From A Jack To A King

Yesterday, an individual who’ll remain anonymous inadvertently referred to my car’s SAT NAV system as SAD NAV. A misnomer evoking whimsical epiphanies of being guided by a GPS lady who intersperses directions of n’er before trodden routes with tales of depressive melancholy.

Before proceeding, I want to make it clear that GJ Strachan finds nothing remotely amusing about depression. Some of his most depressed friends suffer from depression….. In fact, even some of his least depressed friends suffer from depression!!…… On reflection, perhaps he should surround himself with greater numbers of folk from the glass half full camp.

Despite understandably finding no mirth in the plight of those afflicted by the debilitating symptoms of mental illness, I’ll admit finding the idea of a neurotic GPS system, guiding a long-suffering driver through unknown highways/byways, as chucklesome. I’m sure it’s topic material that’d grant a writer a wealth of creative options dialogue wise. For example:-

“At the roundabout take the first exit…… In one mile, turn right. Stopping two hundred yards on your left so I can nip into Harrison’s pharmacy to pick up my prozac prescription.”…… OR ……

“After two miles, keep right…… Before we get there did I tell you my husbands left me for a newer model?!!….. I’ve bent over backwards to stop him leaving, but how the hell am I supposed to compete against a Garmin DriveSmart 50 LMTD?!”

I’ll leave the SAD NAV notion on the back burner, possibility revisiting the idea for a  sketch or comedic prose at a later stage. I promise if I do, though, to make them funnier than the two examples above!!


This is the first narrative I’ve written in two days, my recent time spent over in Blackpool at the funeral of a long standing family friend, Jack Ranby. My dad’s best buddy for 60 years, since meeting while working at Northern Butchers Hide & Skin company as young lads in the 1950’s.

Over those half-dozen decades Jack and his brood became like family to the Strachans. To clarify, when I say Strachans I’m referring to my dad’s immediate family. Not that Jack Ranby and ex-Leeds United footballer Gordon Strachan became thick as thieves; or his eldest son David is good buddies with TV presenter Michaela Strachan…… Well, not that I know of, anyhow!

As he fully deserved, Jack had a great send off. The crematorium packed to the rafters, a sight speaking volumes about the mark of the man. Around fifty people not even able to secure a pew, instead paying respects to the Lancashire-based Yorkshireman standing around the periphery of the main crematorium room.

A congregation predominantly made up of Lancastrians putting aside the ‘friendly’ War of the Roses rivalry to pay their respects to a stricken Yorkshireman. Jack’s race run, but the metaphoric miles covered will never be forgotten by those blessed to have made his acquaintance.

No longer in the pain and discomfort of his final weeks, I now have romantic notions he’ll be re-united with my old man somewhere looking for a celestial branch of Betfred to place a bet on the last two days of the Royal Ascot meeting. Accompanied by imbibing their first pint together since my father passed in October 2017.

The wake in his local pub, The Shovels, also proved a fitting send off to the Leeds-born 83-year old who passed 2-3 weeks ago. Three generations of his family and a throng of friends toasting Jack’s life and talking of the imprints he’d made on theirs.

The only awkward part being when an elderly guy called Frank introduced himself to me as “I knew your dad!” With being hamstrung by alcohol induced confusion I heard as “I’m your dad.” Something that startled me, until I found out what he’d really uttered and asking him to elaborate.

On finding out later Frank was ‘worth a few bob’ I rued the fact I’d be missing out on an inheritance. A disenchantment that was exacerbated when he turned down my request for him to adopt me!

Anyhow, thanks for all of the many happy memories you’ve given me and my family over the years, Jack!…… Rest in peace!!


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