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'Ken, you big softy, thanks for remembering.' I recently received this message from, Duncan Scott, one of my younger friends. I'd sent him a text saying we were thinking of him on what would have been his mothers birthday. Sadly she was no longer with us for she'd died, far too young, several years before. I knew he would be missing her on that day, Jenny and I were too, for his mother was our much loved friend. When I wrote my recent Cosy story, 'We're Always Together,' I was thinking of people like Jan Scott. My daughter told me that of all the reflections I've written to date, the above one was her favourite by far, I think she likes to read of my softer side. I can tell she's not too keen when I write of that side of my personality when I've been ruthless, perhaps even arrogant. However, I have to write of such things for my collection of memories must cover all aspects of my life, the good, the bad, and the downright stupid. Jan Scott always saw the good in me and I think she would have liked this story of the night I became a hero!'
It was a Friday and I was almost home when I heard the shouting. It was coming from a place I'd once delivered papers to in my long ago youth. It was rather a grand looking property, hidden down a short road that ran between the village hall and the Jubilee trees. The people who lived there were part of what we thought of as the toffee nosed villagers, John Mc Entee, once described them as, "the one whose sh*t don't stink." Going to investigate I discovered a crowd of some fifteen or so people I knew, facing about six people I knew not. Obviously some violence had occurred for one of the strangers was holding a handkerchief to his bleeding nose. As I approached I saw two girls among the argumentative crowd. "What's going on," was my question as I pushed to the front and I was told they were having a party. "Its Elizabeth's twenty first birthday," one of the girls explained, pointing at the other one. I'd lived for twenty two year in the nearby council estate but I'd never seen either of these attractive young ladies before. The chap with the bleeding nose added, "Its a private party and they tried to gatecrash it." He spoke in what we used to call a plummy voice as he pointed angrily at what were many of my old school friends.
Sometimes I wonder who the hell do I think I am to presume command, I think it must be a trait of the sons of Walt and Ruby, but I've always done it. I'd assessed the potential opposition I'd get from the crowd and knew there wouldn't be much. There were no truly nasty people gathered there, just a few who'd drunk too much, including Tony Lucas, he was to be my future best man and I knew he'd give me no hassle. "Leave these people alone and go home," I said and most started to leave. One chap, who I knew to be an electrician, lingered with a hostile attitude, but that was soon removed. I'd said, "I'm glad I've bumped into you, I've got some electrical work to be done but it's got to be done tomorrow." The thought of some unexpected money on his day off saw his hostility evaporate and my Guildford shop got a much needed light fitted the next day. As he happily walked away to join those who were now gathered beneath the Jubilee trees, I turned to the party people and introduced myself. I could just see the small marquee in the garden where people were dancing and I said, "They'll be no more trouble, so go and join your friends." Wishing the smiling Elizabeth a, "Very Happy Birthday," I took my leave of them and then, just like the hero in Jack Schaefer's book, Shane, 'When my job was done I returned, whence I came!'
There was a seventies film called, 'Too Late The Hero,' and there's a reason why that title always springs to mind whenever I recall this memory. Some ten days after the above incident occurred I was walking up Guildford High Street on the way to work when I heard an excited voice screech, "That's him." This was followed by some shouts of, "Ken, Ken," and then a crowd of beautiful young women ran over to me and a beaming Elizabeth explained to them all, "This is Ken, the man who saved my Party!" I must admit it was the most delightful of experiences and, when Elizabeth gave me the biggest of kisses, I was truly on cloud No.9. I went to work feeling ten feet tall but I'd declined the girls offers to attend their various parties for I'd explained that their invitations came a few years too late for me to accept. The reason was this was the beginning of the June of 1970 and, within ten days, I'd be a married man. Of course, I was completely in love with my Jenny but it would have been fortuitous to have had their attention a couple of years earlier, when girl friends were a rarity. The timing meant I was truly, 'Too Late The Hero' ...... Bugger!
PS. I've explained that my daughter prefers to read of the softer side of my nature, stories that don't show me being ruthless and arrogant. So at first, I thought she'd like this story of her hero dad, the wearer of the white hat, who rights wrongs and does good things. Then I remembered she hates it when I act in a dominant or big headed way, so she won't like this story after all. Bum and Earwigs, I can't bloody win!
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