And so is what follows.
Here are some of the books I have written over the past few years. Most are currently still available to order via www.lulu.com – or by clicking on the various links scattered across my website www.richardkirby.org but most will be “retired”before the end of the year.
My Marilyn Monroe bio will not be affected, but the Doctor Who, Gateshead Thunder and Gateshead FC books and a couple of the other bios will be bidding farewell to make room on the virtual shop bookshelf for my newly published Coronation Street offering and the long- unawaited debut novel...
Obviously I hope one or two of you might wake up to one of my books on Christmas morning (and I apologise in advance if the disappointment spoils your day...), but what would make me just as happy is to receive a few more photos of readers from anywhere around the world posing (even if the smile is forced) with something what I wrote.
Go on... it’s probably never been so easy to make someone’s day!
The forthcoming week will see a couple of “anniversaries”, although there probably won’t be massive celebrations....
That said, I suppose that reaching the milestone of ten years working for the National Blood Service is some sort of achievement. It’s actually the longest time I’ve spent with any organisation, but still some way behind Elaine who is closing in on a remarkable three decades with the Service. My role has changed quite a lot since 2nd December 2002... and considerably since May this year.
I enjoy what I do... I like to think I’m pretty good at my job and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to continue for many years to come – although I suppose that working within the public sector offers little in the way of guarantees right now. I work alongside some good people and I’m fortunate to have a great boss, who has given me the chance to develop and express myself (more than anyone else I’ve ever worked for...). It’s been an incredibly tough few months though... possibly the hardest I’ve ever known in the workplace, but whatever happens, I consider it a privilege to be just a tiny part of the NHS.
The second event (although chronologically the first) will be on 30th November. On that date in 2011, I was staying in a Birmingham hotel and suffered the worst emotional crash of my life. I was a total wreck that night... Elaine was hundreds of miles away and even though I could reach her by phone, I’d never felt so alone... or desperate.
It was the events of that night that prompted me to reveal, through my blog, that I suffer from depression. It was a tough thing to do, but for me it was an important part of the coping, or healing process. It hasn’t been (and sometimes still isn’t) easy... but the good days must and will outweigh the bad ones and knowing that I’m loved and cared for just makes such a fantastic difference.
Hopefully, when 30th November has come and gone, the memory of that night in Birmingham can be finally consigned to history... I hope so because when all is said and done, Elaine and I have so much to look forward to and I’m determined to make her (and all those who love me) both happy... and proud.
Well... the moment has finally arrived.
My new Coronation Street book, The Lynch Mob is finished, published and officially available for purchase for just £6.99 plus p&p direct from the printer (www.lulu.com)...
Simply follow the link below to the Corrie page on my web site and then click on the order button.
This next bit is really important... from today (Saturday) until Tuesday, 23rd-27th November, you can save 30% from any lulu.com order (excluding postage) by entering REDEMPTIO in the coupon code box prior to checkout.
The code must be added in block capitals and it works (I’ve just tried it!). That means the book itself will cost roughly £4.89 for the next three days... the offer is made by lulu.com so I have no control over the timing or whether it will work for orders outside the UK.
But it will apply to all my books!!!
For those who know me and have read my work, hopefully you’ll enjoy another addition to your collection. For the overwhelming majority who haven’t a clue who I am, feel free to have a read of the various reviews around the site, as well as this preview, penned by my friend and trusted proof reader Maureen Brown –maybe you’ll be tempted... and if you are, thank you. I really hope you’ll enjoy the book...
Calling all Corrie fans – and fans of Richard Kirby’s inimitable writing style!
This new book is a must-have for your Christmas list. If, like me, you have followed Coronation Street from the first episode, this will be a lovely trip down memory lane. Part of the book looks back at the Rovers Return barmaids and needless to say all the favourites are here, as well as some barmaids so obscure, even I cannot remember them!
Richard’s book isn’t just about the ladies behind the bar though – there is a very interesting conversation with that excellent actress Michelle Holmes and lots of classic snippets, involving some of the best-loved characters: Ena, Minnie and Martha, Stan and Hilda, Kevin and Sally to name but a few. Newer characters like Shelley, Charlie, Tracey, Karen, Steve and Becky are also included in some epic extracts from the show’s history. There are births, weddings and deaths and Richard has such a sensitivity towards the characters and situations that you will laugh... and yes, you will also shed a tear or two – I know I did, more than once.
Even if you are not a Corrie addict, Richard’s quirky, self-deprecating style will entertain you. I love this book and I’m sure it will become a favourite of all who buy it or receive it as a gift.
I’m going to dip my toe into the dangerous waters of religion, with the vote taken by the Church of England’s General Synod to deny the appointment of women as bishops.
