New book on 1970s single dad's 'chequered life' in Harrogate
A charity director who appeared in the Harrogate Advertiser as a pioneering single father in the very different days of the 1970s has published a book about his life experiences.
By his own admission, Mike Daligan has lived an occasionally troubled life and it’s that that thought which provides the new book’s title - Lessons From A Chequered Life.Mike, 74, said: “The reason I’ve written the book is to let people know that you can change, you can do things.“I didn’t discover that until I got divorced and got custody of the two children. I knew then I couldn’t go back to what I was before.”Born in Surrey Docks to a traditional South London working class family, Mike first arrived in Harrogate in 1957 when he joined the army and came north to the Army Apprentices College at Pennypot.The book shows how he fell in love and got married to his first serious girlfriend in Harrogate.Despite moving around during his 12 years in the military, he returned to live in Harrogate in 1976 with his young son and daughter after his divorce, even moving back into the Chatsworth Road house in Harrogate where he lived as a teenager during army training.It was rare in those days for a single man to bring up children on his own.Hence the news article about Mike’s thoughts on life which appeared in the Harrogate Advertiser on August 2, 1978. Under the heading “Divided they stand”, Mike spoke in words which illustrate how much people’s thinking has changed since the 1970s.“If I had been a female single-parent, my lot would have been much worse. The man has just as much right over his child as the woman does, and more fathers are beginning to realise that.” Mike went through a succession of shortlived ‘new careers’ in Harrogate at that time to keep his household together. Spells as a cleaner, a washer-upper, a bar man and a cook (in a then new restaurant called the Damn Yankee) came and went before he settled on studying architecture. The book is the final part of a trilogy. The reminiscences in the series include nights out in the now-demolished pub The Cock and castle with friends like the Harrogate artist and poet Johnny Middleton and promoting his own gigs occasionally at the long-gone Adelphi Hotel. But Mike could not settle and his new book does not shy away from tackling a string of failed relationships and self-destructive behaviour. Mike said: “Looking back, there were two weeks in my life when I was in such a daze I had no idea or memory of what was going on.”But that was then. Now happily remarried and working as a successful charity director and motivational speaker, he has put his past behind him. His two eldest children, still live in the area and Mike returns to Harrogate every five or six weeks from London. Mike said: “I realised the ghosts of my early life hadn’t left me. My mother died when I was five and my father wasn’t around much when I was growing up. “People of any age can make important changes in their lives for the better, perhaps, not by seizing the day but with quiet resolve. It’s never too late.”