Last week I went to a party, there was a band and a bar and lots of music and I had a good time.
There were also a large number of familiar looking old men drinking beer. I stepped forward and stood there in line with my old school friends who have all suddenly reached the age of 50, which is odd as I remember us all as young things in our prime with everything still ahead of us – not just our stomachs. In fact, I still do think of myself as a young thing. If only there were no such thing as reflections (or photos) I could carry on happily deluding myself forever.
It is hard to look at a row of respectable middle-aged men that you knew as a child and not remember what they used to be like:
Carl getting his ear pierced and his mum not noticing for several months as his hair was so long. (Now, no earring – or hair.)
Mike dressed in the sharpest threads, all straight lines and creases. (Now, mostly curves.)
Mark crashing his first motorbike, and then rebuilding it. (Actually still riding motorbikes – but not crashing as much!)
Gary and I were inseparable at school, always out together, doing things and having a good time. I have so many stories to tell about Gary that I was expressly forbidden from being his best man in case the speech went on too long or got out of hand.
But the story that always comes to mind when we meet up is this one;
We had been playing snooker. This was not an uncommon way for us spend time when we were in our teens the call of the snooker hall was ever present. Clearly we struck a balance between this and school as we did not want to neglect our studies. So we were making our way back to take part in the part of the school day we felt we were most likely to be missed from, cues in hand, taking a short cut through the park.
In the distance we spied a group of younger students and their teacher on a field trip. It was still not too late to turn around and head back through the gates and around the long way without being seen: Which is exactly what I did.
But not Gary. He decided the best course of action would be to hide up a tree and wait for the group to pass, thus saving the extra time and distance involved in walking around the park.
Gary’s description of what happened went along these lines; “He (the teacher) got all the year 7’s stood around the tree and started to tell them what sort of tree it was and that sort of stuff.” Gary was not much of a botanist. “I still thought he hadn’t seen me, but then pointed up without even looking and told them that if they looked they would see Gary ****, and if they wanted to see me again they could come and look through the windows of the detention room. Bastard!”