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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, November 10, 2008
    I met me, thirty years ago
    Young bloke sat in my car early this morning as the rain lashed down outside and we waited for his boss to arrive with the key to the Garage. Later in the day I had to hand over £210 in shoddy notes to the man - MOT/service, the price of keeping the car on the road another year. But I didn't begrudge it, because these are hard times and these are honest working men. And because as we'd talked in the car I realised that my young companion was actually me, thirty years ago.

    Me, thirty years ago, grateful for a job offered me by the father of a mate at school. Which I'd never have got if my exam results had had to be taken into account. Him, travelling halfway across Liverpool to serve a similar apprenticeship now with his uncle.

    Me, thirty years ago, riding a coughing moped fifteen miles from one edge of the city to another, ten times a week, to spend my days learning a trade from older men skilled in hand and eye and able to handle oily pieces of paper containing invoices and instructions. My young companion spoke of that same experience - the dead knuckles at the end of a journey in the freezing cold, the knees which won't bend after forty-five minutes exposure to icy winds on the road. And shared what esoteric knowledge he'd already gleaned about the cylinder heads and carburettors with which he spends his days.

    Me, thirty years ago, happy to have a wage while many of my ex-schoolfriends were still reliant on parental hand-outs and some already were dependent on the state (that came just a little later for me after Thatcher killed our industry). He too, delighted at the status and relative freedom of even a modest (and equally precarious) income.

    Me, thirty years ago, willing to fetch and carry, do the chores, get the milk and put on the lunchtime bets. It was all new. It was all experience. It was cold and damp in the workshop and hard graft much of the time but I wouldn't have swopped it then and I'm glad I didn't now. This young man - the same.

    I just can't believe it's thirty years....