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SHEPSHED MCMLXXX

Part Four

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Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Part 23
Part 24
Part 25
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"Is he or isn't he?"

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On many occasions in recent years, I have found myself down at “Coalville Recycling Centre”, that is the old tip to me and you because after-all, could you imagine TV’s “Stig of the Dump” becoming “Stig of the Household waste and recycling centre”? I try and avoid going to this place, due to a frightful experience I had on my last visit there in August 2008.

 

It went like this: I pulled up and was stopped by a guy in a day-glo overall “What you got mate?” of course I had a bit of everything, household waste, metal, wood, cardboard, plastic, so this feller starts reeling off the skip numbers and it is a bit like playing bingo without a dabber and a card. Hopelessly confused, I pull up at the household waste and put a bin-liner full of crap into the skip. Suddenly I am confronted by what I would describe as a "horrid old git" who marches up to me and launches into a tirade about “You can’t just chuck that in there” – the lenses on his gold-rimmed spectacles mist up as the steam pours from his ears. He wrenches another bag of crap out of my hand and starts going through my rubbish, chuntering about the operation being run by a private company and how dare I just walk up and dump stuff just like I have done. If you hold shares in this company, this man is doing you proud and should be made guest of honour at the next shareholders AGM!

 

Honestly, I have never felt so humiliated since the day I last peed-myself as a six-year old at St Botolphs and had to be re-dressed in some awful, ill-fitting old-jeans from a special box kept in the corner in-case of accidents - i was assured they "were not girls jeans" but the pink embroidery gave the game away. In fact I very nearly shit myself when this modern-day Eco-warrior was ranting on about how I was the scum of the earth for not sorting out my rubbish properly, how my actions would kill a billion rainforests, how the poor orphans in Africa would perish etc etc before he turned his venom on some hapless colleague who like me had the audacity to empty a black bin-liner in the same skip. “I Ffin give up!” he yelled to the heavens.

 

Before then, it was not so-bad. I was usually met at the gate by this chap, mid-thirties, nice-smile and I think to myself “Is it him?” I so much want to ask him, “Once upon a time, were you my best mate in Shepshed? The boy from Bridge Street I used to play with all those years ago”. But how could I say that to some big, strapping-bloke who works at the tip? He would probably chuck me head first into skip number five or whatever!

 

I will never know the answer, because I now take my unwanted rubbish to Shepshed tip, who are very helpful! I’m too scared to go back to Coalville after that little episode!

 

But going-back to my long-lost old-mate, Jonathan was his name. This was the kid who would regularly come to our house in Blacksmith’s Ave. I would visit him in Bridge Street and he introduced me to that little-shop at the end of Bridge Street, where one Christmas, I bought my Gran a little plastic mirror in the shape of a daisy for just 50p from that very shop and she loved it – although the pressing was not that brilliant and the daisy stalk did not sit brilliantly in the base. It was the thought that counted.

 

Me and Jon shared that historic moment when, on November 2nd 1982 Channel 4 flickered into life. We watched in on a Black and White portable set upstairs and together must have been a select band of Shepshed folk who witnessed the first episode of “Countdown”, even though we gave up after ten-minutes and the charms of Carol Vorderman were lost on me at the time, but I am not so sure about Jonathan!

 

So my torment goes on, it’s a bit like that horrible James Blunt song, the one where he spots an angel with another man and he knows she will never be with him! Well to a certain extent it is! With a queue of other cars behind me and the future of our planet at stake, it was neither the time nor place for Friends Reunited.

 

But I am convinced that beneath that greasy cap, dirty overalls and faded orange day-glo vest is the boy that was once Jonathan. I can tell by his eyes, his nose, that smile. Our friendship ended when him and his folks emigrated to Whitwick, so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he found work in nearby Coalville as a “Recycling Advisor” or whatever they call bin-men these days.

