Dear Gary……

Occasionally my wife displays a quirky side that, although unintentional, never fails to amuse. Be this the sporadic misnaming of celebrities, the naive innocence about certain ‘near the knuckle’ subjects or just an ill thought out, but nevertheless humourous, question.

This morning she gave a perfect example of the latter as we sat discussing the subject of my blog today. The incident in question took place as we sat in the waiting room at an East Leeds clinic, awaiting her physiotherapy session .

In response to Karen asking what today’s topic would be, I half jokingly told my spouse that I planned to write a tongue in cheek ‘Dear Gary’ problem page.

My Mrs looked taken aback, but laughed and with the endearing quirkiness that never fails to raise a smile asked “Are you just going to make up the questions yourself then?”

With the alternative of me not making them up being receiving correspondence from the British public requesting solutions to personal problems, I thought it was a question that didn’t require answering.

I didn’t laugh out loud though. Instead, chortled inwardly as I pictured this middle aged guy as a charlatan agony aunt, wading through letters and emails from people seeking relationship advice.

To be clear I’m not mocking my brave, tenacious and spirited wife. Far from it, I have the utmost admiration for this north eastern lady, who has dealt with a terrible last six years of living with incurable cancer with inspirational stoicism.

The incident, though, made me ponder whether there would be comedic mileage in writing a spoof agony aunt column  . For example:-

Dear Gary – “My marriage is at a crossroads, as my husband just doesn’t understand me!” ….. JP – Ruislip, Middlesex

Gary – “What do you expect JP?! …… After all, you married a man who speaks no Russian and you speak no English or intend made any effort to learn each others languages! ……. He’s chuffing bound not to understand you…… I recommend you both learn French…… For my fee, leave a brown envelope with £5000 behind loo in Scratchwood Services disabled toilets.”

I’ll may look into that for future blogs. Particularly if I trick JP from Ruislip into leaving money in the Scratchwood bogs.

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A year ago today, Karen and I watched a show by American singer/songwriter Mariah Carey, at the first direct Arena in Leeds

The legendary diva didn’t let us down by turning up late and making her entrance being carried into the auditorium on a chaise longues by four dancers……. Why the hell Karen can’t just walk to her seat like everyone else I’ll never know!!

Seriously, though, much to some in the audiences chagrin, Mariah didn’t arrive on stage to perform until 9.30pm. Her performance was less of a show, more of an extended encore!

I think Mariah maybe needs one of these!

Shouts of “Why are we waiting?”, “Boo! Boo! …. By the way what are we booing at?!” and “Shit, I’ve just realised Paul Heaton’s not playing until Saturday! I’m at the wrong bloody gig!” emanated around the auditorium, as the crowd’s impatience got the better of them.

If truth be told I’m not overly fussed about most of her songs. I attended as companionship for the diminuitive Mrs S.

However, I have to say Mariah Carey has a tremendous voice and, apart from a brief scare when I was worried Westlife were going to come on stage to duet with her, I enjoyed the show.

A few guys, who were sat with their partners, made it pretty clear they were also only there to accompany their other half’s.

The body language of one lad in particular, who looked in his 20’s, certainly indicated his attendance at the gig was under sufferance.

He looked glum throughout, constantly checked his watch and inappropriately scratching his testicles.

I know inappropriately scratching your testicles isn’t a sign of disapproval, but I’m attempting to paint a scene here!…… If it was a sign of displeasure, an old boss of mine must have been constantly p***ed off…… Actually, coming to think of it,  I might have inadvertently stumbled upon an interesting human behavioural trait. Unless, of course, you’re a woman.

As a partner who was also indifferent about attending this show, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

My only disappointment was that Mariah didn’t play one of my favourite song………. Although in her defence I don’t think she ever sings ‘Masterplan’ by Oasis at her gigs.


  1. Hi Gary! I’m enjoying reading your Blog on Low Fell local! With the surname Strachan and connections to Low Fell I was wondering ‘ Is your Mum Margaret and do you have a sister Helen?’ If so, I taught Helen at Oakfield Infants around 1979 / 1980! I remember her as being a petite wee lass with beautiful blond hair and she’s had a close friend in Caroline Watson who lived on Chowdene a Bank. At that time our family lived in Weymouth Gardens not far from you in Dorchester but we Moved to our present home in Flexbury Gardens in Nov 1980

    1. Yes Vi. I’m Margaret’s eldest son. I’m pleased you’re enjoying the narratives, I appreciate the feedback. My sister Helen lives in Macclesfield and my mum lives in Wakefield, I’m in Leeds. Only my brother Ian still lives in Gateshead…. great to hear from you….. Keeping reading!! …. Regards, Gary

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