Award winning writer’s tenth release now available in Kindle e-book edition

BLOG Metal New Front

SEVEN years after suffering a career ending nervous breakdown, an award-winning journalist-turned-author has now published his tenth paperback as a Kindle e-book.

The book Hot Metal – Poems from the Print Room draws its genesis and inspiration from his years in the newspaper and magazine industry.

Multi award-winning writer Nic Outterside quit his 28 year career in journalism following the breakdown in June 2013.

He began the slow road to recovery under the watchful eyes of his doctor and the support of his family. Part of the suggested therapy was for him to begin writing and talking about his life experiences.

His first paperback book The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light, published in November 2014, was met with international acclaim and the first 1,000 print edition has almost sold out.

In 2018, he published its sequel Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft.

In between time he also found time to write and publish a slim volume of poems in homage to the songs of his favourite album Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan.

Then at the helm of his own publishing house Time is an Ocean, Nic started editing other people’s books, including a magnum opus Asian Voices and a widely acclaimed Luminance – Words for a World Gone Wrong.

He also wrote and published two Amazon best sellers: Death in Grimsby and Bones.

Now, while completing a huge book of investigative journalism tales (to be published later this spring), Nic has returned to poetry with his new book: Hot Metal – Poems from the Print Room.

He explains its genesis: “In 1993, during my early years in newspaper journalism we would take time out every Thursday afternoon after that week’s paper hit the presses.

“I was chief reporter of an editorial team responsible for putting together the news, sport and features for one of Scotland’s most highly regarded county newspapers: The Galloway Gazette.

“This was our two hour sojourn before we began planning the following week’s edition. It was a time to escape from “Cow Halts Traffic on A75”, “Young Mum Guilty of Shoplifting at Woolworths” and similar stories to find solace and creativity in my self-centred pastime of poetry.

“So I would sit, with a mug of coffee in my hand and scribble some ideas, a few lines, and if I was particularly creative maybe a whole poem. The poems would never be read by anyone else… it was my secret hobby.

“Then by the end of last year, I suddenly realised I had more than enough poems to fill yet another book!

“They reflect the real me that has emerged seven years on from that breakdown and 27 years since those first doodles on a Thursday afternoon at the Galloway Gazette.

The book is a litany of love, loss and angst fermented with the ideas that swam around my head all those years ago.”

Hot Metal – Poems from the Print Room was released as a large format paperback from Amazon priced £7.99 ($10.42) on 20 January.

www.amazon.co.uk/Hot-Metal-Poems-Print-Room/dp/166168064X/

www.amazon.com/Hot-Metal-Poems-Print-Room/dp/166168064X/

Now nine days later it is also available as a Kindle e-book priced just £2.99 ($3.90) (279IR)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hot-Metal-Poems-Print-Room-ebook/dp/B0848R591F/

https://www.amazon.com/Hot-Metal-Poems-Print-Room-ebook/dp/B0848R591F/

https://www.amazon.in/Hot-Metal-Poems-Print-Room-ebook/dp/B0848R591F/

Notes:

  1. Nic Outterside is an award-winning editor, journalist and author. Among more than a dozen awards to his name are North of England Daily Journalist of the Year, Scottish Weekly Journalist of the Year, Scottish Daily Journalist of the Year and a special national award for investigative journalism. He was twice editor of Weekly Newspaper of the Year. In 2016 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in written journalism.
  2. During his career, Nic was editor of The Argyllshire Advertiser, The Buchan Observer, The Galloway Gazette and the Denbighshire Free Press.

Award winning writer publishes tenth book since nervous breakdown

BLOG Metal New Front

SEVEN years after suffering a career ending nervous breakdown, an award-winning journalist-turned-author has published his tenth paperback book.

And the book Hot Metal – Poems from the Print Room draws its genesis and inspiration from his years in the newspaper and magazine industry.

Multi award-winning writer Nic Outterside quit his 28 year career in journalism following the breakdown in June 2013.

