Alcohol my silent partner into adulthood would seem to make it sound like I was making some huge mature steps into becoming a grown up. I’m sure as we move through the coming years you will realise, as I do now, that this isn’t the case.
There are two other previous sections in this series of…what should we call them ? memoirs..hardly. More like a diary of events that tries to put some perspective on the past. I will add a couple of links at the end of this installment so you can catch if you would like to, or you can go there first and come back if you need to keep the chronology in order.
So, if you’re here afresh…quick update… I’ve just been kicked out of school and have left my foster parents…all on the same day. Technically I was asked to leave the school, if I refused, then they would have thrown me out…Hodson’s choice but it looks better on the resumes as you don’t have to put expelled, which doesn’t look as bad.
Wherever I lay my hat comes to mind as I set out on my own completely. As I’ve previously said, I was still under the care of Social Services, so it was up to them to find me somewhere to live. This was all happening very quickly so, in all fairness to them, they did a great job. I was given two choices. There was a bed available at a childrens home that was in the town I grew up or I could stay with a couple who had given their lives to fostering children. They were used to younger ones than me but had said they were happy to lend a hand for a short time.
So bags packed, all goodbyes said and off I went to the next part of what was really growing up. The couple were awesome. They never questioned or judges and provided me with somewhere to live for about three months, maybe more, not sure how long exactly. during this time I managed to get a job with the local County Council as a trainee wages clerk. Money was tight as my pay packet pretty much went on board, which was as it should be.
It was a time to re-connect with my earlier childhood friends and hang-outs. Weird though, coming back after just over three years away. Everyone had grown up and forged new or stronger relationships. It was all very different. A sense of belonging, sure but also a sense of being alone.
Apart from the occasional foray into town or the local pub I wasn’t really into drinking, couldn’t afford it. So it was there as an ‘every now and then’ and nothing more.
My stay with the couple was never meant to be more than temporary. After a few months a friend of a friend told me there was a bedsit going in his parents house. Closer to work, closer to town and had its own bathroom, well shared, with someone over the hall. Good enough. A change of dwelling bought with it a change of job. The rent was a bit better but now I had to buy food and cook. Rice and tomato sauce became a firm companion.
I was starting to feel more independent and that felt good. I still wasn’t really drinking a great deal, mainly because I couldn’t afford it but also as I was working odd hours. I had left the job at the council and was now a fully fledged burger flipper. The hours were varied but the main difference was I was surrounded by people my own age. My circle of friends had changed and that was a good thing.
I’ve had to write out a time-line to try to get everything in order… I’m on track. We are now in the summer of my seventeenth year… I was still in the bedsit when I turned eighteen but not for much longer.
The Ideal Job
Although I loved my job, an obvious issue with those in authority, was always going to be my downfall. I left under a cloud and went to work for the opposition. Loyalty was not high on my list, survival was. Turned out that managers, supervisors and bosses in general were everywhere you worked, who knew ? So with a smile and a sigh, I left yet another job and promptly landed on my feet.
Whilst I had been working in town I had started to frequent one of the local taverns. One Friday or Saturday evening I was casually sat at the bar when the owner asked if I was doing anything that night. A conversation turned into me getting home as quick as possible and coming back looking a little bit smarter.
One night turned into a few and then after a month I was asked to work there full-time. Six nights and three lunchtime shifts ensued. It really was the best job in the world ever. The customers soon became friends and then some. Then a room became available in a rented house and I was up-sticks again. This time though, I had a key to the front door and my room was in a house where the owner didn’t live. Finally I was on my own, in a good way.
Eighteen Going On Twenty Five
As some of you will know, working behind a bar isn’t just a case of ‘pulling pints’ You become a very good listener. I could listen with the best of them and I had a sense of humour that could bring some out of their reverie. After a few months I was given the task of running a separate bar downstairs on a Friday and Saturday night. Small bar, pool table and video jukebox and enough room to squeeze maybe fifty bodies in. Word soon got round and it became home for a young clientele that would normally have been refused or shunned at other establishments. Odd make-up and weird hairstyles, even for the eighties but they now had a home and would do their best to keep it.
They were accepted by me and the rest of the customers and lived pretty much symbiotically for the entire time I was there. Even frequenting upstairs when the small bar wasn’t open. Like I said before, friendships were made then that still stand strong today…even if I don’t remember all the names.
I was young, just turned eighteen and in an environment that was predominantly full of those older than myself, yet I fitted in and was accepted for who I was. This was over thirty years ago and to this day I still bump into people who knew me back then.
Believe it or not even working in a pub wasn’t having a detrimental effect on my drinking. I was working six nights, so only had one night to go out and play. I used to have a pint at the end of the night and then go home. Very occasionally a few of us would go to a club after working a Saturday night. Other than my Sunday night off, it was all fairly low key.
And Then There Was Spain
With age comes irresponsibility. In so much as I mean ‘lack of age’. The upside of our behaviour is that we sometimes do things that although we may regret on some levels, the memories of which will last a lifetime.
I was in a steady job, that I loved. I had my own room, in a house where I knew the other tenants on a social basis as well. Everything was sailing along quite nicely. Why rock the boat ?
We rock the boat because we can. When we’re young there is only you. In my case that was more than true. I was on my own. I was given a chance to take an open-ended trip to Spain and see what happened. If it all went ‘South’ all I had lost was a job and a place to live…who couldn’t get those again if you needed to.
If you’re going to be reckless then when you’re young is the time to do it. You only have yourself to blame when it goes wrong. Anyway I was going to Spain, what could possibly go wrong.
So it looks like there will be more installments.
If you want to catch the previous ‘chapters’ click on the links below. Early Years is the first one.