Michael Daly CJ Blog

A Companion of Jesus

A Nomad. The Life and Times of Michael Daly CJ (Part 7) Bishops and A Rebellious Novice!

I was told by the Conventual Franciscans I could not become a priest unless I got the necessary qualifications to attend university at Canterbury and get a degree! This was the new Church with its twisted view on academia! I could become a permanent deacon under the new rule but not a priest! My parish priest in Addiscombe, Croydon, suggested I become a secular priest and go to St. John’s seminary in Wonersh, near Guildford! He arranged a meeting with Archbishop Cowderoy, who was the then senior prelate for the diocese of Southwark.

Anthony – Fr. Andrew, OFM Conv – Me

I had to write and submit an essay, explaining my life’s journey towards why I believed I had a vocation to become a Roman Catholic priest. I submitted an essay and was invited to St. George’s in Southwark, to meet with Archbishop Cowdrey!

I remember being greeted by two large Pyrenean Mountain dogs at the Bishops residence. I was ushered in and made to wait until summoned! I was called and entered a large room where archbishop Cowderoy was waiting for me. He was a very jolly man who greeted me warmly as he sat at his desk! I remember his warmth and how he smiled and laughed as he recalled my essay to him. He said he found my essay refreshing…but that his fellow auxiliary bishop, Charles Henderson, found it rather flippant! Archbishop Cowderoy said he hoped I would consider going to St. John’s Seminary and that there was a need for new blood and new ways of implementing much of what the second vatican council had set forth. After leaving the archbishop I was taken down the corridor to Bishop Henderson.

On entering Bishop Henderson’s office, I was met with the back of the bishop who was standing by the large fire place in the room. Without turning around, Bishop Henderson asked me to be seated in the chair in front of his desk. Bishop Hendeson then turned and his first words were how he thought the essay I had written, was very flippant to hand in to the archbishop! He then sat down! I then in my naivety said that It was how I talked to my Lord in Heaven and thought that I should be able do so, to my Lord Archbishop! I don’t know what it was…whether my words or something deeper and more holy and profound…but bishop Henderson put his head into his hands and for a moment was silent…then he looked at me and apologised! Charles Henderson, auxiliary bishop for the diocese of Southwark said he was sorry to me and repentantly said he belonged to the old school! I can’t remember too much more of that meeting, but undoubtedly it was a moment when two ages met and the older graciously bowed to the younger. A few weeks later I was asked to act as a steward in Westminster Cathedral at a large mass with many prelates. As the Bishops of England and Wales entered in procession, bishop Henderson saw me and stepped out of the orderly line to greet me by taking my hand and thanking me for being there. It was an extraordinary moment and I felt very special to be greeted thus!

In my heart I had decided long before. I was called to be a Franciscan and so I turned down the archbishop’s invitation to attend St. John’s seminary. which I officially received some days later after my meeting!

After much discussion with the Conventual Franciscans, I was accepted as a novice, along with my eldest brother, Anthony. Paul Wier who had been a student with me at Campion House, along with my brother Anthony and I would be the first novices at the new Conventual noviciate house, located in, Northampton. Fr. Robert Eastman OFM Conv, was the novice master and we had two brothers, Francis and Matthew in residence with us. Brother Francis was a short, Irish and very funny friar who was the cook. Brother Matthew was a more serious and quietly thoughtful Scotsman from Edinburgh! The friary was in Peveril Road, Duston and it was a large house with plenty of land, including an apple orchard. The Catholic Parish Church which we looked after was a few yards away down Peveril Road.

Me – Paul – Anthony.

I was given a lovely room with French windows and a balcony. I was also put in charge of the Orchard and that has a couple of funny stories attached to it! My first story happened when I was tending to the Apples in the orchard in early September. Two ladies approached me as I was standing precariously on a step ladder picking apples from a tree. They said Fr. Robert had said I was in the Orchard and that they had come for some apples. As I collected a couple of bagful’s for the two Irish women, we chatted. They said that we must have some wonderful pies and I jokingly said that Brother Francis, was a good cook but his baking skills were not that great! I thought nothing more about it as the ladies went off very happy with the collected apples. After dinner in the evening, I was in the main living room with Father Robert, when the door bell went. I said I would get it and went to the door to find Mrs. O’Leary standing outside with a very large tray, which covered a very large apple pie! She quickly thrust it into my hands saying it was still warm and hoped we would enjoy it! I took it back into the kitchen but as I passed the living room Fr. Robert asked me who had called at the door and I explained that Mrs. O’Leary had just brought us a lovely apple pie for us! Fr. Robert said he would like some and so I cut a slice and took it to him! I remember Robert saying how lovey it was, I sat down to watch the television when the door bell went again. I said I would get it and quickly went to the front door, only to find, Mrs. Murphy holding a large tray in her hands. She said to me that after hearing what I said earlier in the orchard, she thought she would make us an apple pie and so there it was! I tried to creep back into the kitchen without bringing attention to another apple pie delivery! But Robert called out and asked me who had been at the front door? I explained it was Mrs. Murphy….and that she too had brought us an apple pie! Robert wondered about the matter but thought it was just an amazing coincidence and a lovely charitable treat! I remember thinking…I must keep my mouth shut!

The next story from the Orchard was to occur when I was digging the ground in the Orchard near to the wire fencing, which was next to a public right of way passage, at the side of the friary orchard. Often people would pass along the passage and chat to me through the wire fencing. On this occasion I was digging the ground near to one of the apple trees next to the fence. I hit something hard as I was digging and it took me a while to move the earth to reveal a large buried sack. about a foot under the soil. I pulled the sack up and it smelled of old musty damp papers. I opened the sack to find a stack of magazines. Pornographic magazines! As I stood there looking at these magazines I was oblivious to the people waling along the passage way…looking at this young friar perusing the fleshly menu! Brother Francis came over, as I called him and we stood there for a while looking at these old naughty magazines, before taking them away to the friary’s own Gehenna, to be destroyed by fire! I don’t remember if anyone actually passed me while I stood there ogling over those magazines…but it makes me laugh to think about it!

Life as a novice was not really difficult. We were each give tasks in the house as well as outside! I had to clean the floors in all the shared areas and I decided the best thing to do was get up early and do this before Morning Prayer and Breakfast. Once I got into the habit of doing this it was not a problem…but it took a while as I wanted to stay in bed! The days had a rhythm of prayer work, study and free time. My brother Anthony sadly left us before our retreat to Mt. St. Bernard’s Monastery in Coalville, Leicestershire.

Mt St. Bernard Monastery is set in the countryside just outside the town of Coalville and it is a Cistercian Monastery which I still retreat to when I can. We were allowed to join the monks in their choir stalls for prayer and for mass. I remember standing next to a giant of a Monk at our first mass and this guy was a giant both up and down and around! At the Kiss of Peace I turned to this mountain and I was hoisted off my feet and hugged. As I said, Peace be with you…the response in my ear was “This is a funny way to meet…Peace to you too!” I remember that greeting with much affection and saw that the monks had a sense of humour and were after all human! I remember having time to chat with a Father Thomas who had been in the Monastery over forty years. Although they had no television or papers (they had been allowed to watch the coronation and the landing on the moon) they had a great understanding of the world and of people! Brother Gabriel was a very friendly little monk who worked in the Monastery’s shop. I remember him with much affection and was sad when I heard he had died, back in 2013.

