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“Mally, The Boy Who Flew Through Windows” (2006) By Mally Welburn

ImageMally is a Hull Lad through and through, and this book has the strong flavour of Working Class life and you can literally smell the fish docks and hear the eerie sound of the Humber fog horn as you read this honest and real account.

Welburn can no way be associated with the new genre of “Victim Lit”, you know the stuff. Pamela Stevenson’s biog of Billy Connelly epitomised this; Billy had a tough working class upbringing so thereby excusing the fact he is an arrogant bully and all-round horrible bloke.

Dave Peltzer is another, almost like having a terrible upbringing is some kind of resource for his misery writing.

This is a charge laid at the door of Frank McCourt with his epic book of Limerick life, Angela’s Ashes. No one can deny that some unpleasant things went on, or that life in inter war Ireland was extremely tough for some, but gloom pervades all, making Denis O’ Shaughnessy’s contributions all the more worthwhile for their balance and perspective.

And why on earth anyone would want to read Sara Payne’s account of the aftermath of her daughter Sarah’s murder, or the memories of Soham father Kevin Wells? It just plain takes my breath away.

Mally’s book avoids all this victim status as he takes us through his upbringing on Gypsyville, near Hessle Road, the heart of our now wrecked fishing industry. “Dysfunctional” would be the Guardian trendy description of his family. I imagine Mally would call it something far more interesting and colourful.

Welburn first came to my attention on Look North when he was interviewed in his Sport’s Shed which was all decked out in Hull FC memorabilia for the 2005 Challenge Cup Final.

Basically the idea is that Mally builds and sells these Dream Sheds marketed at sports mad blokes who can escape into their own little world at the bottom of the garden. A genius idea and very much a success story based on initiative and drive.

Mally then auditioned for Big Brother getting to the final lot, but I suspect the production company got cold feet as Mally was “a bit of a lad” having done time for assault.

This is the bit I admire. He describes in detail what a total inadequate bully of a brute his father was, and the casual violence dished out to him and his Mum in particular. The way it is written leaves you in no doubt that it is real and true. No one could make that stuff up and write about it in such a manner, just banging away with one finger, no editing, to tell it how it was.

Never at any time does the author blame anyone but himself for the stupid, idiotic and plain irresponsible things that he did.

No excuses, no hand wringing physco/sociological pleas for our understanding. Just the truth and you, dear reader make your own mind up.

It is a story of redemption as Mally reaching his forties, decides he better just grow up, stop drinking and start a new proper fulfilling life.

Using the opportunities provided by the Government schemes, he set up and ran the business living initially rough on the damp squalid, rat infested premises of Hessle Road, breaking up pallets and reusing them.

No matter what the hardship Mally stuck it out and didn’t slide back into his old ways saying; “Well, I tried…..” He just keeps on going.

His local celebrity was sealed by winning £54,000 on Deal or No Deal as the production team were seduced by his persona from the Big Brother auditions. I admit I never saw the programme at the time, but read about it, and Mally in the Hull Daily Mail, and was immediately seduced by his larger than life personality.

This book is brilliant, a real antidote to the packaged dross that pervades most auto biography sections.

You will still “get” it if you aren’t from Hull as the themes are all relevant to our shared human experience.

Go to http://www.mallywelburn.co.uk/ to find out more and order the book.


Gives you a flavour of Mally’s remarkable Deal or No Deal game.

Bad stuff happens but at the end of the day, no one can live our lives for us, or take the blame when we stuff up or don’t fulfil our true potential


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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