Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives

This weeks gallery prompt was friendship. Pop over to Sticky Fingers for all the other great photos and posts on this weeks theme.

There was a time in my past where my friends were the most important aspect of my life, above even family. That period of my life had a massive impact on who I am now.

Let me give you a brief potted history first. At the age of 15 I lived with my mum and step dad. Then, just before my O'level/GCSEs, my mum left and went to live with another bloke (who eventually became my second step dad). My mum was a serial affair-er. By 15 years old I had already lived with my real Dad, then another bloke, then my first step dad. I also had the burden of being the only one aware of my mum's secret 'boyfriends' from aged 7 onwards. At 15 I decided I'd had enough and stayed with my first step dad (living with my real Dad was not an option due to a mutual hatred between my step mum and myself- well that's how I saw it then). I lived with my step dad till I was 21.

There are many clichéd phrases to describe the following 6 years of my life, the most apt would probably be 'going off the rails'. Previously I had played County level football and been predicted A'level grades of AAB. In the end I mustered through 5 GCSEs passes, then I half attended and failed various A'Level and Access courses, next I signed on and then for several years ingested and distributed a various assortment of 'substances'.

Through not living with my mum or dad, my friends ended up replacing my family. Together we developed a close knit group of disaffected youths who supported each other emotionally and materially. To the point where we rejected traditional family gatherings such as Christmas and spent an alternative festive day together instead.

However, when I think back, although I regret some of my actions, I had some of the most amazing times. I honed my skills as the 'official' photographer at the seedy gigs of mates bands, I was a roadie when one had their Peel Session, I spent a week at Castle Morton Common Festival, went to Glastonbury in '92, '93 & '94, watched Oasis in a small room above a pub and sat in a stone circle drumming through dawn till the sun rose. I went inter-railing round Europe, picked mushrooms in Wales, fell in love, fell out of love and off a 15ft roof on my 21st birthday. That was the year I decided to get back on track.

We were starting to drift apart and I sadly haven't stayed in touch since. Some friends went to find their fortunes in London and Liverpool, some decided to go to university, one joined a commune in Cornwall, another got sectioned. This little piggy went via Wolverhampton to Brighton University. Where I eventually met Mrs Domestic Goddess Inc.

My 'family' of friends helped me during my 'lost' years. I would not want it to have been any other way. Due to that period, and the affect of my mothers actions, I learnt a lesson in independence, the importance of fidelity, the value of family and significance of parenthood.

1991 aged 21, dressed for the pub in seventies gear , for no other reason than we wanted to. I'm bottom row second from the left, suede jacket, tie and big collars. That morning I went into the hairdressers with hair past my shoulders, showed them a picture of Brian Jones circa 1966 and asked for it to be cut like his. I like that this photo has a faded brown seventies feel as well. It wasn't a pre-empted effect, just a case of luck, having no flash and low light.

I'm in the middle, mmm, say no more.

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