We had finally finished the third year and we were about to be off for the summer.
Except for Colomendy, the third year of junior school was pretty good.
Peter Gribbon was a nice teacher and although football-mad he wanted to get the best from you.
He lost his temper a couple of times but it was never without good reason or it was that someone was genuinely not trying.
He would lose his rag over that but as long as you played the game he would introduce new ways for us to learn.
Just before we broke up for Summer Terry and Nicky who I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs were having their famous once-a-year grand national party.
There was always plenty of food and a lot of other kids to play with so I was excited to go.
The day was a usual success and for most of the day, mum was talking to a guy in a suit with a beard called Gordon.
He was nice to me and he and mum were getting along so well.
They ended up exchanging numbers with a view to going on a date.
They both seemed to be enjoying each other’s company and mum had been single since the horror story that happened between her and Lenny which was spoken about in earlier blogs.
I remember Gordon was very drunk that day but not in a slurring your words type of way more a happy way and it was a party so no red flags were raised with me or mum.
They started dating and it seemed to be going very well and Gorden was around at our house more and more.
Gordon was always lovely to me and we got on well.
He had a daughter who was about 6 years older than me called Vicky.
Gordon had just been through a messy breakup and he was back living in his mums and his partner had got the house and Vicky lived there so it made more sense for him to leave.
He was always in a suit and a tie so I’m assuming that he had a good job. I know he had no problem paying his way or for days out but looking back even on days out he still had on suit pants and a shirt.
Gordon was nice to everyone and very respectable but unfortunately was carrying a secret with him. He hid it well at first but he was a raging alcoholic.
I admit I saw him in some serious states but he was never an angry drunk he was just a stupid drunk who couldn’t speak properly.
In hindsight, I was shown a huge red flag one day when I went with him so he could meet his daughter Vicky.
He looked a lot like 80s actor John Ritter pictured below and as nice as he was I could never understand why he had a full beard.
This made him look a lot older as he was grey as well.
We met Vicky in Walton where Vicky was living and it was a nice day so we all went to the park together.
I remember before going into the park Gordon going into the off-license and buying me a can of coke and Vicky and him a can of lager each.
It was a smart move on his part as she was very young and impressionable (about 16) if he just bought himself one he would have stuck out more like a sore thumb.
Now he made it into a thing where he could spend time and make a fuss of his daughter she was happy to have his attention and also happy to have a drink.
It wasn’t nice lager either it was something like Carlsberg Super Strength which is only ever drunk by homeless alcoholics and teenagers getting drunk in the park when they are 14.
We had a nice day in the park and dropped Vicky off about an hour later with Gordon making her promise not to tell mum about the drinks.
On the way back to the car we went back into the offy and I got another can of coke and Gordon got another can of lager.
He finished this before we got back on the bus and went back to mine together.
It was a shame that alcohol was his master as like most addicts Gordon had a lovely side to him and he was one of life’s good guys.
When he and Carol went out he drank a lot but still in the 80s it was a lot more acceptable than it is now.
I think mum was happier that he wasn’t an angry drunk and was always good to both me and her. Even on his worst drinking day, he would just fall asleep with his clothes on after talking shit for an hour.
If that was the extent of his drinking then he probably would have been ok but like any addiction, you are constantly feeding a beast, and it’s always hungry.
When you see the alcoholics outside bargain booze on a Tuesday morning waiting for the doors to open, they were not always like this but a series of wrong turns to put them on this path.
Unfortunately, when you are at this level it’s a lot harder to find your way back to sobriety Gordon was no exception.
He lost a couple of good jobs when he and mum were together and there was always a big story about how it was never his fault.
It wasn’t such a big deal for him to lose these jobs as he always seemed to get another job quickly.
As he was now living in his mums as well he didn’t have to worry about being out on the streets.
He would bounce back and would quickly be in another office.
I found that he never really went to a better job it was usually more of the same or a little bit less than what he was getting.
This is common with the disease of addiction as it just keeps taking from you.
Even though he was messing up once in a while Gordon was holding things together.
He was on good terms with his ex, had a good relationship with his daughter, he was doing OK with mum, and we got on well.
In his mind, he was on top of the world.
Things got more serious with mum and Gordon moved in with us and that’s when we started to see how bad his drinking was.
We would have a movie night or would be making dinner next thing I would hear the front door opening.
Gordon where are you going, mate?
Back in a minute
This would happen most nights and we found out after a couple of weeks he would go to the offy and get a quick can of lager.
He would drink it quickly on the way home and be back to continue the movie about five minutes later.
After a while, we started to find booze hidden in places around the house and more and more excuses came thick and fast.
Even though he was good to me and mum I can understand why mum was not happy it’s not a positive environment for anyone.
She could see him deteriorating and granted he would try to drink less but that’s not how addiction works.
I had very similar battles with cocaine and the upshot was always the same and I would always end up in a more fucked up way.
As much as Gordon protested he could give up whenever he wanted deep down he knew that he was deeply flawed and many addicts myself included hate themselves when they are stuck in this holding pattern.
They convince themselves it will be ok and things will get better but one of the ways addiction gets a grip of you is the honesty factor.
Many people cant be honest with themselves and this is the main reason why so many addicts never manage to get themselves better.
Look at the lyrics from the song I woke up this morning by the band Alabama 3. They could not be more appropriate.
