Reflections…One Year On

Around this time last year, I wasn’t feeling particularly great. I decided, purely on a whim, to escape the dark recesses of an English winter and fly abroad for a holiday. This I hadn’t done since 2009. Last year, I remember going into the travel agents and booking myself a week at the lovely hotel pictured, in the gorgeous Canary Island of Fuerteventura.

Looking back, it’s something I didn’t regret doing for one moment. A little bit of impulse, a bit of inspiration, and then before I knew it, I was at Stansted Airport on a cold January morning ready for an incredible adventure.

What about this winter? Well, you see last year’s trip was a one off, a hunch. This time around, though I don’t feel quite as bad as last year, there isn’t quite that desire or impulse to fly off to warmer climes. Maybe I might fly abroad during the summer, but doing something like last year’s trip makes it all the more sweeter. Waiting a few years for the next one would make me look forward to it. But I’ll always remember that fantastic island in the eastern Atlantic, memories that will always stay with me.

Allen Brooks xx

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Scaring people….

Not absolutely sure about the timeframe on this, but all I remember was that I wasn’t in a good place. I was having all sorts of dark thoughts, my self esteem was through the floor, and I’d taken to Facebook to express how I was feeling. Thinking back, it was the middle of summer, but can’t pinpoint a year. My memory playing tricks, now that is unusual!

As I said, it wasn’t a good time. One night, it must have been around 1 or 2 in the morning I suppose, my emotions overflowed. I got my phone, went on to Facebook and gave full vent to my spleen. It was pretty graphic, pretty horrifying and I was so low that I couldn’t muster any shred of self respect.

I eventually got to bed, and received a text message the following morning from an acquaintance of mine who saw the message. She was horrified that I could write in such graphic and revealing detail, and was worried for my well being. Along with her daughter, she invited me out for a meal that afternoon. I was still in a bad place, but the empathy she showed will always stay with me. I came home from the meal feeling a little bit better.

Was the graphic posting on Facebook a cry for help? I suppose it was. I needed some people to see what was going on. My life was heading nowhere fast and this was my way of expressing this frustration and anger. It wasn’t clever, it wasn’t very smart to do this. But when your mind has gone, rationality goes out of the window.

I like to think that I’ve calmed down on the social media front, and I have other avenues where to express my feelings, like peer support group, and my CBT counsellor. Going off the handle like that wasn’t me; and I do think before I act now. That horrible evening, I wasn’t thinking. That’s how screwed up I was. Facebook is a tool I only use now to communicate about sport and social activities, and not to vent my spleen about my private life. It can cause problems.

Older, wiser? Don’t you believe it!

Thanks for dropping by

Allen Brooks xx

My first….umpiring decision

1987. My first year of umpiring cricket. I was only 14 years of age at the time, but fancied donning the white coat and enjoying some cricket.

My first ever decision, you may or may not be surprised to hear, was a wrong one. It was my schools cricket trials day. Loads of lads of similar age were taking part in a practice match to ascertain whether they were good enough to play for the school team.

I enthusiastically made myself available to umpire and my first ever decision was to adjudge a lad leg before wicket to a ball pitching a foot outside leg stump. This of course was incorrect, and the lad in question made sure I knew I had cost him a place in the school team. His Dad was an umpire, and no doubt would have revelled in my misfortune.

I like to think I have got better at decision making on the cricket field over the years! But 30 years ago, I started with a mistake. To err is human, to forgive is divine, and I think I’ve been forgiven quite a lot down the years. I wonder where the poor unfortunate batsman I gave out wrongly is now?

Allen Brooks xx

A happy ending…

The evening just gone has seen the last week of the refresher courses on the new laws of cricket. By and large, with the occasional hiccup, it has gone very well indeed.

To give some context, up until six weeks ago, no one knew what form these refresher courses were going to take, or if they were to happen at all. With a little bit of behind the scenes planning, the tutor team have covered all what we wanted to cover, absolutely on the button so we would finish on 27th November, i.e. today.

It was planned, but the form of the Monday nights themselves were a little ad lib as well. As I said, bar the occasional hiccup, it has gone very well and the attendees have taken away some new information ready for the next outdoor season in 2018. We’ve averaged about 30 people per session, so as chairman, I’m absolutely delighted.

We’ve got a couple of spare weeks with some extra features to send the troops home happy before the Christmas break. Very content with what we’ve done.

Allen Brooks xx

Not the same man again….

My late father gave great service to the country, first of all as a soldier in the Second World War, and then as an employee of a local company for 31 years. He did shift work, and eventually became a senior manager. All was well in his world….

