• James Hewlett

Freaks and Geeks

I was thinking about the old group of friends in Southampton the other day. I haven’t seen any of them in a while but I still talk to a few of them fairly regularly. Even the ones I haven’t seen or spoken to in ages I know if we met up for a drink we would pick up right where we left off as if nothing changed. It’s a cool feeling.

I think for a lot of people the group of friends they have in their early twenties is the group of friends that sticks with them for most of their lives. For some that will be university friends, for some that will be work friends and for others it will be just who they happen to gravitate to around that time. The people I think about when I talk about my group of Southampton friends are kind of a mix of all three.

Everyone will have their own history with others in the group and different entry points. A lot of them cross over. For me it starts with my job at the comic book shop. Thats where I met the initial few people and it expanded from there.

When I started the shop was in the process of moving to a new location and had both running simultaneously for a few weeks. Teesh and I were the two employees who would be working at the old store until it closed and then we moved over to the new store. We became fast friends and fucked around killing the time. We were very much part of the ‘new guard’ at the shop, within that first year almost everyone who had worked there previously left and we assumed the roles they once held. It was a lot of fun and we met a lot of cool people with similar interests and tendencies to us.

Allan was one of those people. He was a regular at the shop, always coming in to buy his comics on release day and then periodically throughout the rest of the weeks. We got friendly but it took his girlfriend at the time to ask if me and Teesh wanted to go for beers with them sometime. They had also just recently moved into one of the flats above the store so we saw a lot of them and began hanging out a lot. Allan was from Portsmouth and we actually knew a lot of the same people as his most of his friends down there were customers of mine at the bar I was DJing at. He had moved to Southampton to go to university and then after dropping out had stuck around.

One of his best friends from uni was Kesley. First time I met Kez he was down visiting Allan I think. He must have been down for a little while, living on the sofa, but he then moved back to London briefly before fully moving back to Southampton. A few of their other friends from uni visited occasionally and, for me anyway, are always sort of ancillary members of the core Southampton group.

All roughly around the same sort of time Teesh moved back to London, Allan and his girlfriend broke up causing him/us to start drinking and going out more, Al and Kez’s uni roommate Jamie moved in and we all started hanging out at a coffee shop in town, usually during my lunch breaks the others would be just waking up and needing to nurse their hangovers. This led to us meeting and befriending one of the guys who worked there Ryan, his girlfriend at the time Kat, their friend Hannah and a couple of other friends.

They would come out with us occasionally but not as much as Kez and Allan were going out.

I couldn’t tell you how they met Harry, Rutter and the rest of that student house but nothing would particularly surprise me. They were all a good few years younger than us but fit in well.

One night we were walking to a bar we frequented from Allan’s flat and we past a karaoke night in progress. We were all drunk enough already to decide it was a great idea and so a month or two long tradition was born! Harry and Hannah started dating, Teesh came to visit and Jamie was smitten, Allan… was Allan and Kez was drunk through most of it!

Harry, Rutter, Al and Kez all started working at the Odeon around that time. I couldn’t tell you for how long each other than Harry left to get a real job after uni, based on what he had studied. Allan left for undisclosed reasons to work at various bars and coffee shops for a few years and Kez was very unfairly fired. Rutter still works there and is now a manager.

After Kat and Ryan broke up he moved away, going back home to Nottingham, he’s still there and happily engaged and they own a home together.

Jamie moved back to London and ended up getting together with Teesh despite her turning him down a few times. They’ve been together years now and have a super cute little doggo named Titan.

Allan followed a girl Leicester after only being together a short while and was there for a few years. He moved back almost two years ago and they shortly thereafter broke up. He fell back into his old ways again for a while until he and Kat got together and are both really happy.

When those guys all moved away I actually ended up becoming a lot tighter with Kez and Rutter and would see Harry and Hannah quite a bit too.

They unfortunately had a messy break up and not too long later both moved to different parts of London.

Kez was the last to leave but he definitely made the best exit. He had been wanting to move to Japan for years and eventually found a teaching job in China. We had to check but apparently he does realise they’re very different counties. He waited until after our wedding, where he was a groomsman and fucking brilliant and hilarious all day, and then he was gone not long after! He’s been in China for over a year now. I still talk to him, not as much as I should, and we’re hoping we’ll be able to see him at some point in our travels later in the year.

I still speak to Rutter the most, at least a few times a week, as he’s one of the founding members of the fantasy football league. We get together whenever possible to watch football and it is always a lot of fun.

Its weird when I think about each person individually as for them, what they consider to be ‘the group’ is probably very different, I’m almost certainly not even in some peoples line-ups being relegated to a supporting player in the same way I think of some of the others. But for me, the people I named; Teesh, Allan, Kez, Rutter, Harry, Jamie, Hannah, Ryan, that is the group. It is a specific group from a specific time. Some people left and other people joined and were just as integral. People got great jobs and new and happy lives, others had a lot of shit and are still trying to find their place. And Kez, the least likely to ever leave the country now lives seventy miles outside of Shanghai! It’s a weird world.

I loved having all those people together in the same place for the first time in years at our wedding. It was really great and everyone seemed like they had an awesome time… an open bar will do that among that group!

I love my friends, even if I don’t really see them very much anymore.

#friendship #family #happiness #nightlife #memories #me #drinking


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