Thursday, 1 January 2015

So the year 2014 has finally come to an end and before the clock strike twelve I’m going to take a short journey back throughout the year. If you would like to join me please read on.

January 2014: Waking up on the first day of the New Year allowed me to reflect on the year gone by, a year when I finally hung up my headphones after 28 years and bid farewell to the life I loved in broadcasting. Lying in bed that morning the first January 2014 I began to wonder whet the New Year had in store for me? Like the years gone past it seems that my life continued to be full of surprises and certainly unpredictable the biggest question that lay ahead for me in 2014 was ‘what was I going to do with my life now?’ One thing certain was I wasn’t going to sit back and simply do nothing, that was out of the question, it wasn’t in my nature to start pottering around the garden or take up painting are bowels etc but I wondered at my age would it be possible to challenge myself and turn my life around, to reinvent myself, but how and doing what was the big question the lay ahead of me.

During 2013 I was diagnosed with diverticulitis a digestive conditions that affect the large intestine (colon). In diverticular disease, small bulges or pockets (diverticula) develop in the lining of the intestine. Diverticulitis is when these pockets become inflamed or infected.
Symptoms of diverticular disease include: lower abdominal pain. Those that know me know I’m a hopeless hypochondriac so the thought of getting anything more serious than a cold was for me next thing to death. The disease can be controlled by anti-biotics but in some cases surgery is needed and that is what happened to me. I had a small part (10cms) of my colon removed and after a while thankfully I had a full recover all seemed to be back to normal. Early in 2014 I had a full medical check up to make sure everything was as it should be, heart good, blood good, lungs etc good, ooops what this they found on my bladder?? A pinhead size spot was detected. So folks I needed it off so 2014 more or less started off with yet another surgical procedure. Thankfully all was okay so full steam ahead health wise.

Now back to the nagging question; what to do with my life now? To tell you the truth I was slowly climbing up the walls with boredom and started to doubt myself as to the possibility of ever finding work again at my age. I started to write a blog on my life story which I found very therapeutic. I really didn't think anyone would be interested but over 35,000 have read it so far with some very encouraging comments add to that I've had interest from two publishers , one in Ireland and one in Canada! Besides the writing I was was beginning to become depressed, this was a characteristic that was very unlike me and it was worrying as I know what depression can lead to. I’m not the type of person ever to accept defeat I've always found a way to pick myself up (somehow) brush myself down and get on with it. So what to do? After all the only trade I knew, if you can call it that, was broadcasting.

Although I had now stepped well out of the lime light It seemed I was still in demand charity wise, which I found very flattering but decided that I should take a back seat for a while ,whilst I concentrated on trying to reinvent myself. This sitting on the fence didnt last very long before I was persuaded in July to host a charity for Children with cancer and in November Cudeca that together brought over 60,000 Euro to my charity fundraising 2014.

Hosting various events in Marbella this year including Children With Cancer. The photograph on the left shows me being joined on stage by Marbella's brilliant Mayor Angeles Munoz

I remember sitting on my terrace on a stunning April day with pen and paper intending to make a list of how I intended to reinvent myself. That sheet of paper remained empty for most of the afternoon except for one word 'PROPERTY'. Over the years I often thought if I had to do something else other than broadcasting what would it be and the world of real estate always held a great interest for me. I have over the years bought and sold many homes and after revamping them many had been photographed for various glossy magazines. In fact, thinking about it now, the only real money i ever made wasn't in my clubs, radio or television but it was in buying and selling property, so I must have had, at least, a little talent in doing so. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, this might be an option, at least to investigate. Knowing some of the owners of the biggest and most successful real estate companies in Marbella I started to investigate the possibility of a life changing career in the world of Real Estate. I set up meetings with a number of these companies to investigate any possibility that a future in real estate might have for me? Thankfully most of the owners came to the same conclusion that the type of personality I had would be excellent with connecting with potential clients, after all they told me, connecting with people is a top priority for a successful career as a Realtor.
After a lot of encouragement from my wife Wendy and my sons (who all had a lot of successes in real estate) I finally took the plunge and accepted the offer of a sales executive position with Bromley Estates one of the big three agencies in Marbella.

The head office of Bromley Real Estate Marbella

From the start I loved what I was doing I just couldn’t believe after 28 years on radio and television in, a world I loved, I would ever find an alternative career that I to would equally love and enjoy the same excitement . But I had and within the second month I had won the accolade of Sales Man Of The Month. What I loved about the job was meeting people from all walks of life from countries throughout the world finding out about who they were and taking on the challenge somewhat like a TV game show to ‘Find The Correct Property.’ It felt like I took to it like a duck to water. I suppose I was slightly less conventional to most of the top professionals that worked in Bromley and my way of sales was far from the rule book but thankfully it seemed to work. I think senior management decided to ‘just let him get on with it as what ever he's doing, and god knows what that is, seems to be working!