I think it was my love of Thomas Merton that made me feel a certain affinity with the monks at Mt. St. Bernard. Merton had certainly been influential in my early life before and after the seminary. I can’t remember if it was on that retreat or a later one when I went alone, that I met a young Canadian guy, who introduced me to the writings of Charles de Foucauld and his prayer of abandonment!

I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld

The desire for more academic priests, had crept into the Roman Catholic Church, after the second Vatican council. This had caused me grave concern as I was not an academic and believed that a good heart was better than a good brain. I refused to go and study at the new Franciscan study centre, attached to the University in Canterbury and this caused a serious and unsurmountable problem for the Order! I could either continue as a brother and possibly become a permanent deacon, (which was something new) or I had to go to the new seminary attached to the University in Canterbury…or I must leave. Life, along with my calling as a Franciscan, was going to take a new and unexpected path, that would lead me back into the world, the wilderness and later on into an ordination I could never have anticipated.


May 16, 2021 Posted by | Thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Fear of The Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom!

I have been meditating on some thoughts from Fr. Ron Rolheiser OMI, and share this little nugget with you.

Fear can be either unhealthy fear, like the fear of a bully or a task master or it can be the fear of love…when you fear hurting the one you love. Jesus is born as a baby, powerless and fragile…no superhero or mighty warrior. As a parent I remember fearing I might hurt my new-born sons, if I was not careful, gentle, tender, considerate and loving! This is what the fear of the Lord is! It is about not wanting to hurt the the other, God or his creation! When Jesus appears to the apostles his words are so often, ‘Do not be afraid…Do not fear!’ The fear of the Lord is not threatening, making you scared and fearful..it is the fear of love making you careful, caring, tender, considerate and loving! The fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom, because it reminds us that whatever we do to the least of our sisters and brothers ( and in a great and sacred way to all creation) we do unto Him! The fear of the Lord is about love and not about fear…for there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Br. Michael

May 2021

May 13, 2021 Posted by | Thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The LGBTQ…..Questions!

I was asked recently by a Christian young man if I was a homosexual. It was a straight forward question that came out of a concern he had, as he had been looking at my Facebook pages and could see I was for gay marriage and pro LGBTQ people. This question made me realise I should write down some of my thoughts in regard to how I see homosexuality and my faith in Christ. The following is just part of my own thoughts in regard to this and how we as Christians are called to love one another as Christ loves us. Some will agree…some will disagree, but I hope all will see these are serious questions which have no easy answer…if an answer is indeed necessary or required!

We all know the few bible passages that are translated and used to condemn homosexuals and homosexuality. I wont go into them here, but, will ask questions about how we respond to the questions they seem to raise for us today. As some of you know, I spent my early life in and out of hospital and went to a school for physically handicapped children. I have often wondered, why did God make my friends to be born without arms, legs, eyes, twisted spines, Downs Syndrome and so forth? Were these aberration’s of nature…(well nature as we like to think as normal)…were they loved by God, as their physical and mental states were not wholesome and according to so many peoples scriptural understanding, in need of healing, deliverance or a restricted celibate lifestyle? (Another question I have asked myself is can a person be born into a wrong body…a boy born in a physical girls body or vice versa?)

It has taken me my life to know that God loves me in all weakness and brokenness. I was born with serious vulnerability in my lungs and that aberration did not stop God from loving me! It did not stop God from loving my friends who were blind, twisted and deformed! But did God make them like this or did they choose to be as they were/are? Did my friend who was born into a girls body but was a boy…did he choose this? Do my homosexual sisters and brothers choose to be attracted to their own gender? Do my heterosexual friends choose to be attracted to the opposite gender? Should my friends who are not seen as “normal” be condemned to live lives alone and on their own without the touch or comfort of another?

I was at one time a bible thumper! I used the scriptures to thump others and myself! The god I worshipped and lived in fear of, was a task master, a punitive deity who spoke of love with a stick in its hand! I also was a ‘choose from the menu’ type of Christian. I’d pick and choose what parts of the bible I would follow. I could excuse myself of much of the old testament stuff as I now lived in the New Testament. The Levitical laws were now overridden…except of course for gays and adulterers and the like; These were still aberrations and abominations! I believed in a God who would love to create children only to destroy them if they were bent, twisted, disobedient or didn’t believe in it! The Church had taught me this and even made sin fall into categories of venial and mortal!

Sin…run to confession! Sin…run to confession! Sin and die…sorry but you must go to Hell! Eternal damnation awaited all who were outside, twisted, bent, broken, aberrations according to scripture and tradition.

It has taken years of pain and suffering for me to see a more beautiful God! I often wonder if the woman thrown in front of Jesus for committing adultery…had been a homosexual! Would Jesus have treated her differently? When he said to her, “Neither do I condemn you…” Was that the voice and heart of God speaking or was this just Jesus the man ignoring the scriptures? Yes…I hear people say…but he said, “go and sin no more.”…but does he not say that to all of us? Or the woman with five husbands and the one she was living with who was not her husband…does Jesus condemn her…charge her with immorality…condemn her to eternal damnation?

I have many questions in regard to homosexuality and heterosexuality. Was the love Sue and I shared, any different from the love my gay friend has had with his partner of 40+ years? Should I tell them they are sinners and should remain celibate and not touch one another? Does the God I worship not say it is not good for man to be alone? Would he desire two homosexual people who loved one another and cared for one another, to live celibate lives and not live together in a covenant of love? Is sex just for procreation? Is sex between two consenting adults of the same gender, who love and care for one another, a sin?

So many questions!

I personally, am for monogamous relationships and believe that sex outside of marriage or within a framework of a covenant of love, is dangerous and (probably), destructive. I believe adultery is destructive along with pornography, as it leads people to have sex without love, lust without care. Any sexual act that is abusive or divisive, without the full consent of the other, is to my mind destructive and therefore wrong! But, I believe two consenting adults who love one another, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, abled bodied or disabled, should be allowed to be married and have their union blessed.

The argument that marriage is for procreation is another bit of holy nonsense! The Church has used this argument in past times and has had some very twisted ideas in regard to who could marry (or even in regard to men becoming priests) if they were not fully intact in the genital area! Of course the church blesses in marriage heterosexual couples who are unable to have children…so why not homosexual couples? The answer is a few passages in the scriptures that have been turned into weapons of exclusion and destruction!!

So as you see, I have many questions and I don’t suppose for one minute that I will be fully satisfied with any answers! Sometimes I think we all want answers, but I believe it best to just understand the questions and let love be the mark and consolation that we have! I wrote in one of my journals many years ago that , ‘When I was so right…I was so terribly wrong!’ If the mark of Christians is to be love, then we need to make a very large paradigm shift in most of our lives and our theology!

Br. Michael

May 2021

May 12, 2021 Posted by | Thoughts | Leave a comment

A Nomad. The Life and Times of Michael Daly CJ (Part 6) Goodbye World..Hello Seminary!

Fr. Andrew Frazer OFM Conv, was the vocations director when I was working in London. The Conventual Franciscans had their main Friary in Cornwall Road, London, a stones throw from Waterloo Station. I would visit the friars often and spend weekend there. Fr. Richard had oversight at that time and he was a jolly character who reminded me of cross between Noel Coward and Frankie Howard. He was to my mind very camp! I can’t remember all the friars I met there but often friars visited from Manchester, Liverpool and Rye, where they had parishes. I had completed a history of St. Francis of Assisi for one of my exams at school and the friars received it with interest. It may still be there today…..!