Before I go any further, I will admit that I am not particularly religious... I don’t go to church and those beliefs that I hold have been borne from experience as opposed to teaching, but that said I would never question the faith of others...
Apparently, the vote to allow the election of female bishops had to pass through three stages – each with a two-thirds majority. The results from the Houses of Bishops and Clergy went in favour of the motion, but not in the House of Laity, the third and final hurdle...
Only six votes decided the eventual outcome, with the news apparently arriving very “laity”in the day...
Clearly such an emotive subject was always going create equally strong reaction from opposing camps, but I haven’t bothered to read much of what has been said because my view is very simple: why shouldn’t women be able to become bishops?
Yes I accept that I am out of my depth as far as the internal workings of the Church are concerned, but irrespective of even the most “convincing” argument, I just cannot understand why a person’s sex should be a determining factor in the appointment of such a role within the clergy. Maybe I’m the naive one, but isn’t that as basic a definition of “sexual discrimination” as you could find?
I wonder what people like Emmeline Pankhurst would think, less than a century after the efforts of her and others of similar belief and strength, helped to enfranchise women and enable them to be elected to Parliament.
The irony of her quote: “Trust in God: She will provide” will not be lost on many today... a day on which I think members of the Church of England demonstrated a worrying lack of foresight and a fundamental failure to understand the world in which the overwhelming majority of us ordinary folk live...
Today I’m one step nearer to concentrating on my debut novel following the publication of my diary of Gateshead FC’s 1994/95 season.
The hard copy draft had been untouched in the loft for the majority of the seventeen years since I had actually written it and whilst my style has developed so much since then, I’m pleased that I’ve been able to take the time to retype the diary and turn it into a book that one or two fans of the football club might enjoy.
Actually, for one or two, read seven because that’s how many copies have been ordered since the book was released amidst drum rolls and trumpet fanfares (both of which are lies...) yesterday afternoon. Marilyn Monroe apart, I do seem to have a habit of choosing subjects that are fairly obscure and pretty certain to deny me fame and fortune... not that I want the fame. Maybe that will change when my next offering, which looks back at all the Coronation Street barmaids, becomes available (hopefully early in December), but I won’t be holding my breath...
But after that, I really must try and concentrate on the novel. It’s been started, changed, stopped, restarted, adapted, scrapped and resurrected more times than I care to remember since finger and keyboard first collided back in 2004. There are numerous reasons why the book has never been completed – it’s much harder to keep the thread of a piece of fiction rather than pick up factual research and an unsettling time at work doesn’t always lend itself to meaning-ful storytelling.
For now though, I just want to pass on my thanks to those members of the Heed Army who have been brave enough to buy the Gateshead FC diary. Hopefully it will be considered as £5.99 well spent rather than the bottle of Pinot Grigio that got away...
Weatherfield now beckons...
15th November 1999... just another ordinary day..?
Well not if you were a supporter of Gateshead Thunder, the latest addition to rugby league’s Super League competition.
A club and a team created to expand the sport away from the “heartlands” took many experts by surprise by finishing Super League IV in sixth position, just one place below the end of season play-offs. From a fan base of zero the crowds began to grow, drawn in by the sporting drama and spectacle provided by our mainly Australian squad. The eventual Grand Final winners St Helens were defeated... not once, but twice and reigning champions Wigan Warriors were beaten 20-16 on an amazingly emotional afternoon in Edinburgh on 1st August...
The action on the field was exhilarating... the atmosphere on the terraces was brilliant too. Rugby league had rarely seen supporters untainted by years of hard winter slog and bitter rivalries; the “Thunder Army” just loved every-thing... watching the games... meeting the players... travelling to away games... chatting with opposing fans... having the occasional sing-song. Breaths of fresh air aren’t always readily welcomed though – everyone is fine when you’re losing... ah but how it changes when you walk away with a victory from places like... er... let’s say the Boulevard.
How ironic then that Hull, the place we were made least welcome, would eventually be “home”to our players... our coach... pretty much our whole club, after the post-season political merry-go-round had ground to a halt.
A lot of water has passed under both the Humber and Tyne Bridges during the intervening 13 years, but the memories of that single season in Super League still remain -as does Gateshead Thunder, thanks to the commitment and devotion of people too numerous to mention. But this blog is dedicated to all our original players... some better known than others to fans of the game in general, but household names to so many of us across the north east.
The photo at the top is of Deon Bird scoring the club’s final Super League try at Warrington... and below are some of the players applauding their fans saying what would ultimately turn out to be their final farewell in a Gateshead Thunder shirt.
15th November 1999 was not just another ordinary day...
Boom, boom, boom, can you hear the Thunder roar..?
