Dave lived in South Carolina USA in the 90's, and wrote a weekly newspaper humour column looking at life in the deep south through the eyes of a cynical Englishman. This became successful and also led to Dave hosting a weekly TV talk show that broadcast on a regional cable channel.

On returning to the UK he started a weekly humour column for the Burton Mail (part of Trinity Mirror Group of newspapers), loosely titled: Mumblings of a Middle Aged Man. Topics were as far ranging as dog walking, womens shoes, and male fertility. All of these are published in print and also online, with links to all the articles below.

Dave recerntly completed his first film script entitled One More Shot, which follows three addicts on their twelve week rehab journey at a residential treatment centre. He is now writing a diarised account of life on the underbelly of the comedy circuit.

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Living with the Loss of Charlie

Please note the article below is a detour from my usual humourous mumblings. But I needed to write it, if not for me then for Charlie.

First published in the Burton Mail on 1st March 2016


One of my most vivid teenage memories is the day my first girlfriend ended our relationship. I was fourteen at the time, and we had been dating for ten whole days. It was serious stuff, and I was on top of the world. But the world collapsed all too rapidly when she ended our romance behind the cricket pavilion on that fateful summer afternoon. Apparently, a friend of hers had been told by one of the football team that the captain quite liked her. And that was all it took to end our special bond. Being liked by the football captain was obviously more important to her than the indescribable love that had evolved between us over the ten days. How shallow.

At the time it was a devastating blow, and there appeared little point in continuing with life. What was there to live for without her, without us? Nothing was fair. Why me, I kept asking. What had I done to deserve this?

I’ve forgotten how long it took me to get over her, two or three days I think. But even though her name soon vanished from my memory, the pains associated with those intense feelings of loss branded themselves on my heart.

On January 1st 2001, my wife and I lost our son to Meningitis, or more specifically Meningococcal Septicaemia. His name was Charlie, and he was just ten months old. In an instant those feelings returned: What was there to live for without him? Nothing was fair. Why me, I kept asking. What had I done to deserve this?

The loss was even harder because of the time and speed. He was taken to hospital early on New Year’s Day with a suspected stomach virus. Six hours later he developed the tell-tale Septicaemia rash, and died 45 minutes later. He had been taken from us within eight hours of first displaying any sign of illness. In an instant Emma and I were alone, everything we had dreamed of and worked for had been taken by a bacteria smaller than a pinhead. Maybe we were dreaming. Maybe we would wake up and find Charlie sleeping peacefully in his cot.

Charlie was born in America while Emma and I were living and working in South Carolina. He was a duel citizen of USA and UK, which really appealed to me as it meant he could move freely around much of the western world for the rest of his life. It also meant he was twice as likely to qualify to play in the Ryder Cup (or any other national sporting team, assuming he had more talent than his father, which wouldn’t be too hard).

Charlie would have been 16 last week, and the feelings and emotions are still as strong today as the day he died, and I know they will remain for as long as I do. I have never known love for anything or anybody like that before. Nothing can compare with the love a parent has for their child. Before becoming a parent I had always questioned the mental stability of those who boldly stated that they would do anything for their child, even give their own life. But it is true. I would have done anything for Charlie, even beat-up the school football team captain who ‘quite liked’ my first girlfriend (and if my memory serves me well he was a big kid too).

So what does the future hold now? How do you live with these continual feelings and emotions? The truth is that you just do. It started by taking one day at a time. Then one week at a time. Then one month, one year, and so on. Small steps. You can only take small steps. The recent news stories relating to Meningitis losses, and near losses in the case of rugby star Matt Dawson, are a haunting reminder too. Huge progress has been made in the prevention of the various forms of Meningitis thanks to research and vaccine treatments, but families still continue to be affected by this hard to diagnose disease.

One word that has become meaningful is ‘perspective’. I thought it was the end of the world when my first girlfriend terminated our ten-day relationship. Put in perspective… well you can guess the rest. So often we moan and groan about the smallest of things. It is hard not to, after all, it is part of the genetic heritage of the human species. But the loss of Charlie has put things into perspective for us. I won’t stop moaning and groaning about the little things, and nor will the rest of the world. But if nothing else I know the relative importance, or unimportance, of each moan and groan.

I’m crying as I write these last few words. And I realise this is an unusual detour from the normal jovial subject matter of my weekly columns. But for some reason I wanted to write about Charlie given this week would have been a milestone in his life. We now have two wonderful daughters named Isabella and Lucie. They know all about Charlie and fondly refer to him as the brother they never met. I feel fortunate that I did meet him, and he continues to influence me in a way that could hardly be expected given his short 10 month life.

Copyright Clide Ltd 2019

Weekly Burton Mail Humour Column

All are available online at:



12 Jan 16: Doggy Chitter Chatter


19 Jan 16: Fueling a Shoe Fetish


26 Jan 16: Upwardly Mobile


2 Feb 16: My Lottery Soul Mate

9 Feb 16: Taking Lessons is Snow Joke


16 Feb 16: Is there a Doctor in the House?

23 Feb 16: Teaching my Boys to Swim

1 Mar 16: Living with the Loss of Charlie

8 Mar 16: A Flying Visit through Burton

15 Mar 16: Laughing in Aid of Recovery

22 Mar 16: Anyone for a Massage?