From Adversity to Advocacy: Jay Blades’ Tale in ‘Making It’

Hi! It’s konkaz (@konkazuk) here.

The book I am introducing this time is Jay Blades‘ “Making It” – the autobiography by the well-known figure from BBC1’s “The Repair Shop”.

image taken from Amazon.co.uk

I knew that he had spent his childhood in an area called Hackney, where my family and I currently live. Intrigued by the geographical connection, I picked up his book.

But as I proceeded reading, I was swept away by the rollercoaster of his life, and by the time I finished reading, I had become a fan.

In this book, his life is being depicted vividly, showing him accepting one daunting challenge after another and breaking through them head-on with instinct and relentless determination. As you read, you can feel the heat, and it’s incredibly inspiring.

Furthermore, since slang and idiomatic expressions appear quite frequently, this book can be highly recommended for English learners.

So, while this summary provides just a taste of what’s inside, those who are interested should continue reading.


Racial discrimination

image by Clay Banks

Let’s start with his childhood.

Despite the challenging environment of being raised by a single mother, Jay had a joyful childhood. However, everything changed drastically when he enrolled in a secondary school where the majority of students were white.

The cause of this was the ‘racial bullying‘ Jay experienced from older students during lunch breaks at school.

When he first started, Jay couldn’t comprehend the malicious jokes containing racial undertones directed at him by white students.

Unable to grasp the jokes, Jay went home and repeated them word for word to his friends in the neighborhood, and it made his older friend totally mad.

Out of anger, that friend stormed into the school and sought revenge on the white students. However, as Jay still had to attend school the next day, the retaliation only escalated the bullying further.

Since they attended the same primary school, Jay had an Indian friend he hung out with.
This friend faced repeated beatings that left his glasses shattered each time. And when it became impossible to repair the glasses with tape after multiple attempts, Jay made up his mind to stand up and fight.

From that day onward, armed with his mother’s advice to ‘punch them before you get punched,’ Jay engaged in daily fights with almost 20 individuals.

Ironically, this environment turned Jay into a ‘skilled fighter’ and ‘fight enthusiast’, and this reputation spread to white kids from other areas outside of school, dragging him into further trouble.

At that time, racial discrimination was overt, and for Jay, as a black individual, stepping outside his house meant facing enemies everywhere, from teachers to police to groups like the NF (*National Front).

The following passage is directly from the book…

“The violence, and the racism, and the unfairness changed me as a person. In just a few weeks, I stopped being that happy, carefree little lad and grew really angry at the world. I became proper hot-headed, and on a hair trigger to attack anybody who antagonized me.”

As evident from the quote above, the five years of secondary school transformed Jay into an angry, wary individual.

*The National Front is an extreme right-wing political organization that advocates white supremacy and anti-Semitism. Its political beliefs and activities are known for being accompanied by violence and racially discriminatory behavior.

His habits with women and his relationship with his father

image by Jack-B

As soon as he finished secondary school, Jay immediately began cohabiting with his girlfriend (at the age of 16).

… However, Jay had a habit of flirting in his youth, therefore he and his girlfriend were constantly fighting.

After going through several painful troubles, the revelation of his girlfriend’s pregnancy emerged.

With the birth of the child, Jay made a decision to settle down, however… unable to endure the stress of parenting, he could not last long and ended up messing up again.

Leaving his girlfriend and child behind in their new place in Luton, Jay went back to London and slipped into the home of another girlfriend, but it all fell apart, and eventually he found himself homeless.

During this period, Jay encountered a person, and he was none other than his father, who had disappeared from his life when he was just five years old.

Jay refers to his father in the book as ‘TMWCTMB

This acronym comes from ‘The Man Who Contributed Towards My Birth,’ indicating it’s nothing more than that.

It shows that Jay doesn’t really consider him as a ‘father’ in any way.

Through this ‘TMWCTMB,’ Jay is introduced to two step-brothers and a step-sister, but there’s something dubious about it all. So, when he talked to this stepsister later, it turned out there were actually a total of 25 step-siblings!

Having been told about the truth, Jay thought he didn’t want to become a father like this… Yet ironically, right after that thought crossed his mind, he found out that he was expecting a child with a former girlfriend from his time in Oxford (even though they had already split up), making his life quite complicated from a young age.

Awakening to social contribution

image by shane rounce

Since it’s impractical to cover every aspect of the book, let’s quickly summarize Jay’s life trajectory, which shifted upwards when he embraced the fundamental principle of ‘contributing to society’.

In order to break free from his dead-end life, Jay moved to Oxfordshire and began working at a charity organization he was recommended to.

There, he was faced with challenging missions, such as washing the bodies of people who had completely given up on life (to the point of giving up on pulling down their pants just to relieve themselves), dealing with alcoholics.

However, through his experiences there, he discovered that…

he could help others
he harbored feelings of compassion towards others

From this point onwards, Jay’s life gradually takes a turn for the better.

Afterwards, he rehabilitates and supports troubled youth who have been abandoned by everyone, goes to university (Jay cannot read due to dyslexia), struggles through studying criminology, and delivers lectures to the police to rectify unequal treatment towards black individuals, all while continuing to pursue the path of “social contribution“.

And eventually, he establishes a company with a woman he met at university to rehabilitate young people. Overcoming various hardships, including the ‘Disappearance incident due to mental breakdown‘, he ultimately becomes the presenter of the T.V. show “The Repair Shop“.

Below are the video clips of “The Repair Shop”. 👇

Well, I’ve summarized it very briefly, but in reality, the content is not as simple as this, and there’s drama on every page, so you can read through it without getting bored, all the way to the end.

By the way, “TMWCTMB” never failed to disappoint and remained a total scumbag until the end.

Anyway, Jay is incredibly straightforward, so he doesn’t hesitate to point out things that others find difficult to say aloud, regardless of who he’s talking to. Plus, he’s a real romantic at heart, so he’s pretty susceptible to women.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, this book is filled with English idiomatic expressions to an extent that I’ve never encountered before. So it was a significant learning experience for me.

If you’re looking to be captivated by the intense drama of someone fighting their way up from the bottom, then this book is for you. You can purchase it from the link provided below. 👇

Let’s all read plenty of English books and be moved while learning the language.

Bye now,


You can read this blog post in Japanese from the link below.
👉 ジェイ・ブレイズさんの自伝『Making It』レビュー:人種差別に立ち向かい、社会に価値をもたらす彼の物語!