For some reason the train had terminated at Woking and we had to change to get to London, it was a wet Friday evening in early November. We brought some warm lager from the newsagent outside and sat about waiting for a train, happily contemplating what we where going to do with the weekend.
The little gathering was heading all over the country; Mike Hughes was going back to Leicester, Ross Abbott to Milton Keynes, Dave Maddocks all the way to Manchester with Danny Hall tagging along for the weekend.
I pointed out the next train was five minutes away but Mike, Dave and Ross said that there was a faster one afterwards that would get to Waterloo quicker. They’d asked one of the British Rail guys while Danny and me where getting the warm lager. I was having absolutely none of it and insisted that we get the next train, thinking that the bloke who worked this station every day of his life must be mistaken.
I new best.
The first train arrived and I begged everyone to get on, my persuasion quickly turning into abuse and mockery. Losers, fools, so long you bunch of dickheads. As the train moved out of earshot I was hanging out of the swing door window, laughing and sticking my fingers up like Rick from the Young Ones, up and down movement from the wrist. Mike Hughes stood on the platform with his feet shoulder width apart, leaning back slightly with his arms folded he slowly shook his head. He was wearing a lemon coloured jumper tucked into a pair of ripped jeans, around one knee was a red spotted handkerchief and on his clumpy shoes where Grolsh bottle tops, it was still the eighties. The others argued amongst themselves about what train would be quickest, Manchester was a long way and every minute counted.
I sat down to enjoy being right, they would be having a load of this on Monday morning you’d better believe it.
I laughed out loud.
Gazing out of the train window was something I’d gotten in the habit of, and it wasn’t long before I became hypnotised by the suburban landscape moving past across the tracks. Soon I became aware of something moving into my peripheral vision on the tracks next to me, my heart sank as I quickly realised the scale of my calamitous mistake.
Please no. Please. No.
My worst fears where confirmed as the yellow fronted locomotive slowly but surely started to overtake, the inevitable wouldn’t be long and as soon as the others realised what was happening they would start working themselves into a frenzy of excitement. I considered hiding, but that would be a poor show and ungraceful in denying them their moment of glory.
I faced forward trying to ignore the train slowly moving past, after what seemed like ages I could see them out of the corner of my eye banging desperately on their window like there was no tomorrow, out of my lonely carriage through the darkness into theirs. I turned to face them and ignited what can only be described as a volcanic explosion of laughter; they were simply rolling around on their seats like it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen. Mike Hughes was so overcome with joy that he was stood up doing a dance, holding his can aloft like a trophy spilling the contents over the others, a proper little party. Danny Hall doubled up, eyes closed and shaking his head in disbelief. He was wearing a suit with heavily pleated trousers, the double-breasted jacket was cropped to the waist with a paisley shirt underneath and the effect was topped off with a pair of cowboy boot shoes.
With the trains moving apart one of the lasting images was the sight of Dave Maddocks with tears on his cheeks, smiling, giving the thumbs up.
As I looked at their faces it dawned on me that although like me, individually they might have had faults, they were some of the finest people I’d ever met. Even if I could have done so I wouldn’t have changed that moment of unbridled joy for anything, the lasting memory of young men with the world at their feet laughing uncontrollably still makes me happy.
To this day it remains one of my fondest memories.