The homely cottage at the end of the road….

It was a summer morning. I was asleep in a comfortable bed. The first shafts of morning were starting to peep through the curtains. 

Then…..rumble…..roar…..rumble….rumble. What the hell is that at this time of the morning? I’m awake now, wanting to know what this noise is.

It’s the first express train of the day from London to Cornwall, thundering it’s way along the line just 150 yards from the front door. The noise seems endless….and then it disappears….the train has entered the tunnel to it’s next destination. 

It’s August 1979. The weather is glorious. I’m on holiday in Devon. I’m only a stone’s throw from the beach on one of the most idyllic stretches of coastline anywhere in the UK. I struggle to get back to sleep. The roar of the train has woken me up. But I remember. I’m on holiday. This is how it’s meant to be. Then the seagulls start their raucous cacophony. 

I go back to sleep for a while. Mum and Dad wake me up and it’s time for breakfast. The radio is on. Dad has been to the shop for his newspaper. I switch on the TV. I turn over to ITV. Nothing. Just a blue screen stating that are no programmes due to an industrial dispute. It’s been a year of strikes and discontent amongst British workers. But I’m only seven years old. What do I know? Not a lot really.

Then it’s time to get ready, get my bucket and spade and make our way to the beach. Golden sands, clear water. We pitch our deckchairs and stay there for the rest of another glorious summer’s day. I’m in and out of the water, looking a bedraggled mess by day’s end. But this is a holiday. Good times. Good memories. Admiring my Dad’s suntan. Watching Mum squeeze her way into a swimming costume. The memories are wonderful. And on a wet July evening that I’m looking at right now, August 1979 was very memorable. 

Allen Brooks xx

The glorious weather continues…..

It’s been another hot week in London. Sometimes though, a bit too humid and oppressive for my liking. Today is one of those clear days with low humidity that everyone loves in England. Simply glorious.

And how about Allen Brooks? Not brilliant earlier on today it must be said. But that feeling has subsided during the day, and I feel a bit better as the evening wears on. I haven’t been out to the coast to enjoy the summer much of late, but I aim to rectify that as soon as possible. 

One of those nondescript days, but one without too much drama or upset. That’ll do me….

Allen Brooks xx

Summer in the City….

What do these four things have in common? Well, the glorious pint of mixed fruit cider started off the Music Bingo evening at the local pub. 

The bingo card is an example of what I have to tick off to win either two lines or a full house. The £5 note was mine after I was part of a five way share of the full house prize. You can work out how much the full house was, I’m too tired to work it out for you.

And lastly, a water bottle was one of the novelty prizes for two lines. So I didn’t do too badly. The evening got off to a comical start over the issue of the mystical powers of the “Winners Table”. The table was occupied by non players of the bingo game, and everyone had their eyes fixated on the table, waiting for the occupants to go. 

In the end, they did, and there then followed a mad scramble between ten people to sit round this table. It must have worked, because all the players won something. Ah, the powers of the “Winners Table”!

Take one excellent host, stir in a mixture of tunes, together with a bubbling atmosphere and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. Then bring to the boil, and voila, Music Bingo starts. The recipe is brilliant, the ingredients are excellent, and the outcome is one of flavoursome enjoyment and wonderful communal singing. 

The only thing that was getting everyone down and tired was the stifling heat and humidity. It was absolutely uncomfortable in the pub, and even leaving the pub to get some air brought little relief. The windows are wide open, fan on full blast, but in truth, it’s still no less sultry than earlier. 

Marvellous night, and after the trials and tribulations of the recent few weeks, it felt good to be back and amongst friends, revelling in the evening. It is the best show in the local area, bar none.

Allen Brooks xx

Early day motion….

Afternoon. Back in the flat, fan on full blast. It’s a day where I think you could literally fry an egg on the pavement, it’s that hot.

Not feeling too bad as it goes. Anxiety is back to manageable levels. It’s not causing me to isolate myself, I’m starting to re-engage again. I’m starting to get back to something approaching my usual self. Some way to go, but I’m getting there.