Until August 1981. The Royal Wedding celebrations had finished and we had come back from our holiday in Eastbourne. Then as we turned the key in the door of our maisonette and opened it, there was an envelope on the doormat. As we put our cases down, Dad picked up the envelope and opened it. There was silence for a few moments and then he announced “The company are relocating and are looking to make me redundant”. That dreaded word….redundant. Services no longer required.

It was at the time of economic stress and strain nationwide. The previous year, Dad’s company gave him a carriage clock for 30 years service. This was now the knife to the heart of a proud man. 55 years of age and still 10 years left of his working life. Thrown on the scrapheap.

We didn’t relocate, and Dad reluctantly took the redundancy and the financial package. From that point, his health and his mental well being, strong despite his cigarette habit, started to deteriorate quite rapidly. The man who had always religiously gone to work and did all the shifts, now started to become a shadow of his former self. The following year he had a minor stroke, and had to give up cigarettes, then he had to have a bypass performed in his stomach.

Dad fell apart quite quickly. Looking back, though he tried to never let on, his mental well being took a real hit, never to recover. 31 years of hard graft, ended very abruptly. Within 10 years, the mental and physical wear and tear finally ended his wonderful life. I didn’t understand too much about this at the time, but time allows me perspective and opportunity to look at reasons as to why he went downhill.

So 1981 was a momentous year in more ways than one, and the Brooks family had to deal with the fallout of that fateful August day, the envelope on the mat. It has stuck in my mind, and it will never go away.

Allen Brooks xx

Returning to umpiring…when I’m ready.

Afternoon. Not in the best fettle today. I had a lot of sleep yesterday and that has manifested itself in over tiredness, so today is a bit of a struggle to be honest.

Been asked recently as to why I’m not umpiring any cricket at the moment. The reason is, I’ve lost some confidence and interest in umpiring. The spark seems to be missing at the moment, and despite witnessing some good games as a spectator, there’s something inside my over fertile imagination that’s stopping me from donning the white coat and getting out there.

A fellow umpire last week said “You should be back umpiring League cricket on Saturdays during the summer”. I’ve got several reasons as to why League cricket is strictly off limits for me. I tried to return in 2013, against my better judgement. Despite being an umpire of good experience, I just didn’t enjoy the games or the behaviour of the players. I just don’t think I possess that special quality of controlling others. I may have been able to give decisions and to know the laws, but controlling blokes that want to dispute things is very hard work.

Also, as has been the case since 2010, I’ve missed large chunks of the outdoor season due to illness, sometimes anxiety, sometimes depression, sometimes both. I can’t commit to umpiring week in, week out like I used to if mental health issues keep interfering with my progress. So that’s another reason behind not officiating at present.

I can take some solace in the fact that I can do a good job once out there, but I’m worried about making mistakes and taking criticism. And making that step to go out there and face the flak is something I just can’t do at the moment. Crossing the rubicon I think it’s called. Some people can deal with criticism, some cannot. I’m in the cannot category, at present.

Also, cricket used to be the be all and end all of my life for so many years. I have other things going on these days, like volunteering, doing stuff around mental health and the like. Umpiring isn’t high on my list of priorities, like it once was. I still tutor new umpires and am putting something back into the training and retention of umpires. But that’s the limit at the present moment.

This morning, I went to watch some indoor cricket. One of the umpires felt bad because I was just spectating and not being involved umpiring wise. He has no need to feel bad as to be honest, I wasn’t in a get up and go frame of mind today, and the spark needed to go out in the middle is currently dormant. What it will take to rekindle the flame? At the moment, I’m not sure.

So there you have it. Are my umpiring days numbered? Wait and see. No confidence, no interest.

Allen Brooks xx

Life is full of pleasant surprises…

Got a nice surprise on allenbrooks44.wordpress.com today, aside from the 13 countries looking in. A former English professional cricketer has been liking some of the stuff I’ve been writing and I’ve made contact with him today. His name – Nathan Wood.

Nathan used to play for Lancashire in the 1990s, and is the son of former England international Barry Wood. Nathan is now a motivational speaker on sport and is a cricket coach as well. In fact, he joins a few ex-professional and current professional players that I’m connected to on various social media platforms. That’s not bad for a bloke like me who has come from a modest background, to keep in touch with players past and present indicates that cricket has one big happy family.

That’s one thing that makes me very proud, cricket has been a source of joy, of pain, of disgust, of pleasure and full of wonderful people. I’m glad to still be involved, albeit on a lesser scale than before. Best sport in the world!

If you want to follow Nathan Wood here on WordPress, follow the link here nathanwood.consulting that’s after looking in to mine of course!

Thanks for dropping by.

Allen Brooks xx