He began the slow road to recovery under the watchful eyes of his doctor and the support of his family. Part of the suggested therapy was for him to begin writing and talking about his life experiences.

His first paperback book The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light, published in November 2014, was met with international acclaim and the first 1,000 print edition has almost sold out.

In 2018, he published its sequel Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft.

In between time he also found time to write and publish a slim volume of poems in homage to the songs of his favourite album Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan.

Then at the helm of his own publishing house Time is an Ocean, Nic started editing other people’s books, including a magnum opus Asian Voices and a widely acclaimed Luminance – Words for a World Gone Wrong.

He also wrote and published two Amazon best sellers: Death in Grimsby and Bones.

Now, while completing a huge book of investigative journalism tales (to be published later this spring), Nic has returned to poetry with his new book: Hot Metal – Poems from the Print Room.

He explains its genesis: “In 1993, during my early years in newspaper journalism we would take time out every Thursday afternoon after that week’s paper hit the presses.

“I was chief reporter of an editorial team responsible for putting together the news, sport and features for one of Scotland’s most highly regarded county newspapers: The Galloway Gazette.

“This was our two hour sojourn before we began planning the following week’s edition. It was a time to escape from “Cow Halts Traffic on A75”, “Young Mum Guilty of Shoplifting at Woolworths” and similar stories to find solace and creativity in my self-centred pastime of poetry.

“So I would sit, with a mug of coffee in my hand and scribble some ideas, a few lines, and if I was particularly creative maybe a whole poem. The poems would never be read by anyone else… it was my secret hobby.

“Then by the end of last year, I suddenly realised I had more than enough poems to fill yet another book!

“They reflect the real me that has emerged seven years on from that breakdown and 27 years since those first doodles on a Thursday afternoon at the Galloway Gazette.

The book is a litany of love, loss and angst fermented with the ideas that swam around my head all those years ago.”

Hot Metal – Poems from the Print Room is available as a large format paperback from Amazon priced £7.99 ($10.42)

www.amazon.co.uk/Hot-Metal-Poems-Print-Room/dp/166168064X/

www.amazon.com/Hot-Metal-Poems-Print-Room/dp/166168064X/

Child sex abuse survivor’s long awaited second book now published worldwide

BLOG cover

A CHILD-SEX abuse and cancer survivor’s long awaited second book of poetry is published worldwide today (Wednesday, 9 May 2018).

Multi award-winning writer Nic Outterside quit his 28 year career in newspaper and magazine journalism following a nervous breakdown in June 2013.

He began the slow road to recovery under the watchful eyes of his doctor and the support of his family. Part of the suggested therapy was for him to begin writing and talking about the life experiences which had led to his breakdown.

His first paperback book The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light, published in November 2014. It was met with international acclaim and the first 1,000 print edition has almost sold out.

From childhood sexual abuse, through cancer, bereavement, bankruptcy, divorce, repossession of my home, the loss of two of my children and an assault which almost took my life, I guess there was a lot to write about,” says Nic.

Last week, Nic made the book more widely available by publishing a second edition on Amazon Kindle.

Now, after a three year wait, he has published its sequel Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft.

“When I released The Hill in November 2014, I was struggling to get back to a life of sorts and fighting my way out of the corner,” explains Nic.

“I am still really proud of that work… it is certainly raw and maybe at times too personal. I now view it as less as an anthology of songs and poems, and more as a document of my life.

“By the middle of 2016, I was more than halfway through writing a raft of poems for the new book and by this time I was out of the corner, and still fighting.

“But by the time all the work for Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft was concluded I was so far out of the corner you won’t find me… I have at last found my way home.

“I am so grateful to my close family and many friends who have given me support, inspiration and encouragement over the past five years,” he adds.

Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft is priced at £2.20 ($3) on Amazon Kindle at: www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Hill-Songs-Poems-Theft-ebook/dp/B07CXYJTV4/

 

Final Thoughts on Rod Pounsett

Blog RodPounsett

I THOUGHT I had written the last words about my late uncle Rod Pounsett, who died following heart failure on 9 December 2015.

