I’ve previously mentioned how shy I was as a kid. However, when it came to my latter teen years, which tied in with the time when I started my A-Levels, I started to spread my wings and push a few boundaries.
It was nothing too sinister, just that I wanted to go to an all night party. Who wouldn’t when you’re sixteen and realising there’s more to life than school?
Of course, I knew that I wouldn’t be allowed so I made an excuse and said I was staying at my friends Sally’s house. She did the same – said she was staying at mine.
That was the start of the loose thread that unravelled quite dramatically.
All was going well. We managed to meet on The Avenue after telling our parents we were making our own way to each others house. We convinced the ‘offy’ to sell us some booze and then we rocked up at the party all nonchalant and cool. There were lots of people from the two A Level years from our school as well as our rival school but we mostly were all friends and got along.
The clincher for the evening was when the party hosts parents returned home unexpectedly and kicked us all out.
Therein lay the problem. It was only 11pm, and we had nowhere to go.
So we did what any cocky, confident teen did. We wandered the streets with our cans of cider. At this point it was not just me and Sally, it was our little gang roaming the streets – fast friends who would stay friends forever. There was also a boy named Tom from the rival school that I hadn’t met before but he knew our friend Dave. Wandering the streets turned into the embankment by the River Trent, and that then turned into the Victoria Gardens.
Drinking, smoking weed and passing the time away. It was all quite fun until about 2am when it got really cold. We then somehow managed to break into the Rowing Club – I’m sure one of us had a key, or at least knew where it was kept so we weren’t that delinquent. But it all seemed rather cloak and dagger and we spent about an hour in there trying to warm up.
By about 3am everyone else was giving up and going home. I can’t remember what excuses they had provided their parents, but it didn’t seem a problem for them to roll in at the time they did. Sally and I however, were still in a predicament.
Tom very kindly offered to let us stay at his house, but he did say he had LOTS of family staying at the time, so there probably wasn’t much room other than the hallway.
And so the hallway it was. Sally and I made our bed there, lying in the hallway for a couple of hours. It was bliss after trying to keep warm in the dank, cold rowing club.
At the break of day I can hardly remember what Tom’s parents made of us, but Sally and I got ourselves out the door pronto. We wandered back to her house with the intention of saying farewell and me continuing on to my house, but just as we were nearing home, we saw Sally’s parents returning home in the car.
They didn’t see us and we weren’t slightly concerned as to where they had been. I said my goodbyes and continued home. You know what happens next. Yes, when I returned home I got more than an earful. Sally’s parents had gone to pick her up. There were the lost look in both parents eyes as they both had said to each other, ‘but she said she was staying at your house’!
I got grounded. I can’t remember for how long but the memory of how much trouble I was in is still talked about today. It’s one of those stories that came out at my wedding, and it’s one of those stories that always comes up at the end of a night of drinking with ‘the gang’.
My Nottingham Gang are a special bunch. We’ve been through a lot over the years, but even though we live in various parts of the world, we always gravitate back to Nottingham every now and then to reunite. I’m so grateful to have that gang in my life, because that is what true friendship is – not speaking to one another for years, and then when we get to gather, it’s like we’ve never been apart. And we couldn’t have been that delinquent to come out the other end of it all, still friends!