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Used to work for AVIVA offshoring IT to India.  Now retired through ill health, writing my life story as a series of blogs chronologically from birth to current time.  At www.jw-alifeofsurprises.blogspot.com

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Painting, Porking and Plans afoot - 1986

Sarah-Jane, Doreen and Barry’s daughter, was going out with Nigel Bradley an old school friend and we bumped into one another and I started hanging out at his local club, The Wensum Community Centre.  There I met Paul Waterfield, Colin Robson (Robbo), Tim Hume, Gary Hughes with his main of hair, (Mel Gibson in Braveheart or Lethal Weapon should do), Ian Pearce (sadly passed away), Gary Livermore, to name a few.  The centre had a football team (A and B teams) and as a goalkeeper got the job in the B Team, Bradley played up front, but became goalkeeper later for the A Team, (big, tall, vocal, safe hands) or so Sarah told me! 
Uncle Barry and Me

The manager/trainers, Robin Horten and Trevor Cooper would train us (run around a bit, press-ups then back to the bar) once a week.  As I was almost fully fit, I tended to separate myself and Bradley, along with Barry Holdsworth as goalies and we’d train apart, (sit on the slopes of the park, smoke and chat).  I have to say that the club welcomed me in and I was soon firm friends with the guys and we started going to nightclubs and pubs together.  The boys were seasoned clubbers, having been to Ibiza that year, they returned ready to sweep into Norwich like a marauding army me tagging along.
Tim had a little flat in town and once a week, we’d meet there to watch some terrible German porn films.  What inspired 5 blokes to sit together, watching that crap defies imagination but at the time, it seemed normal, and anyway, it was no worse than sitting in the red-light district of Hannover, watching Porn in a bar?  See http://jw-alifeofsurprises.blogspot.com/2011/03/women-pool-porn-and-beer.html.

The main clubs in Norwich were Ricks Place, Tudor Hall and Ritzy’s.  There were a number of pubs all located within stumbling distance, but the Hole in the Wall was my venue of choice as it was small, niche and attracted women I was attracted to.  I was signing on the dole within a few months, borrowing money from mum and struggling to find work.  Adrian Murphy, a friend of my brother Mark, offered me work with his firm of decorators and floor layers.  I worked with a number of his guys, but never got on well with any of them, except for Mike Hayward.
He was an Essex boy and a charmer, if ever there was one.  As we drove through small villages and towns, Mike would roll down his window and insult ugly people walking along, usually calling them a “dyed in the wool ugly bastard”!  He’d sound his horn at women and constantly told jokes.  Adrian sent me to work with Mike on the floors and Mike would collect me in the van and off we’d go.  I was to work at a plastic bottling factory and was given a pneumatic hammer and told to chase out the steel floor runners, bolted to the floor, which had once held machinery in place.  Mike left me to it and said he’d be back later that day. 

Keen to impress I went at it in the same way I did sex.  Shirt off, tool in hand, banging away like there was no tomorrow and not finishing until I managed to get the job done to everyone’s satisfaction.  Mike pitched up with Adrian at lunchtime, to find me sitting on a box, eating my lunch, finished with the floor work.  Adrian and Mike inspected the work, came back out and said I had fucked it up as the preparation had been planned to last at least two days.  Mike would have to start laying the new floor that day and the job would be over too soon.

I was told to slow down “a lot”.  We completed that job and moved onto a few others, Mike leading the way.  He was married to Sue and he’d take me home to meet her and feed me up sometimes, a genuinely decent guy.  Before long we were sent to work at a chemical factory in Norwich called Rhone Poulenc.  The job entailed laying a two part Epoxy Resin floor in a mixing room.  We cleaned up the floor and I proceeded to mix the flooring together in buckets.  Mike came in, took one look at me and cracked up.  My head was swelling fast, had turned bright red and my eyes were bulging.  I was allergic to Epoxy Resins!
He called Adrian and the Rhone Poulenc health and safety rep.  I was told to go home and not return there.  The factory was a mile or so from home and Mike said I had to walk home as he had to get on.  I trudged off, head swollen like a football and got in the bath, but I stayed red and bloated for a few days after and Adrian had to switch me back to painting again.

