My head’s in a quare place today.
Back in my school days I had one great pal.
Johnny and myself were all but inseparable. After school we would cycle the couple of miles to Johnny’s place. It was a grand mansion of a place with a field beside it and a river. At the rear of the house there was a basement entrance and the basement was our domain. Our routine was to call into the local shop near the school and buy a couple of cigarettes which we would bring back to Johnny’s and later smoke with great solemnity. That was actually my first introduction to smoking [even though my father smoked like a chimney].
Johnny was a bit of a messer. I remember once he made a pipe bomb. This was the full works – a short length of pipe packed with weedkiller and sugar and then sealed at both ends. He set it off in a culvert in the field. It was spectacular! It was loud enough to have the place crawling with Guards looking for the source of the explosion.
Another favorite pastime was to walk up to the local garage and get a jerrycan of petrol we would then put in Johnny’s car. This was an old banger he kept in the field [it certainly wasn’t roadworthy] and we’d drive around the field doing handbrake turns and putting yet more dents in the bodywork.
There is a legacy of my friendship with Johnny in all the scars I carry to this day.
After we left school I lost touch with Johnny. I met him just once by accident. He recognised me but I didn’t recognise him. I had been one of the tallest in the class and he had been the shortest. Apparently however he put on a massive growth spurt in his latter teens and was nearly as tall as me.
I never saw him again. Once or twice I looked through the Interwebs to see if he had left his mark anywhere. Unfortunately he shared a name with a trumpeter and the latter just filled my search results. Johnny had vanished into obscurity.
For no particular reason I did a search last night. I found him. It seems he was still living in that mansion though the field had been built on. I wonder what happened to the car. Sadly the result of my search had brought me to RIP.ie. He died in 2021, leaving a wife, three kids and several grandkids.
There was always a chance that if I had found him that I might have given him a call. It would have been fun comparing notes. That chance is now gone forever.
Rest in peace, Johnny.
Sadly, we’re at that time of our lives when we have to say goodbye to our friends, and eventually, but hopefully not too soon, those that are left have to say goodbye to us.
I’m thinking of having a pre-wake so my vast number 😉 of friends and relatives can say all the nice things about me while I’m still around to appreciate them.
The weird thing is that I have seen both parents and a grandson off so I’m no stranger to death, both old and young, yet for some reason this one hit me hard even though I hadn’t seen him in over half a century.