experience. The wife found it all utterly hilarious of course, the laughter would have been on the other side of her face if I decided to end the marriage then! If I had done, I would have saved myself a lot of hassle, but that’s another story…..

It took me a few days back on solid ground to wipe the experience from my mind. Now that I know that pilots can perform this go around procedure, if it happens again, I can be assured that there is nothing to worry about. Flying and public speaking can be two of the most stressful things anyone can do, and yet I do these things, after a fashion it must be said. The mind is a complex thing. 

Allen Brooks xx


That fateful day…

Nine years ago, virtually to the day, I took a fateful decision that would have far reaching consequences. I got married, to someone I believed would honour, cherish and obey. 

The day was glorious, sunny and warm, and I thought this sunny beginning would herald a new chapter in my life. What transpired was lots of dark clouds and eighteen months of ever mounting difficulties.

Was I naive? Was I gullible? Yes to both. I believed, as anyone does when they’re in love, that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. There was no grass, just weeds, and certainly not green. 

The day itself was something I would never change. It all went very well indeed. There were scores of people there and I didn’t have the slightest inkling of any trouble that lay ahead. With the drinks being consumed, the music being played, and everyone having a good time, what could be better?

Oh that we ever should be imbued with that mystical quality called clairvoyancy. oh that we can look into the future and stop ourselves from making fateful decisions that will cause is great harm. But back in the real world again, everyone takes the plunge, then regrets it later.

So it’s an anniversary I look back on with some fondness, but also with mixed feelings. Was just wishing a trap door would open in that church and I would fall through it, an escape. That didn’t happen and the problems of that murky union are still there. There will be an official escape one day… you can be sure of that.

Allen Brooks xx

The biggest little warehouse….in South East England

And in 2009 and 2010, these were the places I worked in. From a decent job and a decent wage and comfortable living, to driving to warehouses throughout the small hours of the night, working for an agency, working for a virtual pittance.

And all for what? To keep my shabby existence going, for the small amount of money to go into my bank account, only to leave it again. I’ve no need to explain who the money went to….if you’ve been following the blog.

I used to go to bed around 10 in the evening, wake up at 1.15 in the morning, get in the car and drive 35-40 miles to some lonely, far off outpost in South East England. On would go the hi vis jacket and sturdy boots, to lug heavy parcels around a warehouse. You very rarely got a break, as being an agency worker, employment rights seem to go out the window so long as the agency takes a profit from you. 

Five hours a night I used to do this, and when there was a small hiatus in the proceedings, I used to sit in the car and tune in to a local radio station. I was lonely, afraid of where my life was heading. I used to look out of the window at the big lorries at the other warehouses in the industrial estate. Cold, dark night, wondering when morning would break. 

Then it would be back to work. A lorry used to arrive with an seemingly endless supply of parcels. Health and safety was forgotten about as well, as parcels were moved about that required more than one person to shift. But when saving money was the object, rules and regulations were overlooked. 

Morning did break, eventually. And it was back in the car, driving the 35-40 miles back home. Wondering to myself why. Why had I put myself in this situation. Working for peanuts, and peanuts that weren’t going to me. 

In the end, the money ran out, the patience ran out and I stopped the agency work, obviously through necessity. I wasn’t well at the time and my life had collapsed around me. But want a parcel moving? I’m your man. 

So to the present day, and I’m so glad I do peer support, volunteering etc in the world of mental health. I want to help people. I’m still in the system and want others to have a chance in life, and not to take the path I chose, misguidedly, back in September 2008. 

I’m just glad to be out of the biggest little warehouse in South East England…

Allen Brooks xx

I thought I was a goner…

Time:- Winter of 2009 (or thereabouts)

It was a cold, bright January morning. I had some trouble getting off to sleep due to pains in my stomach. I thought it was stomach cramps when I woke up, but the pains seemed to be getting worse.

I was sitting in the front room when the pains got stronger and stronger, so much so in fact, that I thought I was dying. I was rolling round the floor in agony. My ex-wife thought I was messing about. But when I called out that I wasn’t, and needed help, an ambulance was called. The pains were absolutely excruciating.

The ambulance arrived within five minutes, and I was escorted into the vehicle. The paramedic gave me some gas and air, which is what they give pregnant women. The ambulance roared off to the hospital at speed of sound, and I was soon in the A&E ward. The pains were so bad that I literally wanted to scream the place down.

A nurse thought it might be renal colic (pains caused by kidney stones). She gave me some pain reliever and the pain did subside for a while. I was wheeled off for an x-ray, I had dye run through me, and finally a doctor, who initially thought it was a strained back, gave me a small receptacle and asked me to pass some water in the cubicle.

When I passed the water, it wasn’t the usual yellowy colour. It was deep red, with a tinge of brown. I looked on horror and when the doctor took the receptacle away, he came back to confirm I had kidney stones.