But in the 10 weeks since his loss I have been inundated with emails from friends and colleagues who were unaware that this pioneering journalist had passed away, aged 76.

So I have decided to collect some of these emails and memories here as a lasting tribute to my uncle.

Rod started his career as a reporter and photographer on the Worthing and Shoreham Heralds in the early 1960s.

He went on to host a daily show on BBC Radio Brighton in the 1970s – one of the very first phone-in radio shows – and later became senior producer for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. He was at the helm when they reported the death of John Lennon in 1980 and the great storm of 1987.

He also worked for the Daily Express and started the first western news bureau in Moscow after the end of the Cold War.

He had a troubled personal life. He was married three times, and, like me, had more relationships than you could shake a stick at! He was often a very difficult person to deal with, but he was an amazing journalist, a good uncle and a great friend to many people.

He was also the person who got me into journalism when I was just 17 years-old, by securing me an interview with the editor of my local newspaper.

Anyway, here are the tributes from his former work colleagues:

While we knew that Rod wasn’t always the easiest person to work with, his pioneering spirit, sense of adventure, and passion for all things Russian gave us Brits a real excitement about being in Moscow – that for some of us has lasted to this day – and brought opportunities to all of us, both British and Russian. 

He introduced me (and Andersen Consulting) to Moscow in December 1990 – in fact a number of us were in Moscow only last month celebrating the 25th anniversary of the “Moscow Bread Project” which began when Rod started to bang on Moscow City Council doors in September 1990 and arranged for us to meet the deputy mayor, Sergei Stankevich (who also joined us for the reunion last month).  

This led to a fabulous 3-year project, which was undoubtedly the most exciting project of my 25-year consulting career. How sad and ironic that Rod died on the day we returned from Moscow after a 25th anniversary reunion of the project he began. 

We (a team of five from Andersen Consulting) had an amazing fortnight with Rod in Moscow in December 1990, one that I am 100% sure that my colleagues and I will never forget – as he introduced us to the city and helped us set up our first ever project there. 

He was an incredible character back in those days, full of optimism and real pioneering spirit – and what seemed to be a real love of Russia and everything to do with it.  He was full of stories, plans, ideas, revelations, and theories – some of which turned out, we later discovered, to be complete figments of his imagination, but always entertaining nevertheless. 

The following year, late 1991, we returned to Moscow to conduct the main part of the project – we were now a 10-strong team, and Rod continued to work with us, to provide overall context of goings-on in Russia, and to help us arrange meetings with politicians, press, etc.   

I must confess it became quite tricky to work with him and he was clearly under a lot of stress through goings-on in his personal life which we never really understood.  He was always needing to be loved, and became melancholy and aggressive if he thought that he wasn’t. 

But despite all this, he remained one of the most colourful characters I have ever met and worked with, and I will always be grateful to him for opening the doors of Moscow to me, a place I remain to this day totally entranced by, and I still return several times every year, mainly just to remember those amazing days with Rod and the work we did there at such an amazing turning point in history.  

I stayed in touch with Rod for a few years after that, and then our contact dwindled to a call every couple of years or so. I started to send him emails and messages to see if we could meet. He rarely responded over the past few years, but on the couple of occasions I spoke to him on the phone he said he’d been very unwell and was awaiting various treatments and operations.  I wished him well, and he called me again out of the blue several months ago, and we shared a few wonderful memories of our timed together in Moscow. He sounded frail, but promised that we should meet again if he got through the latest round of treatments.  Sadly it was not to be, and I will always be sorry for that.

RIP Rod Pounsett.

Stephen (Andersen Consulting)

I was trying to find a current phone number for Rod when I sadly came across your notice of his death.  I had wondered why he didn’t answer his email, though we had been in touch infrequently of late.  I’m so sorry to hear of his demise.  I worked with him on the Today programme for many years and had a lot of fun during that time. 