Another important highlight for me in 2014 occurred one afternoon when I received a telephone call informing me that I was to be the recipient of the Red Cross of Spain's highest award The Bronze Medal in recognition for my work for charity over the past 28 years. The award ceremony was held in the Congress Hall of Marbella in front of a large audience including dignitaries from the Marbella Town Hall, family and friends also present were a large contingent from television and the Spanish and English press. I was surprised to learn that not only was I one of only four to receive the medal in 2014 but I was informed that I was the first English man to receive such an award in Spain, in my acceptation speech I quickly pointed out that I was in fact IRISH, which received a raptures applause from the audience. The host pointed out that the medal was in recognition for the years of fundraising and the millions raised for various charities including Cudeca cancer care hospice (the first in Spain) Age Concern, Children In Need, Debra, The Emily Ash Fund, Fire Aid etc etc.

On the left is the Director General of Red Cross Spain and my stunning wife Wendy.

It was a year that my youngest nephew Stanley Rojack qualified as a doctor. I saw TWO of my cousins been nominated for film awards. Tim Boland who has been nominated for best original music score for A Band Called Death at this year’s Cinema Awards in New York (Tim is the recipient of a cinema award for his music score in Stomp The Yard). Andrew Freedman who has been nominated in this years BAFTA's for the movie Kelly&Victor which he co-produced. Congratulations to them both.

2014 was a year of so much unrest in the world with new heights of savagery performed bt terrorist groups like ISIS , Boka Haram and Hezbollah. The wars in Africa and the Middle East continued to rage. We saw war yet agin in Israel triggered by Gaza's terrorist leader Hamas raining rockets into Israel. . A new frightening word became prominent in 2014 and that was Ebola, a virus disease that was killing thousands in West Africa and threatening to spread throughout the world if not curtailed. We read the news that weeks after the search for a Malaysian plane carrying 239 people went missing without trace. The search still continues for Malaysian Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean." Nine months after the plane took off, there is no trace of it or any of the passengers.

A great loss to Marbella and personal friend of mine Mark Rich died suddenly during 2014. I spent many happy evenings dinning with Mark at his stunning home in Marbella when he visited from his main base in Switzerland (see photo below) . Mark will be greatly missed especially by the many charities worldwide he supported although The Mark Rich foundation, which gave away millions annually, will continue to function.

RIP 2014: We saw the loss of a number of my favorite celebrities taking to the big stage in the sky, including: Robin Williams 63, Joan Rivers 81, Joe Cocker 70, Roger Lloyd-Pack 69 (Trigger in Only Fools and Horses) Rik Mayall 56, Bob Hoskins, Mickey Rooney 91, Richard Attenborough 90, film producer/actor Philip Seymour Hoffman 46, Kate O'Mara 74, Lauren Bacall 89, Bobby Womack 70, Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers 74, Acker Bilk 85, BBC DJ Mike Smith 59, Alvin Stardust 72, Billie Whitelaw 82, Jeremy Lloyd 84, Shirley Temple 85, Peaches Geldof 25, Lynda Bellingham 66.

Among the many crazy things i did in 2014 this must top the list! Yes folks The Ice Bucket Challenge. Doing the dirty dead in this photo is Wendy's partner Karen and boy did she take great pleasure in doing it, so she said afterwords.....

I can tell you now, I don't know what was worse, the ice cold water or the rocks of ice taking lumps out of my scalp!

Or how about this. Halloween 2014 me as an Arab. That might be going a bit to far??????

2014 we saw thousands of videos being posted onto Facebooks, some of them upsetting some very funny. This has to be my favorite of the year.....Lesson to be learnt here. 'Don't argue with the kid, you will never win!'

My favorite song of 2014: Has to be Ed Sheeran: Thinking Out Loud.

My favorite TV Show 2014: Being a TV addict the choice of my top TV shows is never easy (I watch any old rubbish as you'll see) . I love News programs and documentaries, especially Wild Life shows etc I loved Downton Abby and Mrs Browns Boys. I love Celebrity Juice and 8 out of Ten Cats Does Countdown. I'm ashamed to say I'm an ardent Eastender fan (sad!) followed by X Factor (getting boring, Britain and America's Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing, Graham Norton and wait for it.... I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!! I hear you saying; 'I need to get a life!'

So what have I learnt from 2014? Well the biggest lesson has to be; 'Never think it's to late.' No matter what age you are there is a way, if your really determent you will find the way. Say to yourself or write it down. 'Never give up. There is work out there, you need to find it and you will if you really want to'
The other important lesson was advice that was given to me in early 2014 re critics. Firstly you must ignore them, remove them off your social media sites i.e Facebook, Blogs and Twitter etc. You must realize these are just jealous underachievers in their own lives and reading your successes reminds them of their failings in life. NEVER rise to the bait, they know your weaknesses and they will continue to use them as bait, NEVER answer their criticisms, NEVER go back to their sites. These people are normally universal failures who feed off any weaknesses, political or personal they know you might have. Like I did in 2014 block them out, they are ignored by anyone who's half way intelligent. Instead of being angered by them take it as a compliment that all they have to write about is you!!!



I pray now that 2015 will see the turning point towards a peaceful year, a year when the world of terror will begin to diminish, a world of enemies beginning to lay down their arms , a world of understanding and respect for one another. A world where we learn to coexist.

I wish each and everyone friend or foe a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2015.

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