Wade Hughes -> Wade Andrews -> Ian Andrews? Where are you!

Missing since the late 1980s –

Original 1978 name – Wade Hughes.
In 1980 his name changed to Wade Andrews.
In the 1990s his name possibly changed again to Ian Andrews.

Addresses – Prospect place, Old Cwmbran
The Neerings, Fairwater, Cwmbran.

Schools – Brookfield Infant & Junior School. 1979 – 1981
Llantarnam Comprehensive School. 1981 – 1984 (rough guesstimate)

Wade Hughes entered my life sometime in 1979, when I was in Mrs Dewdney’s class in Brookfield School, Cwmbran. We were eight years old.

“Hi,” he said, sitting next to me. He had joined us halfway through the term and I can’t remember why that was. Maybe he had moved within the Cwmbran area and Brookfield became his nearest school. Maybe he had moved here from outside the county. Nonetheless our teacher, Mrs Dewdney, directed him to the table I shared with Andrew Moreton.
“Hi,” I replied (this is a conversation that took place 34 years ago so forgive me if it sounds made up)
“I’m Wade,” he said and we got chatting.

Wade was a bright, intelligent, kind soul with not a bad bone in his body. Very soon we discovered we had a mutual love of Doctor Who and would play being ‘The Doctor’ in class, much to the confusion of our class mates who couldn’t get their head around two Doctors being in the same room at once.

originalcostume

Wade was creative, inventive and seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of, well, encyclopedias. He loved reading, loved writing and soon became acknowledged as the brains of our little class. Wade and I formed a strong friendship and often we would be together on the huge playing field at Brookfield, inventing games, or maybe just sticking to the tried and trusted ‘We’ll both be Doctor Who!’ formulae. Wade also introduced me to slightly more serious reading material. When I was 8 I was still reading Whizzer & Chips, Buster, Whoopee, Cheeky and other similar comics. Wade introduced me to 2000AD.

2000AD - a bit like The Dandy, but set in space.

2000AD – a bit like The Dandy, but set in space.

Wade experienced some family problems at the time and one day told me he was going to live with his grandparents in Fairwater. This was great news to me as every weekend I would go to visit my grandparents in Hollybush, not too far away.

“We could meet up each weekend!” I said to my now 9-year old buddy.
“That would be brilliant!” he said.
And so it came to pass.
Each alternate weekend we would go to each other’s houses. The first time I visited Wade in Fairwater I was amazed when I saw his bedroom. It was just full of…stuff! Little plasticine models were everywhere – tons of them. All shaped and meticulously patterned using an array of little knives and artists materials. I was in awe, and slightly jealous of, his creativity. But he also inspired me to and I went out that Saturday to spend my pocket money on plasticine and a knife too. These days, buying plasticine and a knife may cause a shopkeeper to become suspicious and ring the police and anti-terrorist squad. However, in 1980 it was the most innocent thing in the world and actively encouraged.
“Go forth,” proclaimed parents across the world, “and buy plasticine and knives!”

In 1981 we left Brookfield behind. Wade was in a different class to me in Llantarnam comprehensive school. He was in 1M. I was in 1S. We saw less of each other but occasionally I would meet him on the way to school and we would walk together, talking about science fiction and worlds of make-believe. He made different friends at Llantarnam and I was a bit jealous of them and felt left behind. It took me a bit longer than my peers to grow up. I wish I had grown up sooner.

Wade left for Scotland around the third year of Llantarnam and I thought I would never see him again.

Sometime in the spring of 1988, I was in Cwmbran and suddenly, walking towards me was Wade. He saw me at the same time.
“Wade!” I said with genuine warmth. I wanted to hug the guy. I hadn’t seen him for at least five years.
“Hi Riaz!” he said and instantly, we started where we had left off. I had only just left Llantarnam and had started a Youth Training Scheme course at Gwent aluminium in Cwmbran. Wade was about to start an apprenticeship at Corus in Newport. He came to my house that evening. We were now seventeen instead of seven, but little had changed. We both still loved fantasy and science-fiction and now this interest took the form of role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. These type of games were huge in the USA and just beginning to take off in the UK. Along with another friend, John Brooks, we would spend hours playing these type of games. Over the coming months he introduced me to other interests of his, including the film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the novels of Roger Zelazny, both of which I still enjoy twenty-five years on.

Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny - highly recommended!

Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny – highly recommended!

One day Wade and I walked to the top of Twmbarlwm mound. We approached it from Cwmbran, walking to the Doralt Pub and up through Henllys, reaching the old chalk quarry. I took a photograph of him there which I kept for a long, long time. Only in recent years has it disappeared. In fact, I have no photographs at all of Wade and I am not even sure if I would recognise him today – but the way he looked when he was eight and eighteen remain vivid in my mind.

Old insecurities reared their ugly head from time to time and Wade and I had a few disagreements. They seemed so important at the time – most do when you are 17 and finding your way in the world, discovering how to live, what is right and wrong and simply how to get along with other people. Now, at 41, I would love to have a word with my younger self and say simply “Don’t be so insecure! Look at me now – it all turns out alright in the end!”
But I can’t and damage was done back then that I would love to repair, given the chance.

Wade began his apprenticeship at Corus and I saw less and less of him. By the end of 1988 we were not in touch anymore. A brief resume of our friendship had ended once again.

But Wade, if you ever stumble across this little blog, I would love to hear from you. Your friendship meant more to me than you will ever know. I would love to sit down with you, find out what you have been up to in the last twenty-five years and share with you the warm memories I have of our friendship and our times in Brookfield school, running across that long, long field, laughing beneath the hot summer sun.

When Riaz Met Pami (Part 3)

 

“Maybe you will be coming back, ‘cos there’s a heart that still beating.”
Kate Bush ‘I’m Still Waiting

The Kate Bush fan gathering at Top Withens, Haworth, 1990.

The Kate Bush fan gathering at Top Withens, Haworth, 1990.

What’s left when it is all over? Memories I guess. And when i say over, I don’t just mean relationships. I mean IT – life. The whole kit and kaboodle. What’s left when you are old and grey and full of sleep (to paraphrase W.B.Yeats) ? Memories. That’s all that’s left you (to not paraphrase Simon & Garfunkel and to directly quote them instead).

Some people might say the outpouring of memories like this is a catharsis.

Catharsis my arse. I am a writer. These are my memories. I don’t know what else to do with them.

After Pami and I kissed I went upstairs to my room, a tumult of emotions cascading tumultuously around my tumulting head. This, I reasoned, is what having an affair must feel like. Hang on, I reasoned again. It’s not what it must feel like – it is actually what it really feels like, as I have kissed a lady who is married. And I’ve kissed her in her own home, while her kids are sleeping upstairs and a repeat of The Equalizer was on television. What would Edward Woodward think? Should Edward Woodward be bored? Could the wood that Edward Woodwood fed, be dud? These thoughts and other more meaningful ones ran screaming around my head until I fell asleep.

The next morning Emily, who was only nine years old at the time, decided she wanted to play with plasticine and Pami and I sat with her in the garden. Emily made a lovely replica of Patrick Star, the starfish from the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants which she was a big fan of at the time. Pami made an aerial view or a Big Mac, which looked suspiciously like a vagina. I made a replica of the Eiffel tower, in Emily’s favourite colour, pink. It looked suspiciously like a penis. I guess if some do-gooder from the social services had been around that day, witnessing two adults making models of genitalia from plasticine in the company of a 9 year old girl, things would be different now. I’d probably be in jail, for one.

Later that day I went back home, which at the time was a small flat in Cwmbran, Gwent. At the train station Pami sat by me on the wooden seat. Paul, Jake and Emily were there too. Each of us caught up in our own little worlds. I boarded the train and waved goodbye to all of them. But my wave to Pami took that little bit longer and was just that little bit more special.

