Back Home – Summer 06
Andy C, Ulf S, Kevin “the squirrel” Fontaine, Mortimer V, Marlon S & Melba Rise, who had remained admirably forgiving of his colourfully minded parents the Smith-Axleys and their first generation double barreled surname. This was the old crew. We’d agreed to meet up beneath the majestic arch of Milton Keynes indoor ski arena, though not everyone would be there.
That in itself was the first tradition taken care off. Marlone for one, had not been seen at the same time and space as Andy for many years. So many years, I’d begun to seriously question the memories that proclaimed such an event ever actually took place.
While height, ethnicity & personality, differences were abound, these were but the thin walls of a perceived reality. So thankfully there were School photos, irrefutable proof that they were not in fact, as I’d began to theories, one and the same person and infamous master of disguise at that.
There, in the photo, they stood plain to see. They were two among many and if you had the patients, then like one of those dam nuisance 3D pictures that weren’t, the picture would come to life. Forty plus people doing their own rendition of “I’m a lumberjack” in unsynchronised unison. We know now, that was as opportunity missed sadly unlikely to repeat itself. Certainly not on this day, far too few were our number and too scarce were the flannel shirts. We were but five and I fear the evidence staunchly suggested that I alone still stood dedicated too fighting the good fight, to keep 90s fashion alive.
I’d looked around the bar and back again, felt a little old and no small chunk of bemusement. I could only conclude I’d been away much longer than ever I’d thought.
When did people start wearing fitting clothes? and more importantly what is accessorising and why were men doing it? & how had this come to coincide with the wholly unfortuatous resurrection of the mullet? wrong times were upon us. Still none of this was so strongly in evidence on our table.
Melba, an accountant by trade, had news on Ulf who numbered here among the absent.
(Some background information: Ulf, in a move I’d always thought most admiral had left school at the earliest possible juncture. He’d done this to pursue his dream of being a performance artist. Today, a successful career as an extremity double saw him commonly operating in social circles quite apart from those frequented by the likes of us. This was not the reason for his absence, for Ulf had never become anything other than Ulf. Nor, it transpired, was it the result of his hectic diary, with it’s traveling between glamorous locations on assignment.)
Melba though was sketchy on the detail, partly because it was a medical matter and this was not his forte partly because, as always, he was delving around for all manner of sundry detail. Such were his random interjections of tenuously linked facts, that the deliverance of universal confusion was assured for all. Eventually all would loose track and find themselves stood before the biscuitey house. Enticed to enter by a cannibal minded old hag and her warty, broom aviating ways. Gloriously unclear on how they’d got there and utterly bereft of any handy breadcrumbs (or light shadows) to guide them home.
It seemed Ulf was laid up, recovering in hospital.
After becoming concerned about the growing girth of one of his toes he, word had it, opted to have a procedure. Melba thought he recalled a Metatarsal removal being involved. Having undergone the procedure Ulf had, most unfortunately, fallen victim to one of those super-viruses that liked to call medial establishments home. Despite numerous false dawns of thoughts bubbling to the surface throughout the evening, Melba could not recall further detail on the thing that had so afflicted Ulf.
Having wondered before hand, how comfortable this reunion might ultimately prove, it was a relief to find the social lubricant of two rounds was an ample aid. More than sufficient to place things back on their old tracks. Ideally, a person might argue, these were the times to make fresh memories, as well as remember wistfully the ones of the past. But there was much here to be enjoyed, especially now that the polite niceties of unwanted social scripts were dutifully behind us. ( Churchill…people..no, no one wants to hear my personal decision on the great quotes debate? fine.) The freedom to sit back, to be still and quiet, to disparage justifiably or just because. Maybe it had exhausted its ability to grow, burnt off its energy for shining fresh light. This no longer mattered, for it had something about it, like walking around Zurich in the summer sun or re-watching your favourite movie, anticipating those familiar lines. Quite unable to tire and exhaust, indeed the opposite was true. Sadly or gladly, no pictures can help take this with you, but it should always be there, non to neglected in its place where you left it.
I didn’t feel the glow of universal approval on the subject of Chilean curling careers. But then, I considered, among our collective we had the world’s only Coprophobic long jumper (banned on the insistence of every other competitor due to misuse of the sand) an elastic band elasticity tester, a Clairvoyant,& as we’ve already established, an accountant. So while I appreciated their concerns and shared some of them, it felt to me that this was a group that had room for some variety.