When I played as a kid on the streets. I knew instinctively that I was no different to any of my friends on the outside but very different on the inside. I didn’t know why I felt that way because I couldn’t possibly have been self aware as a kid. However, I recognised that I was an individual in my own right and my friends were individuals in their own right.
Now, as I’ve nearly reached the age of 54, I find myself looking back and wondering what happened to some of my childhood friends. Did their own unique set of skills or talents bring them success and happiness? Did they have any sort of ambition? If they did, then I was never aware of what they wanted out of life.
One of the boys who played football on the streets with us moved to Canada before he was 14 with his family. Someone who I hadn’t seen for years happened to be in a shop I was walking around a few years ago and we reminisced about the ‘Old days’, of playing football in the streets and getting into innocent mischief and he informed me that Terry, the one who moved to Canada, had become a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. a Mounty. He had married a Canadian woman, bought a house and eventually fathered 2 children. I remembered what he was like before he left England and my first instinct was to say that he didn’t seem the type to become a Mounty because he was a shy and withdrawn boy, only coming out to play football occasionally and never really got involved with the other games we played. It’s great that he eventually discovered who he was after emigrating.
Then I got to thinking about the other members of our group. My best childhood friend was Tony (See Bionic Tony) and after he left I never heard from him again. I hope he’s had a spectacular life and fulfilled the potential I could sense he possessed as a teenager.
Another good friend was Banno, and he moved about a mile away with his father after his mum passed away. Banno’s father was an alcoholic and a very heavy smoker and after his father died, Banno went down the same route. I’ve seen him a few times over the years since his father passed and his mental condition has visibly slipped into a nervous, shaking hole that he obviously can’t find a way out of. I’ve invited him to my house on a few occasions and he’s accepted but I’ve seen the distant look in his eyes that told me he wouldn’t call at the house.
Another friend from our childhood ‘Gang’ drank himself into an early grave just a few years ago whilst he was in his mid forties. He was such a nice guy, always smiling and joking. He had a longtime girlfriend who also abused alcohol and sometimes I see her walking around, looking haggard and devoid of life.
Another one of the gang only ever joined us when we played cricket on the street. He always came across as far more mature than the rest of us and always did as his mother asked of him. He went into the police force at 18 and rose up the rankings to become a DCI. Every now and then i’ll see him pass by in his car and he always acknowledges me with a wave. We passed each other on foot about 10 years ago and he asked me what I was doing with my life. When I told him I was in my second year of university at the age of 44, he looked surprised and said “You see, I told you not to waste your school days”. I responded by saying “Define waste”, and we parted with laugh and a hand shake.
Another two of the boys work in the town where I live, one of them works as a daytime security guard, the other works behind a bar, pulling pints for people he grew up with. They both look physically fit but I never see them smiling with no evidence of lines around the eyes that indicate lots of laughter. I wonder if they’re happy and content on the inside!
It’s sort of strange thinking about them now because for years I never gave them much thought. I wonder if any of them think about the past as much as I do? I wonder if any of them consider the time they’ve spent on living their life’s in the way they’ve chosen, a waste? I would love to find out how they’ve spent their time as a adult.