The Youngster Came Around

England in Autumn 02The youngster came home last night with beer. He had quite substantial amounts of beer in a large crate. He’d been to the supermarket. He’d forgotten to bother purchasing the necessaries for a family weekend in with his ‘partner’.

She had decided it was best for all if he simply remained away from their city central flat until Monday. She hoped, as ever, that by then he would had gained some basic sense. She may even have calmed down enough not to want to do substantial damage to, “His last remaining useful asset.”

So, due to the fact that his pals were either bored with him or they had learned how best to keep their partners in good order, the youngster had no place other than his Grandad’s to go.

He’s always been daft. He’s not a bad lad, although I cannot for the life of me understand where his daft genes came from.

His mother is a lovely girl; responsible, clever for her age. His father, my son Frank, died in unfortunate circumstances. Frank left a good will and the goodwill of his community. He wasn’t bright but he was solid, reliable and I miss him as much as you can miss a son who passed away (died in a car) 21 years ago.

Surprisingly, that’s quite a lot if you let it get away with you. I don’t. I get out and about. Last month Paris, this month, Liverpool; next month Moscow.

I go out to places and listen to jazz music. Any music in fact. But mostly jazz music. Mostly Bebop. It’s not because I like it more or less than anything else, it’s just because the kind of people you meet when you listen to 1950’s Bebop are interesting people, except for the collectors. The collectors, the nerds can be wearing. Mostly you meet people who are drifting through it like a teenage phase or a rebellion. Every city in the world that I’ve visited and would call worth a jot, every one of those cities has a jazz club that, some nights, plays Bebop jazz live.

The people who listen to Bebop jazz in this day and age are exploring. The ones who can remember it starting are usually too scared you go out. You meet the occasional one or two, mostly in Germany. Mostly in the former East Germany where it’s fresh to them. For the most part, though, the folk who were there at the genesis are too far gone with age or drugs or sadness or bitterness to visit clubs.

Then there are the rebellious ones. All ages up to 50, them. The young ones like the sharp clothes that the bands wear, the (shabby I’ve been told by one lad in Coruna) glamour of the clubs where they appear. Also, the fact, the basic fact, that their mates don’t understand why the hell they would waste time on ‘Cool’; why they would spend money listening to dead music that, as far as they can hear, has no tune, too many beats and not enough recognition.

Then you meet lasses. Usually old lasses, lasses of my age and outlook.

A drink now and then. Sex with likeminded individuals who are prepared for a meal and some chat about real but unknown people afterwards; a bop, a cuddle and maybe a birthday card next year… and then the year after that.

A chat about real (real life but most often than not dead), unknown people is not meant as some sort of mystic nonsense. A chat about real life but unknown people means one about someone that you knew, you actually knew, but who your partner for the weekend or the night never did.

We’ve all got similar pals, just from dissimilar backgrounds. Once, in Hamburg, it turned out that we actually shared the same acquaintance. I thought he was a proper flawed dickhead. She thought he was the love of her life.

Sometimes, you have the real life but unknown people chat, and you genuinely have never come across such a person. That’s a good chat. Even with a liar, even with a liar that’s a good, fun, conversation.

That happens less and less often now.

So, last night the youngster turned up as I was in the middle of a read and a cup of herbal tea – I’m giving that a go and you can thank Swiss Gabrielle for that. She emailed me about it. We’d met and had a 42-hour attachment in Lyon three years ago.

Four years after my wife, the youngster’s Grandma, had died of cancer.

Gabrielle had recommended herbal tea because her eldest had recommended it to her a week before and she’d found nothing wrong with it.

“You should try it, Royston. It’s a difference. That’s all I will tell you. It comes in all sorts of flavours. I am certain you’ll pick on something that you like the look of.”

Off I went to the supermarket and loaded up with fruit flavoured teas. I don’t hate them.

There I was, reading away and sipping some lime infused strawberries and what might have been horseradish. The curtains were closed in the front room, and I was listening to Hank Williams. The door lock unlocked and in walked the youngster looking all forlorn but angry. He plumped his beer past the coatrack, up the hall and in the fridge in the kitchen.

“Want a beer, Royston?” he yelled.

“I’ve got a herbal infusion,” I replied.

“Whatever,” he responded and came into the front room with an open can of lager – no glass – and a sealed one. He sat down.

“You happy, Royston?” he asked. My fault, I’d eschewed if that’s the right word (I’ve asked Portuguese Christina since, it is the right word but I thought I’d keep the question in as I want this blog to be as live as possible), the Granda’ or Grandad or Grandpa due to a phase or a rebellion or a crisis when the lad was born.

“Fine,” I was fine.

“Can we have the telly on?”

I got out my headphones and this laptop.

“Yes, yes we can.” We were off for another evening. Four cans in and he’d want to share his daftness with me so I could advise him with the wisdom of my many and varied years.

Until that point arose, with the youngster akimbo on the settee, drinking and watching a talent show, I turned on Ornette Coleman and continued to read.