49 – We don’t need no education…

In an earlier post, dragged kicking and screaming, I spoke about my first day going to Blairtummock Primary School. I was four years old and I was being abandoned by mum and dad whilst my wee brother Darrin stayed at home. This was not on.

I carried on through Primary School, uneventful for the most part, but Secondary School (High School to the post-millennials) brought with it many many challenges. Some of which I am pretty sure I still enjoy the fruit of even today. After doing a tour of secondary schools, (Hutchesons Grammar, Lochend SECONDARY and Westwood) I left School December 1985, halfway through the fifth year. I was fifteen years old. I was already drinking and smoking hash. (Hold on to that thought of me leaving school at 15, this is called foreshadowing and it is important).

Only a short time before I was going to be a lawyer.

Instead, within weeks I was a YTS butcher. It wasn’t long before I had taken my first acid tab. By the summer I had my own council flat, ingesting copious amounts of speed, and nearly overdosed. My sixteenth year also saw my firstand second and third criminal convictions. I also began eleven years of hitting up (intravenous drug injection). I spent most of my time hanging on street corners and in other gang members (we were really just a collection of locals) houses taking drugs.

That quick.

At 18 I was arrested and charged with being concerned with the intention to supply drugs, (I know long winded but that’s what it was). I also spent some time (only a couple of weeks mind you) in Polmont Young Offenders Institution. I was on remand but owed fines so I did my time there. At 19 I had been on probation twice and I went to prison – again. Well, I say prison but it was Castle Huntly YOI (540 / 89) I was a number. It was full of teenage guys who, for the most part, wanted to be gangsters. We were in an open prison – but it was still a prison. I was released in August 1990. Dropped off at a train station and let go. Within hours I had another injection.

Between 20 and 27 life really is a blur. A lot of trauma happened, I think. I nearly lost my hand to a Temazepam injection.

At 27 I had the privilege of my real boss pointing a real gun at me and wanting to shoot me.

At 27 I went to Teen Challenge and met Jesus, and for the first time really understood love and forgiveness.

At 30 I met Tracy and understood real love in a different way.

In December 2002, my eldest brother, JP died, weeks before his 38th birthday.

2007 Tracy, my three beautiful daughters Alisha, Zoe and Naomi moved to Ballymena in Northern Ireland. Beautiful people that sustained us through a difficult time. In 2009 I moved home.

Mum passed away in 2010.

Easterhouse Community Church started February 20 2011.

Tracy’s dad Leo passed away in 2012.

My dad passed away in 2014.

2017 after much harassing and bullying from Tracy I started the Scottish Wider Access Programme in Glasgow Kelvin College Easterhouse campus. It stands on the ground s of the former Westwood Secondary School. My first day was in a class overlooking the building where the class I walked out 32 years before stood.

September 2018 I walked through the doors of the University of Strathclyde.

February 2019 – 33 years after that 16th year I got 78%, (an A) in an essay for Understanding Education in university. I have done other essays (not got such great grades but have passed them all).

But this A, in Understanding Education – a module I only added to make up my credits but yet love. This A and the timing of it.

The only thing lacking is being able to call my mum, as I always did since a conversation with Jay Fallon, Good news, bad news indifferent news Tracy and I always called my mum.

I love my wife Tracy, but yesterday I would have just once more been able to pick up the phone and call my mum. “Mum, I just got an A in my Understanding Education module.

Tomorrow in the Royal College Building in UoS, a group of friends (all around 18- 21 years old) and I will do some basic Physics experiments with primary school kids. It’s my placement for Placement and Curriculum Education module. I am grateful to God for this bunch. They care and are kind. They mostly want to be Primary School Teachers. If I am blessed with grandkids I would love some of this bunch to be teaching them. They also got me cake for my birthday.

My long walk to education has been arduous. it is far from over. But the mess I made in that sixteenth year, Jesus stepped in and redeemed. he has offered a second chance at so many lost dreams. He has taken me by the hand and guided me to this moment.

I am grateful.

(I am aware that this is a very quick run through that may seem to place less importance on things that happened in the INBETWEEN years. The purpose of this post is to give a snapshot of that long walk. It’s a story arc. Many people have shared with me, helped me and challenged me on this walk. I am thankful for every one of you. Even those at the time I hoped and prayed would go away. Today I am thankful.

It’s never too late.

If you or someone you love, needs help with the Christian response to addiction, or if you would just like to know more or need hope, please click on one of the following:

The Haven
Teen Challenge Strathclyde
Teen Challenge UK
Teen Challenge Global
Street Connect
Bethany Christian Trust
Jumping Jacks Outreach
Cornerstone Assemblies of God, Maryland
Broken Chains Ayr
Easterhouse Community Church
Stuart Patterson

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