Thursday, July 21

A Sense of Pride

I wouldn’t have called him a friend. More a “friend of a friend” really. But I knew him to talk to, vaguely, and that was really all that mattered.

You see, we were in the bar of this pub in the middle of Minchinhampton Common, just above Stroud in the heart of the Cotswold hills. It was my best mate’s 18th birthday, well the weekend before actually but you know how it is, and we had arranged a surprise party for him in the function room at the back. I’d agreed to get here early, together with Dareth and Maureen, a couple of girls from our college class, to set everything up. It was down to another mate, Paul, to get him up here.

So I was in the bar waiting for the girls to arrive. And of course, I didn’t know anyone here. The type of people who used a pub like this weren’t really my people. The horsey set. White, middle-class, upstanding, church-going. Young Farmers types. All wax jackets and welly boots.

And he was there for the party as well. I can’t really remember why he had turned up early but it was something to do with meeting his girlfriend. Anyway, the two of us were there, and we vaguely knew each other, and we didn’t know anyone else. So we were talking. It was better than standing on your own with a pint looking like a spare prick at a wedding.

We talked about the usual stuff a guy in his late teens talked about. Cars, music, football. That Toyah’s a bit rough but you would anyway. (Hey, it was 1982, gimme a break!)

And then…..

“Oh F***ing Hell!” he exclaimed, indicating towards the door. “Who let the f***ing jungle out early tonight?”

Did I mention that Dareth and Maureen were black?

“What the f*** did you do that for?” he squealed, floundering on his arse on the floor trying to staunch the flow of blood from his nose.

The only time in my adult life I ever punched someone. And it connected beautifully.

(shame to come later - it's a doozy!)


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