Who Is Like God?

 

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Who is like God?

Love was the father and love the mother.

You arrived in December, anticipating another Christmas

A reward in yourself rather than a present

A pilgrimage more than a journey

Because we cannot find love in ourselves

Only with another

And you were the purest love

The world of love in a moment

To complete the place that was prepared for you

A place shaped, breathed into, palpitating, anticipated for you

And you arrived linking Winter with Spring

A week after Mandela died and two days before his burying

You arrived, your hair already hinting of gold

Woven like the wealth of the Transvaal on the South African flag

You arrived to separate the before from the after

The Anno Domini

Dividing the past from the future

You arrived to say that there was no going back

As the Ukraine edged westwards

After the charge of the dark brigade in Crimea

And your mother wrote the gospel of your life

Like a scream of joy

As the Scribes and the Pharisees fled back to the Old Testament

Making way for the new covenant of love

Turning over and seeding the soil of hope

Too big an enterprise now for the old scythes and hoes

‘We need a tractor’ you said in almost your first words

And we realised that the lines and the furrows

Could mean happiness after all.

Roy Stannard for Michael’s Naming Day 21.8.16

For a version of this mixed with music please visit Soundcloud at:

Do It Yourself Celebrity

Do It Yourself Celebrity

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Last Friday 29th July I went to the Holmbush Centre at Shoreham to help my old friend and radio colleague Patrick Souiljaert man (person?) a stand at the entrance to Tesco there. He has written an autobiography in microscopic detail about the challenges of his life as a person with Cerebral Palsy. He was starved of oxygen a birth which led to the condition. However, instead of letting it define him, he has used it to energise and power his ambition, refusing to accept its limitations, using them instead to define his goals.

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After going to school in various special establishments (the word special is used in its loosest context here) in the South, Patrick emerged as a man with extreme sensitivity to his and others place in the world. He worked at a major telecomms company for many years before deciding that he could be a radio producer. He achieved this and worked for three Sussex-based radio stations before deciding that he could also be a property investor before going on to become an international speaker, writer and motivator.

His book — ‘Stairs For Breakfast’ was self published a year ago and has so far sold over 700 copies.

It is a raw, no-holds-barred account of the first half of his life with names and organisations changed to protect the innocent and the less than innocent. It is a page turning, honest, gripping story that demonstrates an almost documentary, forensic recall of detail and really installs the reader inside the head of someone who reacts powerfully to the limitations that life has laid upon him.

Last Friday, Patrick, John , Clare and myself went to Holmbush armed with 200 copies of the book, some banners and a great pitch provided by the generous customer services team at Tesco led by Lisa. I was given access to the public intercom system in order to make announcements.

Patrick called out to most passers by with a friendly ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and a goodly minority stopped to have a chat and by the end of the day 38 copies of the book at £10 each were sold.

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The point of this post? That you don’t have to accept the hand that life has dealt you. That you can dream and then wake up and achieve those dreams.

That you can decide to be a writer and go and write and publish your book. That you can call yourself an international motivational speaker and go and motivate by speaking. Internationally.

Stairs for Breakfast. Success for lunch. The world for supper.

 

For Now

For Now

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For Now

A long time ago

An entire lifetime in the past

Long before me

And before you were fully you

You played in the world

Before the world became a serious business

Because before you were a mother

You were a little girl

A wisp of a person

Without a care in the world

A fleck of colour on a dull daily canvas

Playing in the Stambridge fields

Rudely interrupting the country

Where nothing ever happened

Except perhaps an outing to Maldon

Or a flat cycle ride to Flatford Mill

Not noticing how golden the meadows were

In the late afternoon

When the prospect of another day was cheap.

And on another page, you’re smiling

A teenager with designs on womanhood

The hairstyle you were to keep for sixty years

Turned back in the light Summer breeze

Your lips laughing and unkissed

A girl spoken of and soon to be spoken for.

I can still hear the laughter in the grocers shop

Two quarters of a century ago

As you sliced more than a quarter of ham

And wrapped it up in your generosity

That you spent so freely

On all of us.

Even when your purse was empty

Your heart was full

I recall exchanging your last half crown

For a Blyton in Bobbins the Bookshop

In the old arcade where I looked for the clowns

In the Victoria Circus.

You walked so fast, it was a race to keep up

And when I did finally catch up, it was too late

You were too tired to go shopping

And your final half crown was spent

On a last afternoon in Chichester

Held back by the pain growing in the same place

That I grew a generation ago

And you told me that although you had to let me go

Our farewells were for now only

That love is not like a story at all

Because it has no end.

For Mum. Roy Stannard 16/5/2000

This poem was originally written for my Mother’s funeral. As part of a radio show on Thursday 3rd December 2015, it felt appropriate to record a live version of it. Listen here:   https://soundcloud.com/roystannard/roy-stannard-for-now

Is this the bravest book ever written?

