Party time, cutting up carpets and blaming someone else!

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My eldest son is currently finishing a year of parties, interspersed with some exams and university applications. As him and all of his friends met their 18th milestone and took tentative steps into adulthood – mostly by getting drunk and posting pictures of one another, drunk, online – I was inevitably reminded of my own teen years.

Being allowed to have/getting away with having a party in your parent’s house was a rite of passage that I aspired to. I thought it would make me cool and popular, or at least be a bit of a laugh.

I was undeterred by other parties that had taken place where furniture had been destroyed, cars ‘taken for little drives’ by drunken boys, windows broken and police invited to attend half way through the evening. Obviously MY party wouldn’t be like that.

So when my parents left me for a weekend the word went out, people were phoned, alcohol was procured, music was chosen, outfits were picked out and the party was on! In those pre-internet days it required a lot of effort to make sure you didn’t just end up with six lads, three tins of pale ale and a dog that someone was supposed to be walking. I am proud to say I managed it, lots of people turned up; there was plenty of booze, girls and boys attended and from what I remember it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The following morning was not quite as enjoyable, there was tidying up to do, some sick to clean up in the front garden, a few stragglers to see off the premises and things to put back into their proper places. So as we threw open the windows and started to dispose of the Watneys Party Seven tins (you will only understand this reference if you were around in the 70 and 80s) and cider flagons (yes I grew up in Devon).

All was going well until we discovered – horror – two cigarette burns in the middle of the front room carpet. Right in the middle, under the place the coffee table went, but clearly visible through the glass top. There was only one thing for it, I would have to come clean, confess and face the consequences, and there would be hell to pay!

Or, if you are thinking on your feet, cut two bits of carpet from the corner of the room, buy some new fangled super glue and fix it. Good as new and nobody noticed, all in all the party was a success and I was a bit older and a bit wiser.

 

 

But……

Did I ever mention I have a sister who is two years younger than me? While I was away studying she too had a party. She too moved all the furniture out of the way. She too managed to get a houseful of teenagers slightly drunk and raucous, she too had to tidy up the next morning. Unfortunately the heavy footfall of the party had undone all my sterling work with the superglue two years previously, not knowing this trick, or how the damage had happened, she felt he had to fess up. There was hell to pay!

 

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Bully boy

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I am not proud of this. I am in fact ashamed of what I am about to recount. I am not writing it to try and get some kind of absolution or forgiveness, no excuses, I made my own choices and I will not try to make light of my actions.

 

I was a bully at school. This was not a full-time occupation, mostly I got along with people I liked, ignored those that I didn’t and was too busy to care less about whether or not other people liked me. I was not a model student; homework was often neglected, I was caned on more than one occasion, I skipped school occasionally and once told a member of staff I was a twin (it was a big school, she believed me and often used to comment on how she never saw me and my brother together) There was plenty of fun to be had and I enjoyed my time.

 

But in the sixth form a new boy joined. To add some background, he was the son of my English teacher, who I had had more than a couple of run-ins with, he had transferred from a school that did not take post 16 students and settled in quickly making friends and enjoying school. I took an almost instant dislike to him, no reason – I just didn’t like him much, I reserve the right.

 

It started with small things, withering looks, snide comments, never missing an opportunity to say something unpleasant. I am, by nature, quite cowardly so there where never any physical confrontations – just making the most of chances to ridicule him.

 

Then came the election. I don’t even remember what the election was for, some student voice/council type thing. My nemesis stood for election, obviously too big an opportunity for me to miss, I stood against him and ran a counter campaign. Posters, badges, leaflets – all slightly ridiculous, a bit unpleasant and quite unnecessary; but I did it anyway, and in an aggressive manner that I enjoyed rather too much.

 

This was the beginning of the end, after that my short attention span lost interest (girls, beer and work avoidance taking up a large part of my small brain.) The remainder of the time at school turned into passing scowls and mostly mutual contempt.

 

Fast forward 30+ years……

 

There is a fabulous independent picture house near where I live. The manager organises regular screenings for disabled children, it is a model of what an independent cinema should be showing a great range of films and being accessible, well maintained and well run. Guess who the manager is. In a spell of remorse for my reprehensible and egregious behaviour I thought I would attempt some restorative steps.

 

When I checked on Facebook I found his profile, he is enjoying life as a writer, cinema manager, dad and musician. I didn’t know if this blast from the past would add anything to the quality of his life, or just rake up a bunch of stuff he has moved on from. It felt arrogant and conceited to intrude on his life in this way so I decided to let sleeping dogs lie.

 

It was at this point of finding out what he was doing that I found that one of the books he has written is about his time at school. It is a fact-based work of fiction, though some names stayed the same. My best friend Claire appears as the love interest, and the main protagonist in the bullying stakes has the same name as me, he is portrayed as a real lowlife, cowardly, duplicitous and full of himself.

 

This is not how I would choose to be immortalised, but I guess I earned it. I have included, in the spirit of fairness, the link to his book. If you want to know what I was like as a foolish young man (not my own rose-tinted opinion).

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Young-Punks-Andy-Botterill-ebook/dp/B005F60U2W/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405444663&sr=1-3&keywords=andy+botterill