Leaving C&A to attend my first seminary was both sad and exciting. I had never been away from home for long periods since attending secondary school and I think I looked at escaping the home as something I wanted to do…but wasn’t sure why. Campion House in Osterley, was a seminary for late vocations! I never quite understood that as I was young and the majority of the seminarians were young too. Campion House was run by the Jesuits and it was a testing ground for all who were looking to be priests in a variety of Religious Orders or as secular pastors. We were to learn Latin, brush up on our English and this included elocution lessons. We learnt scripture and I studied the synoptic gospels and gained a diploma.

Campion House is no longer in existence and I think this is a good thing! There were parts of life in the seminary that were good…but I found it a very controlling and manipulative playground! I was 17 when I started at Campion House and 18 when I left. The youngest priest was a Joe Rayboulds, SJ. who was in his 50’s. Joe was an excellent preacher, but he seemed very strict and remote and would not tolerate any rebelliousness from the students. I found his attitude to stink and he was the very reason I left Campion House. (The strange thing is, some years later I would meet him again in unusual circumstances in London, when he invited me back to his Wimbledon flat. We became good friends. I wish I had met him before as I found out why he was a he was…and it is sad to think of how the Church had made him so closeted and burdened him with guilt and shame.)

Campion House was no holy ground! There was a lot that went on that was covered over and it is a great shame to the Church, who somehow turned a blind eye, when convenient! I remember one old priest who looked like pictures of the saint, John Vianney. He would often pinch your bottom as you ascended the stairs to his room! He was a closeted case and just one of so many! The head of Campion House was an Irish priest Fr. Francis O’Callaghan, who was a lovely guy but who suddenly became a monster! He denied things he had told us and became very angry that anyone should question him! He sadly collapsed in the midst of these tantrums and was found to have cancer of the brain. He died fairly soon after these strange uncharacteristic outbursts! We were then overseen by a new Superior who was Fr. Brooks, SJ..

Life at campion House was far removed from what I had expected…but then we were mainly young men who were testing our vocations. We were a disjointed bunch and some of the older seminarians were given roles as prefects. They were a miserable bunch who had tantrums when we didn’t toe the line! I expect they all belong to the Pious X society! The students were from all over the country and some were extremely pious and others quite worldly! The guys from Liverpool were always being given extra elocution lessons for some reason….! I learnt to speak in a few different dialects and would often be heard saying in a northern accent, “Int it” (Which meant, “Isn’t it!”)

There was a young guy, around my age, who was so pious that he went everywhere with his hands together clutching a rosary, as in prayer and he could not laugh at our jokes as that would be frivalous and unholy! We had to turn the lights out and be in bed by 10.30 every night and nobody was to break the GREAT SILENCE!! So what we did was to block up our individual room windows with Cardboard and Curtain our doors inside so that no light would escape into the black corridor. Inside our sealed rooms we would play cards and tell stories and drink. A plan was set in motion to get pious Joe to stay with us one night after the great silence. I cant remember how we did it…but we kept him in the room with us until around 1am in the morning. He crept out of the room into the dark coridor and made his way back to his room to sleep! What he did’nt know was that his bed had been turned into an Apple Pie Bed (The sheets are doubled to be like an apple turnover, so its impossible to stretch your legs into the full length of the bed!) Added to this we had found as many hand bells as we could and tied them under his bed to swing freely! We waited and listened! We were not disappointed! The noise of bells rung out through the corridors loud and clear! This along with screams and shouting to shut the f…k up, woke the priests and it took quite a while to get silence back into our holy rooms! We of course never confessed who the culprits were…and we were all reprimanded for such foolish behaviour!

Another story that still makes me laugh was that of two seminarians who were always pranking one another. Paul and Aric (not there real names…Paul was white from Wales and Aric was Black, born in the Congo.) had their bedrooms next to each other and so each could hear when the other left their room at night to go to the toilet, which was down the corridor through a double swing door. When the Great Silence was on, only the patter of feet in the dark could be heard of those going to the loo. On one occasion Aric, after a night of cards and drinking in Paul’s room, thought he would wait in the dark by the toilet, knowing Paul would soon be along to empty his bladder. The only light in the corridors were from windows, that let the moon light and street light filter in. Aric waited and soon heard a door open and feet walking towards the swing doors. As the toilet door opened Aric jumped out into the diffused light naked apart from a dark pair of boxers and his white teeth and the whites of his eyes gleaming in the light from the windows! There was a gasp and a thud as a body hit the ground in a faint! Aric quickly bent down and to ask if Paul was OK…only to find the master of students try to catch his breath! I am not sure what happened to Aric, but he sadly left the seminary not long after this…as did Paul!

Campion House at least planted a seed in me that would later bloom in my rejection of religious hierarchies and controlling power play, so often found in the institutional Church. It led me into the next phase of my nomadic pilgrimage; to meetings with Bishops and then my Novitiate in Northhampton, with the Conventual Franciscans.

Strangely many years later I would meet an old student from Campion House, David, who would become a dear and precious friend…and later still, he would become a Professed Brother, in the Franciscan Order of the Companions of Jesus.

Br. Michael and Br. David

Br. David Taylor, CJ. 1948 -2017

May 11, 2021 Posted by | Thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Nomad. The Life and Times of Michael Daly CJ (Part 5) Goodbye School..Hello World!

Before leaving Ashburton School, moves were started for the joining of the Girls School (which was next door) with us, into a co-educational setting. So girls started to join us in some of our classes, and we with them, towards the end of my final school year. I can’t remember too much about the mixing as I was concentrating on getting the best marks I could for my exams.

I wasn’t the greatest academic, but was able to achieve good pass grades in a number of the final exams. Mr Tracy, my form teacher for my final two years, was an excellent English and Science teacher and I was able to get excellent grades in these subjects. I even passed my maths exam…which I think was a miracle! I gained GCE passes in English language and literature, the rest were CSE passes. I passed my metalwork exam and still have a model anvil I made, it sits proudly on my windowsill.

Leaving school was filled with gladness and sadness. I was happy to be leaving, but sad, knowing I would probably not see my classmates or teachers ever again. I was going to work in London, as my father had found me a job in his work’s company, in Marble Arch. So C&A Modes was to become my next educational setting before going to the seminary…and quite an education it would be!

Soon after starting work in London I was able to get my old school friend, Nicholas, a job with me. We travelled from East Croydon Station to Victoria and then took the underground to Marble Arch. C&A was only a stones throw from the station on Oxford Street. Nicholas and I both worked in the menswear department. It was a crazy time for me…a very naïve Catholic boy who knew nothing about the very interesting people and groups of people he would meet over the next 12 months. C&A were very good employers and my starting salary was £12 a week and within a month went up to £14, so I felt like a rich young man. The company provided a restaurant for staff and we got a good deal on any clothes. The days were long and apart from lunch and coffee break, we were on our feet all day. It didn’t bother our young legs and we would often go down Oxford street during our lunch break. Selfridges was nearby and there were many different shops and stores down the Street. At that time C&A sold most items of clothing for men, suits, trousers, jackets, coats. They also had a very large women’s department over two floors.

