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Aaron Roberts - Photographer - Cluj-Napoca
Aaron Roberts - Photographer - Cluj-Napoca
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25th November 2015


So, I thought I’d share some things with you about my life that even I didn’t really know about until just over 2 years ago.

Me and my Grandfather..

Me and my Grandfather..

Firstly, I was born in 1990, this I already knew.. I mean.. that’s what it says on my Birth Certificate. However, I wasn’t born Aaron Roberts, I was actually born Aaron Lee Hudd.



Hudd is the maiden name of my mother, when her and my Dad (or the man that I would grow up to be calling Dad) were married, I inherited his surname through registration of a “Change of Name” deed which I have a copy of here with me.

You’ll notice that the “Father” section of this birth certificate is blanked out. I don’t know quite WHY that is.. but I do know that my “Dad” wasn’t my real Dad, he was my step-dad and that my real father’s name was named Gary.

I grew up knowing this and I even recall my other asking me if I knew that “Colin” (this is Dad) wasn’t my real father and that my real father was somewhere else.

I answered, yes I know. She did ask me if I wanted to make a connection with him but I was quite young at this stage and I didn’t really see the value to adding a new “dad” to my life, especially when I considered my “Dad” to be Colin and not Gary.

Well I don’t know if I regret my decision that day or whether I was just so young that I didn’t really understand the importance of the knowing all there is to know about where you come from.

Fact is, it’s too late to find out now. My mother died in 2005 when I was 15 and my real father, Gary, died when I was 18. I never met him and he never met me.

My life has been quite full of questions pretty much ever since. Questions that I don’t think I will truly ever know the answers to.

My Proud Grandfather.

My Proud Grandfather.

My grandfather died when I was 11. He was a truly remarkable man, his inspirational wartime stories and his medals are some of my most fondest memories of my childhood. I truly wish he was still here to see who I have become today as I know that he would be a proud man, as he always was.

My wonderful grandmother, the mother of my mother, is still alive.. I call her each month to catch up and see how she is. She is actually the ONLY direct bloodline I have remaining in this world, or at least.. so I thought.

When my real father died in 2008, I didn’t really feel too much. I mean, sure, it was strange to know that now I actually have no parents in this world. My Dad (Step-Dad) and I had drifted apart, due to me discovering his alcohol abuse after my mother died and so I was pretty alone here.

It should have been a wakeup call really, but instead I just carried on with my life the way I had been doing and don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret that… I just think that things could have been very different if I had just taken a minute to rewind and reconnect with my other half of the family.

When I made my decision to move to Romania, I reached out to the other half of my family, my biological father’s half.. I will simply call him Gary from this point on to keep it simple.

I already was in contact with my Aunt Jenny, Gary’s sister and had been since I was a baby. My mother and her had many connections and mutual friends so she was in some way, always a part of my life although I admit I wish I’d known more and had more contact.

I went to visit and visited my Grandmother and some of my other family. I learned a lot about all the different parts of my family that I didn’t have the chance to learn growing up, it was very clear that I missed out on a lot of interesting things.

The thing I think I found most interesting was the stories about Gary.


See this guy? That’s Gary, my real father.. Seems that I did meet him but judging by my fashion sense.. I was hardy making any decisions at this point in my life and needless to say, I was a little young to remember.

However, what I did learn is that this photo which was given to my by my Aunt Jenny was a photo that he always had on his wall. That he always referred to when speaking of me, and apparently that wasn’t as rare as it might have seemed.

Turns out, that even though I was living a completely separate life, I was still very much a part of his.

I found out a little too late about all the great things that he had actually managed to accomplish. I knew a few things about him, that he was a punk (check out the hair.. ) he was in a band and played guitar.. I inherited some of him music skills as I’ve always been passionate about playing instruments and my instrument of choice is drums, I’ve been playing since I was about 13.

But what I didn’t know is how really quite respectable the band became.

"Smile" - Gary, apparently not you.

“Smile” – Gary, apparently not you.

During the 1970’s, his band “Smile” were hitting the newspapers.. They were really something. The irony was, his hair amongst other things were a little to extreme for the band and they split up in 1979. 3 years after forming. However, I was massively impressed and a sense of pride hit me.


I wish more than anything that I had a chance to learn more about this, I’m sure it would have been so fascinating to hear from him directly all the interesting stories that came from this part of his life.. I have never heard any of their songs.. I wonder if there are any out there.. I’ll have to find out.

Anyway, something else I learned a little before meeting with my Aunt and the rest of the family is that actually, when I thought that I was alone in this world (bloodline-wise), it turns out that actually, Gary had a daughter with another partner.


That means I actually had a half-sister all this time that I had no idea about. I’d grown up with my wonderful Step-Sister (from my Step-Father’s previous marriage) all my life and this was my “sister” as far as I was concerned and still is.. but I can’t believe I actually have a half-blood sister.

She knows a lot more about my father than I do, I’m sure she will be telling me much more about him as I understand they had much more of a connection that I did with him.

The reason that I’m writing this entry now is because I have recently discovered that my grandmother (from this side of the family) has fallen quite sick and unfortunately prognosis isn’t great. I had the honour to meet her and have a photo with her before I left to come here to Romania and I hope it brings her comfort to know that despite my distance and lack of visiting, she has always been “Nanny with the tortoise” to me.. (she had a pet turtle that always hid behind the fridge.. I remember this as a child).


I just wish she had had the chance to see me growing up a little more than she has.. but I also feel this for Gary. A man who despite the fact that I never met in a point in my life where I would have been able to remember. He remembered me, but I knew nothing much of him.

I called this blog entry “Smile” not just because the name of his band but because despite all of the past events and not knowing, what I do know about him and this part of my family makes me smile.

If there are any questions that you have in your life that you need answering, you should get them whilst you can… otherwise they will remain with you forever.

Sometimes questions are best left unanswered.. but other times, we simply forget to ask until it’s a little too late.

Thanks for reading.


  1. dave stoddard

    I came across your blog and thought you should know that your father features in the book Bright Lights Dark Days by TG Gayner

    It is a great read and the author writes about Gary P with great affection

    I enjoyed the book and cried when I read how Gary died, but also wished I had met and seen the band perform live, they sounded like a great group of lads

    All the best

    Birmingham – West Midlands U.K.

    • |

      Hi Dave!

      It’s great to hear that you enjoyed the post. It definitely reinforces exactly the reasons that I wrote the post in the first place, to remind us all that we have so little time to enjoy the precious life that we live here!

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