I got a call the other night, out of the blue.
"Hello mate," said the strange voice on the other end, "it's Ian."
"Ian? Ian who?" I ask.
It transpires that it was a boy I went to school with. He'd gotten my number off of facebook, and fancied a chat. The last time I saw Ian was about 1990. It's staggering to think that I was younger then than the number of years since I last saw him (20 years ago, when I was only 18 or so). We reminisced about things at school, some of the people we knew and what had become of them. The boy who had been killed in a car accident outside his house, the other boy who died from a heart attack 6 years ago, the boy who drew on his lounge wall by mistake as he slid down it with a pencil in his back pocket in a drunken stupor.
After I left South London to live with my father in Reading, I only had a handful of friends who came and visited. Ian was one of them. On the weekend of my 18th my father stayed away. He knew that the house would be a 'no fly zone' after two teenagers had their fun. He was right. On the Friday night we all met up in a pub called the Century, no longer there but it was nicknamed locally as the 'cemetery' for the dead atmosphere. We also met up with my Dad's girlfriend's kids, and were just merrily drinking away when a young girl appeared.
"Are you Rik?" she asked.
Innocently, I nodded to the affirmative.
"I've got something for you," she said as she threw off her jacket.
"I'm gonna kill you Dad!" I shouted, as she led me into the middle of the pub. A large roar went up from the patrons at the bar, and a large ring of spectators formed as she knelt me down and started her act on me. I have to say I was so sweet and innocent back then, I was shocked. I don't remember much, apart from that she smelt of Johnson's talcum powder, and that she put my head between her chests and wobbled, but not a lot happened.
Anyway, that Saturday we went to the formal 18th birthday dinner. We went to a posh restaurant called the French Horn, in Sonning. I'd dressed up in my best chinos and shirt with tie, but still was rejected entry unless I took a jacket or blazer in with me. I know that the meal cost in excess of £100 each. My father dropped me off and then left to his other girlfriend(eventually wife number 3)'s place, knowing the weekend was going to go downhill.
It was on the Sunday things went awry. We popped to the local shop, where Ian got a curry, and I got a French Bread Pizza. Oh, and some bottles of Merrydown Cider. All 13 bottles of it, that we shared between us. The 13 x 1.5 litre bottles of Merrydown cider. By 6 I was paralytic, and went to bed. I remember Ian waking me to tell me that my Dad was on the phone (he was lying), and I was unable to move. Then I had to move. The toilet was calling me, and that's where I wasted most of the cider. I remember heaving louder and harder than I have ever before or since, the entire neighbourhood must have heard me. I also remember hearing Ian downstairs, pissing himself laughing. The next day he went home. We stopped in Burger King, and he pigged out. I don't think I could stomach any food for a week. I have to say, I never ever got that drunk again. I also don't like French Bread Pizza any more.
No idea why, mind.
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