I remember a few things that happened in that year! A foriegn gentleman came into the store and asked me where the toys were. I said I was sorry by we didn’t sell toys. He insisted, “Where are the toys?” I repeated that we didn’t sell toys and said that Selfridges sold toys and for some reason started to move my arms around like a child playing at being a train and going, “Cho choo…Choo choo!” and then making some car noises, like, “Vroom vroom” and saying Selfridges had many such toys! The man became almost incandescent and grabbed me by the throat pulling my tie (which was around my neck, as we always had to look smart) and shouting to me, “Toys…toys…where are the toys?” I then realised he meant Ties! Language is a funny thing!

On another occasion a woman approached me in the store as she had noticed my little cross in a circle, pinned to the lapel of my jacket. She looked at me with a deep stare and asked, ” Are you a medium?” I responded by saying, ” No…I am a small.” I then found out she was a spiritualist and the question had a completely different meaning. I laugh now but I think the poor woman was a bit taken aback!

I seemed to have an eye for caching thieves who worked the stores. I have three stories that I remember well. The first was to do with a couple of guys who were often in the store. I had noticed them (I have a great memory for faces) and these two had caught my eye as I thought they always acted suspiciously! One of them was very camp and I am sure he used to go into the men’s changing room and put on a number of trousers over the other. On the particular occasion I remember I had noticed the two of them in the store with two large suit cases. I decided to follow them and made them aware I was watching them. This caused them to become nervous as I played I was with another person who was on the other side of them. (There was nobody there in reality…just me pretending to make certain gestures to an imaginary person in the crowds of shoppers.) My tactic, made them stuff the suit cases under the suits and exit the store. I had alerted security who came to me and asked what the problem was. I explained my concerns and took them to the hidden suit cases. When the cases were opened they were full of suits and other clothes stolen off the clothes rails with the price tags intact. I think the total cost was near to a £1000.

The second story is similar. I was in the menswear department when a middle aged female customer came over to me and told me that two girls by the trouser rail had taken some trousers and put them in their own bag. I remember my father telling me never to get involved in stopping a person, unless I was absolutely certain that they had stolen something…and then to be very careful as they easily could pass on there ill begotten gains to another…or even thump you! I decided to watch the two girls who were probably in the early twenties. They did seem to be acting strangely so I thought the best thing to do was to make myself visible to them and play some psychology. I made it clear that I was watching them…and pretended that there was another person in the crowd on the other side of them, who I kept nodding and signalling to. This seemed to cause a certain consternation between them and so they made their way towards the exit. As they looked back I pretended to nod to someone near the exit and so the girls then turned back into the store. I hadn’t been able to catch the attention of another member of staff., but as luck would have it, as I stood by a rail of clothes where a number of people were, a lady next to me, was a plain clothes security officer whom I knew and without taking my eyes of the two girls and without turning to the security woman, I started to explain about the girls and what the customer had told me about them taking a pair of trouser and hiding it in their bag. I said I had no evidence, but that they were acting very suspiciously. Having given a description and the area of the store they were in, the lady detective, made her way over to where the two girls were, acting as another customer. I then made myself disappear and left the matter with security. The two girls must have been worried as they took the pair of trousers out of their bag and as they were going to hide them in another rail of other clothes, the store detective arrested them and they were taken to the security room to be searched. Later that day the head of security came over to me and congratulated me on my quick thinking and actions. They found that the girls had a quantity of stolen articles and clothing from the store and from other stores in Oxford Street!

Some thieves were very blatant! My last story involves a gentleman who came into the store…walked straight over to the trouser rack, took a pair of trousers off the rack, rolled them up, tucked them under his arm and walked out of the store! I called out to a fellow colleague working in the suit department (who happened to be a weightlifter and built like a battleship) telling him what had just happened and he came straight over! We both then started to follow the man down Oxford Street and then into Selfridges where the guy tried to evade us! We called to one of the staff to get security and my colleague stopped the guy by one of the exits! (The picture I have in my head is of the Hulk standing over a skinny guy)! Selfridge’s Security came and they saw by out badges we were from C&A. We explained the matter. They then asked to see the trousers still under the gentleman’s arm and found them with the price tag intact. My colleague and I then escorted the guy back up Oxford Street and took him to the security office in C&A. I aways remember the adrenalin rush and concern that this guy might run or take out a knife…but having the Hulk with me gave me a certain feeling of security! The extraordinary thing was that later we found out that the guy was a pilot for Indian Airways and he that he had over £100 in his wallet! He was charged with theft and was sent to court.

Life was never boring in the great metropolis and we did meet a few tv and film stars who came shopping. I remember Charles Hawtrey of Carry-On fame walking through the store with a young girl on either arm! It was a strange site, with many people wanting his autograph. (Years later I would meet Kenneth Williams trying to evade people near Euston Station…) So there was always a great Carry On in my life! Tom Jones, and many other celebrities passed through the store at different times.

It seemed that as I was the slimmest and youngest member of staff in the head branch, I was chosen to model a new line in clothing for the company. Angelo Litrico clothing was to hit the streets and I was told that I was to model this for the buyers and other interested parties in the company, at a special event. Crimplene (which we secretly called Crapalene) and Trevira suits, tops and trousers I modelled! I hated having to model as I was a very naïve, sexually closeted, Catholic boy and the trousers were very tight and exposed my junk in ways that at that time embarrassed me greatly! Life in London had sex, drug and rock and roll…and I was to learn more about the sex, by being taken on an outing by my work colleagues, to the new Ann Summers Store! I was greatly embarrassed and secretly excited by this visit! Catholicism has much to answer for making sex seem so dirty and shameful…that was unless of course you were married!

It was around this time that I first saw hard pornographic magazines and films and that was like opening a door into another world in which I would later discover, both joy and sadness, lust and love.

My year of working in London was very full and as I look back, I remember it with fondness. Nicholas and I would travel together in the mornings by bus to East Croydon Station and on most evenings we were collected from the station by Nicholas’s dad. Nick’s dad taught us to shoot our air rifles with a certain skill, as he had been a sniper in the war. He smoked like a chimney as did Nicholas, following in his dad’s footsteps…but I never got into the smoking habit, though I dabbled a bit and later on, when I went clubbing or to the pub, it was almost a part of the scene. Nicholas’s dad picked us up on one cold night when we returned from our labours in London and dropped me off at home in Shirley Road and then went straight home for dinner with Nick. As I was sitting down to have my dinner, the telephone rang and I answered it! Nicholas was on the other end and he blurted out to me his dad had just died at the dinner table! It didn’t seem real….I couldn’t quite get my brain to engage! Nicholas’s dad had been eating his diner when all of a sudden he just slumped forward and was dead! The horror of a parents death never really touched me until later when in 1982 my father would die, suddenly! Life and death seemed so far removed from each other, but the rawness of life and death would impact my life as my pilgrimage continued.


(Note to readers: My memoirs will shortly only be available via a password. I apologise for any inconvenience but believe it to be necessary. If you would like to read further, then you will need to message me if you are not automatically given the password. Thank you for your understanding.)

