It's always the same. A week ago,
we considered putting the heating
back on. I went out for a cigarette
and my breath was steaming in
the evening air. We had a light
frost two weeks ago. And then,
bang, eighty-degree heat and 100%
humidity, out of nowhere. Don't
believe in climate change? Spend
a couple of years in Essex.
I got contacted off Friends Reunited
today. Someone I haven't seen
since I was eleven years old. We
went to different schools after we
finished our junior years. Now, it
appears, she's a cardiologist in
London. Which, let's face it, may
prove useful to me in years to come.
I don't think she knows that one of
our crowd from those years is dead.
Almost twenty years ago, now, he
drank a bottle of paint-stripper,
put a bag over his head, and lay
down in the woods to die. Some kids
found him a day later with his gut
burned out. I remember sitting down
in the pub one evening, finding a
copy of the local paper there, and
unfolding it to see him on the front
He remember seeing him on the
day he left sixth-form college, a
year early. "I don't behave how I
ought to when I'm here," he said.
He worshipped his dad, and didn't
handle it well when his parents split
up. He drank a lot, and turned out
to be crap at it. I remember we
shook hands, which still felt like a
peculiarly adult thing at 17. Never
saw him again. He was dead two
A month later, I bumped into a
mutual friend in the record store.
"Did you hear about him?" I said.
"Yeah. Bonus!" he said, giving me
Didn't make much of an effort to
say hello to "old schoolfriends" in
the street after that.
There's a line in Alan Moore's THE
BIRTH CAUL, where he says of
school friends, in a comically
depressive descent of tone, "Imagine,
you'll know these people all your
lives." By accident and design, I
haven't seen anyone I was in
education with in years. And now
I'm nearly 40, and I get an oddly
sweet, nervous note from a girl I
kissed when I was eleven years old,
accomplished doctor and married
with a baby, saying, "I always
thought you'd be a scientist..."
I almost don't have the heart to
tell her I can't programme the video
I haven't talked with anyone from my childhood in years. Met a couple (three?) when I entered university. Since I'd taken a four year break from school, they were on their way out as I started. Took a class with one, but I could remember his name and was too embarassed to ask.
Haven't been back to the town I spent my first 18 years in since 1982. That would be when I was 19. I'm 43 on Thursday.