Looking back can be a bad thing to do.

But sometimes.

It’s good.

1987

In the summer of 1987, I was 18.

That’s the year I was driven from a Derby ‘home’.

To a Newcastle Polytechnic home.

By a now-dead pisshead stepdad that, depending on alcohol content, swung between wife beater and bore.

Paving Stone.

In the summer of 2023.

37 years later.

As I attended some Northumbria University event or other.

I re-stood on the exact same paving stone that I had first stood on.

As I stepped slowly out of the pisshead’s car, 37 years before.

I Tried Hard.

In the summer of 2023 I tried  hard to position my feet in the exact same place.

Flat.

Together.

Pointing at The Claude Gibb Halls of Residence in exactly the same way.

I tried hard to see through the dirty windows of the 9th floor of Claude Gibb where I laughed and lived for 12 months, all those years ago.

And I tried hard to compare two moments.

2 Moments. 

In the summer of 1987, I was 18.

Stood on that paving stone, I was pleased to be facing an unknown future.

Because I’d had my fill of the fucked-up present that I knew.

And for that, I felt grateful.

Excited.

Alive.

In the summer of 2023, I was 55.

Stood on that paving stone, I was again pleased to be facing an unknown future.

Not because I’d had my fill of the fucked-up present that I knew.

Life’s good.

But because I realised that, in the 37 years between the two most memorable times I’d stood on that one paving stone.

I had avoided something that, back in 1997, worried me more than anything else.

I realised that as I stood on that paving stone in 2023.

37 years after being dropped off in Newcastle.

I realised I had not become the man that drove me there.

2023.

Looking back can be a bad thing to do.

But sometimes.

It’s good.

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