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This is a question The nicest thing someone's ever done for me

In amongst all the tales of bitterness and poo, we occasionally get fluffy stories that bring a small tear to our internet-jaded eyes.

In celebration of this, what is the nicest thing someone's done for you? Whether you thoroughly deserved it or it came out of the blue, tell us of heartwarming, selfless acts by others.

Failing that, what nice things have you done for other people, whether they liked it or not?

(, Thu 2 Oct 2008, 16:14)
Pages: Latest, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, ... 1

This question is now closed.

Sheer coincidence
My brother died at the age of 39 from inoperable stomach and bowel cancer. He was a lot older than me, and had moved out and joined the Army before I was even born, so we were never really close. But still, I have a photo of him hanging on the wall, taken on the day he was promoted to Major in his regiment, not very long before the initial diagnosis. He was my bro', and I've always been so very proud of him.

Some time ago, I was in a dreadful state of debt. My house was about to be repossessed, making me homeless in the process, have my credit rating destroyed, everything I owned sold off until the debts were paid, and quite probably lose my job as well. Warrant sales are a bitch.

And the day came when the dreaded knock at the door turned out to be the initial representative from the bailiffs. A big, tough-looking bloke, who looked like he would be well capable of handling himself if the home-owners kicked off violent. I didn't - I had nothing left, I just let the guy in. He was very professional, doing an unpleasant job with calm and civility, and then he stopped, halfway mid-spiel. He was looking at the photo of my brother, hanging up in the hallway. He turned slowly to look at me and said: "That is Tony (Sasquatch), isn't it?"

"Yes, it is."
"D'you mind my asking - how did you know Tony?"
"He was my brother." I was, of course, completely confused by this point. Was this some sort of horrific Candid Camera set-up - what the hell was going on?
His posture and body language transformed instantly. "Fuck me, you're Tony (Sasquatch)'s little brother? He was my Captain for three years. Fucking decent bloke. Right, sod this, I'm not having his little brother made homeless. Here's what we're going to do..."

And he laid it all out for me. What I'd have to do - who I'd have to call, what I'd have to claim for, what forms to fill in, and what to put on them to get them through first time. He gave me names and phone numbers, shared every tip and trick of the trade with me, and promised he'd 'forget' to file the paperwork for my job for a couple of weeks, to give me time to get it all sorted. I'd have to put the work in, but it was the best chance I was going to get.

And it worked. It all worked. I lost the house, but got rehoused instantly by the council, kept all my stuff and my job. It didn't even wreck my credit rating, due to the way the handback of the house to the building society was processed. I was 24 hours away from being homeless and completely destitute, and this guy saved me from all that, because he thought he owed Tony one last favour.

Thanks Robert.
(, Sun 5 Oct 2008, 17:05, 14 replies)
It was a simple gesture
but it meant so much (and still does).

When I was a teenager, my dad died. Suddenly. Completely out of the blue, in fact. The whole family were in a state of utter shock and disbelief.

I was spending my time answering the phone, helping with the inevitable arrangements, trying to console my mum, along with general household type duties like cooking and cleaning. I don't mean to sound like a martyr, I certainly wasn't, I'm just one of those people who prefers to be doing something.

The day of the funeral rolled around, and I was up early, cleaning and making sure the house was presentable. One of the first people to arrive was a friend and workmate of my dad's. A big bear of a chap, a real gentle giant. When I let him in, he looked closely at me, and shook his head.

"You haven't taken time to cry properly yet, have you?" he asked.

When I shook my head, that big bear wrapped his arms around me in the biggest hug ever, and pulled my head against his chest. I finally gave into the tears I'd been fighting for days. After I'd cried what seemed like a flood of biblical proportions, he let me go and moved on to speak to my mum.

I got through the day a bit easier for having that cry, and it was an act of simple kindness with no agenda.

Sadly, a few months later, the big bear himself died in a car accident. He left behind a widow and two small children. I wasn't sure I could face another funeral that soon, so I went round to his house and offered to mind the children that day. They were really far too young for a funeral. I took the kids for a picnic in the park, and I like to think their dad was watching me with a smile.
(, Thu 2 Oct 2008, 18:38, 21 replies)
'Meatatarian'
When I was a poor student, I was extremely hard up. I wasn’t able to get a full loan because my mum and dad earned just over the means tested threshold. It didn’t really bother me that much but as a consequence I had to count my pennies, drink at home before I went out, make sandwiches if I went on a trip somewhere (like the city centre) etc.

Anyway, not rich, but no real money for luxuries.

I was using the library computers late at night talking to some people I had met on a chat room. It was what I did sometimes to pass the time when I had finished studying in the library.

So I was chatting with this one girl and we were swapping life stories as you do. She was from somewhere in America, and she was a journalism major but her parents were quite well off so she was cruising through college. She was in her room with her laptop (1996!) surfing around.

She asked me where I was and stuff and I told her I was in this grotty library on campus, starving away. She asked me to hold on for a few minutes, and then she was back and chatting and asking me how long I was gonna be on for, and I said I don’t know, an hour or so.

A little while later, a security guard comes up to me and asks if I am Mr. Powervator (not my nick then but you know). I say yeah, and he asks me to go to the foyer of the library. BRB, I write on the chat room.

Two family size pizzas, one ‘meatatarian’, and one vegetarian are waiting for me.

“I didn’t order these” I say to the pizza dude.

“S’alright mate, they are already paid for, enjoy”.

I walked back to my computer with the steaming bundles of joy, sat down, and saw that she has left me a message asking me if I was enjoying my pizza?

It was obvious what had happened now but back then I still couldn’t make the connection between the computer and real life.

“How do you know I have pizza?” I foolishly asked.

“Cos I ordered it for you dummy!” She wrote back.

We have now lived together for five years.
(, Thu 2 Oct 2008, 17:18, 19 replies)
My mum
Used to work near Queens Park in the South Side of Glasgow. For those of you who don't know it...it's a big green park in the south side of Glasgow.

Anyway I used to work near by so would met her every so often for lunch. We would often grab a bite to eat and then walk through the park. It was on one of these jaunts we stumbled across a couple of homeless chaps. They looked in a pretty bad state, tins of Tennents super in their hands and one tooth to share between them. As we walked past them they asked for change/fags/shoes. I gave them a couple of fags, my mum some change and nobody gave them shoes. This course of events continued throughout the year, from time to time we would see them in the park, drinking and laughing away and we would always stay to have a wee word with them and ask how they were. They were actually lovely guys just down on their luck after drink/drugs had fucked everything up for them. They'd got themselves clean but couldn't find work due to lack of an address/old smack habit.

So December rolled round and we started to see less and less of them. I was getting a bit worried because you could guarantee they would be in the same spot all the time. We started to wonder if they had moved on to pastures new or fallen back in to their old ways or even gone to the big homeless hostel in the sky. We started to forget about them and put it to the back of our minds until we saw them sometime around January. The younger one, must have been about 21 or so looked in a really bad way. Not even white or pale but just...wrong. My mum was seriously concerned (she has two sons and is slightly over protective of them) and was trying to get out of him what was wrong but he wouldn't say.

Anyway she eventually convinced him that he needed to see a doctor or go to hospital as coughing up big black things every 5 minutes is never good. He eventually relented to her nagging so she agreed to drive him there.

It turned out the guy (who incidentally was 21) had contracted pneumonia really badly over the winter. Couple that with a fucked up immune system due to intravenous drug usage the guy was knackered. The doctors informed her that he was unlikely to last more than 24 hours and they could make him as comfortable as possible but that was all. She agreed to stay for a few hours with him.


She managed to find out from his mate a bit about his back ground and if he had any family. Turned out his mum had chucked him out when he was 13 for using drugs and he had been homeless ever since. The reason they had been away for a few weeks was because they had been looking all over Glasgow for her so they could try and reconcile their differences. They eventually gave up because the young one had gotten seriously ill and were making their way back to where felt familiar, the park.

Me mum, bless her, couldn't face the idea of this young guy spending a night alone so she sat with him the whole night. Throughout the whole time she was there the only thing the guy asked for was a hug because he hadn't had one since he was a kid. My mum obliged.

The young guy passed away 10 minutes later.

This happened on the night of mum and dads 25th wedding anniversary for which they had a huge party planned back at their house. She could have been at the party sipping champers and getting presents but she decided to give up that night, one which she had been looking forward to for ages, to look after a young stranger.
(, Fri 3 Oct 2008, 13:38, 25 replies)
Many people have saved my life in every way possible
I was looking through this and was thinking "what's the nicest someone's ever done for me", and I couldn't think of anything. Oh sure there's the tiny things that make life good like the wife giving me a hug when I'm stressed etc, but nothing really worthwhile writing here.

But then I thought, "Mark, you COCK!" there are lots of people who have done the nicest thing for me...

saving my life.

You see, back in 1995, aged just 14, I had a massive brain haemorrhage. Completely out the blue. I was just sat in my room on a blazing hot summers day playing on my MegaCD (as you do) then suddenly I went blind, couldn't walk properly, dizzy and incredible pains in my head. I tried to get downstairs but fell down and lost consiousness. All in all it took about 5 minutes to go from completely normal, everyday stuff, to dying on my kitchen floor.

But I'm still here. I'm married, have travelled around the World, I own my own home and, apart from a massive scar on my head and a stutter, you wouldn't think there was anything wrong. The only way this could happen was several people doing the nicest thing anyone can do, and although you think "that's just their job" - they made more difference to my life than anyone could ever hope to do.

