Archive for the ‘Memoir Man’ Category

Book Sales Reach A Grand Total In Late Surgeon’s Memory

Posted on: February 8th, 2021 by admin No Comments

Sales of the autobiography of the late orthopaedic surgeon John Anderson, who transformed thousands of Teesside lives by introducing joint replacement to the region, have raised £1,000 for charity.

The Man Behind The Mask tells the story of steelworker’s son, John Anderson’s journey from the streets of Middlesbrough town centre to being honoured by the Queen for his contribution to medicine.

The book was initially published privately for family and friends, but after John’s death last August it was reprinted in aid of Middlesbrough Lourdes Fund and the NSPCC and featured on Teesside Live.

Sales have just reached £1,000 and all the money has been handed over to the two good causes, thanks to Mr Anderson’s family covering the printing costs.

“Dad’s Catholic faith was important to him and during his life he had given money to the Lourdes fund mainly to help people who were unable to pay for the pilgrimage themselves,” said Mr Anderson’s daughter, Rachael.

“He also loved children and his career in the medical world will have shown him the great work the NSPCC does to help those who need it most.

“I’m sure he would have been delighted to see so much money raised from sales of his book going to help such worthwhile causes.”

Keith Tillotson, director of the Diocese of Middlesbrough Lourdes Pilgrimage, said: “We’re extremely grateful for this money, which is almost enough to pay for a supported pilgrim who otherwise could not afford it to go to Lourdes.

“Unfortunately we have been forced to cancel our 2020 and 2021 pilgrimages but the donation will be put to good use when we return in May 2020.”

Many of the people who bought the book were former patients who spoke so highly of John’s brilliance as a surgeon and how having their hips or knees replaced had made such a difference to them.

Michael McGeary, The Memoir Man

Katy Carmen, NSPCC fundraising manager for the North East, said: “This is a wonderful donation in memory of Mr Anderson, and will make a genuine difference in the lives of hundreds of children across the region and the country.

“Every £4 donated to Childline means our counsellors can answer another call, email or message from a child who desperately needs their support. Through the generous donation raised by this book, Mr Anderson is helping us make 2021 a better year for children, and we could not be more grateful.”

Michael McGeary, who helped write the book through his business, The Memoir Man, said: “Many of the people who bought the book were former patients who spoke so highly of John’s brilliance as a surgeon and how having their hips or knees replaced had made such a difference to them.

“But the other consistent thread in the emails we received was how kind and caring he was, always taking the trouble to follow up on his patients and see how they were doing even many years later.

“Many former colleagues also ordered copies of the book and they also praised John for his dedication to his work as well as the warmth of his personality.

“The messages were incredibly touching and were all passed on to John’s widow, Freda, and the family. Many added a donation in his memory to the cost of the book, helping boost the funds raised even further.”

One reader, Pamela Warne, wrote saying: “I bought a copy of this book for my mam and she really enjoyed reading it. Many years ago John Anderson replaced both my dad’s knee joints, which were extremely successful. 

“I’ve just finished reading this book myself and it was so interesting and enjoyable to read that I couldn’t put it down. I’m so glad I bought it, as it was nice to read about John’s family and his life.”

Mr Anderson, who would have been 80 last month (January), was a founder member of the National Joint Registry Committee and was awarded the CBE for services to medicine in 2004, receiving the award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

“Being able to serve the people of my hometown in the way I did was a wonderful privilege,” he wrote in the book. 

“It would be very hard to beat the feeling of seeing the happiness that a new hip or knee joint gave my patients and the transformation in their lives that followed. That’s all the reward I could ever ask for.”

In his role as chief of service for the trauma division he oversaw plastic surgery, maxillofacial surgery, spinal surgery, ear, nose and throat surgery, A&E and orthopaedics, first at Middlesbrough General Hospital and then James Cook University Hospital.

The book costs £8 plus £1.50 P&P. For further details please email thememoirman@gmail.com.   

Me, Privilege And The Dimbleby Dynasty

Posted on: July 15th, 2018 by admin No Comments

American investor Anthony Pompliano recently upset the sensitive world of the Twitterati with his list of habits of the most successful people he’s met.

It read like a nine-point synopsis of every self-help or management motivational book you’ve never read.

