Past, present and future. I preferred philosophical counting to fractions. You could think “Now!” and watch time recede into the past. Now! and it’s in the past again. One Tuesday, after watching an episode of The Way We Used To Live on the school telly, we discussed history and the passing of time.
“This is a day that will go down in history,” said Mr Richie. “It’s not just some old stuff about kings and queens. History is being made right now!”, he said.
The emphasis on the last word startled a dozy pupil or two. A lot of now!s have faded away on a hazy shifting timeline but that now! grabbed my attention like no other. Richie asked if we knew who had been shot dead that morning. I had no idea. The next question was, which pop group was he a member of? I guessed it must be one of the Beatles, especially since Richie was a fan. I only knew that their names were John Paul, George and Ringo. So I guessed it was John Paul.
Assassinations or at least attempts, were becoming all the rage. It seemed that the makers of Dallas, with their Who Shot JR Ewing? cliffhanger, had inspired a lot of real life nutters. Now! President Reagan. Now! The Pope (the actual John Paul)…
But in the run up to Christmas 1980, I discovered that Mr Richie was on to something and gave my seal of approval to The Beatles. Mam got her old singles collection out. (It’s still up here in the loft.) It was the films that won me over: watching the Fab Four skiing down the mountain in Help! or Ringo’s solitary walk by the river in Hard Day’s Night.
The only time I went to church was the annual school visit to Saint Ninians. I stood next to Willie in one of the pews with small rose-coloured hymn books on them. Willie knew the ropes. So I could just leave it to his experienced choral voice and lip-sync along with The Lord’s My Shepherd and All Things Bright and Beautiful. It was hard to stay remotely serious with Martin standing there, his mouth agape, making fun of spastics like Joey Deakin.
At the Christmas assembly, Imagine and The Long and Winding Road were played in tribute. The minister asked us to think of others who would not see this Christmas. Some of the names I recognised were Joy Adamson, Alfred Hitchcock, Tex Avery, Peter Sellars (aka The Pink Panther), Steve McQueen and the Shah of Iran. Amen.
Excerpt from Countries of the World ©2011 Steven Porter