Sue (Today, BBC Radio 4)

My husband, who was Deputy Editor of the Today programme for several years, was a colleague and friend of Rod’s for many years and Rod came to stay with us at our several homes over a long period.

I didn’t have to work with Roddy (as I always called him) which sometimes was not easy for his co-workers, and I was exceedingly fond of him – as were both our sons.  He had an amazing gentle charm about him which was very endearing.  

We went to visit him in Worthing when he was house-hunting but then at the end of 2014 we moved to France and lost touch.  We came home one day to find a message from him on the answering-machine with a phone number, but though we tried it many times he never answered.

I am sorry therefore to hear of his death via some BBC colleagues, and though indeed he had a troubled personal life as you put it – he was much liked by many people; I for one shall not forget his charm, his kindness, his lovely gentle and reassuring voice, and his constant stream of exciting fun ideas and things to do.

Sherry (Today, BBC Radio 4)

This is very sad… Rod was sometimes difficult to deal with, but I do have a lot of fond memories of the time we spent together.

One thing is for sure – he was never dull. RIP.

Sergei (Moscow)

Rod will not be forgotten.  He brought a unique spirit to our time in Moscow.  It was an unforgettable times for so many reasons and he was certainly one of them.

Katherine (Moscow)

It is always sad to lose one of life’s great adventurers and, in my experience of him, Rod was certainly one of those!

Ken (Moscow)

Rod was my first foreign employer, eccentric, superbly verbal, kind and hospitable, full of different unheard of stories, omnipresent and mobile, a great, but messy (you should see the kitchen after his creative job) chef. I remember him waiting for the doctor and saying: ‘What can I expect from the doctor and my health: I drink, smoke, eat a lot.” RIP, Rod

Larissa (Moscow)

Really sad… Rod loved life so much and seemed to enjoy every moment of it! It was never boring working for him.

Lena (Moscow)

There you go Uncle Rod, people did love you!

Rest in peace.

More about Rod can be found here:

https://seagullnic.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/the-death-of-rod-langham-pounsett/

https://seagullnic.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/john-lennon-my-working-class-hero/

http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2015/news/former-regional-reporter-and-post-cold-war-pioneer-dies-at-76/

 

Note: If anyone wants to add their memories of Rod to this piece, please email me at: nicoutterside@writeahead.co.uk

 

The Death of Rod Langham Pounsett

IT is with great sadness I announce the death of my uncle Rod Pounsett (my mum’s young brother).

Rod started his career as a reporter and photographer on the Worthing and Shoreham Heralds in the early 1960s.

He went on to host a daily show on BBC Radio Brighton in the 1970s – one of the very first phone-in radio shows – and later became senior producer for the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. He was at the helm when they reported the death of John Lennon in 1980 and the great storm of 1987.

He also worked for the Daily Express and started the first western news bureau in Moscow after the end of the Cold War.

He had a troubled personal life, but he was an amazing journalist and a good uncle.

I had not seen Rod for many years, but he was the person who got me into journalism when I was just 17 years-old, by securing me an interview with the editor of my local newspaper. I have many happy memories of listening to off-the-record tapes of interviews he had with the likes of Denis Healey, Jim Callaghan, Jimmy Young, Norman Tebbit, Clive James and many others.

It took a further 10 years before I became a fully-fledged hack, but it was Rod who started me off.

He passed away yesterday aged 76. More about him here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rod-pounsett-6551891b

I will write a more lengthy eulogy in my blog at the weekend.

This appeared on Hold The Front Page on 17 December: http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2015/news/former-regional-reporter-and-post-cold-war-pioneer-dies-at-76/

 

Charles Kennedy (1959- 2015)

DURING my 28 years in journalism I lost count of the number of MPs and other political animals that I interviewed or met.

As a breed, politicians are a disparate and often unsavoury lot of people. While some are true ‘public servants’, many more are egocentric single-minded careerists lining their own pockets and those of their politically like-minded friends.