Of all the hundreds of sarcastic responses the Tweet elicited, my favourite came from Alex Peysakhovich (@alex_peys), who replaced the list with…

The most successful people I’ve met: 

  1. Are born rich. It’s really easy that way.

He’s got a point. After all, that single accident of birth is far more likely to shape your future prospects than reading constantly, working out daily, having a laser focus and every other one of “Pomp’s” checklist put together.

Here’s an example from my own life. When I was in my early 20s I was lucky enough to land a week’s work experience on the Richmond and Twickenham Times during my one-year NCTJ Pre-Entry Certificate in Newspaper Journalism at Darlington College of Technology.

I took a train to London and on my first day, the paper’s owner, broadcasting legend David Dimbleby, popped in to see how that week’s edition was coming along.

While he was there, he mentioned that, coincidentally, his son was also on work experience that week, but instead of spending it with a weekly local paper he would be working as part of the team that put together the Daily Telegraph’s esteemed Peterborough diary column (where another Old Etonian, George Osborne, got his break in journalism). Nice gig.

While my primary school, secondary school and sixth form college in working class areas of Middlesbrough have all since closed, Henry attended Eton and was slightly better connected than me, being a member of the country’s pre-eminent broadcasting dynasty.

Mr Dimbleby told us that young Henry would very much appreciate being fed any amusing snippets of news we came across that might be of use to the column – and suggested we would be paid a tip-off fee if they were used.

To my surprise, considering I didn’t yet have my media law qualification, the newspaper sent me on my own to Richmond Magistrates Court and told me to pick up as many court stories as I could.

The very first case I saw concerned a director of electronics giant GEC, who had been caught driving his luxury car at 60 miles per hour in a 30 zone.

Before giving the sentence, the presiding magistrate took a look at the form containing details of the defendant’s earnings.

“Is this figure per month or per year?” he enquired as he peered incredulously over his spectacles. It was, the director replied somewhat sheepishly, with the issue of fat cats being very much on the media agenda of the day, the former.

The exchange seemed to fit the Peterborough bill and I passed it on to Henry as requested and was delighted to see it printed in the following morning’s paper. No by-line, of course, and I never did see that tip-off fee either, but a “thank you” would have been nice.

Henry’s career and mine continued on diverging planes. I spent a decade with my local newspaper on Teesside, the Evening Gazette. I worked in most departments and took pride in reporting on events in the community where I grew up. My own expectations played a part in me never advancing my career by applying to a national paper. I suppose I subconsciously thought I’d already reached my level.

After that I spent 14 years in Middlesbrough Football Club’s media department and I’m now a freelance ghostwriter of autobiographies and PR consultant.

Henry worked with a firm of management consultants before he and his colleague John Vincent left to set up restaurant chain Leon. They have since been awarded MBEs for their work helping to improve the quality of school dinners – presumably that included adding Eton Mess to the menu.

Leon, I understand, is all about offering a better class of fast food. It hasn’t made it as far north as Middlesbrough, however. When I enter my postcode on their website branch checker, it responds helpfully – and presumably in received pronunciation – that my location “is not anywhere we know. But how about you visit us in our Carnaby Street restaurant?”

His father did venture north at least once. I know this because attended an edition of Question Time he chaired at Teesside University in 2010. It seemed odd to me that not one of the panel had any apparent link to the region.

Two of the seven were from Essex and five – including the chair and the two journalists – were privately educated, despite the recording taking place in a borough that has no private schools at all. That’s 71% of them, roughly ten times the percentage of the population who attend private schools. What are the chances of that? Don’t ask me, I failed my O level Maths.

I hope I don’t sound bitter. I’ve enjoyed every moment of my career so far and I’m grateful to the Dimblebys for that week back in 1990. Henry may well have been a far brighter spark than I ever was – although that expensive education will have helped there.

But there’s no doubt that the considerable advantages of privilege, be they family connections or money, start early in this country.

David has announced his intention to step down after 25 years at the Question Time helm and his son from his second marriage, Fred, is already making a pitch to follow in his father’s footsteps one day. Or perhaps inherit his Uncle Jonathan’s chair at the programme’s Radio 4 counterpart, Any Questions.