The pains come and go, but the paramedic said there is one comparable pain with kidney stone pain, and that is childbirth. That didn’t make me feel much better, and after another flying visit to the hospital the following day, the pains came and went. Some days were agony, others not so bad. I had a great difficulty in going to the loo during this time.

I was booked in for a procedure at the hospital. I was shown a picture of the x-ray, and a small white dot was visible in one of my kidneys. That was the offending article; no bigger than a grain of sand. 

The procedure was cancelled, because after a second x-ray, the surgeon could find no evidence of the stone in the kidney. It had obviously been passed through on my painful and often visits to the loo. All this lasted about two months. But, believe me, that cold January morning I felt was my last. The pains were so intense that I thought my number was up. 

Being of a slightly dark nature, considering what went on over the next year, I think death would have been a painless release from what was turning into a very miserable existence. I’m still here, ups and downs that have been experienced, are still being experienced. If something doesn’t kill you, you will become stronger. I am strong on occasions, but not all the time. 

So that was my one very physically painful experience. Mentally, it was only the start.

Allen Brooks xx

Ghosts in the Machine…

June 2010. Mum had just passed away. I was in the house on my own, and it was slightly ghostly to say the least.

There was a telephone console in the living room that connected to a call centre in the North of England. The reason for its installation was that Mum, in her last few years, was becoming less mobile and the call centre was for elderly people who had fallen while indoors or some other emergency. Mum had a device where she could press a button if she needed the call centre and she was put straight through.

After she passed away, there was of course no need for this console any more. But I didn’t know how to disconnect it and return it to the manufacturers. So I left it. 

I fell asleep on the sofa one night and it must have been the small hours of the morning, when I heard this whirring and clicking sound, followed by a voice. The console had clicked itself into operation and the call was going through to the call centre. I hadn’t touched the console, there were no loose wires or connections. It did it all on it’s own. To say it frightened the life out of me at 3 in the morning was an understatement.

I dropped off back to sleep after I cancelled the call. Then an hour or so later, the whole process started again. This was very spooky. Mum had gone a week and her spirit was very much living on, making calls from beyond the grave! 

I was in the house for a further five months, the console had been returned, but the ghostly feeling of just me in a two bedroom house was still there. I felt alone, afraid and there was no one there to talk to. All very supernatural. But the ghost of my recently deceased mother lived on….

Allen Brooks xx

Warehouse woes….

2010 again. I found myself a job in a warehouse, helping to prepare shopping orders to go out to the general public. It was a job that I actually quite enjoyed for a while, the staff were very friendly and I was able to concentrate on something pleasant for a change.

Then, as so often happens, it all started to go wrong. My car had stopped working altogether one night, leaving me without a decent mode of transport. So I had to get three trains and a taxi cab to the warehouse from my home, costing me a fair amount of money each time.

Also, I was in deep debt, left over from the failed marriage. Money was coming in, but with the debts totalling up to a £1,000, I couldn’t pay off the debts and keep myself going properly. I was disappearing down a black hole once again.

One night, I was busying myself in the warehouse. A song was being played over the radio, I can’t remember which one, but it brought the emotions to the surface. I carried on, and I don’t know how I didn’t break down in front of everyone. Call it devotion to duty I suppose. But it was a near thing.

In the end, I had to leave the job. I started to go downhill again and I couldn’t give the company the commitment they demanded. Though they were sympathetic, I had no choice but to depart. I felt I was working 40 odd hours a week but with no end product, tangible money in my account. I was living a lie. The debts needed to be paid off. It was a horrible time.

The result? I did pay off the debts, eventually, but I haven’t had a full time job since. I doubt whether I could hold down a steady job now, especially with all the ups and downs of my autism. One day, though, it might all change. But for the moment, full time work is out of the question.

Wasn’t 2010 a great year? Not!

Allen Brooks xx

Christmas 2010…

Several months earlier, my world was in turmoil. Mum had passed away in June of 2010, and I was struggling to come to terms with that event and others that were going on at a similar time.

Usually at Christmas, I go to my sister or nephew for dinner. This particular year, it was at sister’s. How would I cope? This will be the first Christmas without Mum. 

The day arrived. I remember the day, it was the tail end of a very cold spell of weather. I wasn’t in the greatest frame of mind, emotions were swirling around in my head. It was time for dinner. I sat there, but there was a vacancy never again to be filled. Normally I would eat my dinner without too many problems. This time, I left half of it. The appetite was gone. I wasn’t enjoying this at all.

At future Christmasses, I tried to shut out all the bad memories, with some measure of success. I don’t enjoy that time of year, and it is very difficult to push myself through to the New Year. But I must have been strong to have lasted this far. Another test of my mental fortitude is on the way in a few months time, and the weather outside this summer’s day speaks only of winter. Dark, gloomy and with foreboding. I have to cope each and every day. There’s no other choice. 

Allen Brooks xx