Well, I promised you that with the arrival of my cousin Ian, 'shit be about to get real'. If we leave aside the fact that the phrase 'shit be about to get real' is not something I can get away with saying, ever, I was telling you the Gods honest. A lot of people came and went from our little group but none made quite the impact that Ian did.
Ians Mam was Sharon, another of my Mams many siblings. Together with her husband John she had three children; Ian, Neil and Wayne. Only Ian would really have that much of an effect on us because we rarely saw the others. You see, a few years before we moved to the village of Willington, Sharon and her family had lived there. They had moved out of the village a while previously but at weekends and on school holidays Ian, their eldest, would be brought down to stay at the home of their old neighbour, just a few streets away from us - literally a couple of minutes on foot or 30 seconds on your bike.
Bob was an elderly bloke that had formed a bit of an attachment to the family, having no close relatives of his own, and had been a regular babysitter for Ian and his brothers. After they moved away they kept bringing Ian back to stay with Bob so he wouldn't be too lonely. Looking back with todays more cynical eyes, some might think the situation a trifle dodgy looking. An old bloke, lives alone, has a young boy that's not related to him over to stay in his one bedroom home; oo-er Missus and all that. But phooey to the lot of you.
So anyway, Ian would stay at Bobs whenever we weren't at school and so was perfectly placed to join our little gang. I often wonder what he used to do with his time at Bobs before we moved in; certainly he gave no indication that he already knew any of our group and he didn't bring any other friends with him; close as they may have been I don't think it could have been much fun if it was just the two of them. Oh well.
Ian was almost the same age as me; I think there was about 5 or 6 months in it; and so we took on a kind of joint leadership role. I'll admit, he was much cooler than I was so we got a lot more active after he showed up than when I was calling the shots alone. What can I say; I'm a born loner, I wasn't cut out to be a leader. The others were tactful enough not to say anything - either that or they hadn't noticed anything and it was my paranoia convincing me that they liked him more - but I was always a little bit conscious at the start of every day of this lingering sense of being a hanger on to his gang. The feeling would fade of course, as each day wore on, but it always took me a little while in the mornings to properly loosen up and stop trying so hard. However, cousins or no, same age or no, I don't think I'd have been the one who, if asked, Ian would have described as his best friend in the group. That honour went to Wayne. The two of them became pretty much inseparable after a while. Of course, it didn't happen overnight. No, they had to scare the crap out of us all first.
I'm not the most empathetic person in the world (I remember the first time I heard a description of sociopathy and thought 'hmmm, that sounds familiar'; scary thought) so it took me a while to cotton on but there was apparently a lot of tension between Ian and Wayne from day one. Of course, it pretty soon escalated to the point where I couldn't possibly miss it; those two seemed to loathe each other with an absolute passion. I never learned the root of their antipathy but I was certainly present the day they got it out of their systems; the stains never did come out of my underkeks.
One Saturday morning we were all hanging around at the Speccy.
Spectrum Leisure Complex 'The Speccy'We were around the back of the main building, at the top of the huge grass slope that dropped down to the bottom of the ski slope.There was much laughing and joking and threatening to push the littler ones down the bank, when suddenly, from out of nowhere, BANG, Wayne had punched Ian in the face. Ian swiftly retaliated, a good hard kick to the back of Waynes leg to bring him down and then a punch to the side of the head. This wasn't wrestling around, this wasn't play-fighting; this was a proper full on fight. I was terrified; I'd never seen a proper fight before and these two looked like they were going to kill each other; at one point Wayne was smashing Ians head into the side of the building, lips were bleeding, clothes were torn; it was like something out of a Philoe Bedoe movie. Then it got really serious.
From out of nowhere, Ian pulled a pair of scissors. I genuinely thought he was going to kill Wayne. Luckily, the life or death-ness of the scene didn't last long. They wrestled for a bit, Ian dropped the scissors and they fell down the slope, punching and clawing at each other the whole way down. Then they stopped. Just like that, it was over. They both trudged back up the slope, Wayne left one way and Ian left the other and the rest of us were stood looking dumbfounded, before, as kids do, we got distracted by something else (there was a bowling match happening on the green and we ended up watching that).
We forgot about it fairly quickly, I have to say, but the that's what kids do isn't it? Looking back though, how close did I come to seeing one of my friends die? If Wayne hadn't wrestled the scissors away, would Ian have used them, and why the Hell was he carrying scissors around with him in the first place? Seems obvious that he came out spoiling for a fight, doesn't it? It's scary to think about.
As I say though, Ian and Wayne seemed to have gotten it out of their systems a bit with that fight. We were all one big group together but those two seemed to have a bond that none of the rest of us could quite get in on. I haven't seen either of them for years but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they were still best mates today. So, you know, all's well that...
Next : My first ever run in with the police. I was innocent. Well, kind of.