You Can’t Crack Me… I’m a Rubber Duck!

Charlie Northage

I find it quite easy to remember back through the years, even back as far as three years old, although my short-term memory right now is a bit hit and miss. I am a visual person and the pictures of my past come flooding back very vividly as I recall events and experiences from my life, which is quite useful when writing this, my memoir.

I’ll try to keep to the facts, and the inspiring or emotional things that help it to flow, and not become boring, even though I have limited school education.
I’ll start with Christmas 1963. I was three years old then, although I was born in 1959. I received a pedal car from Santa. I was absolutely overjoyed at getting it, because it was exactly what I had dreamed of, and more!

It was red in colour and made of tin I presume. A typical old style, kids pedal car that you might now see occasionally on the Antiques Road Show. Wow! Was I happy! I couldn’t wait to give it a go.

We lived in a two up—two down terraced house in a small town in the North East of England UK. It was a nice friendly sort of place as I remember, and my Mum and Dad seemed quite happy to me at that time. We didn’t have a garden, we had a yard, which led out into an entry.

I took my new pedal car out into the entry, and away I went, pushing like mad at the metal pedals, where my feet fitted snuggly, and ‘bombed off’ down the entry. I’ll bet my face was a picture, as I was grinning from ear to ear with excitement. In fact, I do have a picture of me in it, and may end up using it for all to see.

After a while I remember needing the loo, probably from all the excitement, like a little puppy when it greets its owner who’s been away all day, and has now come home. So I went inside.

On my return, my beautiful little peddle car had been stolen! I can remember to this day the disappointment, sadness, and sheer horror that it had been taken. That was the first of many disappointments and immense sadness that I would experience in the journey of my life.

I recently told a friend about this moment, and his answer was, “what sort of **** would do such a terrible thing to a little boy.” He was right of course. At that tender age I thought the world was full of nice people.

Of course it is not. It was a very sad way of finding that out. I, of course, went back to being the nice little boy that I was, being brought up by my loving Mum, still totally oblivious to the fact that life was going to become harsh!

You Can’t Crack Me… I’m a Rubber Duck! Description:

An extraordinary tale of one man’s triumph over incredible odds. From a thirteen-year-old runaway sleeping in a “cardboard box city” deep within London’s urban streets, Charlie somehow summoned the stamina and resilience to triumph over a relentless string of adversities, betrayals, rejections, and losses which persistently dogged his life, to pursue a successful twelve-year career in the British Army.

Leaving military service, and forced to accept any kind of low-wage labour, he struggled with an undiagnosed case of PTSD which eventually led to alcoholism and attempted suicide. Yet throughout his life he continued to meet each new challenge with a firm determination not to be beaten.

You Can’t Crack Me…I’m a Rubber Duck! is an account of frequent personal misjudgments, failures, and heartbreaking remorse. Without indulging in self-pity or self-justification, this is the story of an honest man, one who searches the very depths of his hidden pains and personal failings as well as his deepest joys and achievements. Without pulling any punches he reveals himself to us as he is.

Sprinkled with loving kindness, abiding affection, and heartwarming compassion and gratitude for those closest to him, it is, above all, an attempt by a father to divulge his life story in order to bequeath a legacy to the children he lost years ago. They never realised the deep love their father had for them, nor the anguish their absence caused him.

Ever hovering in the back of his conscience are the faces of his children and an underlying sense of loss. From their father who loves them deeply, this is their legacy.

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