Ever wonder where we came from?

The picture above was taken in 1980, on my last holiday with my folks. At the age of 15 the novelty had worn off, and this was me putting on a less-than-disgusted face in a small street in St.Ives, Cornwall, just for the camera. Now, of course, I cherish this picture of me and my late father.

The photograph is remarkable for two reasons:

First, it was taken by my mum, who for the first time in living memory managed to NOT cut our heads, or any other part of our bodies, or indeed the relevant scenery, out of the picture. I can only assume that she pressed the button by accident before she was ready.

The second reason is NOT my haircut, which was at the time, modelling the final version of Wallace’s open face motorbike helmet (see “Wallace & Gromit; A close shave” for reference). Within a month or two I was sporting a far less goldfish bowl-like head, and boy, was it about time!

The second reason, dear fellow, is this: at that time of my life (and for a few years thereafter)  my nickname among some of my schoolmates was ‘Buster’. As in Buster Bloodvessel, the lead singer of ‘Bad Manners’ for those of you with short memories or lifespans. As far as I recall, I was kindly given this name by A.D. ‘Toskey’ Thompson and his trusty sycophantic sidekick  ‘Lol’ Pedley. Their reasoning was that I was fat. Since Buster Bloodvessel was very fat (and famously so), they felt that the name was appropriate.

Case for the defence: As the photograph clearly shows, I was not remotely overweight. As my memory (and, I’m sure any photographs of the period would confirm), Pedley was in fact rather chubby and in fact had the old pubescent boy boob thing going on. Case dismissed!!!!

What was going on? Was I merely a deflection from someone else’s insecurities? If so, why did so many people buy into the  nickname – or maybe that is a distorted memory of my own? Maybe karma for something I did to someone else?

Just as interesting is that it clearly bothered me at the time, and has remained a source of some puzzlement until this day. I wonder how much personal confidence this kind of crap eroded before we reached adulthood? My guess is that many of us bear scars inflicted at such an impressionable time of our lives…

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Posted on 9 November, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I concur that you certainly look rather slim and athletic in the above photo – maybe you had a growth spurt since the inception of the nickname? I certainly do remember singing “lip up fatty ah lip up fatty fatty Leo” on a regular basis – how envious I was that you had your own theme tune!

    And it is true that a lot of these hurtful nicknames were conceived by Messrs Thompson and Pedley. I think you are also correct in surmising that their behaviour was a way of deflecting attention away from themselves – you no doubt recall that AD Thompson had a remarkable likeness to a certain Ronnie Corbett. I did think at the time that the two of them made unlikely bedfellows.

    I don’t think they kept in touch once they left Calday – I think Thompson didn’t get to come back to the 6th form, did he? He wasn’t that bright, but he was funny. At least, that was my recollection of him until I met him at a party a few years later, when we were in our mid to late twenties. He wasn’t bright, and he wasn’t funny. He was just a bit of a prat.

    Funny, that.

    • Yes, two years before that was taken I was the second shortest in the class, with the consolation that I was fast and agile, and nobody could get me in British Bulldog. ADT – yes he looked very like RC, more so than Ronnie Travers did. I suppose in those days, with a teenage audience, you could get away with being a bit dim and still seem funny – my (admittedly tinted) memory of those times is that those two were the chief purveyors of nasty, pointed humour aimed at anyone but themselves. As I recall they were, like many of their ilk, good with an audience to cheer them on…that part of school I don’t miss.

    • Oh and you’re correct, Thommo didn’t return in the sixth form and essentially disappeared. I have a feeling that outside of school he was on the fringes of a gang of bad lads, and I used to wonder if he’d got into any trouble. I could have checked on the old PNC but doing things such as that was not considered a good career move…

  2. That sounds vaguely familiar. But then, there’s bad lads and there’s BAD lads. He was just hanging round with local boys in Pensby that might get up to a bit of mischief – snort some glue, drink cider in the park, that sort of thing. He was going out with my sister Mandy’s mate at the time: she was CID admin in Manor Road Wallasey, so I’m sure she would’ve checked for his name in the local records…

  3. I don’t remember why, but I had the impression that he was mixed up in stuff a bit more serious – although in those days I think that only sniffing glue would have seemed like a major issue. I have to smile about your sister’s m,ate – she may indeed have looked him up but if you did that sort of thing it could get messy (I could tell you a few stories) and a few years later was grounds for dismissal.

  4. Even the local info was on databases by then…

  5. Funny that, I worked at Manor Road from Autumn 84 to Spring 85 (that was the Winter of MY Discontent) in CID Admin (before my sis, working for the infamous Elmore Davies amongst others) and we just worked from index books, two of, one for location, the other for… can’t remember, victim maybe. Not a sign of a computer anywhere. Which I mentioned at the time was quite backwards.

    • Good god, really? Jeez when I joined Cheshire there was a fully operational local database as well as the PNC of course. I can’t remember the name of the system now (although I clearly remember the delightful green lettering) but running in parallel (with differing levels of accessibility) there was also Checro and in M’side there was Mercro…

  6. I remember the acronym Mercro, so maybe it did exist when I was working there, but when it came down to detectives wanting info on cases and old crime sheets dug out, we still went through the books. Did everything by the book those days… apart from Mr Davies maybe.

  7. Surprising to say the least.I forget what we called our local collator’s database but it had a search facility which was easy to use and so very useful. If you put in “Horse and coat” you got a startling story about a man, a field, a set of steps and a startled – if very docile – horse.

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