HOW I GOT HERE (pt.2)

Yo, Cheers for coming back. Let's crack on;

After losing my dad shit went south real quick. My family soon became much smaller due to a huge feud with my dad's side, friends couldn't handle how manic I had become so bailed out and Mum, Clare and I were just about managing to keep our head above the rising waters. These were dark times that I won't go into to much depth with.

It had become apparent during these times that I was now the man of the house. I was in no way prepared for this. Hell, I had only just managed to grow bum fluff on my chin to match some questionable sideburns. 

The only thing that kept me going was the love I was shown by an absolutely astonishing woman.

Abigail

I had met Abi in my final year of school. I was introduced to her by a mutual friend and was instantly blown away by her. She was the prettiest girl I'd ever seen and I was still an awkward loser. She was a really good person who was liked by pretty much everybody, everywhere. This shone through when finally getting to be friendly with her. Whether it was a "hey" in the corridor or chatting to her about stupid stuff that seemed relevant at the time... You know, the sort of stuff that makes you cringe when you think back to it. 

We started chatting to one another over "Hi5" and MSN. This is way before Facebook and MySpace. There were conversations from her suggesting we hang out in Bute park "with a few Stellas'" and a few "playing it cool" messages from myself raving about "Europa", the best coffee shop to ever grace Cardiff. Then came that fateful day. The day I was invited to her 17th birthday party on Penarth beach. We instantly hit it off and the rest is history I guess. 

Finally got that Europa trip

She stood strong by my side throughout all of the chaos surrounding my fathers death. She was there to fight my corner when all my friends had abandoned me. She was there to make and share laughs with my family. She was just there. All the time. Whether it was by my side or on the end of the phone. She was always there. 

She still remains my first love. Together we have been through hell and high water with each other. We have stood the test of time for almost eleven years now. Like most couples we have spent some time apart and had some blazing rows. But to this day, any negative aspects seem so damn small when put into perspective. 

I've always been so proud of her. She is the most rocking woman I know and has played a huge part in shaping me into who I am today. She has never let anything get in her way. She is an absolute fuckin warrior and is not afraid to take heads from the toughest of opponents. On the flip side she is supportive and loving. She is extremely talented at so many things. From her professional work life, slaying movie trivia or whipping up a mean meal she sets a challenge and destroys it. 

When we first met, we were the perfect match as musician and artist. We would spend weekends with one another in a manner similar to John and Yoko. She still continues to amaze me by looking at things in a different way to any one else I know. It could be a social situation, a problem or something to do with art/photograpy. I can always guarantee her perspective will be pretty out there, unique and well thought out. She is a rare breed of woman. One that will never be tamed.

Abi has always pushed me to be better. Whether it's a subconcious decision or a completely organic progression, her influence has brought out the best in me. It was spending time with her in my late teens that inspired me to progress with food. She is an incredible cook and we would spend ours in her kitchen baking, frying and making a mess. It was at this point I had moved on from Pizza Hut to work for Pizza Express... I know right?! Talk about upscaling.

Here I was exposed to working with fresh ingredients and a more "kitchen" vibe while working. Having to work as more of a team rather than standing at the back of a greasy kitchen, hammering out mains on my own. I spent a few years here before finally getting sick of it. I had taken the same path as my previous job and moved to a new store to help out. Though this time I found my self in Monmouth. The commute was fun for a while as I had not long started driving. The commute meant I could listen to a whole album and break the speed limit a lot. All fun aside I needed to be closer to home. 

This is when I finally became a full time cook in the more traditional sense. I landed a job working for the lounges in Cardiff and trained to move into their new place in Penarth. It was here I was exposed to real chef life. Moody head chefs who would throw their weight around, coked up exec chefs and long hours. I was eager to please so always kept my head down and tried to learn as much as possible. I slowly made my way from prepping shitty salads to being able to run and guide a team while working a line. It was fuckin epic.

Hearing in the dark. Courtesy of Matthew Joyce

 I owe all of my knowledge of food to a head chef named Andy. He was rogue in every sense. A quiet, intelligent man who would smoke roll ups and read Buwkowski. The fact I swear so much is probably down to his influence. We would spend hours cooped up in our small and shitty kitchen sweating prefusely as a result of shit extraction. We would talk about music, literature and life. Granted there was the usual tom fuckery thrown in to the mix from a good friend who was working as a KP. As great as this all was, my problems with school had come back to repeat themselves. I was getting sick of losing every waking hour to a place I felt forced to be and commands from an office were coming in thick and fast, reducing our creativity to increase profits. This was no longer a food dream any more. This was just a way of making money for both myself and the company I worked for. All the passion fell out of my ass. Even the enjoyment of spending time with the guys lost it's charm. Finally I bailed after a years or so.

It was at this point my grandfather passed away to the same shitty disease that robbed me of a father a few years prior. This was a huge blow as he was a massive influence in our family. A gentle geordie giant standing at six foot plus with the most calming manner about him. He was well known for his horizontal attitude and love of cider. He spent his life in the Royal Navy and his later years as a long distance lorry driver. Great memories still remain from when he'd come visit us in his truck. He'd park it on an old slip road coming off of a busy access route into Barry. Totally in the way but with zero fucks to be given. He was more concerned with visiting his daughter, her children and getting a strong brew down him. He gently moved on from this realm with all of us around him. Except for me. I had left his side an hour earlier after saying my good byes.

Grandads old passport.

Grandad with Clare enjoying one too many ciders.

I had reached breaking point emotionally. Having to work solidly through the past through years while dealing with my fathers death had caused me to bottle everything up inside. Suddenly the tracks I was riding were buckling under the weight and pressures of "life". I was a wreck having to say good bye to the last male role model in my life. As selfish as it sounds, I had to leave so he couldn't see how sad I was in his final hours.

From this point the fragile nature of life was more than apparent to me. It was time for me to take control and find something to be proud of whilst being happy.

I started working day in, day out on music. It had always been a constant throughout my life and I was determined to try and make it as a singer song writer. Andy had been a full time musician many years ago. Despite learning french classics from him I'd also started to learn a lot more about folk music. Slowly but surely I made my way down the route of any other musician of learning covers and writing my own songs. The sounds of Bob Dylan, Fairport Convention and Nick Drake were slowly entwined with more modern acts such as John Smith, Dallas Green and William Elliot Whitmore. In turn I'd like to believe I had created something with its roots firmly planted in traditional folk with the accessible lyrics of modern material. Then I listen back to older recordings and shudder. Same goes for the posed pictures for streaming sites.

Cringe

Super Cringe

UP NEXT

Tales of running away from problems and alcohol abuse.