Memoirs of an Ordinary Guy
Not Rich, Not Famous, Just Truths
Mel R.J Smith
Life… Where do you start? Oh, much before the days of computers, brick-sized mobiles, mobiles that you could fit into the palm of your hand, social networking and, of course, not forgetting texting…..
Technology….. That was the downfall of everything
2012 – It started with a text.
Friday 6th July, 2012.
“You do realise that you may have died if you hadn’t got this treated in time, Mr. Smith?” the nurse told me, as she prodded and poked my blood-poisoned arm. She could have mentioned this little fact before I drove twenty miles in agony, as poison coursed through my veins. But I’ll forgive her. She was fit.
That was a week ago. I got the smallest nick ever on my thumb which, overnight, turned me into a bed-ridden soul, written off and on full-pay sick leave. So that’s how I got here, to a stage in my life where I can now look back and share with you my memoirs.
Maybe you’re reading this whilst sat in a comfortable chair, with your feet up beside an open log fire and with a steaming cuppa poised at your lips. Yes? Then please, if you will, feel a little empathy as I write this introduction.
I’m in my one-bedded staff hole. Well, it was before I made it my own, or should I say, on my own? You know the sort of place; run down, no care or attention paid to it, having to share a kitchen and hoping that no-one steals your ready meals. It could have been worse; at least I don’t have to share the shower with my obese neighbour, both squeezing in there together, holding on for grim life to that slippery bar of soap, then rushing to get ready for another enthralling eight-hour shift, to earn that almighty minimum wage.
I’m scrunched up on my over-used, spring-laden bed; over-used by the previous tenants, I hasten to add. I’m dodging the odd spring that’s trying its best to cause the worst possible havoc, as I type one-handed while leaning over my laptop. But something keeps distracting me from my writings. Technology, that’s what. My bloody mobile; I’m forever glancing at it, waiting for a text. A text that should read, “Hi, Babes. How’s work? What would you like for dinner? Your ever loving wife, Clare.”
Clare is my ex-wife. She is the mother of my beautiful daughter of four, Molly May, and step-mum to my other wonderful children. We are still very close. She is, and always will be, my best friend but, not only that, she has been a brick to me, while I, on the other hand, was a prick to her. I had an affair and it started with texting. I let technology take over and, being the idiot I am, gave up everything. I gave that life up, thinking the grass would be greener which, for all you ‘would be’ philanderers out there, isn’t the case. Now, if you will, let me rewind and take you back. Back to the beginning.
1964 ~ 1975
The Junior Years
Back to the Beginning
So that’s how I got here, writing my memoirs. I do have lots of truths to tell, so let me rewind and take you on my journey of reminiscence, to a time before technology took hold of me and became my downfall, back to those hazy days of summer, when the sun always seemed to shine. Back to my youth.
My earliest memories date back to when I was a bonnie wee lad, swinging to and fro in my wooden-slatted swing, which Dad had strung up in the back door leading from the kitchen, to what then appeared to be an extraordinarily large garden. The aroma of Mum’s home-cooked pie and cabbage filled the air, as I swung backwards into the kitchen and the summer sun scorched my blonde curls, as I ventured forth into the garden.
Is it just me, or do the memories of your youth distort the truth? Looking back now, I seem to remember the odour of cabbage staying with me as I swung, not only into the kitchen but also out into our miniature plot that backed onto an extraordinarily large field, where Mum would take me, while she picked potatoes for a living. Well, that’s when I wasn’t happily swinging with a nappy full of cabbage-flavoured shit for a cushion. Oh, those hazy days of summer.
Just like my clothes in later years, this swing had been handed down from sisters to brothers. I come from a fairly large family, which I think had something to do with Mum and Dad not having a TV at that time.
Let me take a moment here to introduce my family. Carol is the eldest and then comes Shelagh. Wendy and Maureen are followed by the twins, Maurice and Lorraine and then, of course, there’s me, the baby of the family, or Beanpole, as Mum often used to call me her little beanpole.
As I was saying, those were hazy summer days and one image springs to mind. Jenny. I suppose you could class her as my first girlfriend.