In 2016 the press covered a school Brexit debate Fred chaired, with the adversaries including his elder brother’s Eton contemporary Jacob Rees-Mogg and journalist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris. I’m not sure we’d have attracted those two along to my old comprehensive.

Fred has been offered a place at Keble College, Oxford, to read History and is apparently keen to pursue a career in journalism. I’m sure he’ll get all the work experience he needs on his way up the ladder and expect to see him on my TV screen before too long.

But if he wants to broaden his life experience as well as his work experience, I’d highly recommend that he does what I did and travel to the other end of the country to spend a week at a regional newspaper up in the North East. If he’s interested, I’ll even put in a good word for him.

 

 

 

The Mystery Of Mr Grebbit

Posted on: April 21st, 2015 by admin No Comments

WILDThe mystery of Mr Grebbit has been solved.

Benedict was very excited when a new classroom assistant joined the staff at his nursery.

“Who’s the new man working in your classroom,” Mammy asked him.

“That’s Mr Grebbit,” Benedict replied.

It was a somewhat unusual name, we thought, but at the same time it seemed to suit him. Being sociable types, we greeted Mr Grebbit every morning as we dropped our little one off. Not that he seemed to be too friendly back – maybe we were being over-familiar, we wondered.

Anyway, Benedict was clearly very fond of him, so he was doing a good job, as were all the other staff. Benedict became more and more settled and was clearly making excellent progress.

Ocassionally Benedict came home wearing a reward sticker that he told us proudly Mr Grebbit had given him.

At Christmas, a friend with a toddler in the same class asked us what the male class assistant was called. She knew that unlike his classmates, Benedict took pride in remembering all his teachers’ names. We were happy to help. “That’ll be Mr Grebbit,” we confidently informed her.

But as time went on, something didn’t seem quite right. One night, some months later, I chatted with the assistant about how the day had gone.

“That’s not Mr Grebbit,” scoffed Benedict as he toddled down the path afterwards.

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“That’s Mr Johnson,” he said, with that, “Dad, your such an idiot” tone perfected only by three-year-olds.

I was momentarily stunned into silence.

“But you said he was Mr Grebbit,” I eventually protested. Benedict flatly denied it. His unshakable position was that Mammy and Daddy had completely made this up and that he had absolutely no idea what we were on about.

For a while, Mr Grebbit became a household in-joke, although we didn’t actually know what the joke was, or who it was on, only that it raised a smile for all three of us. We’d regularly give him a namecheck, only for Benedict to smile and say, “Not Mr Grebbit, Daddy!” Soon he was mentioned less and less.

Only occasionally did we lie in bed pondering the day’s events and wonder once more how Benedict had got himself so confused. And we did feel a little bit guilty about passing on this information to our friend, who was still oblivious as to why one of her Christmas cards stayed on a table in the run up to the holiday break, unopened and unloved.

But today, at last, all became clear at last. Lyndsey was collecting Benedict from school when he came out with an extraordinary claim.

“Mr Grebbit did a poo on the chair!” he said, just as the male classroom assistant passed by.

“Benedict, don’t be so rude,” said Lyndsey.

With impressive awareness, Benedict saw that his Mammy was blushing in the staff member’s direction.

“No,” he said, remembering his parents’ problem with this particular issue. “This is Mr Grebbit,” he said.

At that he point to a chair. Upon it sat a baggy, green stuffed frog. After this revelation, everything started to fall into place.        

There was Mr Grebbit, sitting right there. With a special reward sticker dispenser in his froggy little mouth.

Tantrums, Tiaras And A Lost Toddler

Posted on: March 18th, 2015 by admin No Comments

PrincessBenedictIt was an eventful shopping trip. But then they’re always memorable with three-year-old Benedict. Leaving my wife Lyndsey and baby Patrick on the ground floor, I persuaded him to come down with me to the men’s department in the basement of Binns department store by threatening to take his bananas off him if he didn’t. They weren’t the kind of bananas that grow on trees, of course – he’d have handed them over happily.