There have been a few I have admired for their honesty and political integrity… Tony Benn, Alan Simpson, Dennis Skinner, Caroline Lucas, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon all spring to mind.

But there are even fewer that I have warmed to as human beings – the sort that in another lifetime you might regard as close friends. One was the late and lovely SNP MP Margaret Ewing, another her husband and MSP Fergus, and the third the wholly wonderful Charles Kennedy MP.

This morning I woke at 7am to read the news of Charles’s sudden death, less than four weeks after he lost his parliamentary seat in Ross, Skye and Lochaber – a seat he had held since 1983 – during Scotland’s SNP landslide, or the ‘Night of the Long Sgian Duhbs’ as he called it.

His political legacy is immense.

Mr Kennedy led his party the Liberal Democrats to its best-ever election result in 2005, on the back of his opposition to the Iraq War two years earlier, but he resigned early in 2006 after revealing he had been receiving treatment for a long-standing alcohol problem.

In 2010 he was the only leading Lib Dem MP to openly oppose his party’s coalition with David Cameron’s right wing Tories.

Yet he was admired right across the political spectrum for his honesty, friendliness and integrity.

So this morning I was left numb and cast about on the internet for news of his death.

Among many tributes I found one which touched me immediately. It was written by Charles’ long-time friend and soul mate, Tony Blair’s former strategist Alastair Campbell.

I am no fan of Mr Campbell or his New Labour politics, but his words have a resonance at this time: “Charles Kennedy was a lovely man, and a highly talented politician. These are the kind of words that always flow when public figures die, often because people feel they have to say those things, and rightly they are flowing thick and fast today as we mourn an important public figure, and a little bit of hypocrisy from political foes is allowed. But when I say that Charles was a lovely man and a talented politician, I mean it with all my heart.”

Mr Campbell goes on to outline his close and enduring friendship with Charles Kennedy.

He finishes by saying: “He was great company, sober or drinking. He had a fine political mind and a real commitment to public service. He was not bitter about his ousting as leader and nor, though he disagreed often with what his Party did in coalition with the Tories, did he ever wander down the rentaquote oppositionitis route. He was a man of real talent and real principle.

“Despite the occasional blip when the drink interfered, he was a terrific communicator and a fine orator. He spoke fluent human, because he had humanity in every vein and every cell.”

Read more at: http://www.alastaircampbell.org

I had no such close friendship, but like most Scottish journalists always regarded Charles – or Charlie as we called him – as a ‘good chum’ and someone you could trust.

I first met Charles at a Highland Press ball in Inverness in January 1992. He was a young and dynamic MP who was steeped in Scottish journalism. With a glass of whisky in one hand and obligatory cigarette in the other, he exuded warmth, humour and conviviality – first impressions, and I warmed to him.

There followed a two year hiatus before our paths crossed again.

Then over a period of about six years he was a first port of call whenever I needed a chat or quote on any Scottish political issue. He always obliged, often returning my call late at night, with a chuckle, a whisky soaked slur and a “How are things, Nic?”

Charles was always warm, took time to listen and gave compassion, insight and humour at almost every turn.

I recall bumping into him almost daily during the campaign for the first Scottish parliament in 1999. On one occasion we literally did collide outside a hotel toilet in Edinburgh… he was exiting with lit cigarette in hand, puffing smoke and chortled: “Hello Nic, where are the other guys?”

He gave a cheeky wink, patted me on the back and hurried up to the waiting news conference.

Our final conversation was via telephone in 1999. I was working for the Press and Journal in Aberdeen, had called his London flat for a comment on a story I was writing and left a message on his answerphone. Sometime around 10pm he returned my call and finished with: “Get down to London Nic and we can share a few beers and chat over what’s happening up there.”

Sadly we never did.

Others knew him much better.