I also went to see if my infant school friend Richard Holmes who still lived at the same house, near the junior school we both attended.  I knocked on his door, his mum Francis answered, Radio 3 blaring classical music out into the street as she opened the door, her hair in curlers, “is Rick home?” I asked.  Ricks mum had a high pitched voice and she called out to him “Richard, there’s someone at the door, I think he’s from a charity”, before I could explain who I was.  She invited me into the living room, which given they lived in a terrace house, was one step inside the door.  Rick came down stairs and looked at me and said “Jonathan Weaver”.  We were 22 and had not seen each other for eleven years; we sat, had a cup of tea and caught up.
Rick Holmes and I
It turned out that Rick and his brother Patrick had a rock band, (The Law!) and were quite big on the local circuit.  With my aspirations to be a singer-songwriter (my jottings in notebooks equated to songs in my mind), we had common interests and a long lasting friendship was re-commenced.  Work with Adrian dried up and Bradley got me a job working as a Painter and Decorator for Carters, a local building contractors and I started to get money in at last. 
The first job I worked on was the new stand at Norwich City Football Club, the City Stand.  Meeting the clubs then lofty aspirations (!), it was a single tier, held about 4,000, and included the Directors boxes and team changing rooms.  Under the seats are long corridors where match-day pies are sold to the fans once they’d entered through the turnstiles.  My job was to emulsion the Breeze Block corridors a nice shade of magnolia and armed with my brush and roller off I went and was party to a conversation between then club chairman, Robert Chase and the defender Dave Watson, who wanted away from Norwich to Everton FC.  Chase was almost pleading with Watson to stay, but Watson was having none of it and went at the end of the season.

I was told to paint the doors and frames that lead onto the pitch from the changing rooms, Green and Yellow, (Norwich colours).  Being a lazy arse, I painted the brass hinges as I could not be bothered to paint around them.  The foreman came up and moaned about that, so I had to strip of the paint and start again, fussy twat.
I had to catch a ride to work each day with a grumpy old shit, who stank of paint thinners and roll up cigarettes and who drove a 3 wheeled Reliant Robin.  This contradicted strongly with my desire to appear cool, smart and Jonny on the spot, but having no ready cash and not wishing to cycle, had to accept the lift.  I made him stop the car about quarter of a mile away and walked the last part of journey, least I be seen getting out of the three wheeler.  We named this bloke “Snooker Set”, as each of his teeth was a different colour, Green, Yellow, Brown, Black, with a few Red ones, where his gums bled constantly.  He was bent up, saggy skinned and odious and I believed he was probably near fifty five years old (he was 35), gnarled up from years of washing his hands with white spirit, inhaling paint fumes and absorbing the lead from paint that had since been banned.  There was no way I was going to end up like that and started to wish my way out of there fast.

I started seeing a girl (no names here) and we spent most evenings attempting to break records for coitus continuity (shagging), either in my bedroom or her parent’s living room.  They had a large house and our muffled shouts and moans were not heard across the hallway.  My Mum was obviously aware, when we availed ourselves of my room, but generally turned a blind eye if she was not disturbed, and was made a cup of coffee afterwards.  I was generally a good lad, loved being mildly annoying and a comic and would wind Mum up and embarrass her sometimes, if her friends came round. 
  Mum and I
After a few months, I was unceremoniously dumped, only to find her best friend chatting me up.  One of my problems has been that I fall in lust too easily.  I would find someone I liked, get their attention, start going out with them, become really “into” them and then after a period of time, in which as much sex as was physically possible took place, would finish it, least they finished it first, as happened on occasion.  I had become a specialist in cunnilingus and would spend hours down there, often refusing to come up for air for long periods and continuing past the point of delivery, intent on achieving the fabled “multiple”!  It turned out that they had “chatted” as girls do and I was “recommended” for the job, as I was then dumped by girl No 2 for her friend.
The new girlfriend loved car sex and seeing as I had been sold a boat of a car by Bradley, (Ford Cortina Mk 3), which had acres of room in the back seat area, we took a trip out most nights and weekends.  Her appetites were as exotic as mine and we’d stop in broad daylight in lay-bys, pile into the back seat and launch into one.  I had met another girl during this time who worked in a bar I used in town and lived just outside Norwich.  So I juggled my time between the two, but as the out of town girl lived with a pair of big brothers we used the car all the time, parking in a deserted quarry.  She was quite a small girl and I had ideas of trying to fit her onto the parcel shelf, angling my body behind hers, but never tried it.

