16/06/12 Can it be it was all so simple then?

Corby

The lovely Paul, a great friend from my teenage years, had given us a lift to his Dad’s – which in turn was close to where we were going – providing me, them, us with the opportunity to reminisce wildly…

Pychley Court shops – the scene of the man dancing in front of us, a group of teenagers, singing as he set fire to his beard…

The chip shop…the scene where a chap called Roy Tait had asked me what the C and A stood for on my jacket stood for – I said ‘Captain America’ – I was an idiot youth of 16 – he saw that as reason enough to hit me with a bottle –

The street where a bunch of us got drunk in Tim’s shed – I’d borrowed Derek’s jacket only to somehow manage to puke in the pockets in my sleep –

A street where a friend of mine, Kev, exchanged cash for cannabis in a seedy exchange with a character known as ‘Tam the Bam’ –

Back in my youth – when I was a mere sapling of well, anything between 15 and 20 – I came to realise I wasn’t a fan of your loud music….

Scratch that, I wasn’t a fan of your loud music if;

a) It hurt, or;

b) One was expected to hold some kind of conversation whilst it was banging on in the background…

As such it shouldn’t have come as a great shock that, as my fillings rattled, threatening dental suicide, I was pulled back to these times.

In keeping with the economy, my mental health was in the middle of a double dip…A ‘You thought you were out of it, take that between the eyes’ kind of blip.

Lunacy and misery are replaced by euphoria only to be replaced by lunacy – only to be replaced by…well, trepidation really…

In the middle of it all, i found myself at Corby’s top venue that is the Lodge Park Sport Centre…a building that was completed in time for the youthful Chris and the rest of the Lodge Park basketball team to practice at lunchtimes, after school, occasionally during school…

This was the first time I’d approached this citadel of sport since attending school, some 15 years ago…

My head was instantly flooded with little flakes of my life…

My mum telling me that one day I would be old enough to go to lodge park;
As we walked towards the car park from what I still call ‘the new estate’ we saw Willie – I can finish anyone’s sentences with astonishing accuracy – Irvine walking towards us – he still had that walk – that cheery wave…
I looked over at the school building – now surrounded in a “Lodge Park Technology College is open to the public” 10 foot spiky fence.

There was a bank we used to cycle down…in our somewhat reckless youth we’d invented a game – the more dangerous the stunt the more arbitrary stunt points (to the maximum of 10) one was awarded.

So – Lee Marchant, no hands, backwards on his bike, wearing no top, down the bank….in pursuit of that ever so elusive 10 points….

I remember there was a crunching of metal, a scraping of skin and rubber on mud and Tarmac…

The stifled giggles of a group of boys upon realising their friend wasn’t actually dead….

Gary Ilko asking, “Are you alright, Lee?”
And the lovely Lee storming off with an “Of course I’m not fucking alright…”

Which, of course, only served to make the situation funnier.

The patch of grass next to the 6th form block had been built on the very place where – in the winter of 1981 – my brother, John, believed he led the charge of the 6th form against the hordes of the rest of the school…

Yes, ‘believed’, since as he attacked, his foot soldiers didn’t….

Songs are still sung about the snowy slaughter that took place that day…
As we walked up to the sports centre Graham Martin, our tall centre from basketball days gone by, suggested he and I should grab a look at the court of our dreams – we were unbeatable in our day.

I suggested it was due to our proximity to endless practice – Graham, taking the wind out of my sails slightly, put forward the argument that it was due to he and Paul Steed, our other towering forward, being about 10 feet taller than any of our stunted Northamptonshire rivals.

As with all histories, I suspect it was a bit of both.

In that momentary glance through the door my mind was flooded with memories…

Deliberately electrocuting ourselves with the digital scoreboard;
beating the teachers at basketball;
spraining my ankle – Linda, I’m doing an ‘A’ level in Biology, Reid telling me that the synovial membrane in my ankle had burst to cause the swelling (for future reference this isn’t likely to be the case – also, I discovered 10 or so years later, it had been broken);

The bouncing the ball backwards through our legs to score a basket trick-shot that often led to the obvious smack in the ging-gangs…

And more….just pouring through – an absolute deluge…

It was all so normal –

So, there I was, in the small room, upstairs at the sport centre, the pre band music melting my brain…

Friends transcending the past and present all around…

The first band comes and goes…

they’re crap, they’re great, derivative, and all things in between…

A magician comes on – no, not some flowery language to describe an awesome act – an actual illusionist, young, inexperienced but talented, walks onto the stage…he’s bombarded with drunken yells to get off from folk who’d paid to hear music…who, to be fair, had also paid to see the magician…

The local band comes on to great cheers and banter with the crowd, playing punk…

Finally they yield to allow the main act on – Transmission are a Joy Division tribute band – and they’re bloody good at what they do…

Me old mate, Derek, finally joins the mosh pit with Willie Irvine and other faces from the past – good God, there’s my cousin, Colin!

I’m transported back to the old school discos. Always watching – enjoying the exuberance and energy of others as they bounce about the place –

uncomfortable at the notion of joining in – punk by proxy….

I saw Colin sneaking out for a sly cigarette – I don’t smoke, but here was a chance to have a noise free chat – he didn’t know I was down, so here was the chance to surprise him…

It was lovely to see him…but I wasn’t prepared for the repercussions of wandering off…

“Are you all right, we were worried about you…” Terri, an old friend put a friendly hand on my shoulder as I reappeared.

Shit, shit and triple shit.

Responsibility and rights….

Pangs of guilt ebbed and flowed as folk gave me that, ‘Are you ok?’ glance, as I watched others bounce their way back in front of the band.

Folk knew I was back in town because of a bit of an episode – I’d forgotten my responsibility – that bit where I declared where I was off to – I was feeling dandy – I obviously thought that those who cared would simply know this via some manner of emotional osmosis…

Bugger…

It was a great night though – if you closed your eyes it was just like Joy Division were really there…

Can it be it was all so simple then?

Or has time rewritten every line?

Yes and no, yes and no….

Walk a mile

Chris

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