Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Meaning of Life - Time After Time

You will be pleased to know that this is the last post in the current series mirroring Karl Pilkington’s “The Moaning of Life”.

I think that this post needs a soundtrack – so here’s a good song to listen to while reading it.

Three weeks ago, I had a university reunion in Liverpool, the first one for twelve years and this included a man I hadn’t seen since leaving university in 1984, over thirty years ago.

Initially it was a surreal experience, seeing a bunch of blokes that I had been so close to. When I first met these guys I was 19 years old and, being young men, we were all desperate to make our mark on the world with a cocktail of alcohol, stupidity and a general sense of indestructibility that meant we were willing to do anything.

Of course, by the end of university we had matured slightly and were more prepared for life.

The problem is that when we all got together between 1981 and 1984, we did all of the stupid things that young men do.

Fast forward to a cold and rainy lunchtime November in 2015 at Lime Street Railway station in Liverpool.

I arrived first on a local train from Manchester and clutching a steaming coffee, I awaited the intercity train from London. Two of the guys got off the train and I recognised them immediately, a little greyer and a little chubbier but still the same guys I knew so well. I’ll call them Sam and Colin (to protect the guilty!).

We were expecting two more later, one from Birmingham and one from Liverpool  - this was the guy I hadn’t seen for over thirty years. I’ll call them Oscar and Andy (again to protect the guilty!).

Sam, Colin and I decided to be tourists and explore the city. I have been back to Liverpool often; after all it is only about 35 miles from Manchester. Sam married a Scouser (person from Liverpool) and he came back fairly regularly to visit family.

Colin had not been back to Liverpool since he left in 1984.

Oscar turned up an hour later. He had lost his hair completely apart from some grey bits at the sides. We didn't mention it.

The four of us spent the afternoon visiting the Tate museum, to avoid the heavy rain before having an afternoon snack in a coffee shop where we chatting about what we had all been up to, including, jobs, family, kids etc. over cups of coffee and tea. It was all very sophisticated.

We checked into our hotel and, as I was unpacking and freshening up for a mice meal, I was struck by one thing. Thirty years ago we were like rampant animals making fools of ourselves and acting as if we were indestructible.

Now, the four of us were talking about careers and kids, visiting museums and being totally sensible.

I felt a little sad; it was almost like being out with their dads.

Shortly afterwards, Andy rang and we arranged to meet him in a city centre pub that we had frequented as students.

It was still there and hadn't disappeared like a lot of the pubs from that time.

Andy turned up and he too hadn’t changed. It was really strange chatting to a guy I hadn’t seen for so long.

I looked at my watch as I supped that first beer. The time was six o’clock.

And this was the point that the sensibility disappeared.

“One more?” 

“Yeah – one more!”

Before I knew it, the alcohol had woken something up inside of all of us. We were sensible enough to find a restaurant but that’s about it. The rest of the evening descended into party time as five middle aged men wandered around the city centre, refuelling on beer, and becoming more and more boisterous. As more alcohol was imbibed, the years were stripped away and we became five young men again.  The dads were gone and my mates from the early 1980's were back.

I loved every second of it.

Tales of old were told and we guffawed like teenagers as we recalled the scrapes we got into all those years ago. Oscar's lack of hair was the main topic of raucous conversation for about twenty minutes. Don't worry - he gave as good as he got.

Thankfully, our ageing bodies protested enough to keep us in check – or at least I thought they had. We had wobbled out of the famous Cavern Club, where the Beatles used to entertain the Liverpool crowds, and into an Irish bar and somehow found a table where we could sit down. Before long, a barman came over and told us that the pub was closing. I checked my watch.

“It’s three in morning!” I yelled, although I think the words came out as “Ish three clocksh!”

We staggered back to the hotel and again I was saved by my body urging me to quaff as much water as my stomach could take before going to bed.

The next morning, we met for a late breakfast and, all a little fragile, made a pact to do exactly the same next year.

The whole episode made me think about time.

Although our bodies age around us, the deep inner core of our being remains. As we get older, our outlook on life changes but deep down inside all of us, the young person who wanted to unleash himself on the world, with a seemingly unlimited amount of energy, who existed all those years ago is still there.

The fire of my youth is definitely still  present under the sensible old git that I have become – and I’m delighted about that.

I can find him and I intend to take him out every so often for a breath of fresh air (though perhaps next time I will avoid using alcohol as the transport mechanism).

We can’t win the war against time – but we can win the odd battle - and have massive fun with our small victories.

How about you, dear reader?

Is there a young version of you hiding inside you?

Can you find him or her?

If so, how do you do it?


Grace said...

Despite time, gravity and the vicissitudes of life, I am always, and only, six years old.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Grace,

Good for you.

So am I.




Pandora Behr said...

I had my 30th high school reunion a few weeks ago - and it was quite scary. That I wasn't dead, a grandparent or had been in prison was a good thing. I have people I do stuff like that with when we meet up - great, innit.
Wonderful post.


Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

I was never asked anything like that.





River said...

A fabulous reunion!
There is most definitely a younger version of myself hiding inside, and not hidden too deeply either. In spite of jobs, marriages, kids, I've never really grown up. I have grown more sensible, but that's it.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Same here - I'm sensible too, although it is quite easy to shed it in favour of the young idiot inside.