You might need one of these if you keep reading this blog...

You might need one of these if you keep reading this blog…

Funny isn’t it how all those romantic sentiments – those fleeting touches, looks, gestures – all matter so much when you are in love? And then, when the love goes, you just end up cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe…(I love you, Joni Mitchell).

Anyway. On with the story.

I returned to Cwmbran and Pami and I telephoned each other once a day, and sent messages via Facebook three or four times a day. I visited her again in secret, sometime later that year. Paul had taken Emily and Jake up north, to visit his parents in Liverpool. Pami had stayed behind and rang me as soon as they left, asking me to visit. So I did. I boarded the next train from Cwmbran and spent three glorious days with her.

I think, at that point, I was already in love.

I always had a niggling doubt about the level of her commitment. The fact she had been a swinger, sleeping with Peter & Krys, always bothered me. Each to their own, as I’ve said before, but personally I enjoy devoting all of my love and affection and commitment to one person. I never share it. Pami was different. She often used the word ‘bohemian’ to justify her behaviour. “I am a bohemian,” she would say, in rhapsody.

A few months passed and our love intensified. Then one day I was on a night shift in the hospital I worked at back then when I had a text from Pami.

I’ve left him, it read.

I was tempted to reply ‘Who?’ but refrained. Apparently, Pami’s distance had not gone unnoticed by Paul and he confronted her, specifically asking if she was seeing me. She said she was. If I had been there, I would have agreed with her too, just for support. Anyway, that was that. It was out in the open. Pami wanted to come and live with me in Cwmbran and so two days later, I caught the train again, back to Calne.

Pami moved in during the autumn of 2009. I knew she found it very hard to leave her children and promised her that we would return to Calne and live there as a couple. It wouldnt be easy – we needed a bit of money first and I had to find a job in Wiltshire – but it would happen. Pami settled in although she did complain a lot. She didn’t like my home town of Cwmbran. She didn’t like the flat. It was only a bedsit and I agreed with her on that point – but I am a patient person. I know things are just a transition, until better things happen (and I always know that *you* have to make things happen). Pami always seemed to want things to happen yesterday. Also, I loved my home town. I still do – even after leaving it four years ago, I never criticised Pami’s town – Calne – even though it would have been very easy to. I never asked anything of her – just to be patient.

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” 
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

And Pami never worked, which again was a source of frustration. She had had her own gardening business in Calne and had brought enough of her tools to start it up again in Cwmbran. She made the effort once to gain a customer base which resulted in one day’s work. I suggested that maybe she could get a job in a shop in the interim but that suggestion fell on deaf ears. Since 1992 Pami had not worked. Paul had ‘kept’ her. She had use of his credit cards, she didn’t want for anything – she had every day free. And so her complaints about being bored puzzled me even more. Granted, she had Emily & Jake to take to school in the mornings and pick them up in the afternoons when she was in Calne, but that still gave her at least 5 hours free during the day in Calne – and she had never complained of being bored to me then, when we exchanged emails and telephoned each other. More importantly, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that her eldest son, Jake, had been born. So she had around 5 years of being unemployed, without any other commitments, and in that time when I knew her, she never complained about being bored. I was puzzled by this.

“Take up Suduko,” I suggested. “Or pick random numbers from the telephone directory to ring. I can’t cure your boredom. That has to come from within.”
I hadn’t read ‘How to be the Dalai Lama for Dummies’ for nothing.
But these suggestions were ignored and for the first time Pami left me in the most cowardly way imaginable. I went to work one day, leaving at 6am. When I returned at that night at 10pm, she was gone.

To be continued…

When Riaz Met Pami (Part 2)

Pami & Riaz - the only thing I have left to show for the relationship, is a picture of a chocolate egg...

