Famagusta..


It’s 8am and before I tell you about what we have in store today, something I’m really looking forward to, I must finish the Famagusta story, although it will never, ever be finished such are the elderly people there still so very haunted by it all.
The main place where I hung out to meet certain people and set sail for those beautiful blue waters was where I met the writer of The Genocide Files, Harry Scott Gibbons.
The following has been posted, and once again in my life, had I seen this there was no way I would have returned, therefore not lost my money. But more than money the stories from Harry and the sights I had already seen were so off-putting that only a fool would choose a place to live, but these people, villagers, had no option.
The Genocide Files: This book should be read by every person planning a visit to Cyprus, south or the northern part of the island, Greece or Turkey. It is a thorough research into the so-called “Cyprus Problem” it exposes the bias of the United Nations Organization towards the Cyprus Turks and its apparent inability to protect them against their more numerous and military more powerful co-inhabitants of the island, the Greek Cypriots. The book describes how the Greek fixation with Enosis-Union with Greece-Led to a one-sided war against the Turks and the brutal massacres of their men, women and children.
I spent many a drink with Harry on the waterfront and after reading his account of this totally insane and barbaric slaughtering of these people I asked him many questions, which one would, and it was that sickening that I felt almost as if I were sitting listening to someone like Stephen Spielberg, a movie director of some sort, for this was far too unbelievable, but Harry, a very likeable humble gentleman could not have explained it to me any clearer. Its not being selfish at all, but if only had known, and once again the ignorance of having such a wonderful time in a place that was soon to be hit like no hurricane has ever struck before or since. These were humans beings from the other side of that border, not something rising from the bottom of any ocean or falling from any sky, these was people on people.
Was it not made clear in the English press?
Today, I have watched the news on TV more than ever before only because of the dangers of the 12 month pandemic and of course the lives lost along the way, to me it’s been like watching a Sci-Fi movie, absolutely horrendous.
I had just gone through the most rewarding part of my football life, I was resurrected by a stranger who put my life back on track and along that road won over thousands upon thousands of those people from the Potteries. I could walk the streets like a real “star” not that was the way I saw it but reading and writing this, that seems to be the way it was – and I hope still is to those of my generation. While in hospital for those twelve months after being moved from one side of London to another through the east of The Royal London to St Bartholomew’s I was finally down off the morphine. In my room in east London where all I can remember was that the walls were covered with glitter, or that was it was like for me. Cards and letters from all over, you name it, they seemed to come fom there. There were hundreds. The one outstanding memory of moving was being on the ambulance and on the way dropping another patient off at – this is truly unbelievable – right next door to Annie Besant Drive where I lived with my wife, which as not a good feeling because I know that she had other plans.
This was almost a part of that plan, because everything going through my head made no sense even though I had so much time to work things out. The ambulance then moved on and we pulled up at St Barts right next door to Smithfield Market, which I wasn’t aware of on that dark lonely night – lonely even though Ann was there? I remember the first thing she did the following morning. It was if this movie was put on hold. It was if the press stop button on the recorder was to be pressed again, as Ann took these cards and letters and put them to one side. She took the first and went to stick it on my new wall and without hesitation I said, ‘What are you doing? This has to to stop. I have been lying in bed paralyzed watching doctors, nurses, consultants, surgeons all strangers walking into my room and going through all of these. When they finish they turn to me and say: ‘Hello Alan’ I am beginning to feel like a circus act. Put those in that drawer. Things are different now I am not a sideshow, I am here to begin my rehabilitation and trust me, I’ll win.’
She put them into a drawer and left. Some weeks later I felt stronger even getting out of bed on my own and holding onto everything nearby, the wall, the window seal, the table and finally the bathroom door before the basin, to take a shower on my own. I put the hot water on my back and it ran for what seemed like hours. It was Heaven. The next thing I heard was my uncle George enter my room as chirpy as any bird outside my window. Surprised of my not being in bed and hearing the waterflow he shouted: “Al, you all right in there?”
‘George I didn’t realize how fantastic a shower could be’ or words very much to that affect. As time went by and questions were asked about these cards and letters I thought I’d finally take a look. As I said they were from everywhere across the world – but none from Leeds. There was even one from a midwife who was 93 and said she brought me into this world and prayed every day and night and went to church with her friends and they prayed with her.
The most fascinating letter was hand written by a lady from Stoke. She wrote to thank me for helping her onto a bus in Stoke Town Centre and giving the bus conductor a mouthful for not helping her with her shopping. She also said that when she got home she couldn’t believe that a man in my position could be so helpful and kind. I was touched more than I have ever been. Better than any ‘I saw you play…..’
It all came flooding back to me. It was a very quiet day and I had been in a pub I really like and, in fact, still head for when arriving in the Potteries, The Staff of Life, in Hill Street, where my friend David Grice had a decent idea about taking over a pub further up and liking his jazz calling it The Hill Street Blues Club, I liked this idea, but David was due a good one as he had one every time we met for a drink. Sorry David, it had to be said?
Anyhow, I haven’t a clue to where I was going to, all I can recall was crossing the main drag to the taxi rank outside of Woolworth which was next to the Bus Stop. The next thing that caught my eye was a bus about to pull up and this tiny lady carrying bags of shopping and as I went to help I looked at the bus conductor standing there as much as to to say “Hurry Up” and I gave him a little piece of my mind as I helped the lady on with both her shopping and of course herself. “Thank you very much, sir,” were her words and I thought no more. Now, here I was reading this letter from a lady who said that she had prayed and told that Alan Hudson had helped her in Stoke Town Centre. I didn’t bother reading any more of those cards and letters because that did it for me.
And, this was nothing to do with football, it’s called Life, something so very different from The Genecide Files, which reminds us from time to time how many different worlds that we actually live on?
My first drink today after our show with Terry will be for this lady in Stoke, in the hope she is well, and Harry Scott Gibbons a man of incredible bravery, who in appearance doesn’t fit the bill, but my goodness gracious this man was a hero in any walk of life.
The only thing I hope for Harry is that he doesn’t have cheese before retiring at night.