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Special Day – 7th April 1984

This day in 1984 changed my life forever! I had been married 8 months and was working with Sue in the boarding school in Reigate. It was During the Easter break that I had been pondering many questions in my life and was drawn to know something more about God and in particular, the Holy Spirit. I had a Catholic priest friend, Fr. Robin Maxtead, who I had originally known when living in Purley, where he was the curate. Robin, now a Parish priest was now living in Ashford and I called him during the week to ask if I might visit and chat over a few things. We arranged the meeting for the 6th April. I drove over to Ashford and spent a number of hours talking. Robin asked where I was living and I told him I was at the school in Reigate. Robin, said, “Isn’t that next to Redhill?” I said, “Yes it’s just down the road!” Robin then told me he was going to be speaking about the Holy Spirit in Redhill tomorrow on the 7th, at St. Joseph’s RC Convent. He said, “Why don’t you come along…it’s free!” We prayed and I went back home to the flat in the school.

The next day, started badly! I had a row over something with Sue and was in a bad mood! In the afternoon Sue asked if I was going to the meeting in Redhill, but as I was still moody I didn’t really have an answer. Sue later suggested I go, as she was concerned about me and probably too wanted some space from Mr. Moody!

I decided to go!

I found the Convent and hall attached to it, where people were going in. I arrived in good time so was able to find a seat without any trouble. I noticed a guy in the front who was arranging things and I was certain I knew him. He looked like a guy I was with in my first seminary back in 1972. I went over and said hello. David didn’t recognise me and was quite shocked and delighted when I asked him if he had been at Campion House in 1972! He of course had and we started a conversation that would create a lasting friendship.

The meeting went ahead and I remember sitting there surrounded by people who I did not know and listening to something more than words can express. When at the end of the meeting people chatted, I sat in my seat wondering what it was that I had been enveloped in. There was something there that was more than I could explain and something that I wanted. David came over to me and saw that I was in need and asked if I would like some of the group to pray with me. I falteringly said, Yes”. David and five others took me into the Convent’ chapel. It was approximately 10pm. There were a few nuns at the front of the chapel praying. David led me to a seat at the back of the chapel and said to me, “Just sit there. We will lay our hands on you and pray for the Holy Spirit to come and minister to you”. My Catholic personality made me feel I should be kneeling down, but I did as requested and let these strangers lay their hands on me and pray over me!

BANG! It came like lightning! The pain as though my heart was going to burst…the love I felt was so furious that I fell onto the floor in front of me, crying from the depths of my bowels and at the same time having a language I never knew flowing out of my mouth! A river of love and praise flowed out of my inner parts and at the same time this was all caught up into the praise of an unseen choir that sang around me and within me! (I later read about a desert father who had a similar experience and said it was as though God had bent down and kissed him.) I was for a while translated into the heavenly realm and tasted the beauty of the One who saves the World. I was embraced in loves arms and I would never be the same again!

!t took three days before the heavenly choir faded into the distance. I have no idea how I got back to school, but it was late or very early on the 8th. I tried to get into bed where Sue had been sleeping for a few hours, but I could not settle as this river flowed out of my bowels and the choir surrounded and infilled me. I got up and got dressed in the dark and went out into the nearby woods and found a spot and just sang a song I never knew. When the sun started to break the darkness, I found myself surrounded by dead trees! It was a picture of resurrection…life amidst death.

I went back to find a very distraught Sue! Where had I been…what was going on?? It took me a while to explain, but Sue took it all into her heart! Some months later, Sue said to me, You know Michael, I loved the man I married…but I love the new man even more!” Something had happened…something that even now I know was a taste of what is still to come! Has it all been living on cloud nine…mountain top stuff? No! It has not! I have lived more in the valley and have not turned into a saint! I have carried the raging pain of losing Sue and I still struggle with my humanity, my arrogance, my bentness and am very very far from being perfect in any way. But, I know that the One who holds all thing together, in whom I live and move and have my being…is my constant companion and the greatest lover and best friend anyone could ever have ever!

Br. Michael Daly, CJ.

7th April 2021

April 7, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prayers for Belarus

I watch daily the horror going on in Belarus and am amazed at the resilience and tenacity of the good Belarusian people, who are under the repressive tyranny of Alexander Lukashenko and his fascist thugs!

Every day I read of more detentions, torture and confiscations. Good and decent people, old and young, women and men, students, children and professional are daily harassed, hounded and taken to Kangaroo Courts. where fascist prosecutors and judges condemn the young and old, to penal servitude for standing up to the cancerous regime of Lukashenko.

There is no justice in Belarus at this time and no law other than the repressive protocols of the tyrannical regime. Human rights organisations are working covertly, as they too, along with the free media are shut down, silenced and those persons known to be working in these areas are imprisoned. Many Belarusians have fled to Poland, the Ukraine and further afield to escape the repression and to live freely!

The following video from CNN shows just part of the horror that is going on in Belarus. This truly is a cancer on the land, people and humanity! Like all cancers it needs eradicating…but that comes with a cost! It seems that because President Putin, of Russia, is involved in backing up the fascist Lukashenko and his thugs, the free world remains relatively silent in regards to the continuing abuses and crimes against humanity.

Silence is not an option!

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer rightly wrote, “Silence in the face of evil is in itself evil. And as Bishop Desmond Tutu rightly said, If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

My prayers and thoughts remain with the good Belarusian people and all who suffer repression and violence!

Br. Michael Daly CJ

28th March 2021

March 28, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Nomad. The Life and Times of Michael Daly CJ (Part 4 ) New Home…New School

After five years at St. Giles I was given the all clear to attend Ashburton Secondary Boys School. Ashburton was a five minute walk down the road from our new home in Shriley Road, Croydon.

Leaving 29 Canning Road was like leaving a prison! We now had moved into a lovely centrally heated house which had two downstairs living rooms, a kitchen dining area with a separate kitchen which had two pantries. Upstairs there were four bedrooms a bathroom and a toilet. A conservatory was added to the rear of the house soon after we had moved in. To the side of the house there was a secure covered lean to, with a toilet to the rear of the house overlooking a large coal bunker. The garden was long and lawned up to a large greenhouse. Behind the greenhouse stood an apple and pear tree. Then there was an area leading down to some old chicken enclosures that we used for storing our bikes and garden equipment. In the middle of the enclosures stood a garden shed, which my eldest brother and I turned into a secret laboratory for our experiments! The area at the back of the garden near to the shed and enclosures was also used for bonfires and for planting vegetables.

I have lots of stories about my time living in Shirley Road…some of which I will tell in this episode of my memoirs. I lived there from the age of ten until I went to my first Seminary, when I was seventeen.

My father loved the garden and was very keen on keeping the lawn in good order and he loved to plant honeysuckle which was scattered around the garden and always exuded a beautiful fragrance when in bloom. Though the house was in a residential area, the gardens were quite large and so there was a lot of space to play and escape to. Shirley was a pleasant area, away from the town center and close to country areas where we would often walk as a family on a Sunday afternoon. Up the road, were the Shirley Hills, which was mostly a wild wooded area, which had a golf course and nearby and a pleasant public garden known as Coombe Woods. Near to this was Lloyd Park, where we often played as children and went riding with my father.

When we first moved to Shirley Road, I continued to be collected by coach every morning, Monday to Friday, taking me to St. Giles. When I was fourteen, I was told I could now attend a new school, as my lungs were fully functioning and so my next educational adventure began at Ashburton Secondary Modern School, for Boys!

