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.
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.
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.
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.