To many people of my generation, Saturday afternoon television meant just one thing... wrestling. The instantly recognisable tones of Kent Walton would introduce the viewers to grappling action featuring a host of household names. Johnny Saint, Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki, The Dynamite Kid, Mark "Roller-ball” Rocco, Marty Jones, Jim Breaks... the list goes on.
Arguably the biggest name (although not quite the biggest wrestler... but very nearly) was Big Daddy, who was born Shirley Crabtree Jr on this day in 1930. His let’s say rotund frame hid the fact that Crabtree had previously had a muscular and athletic physique, but fame would come much later in a wrestling career that started in the early 1950s.
His style was far different to the wrestlers seen in today’s American promotions, but even though Crabtree’s 26 and a bit stone bulk limited his moves in the ring, Big Daddy became a huge favourite with fans young and old. Sadly, tragedy struck in the summer of 1987 when Mal “King Kong” Kirk died soon after receiving Crabtree’s trademark “splash” at the end of a bout in Great Yarmouth.
Although absolved of any blame or responsibility (Kirk was found to have a serious underlying heart condition), Crabtree was badly affected by the incident and eventually retired from the ring in 1993.
Shirley Crabtree passed away following a stroke in December 1997 – he died in the same place he was born, the West Yorkshire town of Halifax and whilst the Crabtree wrestling legacy may have been consigned to the history books, the sporting dynasty still lives on through Shirley’s nephew Eorl, a professional rugby league player with Huddersfield Giants and also England.
Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree 14/11/1930-02/11/1997
Before I start, I’d just like to publicly thank Elaine for accompanying me to Newcastle College’s Space Bar last night. I wanted to see a band called Everybody Looks Famous when she probably just wanted to curl up on the sofa and watch Strictly. That said, I had been subjected to Elaine’s preferred “aisle crawl” method of shopping for some (most) of the morning, so perhaps we ended the day even!
We interrupted our journey north in my old stomping ground, Low Fell, for a pizza (actually it was one each). I had the pepperoni version... and very nice it was too. On the menu, it was called Diavola, an Italian word which roughly translates as... “tasty, but it’ll get you in the morning”.
Anyway, we duly arrived at the Space Bar... to be asked which band we had come to see by the bloke on the door. At this point, I should have said it was none of his bloody business, but some people were just born polite I guess and we duly settled down on the comfiest looking step with our diet coke filled plastic glasses to enjoy the evening’s festivities.
The first “band” consisted of a guitar player (term used loosely) and three girls, one, two or more of whom were out of tune during most of Teenage Dirtbag a cover of a song by Wheatus (a fact that I didn’t even need to Google... but I still did just to make sure...). The next group comprised four young lads, including a bass guitarist who, to his credit, looked very convincing, but apparently wasn’t actually playing a note! The singer did a decent job of singing, but his “patter” needs a lot of work... either that or I’m just getting old... or maybe it’s a mixture of both.
Falling Faster followed... a bit New Found Glory-ish... and a decent band, I’d say. As is often the case, the sound system was turned up high enough to make most words indecipherable, but they seemed to be having a good time, as did the crowd which was sparse and very young...
Either that or I’m just getting old... or maybe it’s a mixture of both...
By this time, Everybody Looks Famous’ singer Lex had come over to say hello (and I have the photo to prove it) and have a quick chat and I even got a “friend to the stars... of the future” pic with the whole band. I must admit, however, it’s weird when you make a 100-mile round trip to see a group whose singer is the same age as your younger daughter. I saw bands like U2, Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash and The Alarm back in the... ahem... 1980s. I still love to listen to live music, but time passes, hair turns grey... then disappears... and however nice the welcome you do sort of feel like you’re gatecrashing someone else’s party...
Moving on... Everybody Looks Famous eventually had their turn on stage and I must say they were really good. Highlights? Well Falling Lights is a strong track and the new single Spotlights is excellent too... but I did have to smile at what Lex described as an “invasion” which resulted in more of the audience being on stage with the band than left watching them! Strictly speaking it’s not an “invasion”when the singer is actually helping people clamber onto the stage, but that’s only a minor point!
Next would have been Amy Can Flyy (that’s how they spell it), but it was also our time to flyy and we certainly did... Newcastle College to Tesco in Teesville in 47 minutes. We stocked up on alcohol and the night ended exactly as Elaine had wanted it to start, curled up on the sofa watching Strictly...
I’ll close with the link to Everybody Look Famous’ Facebook page... talented kids... why not have a listen?
I am so glad that week is over... it’s really not been very good and although she’s safely tucked up in bed at the moment, I’m really looking forward to spending the next couple of days with my darling wife Elaine.
Nothing particularly out of the ordinary has happened – well not that I know of anyway – but for most of the week, I’ve felt extremely low... and I’ve really struggled coping with the dark moments and thoughts I occasionally experience at times like this.