First Day at Ashburton! Standing next to Anthony in Front Garden at Shirley Road

Ashburton was a complete change for me and it took me a while to settle in to this very different environment. But I have always been quite a persons person, so I soon made friends, but I found the academic side a bit of a struggle. I was placed at the lower end of the intellectual strata. My class form was the next to the lowest in ranking. It was a great class with some wild and wacky characters. (For those old enough to remember a program on the TV called ‘Please Sir’…my class was similar to the class in this comedy but without the girls!) The teachers were all very good but strict! I remember one who was rather sadistic. He was a Lancashire man who taught history or geography, I cant remember exactly, and he demanded us to listen attentively! Any messing around you were likely to get thumped! Literally bashed! I remember one of the boys in my class was thrown around the room and beaten harshly a number of times, but he would not submit to the teacher. I admired the boy who was fit but quite scawny. I think he came from a very broken family and was always in some trouble.

I had two form teachers while at Ashburton. Mr. White, who taught mathematics and Mr. Tracy who taught English and biology and was studying Psychology at that time. Both teachers were very good and likeable. I had Mr. White for one year and Mr. Tracy for two up to and including my final year. The head of the school was Mr. George Manning, who obtained an OBE for his service to education, while I was there. His deputy was Mr. Sprake who taught mathematics and often wandered around the school with two pairs of glasses on his head! Poor Mr. Sprake almost had a breakdown when trying to teach my class, as we were always making fun of him! He was a nice man but a bit lost in the clouds most of the time!

Mr. White tried to teach me mathematics, but I think my brain just shut down when numbers were mentioned! What amazed Mr. White was the transformation that came over me when I got into acting! I had always been a fairly quiet student…but then I found acting! And it was a joy and a release! Mr. Royale was the English teacher who got me involved in acting! My first role was as the emperor in the story of Androcles and the Lion. (Somewhere there is a photograph of me in a white toga, that my mother made! I’ll post it if I ever find it!) After this came my role as Noah Claypole in the musical, ‘Oliver’! I also got involved with making the scenery, along with my pal and shadow, Nicholas Rudd!

Nicholas became my shadow! Where I went he went! This even happened after we had left school, as I got him a job in London with me and then some years later I got him another job in the Research Laboratories where I worked. Nick was a good friend who was mad on Jazz! Nick loved Benny Goodman and bought himself a clarinet, which he taught himself to play! He mastered it in a very short time and could play as well as Goodman or Artie Shaw or Acker Bilk. Nick loved old gangster movies and loved to mimic all the old film stars like, Edward G Robinson, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart! Nick had a nuber of air rifles and pistols and gave me a German air rifle. We used to shoot at a target in the garden…but this soon became boring and so we wanted to find other things to shoot at! We made a mosaic of air rifle pellets on the door of the old shed at the back of the garden! Then we thought we would try to see if we could shoot a TV areal on one of the houses behind our house on another road. The rifle we used for this endeavour was a Webley Scott and we managed to hit the narrow aerial causing it to sound a loud BONG! We of course hid quickly after this! Then sadly we decided to see if we could shoot a bird on top of out neighbours chimney! It was the last time we tried anything like that, as the bird fell straight down the chimney and scared the elderly neighbours who were sitting by the open fire! They came over very upset and spoke to my parents!

Nick and I decided to try to entertain ourselves a different way! We decided to walk across the nearby golf course and move all the flags to different holes! We were doing this when a man started to shout at us and came running across the golf links towards us! Luckily we had young legs and he was older and a fair way off! So we scarpered and laughed our way home! Another favourite past time of ours was doing impersonations and smoking pipes! Pipes were seen as OK and masculine by our parents! Both my father and Nick’s, were addicted cigarette smokers. It seemed OK for young men to smoke and I cant remember our pipe smoking to ever cause a problem at home…except….! There were times when we would wind my mother up with our smoking…or rather our smoke making! I remember one occasion when Nick and I were in the back living room. We decided to see how much of the room we could fill with our pipe smoke! We lit our pipes and basically blew through them, causing the room to slowly become filled with a cloud like fog! My mother came in and went ballistic! Never again were we allowed to smoke inside!

Nicholas (on left) with my family ay home in Shirley.

Life was also very religious! We attended mass at Our Lady of The Annunciation Church which was two minute walk down the road. The Church was newly built and the architect was Fr. John Mckenna who also was the parish priest. I was an altar server in the church and later a reader at mass. I had a romantic notion at first, of becoming a missionary in the White Father (Missionaries of Africa) but I then met the Franciscans and I knew I had found my home! I can’t remember how I first met the Order of Friar Minor, Conventuals, but they soon became part of my life and a Fr. Andrew Frazer was the Vocations Director at that time. I remember going to London a number of times to the friary in Cornwall Road, behind Waterloo Station. On one occasion during the summer holidays I also went with a group of boys up to Beaumaris on the Island of Anglesey, to the large novitiate house.


I loved the Franciscans and their way of life. I decided that I would become a Franciscan priest…but life would not be that simple!

My Ashburton peers had already nicknamed me, The Vicar, as I had told everyone that I wanted to be a priest and a couple of episodes at school seemed to add to this image. On my first week at Ashburton I attended my first Religious Education class which was led by a teacher who was also a reader or minister in the local Methodist Church. We were to learn about the Gospels and the teacher asked us if anyone had any objection. My hand went up! On inquiring as to what my objection was, I explained that I was a Roman Catholic and that I could not be certain that what he was teaching was in line with Catholic teaching! He was not phased by my words and kindly said that he understood and directed me to a cupboard in the class where a large box sat, filled with Catholic Truth Society booklets! I had to read these while he taught the class. I pretended to read the boring CTS leaflets, but in reality I quietly listened to the gospel being expounded.

Mr Royale, who taught us English, on one occasion gave us an essay for homework. The essay was to start with the words, ‘The greatest day of my life…’ we were to then to finish the essay with our own words and thoughts. I went home and wrote my essay. I started, ‘The greatest day of my life will be when I die!’ I then went on to explain, that as a Christian I saw this as being the greatest day of my life, as I would see the Lord and be with him. The day after I handed this essay in, it was read out at the morning assembly, by the headmaster! So ‘The Vicar’ had preached at school without a pulpit!

School had a few bullies but I was not hassled much as I never backed down! On one occasion I was in the dining room at lunchtime with my friend Nicholas. An older boy came over to our table and as he approached, Nicholas said to me, “Be careful!”

The boy sat down opposite me and stared at me. He then shoved my plate almost into my lap! The boy said I should watch what I was doing and raised a fist towards me! I didn’t know this boys name, but I turned to Nicholas who was sitting very quietly now next to me, and said, “See this guy? His fists are made of steel…the only trouble is that they are corroded!” This seemed to incense him further, but a teacher saw what was going on and told him to get out of the dining room. I later found out the boys name was ‘Steel’. Strangely he never bothered me again.

On another occasion at the end of school I was walking down the school drive towards the main gate onto Shirley Road, when Nicholas, who was with me, noticed a gang at the gates. They were from our same year but in the lower form. Nicholas was worried, but I told him not to worry. The gang leader came up to me face to face and said he had a job that I was to do for him. I smiled at him and basically said, “No thanks mate!” His gang surrounded me, but I kept smiling and would have gone down fighting…but the leader seemed to like me not being scared…or he may have fancied me…who know? Anyhow, I just moved through the gang and Nick followed after me.