My Dad - who found me unconsious on the floor, choking on my own vomit, who put me in the recovery position and phoned for a doctor

The Doctor - who came out quickly and raced me over to the local Emergency hospital

The A&E staff - who fought for several hours to get me to regain consiousness

The Ambulance staff - who raced hell for leather up the M42 to Coventry Walsgrave Hospital, relaying my condition to the hospital staff.

The surgeons, anaethetists, nurses etc - who fought for 13 hours to stabalise me, get my head cut open and stopped the bleeding that was flooding my brain

The Intensive Care Nurses - who looked after mum and dad while I was lying in a coma, and helped them when I came round, despite being given a less than 30% chance of doing so.

The ward nurses - who looked after me and were patient with me when I was consious again but couldn't talk, see or form sentences correctly

The Physiotherapists - who tried to get me to sit up, stand up and eventually walk again - and wouldn't let me give up despite the pain it was putting me in.

The Occupational therapists - who got me doing basic tasks to regain my independance and lead a "normal" life

All the people whos donated blood I used - I must have used gallons of it

My friends - who came to visit me in hosipital and despite having no hair and being unable to talk to them, made me laugh and smile again

My sister - who drove miles to be by my bedside

The Speech therapists - who gave me the gift of communication back, allowing me to talk and be understood again

The hospital porters - who talked to me and put me at ease, even when I was going for a horrible treatment

The Asian lady - who always waved and smiled at me, despite her husband being in terrible pain across the ward with a massive head injury

The hospital library staff - who saved me some comedy audio tapes to cheer me up

The Hospital Vicar - who came and sat with me and didn't need to say a word to make me calm

The X-Ray and CT Scan people, and the members of the public who donated money so the hospital could have a CT scanner.

The Work Experience Girl - Who held my hand when I was crying and claustrophobic in the MRI tunnel

My school - who despite not having any disabled students usually, went out of their way to welcome me back

The school bullies - who stopped being nasty to me and started to be nice to me, even trying to be my friend (must have been the scars!)

The Sun Newspaper - who allowed me to write a column for their stroke awareness week

The Salters Nuffield Biology Unit - who chose me to be a case study in their A-Level text book

You guys - who make me laugh even when I am at my lowest

My parents - who never left my side and gave me the strength to fight on

My wife - who despite my problems and short comings, loves me completely.

There's probably thousands more who I haven't thanked but you are all in my heart.

Cheers.

edit: I'm overwhelmed and humbled by all your lovely comments - thank you all so much :o)
(, Sat 4 Oct 2008, 16:13, 13 replies)
Someone gave me a city
A while ago, I wrote here about a book that changed my life. A Nasty Bad Man did a Nasty Bad Thing to me when I was fifteen and it screwed me up for ages. One of the nicest things ever done for me was someone helping me make some new memories to override the bad ones.

Let me explain. The Nasty Bad Thing happened in London. I'd arranged to meet him at tube station A and he lived near tube station B. The Nasty Bad Thing happened at his house.

So every time I went to London for a jaunt (which was rare – I avoided the city wherever possible out of fear) and saw either of these two tube stations, or even their names on the tube map, I had a little panic. Or sometimes a big panic. Both names were hard to miss - one is very central, the other is associated with a large stadium. This made having fun in London pretty tricky - every damn tube journey would set me off, and no matter how sorted you get after something like this, little things can trigger memories. And I do like London, there’s loads to do and fun places to go – I didn’t want to be scared any more.

So, onto the nice.

I'd decided I wanted to make some new memories. This might sound daft but it works to great effect. When a Nasty Bad Man has used the word 'dick' aggressively at you, that word becomes very hard to say or even think without remembering him, his face, his voice. However, painting it in purple paint and covering it with glitter with a happy giggling counsellor makes it funny and sparkly.

I wanted new memories of those tube stations. And I wanted nice ones. My last memories of tube station B were of midwinter, waiting to be rescued away from the horrors, and me saying to the Nasty Bad Man, ‘I don’t feel very well. Don’t let me fall over’ And coming to in a heap on the floor next to a flower stall while he stood there sneering. Did I mention that he was a Nasty Bad Man? So I asked a Lovely Man if he would come with to station A, kiss me nicely, accompany me to station B and just see what happened.

Lovely Man did just that. We went to tube station A, we kissed. We went on the journey, and even though Lovely Man isn’t a fan of the tube, he kept an eye on me, looked after me and made sure I was ok.

When we got to tube station B, it was bright, bright sunshine, a bustling day. There were more shops than I remembered, cafes too. It was a vibrant place, development was happening, and new life being breathed into the area. It wasn’t the same place at all – it was amazing.

We stopped and had a cigarette, and I grinned for a long while. We kissed again and got the tube back. No need to hang about. I grinned all the way back to tube station A and we went about our business happy.

That tube journey with that Lovely Man gave me back London, the museums and galleries I love, the theatres, the pubs! It gave me back my freedom to be there and feel safe and to travel on the tube and not be scared of the tube map. It was the equivalent of sparkly glitter being poured all over the crapness and the trauma, and it was much needed.

If that Lovely Man happens to read this, and thinks about clicking, I’d like him to know that’s he’s clicking for himself too. I’m telling the story, but it was what he did that made it.
(, Fri 3 Oct 2008, 13:51, 16 replies)
Many people have done nice things for me.
But a little girl broke me up and, at the same time, made me feel better about myself as a person.

I'm a divorcee with 2 grown-up girls, I have a great G/F with a 10 yr old daughter. She's a little ray of joy, an intelligent, caring and talented pretty little thing who doesn't deserve all she's been through. She was a miracle baby for her mother after years of trying and many heartbreaking failed pregnancies. Her father is a philandering thoughtless self-centred fuckhead with all the empathy of a rabid rottweiler. To cap all that, he's a control freak who's shacked up with a loonball violent drunk.
Over the last weeks I've been going with my G/F and her daughter to see secondary schools. Her dad is pressuring her to go to a particular school, pressure she doesn't need at the moment with the 11+ and her beloved grandfather in hospital, probably for the last time.
Anyhoo, when touring the schools I've been referred to as "Dad" by the staff many times. I gently point out (out of her earshot) to the staff that I'm not actually her dad. No biggie in this age of divorce.

A couple of nights ago I was sitting watching TV (ooh, how domestic!) with her snuggled in to my not inconsiderable shoulder when she asked "Does it bother you when people think you're my dad?"
I replied "Not at all munchkin, I'd be proud to have you as my daughter".

She thought for a bit.

"Sometimes people ask if you ARE my dad, I don't like telling them you're not, 'cos I really wish you were."

I found it hard not to cry.
I feel I wasn't the best dad I could have been to my own two daughters, too self-absorbed, too angry at the world, too tied up in my own career etc etc.
This little girl with all the world on her all-too-young shoulders made me feel I CAN be a better person.

I'm filling up.

Thanks to you Emily, I AM going to be the best dad in the world, you deserve it.
(, Tue 7 Oct 2008, 17:25, 11 replies)
I'll never forget this.
Two years ago, in the run up to christmas, I was going through a pretty bad time of my life. My wife had left me two years earlier for another man and had just had a child with him, and although I pretended to myself everything was OK, I was completely broken up inside. I occupied my time going out and enjoying myself with my friends, but when I was alone I sometimes just wished I could go to sleep and never wake up. I'd been to the doctors and was going through a little stage of trying anti-depressants but they weren't helping, at the time I didn't think I was too bad but looking back now I realise just how low I was. For the most part, I kept it all to myself and didn't tell another soul how I felt, put a happy face on and tried to be normal. I'm quite a private person and don't share things easily.

I had moved back in with my parents after the split, and had pretty much wallowed there ever since. One evening, as I sat in my room watching telly, my mum stuck her head round the door and asked if I was ok, and for some reason, the usual "aye, fine" just didn't come out. She came in and sat down on the bed and asked what was wrong and I started making up the usual excuses that I just wasn't feeling too well, but then I just blurted out the words "I miss her, mum."

My mum had hated my ex and wished I had never married her. "I know I shouldn't after everything she's done, but I just miss her." She didn't say anything, she just gave me a hug and I completely broke down. I sat there crying like a baby and just let everything I had held in for two long years flow out.

It was around that time that my mum fell ill, and a couple of months later she was taken into hospital and diagnosed with cancer of the stomach. It had already spread and within a month she was gone. I never got to tell her how much that hug meant to me and how it helped me through one of the darkest times of my life. I'll never forget it.
(, Thu 2 Oct 2008, 17:45, 12 replies)
Thanks to my father...
This may be an epic post from a long-time lurker and it is one I am, to some degree, loathe to post. I haven't, until recently, actually considered my life as unusual to date, assuming that everyone has their issues and mine have been no different. But, there have been those that have stressed, in incredulous voice, that I should write my tale down or even publish it, send it to some god-awful daytime show etc. etc.

I don't seek the limelight (usually), and I am not one given to bleeding-heart tales of weepiness, so I am reluctant to do so. So, in the interest of experimentation and at the urging of others, I am going to write down my tale, and I am going to do so here, amidst the fair-minded, non-judgemental stranges of B3ta!

So, obligatory wobbly lines effect and we're off into the past....

...I was born the eldest of two brothers to a young couple back in the late sixties, a time of tank-tops, bell-bottoms and free-love. I still recall black & white television and there being less than 4 channels to view. Decimal currency was a new-fangled idea when I was still small, and the East End of London was a rough, if noble place. So far, so good...