This was a coveted bag of sugar-rush inducing sweetie bananas. Down the staircase we went. I enjoyed the amused smile of a shop assistant as I hoisted Benedict up by the waistband of his ill-fitting skinny jeans to conceal his Bob The Builder’s-bum. I momentarily switched off as I combed through a display of scarves looking for something stylish to complete my business look. Then I made my regular glance back to where Benedict had been following moments earlier.

“Benedict?” I asked hopefully, and then repeated it quickly and a little more urgently as it dawned that I was alone. An eternity of split-seconds passed as I prowled between the immediate rails of clothing, scanning frantically up and down in the hope of seeing him. I called his name again, this time louder, then immediately echoed it louder again. His absence felt complete. He’d gone. As the catastrophising started, I was overtaken by the alarming physical affects of my mental distress. My body was inhabited by melted muscles.

“Benedict!” Not wanting to move away from the small zone I thought he must be in I shouted, spinning on my axis, alarmed by his loss and the way the terror draining was my own ability to do anything about it. What if he wasn’t close by? What if someone was taking him away as I wasted time looking close by for him? What if I’d lost him forever? Then, 50 feet away, I saw the assistant who’d been watching us earlier raise her arm and point to back the foot of the staircase where we’d entered the department. I swept across the shop and saw him, and he happily muttered something mundane that I can’t recall anymore. “Benedict, I lost you,” I said. “No you didn’t, Daddy,” he replied calmly, blissfully unaware of any problem.

“Benedict!” Not wanting to move away from the small zone I thought he must be in I shouted, spinning on my axis, alarmed by his loss and the way the terror draining was my own ability to do anything about it. What if he wasn’t close by? What if someone was taking him away as I wasted time looking close by for him? What if I’d lost him forever? Then, 50 feet away, I saw the assistant who’d been watching us earlier raise her arm and point to back the foot of the staircase where we’d entered the department. I swept across the shop and saw him, and he happily muttered something mundane that I can’t recall anymore. “Benedict, I lost you,” I said. “No you didn’t, Daddy,” he replied calmly, blissfully unaware of any problem.

Once the family regrouped, we headed back to Sainsbury’s. I left Lyndsey with the boys and rushed round, picking up milk, bread and yoghurt. When I returned, expecting us to head straight for the checkout, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be that straightforward. Benedict was holding an Elsa tiara and jewellery set.

Lyndsey glared in my direction. “We haven’t got any pennies – have we, Daddy?” Benedict was genuinely distraught. “Have you got some pennies, Daddy?” he implored. He was tearful but determined and it was difficult to foresee a peaceful conclusion to the impasse. The reaction from our fellow shoppers was mixed; some amusement, some disbelief and some disdain.

Then Benedict stepped up his campaign a couple of gears. He wasn’t going down without a hell of a fight. “I want to be a princess!” he demanded. “Why can’t I be a princess?” His commitment to his cause was nothing less than admirable. After a five-minute standoff I quietly asked Lyndsey asked how much his little haul would cost us, and from that point on the eventual outcome was probably inevitable.

Our next stop was Barker and Stonehouse to look at sofas. Harmony restored, our family group walked through the shop. Benedict was wearing a tiara, with plastic pearls draped round his neck and bangles and rings adorning his wrists and hands. A salesman couldn’t hide his amusement as we passed him by. Benedict wrinkled his nose and nodded up at the stranger. “I had a little meltdown in Sainsbury’s,” he volunteered.

I kissed Benedict, four, maybe five, maybe nearer 45 times as I put him to bed, still wearing his Mammy’s silk shirt as a princess dress, although he’d agreed to part with the tiara and pearls, reluctantly accepting that they might strangle him, whatever that meant. “It’s Mammy and Daddy’s job is to make sure you and Paddy are always safe and well and sometimes we tell you to do things you don’t understand, but it’s always because we love you very much,” I told him. He nodded, trying to understand, and aware that I was saying something that was very important – to me, at least. “Because if anything bad happened to you,” I continued, “Daddy would start crying and never, ever stop.”

“It’s Mammy and Daddy’s job is to make sure you and Paddy are always safe and well and sometimes we tell you to do things you don’t understand, but it’s always because we love you very much,” I told him. He nodded, trying to understand, and aware that I was saying something that was very important – to me, at least. “Because if anything bad happened to you,” I continued, “Daddy would start crying and never, ever stop.”