Filed under: Moving on, Moving on, Uncategorized | Tags: children in care, family, identity, lac, relationships, The Who Cares? Trust, Who Cares?, Who Cares? Trust
First an email asking if I would be interested in filming a small piece about fatherhood.
Then there was a phone call. This turned into a mini interview with an assistant producer from Channel 4’s ‘4Thought’ programme – the series of two minute pieces they show after the news.
Then there was some to-ing and fro-ing, over dates and whether the filming would be in London or Manchester.
Then I was on a train heading to Manchester with my girlfriend Clea, and my son Dylan.
If I’m honest, I never really stopped to think through what I was doing properly. My only real thoughts and concerns were for my own parents, especially my dad.
When I told my mum in the kitchen on one of her weekly visits to my flat, she broke down. ‘I’m still so ashamed’ she wept.
‘Mum we’re not those people anymore,’ I said trying to fix the moment. But we both knew we were still those people or, at least, that we still carried those people within us.
The boy who couldn’t understand why nobody wanted him. The mother who was afraid of what she might do to the boy if he stayed: ‘I know you have to do this, I just wish things were different’.
My mum has fought a war with herself ever since she made that decision, twenty five years ago.
I have watched from the sidelines, unable to help her because ultimately this is a civil war, and only she can call the truce that will end it.
I have tried to let her know, while I can never quite understand how she came to that decision, I can somehow, in some way, appreciate it.
I know her story and I lived some of that story and the truth is I think she is amazing to still be here. Scarred and weary, still struggling at times, she is an inspiration everyday.
But she would never accept that.
I didn’t tell my dad about the programme until after I had filmed it. I was afraid. Not of him, but for him. Together, over the last few years, we have built bridges that have become strong.
We have built something brand new together. We couldn’t fix what had passed, but we could make something new and we did. Since my son was born this has only got stronger and, at the same time, he has softened.
He is vulnerable. He is human. He’s my dad.
I wanted to protect him as he is now, but I knew I had to talk about him as he was then.
I knew talking about the past would be difficult for all of us. As I lay in the bath that night after filming, I decided to phone him. He listened as I told him about the programme and how I had been approached.
I felt like I was stabbing him in the back. He had changed. We had changed. It felt like I was digging up the past, but at the same time I wanted to tell a small part of my story and his story: a story of change and resolution.
After I stopped talking there was a pause. ‘It’s ok’ he said ‘we’re all in harmony now’. A weight lifted off of me.
When the programme was filmed I spent 30 minutes in a chair talking about being in care, my dad, how I found Jesus for a bit as a substitute for a dad and then I talked about being a dad myself.
The whole thing was a blur.
Before the interview, I asked that they make sure that they included that my dad and I were in a very different place now, but they didn’t. As expected, 30 minutes was cut down to under 2 mins, but in the edit my dad was left battered and bruised.
Bits and pieces I had said to balance the story were now missing. I felt my story had been twisted, but at the same time I was proud of the piece as a document. At the end they showed my girlfriend and my son, and the experience of filming it together is a memory of now that we can cherish and protect.
I was worried, after seeing the film, about my dad. But he took it on the chin with a joke about how it being an ‘assassination’.
As I sit here now typing this out I think he is completely right, but probably not in the way he meant it.
It was an assassination. The man I talk of as my father in that film is dead. People do change. Families that are broken can be remade different, remade anew.
We still carry all the bumps and bruises and we still carry the people that we were. But I don’t hold onto this past because although that is somewhere I have been, it is not where I am now.
I dedicate this blog to my mum and dad. Thank you for living the change that it is so important for us all to believe in.
The 4thought piece is available to watch online.
I’m running in the silent darkness that only 6am can bring.
As Tinie Tempah sings of passing out through my ear phones, my legs wind up and flick the surface of the pavement. I cut through the zombies that are dragging themselves through the streets to work and pick up pace. All the problems that have dug their teeth into my skin try to hang on, but one by one they break off and are left in the ground screaming in my wake. My heart races to keep up with me, but I’m intent on out running it.
The last two months of pounding pavements, blood blisters and the odd Paula Radcliffe moment (in Costa Coffee rather then on the side of the street) are now returning dividends.
I know you’re probably thinking ‘what the hell is he talking about?’. Well for some crazy reason I have decided to run the London Marathon for The Who Cares Trust and everybody they support out there. But just as much as I am running for the charity, I am also running for myself.
I have always been a great starter, quick out the blocks, but my starts far outweigh my finishes. I could get all analytical and talk about all the moves I made as a kid jumping from place to place and the effect that has had on me later in life. I could talk about the difficulty in laying down deep roots with the people I care about and many other things. I could talk about the fear of failure forcing me to end things before I give them a chance. But I won’t. I am just going to keep running and see where I end up.
Today was my first early morning run and you might think I’m mad doing for this, but the light coming through in the distance is slowly pushing the darkness back. It’s a beautiful thing to witness… even in running tights!
If you would like to support the ‘Who Cares Trust’ and all the young people they support, please please sponsor me at: www.justgiving.com/jnicholson. I hate to ask because I know what it’s like getting sponsorship requests, but anything you can contribute would make a massive difference.
More training updates to follow!