The coming month or so is a special time for me personally, it marks 25 years since I met the 3 people that have influenced, supported, laughed with me, watched me cry and never judged me, loved me for who I am, and most of all have been there for me through some very dark times but also have shared and created some of my most cherished memories. I wanted to mark this occasion by doing something for them individually that they wouldn't be expecting. I find it difficult to have face to face conversations about my feelings for two of these people so I decided to tell them exactly what they mean to me the only way I knew how. That way we wont embarrass each other, they'll just read what I've written and nod to each other knowing this is how I feel about them. So let me start with the person who is responsible, partly, for where I find myself 25 years later.........
Firstly I really should apologize because I don't think I ever did for the part I played in you going to hospital that bright Saturday morning 25 years ago.We'd know each other a few months by then and spent everyday together mucking about and having a laugh. For those of you that don't know let me explain. Gary was a nightmare to get out of bed in the morning when we were younger. If you ever tried to arrange anything in the morning, you didn't involve him because he was asleep. Always.
Everyone else would be up at a reasonable time, ready to cause as much mayhem as we could but also without hurting anyone as well, but oh no not sleeping beauty, his nickname changed to light weight spice a little while later, he would have one beer and be bladdered! Honestly one beer was all it took, even the watered down stuff in Millionaires would do it, it was as funny as hell.
It was whilst taking this into consideration that myself and a mate of ours at the time Jamie, who was at fault for this 100% (it wasn't but hey why change after 25 years!) decided to go round and knock for Gary and wake him up. This was before mobile phones, if you wanted to see if someone was in you went and knocked for them, kids today have it so much easier!. Anyway we get there knock on the door and after much persuading (His mum nagging at him to get up) Gary arrived at his door half dressed.
Jamie had a white transit van which he used for work, and inside this van was a shelf you could sit on behind the seats in the front. Seeing as Jamie was driving, I was having a fag and Gary had just got up it was decided Gary would go in the back of the van. Whilst in the back of van Gary was still putting his shoes on, standing up I might add, actually thinking about it that makes it your fault. At the time where he lived there were speed bumps along the road and laughing to each other we decided to give Gary a wake up call and bump him around the van a little. It went really well, we were all laughing until Gary fell forward and smashed his eye on the edge of the shelf and cut his eyebrow.
At this point Gary started to scream and shout and make all sorts of threats. Not a problem we thought stopping the van, hes locked in the back and cant get us, well wait until he calms down and then let him out. The problem was though we were laughing so much, he could hear us standing outside of the doors of the van, and this was making him even worse, honestly the language coming out of his mouth was shocking!. In our wisdom at the time, it was decided I would open the door, seeing as I was a lot bigger than Jamie the chances of Gary going for me were slimmer. Still laughing my head off I opened the back door ready and waiting for him to ,lunge at me. He took one look at me burst out laughing called me a bastard and went back home to get it fixed.
That sums Gary up. No matter what situation he is in he can always see the funny side of it. The first time I met him he was chasing another friend of ours around Gants Hill squeezing his nipple. I must admit I did think who the hell is this idiot, but I was totally wrong, it was the first time we had ever met, both of us wary of the other but finding something to laugh at and a friendship was born. He has always known when to stop before he goes too far, never malicious, always doing it for the crack.
There are hundreds of similar stories like this, riding a moped with twisted handle bars, getting thrown out of a nightclub 2 minutes after walking in, sliding down a 30 foot wall, hanging onto wind screen wipers, picking a window to leave a bus by, but those may be for another time. Weve never had an arguement that I can think of. 25 years and never a cross word between us, not once.
Gary you have always been there for me through all of my highs and my incredible lows. Never condoning me, never saying I told you so, never, ever looking down on me. You have always supported me and Ill never forget that. We have gone months over the years without seeing or speaking to each other as life has got in the way, but we have always picked up where we left off.
You were there the first time I went out with Sarah, acting as the double date for her mate and not telling me until afterwards that you knew them both as you had been to school with them because you could see I was infatuated with her and you didn't want to make me anymore more nervous. Also the fact that it was the 3rd time both of us had been to see Ghost!.
You helped me do up our first house, and have also been there to rescue me from some of my great DIY disasters. You have on more than one occasion had my back when things have got out of control in our younger days, nothing ever fazed you no matter how many we were facing and that energy passed onto us and we knew we were going to be okay. Bruised maybe but hey you should have seen the other guys right?
You were always the first person I told when we found out we were expecting, one of the first people up the hospital no matter where you were, that stupid grin plastered all over your face every single time. Its bloody infectious and you know it as well.
You have a heart as big as anyone I know, and I saw that broke a few times. As I settled down with Sarah I wanted the same for you but for one reason or another you never met the one until Sarah Jane came along. You two are the perfect match because when younger she was the female version of you. I've watched you grow together and even now I catch you looking at her with that look of total love you have only for the one who has truly captured your heart. I was lucky enough to be asked along with Sarah to your wedding, just the four of us and Henry your son born a few months before. I remember when you told me Sarah Jane was pregnant and I also remember the pride in your voice when he was born I can still remember the phone call as if it was yesterday.
I can remember every call you've made to me to tell me about the births of Olivia, Toby and Stanley. Your a great father, don't let anyone tell you different. You have a way with kids that make them draw to you. I suppose its because your still a big kid yourself.
No matter where I am, no matter what trouble I am in, I know one phone call and youll be there. Thats special to me and makes me very proud to call you my mate. Im the one who gets emotional you just have a knack of doing the right thing at the tight time. I've never told you this, hell I've never told anyone this but you were one of the reasons I cried before my speech on my wedding day.
I hadn't written a speech, like an idiot I thought I could wing it, but the emotion of the day got to me. As I stood up I realized the enormity of what I was doing, I was marrying the woman of my dreams and I scanned the crowd trying to get my thoughts together, desperately trying to bide my time. The lump was coming up to my throat and I caught your eye. You raised your glass of wine at me and nodded as if to say 'Go on mate you can do it' and it hit me, how you had been there at the start of it all, how we hadn't seen each other for a year or so due to an argument with other 'friends', we never had cross words ourselves I had settled down and you weren't ready to so we drifted apart for a while, it happens to many people but we had found a way back to being friends again and it hit me, I couldn't do it. There didn't seem words adequate enough to say what I wanted to say. To tell everyone there how much I loved this woman who agreed to be my wife and make jokes at others expense. I remember mentioning your name and that was about all I got out. The tears came and the rest is history. So there you go it was your bloody fault.
To top it all of the pressure I put on Paul was immense, I had been a rambling idiot and all eyes turned to my best man to make a speech to save the day. His first words were ' Did anyone else get Tony's speech because I didn't get a bloody word of it' absolutely perfect and it brought the house down.
We don't do the whole 'love you mate' but this is my way of saying thank you. Thank you for the support, the words of wisdom, for listening to me when I was at my most irrational, and when I was at my most annoying. For never judging me to my face, for always being there when I needed you. 25 years mate, were a lot older, with grayer hair and 8 kids between us. However we both have met our dream women and they've put up with us this long so we must be doing something right.
I'm the sentimental one of us, always have been and always will be. Gary your my best mate, I don't think I've ever told you that, and I hope were still mates 25 years from now, sitting in our armchairs telling our grand kids some of the absolutely stupid and legendary things we've done together down the years. Long may it continue.
Dont go bloody phoning me after you've read this either, I'm not sure I would know what to say to you to be honest. Just read it, call me a soppy bastard, and accept this as the only way I could think of to say thank you for all you've done for me down the years.
Love ya mate