Roses in December

'God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.'

- JM Barrie

I’m staying in Fleet at the moment. Fleet is in Hampshire. According to Wikipedia, only this year Fleet was voted ‘Best Town in England’. Unfortunately, this is wholly uncorroborated and if I may speak frankly, I question its veracity.

Anyway, I’m staying with my sister and her family here in Fleet, which is – don’t get me wrong – a fine town.

Two days ago I took a large box of family photographs and made it into four small boxes of family photographs for ease of transportation to the loft. Towards the end of the task I discovered, at the very bottom of the large box, a cutting from the Sunderland Echo. Although I hadn’t seen it for over 30 years, I recognised it instantly.

Looking at it again brings back mixed feelings. I distinctly remember the shame I felt both at the time of the photograph being taken, and later when it was published in the local paper. I remember Stanley Lock (who really had no right to ridicule anyone) whooping with laughter and calling me ‘Pug’ because of my admittedly ludicrous, utterly embarrassed facial expression (which time has sadly faded to much of a mush).

What I don’t remember – because it would never have occurred to me at the time – is the hilarity of the headline.

I like to imagine that the sub-editors at the Sunderland Echo were amusing themselves, but looking at the rest of the article, I suspect that level of wit was probably beyond them. ‘Hlep’ indeed.

But dear God, just look at Judith Emmerson. She’s the one handing over the cheque. Judith was like the complete opposite of me in school. I’m pretty sure she moved to our school late, and I remember her sitting next to me, applying lip balm and telling me she had to keep her lips soft, for kissing. She wasn’t flirting of course. She was tormenting me. And just look at her in this photograph, ten years’ old and the camera already loves her. I wonder what became of her.

Later in our school careers, Stephen Renney went out with Angela Robson. I had a crush on Angela Robson and I watched with growing bewilderment and burgeoning yearning as Stephen Renney showered her with gifts and then Angela Robson dumped him – cruelly. One day, I thought, one day I will be dumped cruelly by a woman with whom I’m wholly besotted and it will be wonderful.

And I was.

And it wasn’t.

Well, in a way I suppose it was. Just not at the time.

Anyhow, last night I was finally getting round to setting up a new Flickr account when I found an old one, and saw some pictures I hadn’t seen in a long time. They are rather embarrassing, so I thought I would share them with you.

Yes, I am wearing sunglasses, weight-lifter’s gloves, a tracksuit top and a tie. Why? Well, I’m not 100% sure but I think I may have been on drugs. I fucking hope so anyway.

This was after a night in a theatre bar where I found a hat. This is me trying on said hat and pulling a face which – until that moment – I had no idea I could pull. I suspect the hat brought out the face. That night, interestingly, I had a one-night stand with a woman who would not take off her top. Life is ceaselessly bewildering.

This is me about to attack a pensive man with a lady’s dumbbell and a tiny globe. Obviously.

This is me playing fetch with my mate’s kid, whose hand is there in shot. I’m sharing these pictures with you because I love you. I hope you appreciate it.

This is the same night as the terrifying chin-up. Oh come on. Who amongst us can say that we haven’t got a bit wrecked, dressed up as our favourite Village Person and posed for weird photographs. I particularly like the glasses atop my hard hat. Nice touch.

Sorry, no. I have no idea.

And finally, my sister’s family includes a cat named Jazz. Jazz is a very affectionate cat with a mighty purr, like a Lotus Elan at the lights. But I think he might be schizophrenic. He keeps communicating with me telepathically, suggesting I do all kinds of unhinged stuff. That’s not normal, is it? Plus he looks at me funny. He has a tooth missing. Here he is about to make my head explode…

Here we are in a Hitchcock movie – I am overacting, he is purrfect…

Here he is doing Elvis…

And that’s your lot. So. Are we having fun yet? Of course we are.


About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you'll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven't already.

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