...When I was still very young my parents split up, seemingly due to my fathers lack of fidelity in nealy all departments. He stole from his mother, lied to his brothers, ran around with women all over the place, thieved from Bad People(tm) and his employers and was generally a nasty bit of work. He was, however, gifted with charisma and a very, very convincing manner which enabled him to get away with all the things he did.

For some reason, which to this day remains a mystery to me, he took me from the family home, bundled me into the back of a car with his latest girlfriend and absconded into the wilderness, seperating me and my brother. I was about three or four years old.

For the next couple of years I was hidden from my mother and my brother by my grandparents, in seeming collusion with my father. Indeed, there were apparently times when I would be locked in the bedroom at my grandparents flat and 'kept quiet' while my mother stood in the next room demanding to know where my father had hidden me. They denied all knowledge, protecting their son as he had persuaded them to do.

The years that follow are a blur. We moved from place to place at the behest of my father, all over the UK, never stopping in one home for more than a year, as though running and hiding from something (he no doubt had *many* people hunting him down). A step-sister came along, borne by the woman I had been forcibly taught to call 'mummy', and my schooling was a mis-mash of home tutoring and one primary after another.

I had a sense that 'something was wrong', and on those occasions when, as a small lad, I was truly upset I would often find myself crying for my 'mother' despite 'mummy' being right there in the house or room with me. Still, as the years passed these things faded away, along with memories of my earlier life.

By the time I was 9 years old we had actually settled into something of a normal family life as far as I was concerned. We were living in a tiny village in South Wales, my sister and I fought like cats and dogs, my father worked 'away' a lot (I later discovered that he did a stint at HM Pleasure for various frauds he'd carried out) and I settled into school at last.

Then, when I was 11, it all changed again. My father absconded with yet another new woman and vanished entirely. This left me in the care of his ex-girlfriend, who I thought (had been trained to think) was my mother.

Still, lots of children I knew were brought up by single parents so I didn't think it odd or unusual in any way and simply 'got on' with life.

Then, when I was 17, the storm broke.

I'd applied to join the armed forces and as part of the process the recruitment office performed a full background check. Of course, the information I gave them regarding my 'parents' didn't match the details they obtained from official sources and I can still remember the officer suggesting that I had 'some questions that need to be asked' of my mother. So, I went home and duly did so.

My 'mother' didn't flinch, to her credit, she stated the tale in a matter of fact manner and left me to digest it. In order to help me understand it, she placed a call to my uncle and he took me on the most surreal road-trip of my life - to meet my natural mother and two more sisters!

Now, my 'mother' (this may get confusing now) was effecient and hard-working as a parent, and I will never criticise her for that (though I will for the religious indoctrination she forced on me, but thats a tale for another day), but she never really showed me any affection (understandable really) and neither had my half-sister (her natural daughter), so the overwhelming flood of emotion from my natural mother, her new(ish) husband and my two additional sisters was utterly incomprehensible to me.

I did what was natural. I left home. I ran. Left everyone and everything. I never looked back.

Confused wasn't the word. The world I thought I knew was one of lies and illusions. Nothing was real, no one cared and the world was a Bad Place(tm) for the first time.

fifteen years go by (more wobbly lines are in order I think) as I fought and battled my way into a life of my own, redefining myself as I went, and mostly (save for two or three particular friends en route) alone.

Some of those years were bad indeed. I nearly found myself homeless more than once, and had to scrape a living as best I could, often living hand to mouth for long periods of time. But, it *made* me. You get strong or you perish, it's a simple choice.

In 1996 I met someone who changed my life forever, the first great love of my life, and the one who was to be MrsEffinDoubt in years to come. (Heh, she'd moved into my crappy bedsit within 2 weeks of us meeting and we've barely been a day apart since!).

Her family is relatively 'normal' (they'd laugh at that, but by comparison to my soap opera they are!) and they took me to their hearts straight away, even though it took a good few years for me to understand them and accept their affection. And they might just qualify for 'the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me' just by accepting me for who I was and allowing me to be part of their family.. ..but I shall move along.... (with a smile and a kiss for each of them)..

..as there was one more shocker in store, and that happened about 3 or 4 years ago now.

Out of the blue, my brother (the one I was seperated from at age 4) called me. "Hallo bruv", he said... I almost broke at that point, as I'd heard of him but we'd never met in any meaningful way.

We talked, albeit briefly, as he had news. My father had died in Australia and there was a will that needed sorting out.

The next few months saw me reconnected with my whole, original family, my natural mother, my sisters, my brother and the 'old man' (my mothers second husband) whom I now call 'dad' (bless him for allowing me that privilege!!)

The pathetic will was disbursed, the past was settled, and I had my family back.

This year, I became a father at the age of forty (Late I know, but I had pretty negative views of fathers and families you know!) and the LittleDoubt is.... the meaning of my life.

I'm not alone anymore.

So, thank you, Father, for dying and leaving that will. The world is better off without you, and now I will repair the damage you did to all these people.

but, without you I wouldn't be the person I am today. Perhaps not the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me, but certainly the most important.

My Thanks for all of you that have read this far.

EDIT: A short list of people that helped me along the way - Richie, Mikey, Keith, Molly & Family, Mum, Dad & my Siblings - I love you all. You may never know just how much.
(, Mon 6 Oct 2008, 11:53, 10 replies)
Thank you
Oh boy, here goes... wasn't sure if I would really be able to do this QOTW justice. It's such an overwhelming subject for me to try and address. But I just found myself writing, and writing, and writing... because I want to send my eternal gratitude out into the universe.

Apologies in advance for length. Hell, nobody has to read it, it's just enough for me to know it's out there.


My relationship with control freak ex was destructive and bad right from the start. I was 17 and slightly damaged, and he was 37 when we got together. He was like nobody I'd ever come across, he was intelligent, insightful, thoughtful... But more than that he was pure logic, and to my young, conflicted self he was the answer to all my problems. He answered questions that I'd never managed to find answers to before. I believed he was The One. He took my low self esteem and self loathing and dissolved it by making me feel I was special, and amazing and perfect.

However. It was quickly established that this came with a price. It was conditional.
If I was "good" he rewarded me with the most amazing love in the world. If I didn't reach his impossible standard, I was punished with abuse, rejection, scorn, contempt - in short being made to feel like the worst and most useless person who ever lived. Some examples: Not giving him instant responses. Letting any man take the impression that I fancied them (not just giving impressions, but anything which did not actively discourage it - so basically I had to be unfriendly to every male I encountered, whether I knew them or not). Giving someone else their cup of tea before him. Taping over a video I thought he'd finished with. Not 'communicating properly'. Not doing what he told me to do no matter how uncomfortable I was with it - and he made it my responsibility to do EVERYTHING from answering the phone, to managing our money, to dealing with people: friends, acquaintances, strangers, enemies - mostly to make people enemies, such was his wont. Voicing any opinions of my own which I dared to have that conflicted with his. The list goes on.

He dumped me frequently for such offences as these, making me beg and promise to change... usually he would tell me I had two minutes to convince him to take me back, and if I didn't manage it I was full of shit and worthless. Despite the "two minute" rule these situations would last hours, sometimes days. Somehow I always managed it eventually, but it was a game with love as the prize and rejection the cost of failure, for which he had made the rules, and I didn't understand them... I would end up utterly wrung out, my mind and body disintegrating.

Basically, he had all the power and I had all the responsibility. His manipulative mind games made me uneasy but I had to convince myself of his absolute infallibility, or I would be having "bad thoughts" which would cause me to collapse in fear and panic. If I even had so much as half a thought I knew he would disapprove of I had panic attacks so severe I threw up. As I was terrified of him sometimes I would lie to avoid his wrath... which led to further panic attacks, and eventually full blown neuroses. I had to police every single thing I said, did or thought. I had to convince myself of all sorts of things, and I had to do it well. I could not harbour resentment. He did a comprehensive job of brainwashing me. In fact, no, he was more clever than that - he actually managed to get me to brainwash myself.

I couldn't work (and he didn't work either) so spent all my time in the house with him.
My life with him was miserable. It made me ill, mentally and physically. I couldn't eat and was very underweight. I had few friends, and certainly none who I shared my inner turmoil with. My family were unaware of the extent of the destructiveness of the situation, but he convinced me they were bad people too, and that I should cut them from my life.

As anyone who has ever been brought up in a strict religion - say, the Jehovah's Witnesses - will tell you, you reach a point where you have keep on believing what you have always believed, because you have to keep going. To admit to yourself the scale of the wrongness would destroy your whole life, and would cause you to realise the magnitude of your wasted self and soul. But sometimes, you just become more and more unstable until the truth comes bursting out of you like an alien out of John Hurt.


So this story has a happy ending. A happy beginning, in fact. After 12 years I left him.


During the split he put me through months of mental and emotional torture, cumlinating in my having a massive mental breakdown... and yet somehow part of me that I didn't know I possessed got me through it. I got through the overwhelming pressure he put me under, the manipulation, the threats to kill himself, the times he held me hostage to get me to change my mind, the times he fought me to stop me getting away from him, his boot in my face when I went for the phone to try and call the police... I stuck it out. There were times when I was convinced suicide was the only escape from the trap I was in. Times when doing things to feel physical pain was the only way to escape the pain in my head. Times when my brain packed up completely and stopped functioning, short circuiting and making me twitch and flinch at random. I knew it was the toughest thing I would ever have to do, and doing it destroyed me, but I did it.


