Last week, I fulfilled my half of the Faustian promise by rocking up to the station at Dark O’clock. The train failed to honour its’ half of the bargain when it predictably failed to turn up. This got me thinking about time machines, specifically how great it would be to wind back an hour, turn off the alarm and drift back into a blissful sleep. As opposed to risking another bout of extended tackle exposure, standing on a windswept platform waiting for something to happen.
Nothing did, but the time was well invested considering the value of thermal underwear, and selecting the one single event I would want most to change. if a fully working time machine was delivered to my door. And even with the many worthy candidates, one incident during my fifteenth year still sends me into a fully body spasm whenever the unwelcome memory surfaces.
The clock would be set to July 1982, the location Silverdale School, Sheffield, the time 6:30pm. Let the eye of remembrance cast it’s focus to the main hall where 200 5th year students are separated by 20 yards of Demilitarized Zone and further divided by the type of any recently sprouted bouncy bits. The eye would reveal a leaving dance, a few teachers stretching the bounds of smart-casual, and sufficient testosterone that a single accidental nudge would cause a pubescent boy to explode.
Let the eye rove along this line of drainpipe jeans and monster zits, allow it to flip and zoom to examine a particularly poor specimen with a messy centre parting and National Health Glasses. Notice how his hands are shaking, his face is wet with sweat, and his countenance ashen. Realise this is nothing to do with what is about to happen, but rather because of what has just happened featuring two rusty cans of long life, and a toke on a few illicit B&H’s.
Which is no way can explain what happens next. The boy – driven out of the line by fellow long-lifers’ – finds himself in no mans land facing one hundred girls, almost none of which know his name. But one does, and this is the one, and this is his time. If the eye withdraws, it would reveal a moment of silence, a hush for what may happen next, a pause in the noise of many people who have much to say, but no way to say it. And that silence would be broken by one R.Norman whispering – just below the pain barrier – “GO ON MY SON, GET IN THERE” while pumping his arm in what I can only assume was his biologically naive view of how one gets a lady pregnant.
Cheers Bob. Never really forgiven you for that. I approached this girl emboldened by an air of misplaced optimism, two beers and the sure knowledge I was leaving tomorrow. But even though I am not normally short of a few words, my mind went properly blank, I gasped for air, I risked a look over my shoulder (synchronised arm pumping from my ex-friends), I looked along a line of unfriendly faces. I only tell you this to somehow justify the prhase I finally managed to stammer, while attempting to elevate my eyes from her rather fine bosom.
“I like your jumper“. The hush stopped, the moment was broken, sniggers broke out from all sides and suddenly it wasn’t boys against girls, it was everyone against Al. As she considered her answer, my face blazed through the colour spectrum ending quickly at a deep and burning red. And then just when it couldn’t get any worse, of course it did: “You shouldn’t be looking at my jumper” she dead panned me, turned laughing to her friends and left me with the walk of shame back to the boys side.
So if that Time Machine turned up with “single use only” emblazoned on the packaging, that’s where I’d head back to. Where I would calmly change history by simply shooting myself.
Thanks for listening. That was better than therapy 😉