His predecessor as Lib Dem Leader Paddy Ashdown said: “In a political age not overburdened with gaiety and good sense, he brought us wit, charm, judgement, principle and decency.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “It’s a dreadfully sad day for Scottish and UK politics. The news about Charles Kennedy is stunning and absolutely tragic. Charles was one of these rare things in British politics, he was a brilliant and effective politician, perhaps one of the most talented politicians of his generation. And yet somehow he managed to be universally liked.”

Former First Minister Alex Salmond added: “Charles Kennedy was by far the most generous person I have ever met in politics. Sad loss of a great politician and, above all, a great man.”

David Mundell, the new Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “I have known Charles for over 30 years. He was an outstanding Scottish and British politician who was deeply committed to the Highlands and held in high esteem across the political spectrum for his judgement and principles. He was a genuinely nice man and his sense of humour and fun will be hugely missed.”

Former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik says he was “not surprised” by Mr Kennedy’s death, saying politics was “his life” and losing his seat last month would have been a major blow.

“He had a hunger to serve people – 32 years of it,” he says. “I thought that he needed to get into the House of Lords quickly because that institution was enormously supportive.”

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said the UK has lost a “political giant”, adding: “Although we came from different political traditions, Charles was a man I was proud to call a friend.

“When I was first elected to the House of Commons back in 1997 as a young 29-year old, Charles was one of the first people to offer me support and guidance. He didn’t have to, but he did. That’s just the kind of man he was. Despite the sadness, those of us who knew him will remember the good times. We will look back at Charles’ wit and good humour. In years to come we will remember with a smile the delight in knowing him, his huge contribution to politics and a life lost too soon.”

And former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg summed him up: “Charles Kennedy on form, on a good day when he was feeling strong and happy, had more political talent in his little finger than the rest of us put together and that’s why everyone just felt, and still of course feels today, that it was just so tragic to see someone with such huge gifts also struggle as many people do with the demons that clearly beset him and the problems that he acknowledged he had with alcohol.”

I will close this piece with timeless comments from Professor James Raven from Cambridge who says he was honoured to call Charles Kennedy a friend: “The death of Charles Kennedy is a devastating loss for British politics. It’s a tremendous shock. A man of the greatest integrity, he advanced the cause of social justice and liberalism with immense thoughtfulness and determination.

“He combined enormous personal charm with huge and self-deprecating abilities. He was so effective because he was so passionate and warm. I first knew him as a very young MP in 1983 and we campaigned together through the 90s and three general elections.

“I was honoured to call him my friend and have treasured memories of his personal and generous support. He was an immensely gifted leader. I suggested he took a sabbatical to overcome his problems. I think the party would have accepted that. I regret he stood down.

“In private he was quite a shy man. He was a good friend to people. He was a very proud highlander. He will be missed by everyone who cared for the future of this country.”

Rest in Peace Charlie.