Is this the bravest book ever written?

Digit by digit, key by key

Digit by digit, key by key

In 2011 while viewing buy-to-let properties Patrick was waiting for the estate agent to arrive. Puzzled, seeing a disabled man standing with crutches, the agent asked whether Patrick was OK walking up the stairs as there was quite a lot of them. Patrick replied as quick as a flash, “Yes I’ll be fine, I eat stairs for breakfast.”

The humour in this disguises the fact that Patrick has had Cerebral Palsy since a four minute air blockage at his birth starved him of the oxygen needed for a normal delivery. It has meant tackling life on his terms for over 40 years and as an obstinate, determined, visionary man, Patrick has refused to allow this disability get in his way.

This may be the bravest book ever written. Why? Firstly, because in physical terms it took Patrick the best part of two years laboriously typing 700 words a day with his left index finger. Secondly, the subject matter is raw, honest and occasionally self-deprecating. His account of a visit to an unfeeling, heartless prostitute, his account of how an equally heartless employer made him purchase his own desk and computer screen; his account of how he was bullied and abused as a child at a special boarding school. Thirdly, real people close to Patrick are featured in the book, sometimes painfully.

Brave because he sees his Cerebral Palsy as a gift – inspiring people and giving them the aspiration to do something equally remarkable. To show them that with enough self-belief and determination they can do anything they want.

He has spent his 41 years refusing to accept second best and above all refusing to be categorised as ‘disabled’. The worst thing (or best?) you can say to Patrick is don’t do something. It will mean that he is almost certain to do it. He was born in the south of England in 1973 to Belgian father and English mother. He has a sister and large extended family of devoted friends. He insisted from an early stage on being treated like everyone else and this led to an early career in IT and computer programming with a household name in telecommunications and a parallel career in commercial radio where he worked for three radio stations as a producer. This would be achievement enough, but Patrick was (and still is) determined to do more.

This led him in 2011 to leave the large corporation and set out on his own in property investment, pursuing an ambition to make £1 million. He started writing a blog at around the same time and this gave him the idea to write Stairs for Breakfast.

By networking in the property investment Patrick found his purpose in life: To help and inspire people – and to reach his full potential.

Cerebral Palsy is a condition that makes dealing with the physical demands of life very difficult but does not impair in any way the normal functions of the brain. Stairs for Breakfast is the first half of Patrick’s autobiography and it could have been a mawkish, self-pitying book but instead its real triumph lies in the upbeat, humorous narrative approach that entertains as much as it inspires. His other gift is a photographic memory that allows him to recount incidents from three decades ago as if it were yesterday.

Patrick was recently asked to take part in a TV documentary on inner peace. After being filmed Patrick said “This is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I want my journey and my book to make a difference in the world”.

The book is a search for self-awareness, achievement, acceptance and love. Patrick has become by default a very good, inspirational public speaker. His ability to engage the reader and the listener is quickly apparent. Not many books set out to change perceptions and succeed in doing so. This is one of them that does.

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What the critics have said:

“When someone tells me they can’t do something I tell them Patrick’s story and share his ability to overcome whatever is put in front of him. He is an inspiration.”

Glenn Armstrong www.glennarmstrong.com

“This book is a must for anyone. It’s honest, funny and inspirational. It humbles me just thinking about the effort it must have taken.”

Paul Ribbons www.paulribbons.com

“An enormous achievement. Do yourself a favour. Add it to your reading wish list – and those of your friends.”

Roy Stannard www.roystannard.wordpress.com

Stairs for Breakfast is on Amazon now for £15.99. Patrick is available to deliver inspirational talks on overcoming adversity and his journey to success.

For more information please contact: Patrick Souiljaert

http://stairsforbreakfast.com   / 01273 465519 / 07710 021454 / mail@sussexpatrick.com

Moment

Leigh

Who knows when that moment will occur?

Moment

 

There was a New York moment
An ice-splinter in a sheet of sunlight
When without the aid of smart devices
Using dumb mind trails and heartstrings
We managed to connect
Like two sparrowhawks circling the Downs
Two wayfaring strangers caught in eye contact
A brother and a sister separated at the orphanage
The tramrails of recognition in a train carriage
Two carvings divided by centuries on an ancient Ashdown Forest oak
Together but alone, two flights scribbled together, trails in the sky
Lattice-work moments that we didn’t recognise then
But now in our Hadleigh twitchers hide they start to form letters
on the Estuary horizon as we look across the marshes of Foulness
And in the distance the iron-toothed refineries and the Essex tides
wash dreams from the tarnished golden mile to Thorpe Bay.
Do you remember being scared by thunder in the same storm?
Before grammar schools dressed us in new ambitions
That hung off us like extravagant hand-me-downs
And we didn’t know each other then
And yet we did, somehow.
We heard the strains of the same songs
drifting through our different worlds
echoes in adjacent rooms then
but hearing them again now,
as our eyes dance in the same places.
And as the shadows lengthen
The midges rise and the fairy-tale forest draws in
We let the thought hang in the air
There is a new Wealden moment
An iceblink as the glacier shifts
And the sun traces our faces,
our shadows merge, becoming one
as all of the things we always meant to do
collide here like carriages of a train
in its silent Beeching siding
but there in the car reserved for lovers
two people who have not known each other
all their lives
finally have their moment.
 