It was the Peer Support group today, but unfortunately there was a very thin attendance. There are other things going on, plus the fact that people wanted to sit indoors with the air con on, rather than in a stuffy room. 

So the four of us did our usual stuff, but as I was running it on my own, I decided, with the agreement of the others, to end proceedings early. This seemed a good way to do things and there’s only so much you can talk about in 2 hours. 

So, the feet are up, tennis on the TV, with the fan blowing nice cool air over me. Off out later, it’s good to be feeling ok again.

Allen Brooks xx

More Four…

Is the name of a UK TV channel. But also that applies to the Peer Support group this morning. There were only four of us. Due to various reasons, the twelve that adorned the room so well last week was reduced in size.

But no matter. We chatted away about various things, like family history, our own current mental health status, and about medication. So, despite the paucity of numbers, we found plenty to occupy the two hours. 

The weather has changed today too, for the better in my view. It’s still warm, but with more than a hint of freshness in the air. The oppressive humidity and airless conditions of the last few days is a thing of the past. A few people I’ve spoken to have complained of the heat being a little too much. I like the day we have today. Warm, but fresh, not sweating like a pig. Perfect.

How’s my anxiety today? Ok, as it goes. Not a hint of it. But as I said in other posts, it comes and goes in fits and starts. Off now to see a friend for the day.


Allen Brooks xx

Downhill run..

Hello. 21st June today. The longest day of the year. The day that marks the downhill run to 21st December, meaning it gets gradually darker in the evenings. Joy! 

Today is the hottest June day since that glorious summer of 1976. It’s been about 35 degrees C, 95 degrees F in old money. Hot enough. Having ventured out earlier, I was then regretting leaving the cool of indoors to sample the oven like conditions outside.

A few people are not happy with this hot spell. Then again, we English are never happy. It’s either too wet, too dry, too cold or too hot. Personally, I prefer it to be less humid and oven like. Next time I’ll squash myself in the oven and turn on the heat to regulo 8. Not a pretty sight, I’m sure you’ll agree.

What about me and anxiety? It’s been a little better. I even ventured out to a meeting yesterday without too much trouble. But there was a warning shot fired across the bows today. Someone wanted me to go and umpire a match tonight. I had to decline. Even thinking about the possibility of umpiring makes me anxious at the moment. I don’t know why. The enthusiasm and zest for cricket that was there for 8-10 weeks has disappeared, hopefully temporarily. The prospect of standing there and making a fool of myself plays on the mind to such an extent that the negativity is overbearing. 

Of course, I don’t make a fool of myself at cricket, but try telling that to my fertile mind that sets off on a voyage that leaves me ready to hit another iceberg. The wrestling that goes on with my mind is something I’ll never be able to come to terms with. 

Bizarre. But that’s me. Utterly bizarre.

Allen Brooks xx

A mad dog Englishman….

And guess what all mad dogs and Englishmen do? Go out in the midday sun. Yet another roasting day in the big city today, temperatures hitting 90F or so. The only down side of the heat for me is the puffy eyes, streaming nose and endless sneezing. But you can’t win em all.

Off out to a meeting today. A meeting revolving around the cafe that I volunteer at. What’s the future going to be? Will I end up serving in a burger van on the A12 in Essex? Nothing like setting the bar high! 

Seriously though, the meeting will discuss how long we’ll be able to stay open, amongst other things. The staff within the hospital must like us and the affordable prices, otherwise we wouldn’t do so well. Hopefully this time, the stays of execution that the cafe seems to get might be a thing of the past and that something more permanent is in the offing. May be longer opening hours and more days of the week. We shall see, nothing lasts forever. The drivers on the A12 may be spared my wit and repartee for a few months longer….but I digress.

On a train, no air conditioning. 21st century technology haven’t reached some of London’s trains. So the passengers have to sit in a sweat box. It’s lucky that it’s midday rather than morning or evening, where it’s standing room only, and the whiff of smelly armpits pervades the carriage. Not mine, I hasten to add. My personal hygiene is reasonable, before anyone asks.

That’s enough for now. 

Allen Brooks xx