I never expected the night to turn out like this.
It's not something you expect when you start off going out for a 'quiet drink' before a big day. You don't think you'll end up arm wrestling anyone, and certainly not someone who you don't actually know.
But this is how I found myself at the end of the night, arm to arm, locked in combat, with a student. A large student at that.
And I'm really not the arm-wrestling type.
I was in Brighton, I was on the planning team of the works summer away day, and I went with the event organiser, another man named Chris.
We agreed on a quiet drink before going back to our rooms to prepare for the next day.
But the plan had changed. Drinks had been drunk, and shots had been consumed.
I stepped out of the toilets and heard Chris, the other Chris, say "He'll do it!" pointing my way.
I looked over and Chris, who was sitting down, looking far too unaffected by the levels of drinks that had been consumed.
We stood side by side at the edge of the platform, both taking our places near the yellow lines signifying the edge. I hoped and prayed that today I would be the lucky one, that I would be in the correct place when the train stopped and doors opened so that I could grab that perennial last seat in the carriage. I had already taken my place so knew I couldn't change position again. You can't just change platform position once you have picked your spot, not without making the people next to you think you are quite strange, and knowing you were preparing yourself tactically, not just by chance like we all pretend. The only way to change your platform position is to do that thing where you pretend to take a few steps back to look at trains arrivals board again, then start all over again and take a new position, apparently oblivious to the fact you were standing somewhere else a few seconds earlier. The morning commute is full of these kinds of pitfalls and silent secret plans. On tha…
I’ve had many nicknames over the
years, Pringle, Poodle, Pricey, but this is the story of my first nickname, and
how it would come to affect me one day later in life when I least expected it. So where shall I begin? When I was young we lived in a small
quiet cul-de-sac. At the end of the road was a tiny
patch of grass, it wasn't a park, there were no swings or slides, and was about
the size of a small school football pitch, which was exactly the boys around my
age used it for. The older kids I had been playing
with moved away, which left me playing on my own, kicking the ball repeatedly
against the wall, like a small footballing Steve McQueen. Then one day another boy appeared who lived in the next Street. He was about the same age as me, ten, and was called Mark, he asked to join in, as you did at that age, and I said yes
okay then, as you also did at that age. We played for a few
hours. And then again the next week. And the week after that. And so it continued. We usually played…