I don't think I ever disliked anyone more than I disliked Christopher Green. You know the sort; teenager of rich parents, best trainers, big mouth. He also liked to pick fights with people for absolutely no reason, and when your number came up he'd nag away at you until you snapped.
Being a rather unpleasant teenager myself I was probably due my day of reckoning, and it was to take the form of a ferocious right hand that came out of nowhere and knocked me clean out. That was chastening; no bugger had ever done that before. Worse, it happened at the end of a youth club in front of all my peers. In fact scrub chastening; humiliating is a better fit.
A normal person would probably have skulked away and licked his wounds, surfacing sometime letter a better and more contrite person. I was therefore waiting at the school gate at the end of the next school day and boy did we give it some. I remember having hold of his neck and slamming five cracking right handers into his skull, and I expect he returned the compliment with a few of his own. The upshot; he never bothered me again. He moved onto new targets. For my part I'm quite certain that I'd have waited for him day after day until he'd got the message, but I was pleased that it didn't come to that.
This was twenty five years ago, and I have a sneaking suspicion that being on the end of that shot was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was arrogant and full of myself; I needed taking down a peg or two. I wonder what kind of man I'd have become if that hadn't happened? More arrogant? More aloof?
As the years passed the real man hopefully emerged from that foolish teenager, and he's an altogether gentler spirit. The thought of me lashing out at anybody these days seems absurd to me.
At the age of 17 years Christopher was driving at high speed in a Peugeot 205 GTI, a vicious hot hatch which put way too much power through the front wheels. One day he left the road at insane speed and hit a tree, and it was later established that identification had only been possible via his dental records.
I vividly recall being called by my buddy Stuart. A voice down the phone saying "Greenies Dead"
Teenagers don't die, do they? We last forever, we're indestructible? At the end of the call I went up to my room, and I prayed for the lad. Prayed and really meant it, and from this emerged perhaps his final lesson to me, namely the sheer pointlessness of hating. What's the point? Who gains? And for what?
I can honestly say that he made me a better man, and I'm so sad that his road was to end so soon, and under such traumatic circumstances. Nobody should have to perish inside a burning car.