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I remember when football stickers were hard currency. When my clothes were hand-me-downs and the next door neighbour shaved my hair. I remember when the kissing started beneath the looping branches of the willow. I would come home early only to leave again, with a football, with a friend.
I remember when smoking was cool on the back seats of the top deck of the 282. When breasts had appeared to torment and distract us while adults distant and otherworldly talked about careers. I remember them telling me I had a chip on my shoulder and that we needed to knuckle down. Well we were knuckling down, but not at algebra, or punctuation, but in our bedrooms with filthy magazines and masturbation.
I remember the uniform I was handed after my brief interview, a little badge with my name on. They started me off in the Paint section with the hate-preaching, bankrupt divorcee and his junkie underling. I remember being marched into the office, hands in pockets, after a word of discontent was aimed at a customer. They told me if I didn’t want to be here I could leave, but I had nowhere else to go.
I remember hearing the kick drum, the organ, that angry voice. Once upon a time they had dressed so fine. I remember retreating with a thousand different songs, with pages of words upon words upon words. He loved the shame of depravity; he loved cruelty in a word, a Karamazov.
I remember filling in their application form, writing that personal statement. The letter came in response, acceptance, release, you are free to start again. I remember when the kissing started beneath the rolling strobe lights of the dying indie-disco. Love was soon to follow, I was starting again.