When I think back as far as I can, I can remember very little. Well at least compared to my older sister Laura anyway, who seems to remember everything about being a young kid. I wish I knew more but that’s one of the side effects of coming from St Helens.
My very first memory is from back in 2002, when I was 6 years old. I was lucky enough to fulfil a childhood dream at such a young age and visit the big man himself in Lapland, Finland. It was such an amazing holiday on so many fronts. We stayed in a log cabin for a week with my two sisters, Laura and Claire, and my Mum and Dad. We got up to loads that week but one thing summed my personality up perfectly that week.
One day we went to visit Mr Fed Ex in his grotto and some of his merry elves in the workshop. At the time, there was a small thought running through my tiny little head telling me that there was no such thing as Father Christmas. This was life or death as an 6 year old, so I had to put this theory to the test and I came up with a plan-ahaaa cunning even at 6. We all got about 10-15 minutes each with the big man so I had to make it count. He was in this small log cabin surrounded by a few helpers when we walked in. I remember feeling so nervous at the fact I’d been playing this moment out ever since I found out we were going and now I had to carry through with it. He sat me on his lap and started asking me what I want for Christmas. ‘’I want a remote control Aston martin’’ I said- the bees knees of rc cars at the time. As he waffled on about what Mrs Clause was cooking for T that night, my patients wore thin. With my little heart beating double time, I raised my hand and yanked his big white beard. It was real! I couldn’t believe it. Alas, all that time I’d been wondering if my simplistic life was worth living and the myth was proven right. The truth was, I was a little shit from an early age and those same characteristics have stuck with me to this very day.
I grew up in Rainford, which is one of the nicer parts of St Helens. St Helens isn’t the greatest place to live. We have a few different species living here. A bit like a zoo, many of them come from ancient lands where their ancestors had inhabited caves and any other places of hiding. That’s what makes St Helens the diverse and cultural land it is today.
You have the ‘smack heads’, as I call them. These are the ones who look like they’ve not consumed anything other than cheap narcotics from dodgy Dave. They usually habitat on street corners in the town centre or outside the post office were they collect their benefits they’ve been on all their lives-Just so we’re clear, I don’t have anything against people on benefits who have genuine reasons. I just don’t sympathise with the idiots who can work but they chose instead to be a full time druggy.
Then you’ve got the morbidly obese. These are the ones that make up 50% of the population of St Helens and they park in the disabled spaces because they can’t walk 100 yards without having a heart attack-really annoys me when I can’t get a space.
And finally we have the normal, hardworking, tax paying ones. Unfortunately not everyone is like this in St Helens, but we still have a fair share of goodies. We’re the type who have all our own teeth and don’t have 6 fingers on one hand. Although if we walk down Duke Steet (famous shithole in St Helens), we do have to check to see if any of our fingers have been robbed.
Aside from zoo that is St Helens, I have two sisters. Laura who is 5 years older and Claire who is 18 months younger than me- although I used to say to Claire ‘I’m two years older than you’ because of when our birthdays are.
Laura is a small beautiful girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. She’s not the sharpest tool in the box, and I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that. But she more than makes up for it in love, commitment and kindness. Me and Laura didn’t always see eye to eye when we were growing up. It was because both of us wear our hearts on our sleeves, so we’re pretty strong characters who you really don’t want to upset. But we shared different views and that often made us fight. I can honestly say that we rarely disagree now so we get on really well. Laura has been almost like a second mum to me throughout my cancer journey, and I can’t repay her enough for that.
Claire, my other sister couldn’t be any more different than me and Laura. She too is a gorgous small girl with brown hair and brown eyes. Claire is the clever one out the three of us, which she gets from my mum- sorry dad. She’s always laughing and joking. I got on better with Claire growing up. I think this was due to the age gap and the fact we were always practicing WWE wrestling moves on each other. We did batter each other occasionally too though, and you really don’t want to be in a fight with Claire. Laura and I call Claire the psycho – always have done – because she’s a really good fighter when she did fight with us had a funny resemblance to the Taz Manian devil on a high usually ended up laughing half dead on the floor by the time she’d finished with me. I’ve been really lucky to have Claire too throughout my cancer journey. She often turned up at the hospital and we’d wake up the whole ward because we’d end up laughing that much.
The three of us went a small catholic primary school in Rainford called Corpus Christi. I really enjoyed primary, and apart from all the religious crap we had to sing, it was great. I wouldn’t say I was great academically but I did okay…when I wasn’t getting kicked out of lesson for testing out just how shatterproof those rulers were. I was far more interested in becoming fireman Sam- 90’s kids will know who I’m talking about. What a hero he was.
I was into sports too from a young age as my mum and dad have always encouraged it. In my first few years into school, I decided to take up rugby league at the age of 6, much to the delight of my dad who has always been a big Saints fan.
I started at Blackbrook Rugby Club, St Helens-whom my family business still sponsors to this very day. I was part of a group of 9 lads, who would go on to stay unbeaten for years until we all split up after some club issues about 6 or 7 years later. I was always this little one when I was younger, so that usually saw me end up playing on the wing or full back for a while. I didn’t mind playing those positions as it kept me away from the big chunks steaming up the middle.
Rugby took me all over the North West and eventually we’d end up doing a tour of south France in 2008. It was an unforgettable experience going over there. It was a combination of doing what I loved with some great mates who I still keep in contact with to this day. We did have one experience at the campsite we stayed on. And it pretty much summed up how much the French don’t give a shit.
One of the lads dad was a copper and he noticed a distinct smell coming from around the bar area. He eventually noticed that there was two big cannabis plants, potted very artistically, either side of the entrance doors to the bar! The cheek of the French. Here was a bunch of young kids hanging around the bar and none of us had a clue that the owners were growing their own stash of hash right under our young noses. I can’t imagine anywhere else in Europe where you could grow your own and parade to the public.
As much as I loved the rugby, I just got too small in the end and I wasn’t enjoying it. Soon after I found my new direction in golf, and I had no idea how just far it would take me.