Friday morning on a PE course for work. I missed my pal & fellow inset terrorist Gene Genie, but managed to still arse about & have a laugh (whilst obviously also learning a great deal for my professional development).
FYI . Year 5 boss pal can’t handle partnering me for a mirrored balance routine without falling out of her balance for laughing.
Quick escape home at lunch for shit, shower & shave & then I was off to the train station for a visit ‘darn sarf’ to my old stomping ground of Bishop’s Stortford.
It’s been a loooong time.
I have fond memories (& some not so much) but mostly good. Excellent friendships were formed, as I was 12 when we moved there & that age from 12 to about 18 is a great one for all the crap you get up to and the things you try.
If you’re lucky you’ll stay friends with some of these people for the rest of your life. Thanks to social media we can now
stalk track down those who’ve dropped off the radar due to life in general or geography. We can exclaim at their apparent success, lack of hair, brood of offspring, relocation to sunnier climes & the way they actually (despite a few extra creases) look exactly the same really.
I enjoyed the entire process of the visit immensely. The outbound journey – despite having to change trains 3 times. Music on. Book in hand, or staring out the window watching the world go by. Thinking about the time I’d spent in Stortford aged 12 to 14 & also aged 18 in the summer of 1990. A misspent time indeed. Consisting mostly of excessive drinking, riding in cars with boys; unrequited love & an unsuitable mini relationship with a boy we nicknamed ‘Grand National’ for reasons I’ll just let you speculate upon.
Arrived at my destination at 6pm & immediately thought I’d got off at the wrong stop. I didn’t remember anything about the station at all. There certainly hadn’t been a cinema & nightclub complex outside the station! I took a leisurely stroll through town to my hotel, taking it all in. Had a shiver of je ne sais quoi, when I passed Woolies. Of course, not a Woolies anymore, but as good as. Same shit different name. The railings still outside that we’d casually lean on, trying to look cool in our 1980’s pastel wear.
Checked into The George Hotel hoping to meet some of the resident ghosts. Instead I was met by a receptionist calling down from the top of the stairs; taking me my room across wonky floors with hallucination inducing carpet. She then informed me that she had “just put some purple stuff down my loo so would go fetch a brush to give it a swill round” She did indeed give it a swill. Told me that it wouldn’t come off and then asked if I preferred bourbons or custard creams.
The building across the road, once a ‘Spoils’ (for all your defective crockery, glassware & soft furnishing needs) was now a lively bar with rooftop terrace. The furniture store where my folks bought their first proper suite (& won a set of Le Cruset cookware at a cheese & wine evening) was also a lively bar. Would my old school friends have changed as much aswell?
Spent the weekend having a real catch-up. Drinks. Late dinners & chatty lunches. Laughing about getting told off for stealing random objects from school. Making animal-themed tat in metalwork. About using a naked centerfold spread of Madonna in an English lesson & when a boy in my year found a picture of me (it absolutely wasn’t!) in his brother’s girly mag & brought it into school!!
Had a look round the old alma mater (now extortionately priced houses). It was most tranquil & so lovely to be back there with such genuinely good people.
Then & Now
Met up again in the evening at a pub I swore I had never drunk in before. The moment I walked in, I felt a rush of something or other (& it wasn’t gin). The old synapses started firing & I was like “Holy Shit! I have been here!” Later in the evening, on a visit to the ladies, I had an acid flashback as I remembered having been in there on a flying visit circa 1993 that I had totally forgotten about.
Hadn’t seen one friend for about 6 years since she paid us a visit in Sadford. The other 2 I hadn’t seen for 30 years!!
It was so great that conversation flowed without being stilted. Smiles & laughs all round all weekend. Sharing life stories so far & reminiscences – some that I recalled with vivid clarity but others I had no recollection of whatsoever! All with a random backing track of a Ghostbusters theme/Wacko Jacko mash-up playing in the background.
Good to know that despite not being much to write home about, somewhere down the line I might have made some small but significant difference to someone.
One long lost mate was unable to join us. Very busy working in Belgium (so he said). Thank god for Whatsapp so we could taunt him that we’d been chatting up his son in the pub. (We hadn’t really although if we’d found him, we totally would have). He’ll have to come & join us next time. Suspect that it may get messier for round two. Not waiting another 30 years though. A bunch of 70-odd year olds out on the piss is not a good look.
Just remembered the part about my friend’s mum saying that our hotel was rumoured to be a knocking shop!
As I leaned out the window on Saturday morning in my towel, I was slightly concerned that there seemed to be a bit of a queue forming below my window. I needn’t have worried. Obviously it was for the mobile fish van that had set up over the road.
So no extra beer money to be earned after all. (Insert own kipper or salty clam joke here..)