Happy Days – Martin’s Room
For the last two “Martin’s Happy Days” events, I have written about them for RecoveryTimes. Trying to find the right words to remember someone so tragically lost and yet, also to celebrate their life is not an easy thing to do. This year, I thought I would ask Mick, Martin’s twin brother, if he would like to say a few words.
We sat in what will become “Martin’s Room” in Basement House where Mick has been busily transforming the space, from what used to be the building’s heating and air conditioning facility, into a multi-functional area for meetings, music, movies etc.
As we were sitting there, the radio playing in the background, wondering just where to start, “Only love can break your heart” by Neil Young started playing. “One of our Martin’s favourite songs” Mick said. We sat and listened for a while…
“When you were young
and on your own
How did it feel
to be alone?
I was always thinking
of games that I was playing.
Trying to make
the best of my time.
But only love
can break your heart
Try to be sure
right from the start
Yes only love
can break your heart
What if your world
should fall apart?
I have a friend
I’ve never seen
He hides his head
inside a dream
Someone should call him
and see if he can come out.
Try to lose
the down that he’s found.
But only love
can break your heart….”
“I’d stop it all now if I could. I’d stop Martin’s Happy Days and I’d stop Martin’s Room just to sit and have a pint with Martin” said Mick. I started talking about the love for Martin that I had witnessed through my involvement with Martin’s Happy Days, how addiction and depression can blind you from just about everything – I’d been there too, standing in a room of 1,000 people and still felt lonely. Mick could relate to that; “I could still feel lonely if I met 1,000 new friends today. I miss him so much”.
Mick began to recall some of the happy days with Martin:
“We used to play the pubs and clubs around Calderdale. One time we did a school anniversary concert at the Irish Club. We were looking for a base guitarist at the time and the sound engineer at the club, Digger, who we knew from our school days, said he could play. Like hell he could, but he went home and practiced like ****. He fitted in easily and we soon became a trio. Over the years we got to know many people and many bands. I remember a time ‘Belt of the Celts’ were meant to be doing a gig which had to be cancelled for some reason. Mum (who is music mad), suggested doing the gig at her house. There were Belt of the Celts, Me, Digger, Martin and others. One thing led to another, and we still gig at Mums place. We’ve had 70+ people before now.” At this point I was beginning to imagine Mum lived somewhere like Harewood House, but then Mick continued… “Imagine squeezing all that into a 3 bed semi”.
Martin’s Room before work started
I have to admit, I kind of got lost when Mick was talking about all the bands and who was in which and who played in two and who swapped from one to another – it all sounded like one big happy family. This ‘Happy Family’ came together for the first committee meeting to organise the first event and are now actively involved in organising all subsequent events.
As well as the bands, other important members of the line up include Pete Emmet (compere) and Lee Roberts (comedian) who have always found the time for Martin’s Happy Days in their busy schedule.
I asked Mick, why The Basement Recovery Project? – “We got to hear about The Basement Recovery Project at hospital. Martin’s drinking and depression had got worse over the years and he had recently split from his current relationship and was living with Mum – he needed help. Mum and I took him to the doctors where the doctor immediately referred him to A&E – ‘they’ll be expecting you’ the doctor said. I thought at last he’d get some professional help. All the way to the hospital Martin tried to get out of the car, it was an awful experience, but we got there. The hospital did an assessment but said there was nothing wrong with him really. Just as we were leaving, we bumped into an old school friend (Paul) who mentioned The Basement Recovery Project and how they had helped him overcome alcoholism and depression.”
Martin’s Room – back wall before and after pictures
I could see this was hard for Mick but he carried on regardless, “Martin’s drinking got worse, Mum found it hard to cope – he was making threats about suicide, so he went to live with Dad. I got a small job in France but he let me know he’d made it to the Basement Project and even asked me to go along with him, I said would when I got back. But before I could, I got a call from Dad – the police were there – Martin had taken his life.”
Mick and I sat in silence, both of us thinking about everything he’d just told me. Eventually, the silence was broken when Mick began to tell me how the first Martin’s Happy Days event came about.
“One evening Caz, Digger and I were chatting in the kitchen about having a day to remember Martin’s life. At first I was hesitant – Digger wanted a big day! I discovered some notes Martin had written about how, after he got well, he would have liked to have given something back to the Project. There was only going to be one charity to benefit from any event, and that’s how ‘Martin’s Happy Days’ came about.”
The first and then second Happy Days events were a roaring success. The Basement Recovery Project then approached Mick with an idea of converting the unused attic at the Project into a more versatile space to be named in Martin’s memory. “After the second event, Michelle said we should do “Martin’s Room” and asked if I’d like to do the work.
Martin’s Room – front wall and entrance before and after pictures
I put it off initially. I thought it would be too emotional but once I started, it kind of took over and as I made friends from TBRP it became even more meaningful. It’s meant more to me than I ever thought it could. I’ve had loads of support, not just physically with the room, but emotional support too. I’d like to thank everyone, especially Das Byrnes and Eppie for helping with the Velux widows, Anthony Chesney for the ‘sparking’, everyone at TBRP including; Mark, Andy, Gav, Scott, Silly, Rab, Tom, Stuart – in fact there are too many to mention”.
Martin’s Room – ceiling before and after pictures
Mick also wanted to express some other thanks; “I’d also like to thank John and Rachael Sutcliffe. I’ve known John for many years, (he and Martin went to Brighouse College together to do their apprenticeship). They couldn’t make Martin’s Happy Days due to getting married and being away on their honeymoon (congratulations to you both). They decided to put an envelope on each table at their reception with a picture of Martin and a few words about the event. They raised an amazing £500 for the cause and John’s company, Abacus Sheet Metals even sponsored ‘Mick and Friends’ at the event. Thanks so much guys!”
Martin’s Room – entrance before and after pictures
And the final word from Mick “You know, when we first started Martin’s Happy Days, people would ask me what is The Basement Recovery Project and what do they do. Last year, we had over 500 people there, and I bet most of them now know. I am sure Martin would be proud of the event and ‘Martin’s Room’. I’m not so sure what he would think of us using his name, but had we not, we wouldn’t have had the recognition we’ve had – he really was loved by so many amazing people.
We are hoping to have an opening night for ‘Martin’s Room’ where we can put on some live music and invite Martin’s Happy Days members and friends. Of course, we will be taking pictures and updating the website as we go.
Until the next Happy Days event, which we hope will be bigger and better than the last, and in the words of our Martin;
‘Happy Days’ .”
Article by Heath
Thank you to Mick for sharing with us, and thank you to everyone who has supported Martin’s Happy Days. For more information about MHD visit the website: www.martinshappydays.com or follow on Facebook.
Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue 8