Alfred J Fairhurst

From as young as I can remember to about ten years old, my father dragged the family around looking for work, or trying to set up in business himself. In that time I must have attended at least six schools in the North West, and four schools in Liverpool. Living by Liverpool Anglican Cathedral gives me my most vivid memories; playing in the Cathedral cemetery and in bombed derelict buildings of the second World War, without realising the danger. But the big issue for me was the fact that learning was a personal problem; I was always in a ‘B’ stream class, and could never understand why most of the kids seemed clever and I was not. My father did not help. He would make me stand in front of him; he would give me a simple word to spell, i.e. black or back but, for some reason I always got them mixed up, so he chastised me which, of course, knocked all the confidence out of me. It was an ongoing theme: spell black or back, and today, those two words are indelibly printed in my memory. He died when I was eleven years old, but the damage was already done.

In my twenties I became self-employed, working up to as many as fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. This meant that no one was looking over my shoulder and criticising my lack of education. Then, in my late forties, I took up scuba diving as a hobby which eventually took me to the very top of my profession, and so, for the first time in my life, I passed exam after exam and subsequently travelled the world teaching scuba diving.

In 1999 I was encouraged to take a test for dyslexia; it proved that I had a dyslexia issue in my memory retention and, right away, a huge load was lifted from my shoulders. All the years of pain I now understood, but, of course, the sad thing was that I could not tell my Dad.

Then in 2012 I met a lady who became very important to me. She inspired me to write poetry and then short stories; a whole new world opened up to me, and, in my stories, I can travel back (there’s that word again) into history and create my characters. I can talk to them, feel their joy or pain, see their families, what they did and how they lived, just by closing my eyes, and that is incredible.