The nicest things anyone has ever done for me are as follows...

My family:
For being cool enough to let me go in the first place when I was a headstrong teenager, knowing that if they tried to convince me he was bad I would just dig my heels in and it would cause rifts between us.
For being there with unconditional love and support when I finally found the courage to leave him.
My mum for her pragmatism, for instantly taking me in when he threw me out of the house, making sure I was eating proper meals for the first time in years, and going to bed at sensible times, giving me a copy of How To Mend Your Broken Heart and paying for me to have nine months of counselling.
My stepdad, for his acceptance when he came home to find I was staying for an unspecified amount of time, and for his practical advice and good humour for the following three months of sharing his home with me.
My brothers for forgiving me for falling out with them at CF ex's bidding and shutting them out for four years, and for putting their time and energy into me to help me learn what it feels like to be a normal person. My best friends.

Not one of them ever judged me or said "I told you so".

My boss:
For her empathy and compassion. For her tolerance of my fuckedupedness while at work, not firing me when I was late because I had been prevented from leaving the house by CF ex or had crashed my car because I was too exhausted to drive, or when I forgot to pass messages on because my head was broken. And for her guidance and encouragement towards emotional and spiritual health.

My new ex, the one who has proposed to marry me on my 40th birthday despite our current separation:
For the little extras he gave me when I started going into his coffee shop for lunch, when he realised I didn't have much money.
For his friendship, which made me feel like I was a worthwhile and likeable person.
For his understanding of my neuroses, including my requests that we would never make promises to each other, and my aversion to the word "perfect", whereupon he coined the word "perfucked" to describe me.
For showing me what love TRULY is, and thus achieving the only thing that nine months of otherwise outstanding counselling could not. When I was not sure I deserved his love, he said to me:

"Fuck deserving. Deserving love implies that you can be undeserving of love. Well my love doesn't work like that - you don't have to earn it, it's a gift, I am giving it of my own free will, you can do what you want with it, but you can't give it back because I won't accept it. It's yours now, unconditionally."

So now, at the age of 32, I feel like I have been born again (scuse the god-awful cliche). Every day I am thankful that I've been given a second chance to live my life. I still feel unworthy but so, so lucky to have the people who helped me... and now I have to stop writing because I can't see for tears.
(, Fri 3 Oct 2008, 20:32, 23 replies)
Not me but my whole family
My Dad's boss is possibly the nicest man on the face of the earth.

About 25 years ago Dad's dad died on a Sunday morning in his house in the arse-end of nowhere in Ireland. In those days there were no cash-points and my parents didn't have a cheque book so Dad had no idea how he was going to get to Ireland that day. Cue Dad's boss stumping up the cash, driving him to the airport and then checking that my Aunts and Uncles also had enough ready cash to make the trip. He then later denied that the money was a loan and refused to accept the money back.

His niceness continued unabated when he sent his employees a flipping enormous turkey every year at Christmas without fail. It would take us days to eat the thing but it knocked a bit off the cost of Christmas every year.

Then the man out-did himself. When Dad was diagnosed with cancer the first time, he paid Dad full wages for the whole six months he was off work. Then when the cancer came back and it was terminal, he paid Dad his full wages up until the day he died. This meant on both occassions that Mum could stay at home with Dad without worrying about money. And if this wasn't enough, after Dad died he sent my Mum a very large and very generous cheque to cover the cost of the funeral "in recognition" of all Dad's years of working for him.

The relief of not having to worry about money in the last few weeks was the best thing my parents could have had and so Dad's boss is the family hero. He made everything just that little less stressful at a time when you just don't need any pressure.

I might go and have a bit of a cry now.
(, Fri 3 Oct 2008, 12:51, 5 replies)
Mothers Day
In the US, Mothers Day is celebrated at some point in May.
I was dreading it this year - it was my first mothers day without mum, another friends mum had died the previous week, and my boyfriends wife died last year and he has a 20 year old daughter.
The above meant that I really didn't feel like I had anyone/anywhere to go - Dan needed his space, and the boyf and his daughter needed their day together to remember their loss.

The Wednesday before Mothers Day, I was talking to the bartender in my local, who's also a casual friend about the upcoming "celebration", and mentioned that I'd probably just spend the day holed up in my apartment.

The following morning, she called me. Her dad had asked her what she was doing with her mom, and he said he'd booked appointments for them at a spa for facials and massages. He then dropped a clanger "by the way, I also made an appointment for your friend, Workboresme. I hope she won't be offended, but I thought she might like it and it would take her mind off her mum"

I'd never even met her parents!

So, that Sunday, we headed off to the spa with her dads credit card, and her mom telling everyone about her "2" wonderful daughters :) We had a wonderful day, and when we got back to the pub there were 2 bunches of flowers from my friends dad. One for her, and one for me. "To Workboresme, thank you for being our honorary daughter for the day"
(, Thu 2 Oct 2008, 18:55, 6 replies)
For a lovely lady.
I was mercilessly bullied at school. Graffiti about me adorned the girl's toilet walls, taunts followed me around the corridors, I was spat at and everyday people would shout at me that they hated me. I had very few friends and felt very much alone when I attempted to take my own life for the second time at 15 years old.

Dosed up to the eyeballs on antidepressants, I left hospital a few weeks later.
In a bid to cheer me up a few friends took me to a gig at a local sports club.
I'm sure many of you have been to something similar, drinking illicit cans of cider and having a crafty fag at the back of the hall while 17 year old boys with shaggy hair and bum fluff saunter about trying to impress the girls.
Everything was going well and for the first time in months I was actually having a good time.

I met a boy a few years older than me. He was funny, charming, engaging, well liked and good looking. Everything I was not.

I didn't resist when he tried to kiss me.

When it was time for me to leave he became slightly more forceful and then progressively more agressive. I tried to get away but he was stronger than me. He pulled me down an alley way, hit me, muffled my cries with his hand and raped me.

I was in counselling at the time of the attack at it lasted for a few months afterwards. It didn't help though, I was overwhelmed by everything and was sick of talking about my feelings all of the time.

Not a day has gone by without me thinking about that night. I was so vulnerable at that time and just as I thought things might be getting better for me something happened that very nearly destroyed me. I sometimes even now still have nightmares.

I was going through a really rough patch a few months ago, everything caught up with me and I was pretty close to the edge. I was so desperate for someone to talk to but so scared of being a burden on my friends and family.

Then, I saw two posts on the 'This book changed my life' QOTW written by two women who had been in similar situations.

I contacted one and have since met her.
She is an amazingly strong, brave, caring and truly wonderful person.

I really hope she doesn't mind me posting this but I wanted to say. Without her I wouldn't have had the courage to go to my GP and rape crisis and ask for the help I needed.

She made me realise I don't have to be alone.

That is without a doubt, the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.
(, Tue 7 Oct 2008, 16:40, 18 replies)
I'm ordinarily a bit grumpy
I say a bit. I'm actually like a fucking grizzly bear with a sore head. My social skills have degraded to the point where I don't bother going out socially any more. However three things that I've done stick out in my mind from when I was younger and fresher.

Me at 18/19 years old, doing temp work for Widdowsons, loading lorries for the Christmas rush in a busy depot. Lorries from all over were coming in to be filled with goods. It's organized chaos and boxes are being passed around like a human conveyor belt. (Looking back, I've never been so at peace with myself in my entire life.)
I'm crossing the depot heading for the loo when I see this bloke wandering around with this bunch of papers, looking confused and very out of place. As we passed each other I caught his eye and offered, "Alright mate?"

He winced, looked around in sheer desperation and said, "Espanol?" fluttering the papers a little for emphasis.

The poor bastard was Spanish, obviously looking for someone to sign for his lorryload of stuff. I smiled and motioned for him to follow, and he eagerly did, all the way to the supervisors office, who promptly told me to get back to work. I explained again a little more forcefully that this bloke was waiting for his stuff to be signed and was told furthermore to 'sod the foreign twat, go and move more boxes."

I left the office, taking the bloke with me, who had no idea what was just said, and told him in broken Spanish that I didn't speak his language, and did he know any French?

He replied haltingly in French that he knew a little, and I agreed that I was the same. I asked him clumsily for his green paper and he gave it to me with a flourish, I then signed the fucker myself, and apologised on behalf of Britain as best I could, calling the manager a 'merde a la tete.'

The bloke burst out laughing. He then led me to his cab outside the main shutter doors and asked me, 'fumar?' He gave me the biggest fucking cigar I've ever seen, and I thanked him very much, and we shook hands. All of this in a language neither of us knew really at all - a real Frenchman probably would've been in stitches. But it was enough.

I smoked it on New Years Eve a month later, and smiled as I remembered the bloke.

-----------------------------------------------

The other thing that happened was when I worked in a cold storage warehouse. We supplied chicken and sauce and cheese for KFC. We all wore heavy cold weather gear, and again, I actually enjoyed the simpleness of it all, and the other temps were great. No backstabbing, no politics.

I was going about my business there one day, minus 8 degrees, when I saw this older black fella crying softly as he clumsily moved boxes about. He was in his late fifties, with wiry grey working it's way into his hair and beard. I was really shocked when he told me that he couldn't feel his hands, he was "so cold...so cold..."

I asked him for fucks sake, why havent you said anything?, to which he replied he was afraid to, since he needed the job to feed his family, and if he complained, he'd be sacked.

