You will recognise the boy in the photograph... it’s you... 40 years ago. And yes, the hairstyle might be a bit dated, but at least I’ve got all my hair... and my looks!!!
I’ve got the chance to write to you... eight is a little on the young side for words of wisdom, but you might still want to read on.
I’m standing in the garden... and life is fairly straightforward. I go to school; I come home and play... Mum and Dad are here and my sister Suzanne... Gran and Grandad, Nannie and Grandad are in Darlington and Croft respectively and all is good.
But now you have no grandparents... one by one they pass away. You will only be twelve when Grandad (Eric) dies... too young to understand, but the memory of the moment will never leave you. Then Gran, then Grandad (Les) and finally Nannie... you will miss them Richard... and it’s fine to miss them. You will feel guilty for never telling them how much you love them... but even though I’m only eight, I’m pretty sure they knew... and still know.
Mum and Dad will still be around though... there’ll be times when you don’t think you need them, but they’ll be there for you and never give up on you when you get things wrong. And I mean badly wrong. You will grow up to have some good qualities, you will be caring, kind, loyal and trusting... too trusting at times... and you will make mistakes... some that will completely change the course of your life, but believe me Richard, you will get there in the end. So much naivety, but when you reach the lowest point (spoiler alert it’s 2004-6)... you will find that you have the inner resolve to fight so hard... and you do come out the other side.
I can’t quite believe it myself, but you will be there to see the birth of two daughters... personally I can’t imagine anything better than scoring a goal for York City right now, but hormones and all that... Things won’t always run smoothly – and yes, some of that will be your fault, but you will also burden yourself with guilt that is not yours to carry. You won’t be able to undo the past Richard, but when truth is revealed, remember your children are what matter. Just be there... be strong... be honest... things will work out, I promise.
You will try your hand at a few jobs... you’ll work in shops and offices, but when the chance comes to work in the NHS, grab it with both hands because you will meet the woman who will make you truly happy. Just so you don’t pick the wrong one, she’s called Elaine... her life’s had its ups and downs too, but you are perfect for each other. All I will say is that the best things in life are worth fighting for... so don’t you dare give up. You will wish you’d met when you were teenagers, but fate could have easily made sure your paths never crossed. Love her always Richard... she’s the one...
I’m very happy to say you will play lots of cricket... you’re not brilliant, but you’re not bad. Enjoy every moment because your joints will pack up when you’re forty and a big void will be left. You’ll try lots of other sports, you’ll be quite good at some of them, but don’t ever dream of becoming a footballer! You’ll even enjoy running... right now, I imagine I can sprint like Valeriy Borzov... the Richard reading this blog can barely run like Valerie Singleton.
One big surprise is that you will become a published author. I know... I can’t believe it either. And even when people say how much they enjoy your books, you will still doubt yourself... but you can write... and you can be quite funny at times too. You got that from me!!!!
Finally, you need to know that good and true friends are hard to find... but although things will be tough as you grow up, your life will be touched by some wonderful people. I’ve got two bits of advice for you... firstly stay true to yourself. You’re not perfect, far from it and some of your better qualities are also your weaknesses, but as well as a brilliant wife, the 2012 version of me will have a few friends who make a real difference... just keep believing in yourself because you make a difference too. And ultimately if you can make even a small positive difference to somebody’s life, then I would give you my best manly hug and say “well done” because that’s how this eight year-old is judging you...
Oh and secondly, go to the bookies in August 1983 and put all your money on York City to win the 4th division title... they win it by a mile and you’ll be loaded!
Anyway, I’ve got to go now Richard... be happy and don’t dwell on the things that you can’t change. You might not be as handsome as me, but trust me... you’re doing okay...
Lots of love Richard x
All my own work... almost.