I mentioned previously, that I’d like to treat this blog as something of an autobiography so that, in years to come, my two boys can hopefully read over it and learn a bit more about their father that I’ve perhaps forgotten to tell them. Who knows, maybe even my grandchildren will get to read it? This is assuming, of course, that the internet doesn’t go out of fashion or, more likely, completely implode and destroy the universe. Maybe I should be keeping a hard copy as a back up somewhere…
Anyway, I suppose that, if this really were my autobiography – with Dustin Diamond (‘Screech’ from Saved By The Bell) playing me in the movie adaptation of my life (as Hugh Jackman presumably wasn’t available) – I’d describe my formative years first. So, disregard the previous five blogs for now, as this bit should probably come before all that.
I was born on a cold, dark, stormy night in February 1980. Truth be told, I can’t remember exactly what the weather was like when I was born, as it was nearly 35 years ago now and I was far more focussed on arriving into the world in all my pink, shrivelled, glory (steady). I’m assuming it was cold, dark and stormy though because, well, it usually is in February, isn’t it? I should know, it’s when my birthday is (but then, you knew that already if you’ve been paying attention). In fact, it’ll be the start of February in just a few days’ time, and it’s so cold outside you could cut glass with my nipples, so chances are I’m right. Besides, saying it was dark and stormy adds some much-needed drama.
Erm, what next? Shit, I haven’t thought this through really. Ok, best fast-forward a few years as my first proper memories are of starting school (and even then, they’re somewhat hazy).
I grew up in the reasonably-sized village of Poynton in Cheshire. Nowadays, it’s mostly famous for having the worst roundabout system in the country (based on a Swedish model, I’m told, although I imagine the Swedes made a far better job of it), and for being a ‘shared village’, which is a tree-hugging-hippy way of saying that all the people and cars have equal rights. For some reason, it didn’t occur to the Council that perhaps it might be dangerous to let everyone think they have right of way at a junction, particularly bearing in mind the human body is decidedly more squishy than your average motor vehicle, but the powers-that-be seem quite happy with the comparatively low number of fatalities since the work was finished. Well, comparative to somewhere like Afghanistan.
Although, what do we expect from a Council which decided, in 2009, to split the County into ‘Cheshire East’ and ‘Cheshire West’ (based on a German model, I’m told, although the Germans made a far better job of it) for no good reason? I haven’t checked, but I suspect we even have our own Berlin Wall replica somewhere between Winsford and Northwich, and David Hasselhoff is just itching to get on top of it and sing his ageing lungs out. Anyway, Poynton sits in the more-affluent East (unlike Cold War Germany). That’s not to say Cheshire West isn’t affluent (which really would piss the people of Chester off), but we got Alderley Edge and Prestbury in the deal, so we win. Ha.
Poynton had, and still has as far as I’m aware, five primary schools, and where I grew up was almost half-way between Lower Park and Lostock Hall. I’d have to ask Mother dear what prompted the decision for me to go to Lostock Hall, but I seem to recall enjoying my seven years there, before moving on to Secondary education. This was despite the uniform I had to don every morning which was, quite frankly, disgusting. I can only assume that, whoever was assigned the task of choosing the school uniform for Lostock Hall originally, either fell asleep in the meeting and awoke to discover they’d been left with the reject-bin scraps (the other four primary schools sniggering at them and calling them names), or else they were colour blind, because no one in their right mind would look at the combination of brown and gold and think, “Yep, that’s the uniform for us”.
Then, incredibly, as if that didn’t look shit enough, they decided to stick a huge picture of a fucking eagle on the front of it. The mind boggles. Even the Headmaster of Browny-Gold Eagle Primary School wouldn’t have put their pupils through the embarrassment of that uniform.
To make matters worse, Lower Park had a lovely dark-blue uniform, not dissimilar to County’s home colours which I now proudly wear every other Saturday. Shame.
Still, Lostock was a good school with a good reputation, and I made two of my best friends in Mark and Tim, who I’ve known since I was nine, and who are both still very much a big part of our lives – Mark (‘Golden Boy’) was my best man in 2004 and is Godfather to Ollie, and Tim recently became Godfather to Isaac. I’m sure I’ll be writing about both of them again in due course (Tim, especially, is like a magnet for hilarious stories), but for now I’ll just leave it that I love them both dearly and they’re like extra brothers.
The only other aspect of my life to remain with me from my Lostock days, is the fact that, even now, I cannot stand butter on sandwiches. This stems from one hot, summer day I can remember in the playground, where I was sat with my packed lunch looking forlornly down at a ham sandwich that was thick with butter. Well, it had been thick with butter when it was lovingly made by Mum that morning, but come lunchtime in the baking heat, it was now dripping out of my sandwich and mixing with the tears streaming from my face, to make a yellow, salty, puddle all over my chocolate biscuit (I’m using some more artistic licence here, perhaps, but that’s certainly the image my mind conjures up when I think back).
So, as I sat there, with the rumbling sounds of Peter ‘Bucket’ Massau pretending he was a stock car and doing laps around me (anyone who went to Lostock Hall will remember this, as he did it every bloody break-time, but it’ll mean nothing to the rest of you), I swore I’d never have butter on a sandwich again. Even now, the thought makes me nauseous. I can understand why people like butter on ‘normal’ sandwiches, of course, as that’s their prerogative, but I have an inherent distrust of anyone who would ruin something like a sausage sandwich, or worse a burger, with butter. In simple terms, butter and meat don’t mix, and if you think they do, you’re a fool.
Have I just spent two paragraphs talking about butter? Christ, my first 10 years or so really were dull, weren’t they? Either that or I’ve forgotten the good bits. Hopefully, when I come to write about secondary school, I’ll be able to recall something slightly more interesting to say.
After all, any Pink Floyd fan will tell you that Another Brick In The Wall (Part II) was superior…