I also dedicate my song today to,Tonya Ginn, who lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the U.S.A. Tonya celebrates her birthday today. Enjoy your special day as much as you possibly can, Tonya, and thank you for being my Facebook friend.
My song today is ‘Daniel’. This ballad was performed by Elton John and was co-written by Elton and his lyricist, Bernie Taupin. It appeared on the 1973 album ‘Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player’. The song reached the Number 4 spot in the United Kingdom's official chart. In the U.S.A. the song reached Number 2 on the pop charts and Number 1 on the ‘Adult Contemporary Chart’. In the United States, the record was certified ‘Gold’ in September 1995 and ‘Platinum in May 2018 by the RIAA. In Canada, it became Elton’s second Number 1 single, following ‘Crocodile Rock’ earlier in the year in the ‘RPM 100 National Singles Chart’. Elton John and Bernie Taupin received the ‘Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically’ in 1973.
Bernie Taupin wrote the song's lyrics after reading an article about a Vietnam War veteran who had been wounded and wanted to get away from the attention he was receiving when he went back home. The last verse in the original draft was cut from the final version, which has led to some speculation on the contents.
"'Daniel' had been the most misinterpreted song that we'd ever written," explained Taupin, in the ‘Two Rooms Project’. "The story was about a guy that went back to a small town in Texas, returning from the Vietnam War. They lauded him when he came home and treated him like a hero. But he just wanted to go home, go back to the farm, and try to get back to the life that he'd led before. I wanted to write something that was sympathetic to the people that came home."
I had recently joined the Probation Service as a Probation Officer in Huddersfield when this song was first released, and far from living a simple life at the time, my own life was hectic with me having too much to do and not enough time to seemingly do it in. Whenever I look back over the past 77 years, I find that I have always been busy doing this or that.
When I joined the Probation Service, I had a burning ambition to change the world, and can probably make some small claim in helping to have done so marginally, by going on to pioneer ‘Anger Management’ which mushroomed across the English speaking world within two years of my founding and launching the process. 'Anger Management' is a method of how best to change problematic aggressive behaviour and to maintain any positive changes made.
I was also one of the country’s leading exponents in Relaxation Training, having extensively studied and practiced this method of deep meditation since a life-threatening accident I incurred at the age of 11 years which resulted in me being unable to walk for three years (despite being told by the medics following a damaged spine that I would never walk again). Over a quarter of a century working in the Probation Service, I took my Relaxation Training programmes into probation offices, hostels, hospitals, psychiatric institutions, educational establishments, prisons, churches, community halls, as well as into the training courses of university students, probation officers, psychiatric nurses, fire officers, police officers, psychologists, and even trainee psychiatrists.
The bulk of my work and research in the latter half of my 28-year career led me to concentrate on the major components which go to make up the behaviour and response pattern of individuals, along with seeking confirmable methods of accessing our involuntary responses and voluntarising them through a combination of progressive relaxation and self-hypnosis.
During my career, my pioneering work was mentioned and reported on in a number of European Social-Work books and publications, and in addition, between 1990 and 2016, I wrote over five dozen novels and children storybooks, whose total profits went to charitable causes (over £200,000 given to charity between 1990 and 2003).
I retired early from the Probation Service in my early fifties because of arthritic problems which had gradually diminished my mobility. However, I still carried on with my charitable work. My charitable work proved to be highly successful; no doubt helped in no small measure by the support I obtained from world-famous people. After the late Princess Diana contacted me during the 1990s and asked for me to send her two of my children’s books to read to the two young princes, William and Harry, at their bedtime, my charitable books and writing received popular acclaim in my home county of West Yorkshire. Then, I received the endorsement of my work as being of ‘High-quality literature’ in a press interview which was given to the Guardian newspaper by the ‘Chief Inspector for Ofsted’ at the time (Chris Woodhead), after he had read from one of my books in a school in Liversedge, West Yorkshire. This helped me enormously with all schools I was to visit between 1990-2000 (over 2000 Yorkshire school storytelling assemblies held) having the quality of my writing educationally endorsed by the highest school academic body in Great Britain. My acclaim as an author, however, was finally stamped after I received a personal telephone call to my home in the year 2000 by South African President, Nelson Mandela, to praise the writing of two of my published books about South Africa I had written for children and young persons.