Meanwhile on the football front, things were looking up.  Bradley had injured himself and as I had been playing well for the B Team, Robin recommended to Trevor that I be given a chance in Goal for the A Team.  The next game was against Anglian Windows, a rival for the league title, a hard team to play against and moreover this was a Cup game and they were at home.  My back (my other opponent in life) had given me an odd twinge here and here but nothing too bad.
We went a goal up fairly quickly and the outfield team played really well, I had made a few comfortable saves and as the second half commenced we were more and more convinced we’d win.  Anglian threw everything at us and I got busier and busier as the half progressed.  I made a couple of extremely good save, improving my team’s faith in me and we entered the last fifteen minutes, still one up, but under real pressure, defending at our 18 yard line.  One of our guys then committed a foul, right on the edge and to the right of the area looking toward my goal.

I shouted for five players to form a wall and moved them to cover the left hand side of my goal and I covered the right.  Kevin Eagleton, an adversary from my schooldays and a handy striker, took the kick and bent the ball around the wall and in towards my left.  I was stranded on the right, but launched myself across the goal; my body totally extended and with the tips of my fingers pushed the ball around the post for a corner.  I landed flat on my stomach and felt a spasm of pain run from my lower back down my legs and let out a cry.
My teammates ran to me as I lay there in great pain, pins and needles running up and down the backs of my legs.  “No one touched him” shouted one of the opposition, “he has a bad back you twat” said one of our team.  I tried to get up but couldn’t, and they had a corner but I could barely get to my knees.  Our sub came on in my place and I was carried around to the back of the goal, tears in my eyes.  The team played out the last remaining minutes and I was carried back to the changing rooms for tea and sympathy.  That night we had a disco in the club and I was hoisted onto a few shoulders, like “Tiny Tim” and lauded for my save of the century.

Meanwhile, in Portsmouth, plans were afoot.  Mark Cameron was working as a bouncer and general dogsbody at a nightclub.  He hated it and was scheming plans and ideas, so I went down to see him and stayed with him and his mum. The club he worked at was Ritzy’s and were went there and to another more dubious club on the seafront, where I succeeded in chatting up and shagging a barmaid, staying at her place, not wanting to upset his mum. 

I travelled back to Norwich satisfied with my weekends work while Mark ruminated on his plans to leave England for distant shores.  Soon he would call and make the offer. Soon he would call and make the offer I could not resist.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Out went Soldier (Me), in came Civilian (Me) - 1985 - 1986

I walked out of the gates of the Royal Engineers Regimental Headquarters in Chatham Kent, as a civilian.  The process of handing in my ID card, Rail Pass and signing the forms releasing me from Military Service had been simple, nothing reflected the actual experiences of the last few years.  I was handed a red folder, my Record of Service, noting that I had been Medically Discharged (my mum told a friend who enquired about me that I had had a Mental Discharge!) and my conduct had been ‘Exemplary’.  Was it? Was I someone the Army was pleased to call one of their own, a soldier who had valiantly defended his country and Queen from all foes? 

True, I could have been posted to Northern Ireland during my last three years service; the Russians could have invaded, storming across the borders stretching from northern German, the Baltic States and down to the Greek borders and the Black Sea in the south.  The mass regiments of Russian T74 tanks, MIG fighters attacking, Russian infantry troops blowing the border defences.  Just as we laid minefields across the German countryside, digging trench after trench for our Infantry to man and repel the attackers. 
Could of happened, but no doubt, given my behaviour whilst posted there, when called upon I would have been in a far more exotic and warm battlefield, as I manoeuvred myself across the sheets into position for a full out attack on the current girl I was seeing, totally unaware, oblivious until the bomb dropped!  I am not an apologist for my behaviour, only a chronicler and as such, write this at a distance.  You make your own mind up as to your own acceptance and attitude towards it (my behaviour that is).

Note the shit signature, I started practising my signature (as an autograph) once i decided i was going to be famous after i left the Army.....what a bighead........and........a twat.

