Well today is the day it’s all about – 7,305 days or 20 years ago, on Friday 15th November 2002 I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
“Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. It progresses quickly and aggressively and requires immediate treatment. Both adults and children can be affected.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is rare, with around 790 people diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK. Most cases of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia develop in children, teenagers and young adults.”
After 3 years of chemotherapy my treatment was complete and fast forward to 2022 and here I am celebrating still being here. If you’re interested in a I wrote a more detailed overview on the 5th Anniversary – 5 Years Ago Today Changed My Life!.
So far over £2,500 has been raised/donated which is incredible and I’m so happy with. With The Big Ball still to come in a few weeks I’m hoping we can add a decent chunk to further increase that amount!
Also a note to my future self – don’t do ‘30 Things for 30 Years’ in 2032, these past 6 months have been stressful enough, so don’t do it!
It’s a big target and I imagine I may ‘cheat’ a bit and some of the events will be small, but I just like the idea of their being 20 events/things.
I imagine there will be a Quiz of some kind as got lots written ready for the pub quizzes which obviously won’t be needed for a long while now since the Fire.
Will get brainstorming on what the other events can be (You’ld think I would have done that before making a website and announcing it etc but I work better under pressure!).
Ideally I’d like the final event to be in November and some kind of ball/dance where we can announce a rough final amount raised but that takes a lot of organising and my obvious venue (The Social Centre) is now a bit flat.
Had a super busy one last week, ideally would have been a bit more spread out but just happened to fall on the same week.
Monday – Cinema
Went back to the Cinema (thanks for the free ticket O2 Priority!) to see Spider-Man: No Way Home for the second time, enjoyed it just as much the second time (possibly slightly less as always nice to see things for the first time). I first watched it on the day it was released in the UK (15th December) so I’d managed to avoid spoilers.
Wednesday – Jason Manford
Went to Bath to see Jason (for the 4th or 5th time I think, lost track) was really good evening with a few drinks before hand to make it even better.
Thursday – Rum Tasting
A rum bar opened in a nearby town a year or so ago and somehow I still hadn’t made it there so when a rum tasting evening was advertised it seemed the perfect opportunity. Got to try 5 different rums all made by Diplomatico, with suggested mixers and a few snacks. Good catch up with a mate (who got me started on rum a few years ago) too.
Saturday – Example
I last saw Example just before the world went crazy in March 2020, also in Bournemouth so when he announced his next tour had to go again. Think this was the 7th time seen him now, almost every time in Bournemouth (do like a good night out there). When he released his ‘Some Nights Last For Days’ album in 2020 he said everyone who brought it along to his next tour could get it signed + get a picture with him. Well I had the CD (until the Fire that is) so I messaged him asking if I could still get an autograph and picture anyway which he obviously agreed to, good bloke.
I’m planning on a quiet one this weekend to recover! Ironically after doing all of that in a week I don’t think I have any plans at all in February which is probably just as well really, for both my liver and wallet!
Decided to put together a little timeline/overview of the fire at The Owl/Social Centre/My Flat that happened 6 months ago today (14th June 2021), mostly for myself to look back on as I have a terrible memory so wanted to do it while I could still remember stuff. Plus I’ve always regretted not keeping a diary of my Leukaemia diagnosis and treatment to read back.
14th June - 07:31
An Ironic Prediction
I sent the image above to work chat group, with the caption "A warm Monday already!".
It was always warm in the flat because of the pub refrigeration etc all pushing out hot air.
14th June - 10:00
About 10 am I had a power cut, not particularly unusual for Bromham but still annoying. Got up to go downstairs to the pub to see if was always out there or just in the flat.
As I was grabbing my keys from my bedroom (luckily all in one bunch, including my car keys) the fire alarm started and I heard a lot of shouting/noise from outside on the roof by my external door.
I decided even though it was a longer route I would exit the building by going down through the pub and outside that way (a good decision it turns out as my external door was right next to the fire).
14th June - 10:05
Once I got outside I had a look what was going on and saw smoke pouring out of the roof. The cut out just below the smoke was my exterior door so think I made the right decision exiting through the pub!
14th June - 10:11
Even Smokier Roof
We had all moved away from the building and into the car park and the smoke was starting to come out of the front of the roof now.
I think it was about this point I said to someone "Oh no I left my Office and Bedroom windows open, everything is going to be smoke damaged!" - At the time I thought that might be the worst of my problems!
14th June - 10:15
The Sofa Bed Incident
Mother phoned me as she had heard about the fire, I told her didn't looking like I would have anywhere to live or any possessions left. Then we had this gem of a conversation:
Mother: "We'll have to get a sofa bed or something" Me: "Yea" Mother: "You've got a sofa bed though haven't you?" Me: "Well yea and where's that?!?" Me: "Oh yea!"
The Definition of Irony
Was walking past and spotted this shell of a burnt fire extinguisher which seemed a tad ironic.
14th June - 10:16
The Roof, The Whole Roof and Nothing but the Roof
Another 5 minutes gone and by now the smoke was coming out the roof and the other end of the building.
14th June - 10:22
The first of many Fire Engines arrived.
14th June - 10:25
Bye Bye Bedroom
Multiple engines now plus in a brief clearing of the smoke you can see a fairly large chunk of room missing, that area was my Bedroom.
14th June - 10:32
Abra Cadabra - The Disappearing Roof
Middle section of the roof starting to disappear.
14th June - 10:33
That's my bedroom properly on fire (not that it was pretend before).
