Everyone’s a Winner

Everyone's a Winner

1986, and Manchester, The Hacienda and the burgeoining Polytechnic were thriving – so The Kid and I decided to try something new. Looking back on it, the testing training sessions with swarthy action-man instructor, Joe Diamond were a walk in the park compared to what would confront us in Shropshire. I had read A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman but NOTHING COULD HAVE PREPARED US for the huge truckers with their dirty fingernails and reassuringly massive and calloused hands ‘Eight sugars please love, is that tea properly mashed?’ Janice’s economy bacon eggs red squirt sauce and Warby’s whitebread were simply dwarfed by this motorway cafe scene and we set fair for the task in hand. A muddy airfield in Shropshire loomed over the horizon and at 7am we donned our parachute gear and prepared to jump – Joe Diamond had prepared us well, singling out The Kid and I as student slackers for extra jump and landing practice. I don’t recall how we picked up Jester Jane or rather how she ferried us around the streets of Mold in her snazzy Peugeot sportscar but I do remember she drove recklessly around those hairpin bends, breaking all speed limits playing ’50-50 who-blinks-first’ with white van man as we careered away from the airstrip – her throaty chuckle and manic stare are as clear as yesterday. When the parachuting was over she ghosted back into ordinary Manc life. ‘We could be heroes, just for one day – we can beat them for ever and ever’ so sang Bowie and it really felt that way as we drove over to Chrissie Boy’s pub near Wrexham. Chrissie Boy Rowlands or Win to give his his full name, drove us around Manchester in an impossibly retro and cool Triumph Dolomite – for someone so good at all sport, what struck me first was his modesty. He was fiercly competitive, the best driver I have ever seen apart from Jester Jane, depending on how you like your driving. He played rugby for Sale, effortlessly and showed class whether it was in billiards or for TKFC. That day by chance after he had parachuted with us, we were invited to his Dad’s country pub. Probably only once in your life do you get that total hero’s welcome – broad-shouldered burly welshmen with handsome smiles buying you a pint of Brains Special, treating you like a soldier returning from the trenches. Unqualified heroes who had stared death in the face cocked a snoop and deserved a flagon of welsh cider. Most of the refreshment that evening was liquid. The three of us handled all the attention with surprising modesty and the memories of Jester Jane and Chrissie Boy live on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s