London Bridge Is Falling Down

by Simon

I’ve been looking around myself this past year. So many things have changed as I turned 40, before and after. I’m not looking at the same landscape I was last summer. New arrivals, big changes at work, at home. Friends have left town or are leaving. Other friends are leaving each other.

This week my old primary school burnt down. A huge chunk of my life gone. Probably the last marker of my childhood gone. My old part of town has been knocked down and built up so many times. You don’t expect bricks and mortar and concrete and glass to be so transient.

Anyway I’m sitting here, watching Field Of Dreams, a beautiful film about the past and putting things right, coming to terms with who we are and what we have done. And I’m reminiscing and getting a little blurry.

Lets see, what was there going on back then? What do I think of when I was at Primary School? The summer of 76, too hot to sit out in the playground, everyone sticking to the shade, water from the taps being too hot to drink.

J, (like a Lloyd Cole song most of the important women through the ages have been inital J…)who was in the same class as me throughout. Looking back over old photos she was a pretty little thing but she grew up to look like her mother. Who looked like a potato.

D, my best friend at primary school, whose surname was the same as the first name of my best friend at secondary school. One day I went to knock for him and the flat was empty. He had moved and hadn’t told me it was happening.

Monkey, with one of the best theme tunes ever, the talk of the playground the monday after.

Another D, the school nutter, from a family of nutters. Who for some reason always liked me so I never felt the terror of his presence like some people did. He looked like Paul Weller, which put me off The Jam for a long while. He ended up in prison and came out a preacher.

O, who had a huge crush on me and whose brother was in one of the Guy Ritchie movies years later.

The Dump, the site of a demolished Victorian tenement, where my little gang congregated on weekends, having wars and reading our treasure trove, a stack of porn that somebody had stolen from a nearby newsagent and thrown over the corrugated iron fence of the Dump to pick up later. A stack that we arrived one Sunday morning to find burning.

And Star Wars. Batman (parka hood up, buttoned at the neck). Spiderman. Never being chosen for football. Playing kiss chase one last time on the last day of school. Getting a slap around the face from J because I finally kissed her.

And then there’s my mum, bringing my sister and me up single handed, with all the things that brought, including my inclusion into the free school meals gang. Getting called a tramp was a quick way for the person doing the name calling to get a punch in the face…

London Bridge is falling down but they’ll keep building a new one in it’s place.

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