Pami & Riaz – the only thing I have left to show for our relationship, is a picture of a chocolate egg…

Being the second part of the story of Riaz Ali & Pami Gill…

The Kate Bush fan meeting at Glastonbury in the summer of 2009 invoked a strange mixture of emotions in me. It had been roughly fifteen years since I had attended any type of fan event and thought I had left that world behind. But due to Pami’s instance, and the fact I would not have to travel to Glastonbury alone, I went.

I reached Pami and Paul’s house on the Friday. I cannot remember the details of that evening. The five of us (Jake and Emily included) probably had a take away and watched a movie. That was the usual routine for visits. It’s funny as it often was a routine, in my younger years, that irked me. In my late teens and early twenties, there was so much I wanted to know about life. I wanted to share opinions, absorb other peoples ideas, discuss meaning and purpose and yet, quite often I would be sat down and forced to watch The City of Lost Children or some other prententious pile of tosh at the bequest of Paul Gill. He was quite taken by style over substance. I much preferred substance over style, which probably explains why I was always a fan of Bod.

Derek Griffiths composed all the tunes for this show, you know!

Derek Griffiths composed all the tunes for this show, you know!

But that film, The City of lost fucking Children, became the bane of my life. Interestingly the director of that went on to make a film I really enjoyed – The Time Traveller’s Wife. Then again, Spielberg is guilty for unleashing 1941 upon the world but that doesn’t stop me still loving E.T – in a non-incestual way of course.

The next morning was sunny and we set off for the drive to Glastonbury. During our time swapping messages on Facebook over the last few months, it turned out certain songs became very special to us. Looking back, I am still not sure how and why it happened, but the song ‘America’ by Simon & Garfunkel, with it’s lyrics telling a story about escape, freedom and exploration, became important to us. As the car wound it’s way to Glastonbury, beneath one of the few spells of sunshine that we would have that summer, that song started playing on the radio.

Paul, ignorant of the importance of that song to us, began talking. I can’t remember what it was about. Probably The City Of Lost Children.

DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM! EVER!

DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM! EVER!

“Paul, be quiet,” said Pami. “We’re trying to listen to the song.”
For some reason, this made an impression on me. A song that we had exchanged thoughts about – and on reflection, they were the sort of thoughts that lovers tentatively share with each other as deeper feelings are explored – mattered that that much to her.

The day at Glastonbury passed without incident and a full write up of that event can be found here on my blog. There is one small thing that happened though which I cut out of my original write up. At one point Pami and I were walking and it began to rain. She had an umbrella and linked arms with me, so we could both stay under it. Her breasts were pressed into my arm and I could feel them. Months later, after our love was consummated and we lay panting in our bedsit, staring at the ceiling and wishing we hadn’t eaten so much, Pami told me that it had been deliberate. She had consciously been pushing her breasts into my arm as we walked along.

It was later that night, at their house in Calne, that things changed. Paul had retired to bed, having given up trying to start a conversation about The City Of Lost Children, leaving Pami and I downstairs. And we started talking. It had been clear, through months of swapping emails, that she wasn’t happy. I wasn’t the only one who noticed it. Other friends of hers on Facebook – Debi Bowes, Lisa Oliver, Cath Amos, Krys Boswell and many others, had all noticed to, through Pami’s wall posts on Facebook.

And so we talked, late into the night. We talked and she told me how unhappy she had been for nearly 25 years of her marriage to Paul. I believed her. What else was I supposed to feel? I believed her and then, just as dawn was breaking, we kissed.

To be continued…

 

The Antique Shop, Avebury.

The Antique Shop, Avebury

There is a single road that runs through Avebury, the A4361, which contracts into a little ‘S’ bend as it hits The Red Lion pub, and then stretches out again as it meanders towards Swindon, some fifteen miles away. On the right of this little bend is a small Antiques shop.

This morning, after attempting to reach Silbury Hill and failing (“Who put a moat there?”) I returned to the centre of Avebury and decided to try the Antiques shop. It was closed. I grooved over to the village shop (Avebury is the sort of place where you can groove and shimmy around without anyone thinking it strange), which is a quaint little affair that sold everything you could imagine, including tights.

