In April 1986, I left Shepshed. For me, the unthinkable had happened. In those days, we did not have email, mobiles,
facebook et al so keeping in touch was either done through the conventional telephone (at your parent's permission of course,
normally five minutes after six-pm) or by letter-writing. Most of my mates were not letter-writers, so I lost touch with many.
However Paul Hodges was one mate I kept in touch with. Id often go to his house for sleepovers and we would go into the
snooker-hall (the old St Botolph's school) and get hammered on pints of Lager served in dimpled glass tankards. Id usually
have to rely on my mum and dad to drop me off because the bus service was none-existant between Shepshed and Ashby. If you
were lucky, you might get a connection in Coalville but other than that, it was impossible.
As we got to 17, the snooker-club became less-desirable and we wanted to explore bigger and better things for ourselves.
One weekend, in early February 1989, I accepted his offer of a weekend stayover and Friday night we were knocking them back
in the Top Railway - just a short stagger from Paul (or Splodge to give him his nickname's) house.
It was in the pub where he said something what astounded me. He remarked on how well I looked, to be honest Id had a
rough month. On my 17th birthday, January 5th my girlfriend had dumped me and Id taken it quite bad. But as a reaction
to my adversity, like so many people I had gone for a new look. New clothes, new hairstyle etc.
Id also started a new job, working in a factory. It involved a lot of lifting heavy stuff and a bit of odd-jobbing,
including spray painting commercial vehicle parts. Id been doing some spraying that Friday afternoon and there was some paint
still on my hands.
Suddenly Splodge said "You scare the shit out of me!" You could have knocked me over with a feather. I always thought
of him as one of the hardest kids in school when we were at Shepshed High. Id never fought him, well once we had
this play-fight that got out of hand and he had "panned" me (to coin a Shepshed phrase of the time!). He thought
the specs of paint on my hands were tattoos.
"No, no, no! You've got it all wrong!" I protested. I was still the same gentle-giant what had left three-years before.
We went on a pub crawl, then one of his mates from over the road who's Dad was loaded picked us up and we went cruising
in his BMW. Then there was some road-rage, someone took exception to Splodge's mate's driving and forced us over.
He was a big-bloke, foaming at the mouth, he leaned through gobbing off at Splodge's mate and even Splodge looked like
he was bricking it. I know I was. Then this bloke starts on me, saying who did I think I was? In fact who was I? - he wanted
to know? Did I fancy stepping out of the car and taking my chances?
It was a difficult weekend to be honest. On Saturday night, we went to Loughborough, it was a disaster because they would
not let me into Sammy's niteclub next to the Curzon because I was wearing jeans - they were black 501's but alas had badly
faded. We ended up walking back, via Saleh Kebab House then the 300 Spartans. Some taxi-driver picked us up near Thorp Acre
and drove us back to Shepshed.
The ruined night and the drink led to some niggly arguments between me and Splodge. I wanted to crash-out but he said
no, we were round his mates drinking and I seem to remember we had been invited to this party in Belton and they
were egging me on to drive the BMW to Belton, but I refused because I was tanked-up and had only had two driving lesson's
since my 17th.
I think I had realised then, that I had grown up and Shepshed was not half as much fun as it had been when I was
a lad. For me, it is a good place to end this tale. I have enjoyed recalling these stories from my childhood and youth
and I hope you have enjoyed them as well.