Monday, October 24, 2016

Phil Potter - Youth Club Kid, worked on the travelling Fair Ground Walzer & joined the Royal Marine Commando's and SAS

So damn beautiful .........

This is Potter.
Years ago I lead a team running a seven day a week club - 
our little family  lived in the flat above.
At 10pm we kicked the teenagers out of the Y Club 
and welcomed in the gang from the local pub and
often stayed open until 2am.

Potter was one of the kids growing up with us.
My earliest memories of him was his continues stream of talking/asking/opinions/questions ......" 
Hey Wilson" he used to say ......... 
at the same time everyone else was talking of course ....

The visual Potter was once a 15 year old with a Leather Jacket, 
eager to catch up to his older role models.
His hair was long and always hanging over and into his eyes. 
His eyes were full of puss having caught his own bacteria. 
Really infected eye lids - the bacteria from his hair I guess.

I have an old cassette recording of an interview I did with him 
when he was 15/16. 
He had become a Christian and he was telling me 
all about the harassment he was experiencing in school 
and in the Y Club.
We were at Gwynfynydd in North Wales, 
a deserted Farm with out electricity, water or sanitation. 
We used to go there almost every month
with a gang of kids of different ages. 
Massive memories - developmental experiences -
building relationships -
the isolation brought us all together 
as well as the made-up stories of how someone had hanged himself 
in that bedroom upstairs, where we all slept, 
and that he still walks around the creaky floorboards at night............

As Potter was doing his interview there was abuse and 
heckling penetrating the sound. Unique recording indeed.
He later, when he left school officially, went off to work on a 
travelling Fun Fair - working on the waltzer!!
He joined the army, went to the Falklands during the war there and 
I have his letters which he wrote from the troop ship 
as they drew nearer to the conflict zone and his fears and his faith ....

He was a Royal Marine Commando and did the chomp 
over the island and eventually recaptured the town. 
Time passes ..............

We had moved to the East End of London working with 
young offenders in large quantity and their older brothers who had professionally qualified in the same industry - 
with their BMWs to prove it.
Then Potter turned up in his battered red Nissan. 
He came into the family home and slotted in with
Joy and Ann (the Sheilas), eating his own meal and all their left-overs too!
He slept on the downstairs floor at nights and then had
usually disappeared by morning.
This was his pattern - in and out of whatever Army work
he was doing and in and out of the Family home.

Then came his extra time running up and down mountains 
with a rucksack full of bricks. 
He was in training for the SAS. 
He was determined to apply and be the fittest - 
and he was so fit as he would have to be to join the elite.
He did it. 
He passed all his tests including the endurance and torture experiences.

We saw him irregularly after that. 
But he returned to us at every break in his assignments. 
He visited the Youth Club often and the local young and
older villains were keen to ask him questions and
offered him great respect - even with his odd northern accent!
He told us some vivid stories from his training experiences -
camping experiences in harshest hot and cold conditions. 
Never about his SAS missions.
One time we let him use our home when we were away for a week-end. 
He had a gang of SAS staying and our home was - let's say,
a bit misused.

He came to the Greenbelt Festival with us often. 
Talked about his faith with everyone. 
He talked !
& talked ........
Struggled with the fact that God loved him.
He carried the Greenbelt daily takings to the Bank
in the days when we all paid in cash ! - a true armed guard. 
He met many of our friends. 
He loved the Sheilas.

When we went to live and work in Romford YMCA 
he again joined us, dropping in unexpected - 
fitting in with anything we were doing and eating of course.
We later moved from the second floor tower block to a
Staff House in Romford.
Potter helped me to screw the wardrobes to the walls. 
I always remembered him, for eighteen years we lived there, 
every time the wardrobes wobbled when the doors opened.

He died. 

We heard about it via a network of friends.
Natural causes it was said! 
I don't believe it.
We will never know - I guess?

One day - back in the day - 7th October 1987,
the south of England and London was devastated by a massive storm 
that stopped trains, blocked roads and became headline news for weeks.
Michael Fish the weatherman is famous saying it was only 'light' weather!

Joy and me were not experiencing this in East London - 
we were in St Helens, Lancashire, at Potters funeral ........

So sad to remember all this but he left a stamp on my soul. 
We, the family, loved him, accepted him and I believe he loved us ........

So damn beautiful  
A beautiful human .............