 

Back in those good-old-days, Jonathan clearly fancied himself and he was definitely image conscious. He claimed he was the spitting-image of Nick Heyward, the singer who at the time fronted Haircut 100 (I suppose it is not beyond impossibility that the real Nick Heyward works at Coalville tip because I have not seen or heard anything of him for years!). However Jono took the fascination a little bit too far and claimed that people would stop him in the street and ask how his band were doing! He was a ten-year-old kid for goodness sake! Would Nick Heyward seriously be walking round Shepshed? Was the real Nick Heyward such a short-arse he would easily be mistaken for a ten-year-old? However Jono enjoyed living the dream, even if it was pretending to be the lead-singer of some crappy pop-group.

 

I think our friendship really blossomed during the summer of 1981, where he became virtually a permanent fixture around Blacksmiths Ave and he tagged-along with our gang. During that summer, Charles and Di mania was in the air, they were getting married on July 29th. Back then, people went crazy about it, every-house seemed to be bedecked with red, white and blue, there were street-parties planned. In those days, like all the fuss about the Queens silver-jubilee in 1977 folk really went over the top. I felt the Golden jubilee celebrations in 2002 were a bit muted and a sign-of-the-times how much, in general, the population and the next-generation did not hold the Royal Family in as high esteem as we did back in 1981. A good example was the quote attributed to Radio Four Presenter Edward Stourton in November 2008 (Daily Mail, 10/11/08) about the late Queen Mother being "a ghastly old bigot". True or untrue, If he had dared say that 25-30 years ago, he would have been hung for treason!

 

On that hot-summers-day in late July ‘81, we decided that we would re-enact the Royal Wedding. Our front lawn at number 30 was transformed into Westminster Abbey. Before you dare accuse us of being cissy, wannabee New Romantics, we did have a couple of girls in our gang, one of whom was called Kirsty. I suppose if Jonathan laid claim to being Nick Heyward, then Kirsty bared a slight resemblance to the actress Diane Keen. She was therefore the natural choice to be the Princess. My Gran agreed with me and often remarked what a “pretty girl” Kirsty was, and that saying every singleton must dread from relatives when they are convinced they have found you the perfect suitor for them: “You could do much worse you know!”. I was nine-years of age for crying out loud! I had no interest in girls back then (unless they could play football and usually that involved an element of humiliation because they could probably play better than me). Most certainly, no girl would look at a dumpy little fat kid like I was, indeed for our Royal Wedding role-play I was cast as the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury! Dr Robert Runcie indeed!

 

Jonathan, with his popstar looks and simmering self-confidence assumed the role of the Prince, and using a small, leather-bound bible as a prop, I married him and Kirsty in a cute little ceremony on that sweltering hot Wednesday, then we all retired inside number 30 to annoy the hell out of my mother with a impromptu disco. I am not anally retentive enough to recall what we played at the disco, but I would suspect that Alvin Stardust’s hit “Pretend” would have got the party rocking, as well as an array of Chart-hits I had craftily recorded off the “Happy, happy sound” of Radio-One eg the “Top 40 show”, stuff like Adam and the Ants, Toyah and the immortal Wedding Reception classic The Tweets “Birdysong” – not forgetting the stupid dance that even someone like me could do!

 

However things turned very ugly when Jonathan decided to make a pass at Kirsty. Clearly overwhelmed by the nationwide hysteria of royal romance, he tried to kiss her but his manouvere had all the romance of a Rugby scrum. Poor Kirsty screamed in horror and we boys did the manly thing, prising him off her and ejecting him head-first back onto the front-lawn, where half-an-hour earlier he had sweetly placed a ring (made of blu-tak and silver-foil) on Kirsty’s finger.

 

Alas the stuff that fairytales are made of died in Leicestershire long, long before the tragic events in the Pont D’Alma tunnel in August 1997 or even Squidygate and Prince Charles' desire to reinvent himself as a tampon. 

 

    

 

"Gonna take that situ-ay-shun...an puddit right..."

Life in Shepshed, 1980-1986