I met the gang once again in town outside a record shop, under the bridge near Bingham Halt station. The leader wanted me to go in and nick a record for him. I refused and smiled. I cant remember why, but the matter went no further and I was never troubled by the gang again.

A new boy joined us in class and my form teacher, Mr. White, asked me to look after him and be his buddy, as he was new and had not been in the UK long. Charles, was born in Egypt, as his father was in the British military, (probably in Aden), his mother was Italian. Charles Phillips (as he was known…his real full name was Richard Charles Dudley Phillips) became a dear friend, who would join me later on, in a crazy house share, that would cause much joy as well as bringing much sadness!

To be continued……….

March 14, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Nomad. The Life and Times of Michael Daly CJ (Part 3) Hospital and St. Giles School.

My fifth and last bout of pneumonia caused my left lung to collapse! I was not in a good state of health and the pediatrician said I was likely to die. Their only hope was to get me into what they called and Open Air School. I got a placement at St. Giles School for Physically Handicapped Children, in Featherbed Lane, New Addington, Croydon.

Before going to St. Giles I had to spend another period of time in hospital. I remember having to sleep on what I will call an ‘A Board’ bed. I had to sleep bent over the bed…with the top half of my body from the waist, bent over, head down and my hips and legs were on the other side of the bed. This was (I presume) to help aid in the draining of my lungs! It was very uncomfortable and I would often be found in the morning under the blanket at the feet end of the ‘A Board’ bed. I was given many injections of penicillin in hospital that my legs and backside looked like a pin cushion! I disliked hospitals…though the nurses were very sweet and some very attractive! But that’s another story for another time!

Sadly…I have a memory of being abused in a hospital. I think it was when I was hospitalized for the removal of my tonsils and adenoids, but can’t be certain. I was around six or seven years of age. My mind recalls that I was not alone but with another boy. I can see their face, even today. An old male nurse/orderly, was responsible. Often I used to dream about what happened, but now with time the clarity has become blurred, though I can still clearly see the other young boy, who wore round metal rimmed glasses. I often wonder what affect this later had on both of us. Of course nothing was ever mentioned about this matter. I think I must have viewed it as normal, a bit of fun, just another part of being in hospital. Adults who were in authority were seen as always being right and especially so in a hospital setting!

St. Giles school was situated in a lovely country road with a golf course across the way! The school was in a beautiful setting and I remember my first visit was with my mother, to show me around the school and for me to meet Mr. Green, the headmaster. I remember seeing many children, some in wheelchairs, some with walking with calipers and leg and back braces, some with grotesquely large hands and feet, some with no arms or feet or legs (the latter were children born disabled from the drug thalidomide.) Some children had large heads and others had no visual, abnormality.

School Photo .

As we were being shown around the school, a little boy in front of us, who was wearing a leg and back brace, fell over. My mother and I went to help pick him up, but a gentleman, who I later came to know as Mr. Brown, the Woodwork teacher, asked us to stop! He explained that the young man must learn to get himself up and though I thought this was somewhat harsh at the time, I learned the wisdom of it later on. I later became friends with the boy, whose name, if I remember rightly, was Laurie!

St Giles School was a wonderful breath of fresh air for me! I was picked up by a big brown coach every morning and returned in the late afternoon. I very much enjoyed the ride on the coach! We didn’t have a car as a family and so this was a great treat…especially after making friends with the other passengers, as we all looked forward to seeing one another every day during the week! Sadly we did get some abuse occasionally from other youngsters outside, when we stopped to pick up others or at traffic lights. We were called spastics in a derogatory way…and called the weirdo bus! We never took any notice of these remarks, as we knew who we were and that was enough!

Every day at school, morning and afternoon, I would have lessons interspersed with torture! Well…it wasn’t torture but it was not the most pleasant experience…though I did get used to it and in some way missed the torture when I finally left St. Giles after five years. The torture or the beatings were part of the physiotherapy regime! Bent over an ‘A’ type board I had my back pummeled to enable me to cough up thick lumps of sputum from my lungs! This was interspersed with times of blowing ping-pong balls against a wall or blowing into a device that measured my lung/air output. I was taught how to inhale through one nostril and then the other, independently. Part of the physiotherapy regime included swimming and so I learnt to swim at St. Giles, which I loved and became proficient at!

Before I left St. Giles I got my lifesaving bronze and silver badges and certificates.

Swimming was fun for a lot of reasons! One was because we were young boys turning into teenagers and our male hormones were beginning to get the better of us! I remember running nude into the girls changing room with my friends, showing off our magnificent growing manhood to the girls, who screamed with surprise and possibly much joy! The girls then ran out after us with nothing on but smiles and then we were chased around the pool by the swimming teacher who was not amused…but also somewhat amused…as we were a wild bunch of physically handicapped, growing warriors!

I learnt about sex at St. Giles! Not so much in class, but in the playground and on the school field. I could never learn about sex at home as it was a taboo subject. I remember when I had my first ejaculation, it was when I had been riding a bike around the streets in Shirley. I didn’t know what it was, though very pleasurable, it caused me to worry and so I went and asked my mother if it was OK to have white stuff coming out of my willy? My mother never said much to me, other than saying it was ok and nothing to worry about. That evening when my father came home, he came and found me and without a word, just gave me a bunch of CTS (Catholic Truth Society) pamphlets on sex and how to remain pure and holy! I never really read them, as they were as boring as hell and I had now found a much more exciting way to spend my time! My father later told me about the danger of sex…of the horrors of VD (venereal disease) and how my willy would fall off if ever I strayed into the devils camp! This of course led to good old Catholic guilt, so I was often at confession asking to be saved from hell and damnation because I was an addicted wanker!

Blossom was the first senior girl at St. Giles to say hi to me in a friendly, if rather intimate and different way. Blossom was a little older than me and she wore leg braces and walked with a crutch. She asked me to stand close to her, so I walked up…and as she stood there, partly resting herself on a desk, in an empty class room, in the style of (the later) Crocodile Dundee, she grabbed me by my balls and smiled saying “Hi what’s your name?” I think I loved Blossom after this meeting…though never told her! Life was fun at St. Giles! I had many friends who all were beautiful in their different ways. I never looked on those who had physical abnormalities as any different to me. We were all the best of friends and I miss them even today!

On one occasion my friend, Keith Brett and I, were playing outside, running up and down a slope at the back of the school. Keith suddenly ran down the slope and couldn’t stop the momentum, as he collided into the back entrance doors which were in part glass doors. Keith broke the window of one door by putting his hand through it! I remember watching him in his short sleeved shirt, pulling his hand away from the glass. Almost immediately, a jet of blood shot high into the sky, from a cut in Keith’s wrist! To me it seemed that the blood shot out higher than the roof of the school! Luckily we had medically trained staff in the school and the senior sister came rushing out and dealt with the spouting blood. The next time I saw Keith must have been quite sometime later, after he had been taken to hospital and had recuperated. I remember seeing his wrist and the scars left by the cut and by the stitches. We played away form the slope after that!