I was about seven as I recall, the colours seeming so vibrant, yet dreamy, as I lay beneath the soft blue sky, the sun’s rays filtering through cotton wool clouds, warming my brow. The lush greens of the grass were like a soft under blanket and Jenny’s turquoise-covered lap was my pillow. We were amidst a kaleidoscope of colours. As I lay dreaming, Jenny placed a band of yellow and white over my head, a chain she had made from the myriad of daisies that surrounded us.
I don’t have many memories of my early days; obviously not a lot happened there, so let’s skip forward a few years to my schoolboy encounters.
My New Best Friend
I was in the last years of junior school; the sun was blazing and I was about to meet my new best friend.
“Quiet please, children!” Miss ‘Whatever her Name’ shouted, whilst clapping her hands to get the attention of a class of about twenty unruly ten-year-olds.
“We have a new pupil joining us today. Why don’t you introduce yourself?” she asked the new boy, probably because she didn’t know his name herself.
“Hello, I’m Mitch,” the good looking, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Elvis look-alike told the class. “I’ve just moved here from London,” he also informed us.
Wow, London. An overspill kid.
Miss welcomed Mitch in her own obtuse manner.
“Well done, Mitchell, now quickly and quietly find yourself a seat.”
With a bemused look upon his face, Mitch looked around the classroom for a moment or two, seeming to gaze at each kid in turn as to where to sit. All the girls, each in turn gazing back with soppy looks on their faces, seeming to wish the good-looking Londoner would sit next to them, whilst the boys looked on in envy. The seat next to me was vacant. I don’t know why, it wasn’t as though I was still in nappies. It must have been the ‘fluffy bed’ hairstyle and mottled ginger national health glasses, which complemented me so well.
Mitch’s gaze finally rested on me, and the only seat left in the room, so he walked over and sat down. In those days, I was a shy lad and didn’t mix well with others. For fuck’s sake, I didn’t even have an imaginary friend, so I couldn’t say, “Sorry, this seat is taken. My six feet tall white bunny friend is sitting there.”
We both sat in silence as I continued to bury my head further into my book, ‘Stig of the Dump’, whilst giving the Elvis junior the occasional sideways glance. Tentatively, I moved my book between us, so Mitch could share my adventures with Stig. We didn’t know it then but, together, we would one day have our very own adventures.
“Thanks,” Mitch said, smiling at me. I smiled back and returned to my book, happy in the fact that I had made a friend. The other kids had by now resumed their own activities, the new boy drifting from their minds.
“Children, it’s time for the one-to-one spelling test,” Miss said, whilst clapping her hands to get our attention.
A one-to-one with ‘Miss Whatever’, a one-to-one with my teacher, every school boy’s fantasy; well with the fit ones anyway. Shit, I can’t even remember her name, let alone dream about her.
And so the test began.
Going round the classroom, we were called up one at a time.
My turn came.
“Spell ‘no’,” she instructed, after I had sat down at her desk and made myself comfortable.
Oh, come on, what sort of a word is that? I was expecting ‘difficulty’.
Mrs. D, Mrs. I, Mrs. FFI, Mrs. C, Mrs. U, Mrs. LTY. D..I..FFI..C..U..LTY!!
I thought for a moment, then my mind went blank and confusion set in as I started to sound out the letters.
Now, for some reason beyond me, maybe because Mitch didn’t sit next to her, I was ordered from the class and told to wait outside. Okay, so I wasn’t the brightest spark in the school. After about twenty minutes of waiting in the cold hallway, sitting amongst pegs full of other kids’ sweaty belongings and listening to my peers reciting the bloody English dictionary, I heard ‘Miss Bitch’ sound the bell, signalling break time. The hustle and bustle of kids getting ready to invade the playground began to fill the school, the door opened and my excited classmates stormed out.
“Don’t run, children!” I heard Miss shout after them.
Go for it, I wished I had told them.
Mitch appeared from the classroom and greeted me with that ‘lady killer’ smile.
“Wanna play football?” he asked.
Fucking great. My least favourite sport.
“Yer, why not?”
For the rest of our school days and beyond, Mitch and I would remain the best of friends.