First Of The Ninth

Nobody ever asked us how we felt….. just a crack and a smack of that leather belt….. ‘you’re going nowhere son, you’re a waste of space’ from that blood red blood pressured horrible fuckin’ face…and that place…… that place……..

Was where we first met when our Mams got off
And left us in a room where we cried
The first thing we said was….. ‘can we go home?’
It was first of the ninth nineteen seventy five
It was the first day of the next twelve years
And we really didn’t think we’d get through
And if we take off the time you’d spend in borstal
It’d be nine and half years for you.
The first few weeks were positively ‘orrible
Learning to adjust to regimes
A shock to the system a smack round the face
Consumed by hordes of unperceived screams
Our teacher looked like Lindsay Wagner
And the caretaker dressed like The Fonz
There was jigsaws and games and plastic toy trains
They weren’t Hornby…. just wooden push along ones
Progressing to carving our names on the desk
And laughing at my Timpsons two stripe
We both took a board rubber to the side of the head
But we just thought all that was alright
We both knew that was just the way it was
We didn’t whinge tell tales or complain
None of it was any different for any other kid
On the estate from where we came
With fingers for ever shoved against lips
And sums that just sent us insane
Lines of ‘I will behave and not be disruptive’
Wrote down….. and repeated…. again and again
And again to the point where it drove us mental
Drove us to the point of despair
But I soldiered on always toeing the line
I had to, you didn’t, ……..you thought nobody cared
As boys we were thrust into sudden adolescence
And your antics never failed to impress
But each year that passed and each different class
Your presence became less and less.
Them teachers wouldn’t talk about where you were
Or why you weren’t sat by my side
It was all just as though you’d never existed
Or almost as if you had died.

Fast forward and on to the Secondary Modern
It was the first of the ninth eighty two
Your Mam had you go to the Catholic School
Something to do with a….. probation review
So I found my way and you found yours
Though yours weren’t where I wanted to be
We’d meet once or twice and just compare trainers
I’d hear about your battles at half past three
I heard about the bank the shop and the garage
I heard about you sleeping in your Grans garden shed
Strange how the stories just can’t wait to find ya
And just like at Primary I’d just shake my head
See at Primary i thought it was me and you forever
Me and you against the world and all that
But two paths that were bowed met a fork in the road
And that’s where we left everything we once laughed at
But you didn’t last very long with the Catholics
Or more the Catholics didn’t last long with you
They didn’t take too kindly to pupils in class
Sitting at the back with a bag full of glue
Switch to a beautiful warm sunny morning
On the first of the ninth eighty four
The governers sighed and the P.T.A cried
As your simian walk brought you through the door
Right by my side was the chair i’d kept empty
At the start of each tedious term i’d beguile
You clocked it was a free…… then sat down beside me
With a nod.. and a wink…. and wry smile
See now your smile could open the securest of doors
And your charm would have ’em walk you right through
Your affable chatter and blag ladened patter
Had all the girls standing there in awe of you
You were lost in translation battered and bruised
So popular……… yet so very alone
You were the ‘education systems Modus Vivendi’
But for me that was your one and only chance to atone
But you wouldn’t have it you were off on your toes
You didn’t even last a day
The chair to my side stayed tucked under table
And the days lost their names and the time slipped away

You were tarred with all blame bestowed a bad name
Some would say a crook……… a bad penny
But the fact was well known that you never robbed your own
You’d rob from the few and give to the many
The pensioners loved you at their christmas party
For the Sherry they drank and the food that they ate
I’m not  saying you were some kind of hero
You were stupid and foolish but your were my best mate
Your Mam told my Mam you were on a YTS
And I heard you’d only lasted four days
I heard the foreman said dig and you said ‘what for 27 quid?’
Then you chased him round the site with the spade.
Adidas Dublin Munchen Barrington Squash
Trimm Trabb and Forest Hills
You had ’em all and more besides
Long before those horrible pills
Long before those warehouse parties
In Blackburn Colne and Monroes
Way before the techno and acid all nighters
That crack and that smack and that shit up your nose
This beautiful kid so cool so and so clever
Wrapped in an erratic and nebulous world
A world so obscure those inside don’t even know it
Rolled up shoved away with no chance to unfurl
Then the light that burned so bright all those years
Simply couldn’t burn anymore…………………
You danced …your last dance…. with a rope….. from a branch
It was the first of the ninth nineteen ninety four
It was the first day of the rest of our lives
We’d have to spend without you
I’d sit and ponder the heavenly kingdom
Where hopefully you had arrived and checked into
Maybe you were organising pensioners parties
And smoking your fags with a piping hot brew
But then i don’t believe in celestial bliss
And come to think of it neither did you
Grey clouds gave way to rays of sunshine
As the commital proceedings progressed
We watched as your Mam fell to her knees
On the day this world finally laid you to rest
And I think of you in my moments of silence
The mad times the good times the memories instill
I believe you never ever stop loving someone
You either never did or you always will.

© words escape me 2012

from Eastender Archive

About JB Barrington

The words & verse of JB Barrington; performance poet from Salford. Lovely stuff, touches heart strings and the odd raw nerve - Johnny Vegas Great poems; great delivery - Terry Christian A warm charm, a rapier wit and a real appreciation of words - Louder Than War
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