I marched him straight to the supervisors office and played hell up. I quoted Health and Safety and all fucking sorts, and the supervisors went pale when they realized the was way over 35 and shouldn't even been working in cold storage.

The black guy thanked me so sincerely, holding both my hands, still crying, that I had to go off on my own for a bit. A bit moving. At least he got moved to a warm section of the warehouse.

---------------------------------------------------

Oh and I went to Borders at Christmas a few years back and was aghast to find a Christmas tree with labels all over it. "Five year old loves Tigger." "10 year old loves books about dinosaurs" etc. They were the Christmas wishes of dying kids in a local hospital.

No-one had bought hardly any labels from the tree. As I read more and more ("2 year old loves cats") I started crying. I still have no idea what happened to me but I had never, ever been so profoundly moved in my entire life. I stormed around the tree, taking the labels off, and then went around the shop for the next few hours, filling basket after basket with stuff that matched the labels. I bought the fucking lot and had no money left and I didn't fucking care. It was just so fucking wrong for that tree to be there full of labels like that on Dec 23rd. I was assured the kids would get the stuff on time but still.

I was given a 2p reject stuffed toy skunk from Bambi by the tillgirl for my 'generosity'. He sits in my car door pocket.



I wasn't going to post at all. I think bragging about nice things I've done is wrong, and it invalidates the acts themselves, cheapens them to nothing, but they way I've been feeling lately I needed someone to know I can do nice things sometimes. I'm a grumpy, antisocial bastard but I had to let someone know that I've tried to be better. That's all.
(, Sun 5 Oct 2008, 10:59, 11 replies)
It's not much..... but it changed my life...
A few years ago, a friend borrowed me some shoes.

I was down in the dumps, i was going through a bad split up with the missus (and still living with her)and was out of work,I skint and pathetic if the truth be known. I was a coward and could have patched my relationship up, but didn't.... For the last few weeks, we grew apart and she made a decision to move away.

What has this got to do with shoes, i hear you ask? Well, i'll tell you (in a bit).

In my town, work consisted of mostly labour type work or office jobs or retail. Boring stuff, stuff that would have ruined my soul if i'd have stayed there, as i was already feeling depressed with the fact that my girlfriend was moving down south, planning on leaving me permanently.... so the idea of sitting in an office or working in a shop wasn't great.

Anyhow, i was skint. I was so skint, i couldn't buy shoes... but somehow i'd managed to wangle an interview at an arts centre which would consist of working with bands, artists and creative people.... Fine, much better than sitting in a dull office.

But all I had was scruffy trainers... I had no chance.

So my good mate Brogan comes and visits me, trying to cheer me up, knowing that i'm depressed and on a downward trail. So, he tells me to hang about and wait....

And he gets on the bus and heads out of town, jumps on another bus and goes home to grab a really nice and comfy and smart pair of black shoes. He then jumps two buses back and tells me to check if they fit.

And they did... and he convinces me to take the job, to stop worrying about the ex and to get on with my life. To take a new step into a new position and to appreciate what i've got....

And i took that interview and gave it my 100% best effort and i got the job and kept it and loved it and he was made up for me and told me to keep the shoes... :)

But.... a week or so later, all happy with my job, i get back home to find my girlfriend/ex with tears in her eyes waiting for me at the door....

But, this wasn't anything to do with our relationship....

She told me that Brogan had died. Of a drug overdose, due to getting involved with the wrong people.

I was wearing his shoes when she told me the news....

So, I just want to take this opportunity to say.... Thankyou Brogan, I never got to say goodbye mate, but you changed my life.

I was too busy being wrapped up in my own pit of despair, that i forgot to look at the real life that was out there.... and at the same time, i realised how easily things can change.

I still have the job and I now do about twenty different things in there, as a result of that, I managed to get experience that put me onto my degree, got me away from the depressing split up and changed my life and gave me a more positive outlook on life....

So again, thanks for going all the way home for those shoes.

R.I.P mate, I miss you and I love you for what you did man.
(, Tue 7 Oct 2008, 1:32, 9 replies)
A simple 'phone call...
A friend and I had gone to a football match. Long story short: Hilsborough, April 15th 1989, Leppings Lane terracing.
Eventually, we got back to the side-street where he'd parked his car and were getting ready for the trek back to Liverpool. Some guy comes out of a nearby house and walks up to us.
"Been to the match?" he asked.
We nodded.
"Would you like to use my 'phone to call your folks - tell them your ok?"

It's the little things that mean the most - thanks mate.
(, Wed 8 Oct 2008, 16:07, 1 reply)
My nan
She was a frail 80 yrl old riddled with osteoperosis (brittle bones). But still maintained her independance by going shopping everyday. Even though she had a hunch and could hardly walk. She was the most cutest of nans. You wanted to hug the life out of her, but you couldn't because she was so slight in frame.

One day she was walking along Birkenhead high street, shopping. She had just bought an easter egg in a cup from one of the highstreet sellers (to be my easter present). It wasnt a particulary expensive egg. She didnt have that much money.

She was just walking away from the stall when she tripped on a slighlty raised pavement slab. As she fell she broke her pelvis in several places, due to her brittle bones.

The ambulance crew arrived but were somewhat confused when they discovered her main concern was for the mug she had just bought for her grandson, than for her own well being.

The mug was ok, and i never used it, instead i keep it safe in my bedside draw.

My nan never recovered from her broken hip, and died a year later.

That story always brings a lump to my throat. It was only a cheap mug, but it meant so much to my nan.
(, Fri 3 Oct 2008, 9:47, 6 replies)
The man in the queue
I can remember this day so well as it was a bit of a funny time things were all over the place , people in funny moods etc. The date was july 9 2005 a couple of days after the bombs on the tube.

I was in a post office in Harrow as i joined the lunchtime queue i noticed that the man in front of me was struggling with several large packages. As we got to the front his hands slipped and the packeges and several letters fell to the floor.

He struggeled to pick them up so i bent down and lifted the letters for him and placed a package in his arms , saying the words " You look like you need a hand " I couldnt help notice that all his mail was addressed to various places in the middle east.
"Thank you " he murmored in a heavily accented voice. "These are things for my friends back home"

I watched as he went to the next free window , as he put his things on the counter he turned and smiled at me. A moment later i was at another window paying my road tax.

As i left the post office i saw the man again standing outside , he rushed over to me. " Thank you my friend "he said in halting english
"Its ok " i said
"You do not understand i have only been here a few days and this is the first kind thing anyone has done for me"

" Thats allright i was just helping you"

He fixed his gaze on me it was a little unnerving . His breathing increased and he paused for a few seconds before speaking .
" I must thank you for helping me" He nervously glanced around the street and spoke again " There is something i must tell you . Tell your loved ones to stay away from Luton"

My throat went dry and my mind raced . I thuoght of the event only a couple of days previous.
" Is there going to be a bomb?" i coarsly whispered.

He looked deep into my eyes . I could see the pain and sorrow in his . Eventually he spoke

"No its a fucking shithole"

Gets coat with ticket to Hull in pocket
(, Tue 7 Oct 2008, 6:55, 10 replies)
Cinema
I grew up in small town, lacking in amenities. Except for a lovely old cinema. As with many provincial filmhouses, we got films months after they had been on general release. Before every public showing, the projectionist always held a private viewing for the local priest who demanded various scenes be edited if they offended his rather mild sensibilities. He took out all the good stuff - mainly when they showed people touching in any way.

The cinema guy - Alf, became a good friend to me and let me watch films from the booth.

Years later I ended up in the film industry and I heard that Alf had died, and the cinema with him. He left me a single film cannister. I watched it a few days later in one of our studios screening rooms.

He had put together a film consisting of all the censored parts of the films the priest had demanded be cut out all those years ago. It was a stunning and moving montage of all the greatest movie kisses from the 1940's onwards and it made me cry my eyes out.
(, Fri 3 Oct 2008, 10:00, 7 replies)
My nan
Died nearly 2 years ago, about a month after I'd started uni. During the run up to this she'd been getting very confused and very distressed and anxious about things that don't really matter, as I'm sure you'll all know old people can do. So there are a couple of stories I'd like to tell all you lovely people about some lovely people who helped her.

Story #1: She'd gone down the road to the shop to buy some milk and could have sworn she'd put the right amount of change in her pocket, but when she came to the checkout she didn't have enough. Now to any of us this wouldn't be a problem, but to her it was very distressing and embarrassing, and she got very flustered. However a very nice gentleman in the queue behind her paid for it. So thank you nice gentleman, it was only a few pence to you but it made the world of difference to my nan.

Story #2: They had closed the post office in my nan's village so she couldn't withdraw her pension any more and chip and pin was just becoming compulsory. However to someone like my nan, who couldn't remember who'd visited her that day or even what time of day it was, remembering a pin number would have been impossible. So thank you nice lady in the bank who helped when mum took nan in and asked for a special needs card where you could still sign for things - you were very nice about it and could see the problem immediately, and again a small thing for you made the world of difference to my nan.

