Humans of shakespeare North Playhouse- Mike

Sat 4 Mar, 2023

Inspired by the original Humans of New York, Humans of Shakespeare North Playhouse aims to document as many of the wonderful people who walk through our building each day. Giving a glimpse into who they are and the story they have to share.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on.” The Tempest,  Act 4, Scene 1.


“Laurie Lee once said that he didn’t feel alive if he didn’t write every day. I don’t feel alive unless I’m creating or doing something every day. I need to work all the time; I love to work.

“A few years ago, I was on a cruise that was coming out of Helsinki. I draw and paint wherever I go so I had my sketchbooks with me at the time and was doing some work when one of the entertainers on the ship saw what I was doing. She said she liked the work and asked if she could show it to the cruise director. So, he looked at it and was impressed and they asked had I thought about teaching and exhibiting my work on a cruise ship. On the last day, the cruise director gave me a letter with all the information on about the agency, so I applied to them, but said I only wanted to do work that was dedicated to the areas we were visiting. Three years later I got a phone call asking if I’d like to go to the Azores. I’ve got a lot of funny mates so I thought one of them was winding me up! Thankfully it wasn’t. So, I did a two-week cruise teaching around the Azores then the cruise after that was one that went around the world, so I went all around the world. I have another cruise lined up in September that goes around America. I enjoy teaching and doing exhibitions of my work and I get the opportunity to do both of cruise ships. I can guarantee you now that I’ve got over 5000 images that I’ve created of various parts of the world, it’s an exciting thing to do.

“I like having different avenues of working, so not only will I work in a graphic design sense but also a fine art sense- I can do sculpture as well, it’s a whole consuming process.

“My mother was always doing embroidery, I still have one of her tablecloths where she started at one end and I started at the other, we use it over Christmas. My mum was ill all her life and was virtually in a chair for most of the time. She had several major operations, but she would flit from embroidery, to knitting, to crocheting and other things as well like crosswords and jigsaws, because that was her world and the way she operated.

“I retired from teaching in 1998. I was head of a very large faculty as a senior member of staff which I’d been doing since the age of 25. I was the youngest one in Knowsley to do a senior faculty job as head of creative design. I was lucky because not only could I machine embroider but I could weld as well so I had a lot of practical skills that I could use.

“You learn by not just being in a classroom, I always hated that. The first time I was inspected by Ofsted I did 3 of the lessons stood on a table and they said, ‘why are you doing that?’ and I said ‘because the kids will always remember this’. Once when i was teaching in one of the art blocks I noticed you could get a motorbike through the front door of the building and one of the science teachers owned a motorbike. So, I borrowed the bike and wore an old leather jacket that I’d decorated with studs and Hells Angels patches and a pair of aviator glasses and rode it into the lesson. The kids would still remember that to this day! I was in a restaurant the other day and the woman who was the manager of it was one of my ex-students and she said she’ll always remember my lessons.

“The ice cream bike was done a few years ago. One of my friends was having a celebration for his birthday and he used to sell ice cream as a way of raising money for charity and he mentioned that he would love to sell it on a bike. So I thought for his birthday why don’t I make him a bike! The bike is made from all scrap materials we had.

“The original illustration that I based the design on was a black and white image out of something like The Prescot and Huyton reporter when it existed many years ago, and it showed an ice cream bike that just said ‘Pure Ices’ on it so I took that idea and put Prescot Ices on. We still use it to raise money for charity. We raised about 11 grand with it last year and at Easter we raised around 4 grand for the Ukraine with it.

“I’ve always been involved in voluntary organisations since around 1974. I volunteered at Shakespeare North Playhouse because I love theatre and I like Shakespeare and I think that the skill sets I have could be useful for the organisation.”