I picked up the Red Book, shook hands with the Officer in Charge and wandered out into the autumn sunshine.  Walking out of the gates as a civilian after all this work to enact my discharge from service, I felt suddenly sad and a lump arose in my throat, I felt alone again, I was leaving a family, one I did not really get on with to be truthful, but still, one with brothers I loved as my own who I hoped to meet again and did do so, but for now, back to Norwich I went, seeking my own family again, where no questions were asked beyond my mother who asked which bedroom I wanted?  The one over the garage or my usual one over the living room, the one I had shared with Julian and Richard as we grew up. 
I chose the on over the Living room, as it was bigger, could accommodate a double bed for any highly anticipated shagging sessions and because I was allowed to paint it any colour I liked.  Mum's agreement to this was to be tested to the extreme as one evening I took a girlfriend to (several) screaming orgasms on the edge of the bed, as mum watched TV in the room below and worried for the strength of the light fitting over her head and I was subjected to a frosty look, no toast and an offer of a thick ear the next morning.
I had a few thousand pounds in the bank and so coasted for weeks as I settled back into Norwich, catching up with my brothers, Julian and Mark and sister Helen.  My brother Richard was in London, with the Met Police, managing the capitals crime wave singlehandedly it seemed and succeeding in acquiring new skills as he tracked through a selection of highly roles, armed response, diplomatic protection, high speed police car driving to mention three and seeking promotion to Police Sergeant and achieving it. 
I have written little of Richard in this Blog to date, probably because he is a private person to some degree, in my view a product of moving away to “the smoke” (London), aged eighteen and staying there, unlike a lightweight such as myself who had to keep popping back home for some reassurance and home cooking.  Richard is an astounding man, someone I look up to, love and cherish, counting myself lucky that he is my brother.   He has succeeded in everything he has set out to do and I look at him in awe and envy.

He was living near Greenwich and I went to see him and his wife Tracey and spent a few nights being entertained to curries, lager, and rugby stories, envying his proximity to London’s nightlife.  He told me it was not all it was cracked up to be, I felt he was missing the trick, with all the glamour on offer, but then I was single, he was married and our world view was different.  I played Rugby with him just once; he had travelled back to Norwich and was asked to turn out for his old team, Lakenham Hewitt Rugby Club and he asked me to run the wing as they were a man short.
Typically, I avoided confrontation on all but the most necessary of occasions in the game and on being told by my opposite number that he would “rip my fucking head off” if I actually got the ball, managed to avoid handling the thing for most of the game and had developed in my head during the first half various scenarios in which I would have been able to hand the ball to him, should I get the chance.  I was not concerned about my back, more my face, as I liked it, as did most of the women I met and hence wanted to retain its looks for as long as possible.

By now, Julian was a full blown, dreadlock wearing hippy/Rastafarian, living in a rundown terrace house, surrounded by ‘bongo drums’ and unnamed individuals who contributed to the organic growth of the house by leaving an array of cannabis seeds in pots, empty Rizzla packets on the floor and beer cans drained of the contents, some of it staining the carpet/rugs.  As you approached his house you could hear Marley, ONU, Floyd, etc, booming from his Wharfedale speakers, drawing you towards the door, which when opened by Jules with a "Hi Man, come in, Tea?", felt overwhelmingly welcoming.  That fact was that he resembled Gary Oldmans character in the film True Romance, (not a pimp!), but in looks, mattered not and a seat was always avilable for "Jonny" as he called me, and offered me a spliff. 
Huge couches, which had no right fitting into the house, provided a home to bodies, cats and pet rats, old school friends visited to get high and flake out in corners of the house.  I would enter gingerly stepping over bodies.  On other occasions the place would be sparklingly clean (still grotty, only the dust had been moved about a bit) but always with a moist smelling fug of pot floating in the air, like a cool brand of air freshener, that had been liberally sprayed about.
I met up again with old family friend’s Doreen and Barry, who has moved to Norfolk not long after we had.  Doreen and mum still went to Benidorm every November for a girly two weeks.  Living at the Diplomat hotel and going to dances in the afternoons, drinking cafe' con leche', or tumblers full of coffee laced with Irish Brandy and smoking long Sobranie Cigarettes, with their colourful paper telling onlookers how sophisticated they were.  Mum also smoked small cigars and 'More' cigarettes, both on holiday and at home should the ‘special’ occasion warrant it.  

When very short on cash, I would raid mums stash of More(s), but only smoke them around the house for fear of being seen with them in hand by anyone outside the house.  Mum knew I nicked them obviously and eventually began secrete packs of Marlboro around the house, hoping I’d leave hers alone.

Fortunately, within a few weeks of being home, I met Doreen’s daughter Sarah-Jane, who was seeing an old school friend of mine, Nigel Bradley or Brad, and so would begin the second phase of my adulthood, the first phase being my Army career (or lack of it!).  This second phase covers the period 1985 through to 1990 and will involve, travel, temptation, sexual conquests, failed romances, becoming a George Michael Lookalike (I have photos, and I am prepared to use them, so there HA!) and emotional turmoil.  Off to do the research now!