Story #3: About a year before my nan died two men had moved in next door. It was quite obvious they were a gay couple but they were discreet and my nan never mentioned it. They had a rabbit and my nan loved animals, but hadn't been able to look after any since her dog died a few years before. She'd spend hours leaning over the fence talking to this rabbit, bless her! This couple also kept an eye on my nan as she was getting more confused and when she had the stroke that finally put her in hospital they were the ones that realised something was wrong, forced the door and called an ambulance. She eventually died of pneumonia a month later and they came to the funeral, even though they didn't really know her and really didn't have to. It meant more than they'll ever know to my family.
(, Sat 4 Oct 2008, 15:02, 8 replies)
Thank you for the music
As a wee duckling, I was bored and needed to be occupied. I constantly pestered my poor mother to let me join guides/scouts/any sort of club that would keep me occupied, but my mother had to keep explaining that at a mere 6 years old I was too young for any such activities, but pester I did. When she heard about a concert band (flutes and clarinets rather than drum n bass) starting in the area she decided to bring me along so THEY could tell me I was too young, in the hope that I might believe it if I heard it from someone else. But no, at 6 they deemed me just the right age to start banging out some tunes on the recorder. I was hooked, instantly.

After a year of playing such classics as 'All through the night' and 'Bicycle built for two' I got to choose a 'real' instrument (at this point I will apologise to any professional recorder player among us, I now enjoy ye olde blockflute as much as the next person). So everyone was choosing flute, clarinet and trumpet, but not this duckeee (and here is the reason for my nick....), I wanted an oboe. And as a very stubborn 7 year old, no-one telling me it was 'difficult' or 'expensive' was going to change my mind. The conductor of the band asked if I absolutely wanted this, I assured him I did. So he lent me his instrument, and gave me weekly lessons, and never accepted a penny. After 2 years I moved on, as he had taken me as far as he could as an amateur musician himself, but I remained in the band til it eventually disintegrated in my mid teens.

We occasionally bumped into him, and would him tell of my latest acheivements; grades passed, pieces learned, places won in youth orchestras. I was offered a place to do my degree in a prestigious music college overseas, which I accepted, and thoroughly enjoyed. I studied with some very famous (in their field) musicians, some of the best in the world, and I always thought back to my first teacher, and what he had started.

About 18 months ago, I set up a recital in my home town, and invited all of my friends and family. We hadn't seen my first teacher for some time, but my parents bumped into him a couple of weeks before the gig, and he was only too delighted at the invite. The recital itself went really well, and they were a very appreciative audience. Afterwards I spoke to my first teacher, and saw pure pride on his face, he was overflowing with it. He hadn't heard me since I was 15, and here I was, about to make my entrance to the profession. We asked him to come back to our house for a small reception , but he declined.

Two week ago, my mother was out and about, and saw my former teacher's colleague, who had also been invloved with the band. They chatted for a bit before the colleague looked at my mother and said 'you do know, don't you?' My mother, now realising she was in the dark about something shook her head. She was then informed that that very day was the first anniversary of my first teacher's death. She went on to explain that he had been ill at my recital, but didn't mention it. I welled up when it was impressed upon me how proud he was that night.

I am now a professional musician, a path I almost certainly would not have taken without this man. For as long as I can remember, playing music has been a major part of my identity, has shaped my life and has led me to experiences I wouldn't even have otherwise dreamed of.

Looking at last years diary, I noticed that the day of his funeral was the same day I did my first post-college concert with a 'real' professional orchestra.
(, Fri 3 Oct 2008, 10:30, 4 replies)
A rose
My Nan pretty much brought me up. My parents worked very long hours to try and keep our family afloat and I didn’t see them much. After my granddad died they decided to move my Nan into our house and she would pick me up from school and feed me and help with my homework and be a mother to me.

She was a fantastic woman. She was Italian and had moved to England before WW2 after a great many of her family were killed. She was as mad as a box of frogs, but, she could never do enough for her family and friends.

When I was 13 the doctors told her she only had a year left at the most. Being from a generation that never gave up - she lasted 2 years. Watching her die that slowly was terrible, but, it gave us all a good amount of time to show her how much we loved her.

Her funeral was at the end of September and it was a very overcast day. After the service at the church we drove to the cemetery and they laid her coffin out next to my granddads. The cemetery was empty apart from some young parents with there two children and those that had came to bury my Nan.

I remember how grey everything looked. The overcast day seemed to have washed colour from everything. The flowers we had placed looked pale. The cemetery, with its oak trees and flower beds, looked drained and limp. The cityscape backdrop looked bleak. I thought to myself “this is not right – for someone who was always so bright and colourful to be buried on such a dreary day is not right”. I started to sob uncontrollably.

I then felt a tug on my trousers. I looked down and it was the little girl who had been playing with her brother while her young parents were tending to a grave.

She looked up with me with her big blue eyes and gave me a single red rose to lie on the grave.

The rose was poetry – it seemed to illuminate the entire cemetery. Its deep red petals almost glowed in the drab, grey field. Such a simple flower made everything seem calm. I felt washed with happiness. Colour had been restored when it was most needed.

I looked into her deep blue eyes and said

“Would you fuck off you little bitch – cant you see I am trying to bury my Nan for fucks sake*


*B3TA edit
(, Thu 2 Oct 2008, 22:02, 9 replies)
I've touched on this before
I've already discussed my Mum, in the 'have you seen a dead body' QOTW. I won't go through all that again; all I want to say is this:

To the funeral home attendant - you probably didn't expect my request. I arrived back in the home town a good few hours after my mum had died. The rest of my family had seen her, dying, as she had, at home, and in her own bed rather than some sterile hospital ward. The funeral directors had come to pick her up at something like 5 am. I got back home at around noon, and instantly wanted to go down to the funeral parlour, to say my last goodbyes. I had been home the previous weekend, but she was extremely ill by that point, and all I did mostly was sit by her bedside as she drifted in and out of consciousness, looking fragile and in obvious pain.

I got to the funeral parlour and asked if i coud see her. This obviously caused a bit of awkwardness as they had already secured the coffin; however, the attendant said "give me an hour", and off I went.

Being able to see her, no longer in pain, no longer fragile, was a blessed relief. To look down on the dead body of a parent may seem morbid to some; to me it was a relief - she looked happy and peaceful.

So, to that attendant, I say thank you. It may have been a pain in the arse to do it, but you have my utmost thanks. Because of you, I remember my Mum not as the pain and cancer riddled frail woman she had become, but as the youthful and vibrant woman that brought me up.

Apologies for sappiness; frankly, I don't give a monkey's toss.
(, Sat 4 Oct 2008, 23:06, 15 replies)
The nicest thing someone's done for you?
Some bloke died for my sins apparently. Cheers mate.
(, Thu 2 Oct 2008, 22:27, 3 replies)
So close!
and yet so far.

I can't have kids 'cause my heart is crap, and my sister has offered to play incubator if I ever decide my life requires a mini-me. Considering she'd be giving up both cigarettes and her five Cuban coffees a day habit to indulge me, I think that's pretty damn nice.
(, Thu 2 Oct 2008, 16:21, 5 replies)
Billy
I was brought up in Glasgow but have lived out in the sticks for 15 years. A beautiful part of Scotland just outside Lanark – yes William Wallace and all that. The main road to Edinburgh the A70 – well to be fair the only road to Edinburgh snakes its way over some high moors, its truly stunning countryside but it gets pretty grim in the winter and the road is notorious. I treated it pretty much as my personal race track and in the summer it was very popular with bikers and cyclists. My best mate Billy never understood why I wanted to live ‘oot in the arse end of naewhere’ but was a lifelong biker so was keen to see where I lived and how good the roads were good out my way.

First time he came to visit me was pretty much out of the blue – I heard the bark of a Kawasaki Ninja one crisp January afternoon and there he was on my doorstep all smiles clutching a bottle of Macallan.

Naturally we set about getting battered. The following morning with a head still fuzzy I suggested we take a trip up the A70. It was partly just for the hell of it but I also earned a rather handy extra 500 quid a month calibrating a small weather station at the highest point of the moor. (don’t ever study Meteorology and Climatology – there’s no money in it, I’m a graphic designer now). Any way the ‘weather station’ was little more than a grey dome on a pole with cup anemometer, barometer, thermometer and a datalink. Basically it was there to let the council know if they should send the gritters out of a morning.

It was a bright winters day and Billy took great pleasure in scaring the shit out of me on the back of his bike and also in the fact my Uni degree had got me to the giddy heights of opening a dome up a pole -pressing a few buttons then closing it again. “500 quid to open that and press two buttons you cunt?” He then took even more pleasure in scaring any further remnants out of me on the way back. It's fair to say Billy didn't tend to hang around. We had Sunday lunch in my local then toddled home to set about getting pished with a vengence. It was a freezing cold night and the wind was howling – I love nights in like that. All was well till I got a call from some cunt at council roads department informing me there was no feed from the A70 monitoring station.

Cuntsocks – I had forgot to reset the datalink. I’d have to get up at silly o’clock to set it before they could send someone out to check the error of my ways. But fuck it, tomorrow was another day. Billy could always out-drink me, all day in the pub then the rest of the Macallan had me fucked by 10pm. I decided to hit the sack.

I got up the following morning to find Billy’s bike gone but his gear still scattered around. I assumed he had gone for the papers. At precisely 11.08 the police came to my front door. Billy had been killed in a head on collision on the A70 at 2am that morning. The shock dried up my mouth in an instant and just completely floored me. I couldn’t accept it – his socks were still on my living room floor. The Police were pretty cool, they made sweet tea for me and sat me down – shaking like an alky. It was then I saw the note on the coffee table.