I’m down on my luck and I’m black and blue

OVER the past six months I have written a series of introspective pieces about my own life trials and tribulations. It was been necessarily therapeutic and cathartic but at other times just navel gazing!
Yes, I have become a bit wrapped up in myself.
Then last week I received a surprise email from an old friend and colleague which snapped me out of self-pity and allowed me to focus on someone else.
It was the shock I needed.
I have known Mark for about eight years. We worked alongside each other and I respected him as a bright and intuitive journalist and a razor sharp writer. But more than that, he became a good friend and personal confidante.
He moved away in 2009 to work for another newspaper group in the south of England and our contact sadly became sporadic.
He had almost dropped off my radar until last summer.
Following my break-down and decision to quit newspaper journalism, Mark was one of the first people to offer to write me a personal reference.
His testimonial was amazing. His words made me believe in myself once again, when my life was at its lowest: “Nic Outterside is cut from a different class when it comes to editors. Meeting and working for Nic gave me a strength and inner-belief that few could ever manage. I will never forget his presence in the newsroom, his advice or guidance, all of which are worth more than gold.”
I was humbled, gobsmacked and thanked him profusely.
He told me he was no longer enjoying newspaper journalism and was looking at other options. We promised to keep in better touch with each other.
But once again he quickly seemed lost from my radar.
And I have only just found out why!
I will let Mark’s own words tell what happened; the trauma he has endured and thankfully survived:
“The last eight months have been a bit of a blur. Things had been going downhill for a while with work, in that they were flogging me to death and I just took more and more on. It was 12 hour days, no breaks, abuse, all sorts. People around me were having breakdowns, ill health, just plain walking out, and I did what I had always done and simply absorbed as much as possible.
Given that I could do the job, more got piled on me, and one Saturday September morning at the local magistrates’ court, picking up the first appearance of an alleged rapist, I suddenly blacked out, collapsed down a flight of stairs, shattered my collarbone, lacerated my face and was knocked clean out. Initially the doctors thought I had brain damage due to an episode from the force of the fall.
I spent a week in hospital having all sorts of tests, scans etc. Then I had surgery on my shoulder and four pins and plate inserted. I wanted to go home so they eventually relented and let me out about a week later, went back to my folks, I’ve never been in so much pain in all my life. My shoulder, back, and god knows what else that was battered as a result of going down something like 20 metal steps was excruciating, every single day.
Nightmares about falling were waking me up, then waking up and crying out in pain because I was rooted to the bed. It was horrid. Had to go back to the hospital for months and months of tests, CT scans, sleep deprivation analysis, physio, trauma, polytrauma, speech and language therapy – I was unable to talk properly, and have had severe memory problems.
The day itself was wiped clean from my head, I can remember very little, even from before. Except for the fact I hadn’t slept the night before, which was pretty much the pattern of the prior six months, no sleep, little food. Not being able to remember life events, words, my vocabulary was shocking, and I was shaking as I was walking. It was horrible, and must have been quite scary for the people around me – I recall very little, and the process of recovery has been akin to waking from a bad dream.
Meanwhile I was applying for jobs. But nothing really happened. The doctors obviously didn’t want me anywhere near work given I was going to hospital still two/three times a week.
Then I launched myself into a period of rehab, started doing whatever I could at home, weights, running etc. It was painful at first, but really did help me mentally start to recover. One by one the hospital classes stopped, and now it’s just a case of going back every so often for checkups.
I was at the end of what I could take with newspapers, the old paper is still driving people into the ground, with two or three people leaving every month, shocking stuff.
I wasn’t sure what the future held, but have moved into an area where I can still investigate stories, still dig into things, and it’s interesting. I went for several interviews – including a press officer job at the Home Office – while still in the sling, with my face still a mess of bruises and swelling, that’s how desperate I was to get out.
Then this job came up, I had to go for three interviews, but they seemed to not really care about the obvious injuries, just that I seemed the right man for the job, and they had plans for me.
So now I live and work in London for an amazing online publication. I find it very interesting, the pace is slow, but I am working on some very big stories, with a lot of time to properly research, there’s travel, and I seem to have landed on my feet. Whereas I was being screamed at for six or seven leads a day, and then told they were all shit, I now have time for a break, work on one investigative piece a day, and leave work behind at the end of each day.
I have gone from one of the worst lows of my life, I didn’t think I would be able to walk properly, talk properly, I had no idea what happened to me to be honest, it was terrifying – to now being in a place where things have completely turned around.
Never thought it could happen – and each day is a blessing. I am sure people look at me like I’m daft, scars over my eyes and can’t fully extend my arm, but I couldn’t be happier. So when you are in the bottom of a very bad funk, in time it will pass.
I never had a news editor that could match your brain for a story, or someone who could make a front page sparkle. Considering I ended up working for three decent regionals I never forgot the man whose hand guided me early on and who looked beyond face value to see there was actually a reporter in there -so believe me, your story isn’t done, and I hope that things start to turn around for you soon.”
Mark, I want to embrace you and tell you that you will always be a special friend. Your story is uplifting in its own right. Your courage and friendship has forced me to look beyond.
Thank you.