When you woke up this morning everything you had was gone
By half-past ten your head was going ding-dong
Ringing like a bell from your head down to your toes
Like a voice telling you, there was something you should know
Last night you were flying but today you’re so low
Ain’t it times like these that make you wonder if you’ll ever know
The meaning of things as they appear to the others
Wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers
Don’t you wish you didn’t function, wish you didn’t think
Beyond the next paycheck and the next little drink
Well, you do so make up your mind to go on
‘Cos when you woke up this morning everything you had was gone
The song which I’ve included in the ling below went on to be the song for the TV show The Sopranos.
Things got a little better with Gordon and mum for a brief time. I have to stress his behaviour never changed towards me even after he moved in.
Granted if he and mum stayed together I would have thought it normal to get pissed every day so something had to give and fast.
I remember it being close to Christmas and mum needed some cooking sherry so she could make a Christmas dish so she sent Gordon to the store.
Later on, she found another bottle in the back of the cupboard so it was a bonus as you can keep alcohol for years and it won’t go off.
A couple of days later Gordon was out and mum couldn’t find the Sherry anywhere.
There were no mobile phones back then so mum put the sherry to the back of her mind and started doing a job on the top floor.
while moving boxes across the room mum almost tripped over on this plastic bag hidden badly next to the coach.
Carol opened the bag wondering what was inside and to her horror found two empty bottles of cooking sherry.
There was no going back from this and Gordon was on his way out.
He somehow managed to get another chance and Gordon promised things would be different.
Mum and I were going to Camelot theme park the next day and Gordon took money out of Mum’s purse with a view to replace it.
Gordon got so drunk and forgot about it and we ended up going on a day out without hardly any money.
I think Mum borrowed off a friend but this was before the days of cash machines everywhere so running out of money was a big deal. This could literally ruin your day or night.
Luckily we had a great day and mum made it work but she was furious with Gordon especially after all his promises to change
After this, I remember Carol and him having a huge argument and he was gone.
I remember he was on the phone a lot and trying to get back with Carol and she was furious but still after all this gave him another chance and he was going to come round for dinner and to talk and hopefully sort things out.
Gordon came to dinner and he was hammered. I opened the door and he was happy to see me but swaying everywhere and could barely stand up.
This led to a huge argument in the hall and turned out to be the nails in the coffin.
Gordon got told fuck off and he staggered out of the house like a broken man.
He kept telling mum he had only had a couple of beers and to make it worse he could barely speak when telling his lies.
I sat on the stairs and was gutted. I understand that this wasn’t normal but he was still good to me and I felt so deflated by it all.
Mum saw this and realised how upset I was and told me to go and talk to Gordon as this affected me as well.
I ran down the road to have a chat with him and it almost broke my heart he was in tears walking down the road.
He knew he had fucked up but he couldn’t help himself and the self-hatred was in full swing and he could not control his emotions.
It was so upsetting to see him like this and that was before the knowledge I have now.
If I saw him like that now I would be a lot better equipped to deal with it. We sat on the wall for about ten minutes and had a good talk.
He was slurring his words but he was making an effort as we both knew that we wouldn’t see each other for a while.
He got up and left and headed towards the bus stop and I said my goodbyes to him.
I went home and sat on the couch and was really upset.
We had just recently got two cats called Macavity and Emily.
Emily who was sitting next to me put her paw on my leg it’s amazing how animals can sense when you are in pain.
Emily and Macavity I will talk a lot more about in later blogs were amazing cats.
Macavity lived until he was 15 and Emily died when she was 18.
They were good companions until the very end and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss them both
Gordon and mum had a few mutual friends and we thought we would see him all the time but he fell off the radar a little bit.
I remember seeing him again in Terry and Nicky’s house.
They had an end-of-summer barbecue and Gordon made a beeline for me.
At first, I was happy to see him but it was clear he was paralytic drunk.
He was slurring his words and kept falling off his chair.
He has eating sausage rolls while throwing down cans of lager.
He kept sneezing and the pastry from the sausage rolls kept flying everywhere.
I wanted to hang out with him and catch up but he was making no sense and he was hurting really badly.
As a ten-year-old, I didn’t understand how to deal with this so I sat with him for a little while and then went and joined the rest of the party.
I never saw Gordon again after that and I remember about a year later in Terry’s grand national party asking him if he had seen Gordon.
Terry was always straight with me and would never bullshit and he said I’ve seen him but it’s nothing good, Arlo.
Whats happened to him Terry I asked fearing the worst and Terry quickly interjected no he’s not dead.
He told me that a couple of weeks before he and Nicky had been out drinking on Lark Lane and they had found Gordon shitfaced lying in a puddle.
He was so drunk he couldn’t get up and they both picked him and put him in a taxi to get home.
Gordon was supposed to call him the next day and never did.
All I know is that his drinking got worse and he lost touch with most people.
It’s a shame when you see such a nice person go down this bad path. I am no stranger to it but it hurts more when that person has been good to you.
I honestly don’t know if Gordon is alive. I hope he is but if he is he must be close to 70.
Mum is 64 and he was a couple of years older than her.
Wherever he is I wish him well and hope that he got the help that he needed.
People do get better and addiction is understood a lot better now than it was all those years ago. I’ve seen many people much worse than him and they got themselves better and if Graham Simpson my mum’s ex can come across this blog accidentally then I hope Gordon can as well.
It would be nice to catch up with him and to tell him that there are people who care about him.
I’m very lucky and I have some amazing people around me but kindness is a rare commodity.
I don’t care how flawed someone is if they are genuine which is rarer than kindness in these modern times.
My school bag was packed and I was excited to see what my fourth year of juniors was about to bring me and we were that little bit closer to leaving and going into senior school.