‘Back shortly – going to reset your daft weather dome – lightweight’

It was then I realised just what sort of guy Billy was – he had died so I could have a lie in. It was my ineptitude that killed him. It was the night testing some winds dome for me.
(, Wed 8 Oct 2008, 20:56, 24 replies)
This is pretty harrowing
As some of you may know, I play in a traditional band at weddings and ceilidhs etc. Well, a few years back, there was a bit of a lull in the trad scene and I decided to diversify a bit by forming a contemporary singing group. So I got together a bunch of people - my girlfriend of the time, Lisa (one of the fairly sparse times that I was actualy seeing someone regularly!), my old mate Willie, and a girl called Michelle whom we drafted in.

We had a few practices and got together a decent repertoire of standards and chart stuff, albeit we were only singing to backing tapes. We called ourselves Zest, with the hope that the snappy name would get us lots of gigs. It didn't.

Meanwhile, in my day job, I'd been supervising a project student, a Singaporean lad called Nicholas Ang Wan. Singaporeans must be the politest people on this planet. I know as I have had a few students from there over the years. Anyway, Nicholas had invited me and Lisa for a night out with him and his wife, which he was paying for, by way of thanks for my help throughout the previous academic year.

I'll never forget the date. It was Friday 18th May.

Which coincidentally was the date which we got our first gig booking for Zest. With 6 days notice. I was in a quandary - should I take the gig, as it was our only one, or turn it down as Nicholas had asked us out? After a lot of thought, I took the gig and informed Nicholas that I was sorry but we couldn't make dinner. Maybe another time?

He was annoyed, but didn't show it and was very gracious and polite about the situation - even still calling me "sir" as he always did!

So we did the gig.

That night, Nicholas and his wife had made alternative plans. They were going to visit friends in Kirkcaldy, which meant a drive from Dundee down the A92, which is primarily single carriageway despite the volume of traffic it carries. Half way there, they were going round a bend; Nicholas was going a bit fast, and understeered on the wet road, into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist who was speeding towards them on a powerful Yamaha.

The resulting collision sent the biker through the windscreen of the car, colliding partly with Nicholas's wife, but also causing the biker's abdomen to contact the leading edge of the car roof. The entire lower half of his body was torn off, and was found in a lay by 50m away. Mercifully he died instantly at the scene.

Nicholas escaped with only minor injuries but his wife was seriously hurt and ended up in intensive care, and eventually was in hospital for 3 months.

But it gets worse. It turns out that by a cruel twist of fate, I knew the biker. He was an old friend of mine from school, Daniel McKimmie. I hadn't seen him much since then, but we kept up with the odd phone call and e-mail.

As you can imagine, I was inconsolable. I blamed myself for my selfishness in taking on the gig. So much so that Lisa and I left the band, and subsequently split up. The group never did another gig as Zest.

Had I not taken the gig, I reasoned, my old mate would still be alive and Nicholas's wife would not be in hospital.

But Nicholas was amazing. He would come into work regularly, and insist that it was a tragic accident and that it was no fault of mine, while all the time his wife was critically ill in hospital. He even went with me to Daniel's funeral. (Incidentally, he was cleared of any blame for the accident). Eventually, as she recovered, I began to improve too. All thanks to Nicholas and his selfless beneficence.

Which is why I'll never forget the single night Zest sung - N. A. Wan severed Dan.

Ha - beat that, Pooflake, ya bastard!

/Hull

(, Wed 8 Oct 2008, 6:25, 16 replies)
...
Apologies in advance for such a long story. Even greater apologies for the fact that I still don't think I've told it very well, nor that I've expressed what a big thing this was for me.

The tale of Tasha.

Firsty, some background.

In Feb 2000 I met, fell in love with, and moved from South East London to the middle of Essex to be with Mrs SeasonTicketless. I’d never felt this way about anyone and clearly she felt the same about me. Despite being opposites in many ways (things we liked to do, fave tv programmes, musical tastes, film genres) we clicked. Never before have I felt so strongly about someone, and for the first time ever I suddenly understood why some couples could stay together forever – a concept I’d had trouble grasping before.

In June 2005, Mrs SeasontIcketless officially became a Mrs, marrying me just down the road from our Chelmsford home. Our three children were bridesmaids (luckily we had three girls, as I’m not so sure we wouldn’t have dressed a little boy in a bridesmaid outfit just so he matched!)

In July 2006, Mrs ST gave birth again, this time to our only son.

In January 2007 we moved about 200 yards down the road to a beautiful house. Enough bedrooms for each of the kids to have their own, and bang smack centre in the part of Chelmsford we wanted to be.

In July 2007, after a very honest and open talk, we made the decision to split. The decision was based on a few things, primarily the fact that we had grown apart, and that what had started as a lust-fuelled love had slowly ebbed away to just a mutual fondness. We spent very little time together, and the time we did have together was spent doing our own things. We’d grown apart, and despite still loving each other, it wasn’t enough. We agreed to split because as we saw it we were going down a rocky road that we’d been down (and back) before, and we could forsee us trying to stay together and ending up hating each other, whilst at that moment we were still friends and in the long term we’d be better off splitting and staying friends than staying together, running the risk of causing misery to each other and THEN splitting up. Mrs ST moved out of the marital bed that same night, and the two eldest were excited to be told that they’d be sharing a room. We also made the decision not to tell anyone about the split for the time being, as we had the Christening coming up of the three youngest which would be the first time we’d seen many friends and family in months (and in some cases years) and we didn’t want our split to overshadow the day.

At the end of August 2007 we had the Christening. Much fun was had, we caught up with old friends and things were fine.

In September 2007 we told everyone about the split. Until this time only a handful of people had been told, and they had been sworn to secrecy. From my point of view everyone I told seemed to be shocked. I’ve never had so many people tell me that they viewed my marriage as perfect, and one that they thought would last forever. Maybe it was the fact that we’d had 4 kids, maybe it was because people didn’t know us as well as they thought they did.

After answering the same questions over and over again (“Did either of you cheat?” No, not as far as I’m aware. “Whose decision was it?” Both of ours. “Will you get back together?” No…) people finally began to realise that this wasn’t a flash in the pan. Mrs ST and I made plans for the future: I would move out between Christmas and the New Year, which would give the kids ample time to get used to the idea of daddy living somewhere else, and also allowed them to understand a certain timeframe (ie., just after Christmas and just before you go back to school).

A few months go by and I am getting ready to leave. The whole of December seemed to be taken up with me talking to the kids about my leaving, and them being generally apathetic to it all. The eldest seemed to understand and was happy that she was “in the loop” and understood what was going on. My middle daughter, two years younger and aged 5, also seemed to understand but every now and then would pop up with a new question that she’d just thought of.
As 2007 turned into 2008 I found myself packing up the car and driving the 400 yards to my mum’s house, unpacking my stuff and settling in to the spare room. My possessions were few: clothes, PC, mobile phone. That was about it. I’d agreed that I’d keep paying the mortgage as a form of Child care payments, and as such wasn’t able to afford to rent anywhere else. Living rent-free at my mum’s was a blessing then as it still is now.

So what’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me? Well, I suppose I could name my mum here. The woman who, from when I was 7 brought me up single-handedly. Who, with part of her spine missing and with heart troubles for the majority of her life that culminated in a quadruple bypass in 2002, taught me how to be an adult, who sheltered me from the harshness of life and who, despite times when I’ve acted like an arse, has been there with unconditional love and support every second of every day.

I could also put forward my 4 kids, who saw their mum and dad split, saw their dad move out and had their lives jumbled up at such a young age, yet who have remained fairly unperturbed by it all, and seem to have taken things in their stride when neither their mum or I had any reason to expect them to.

But no, instead I am going to nominate Tasha.

You see, as my world was crumbling around me, life carried on as usual. On Halloween 2007 I had to attend a sales conference for work at Stansted. Ten different branches of our company came together for the first time in years, and although it was not unusual to know a few faces and recognise a few more names, it was common to not know most of the people in your surrounding branches.

As I walked in to the reception lounge, I saw what I can only describe now as a vision of beauty. Long blonde hair, styled carefully into curls, a beautiful and welcoming smile, and an aura of goodness. Being the shy sort that I am, I nudged a friend and commented on the beautiful woman who’d I’d seen, dribbling slightly as I did.

Ben, despite being engaged, was quick to go and introduce himself. Ben is the type of person that could create conversation at a Mute Person’s convention, and within no time at all he and Tasha were chatting like old mates. I stood a few feet away, listening in, chiming in with the occasional remark all whilst being blown away by the charisma eminating from Tasha.

After the conference had begun, and we’d stopped again for a break, I jumped on the back of Ben’s conversation to tell Tasha that we were all going for a drink after the conference in Chelmsford (which was a blatant lie, but one that I knew Ben would back me up on), and would she like to come? It turned out she lived in Southend (another 20 miles away from Chelmsford), but that yes, she’d come out seeing as everyone was going. Result.

In the end about a dozen people came out for a drink. Tasha chatted politely with Ben and I, and I had a good time. I didn’t chat her up, for fear of rejection with her being so out of my league, but I had a good time anyway, and finished my drink before saying goodbye.

The next day at work I emailed Tasha to ask her out on a drinking session with some friends the next month. She replied saying that she’d try and come but that she was fairly skint, so no promises. We emailed back and forth a few times, generally having a chat, and seemed like we were getting on ok.

A few days later and I was out on the piss with some friends from work in Chelmsford. Tasha refused to come, claiming she was skint and more importantly, couldn’t be bothered. My boss at the time, Derren, called her at work and basically badgered her all day, convinced her to give him her mobile number and then when we were out called her to see if he could get her to come out. Eventually she caved in and came to meet us.

