Cycling through the rain yesterday morning I saw a whole load of children in school uniform walking down the street, some languidly, some upbeat, some in sibling troupes, some chaperoned by parents, some in the company of just themselves. I couldn’t figure out why I was paying them attention, and realised it was because there hadn’t been any for what felt like ages. Casting his mind back to the early 90s Einstein does some maths and makes the connection. This must be the first day of term then.
Back to school yo.
I was like sheeeeeeeeed.
Remember what it was like going back to school after the life-time of summer holidays. It was a huge deal. The self-importance of being in a new year, itself with a new name. You couldn’t be the same cat. You had to have a new flex. Who had the new football boots. Who had the new haircut. Who had the new Sony walkman.
The assembly hall lined with newbies, scared shitless first-years styling out an alien universe you felt sorry for, but made feel even smaller because that’s what the older ones did to you back in the day, and now it was your turn. Which kid had broken his arm and was in a cast. Which kid had changed schools and wasn’t coming back. Which kid sat there, cross-legged, looking like a ghost, as the headmaster announced during the holidays his little sister had died of leukaemia.
Recently I got an old passport photo blown-up and framed and stuck it on my bathroom wall.
My thinking was if that little guy was looking down on me every time I reached for the Colgate, it would be a positive influence on my day to day. I don’t want to let that little guy down. Look at his innocent expression. He’s a good little guy. He used to burst into tears if he got in trouble, he used to share his chips in the canteen. He was brave, he had a big heart. He deserves good things.
The theory is working semi-well. When I’m in a bad mood I look up at him between gargles of Listerene and tell him to stop gazing moronically back at me, so wide-eyed and expectant. Quit piling on the pressure kid. It’s harder than it looks. But the missing piece of the jigsaw, the thing I really need, is one of those phone apps to render a photo of me and what i’m going to look like when i’m 75, if I ever make it that far. If I frame old man Domingo on the other side of the mirror, on his rocking chair, styling it out in his cardigan, I can have him looking down on me too. A life-time apart, they’ll have one thing in common.
They’ll both be saying don’t fuck this up for me.
But old man D will have edited the refrain slightly.
Calm down, I think he’ll be saying. It’s easier than it looks.