Roy Stannard 6th June 2013
(the 50th anniversary of the Beeching cuts)
 
Listen to a live recording on Soundcloud
https://soundcloud.com/roystannard/roy-stannard-moment-final-mix

Southend Pier – still standing, but not standing still.

When I was a boy I spent hours upon hours on Southend Pier, walking its length, feeling its girth, teasing its claim to be the longest in the world at 1.25 miles.  Its slot machine alleys whispered to me alluringly. Cheap, trashy items like tin rings and shoddy pen knives (that I would have left on the ground if had I found them) became irresistible treasure if found on a moving tray of pennies or laying prostrate below a mechanical crane. I would lose myself for hours in these glittering, garishly painted palaces, emerging into the light and air feeling poorer and coppers lighter to lean against the walkway rails.

Southend Pier. The daddy of all piers has been rebuilt more times than the six million dollar man, made up and repainted more times than a Soho harlot and yet it still receives its lovers, supplicants and one-day tripper stands.

In 1959, three years after I was born, a fire destroyed the Pier Pavilion at the shore-end, replaced by a ten-pin bowling alley. Eighteen years later another fire swallowed up the 1908 Pier Head which remained derelict until a £1.3m grant from the Historic Buildings Committee in 1986 made good and also financed new rolling stock so that the tiny railway recommenced  the traditional ride back for the outward bound walkers. Almost immediately afterwards the MV Kingsabbey sliced through the pier between the old and new pier heads leaving an ugly, yawning 70 foot hole. It was patched up reluctantly, like an old lady at a modern dentist in 1989. Six years later the bowling alley was destroyed by fire, repaired in 1998, followed by a brand new Pier entrance in 2003 – only to play with fire again in 2005 which swallowed and spat out the station, cafe, restaurant, toilets and the pavilion. In 2007 Southend Pier was awarded Pier of the Year and two years later its brand new station platform and office was officially opened by Southend’s Mayor.

The result of all this wear, tear and repair is that the end of the pier is now pristine, clean and virtually clear of buildings. The RNLI building stands alone, proud of its heroic status, poised for action, imperiously dismissive of the simple tourists that climb its stairs for a prurient look.

No end of pier theatre, no varieties, not even a stick of rock in sight. Length isn’t everything. As a young man, I felt that there must be a better pier. The kiss me quick hats would always be faster and racier elsewhere. In 1977 I left Southend in search of  true seaside seediness in Brighton.

Before that, in the faraway fifties and sixties, a boy played on the longest pier in the world, a pier with no beginning or end, a pier that stretched as far as the imagination would stretch. Beyond that, there was always Kent.

Like the pier, I have had fires, objects that sailed straight through me, numerous repairs, modifications and people walking all over me.

We are both still standing.

The tracks that changed my life

Memories on CD stored safely

I recently took part in a pilot with Patrick Woodward called Memory Box that my sister-in-law Lynne (Angel) Kerr  is initiating in which you pick your nine most influential tracks from childhood to the present day and talk about what they mean to you – which is then recorded as a kind of podcast and copied onto CD. Patrick has done a wonderful job of editing the 40 minute programme. It reveals quite a lot and explains why music is so important to me. It is meant to act as a kind of demo for anyone else wanting to record their memories and favourite tracks onto a CD. If you would like to do it yourself – and have something to pass onto your children then please contact me – and I will pass your details on.

Roy Stannard’s Life Tracks

  1. Ricky Nelson – Hello Mary Lou (Father’s favourite)
  2. Bob Lind – Remember the Rain (played it all the time when I was ten)
  3. America – A Horse with no Name (first consciously adult record purchase, still love it today)
  4. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going on (first record that told me that you could actually change things with a song)
  5. Geneva – Tranquillizer (Lyric ‘We will be happy while we are still young’ nuff said)
  6. Mike Scott (Waterboys) – What do you want me to do (don’t believe in God, you will after listening to this)
  7. Tom Baxter – My Declaration (My philosophy of life captured in a beautiful song, perfect)
  8. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues ( a classic song from the present – they do still write songs like that!)
  9. Neil Young – Like a Hurricane (Best guitar ever, recorded live in one take in Toronto before a gig in 1975, first track I ever played on radio, my favourite song of all time)

Listen to my all-time nine Podcast on Mixcloud here:

http://i.mixcloud.com/CC0ErW