Many months ago, through this blog, I admitted that I suffered... suffer... from a form of depression. It was a bloody hard thing to do because whilst you’re typing the words, you realise that people’s perception of you is possibly going to change... both significantly and permanently. I didn’t want sympathy then – and I don’t want it now... but I’m glad that I was strong enough to be honest about what is such a difficult subject.
Nobody’s life is easy, I realise that, and I admire those who are able to deal with their own personal issues privately and probably with great strength and dignity, but I don’t believe that I was weak in feeling I needed to open up the way I did. Don’t get me wrong, I cope well most of the time... especially with the love and support of those closest to me... but there are equally those periods when the black shroud descends and I really struggle. I hate the way this essentially unseen illness can completely change your patterns of thought and the negative emotions with which you feel bombarded and although I now understand that the feelings DO pass... it’s still so hard sometimes.
In a couple of weeks, I’m helping to run a workshop for some of my colleagues and I’ve been trawling the internet for an interesting “ice breaker” – hate the phrase... sorry. One that caught my eye was to think about a single moment in your life when, if things had been just slightly different, your whole future could have been altered in some way and this picture holds the clue to my “moment”.
The photo was taken in York, in the very early 70s... a time when children were apparently dressed the same even if they were different ages! The smaller of the two girls is Elaine... and the red brick building in the background is (well, was) York College, my prep school. Elaine and I were born just three weeks apart, but also fifty miles apart. There is a chance I was in the building, just a few yards from my future wife... someone I wasn’t destined to meet for another thirty-something years.
But what if..?
I feel blessed to have met Elaine at all... but I still wish I’d found her much earlier. That said, I would NEVER want to be without my wonderful children Leigh-Ann, Rebecca and Chris, but... well... I just wish other things had been different.
I still carry a lot of guilt for mistakes I’ve made... I also carry a lot of guilt for things that I knew nothing about... and could therefore do nothing about. I realise that sounds like nonsense... almost dragging yourself down for the sake of it... but believe me, the mind can exert such a hold that it can drain away even the half-emptiest of glasses.
The fact is the past can’t be changed... maybe the future is mapped out too but much as I wish Elaine and I had been together for the past thirty years, she is in my life now and I owe it to her... to my children and my closest family and friends to fight when I need to fight to be the husband, the father, the son, the brother, the cousin and the friend that others can be proud of...
Today’s blogling... it’s a short blog... a blogette perhaps... or just a “bl”... no matter, today’s offering is about Marilyn Monroe.
As some of you will know, even though I have attempted to write about Marilyn’s life, I have never claimed to be an “expert”; in fact, compared to some of the people I have met via Facebook, my subject knowledge is on the poor side of unimpressive. I guess that Hollywood reared its head quite late on in my life... sport dominated my spare time until a combination of a chronic hip condition and an enduring lack of ability finally defeated me.
As a brief coincidental digression, I was working at a blood donor session at Teesside University earlier today when I saw two students sitting on the adjoining table discussing what looked to be a hip bone. Being a friendly soul, I asked what course they were doing... they said radiography (worryingly I thought they said geography), but the girls then listened intently to me relate the story of my femoro-acetabular impingement (diagnosis and prognosis thereof). At the end they actually said they’d enjoyed the chat and that my condition would have made for an interesting study. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t usually talk to random strangers... my shallow justification is that they were both really pretty..!
Anyway...where was I? Whilst I might not be able to recognise even a small percentage of the screen stars of years gone by and I definitely haven’t watched that many films, I have written three bios (Marilyn, Jean Harlow and Marie Prevost) and hopefully my knowledge will continue to grow over time. That said, there’s nothing like a good photo to distract from mediocre writing style and content and one thing’s for sure, there are some truly stunning pictures of Marilyn out there. I honestly don’t know if I could pick one favourite, although I really like some of the shots that Alfred Eisenstaedt took in 1953 – a time when Marilyn just exuded health, beauty and vitality. God they sound like three benefits of dog food... sorry!
The truth is that for the majority of the time (even when she was suffering mentally or physically), Marilyn was a consummate professional and the click of a camera shutter usually produced amazing results. Of the photos I’ve seen, Sam Shaw seemed to get some wonderful natural shots of Marilyn (see the lovely carefree photo at the top of the page) – I’m assuming she liked and trusted him (Marijane it’s over to you...) and the enchanting, almost candid picture at the foot of the blog was (I believe) taken by Allan Grant quite late on in Marilyn’s life...
I’m not sure who took the equally lovely one in the middle, but whilst it’s hard to deny that this young lady was outwardly gorgeous, what makes Marilyn Monroe so special is that what lay below the surface was every bit as remarkable.
All my own work... almost.