The year is 1991, and I am sitting in the manager’s office of Ramsgate’s old Pleasurama arcade, accused of trying to steal cars in the car park. My best friend, Russ, is sitting beside me: he’s accused, too. We have been in the office, waiting for the police to arrive, for around twenty minutes….but it feels like we’ve been there for hours.
Dominating the Ramsgate skyline, the Granville Hotel is now a (mostly) restored and beautifully unusual landmark. To those of us who grew up in the 80s, however, it will always be that half collapsed old ruin with Dracula’s Castle rising out of the end, sticking one MASSIVE middle finger up at the sky. I’m serious, back in the 80s, the rumours were strong: there were things in the basement at the Granville that would snatch you out of the dark and wicked old ladies in the tower offering you tea and biscuits before hitting you over the head with a twenty pound lump-hammer.
When I was growing up, I had a lot of ‘Uncles’. Now, I’m not saying my mum slept around: she didn’t (as far as I know), but our house was always full of people who liked to drink….often at the expense of a new suit. I’m not blaming them: I like to drink, too….but I tend to stop if I begin to fill my trousers before I can get to the toilet.
“Ah, young Mr Stone – do come in.”
“You look good.”
“Thanks! I feel great!”
“Indeed. Do take a seat. Now….um…..your mother tells me you’ve lost six stone in two months?”
‘Anyone can play the drum: you just hit it.’ This seemed like a really stupid argument, especially if you were talking about a drummer in a band….but the guy in question was talking about ME and the band in question was the 1st Ramsgate Boys Brigade.
The regression therapist leans across the couch, looks at me and says: ‘So let me get this straight, David, you’re ten years old and there’s this girl you really like…but she doesn’t like you because you don’t have the right BMX bike.’
‘Okay….so, despite the fact that you were – by your own admission – awkward, didn’t like making eye contact, regularly ran away from girls, often wet yourself at school and occasionally even fainted in front of them, it was definitely the BIKE she didn’t like.’
I glare at him. ‘Are you saying it WASN’T the bike?’
If I had to pick a single image, logo or icon to represent me, I’m pretty sure that it would end up being this one!
My worst school memory was the day I first felt really different to other kids. The teacher asked a question that probably wouldn’t be asked these days: she asked what everyone’s dad did for a living. I didn’t have a dad but not everyone in the class knew that and so, as the answers were given and it came closer and closer to my turn, I got more and more anxious about whether or not to lie and just say he was a fireman or a policeman or something the other kids would be impressed by. In fact, I needn’t have worried: I wet myself before my turn – probably out of sheer panic – so I ended up embarrassed for a completely different reason.