At the end of the night, after we’d all had far too much to drink, Tasha, who had remained sober, said that she’d drop us all off. One by one she dropped us all in and around Chelmsford as some Godforsaken time in the morning when she looked shattered and obviously just wanted to get home. Derren stayed round mine that night and I persuaded him to give me Tasha’s phone number so I could send a text saying thanks.

A couple of nights later and Tasha and I are texting back and forth like we’re best mates, and although the conversation steered clear of anything naughty (not for my want of trying it has to be said), we chatted via text until the early hours.

A few nights later and once again I was out with people from work in Chelmsford, and this time I offered to pick Tasha up and drive her home later that night so that she could have a drink, as a way of saying thank you for her doing the same previously. I’ve never been a great fan of going out and not drinking, as it normally means everyone finding things hilarious that, being sober, you know aren’t funny at all. I also despise karaoke with a passion. Yet this night we stayed in a bar with karaoke all night, myself, Tasha and about 4 others from work. No one else was in the bar except bar staff and to this day that night remains one of the best I’ve ever had. Tasha had fun (though was the first person to tell me I was crap at shoulder massages (see, I tried!)) and at about 3am we called it a day and I started dropping people home, getting in at about 5am, before getting up again 90 minutes later to go to work.

That night was the start of a true friendship between Tasha and I, and over the next 6 weeks leading up to Christmas I spoke to her every day via email or text, saw her every couple of weeks, got squarely told very early on that there was no way we would ever get together: Me: You know I like you in more ways that as a mate? Tasha: Yeah, I do, but you’re cool being just friends, aren’t you? Me: Yeah, course. The strange thing was that I meant it too.

So come New Year, I find myself sitting in my bedroom. My heart broken as I no longer live with my kids, no longer have the house of my dreams, no longer have the money to afford my own place, and generally hating everything around me. As we started back at work the day after New Years Day, I would talk to my kids on the phone as I drove to work each day, and for the best part of six weeks, each phone call would end with my telling them I loved them, putting the phone down and crying my heart out as I drove along for the best part of half an hour or so.

I realised very quickly that my life seemed to be falling apart. I needed a distraction. I needed to get out of that spare room and do something. Anything. What I needed was company.

I consider myself to have quite a few friends. None that I would ever want to be a burden on, but plenty that would help me out when I needed it. So when I looked around at the start of January to try and find someone – anyone – to reach out to me, I couldn’t find anyone. Friends that I worked with didn’t know what to do. Friends that I spoke to weekly started to keep out of my way. Long term friends offered their support but were generally too far away.

I never told anyone how down I was. How much everything was affecting me. I’d always been a private person, and perhaps with hindsight I was a little too private. Had I told anyone of my deep despair at the time, I’m sure I’d have had a whole support network around me. Instead, I put up barriers, pretended I was ok and tried to get on with life. All the time hoping beyond hope that someone would take me under their wing without me resorting to having to ask. Depression is a strange thing, and I honestly felt that asking for help would have tipped me over the edge.

So when I would text Tasha saying “I’m bored” at 9pm, she’d text back “come round if you want. I’m not doing anything.” And so, for just about every night for over a month I’d find myself sitting on Tasha’s sofa, doing nothing but watching tv. When it got late, she’d bring out a pillow and a blanket and tell me to kip the night rather than drive home tired.

What I learnt those few weeks was that Tasha and I were very similar. We had the same sense of humour, we seemed to like and dislike many of the same things. We had an empathy with each other.

Spending so much time at Tasha’s house helped me get through a very dark patch. It was a place - and a person – that had only just come in to my life, and therefore I didn’t associate it with my ex, my kids or anything to do with my life at that time. It was a hideaway, somewhere I could go and feel loved and wanted, and not have to worry about anything.

What started out as lust for Tasha turned into a deep respect for her. When we’d first started texting and I’d asked her why I didn’t see so much of her, she responded “With all due respect Dan, I don’t see my friends as often as I want or need to, let alone work colleagues.” Yet here she was, less than 2 months later, spending time with me when I’ve no doubt a lot of the time she had other stuff she could be doing.

People ask me now if Tasha and I will ever get together, They’ve seen as out as friends, and see the way that we laugh at the same things, bounce off each other and generally get on really well. “You look like a perfect match” I’ve been told, in sentiments that echo what was said about my marriage. The answer is no, we’ll never get together. There was a time when it was all that I wanted, but now it would be too strange. I wouldn’t risk having sex with Tasha for fear of losing her friendship, and I wouldn’t risk a relationship for fear of the same. On one level it makes perfect sense, and on another it makes no sense at all, but I trust my instincts on this one.

That’s not to say I don’t love her dearly, because I do. She was the only shining light in an otherwise extremely dark period, and I say that fully aware of the love that was a stones throw away from both my mum and my kids.

So the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me is when Tasha was a friend for me at the start of the year.

Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. And sometimes it’s almost impossible to put into words just how much that means.
(, Sun 5 Oct 2008, 9:32, 6 replies)
As long as we're getting serious....
I don't usually tell people this (read: never) but it illustrates quite well the concept of the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me. I wrote before about a friend of my childhood who had become an actor.
I'm not writing his name cause I don't want it to show up on a search engine but when I was a little girl, he lived in our neighborhood. I had no idea he was in the theatre; he was just the cute neighbor boy.

Anyway, rotten stuff was going on at my house. I was an unhappy, scared child. Most of what I remember is fear, shame and embarrassment. I became more and more withdrawn and was never sure if people liked me.

When I felt the absolute worst about myself; the dirtiest and lowest, I would go find my friend and sit with him (sometimes I would try to hunt him down!).He always made me feel better. I could lean against him or climb on his lap and hide my face in his chest. Sometimes he would wrap me up in his shirt and rock me. He wouldn't say anything or look at me-I think he knew I couldn't face anyone. I know he had no idea what was going on; I'm sure he would have done something.

But being around him and interacting with him, I would store up little things to bolster myself with. He meant them a different way, I know, but if he said, "You're my good girl" or "Gosh, you're smart." I would hug those things to myself and treasure them. When I felt so awful I wasn't sure if I would wake up the next morning, I took them out and played his (and a couple of my teachers', my mother's and one or two others') words in my head and could believe I wasn't bad or worthless. That I didn't deserve what was happening.

Because of them I think I didn't go down a path so many abused girls do-falling into bad relationships, hating myself and making bad choices, dropping out of school, walking the street, doing drugs blah blah blah. I got out with my sense of self relatively intact and decided to be somebody because I was good: I was Sister's good girl, my friend's smart girl etc. He was 10 years older than me and I looked up to him so much.

I think that's a major reason I became a nurse: to look out for those who can't speak up for themselves. There are so many people in the system who have no one on their side except for us.

Because I went through all that, I feel like I can hear what patients aren't saying and am able to help them get to the heart of the matter with compassion and sincerity. Patients talk to me because they trust me-I don't share all this with them, but they know I take them and their concerns seriously; I listen to them. You know if someone has suffered or had their heart broken. You feel like they can understand where you're coming from and intuitively "get" your position-you aren't embarrassed & don't feel judged. It's easier to let someone in to help you.

Anyway, I owe him more than I can ever repay. It was the kindness, decency and respect he naturally showed a sad-sack little pest that defined his character and protected me. He was the only adult man I was around who really saw me as a person, someone worth listening to. My dad was never around and his friends didn't pay attention to small children. My uncles whom I loved were back in the States. The other man I saw the most was the one mistreating me.

I wasn't a commodity to him. My worth didn't lie in what I could do for him but in who I was. In his eyes, I was worth something,not just my body. And knowing that saved me.

I know he wouldn't even remember me; it's been 40 years since he saw me and I only came up to his elbow. I wish I could tell him this and let him know he not only saved me, but all the patients since then that I've helped and allowed me to parent two terrific children who will grow up to make a contribution to the planet.


Edit: Jeez! Apologies for length-I don't want to remember the ugly thing.
(, Sun 5 Oct 2008, 5:56, 10 replies)
Not so much done..than said..
We were doing a Christmas Party Gig for a company that had booked the band before, that bizarrely started with the MD, who had a terribly bad stutter, trying to give a speech before we played. It took him about 10 minutes just to say a few sentences, bless him.

Even more bizarre was the fact that nobody was in the festive mood whatsoever, and refused to dance all night.. except for this one old guy, that got up and started doing his thing on the dancefloor ! This'll get everybody up I thought to myself, just as the old fella keeled over and had to be carried away in an ambulance.

Finally with a few songs left, a small lady in her 40's got up and started dancing in a very strange, almost child-like manor. (I found out after, that she was a special needs).

But despite the ballet movements combined with jumps and spins, I was relieved that somebody, at least, was having a good time. (It was particularly odd that nobody had got up to dance, as we gig regularly and use the same cheesy songs that never fail to pack the dancefloor..and it left us, as performers, rather deflated).

It came to the end of the set, and over the mic, I wished everybody a very merry Christmas, and may their God go with them..well it was the season of goodwill and all that, and even if there was more life at the local cemetary, it felt like the right thing to say..and I meant it.

I got off the stage, unimpressed with the idea of packing down, when somebody came up to me. It was the ballerina lady, and she was having trouble saying what she wanted to say.. She gently held my hand, and said

"...and a ...very... Merry... Christmas...to you too"

Even now, it brings a tear to my eye. Out of a room full of misery, and self importance.. She felt the need to say those simple words.

And it meant more than any riches, and always will.
(, Thu 2 Oct 2008, 16:57, 4 replies)

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