After a couple of years working with Matty, we both wanted to spread our wings and set off to work abroad. Matty took the initiative first. He applied for a job in Bermuda and also to be a long haul steward with British Airways. His dilemma came when he was accepted for both jobs. Go on, he said to me, you take the job in Bermuda, I will take the job with BA. We agreed and off he went for his final medical with BA.
He had passed all the other tests, just the medical and a blood test to go. Then out of the blue, his doctor phoned our work. I answered the call. Matty’s doctor demanded to speak to him directly when he returned from lunch. It was the worst news ever. Matty had leukaemia and was told he had only months to live.
I didn’t accept the job in Bermuda which I had now been offered, I just couldn’t do it. It felt wrong. Here we were, both wanting to work abroad and then being devastated with this terrible news. Matty insisted I took the job, but I wouldn’t. I couldn’t.
We compromised and I explained to Brian Shadbolt who interviewed us both at his jewellery manufacturing business in Warwick. Brian kept my name on record, he used to own a jewellery manufacturers called The Gem Cellar in Bermuda. A few months later, Matty had found a potential donor and another job came up in Bermuda at Sovereign Jewellers.
I set off to Bermuda on 17 August 1990. My Mum and my stepdad Geoff both wishing me well and probably hoping they never had to bail me out of another car crash replacement. Days after arriving, I met Paul McCartney & Phil Collins on separate occasions. Just as you do, walking up Front Street alongside the harbour.
Matty sadly died on 14 February 1991.
We had an all too brief friendship, but a very rare and special one. He never got a chance to fulfil his dream.
Later in 1991, I had a few visitors from the UK. My old housemate Collette who came over to visit and met her now husband Bruce who she lives with in New Zealand with their two lovely daughters.
My Mum insisted on coming on her own, leaving my stepdad Geoff back at home. I think Mum just wanted to check I hadn’t bought another crap car and wasn’t living the life of a drug baron. Little did my Mum know, I now had a moped. A noisy venerable 100cc Honda. Mum literally clung on to me with her fingernails in my ribs, desperately hanging on behind me on my moped. We went to see show at the Southampton Princess. Elegantly dressed as always and not impressed by the moped. I had another stern telling off and Mum insisted I bought any car available, as long as it had four wheels, four seats and a bloody roof ! I bought a red Subaru Justy J10 called dimples as the previous owner lived at Port Royal golf course and the car was covered in dimples where the golf balls had smashed into it. Who knows how many windows he lost if the car was anything to go by. But at least I had taken Mums advice on board and now had 4 wheels.
I thought I would only be in Bermuda for a year or two, but 10 years later I was still holding onto my work permit and for a couple of years after. It was becoming a bit like the line in the Eagles song Hotel California, ‘you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave’ Truth be told, I had become very involved in the local community and didn’t want to leave.
I was playing Sunday football and eventually started my own team and after a few years went on to form a proper Sunday league with fixtures, that wasn’t as easy as it sounds as so many people wanted to play and playable pitches were scarce.
The football celebrities were numerous.
I met David Beckham, David Seaman and most of the England Football team over a couple of days. Spent time with Harry Redknapp and Frank Lampard doing some football coaching in Bermuda after I took my CONCACAF badges. Took my badges with Clyde Best, one of the first ever black players to play in England’s top league when he signed for West Ham Utd. They were all great people.
I immersed myself in becoming a charity fund raiser. My speciality was organising 70s and 80s discos and football tournaments. I became close friends with Paul Sofianos who was a local radio and mobile DJ. We worked together for many years, we alternated the discos between 70s and 80s with a few Blind Date events to spice things up. We received great sponsorship from American Airlines, Gosling Bros (famous for their incredible rum) and Sovereign Jewellers, who I worked for.
The first football tournament was attended by Lord Waddington, he gave the winning trophy to the B.A.A. Wanderers. As the tournaments grew, so did the amount we made for various charities.
Paul Sofianos and I sat down and planned each event meticulously, we even made are own radio adverts. The discos were a huge success. The venue wasn’t very big, the Mariners Club could hold 300 at most, but we sold every single ticket. The biggest came in 2000. We planned it a year in advance, so when Paul suggested we contact David Bowie to ask if he could make an appearance. I was given the task of finding out if David could help, he lived in Bermuda for several years with his gorgeous wife Iman, he always enjoyed saying hi to everyone. I met him several times. I had also met his PA several times, she was happy to ask for me. She asked me for my phone number and then asked David to phone me, he did phone to say sorry he couldn’t attend as he was away working in New York but if we held another charity event to let him know and he would do his best to attend.