14th June - 10:37
Ignore All My Previous Sarcasm
Phoned my Boss to let him know I wouldn't be back at work for a while. Considering my message a few hours earlier saying how warm the flat (plus the fact I'm known for being a tad sarcastic at times) it took a bit of convincing before he believed me that my flat was literally on fire.
14th June - 10:39
The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is on Fire
Big ol' flames pouring out the far end of the roof now.
14th June - 10:42
Chunk of Fire
That big chunk of fire on the left was my bedroom, don't think I need to worry about everything being smoke damaged now...
14th June - 10:48
In The Middle
Middle section of the roof has completely gone.
14th June - 10:56
I'm All Right Jack
Right side of the roof pretty much gone.
14th June - 11:05
Single Story Building
A little over an hour after the fire started and the first floor has almost disappeared, just my possessions left burning (mostly rum and t-shirts).
14th June - 11:06
That's Not Meant To Be On Fire
The Social Centre foyer well and truly on fire.
14th June - 11:23
We decided to wander around the side of the building (not a lot to do other than just standing there watching everything you've ever owned turn to ash).
This was the Skittle Alley and the gap above It was my Lounge / Bar (RIP).
14th June - 11:35
I'll Just Put This Over Here With the Rest of the Fire
There's something almost eerie about the amount of fire either side and above The Owl side which escaped (almost) unscathed.
This is a reason I'm really glad I'd picked up all my keys as if my Car Key was left behind my car would have been parked right in front of there and would have been a bit damaged I think!
14th June - 12:43
Nothing Left to Burn
The Lounge isn't on fire anymore! I think mostly because there wasn't anything left to burn.
14th June - 13:17
There Was A First Floor?
Looking at this you wouldn't believe there was ever a first floor! (I suppose the smoke and fire engines are a bit of a clue though).
14th June - 21:20
Background Good, Foreground Bad
Wandered back down in the evening, there was an engine staying overnight to keep an eye on things.
Was quite a beautiful sky in the background, just a shame about the destroyed building in the foreground.
15th June - 19:00
Interview with Wiltshire Live
I had a telephone interview with Wiltshire Live, which was posted on their Facebook page.
“When I first went out and was stood in the car park, I looked up and thought ‘argh, my office and bedroom windows are open - everything’s going to get smoke damaged’, and at the time I was thinking that was going to be the worst of my issues.
“Well, it does stink of smoke now but it’s also a pile of ash”, he jested.
After being interviewed at Lunch time I was on the ITV Evening news (Yes I do autographs).
17th June - 12:45
A Bomb Site
Went around the back of the Social Centre with one of the Fire Investigators and took this picture, which honestly was the Hall and not a bomb site somewhere.
17th June - 18:30
BBC Points West
Another TV Interview for BBC this time, they spoke to my Cousin Stacey too who organised the fundraiser (which was over £12,000 by this point, crazy!!)
Whilst searching for remains from the Millennium Display in the Hall this was found, my favourite mug! Mostly because it was wide enough to dunk a whole digestive without having to bite a bit off first.
Hoping to piece it together enough to put in a display case as some weird memorial thing.
Pile of Rubble
No walls remaining now, just piles of rubble remain.
So back in June there was a fire while the roof of the pub I live above was being repaired and in short the whole building was destroyed. Obviously I got out (unless I’m writing this as a ghost ooooohhh) as did everyone else which is obviously the most important thing.
Less than an hour after the fire started the entire second floor (including my flat) had gone, it was very weird to watch pretty much every possession you’ve ever owned go up in smoke (literally!).
Most of the stuff I had in the flat can be replaced but there are lots of things that will be harder to find but I should eventually (if I want to get them again that is, I had been saying for quite a while I needed to declutter but this was a slightly extreme way of doing it!) such as the limited edition Kraken bottles released each year which I had the full set of or the orignal promotional The Streets lighters released for each album.
But then there is the stuff that I can’t replace which is a bit more upsetting, things like the t-shirts from when I left primary and secondary school that my friends signed or the tickets from almost all of the comedy and music gigs I’ve ever been to.
But at the end of the day, as upsetting/annoying/insert emotion here it is to think about the things I’ve lost it’s all just stuff and human life is a tad harder to replace than that.
Bit of advice I’d give that I’ve learned during this – Every 6 months / once a year record a video on your phone for each room in your house, capturing everything in there, open drawers and cupboards etc and film in there too. It will make it one hell of a lot easier if you ever need to write a full inventory for insurance purposes!
I did a couple of interviews on the local TV news programmes (Yes I wore the same t-shirt for both, I didn’t have mant new ones yet) so I am now providing an autograph service 🙂
Also just want to thank all of the friends and family for the massive support I’ve recieved (as well as from complete strangers!) in whatever form it was, wether it be money to help me replace things I needed straight away, clothes (never liked clothes shopping, except for comedy t-shirt obviously) or messages of support and offers for a room to stay.
I had an incredible amount of money donated (over £14,500 altogether!) which after spending some amounts on basic supplies, the chunk of it is going to be put away whilst I’m sorting out my finances and long term will go towards a deposit for my own place (becoming a grown up? maybe not).
Finally whilst it was my home, beneath the flat was The Owl (The pub I’m Director of) and the Social Centre, which was a massive part of every Bromham person’s life with everything going on there from Christenings and Birthday parties to Weddings and Wakes, let alone all of the village clubs and groups that used it. In the time since the fire a temporary building has been installed and the demolition has completed, it looks very odd seeing the flat space the building used to be! The building will be back in a few years and will obviously be modernised to support Bromham people for generations to come!