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How music almost ruined my life

Elliot. Horrible little fool with snot his dominant facial feature. Always running a hand up to his running nose. Snot, that is, when it wasn't blood, and kid fists were always banging on that kid's snout. Surname of Parsons, getting dropped off and picked up by stern pater in the thirty year old family saloon. Coffin-brown.

Always late, Elliot, always arriving three minutes into us in lines being bleated at by cheap suits.

"Stand there", a suit would order.

And Elliot would stand staring at his shoes, staring at the mucus dripping on his shoes. And then he'd be caned, for constantly being late. Not that it was his fault, but it wasn't our fault either, and we'd have to stand around at break and laugh as some slab of kid-beef would kick and punch master Parsons into a ball of snot and blood. And then he'd arrive at class in a state, for a reprimanding from a suit and then go home in a state for a reprimanding from pater, and more than likely a whipping. With a long, thin belt would have been my guess. Or perhaps with an instrument made specifically for the task, a flat piece of sanded wood with enough handle room for both hands. Conjecture, fantasy, let it not lead us away from the story.

"Why are you watching the same movie again?" my mother would ask.

"It is my favourite," I would reply and turn the volume up. Something starring Tom Berenger and Sidney Poitier. I cannot remember the name, and I cannot remember if I ever thought of wee Elliot when I was not at school. Probably not. I once got a magnifying glass as a birthday present which I used not at all. The part of my brain reserved for thinking about Elliot when I was not at school I used not at all.

I saw him out once at a shopping centre, gave him the ignore. Which left me feeling slightly uneasy. But I had to buy Shoot magazine, three months old, which contained fascinating insights into English footballers' hobbies, such as golf, and wildlife documentary watching.

One day they came to take Elliot away. They arrived mid-class, suits from the special school. He didn't want to go, looked forlornly at the ponytailed girl next to him. She ignored. He never came back. The beef-kids needed someone else to beat up then. They looked at bespectacled-Peter, they eyeballed fat-Wayne, and cast a brief eye over myself. But they started smoking and drinking, and forgot about fighting and thought about Kylie. The Locomotion arrived too late for Elliot.

On the 6 December 1989 I cycled with skinny legs to the shops. Shops are exciting when you are twelve. Especially if you wear a large jacket and stuff banana chocolates up the sleeves. Summer is as summer does and beat a fierce sun down on a kidly brow. "I wonder if I could ever whip some bad-guy-ass like Steven Segal does," I thought. Cycling and thinking such thoughts can be dangerous. From nowhere sped a mighty Musica van with me in the middle of the road. Dithering, wavering, hesitant, I panicked. My stomach went jelly, Musica blasted out angry bleats and shaved skinny legs. Still alive, but almost dead, because of music. But I still enjoyed Roxette's first album and knew all the words. I wasn't about to blame the entire music industry for a near-accident, which may, or may not have been partly my own doing.

Elliot is probably married with kids now. Or perhaps he is getting raped in jail. Who knows. Who cares? His mother? No, she died when he was five.

The End

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