After the news of Nelson Mandela’s phone call praising my writing was televised on ‘News 24’, I was invited to promote and manage a trans-Atlantic pen-pal project with the Jamaican Minister of Education and the 32 schools in Falmouth, Jamaica. The project also involved me liaising with the Mayor (known as the Custos) of Trelawney and other Jamaican educational dignitaries in Falmouth (the old-world slave capital). I enlisted 32 Yorkshire schools on this side of the Atlantic Ocean whose pupils were predominantly of white skin in this pen-pal project with the 32 Falmouth schools in Jamaica. The main purpose was to increase the black and white pupils’ awareness of each other’s customs with a view of improving their multi-cultural understanding and decreasing any future likelihood of racist behaviour and attitudes existing between these black and white pen-pal pupils. In addition, I wrote, funded, managed, and arranged for the publication of a further four books specifically to raise much-needed cash for vital school equipment and resources in the heavily under-resourced Falmouth schools. Many thousands of my books were shipped across to Jamaica and sold there to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the Falmouth schools. My greatest pride was to see these books placed on the school curriculum as well as the school library shelves in Falmouth, Jamaica.
I had to withdraw from this project after two years (just before my 60th birthday), because of serious health issues, after making a couple of visits to all the schools In Falmouth, Jamaica. Within a one-week period, I was to experience two heart attacks, the second of which almost killed me and left me unconscious for four days while my family assembled around my death bed in Leeds General Hospital saying their final farewells. My heart attacks obliged me to ‘slow down’ and to reduce the massive workload I had sustained over several decades non-stop, ever since I had joined the Probation Service in 1971.
Today's song which deals with ‘the seeking of a quieter way of life’ resonates strongly with me. When I met and fell in love with Sheila in 2010, I had been divorced three years and never anticipated finding love again with another woman at my age of life. Sheila is a beautiful woman (inside and out) and being 14 years younger than myself and ten times fitter (she was a Yoga Instructor), I considered myself extremely lucky to have discovered such a pearl in my old age. Following a two-year courtship, we got married on my 70th birthday in November 2012, and for once in my life, I looked forward to living that simpler and easier life with my beautiful new wife.
Three months after our marriage, I was diagnosed with terminal blood cancer. My blood cancer was incurable cancer which would give me other body cancers the longer I lived. Since my initial diagnosis (which offered me a life span of around 3 years according to European medical statistics), the previous busy work life I had experienced prior to my heart attacks was merely changed with Sheila and myself having to deal with one cancer after another, along with ongoing operations and treatment procedures non-stop since 2012. Since my marriage to Sheila, I have had eight cancer operations (six operations within the past 18 months), two nine-month courses of chemotherapy, three years of monthly blood transfusions, and forty sessions of radiotherapy. I have recently developed blood clots in my urinary tract, and I am currently being examined for the likelihood of another cancer having developed in my urinary tract.
And yet, believe me when I tell you that my life has never been happier than since I first met Sheila. We have remained busier than we ever hoped for initially with the appearance of one medical problem appearing after another with me. We did, however, manage to create our own peaceful haven in our allotment where we spend as much time as our weather and circumstances allow.
Being prone to catch any infection or germ doing the rounds ever since I was first diagnosed almost 8 years ago, because of my lack of any effective immune system, other people’s colds become my instant pneumonia and their germs and infections can prove fatal for me. In my ways, because of the daily game of Russian Roulette I play with my life whenever I am in contact with another human being, I have effectively experienced a life of increased isolation and shielding since March 2013, whereas the present national lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic virus has only been intermittently experienced by the nation since March of 2020. I have now been in a situation of intermittent 'lockdown' conditions, necessitating a restrictive form of shielding from other humans since March 2013, and the imminent emergence of any effective virus vaccine is unlikely to change my shielding circumstances during the remainder of my life, apart from giving me one less infection to worry about.
That is why our allotment represents our peaceful and relaxing haven as there are no infectious humans to be found there; only innocent flowers, nutritious vegetables, beautiful plants, and a wide variety of shrubs, insects, birds and all manner of wonderful nature.
Love and peace Bill xxx