By Patric Morgan
There’s a story I need to tell you.
The reason I need to tell you my story is because I need to highlight the fact that everything you do in life has an impact. Something along the lines of that stupid butterfly in the Pacific that flaps its wings and makes it rain here in Wales.
I went to school in Barry, where I grew up, but I was a very quiet kid. Almost mute in fact. It wasn’t until I was about 6 that I started conversing with people and that wasn’t out of choice. I didn’t swear until I was 14 years old and that was because my school friend Frank had an infection in his nipple and I accidentally said the word ‘tit’.
When I realised that God hadn’t struck me down with lightning,
I assumed it was safe to carry on swearing and haven’t looked back.
At the age of 14, I still didn’t enjoy talking to people but realised that I could reach people through writing. I started an informal school magazine that I’d write in felt tip pen and staple together. It contained such news stories as ‘Old man’s botched hip operation means he can now kick his leg up
backwards and hit the back of his head — landing himself a star role in a Royal Variety Performance’.
It’s a story I used 30 years later, word for word, on WalesOnCraic, a spoof news website for Wales.
I called the magazine ‘Meekie Monthly’. Stick with me for this bit. There was a kid in our class called Liam who had lots of hair that made his head look big. For clarification, his head wasn’t big. His hair made his head look big. It was the look back then. I had a meekie too, but not as big as Liam’s.
A friend of ours remarked that Liam looked a little like the Mekon, a villain from the Dan Dare comics. ‘Mekon’ was converted to ‘meekie’ and the new magazine focused on stories of people with big heads.
Actually, it was just a piss take of my good friend Liam. The magazine got me laughs and made mr popular, albeit at my good friend’s expense. You see, I never showed Liam the magazine as I knew it’d upset him. I was getting cheap laughs at his expense. Yes. I was a coward.
A few years later, in Sixth Form College, Liam happened to see a copy of the magazine that I was still writing. He loved it but had no idea that he was the meekie that I’d based it all around. I was very relieved.
Fifteen years after we all left school and went our separate ways, Frank called me and asked if I fancied a pint in Cardiff. I agreed. Then Frank told me that Liam was coming. I hesitated. ‘I haven’t seen Liam since school,’ I said.‘You’ll be ok,’ said Frank. ‘He still doesn’t know he was the meekie kid.’
I was very nervous as I walked into the bar. My jaw was clenched tight as arseholes and my mouth was sandpaper dry. But I had no need to worry. It was as if we’d never left school.
A few beers and a few hours past. As I went to take a sip of another cold beer, I clocked my workmate Mark walking past the window. I banged on the window and we waved. Then I ran outside to say hello. I’d told Mark a few months previous to this about my meekie magazines and I
was excited to point out who was the inspiration behind it.
‘See that kid sat there in the window? That’s the original meekie.’
Mark looked unimpressed and his inability to talk properly made me realise that he was a bit worse for wear.
‘You coming to Flares?’ he asked, slurring his words. Flares was an 80s theme bar. Not my sort of thing. ‘Nah. We’re staying here thanks.’
Mark zig-zagged up the road and I headed back inside to my two friends.
A few hours later, we decided to head to another bar so headed out and up the street. Without warning, my workmate Mark popped out from down an alleyway and fell towards us, trying to zip up his trousers.
‘Just had a piss,’ he said proudly. I had no choice but to introduce him to my friends. ‘Mark — this is Frank.’ ‘Hi Frank. I’m Mark,’ he said, offering his wet hand. ‘And this is Liam,’ I continued. ‘Ah. The meekie kid,’ said Mark.
I looked at Liam. Liam looked at me. I looked at Frank. He looked at Mark. Mark looked at me. I looked at Liam. He was still looking at me. I watched in slow motion as the penny dropped and our friendship crumbled there on the pavement. A lifetime of friendship gone in an instant.
Realising his blunder, Mark made the wise decision to move on. Frank, Liam and I continued our walk in silence. It wasn’t until the next bar that Liam confronted me about it. ‘I thought you were my friend,’ he said quietly, looking at the floor.
I felt awful. I bought him a few drinks and tried to explain that the magazine had started off as a piss take but soon moved onto
other things. He wasn’t buying any of it at first.
It was only when the bar was chucking out that he reluctantly accepted that I was still his friend and that it wasn’t as if the whole school knew he was the meekie kid apart from him. Which it was. We decided to call it a night. The night hadn’t gone as well as we’d hoped and my friendship with Liam was left in tatters. We decided to cut down Chippy Lane, grab a cab and go our separate ways once again.
As we were making our way through the drunken crowds, a van behind beeped and we turned around to see that it was a police van. The sort we called the Riot Box because its windows were all barricaded with mesh.
The van tooted again and moved to pass us.
All of a sudden, a copper stuck his head out of the window and shouted:
‘Oi! Move out of the…’ He never finished his sentence. At exactly the same time, we realised that this riot cop was in factour friend Dai from school.
He shouted: ‘Oh my God! It’s Frank! It’s Paddy.
And fuck me, it’s the meekie kid!’
Barry-born Patric is a former teacher but now publishes his own award-winning magazines in Cardiff. He is also the creator of the cult website WalesOnCraic. Under the pen name of Derek the Weathersheep.
Patric’s book ‘Fifteen Grades of Hay’ was an international bestseller. He self-published the book ‘How My Blog Got 1 Million Visits in 7 Months’, which held the #1 spot on Kindle for four years. He now lives in Cardiff with his wife and his dog and occasionally ventures out to buy teabags.
Thanks to Patric for writing exclusively for Mrs SVJ – the community blog of Sue Vincent-Jones. Sue is a journalist, editor, and communications specialist who blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a quirky, and queer, girl done good.
One of Wales Arts Review 100 Women Writers of Wales, the dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, will keep you “informed, entertained and inspired.”