“Good morning,” said the bearded man behind the counter, smiling jovially. I’ve noticed that most people in the small villages of Wiltshire smile jovially. A jovial smile is quite common around these parts. Not once have I encountered a grin of despair.
“Good morning,” I returned. I had a quick browse around and then took my items to the counter – a bottle of mead and some olive bread.
“You know that antique shop on the corner?” I began. I think that’s a welsh thing, beginning a sentence with ‘you know’.
“When does it open?”
The bearded man scratched his, well, beard.
“He opens most days but at different times. Try knocking on the door.”
We chatted a little while longer, exchanging small talk about Hitler and neo-fascism before I bid him a good day and walked out of the shop.

I knocked on the door of the antiques shop. There was no answer. I looked through the huge glass windows and saw the inside was just full of curiosities and paraphenalia. Isn’t that a great word – paraphenalia – it sounds like it should be a flavour of Angel Delight. Anyway, I stared through the glass windows and saw the door at the back move and an old man appeared. He looked at me solemnly. Or maybe he didn’t. It’s hard to judge the amount of solemness a person can emit from a distance but from where I stood, his solemnity was at least a 5, maybe a 6. Then he smiled, gestured to the door. I waited for him to unlock it and he invited me in.

“I don’t get many people here in March, so I locked up and was at the back, trying to keep warm.”
“Thanks for opening up for me,” I smiled. “I saw the comics and books through the window, and just wanted to have a look through them.”
“Go ahead,” he said, sitting at the counter.
He was old. God he was old. As old as the hills. Some hills are younger than others, I’ll give you that sunshine, but he definitely looked like the older type of hill.
“Are you passing through?” he enquired.
I told him I was living in Avebury for at least six months and had moved into a farm up the road.
“Oh yes, I know the one you mean. I was a farm hand there in the nineteen fifties. I’m seventy four and have had this shop for twenty eight years. It’s closing in April and I will be glad of it. I will retire to my cottage, just four doors down.”

He blurted out this information as if he had been waiting all his life to tell it to me. I think it’s the way it goes as you get older – you just start blurting. But his face was friendly and he had kindly eyes.

The shop really was full of curiosities. Dandy annuals from the 1970s, comics from the 1950s, old empty food tins from the 1940s – Coleman’s Mustard, Roses, Cadburys and so on. There were old coins in old jars, rusty looking penny whistles, vinyl albums, postcards, all arranged rather haphazardly in long room. He stood there, all seventy four years of him, and I wondered what sort of tales he had to tell. I chose a book and then another and asked him for the price.

“Oh, we will do a deal when you’re finished,” he said in a care free way.
I chose another two and took them to the counter. For the four books we negotiated a price and he handed me my purchases wrapped in brown paper.
‘He wraps them in brown paper!’ I thought happily. ‘I could be in a Will Hay movie!’
He looked at me again.
“I’ve always been interesed in the history here too,” he began. “Do you know there used to be nearly seven hundred stones in Avebury, circles within circles, surrounding the village. Now there are just the handful left, the big ones that attract the tourists…”

And he carried on talking and I listened. I don’t know how much time passed. He spoke of Avebury, his youth, his time owning the shop, and all the while he paced to and fro, standing by the window and looking out towards the fields, or returning to the counter and fiddling with the clutter on the desk as he spoke.

Eventually he said “It was great meeting you. Now I will lock the shop again and go to the back room to keep warm.”
At the door he told me his name, Brian, and followed that with “If ever you want to come and visit, even after the shop closes, I am just two doors down the road. I can tell you some more tales.”

And that was it. I left and walked slowly back to the farm, feeling curious about this old man I had met and looking forward to meeting him again in future.

Two 'Radio Fun' books that I bought from the delightful Antiques Shop this morning.

Two ‘Radio Fun’ books that I bought from the delightful Antiques Shop this morning.