Already in work these past twelve months I’d like to say I was wealthy, would like to say I had money to burn, a monthly wage of £80 (before tax) with nothing to spend it on but myself, and yes, I had money to spend on beer and not much else, I still lived at home with my parents, my mother barely took any board money from me, she even still bought my clothes or at least the most basic of clothes that weren’t required to be fashionable, underpants, socks and suchlike, thinking back to those times I should have been as wealthy as an arab with a billion acres of oil bearing sand but somehow every month the money just slipped through my fingers and across the bar in The Woodman, but my god did we enjoy ourselves.
We were at least a dozen, some days more, 18 year old lads for whom nothing was more important than to gather together in a pub, drink beer, take the piss out of todays victim, usually Pete Smith, my god I hope he never reads this, all I can say Pete is that we made you what you are today and for that we apologise unreservedly, but what larks eh ?
(For the record this is not Pete Smith of Ilkley fame, its confusing when you have two friends with the same name and neither of them know of the other)
They, the rest of the crowd, had just finished their A level exams, the exams that would decide their future careers and/or choice of university, I had left halfway through the two year A level course for work and freedom from Miss Harlow the incredibly untalented art teacher, they, the rest of the crowd, all wanted to get away for a weeks holiday, a lads holiday, no girlfriends allowed, just bring a change of clothes and beer money, and Pete Smith, bring Pete Smith too for we need some entertainment.
Regular readers will know the story of that week that we picked for our lads summer holiday, the week in Great Yarmouth, how exotic, the week that started by me getting absolutely hammered in a pub straight after work on the Friday night, being late home, so late that the lads were all waiting for me, my mother had packed my suitcase for me, just enough time to say farewell dear parents for I am Norfolk bound and if I survive this lads holiday I may return next week bearing cheap plastic trinkets for you all to mark this occasion, but now I am very drunk and will allow my friends to put me on a bus and take care of me until I sober up somewhat…
She forgot to pack my underpants, my mother, I mean what is the point of packing your 18 year old son’s luggage if you are going to forget to pack his underpants for the week eh?
And with the thought process of an 18 year old lad away on his summer holiday to Great Yarmouth with all his mates, it never once crossed my mind during that week to go to a shop and buy some more underpants even though I’m pretty sure that even a Norfolk seaside town like Great Yarmouth would have stocked such holiday essentials, oh no, I simply washed the same pair of underpants in the sink in our room every night for a week and hung them out of the window to dry overnight, sorted, can we go to the pub again now ?
Those seven days on the Norfolk coast were a blur of beer days and beer nights, the day at the races when we all lost all of our money, except Dobby who won in grand style and paid for the rest of the night until he had none of his winnings left, the night that we were locked out of our hotel and got caught breaking in a window around the back with the aid of a ladder that we’d “borrowed” from another hotel back yard and it took half an hour of drunken pleading for both hotel owners not to call the police ending in “It was your fault for locking the front door you pillock, what sort of hotelier locks his own guests outside just because they are very drunk?”, the sunburn, my god the sunburn, the sun burned us all, all week, it was the year that Great Yarmouthians still speak of, the week when they had seven successive days of sun, the first and only time it has ever happened in their lifetimes, and they speak of that gang of lads from Leeds who came, didn’t bother with sun protection, and burned on their beach – we left our skins behind on that beach like so many lizards.
And then we came home and life continued and just a few weeks later they would all go their separate ways to different universities in different cities and to different jobs in other parts of town and different pubs to drink in and we never saw Pete Smith again and if your gang hasn’t got a Pete Smith to pick on then what is the point – August 1975, the last time the lads were as one…