He had this cream and brown box-shaped car.  The way I remember him, he would be someone I might find interesting now, at first sight.  He lived on our close.  In my memory he was a detached and heavy character with a rugged, serious face.  He seemed tired.  He had an air of something ‘other’ about him, not a bad air, not to me, anyway, not remembering him now.  I’m thinking he was the sort of person who, if I had known him and talked to him, knowing him might have drawn a lot of tears from me.  In a good way and as an adult.  But we used to have this rhyme about him, so getting to know him never really occured to me as an option.  I don’t know if it was just in our family, or what, but the rhyme went:

Sam, Sam, dirty old man/Washed his face in a frying pan/Combed his hair with a garden rake/And gave his wife bellyache.

He was just one of those dour, detached people.  I remember him well.

I wish I had known him.  It feels like a gap in my heart.  I don’t know if he had any friends.  I don’t even know if he lived with anyone, I only remember seeing him on his own.  I think he had a whippet.

I’m wondering who he was, behind that rhyme.  I don’t know.  Old memories play strange tricks.

I think what I am really feeling is grief, sorrow, for the rhyme, for some reason.  I can’t really analyse it.  If I had some peace and quiet, perhaps I could, I don’t know.  Maybe I feel an affinity with him.  I feel as if he is someone I would like to turn to at the moment.  But I am sure he is long gone.  With his whippet.  And Mr Sutton and his ice cream van.

I liked his van best, it was good, solid ice cream, none of this Mister Softee rubbish.  Mister Softee was good for ‘oysters’.  Overall I preferred Mr Sutton.  It was him I went out to with a big lump on my forehead and two black eyes, so I was told, when I went flying over my mum’s feet.  Blam, flat on the floor on my face.  I remember the incident, and there is a photo of me with the lump on my head.  I don’t remember my eyes being black.  Maybe it was just a song.  I was about six.  I must have been.  She was pregnant with Jason, the little brother I never saw, because he died at 22 hours old.

I’m not sure what I am crying for, or why I am thinking so much, ‘I wish’.  Why am I crying for Jason, the little baby with the jet black hair, that I never even saw?  He would be 44 now.  NHS ambulance mess up.

Edit: Correction – when I wrote this he would have been 43.  I had him born a year earlier than he was.  We never talked about it.

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