Friday, 14 December 2012

Ghostly tippex

I feel sickened at the news of another American shooting spree. This one took place in a primary school and they say as many as 30 may have been killed. It begs a single question: How many more incidents like this will it take before those silly people ban firearms? It's profoundly simple. If a child can't be trusted with a toy, it's taken away from him, even if it spoils the game for everyone else. There's something called "group responsibility" which that particular nation with its "Jesus loves me and f**k you, I'm going to heaven" culture would benefit from learning. 

As a man who got caught up in the confusion and panic of a shooting at my own school, I can tell you, it's not a lot of fun...

Our particular shooting was brushed under the carpet almost as soon as it happened. I've thought for some years that it was the subject of a news black-out which I'll only be able to prove with a visit to Collindale newspaper library to see if the newspaper cuttings my family carefully collected are present in the "official" version of the paper. 

Granted, the media worked very differently in those days, but it was odd that the event made the front pages of the tabloids and then vanished like a stone in murky water. I know for a fact that what happened  opened up a potentially lethal can of worms, which would have been very uncomfortable for the authorities. Call me a conspiracy theorist. One day I'll write about it. But for now I'll allow my memories to join everyone else's in a chasm of silence...

Last night, as we left the church in York, Nathan and I found ourselves lost in a twisting subterranean rabbit warren of corridors. We followed a staircase to a closed door which had the word "emergency exit" written over it. "Surely it's not alarmed?" I asked Nathan. He shrugged. I pushed the door and...

AALLLAAAAARRRMMMM!!!

It screeched and beeped and rang and juddered. It was mortifyingly loud. Suddenly the church was filled with chaos and people running in circles trying to make the ungodly noise end! #whatanexit!

We drove out of York via the Fulford Road, which gave me the opportunity to show Nathan the house I'd lived in as a student. We got out of the car and went to the alleyway behind the house where groups of us used to sit on picnic rugs when it was particularly hot... And there, on the bottom brick, a few letters neatly drawn with tip-pex; "B+P+T 93"; Ben and Pete and Tanya 1993. I found the sight rather moving. Almost 20 years since we'd absentmindedly daubed our initials onto that bottom brick, on a lazy, carefree autumnal day at the start of my second year, there we were; as clearly as if we'd written it just yesterday. Whatever happened to those days filled with petty problems and optimism, eh? We thought we could walk on water back then. 

And what of B+P+T? Well, we're still in touch. Pete teaches drama in Switzerland and Tanya and I still go on holiday together every year. We're doing okay...

As we drove home, down the M1, I received an email from someone who'd ordered the Requiem CD about 3 months ago. It must have got lost in the post. I'd like to say that this would surprise me, but the post office has been in a state of such disarray every time I've visited in recent months that nothing would surprise me any more. 

I asked the woman in question to confirm her address and was tickled to discover that she lived in Hinkley; less than a ten mile detour from the motorway. A CD popped through her letter box at midnight. How's that for a speedy, personal service?!

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