My song today is ‘Walk Hand in Hand with Me’. This was a popular song by Johnny Cowell in 1956. The biggest-selling version recorded of the song was sung by Tony Martin that reached Number 2 in the United Kingdom and Number 10 on the ’Billboard Hot 100’ chart in 1956. A later recording by ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’ reached Number 29 on the UK chart and Number 10 in Canada.
As many of you know, I was run over by a large Milk Float at the age of 12 years and almost killed. My accident left unable to walk for three years due to a spinal injury, plus over fifty operations on my legs, which had been left mangled after the vehicle had knocked me down, run over me, and my body got wrapped around the main drive shaft.
During my 9 month-period in Batley Hospital, my spine started transmitting signals to my brain and my legs again, where immediately following my accident, all feeling beneath my waist had been lost. It was the medical circumstances regarding my spine damage which led the doctors to tell me and my parents that I’d never walk again.
I left the hospital unable to stand or walk and returned home. I missed the next 18 months of schooling. I had more leg operations to straighten my left leg and I started to engage in doing anything which occupied my mind and body in a profitable way. I even cycled daily before I could stand properly or walk, and whenever I fell off my bike (usually at places where I needed to stop), I would simply lie where I fell until some stranger came along and either placed me back in the saddle of my bike or took me back home.
When this song first came out, I was aged 14 years. It would be a further six months before I was able to hobble about unaided, but until then, my sisters Mary and Eileen would either push me in a home-made bunker to a friend’s house on the estate where we lived, or sometimes I would place an arm around each of their shoulders and they would act as my human crutches as they ‘walked hand in hand with me’ at a snail's pace. As with all brother and sister relationships, we would occasionally fall out or have cross words with each other, especially as I was the oldest in the family and still naturally expected to get my own way in all things. Whenever this happened, my sisters, Mary and Eileen would plonk me down on a low-level wall and then run off home laughing their heads off. I might still be sitting on that wall if my mother had not made them return for me.
That was the moment when it dawned on me, however much they loved me, and me them, I had better get myself walking sooner rather than later and not have to depend on them again!
Since I contracted a terminal blood cancer in early 2013 and anther two cancers since (skin cancer and rectal wart cancer), plus my many operations over the past 8 years (9 in total), I have been happy for Mary and Eileen to accompany me on walks despite my growing immobility, ‘but only because I now carry a mobile phone in my pocket and can call my wife, Sheila, and ask her to come and fetch me should they get it into their heads to run off and leave me again. Love you sis. Billy xx
Love and peace Bill xxx