David (turned out nasty), Steve (nice bloke), Jonathan (went a bit wrong but okay now), Lyndon (known as Effort, not a bad lad, even though the front room of the house in which he lived was full of televisions his dad had somehow acquired and I don’t think he was a Rediffusion engineer), Andrew (not me, lost it big time, “in and out of the psychy ward” as my mum would say) and Andrew (me, lost it big time...).
I would have been happy playing football or cricket or not going out at all, the rest were a mixture of that or some sort of non-sporty game, the like of which I didn’t know existed.
It was a seven week holiday that year, we were aged between ten and 13, and we were wasting time, hot and frustrated that long hot summer. “We’re throwing our lives away,” I said.
“Yer what?” said David (not yet really nasty and not much given to philosophical thinking).
“Every second counts, they all add up and we’re wasting them.”
“You’re talking c*** Mos” (soon to be nasty Dave again). “As if every second adds up to yer life, you ****head.”
“Sixty seconds in a minute, 60 of those in an hour, 24 of those in a day, seven in a week, 52 of them in a year, year gone,” I explained.
Thinking back, he may well not have been nasty, he probably just didn’t like me very much if I adopted the slightly insulting and patronising approach indicated by that sentence.
I remember, we just stood there, for ages, drinking fizzy pop. “I’m getting a right can stomach,” one said, referring to something that must have been a childhood precursor to a beer belly.
In the end the decision was made to do something I didn’t want to, so I declined to take part and skulked off home to be told by my mum that if I carried on like this they would stop calling for me and I soon wouldn’t have any friends. Good, I thought.
Basically, she wanted me out of the house, not sitting there watching Test Match cricket and getting in her way all summer.
She was right though. Eventually they did stop coming round to ask if I was “laking out”, but I wasn’t bothered, I found new friends, until they wanted to do other things that I didn’t. They were replaced by others until they didn’t want to spend most of their free time in the pub and so on.
It’s how life works. Nothing stays the same however much you would like it to and when you are young you don’t have the ability to see the inevitable changes ahead; people moving on, fall-outs, others dying.
Forty-odd years later maybe nasty David remembers that conversation about the passing of life and like me has recognised that he has less time left on the planet than he has been here.
One of the songs I would like playing at my funeral (date, time and venue to be announced — should it happen soon, someone will say “oooh, he only wrote about dying the other week”) is Nothing Lasts Forever by Echo & The Bunnymen.
To me, it seems an apt choice for everyone. Other, more positive, options are, of course, available.