Accidents did happen and two particular ones remain in my mind along with the incident involving Keith. The first involved the deputy head of the school, Mr. Gold. We were having a staff and pupils fun time in the swimming pool and all was going well until Mr. Gold came bounding in, after changing into some swimming shorts. He was quite a tall and heavy set man, who on this occasion seemingly forgot that the shallow end of the pool was nearest to the entrance! He bounded in and proceeded to jump into the pool with much gusto! It was a dreadful noise! Water splashed everywhere as he screamed and everyone screamed! The water suddenly turned red, as blood from Mr. Gold’s broken and smashed leg coloured the once pleasant light blue pool. He had managed to smash tiles from the bottom of the pool as well as cutting and breaking his leg! He was for a long time after this accident in a plaster!

The other accident that is still ingrained in my memory was nothing to do with the school but was seen by me out of the classroom window. I remember sitting by the window in my classroom on a lovely summers day and I watched a girl riding a horse at the end of the drive, slowly trotting along Featherbed Lane. It was a common sight as it was a lovely country lane which many horse riders used. For some unknown reason, as I watched, the horse reared up onto its back legs and the girl who was riding fell backwards and off the horse onto the road! The horse did not regain its balance but fell backwards onto the girl! Very soon the sister and nurses from the school were on the scene, but sadly with all their efforts and expertise, could not save the girl, who had her skull crushed by the falling horse! Lots of police and ambulance attended and there was an atmosphere of heaviness over the school for the next few days!

Cross country running and football were part of my therapy. I was put in the school football team. We were a motley crew as footballers, but we enjoyed playing and we played against other schools…but always lost! I was placed as a defender and though I was quite little, I would defend with all my little might! Head down and in I would go…I was pretty useless as a footballer but as a mighty mouse defender I was great!

I learnt archery, pottery and woodwork at St. Giles and have many fond memories of all my five years there! Sadly many of my friends died from life shortening conditions and yet I remember that they never once complained, with all the difficulties they daily endured. I often wonder what happened to all the guys who were part of my life and who are still held in my heart. Bernard Thompson, Robert Woodley, Patrick Gallagher, Tony Lambert, Neil Smith, Keith Brett, Richard Baker, Blossom T, Robin, Nigel, Julie, Susan, Teresa and all the gang? I can see their faces clearly but can no longer remember all their names!

Some of the teachers I remember:

Mr. Brown (the swimming teacher). Mr. Doe (a lovely many who I believe later became deputy head to the school)

Miss Moncrief. ( A wonderful teacher from New Zealand. I was in her class for a while). Miss Evans. (Who was always telling me off for saying, “Oh my God!” I was in her class for a year).

Mr. Brown (the woodwork teacher) . Mr. Maund (who taught pottery and archery).

Mr. Green. (Headmaster). Mr. Gold. (Deputy Head)

St Giles School not only saved my life it gave me a future, for which I will always be thankful!

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Nomad. The Life and Times of Michael Daly CJ (Part 2) Hauntings and Miracles

Steps up to main entrance at 29 Canning Road

29 Canning Road was home not only to my family, but also to some other entities that were for the most unseen and quiet. I still have memories of the house that causes me goose bumps! I had pneumonia five times in this house and a collapsed lung. I spent many many hours on my own in bed at the top of the house and I saw things, heard and felt the presence of other entities.

I have a memory of when as a baby I was having my nappy changed. In those days we didn’t have disposable nappies and the smell of ammonia from a bucket soaking old wet nappies is still very real to me! I remember being terrified of being put upstairs into my cot, as there was a presence there that disturbed and frightened me! I was of course unable to let my parents know as I was a baby with no way to express my fear other than by crying. My mother later told me (when I had grown up) that she had one day walked into the bedroom, where I lay in the baby cot, to find a man leaning over me! He immediately disappeared as she reacted and ran towards him!

All my family were affected by the darkness that somehow enveloped the house. My father recounted to me that one day he was walking up the stairs on the first floor when a woman came down and passed through him and disappeared. Who or what these phantoms were are unknown to this day. My Spanish relatives were full of superstitious behaviours. My Grandmother in Spain, had consulted a gypsy palm reader and was told she would not marry the person she thought she would, but would marry her second cousin…which is what happened. There seemed to be in the family a twisted faith system that was full of old Catholic superstitions, mixed with what I call spiritism.

Lying in my bed at the top of the house I would spend many hours looking up at the ceiling and it was from the ceiling that a face of an old man appeared and kept appearing to me. The person never spoke but I constantly heard whisperings that were loud and disturbing! It was as though I was in a room with lots of people, whispering in a language I did not know, but one that disturbed my spirit and caused me great fear and unease! Outside my bedroom was the staircase that led to the large attic and it was from the attic that much of this darkness emanated!

My brother Anthony slept in the same bedroom with me and we often woke up having dreamt the same dream! This happened a number of times while we lived in Canning Road. I continually had nightmares until I left the house. When we moved to Shirley Road, the whispering and dark visitations along with the nightmares, ceased! It was like being freed from a prison! We moved to Shirley Road when I was ten years old.

29 Canning Road (Today)

In July 1956 my brother David was born and then in August 1961 my youngest brother, Paul, was born.

When my youngest brother was still an infant we were all together in the basement kitchen area at the rear of the house. Paul was sitting on a potty while I was playing with my other two brothers and my mother was ironing. I think mother became distracted , possibly by our noisy play and turned her back on the iron and Paul sitting on the potty! What happened next was to cause us all to wonder in horror and later in amazement! Paul jumped up from the potty and ran to the ironing board placing his hand directly onto the base of the scorching hot iron which was standing upright. He welded his hand to the iron and then all hell broke lose! He was rushed to hospital and then to a specialist burns hospital where they found that his little hand had lost all its skin down to the bone and had welded his fingers together in a major third degree burn. They said they could do nothing until much later when they would look at saving his hand by attempting to divide his little finger and do skin grafts. My mother had to take Paul daily to the hospital for his bandages to be changed.

A week or so later my mother was speaking to lady from church about the matter and the lady asked if we would like to say a Novena in honour of St. Martin de Porres? (A Novena is a nine Day Prayer: St. Martin de Porres is a black Catholic lay Dominican saint, who had had a particular love of the poor and the sick in Peru. He is the patron saint of social justice, racial harmony, and mixed-race people.)

Statue of St. Martin de Porres

For nine days every evening before bedtime, we all prayed the novena and also placed a tiny cloth relic (which the lady had given us with the novena) of the saint, onto Paul’ bandaged hand. Every day for the following nine days mother took him to the hospital for a change of bandages. On the day after we had finished the novena mother took Paul to the hospital. When they took his bandage off…all heaven broke loose!! Paul’s hand was completely healed! The specialist could not believe it and said “this is a miracle!” We couldn’t believe what we saw! It was a miracle indeed! After this miraculous event, we prayed the novena for a number of people we knew! One friend of the family who lived around the corner had cancer of the spine! After we prayed the novena…the hospital could find no trace of the cancer! Another lady had cancer of the throat…we prayed the novena and the cancer miraculously disappeared!

And so another statue of a saint was added in our home! We had throughout the house crucifixes in every room and pictures and statues of the Sacred heart, Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel, The Child of Prague, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa, St. Lucy…and other saints which I can’t remember. Our Catholic piety was strong and alive! I can’t remember any novena being said for me…but I am sure that many a prayer ascended for my poor health!

In 1963 after my left lung had collapsed I was sent to St. Giles School for Physically Handicapped Children.

February 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment