So, tomorrow is 2nd October, the day my blue eyed, blonde boy was born; he’d have been 27! Goodness that makes me old! Whereas Luke will be Forever 21 – I’m sure there’s a name for a shop there! It’s funny one thing I never do is imagine how he’d be now, what his life would be, would he be married? Would he have kids? I have a to of Luke’s friends on Facebook and to start with I must confess it was a little hard to see how their lives were progressing. But I love seeing their news, the girlfriends/boyfriends then wives/husbands and of course for a few children. One particular friend of his, Gavin was a similar scallywag to Luke as they were growing up; if there was trouble to be found they were usually in or around it. But Gavin has sorted his life out in a spectacular way with a beautiful wife and 2 gorgeous sons. I know Luke would be thrilled for him. I keep alluding to Luke’s teenage years so I think maybe now’s the time to share.
Luke set the bar for the number of detentions a school could give a student in a week; he managed 5 Reds in a week; the most serious of punishments; in the scheme of things I’m not so sure his ‘crimes’ were all that awful but I fear he attended a school that couldn’t cope with ‘challenging’ boys. I was a governor at a local primary school as the kids were growing up (I actually married the Headteacher – The Scandal!) and I could spot which boys would fall foul of their school when they moved on; I’m afraid I was proved right almost without fail! It wasn’t too long; once Luke hit maybe 14 that he started being excluded from school; tat of course gave him a lot of free time as I was working during term time. Give a troublesome teen extra time and they will often come to the attention of the police. I should most probably admit that Essex Police and I weren’t very good friends by the time Luke’s dealings with them were done and dusted. So – an I might be a bit biased – warning given! One delightful such interaction came when a couple of post bags were stolen in our road; one was found in a house nearby and they apparently collared Luke for the other. The police went to Luke’s school; which seemed slightly odd as he was hardly a flight risk at 15! They were allowed to arrest him and in fact walked him through the corridors in front of the kids moving lessons in handcuffs. Luke hadn’t stolen the bag; but the police took his back door key and let themselves into our house. Yep, with no warrant or no knowledge on our part! They found some lighter flints; Luke had picked them up after a local shop was robbed and they were dropped. In my naivety I didn’t think Luke needed a solicitor; however Luke told the police he’d known the flints were stolen; he received a warning for ‘handling stolen goods’ – seriously?? That was the start of a long haul as far as the local constabulary were concerned.
There was a lot of low level nuisance going on in the town we lived in at the time and the police were keen to make some examples; Luke became their first target. He’d been involved with a group of boys in throwing some rocks at an industrial estate, windows were broken. I marched Luke to the station and asked for him to meet the man who’s livelihood had been affected in order to apologise and make some contribution to the damage. Another couple of the boys came too. It was interesting that the whole thing suddenly became the idea of the police for the newspapers. In retrospect Luke had far too much freedom and seemed intent on not doing the right thing. However he didn’t hurt anyone nor steal (as far as I know!) – oh, other than from his family that is! I know that when I got the photos from Thailand back I’d find at least one of him playing with a little one. He simply adored little kids and they loved him too. A trait he’s passed onto both his brother and sister. We babysat one night for a friend who’d looked after Jake for far too many hours; did I get a chance to hug her beautiful baby girl? Did I heck! Luke had her or the whole evening; including nappy changes! (I must add his girlfriend Amy was on hand to help too). So. a nuisance, yes, a criminal? Not really; a politician at the time said – ‘You can judge a nation by how it treats its children’ as much as Luke was a pain in the ar*e he really didn’t deserve the treatment meted out. His claim to fame? He became the 2nd person in Essex at 16 years of age to have an ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) the 1st was I believe younger again. It took Essex Police 5 months and in the end a Barrister to get their ASBO; the joys of facing a Mum who could stand in court and discuss with a District Judge the conditions of said ASBO. It got to the stage where the Judge knew me and greeted me with a smile; I imagine i wasn’t the most popular person with the police. At the start of the process with an interim set of conditions in place Luke breached the order; he walked 100 yards in the wrong direction and had a small amount of cannabis in his pocket. An ASBO is a civil order a breach a criminal offence. Luke had gone a step too far in breaking the order of a Judge – he was sent to a Young Offenders Institute – otherwise known as prison for 2 months. In fact as I sit here on the eve of his birthday I recall he was in a cell for his 17th birthday, oh and then later for his 18th birthday too! That wasn’t the best I must confess, for Luke or for his family; but we all survived it and learnt from it. Even my lovely Mum visited Luke of this 18th – I can’t begin to think what she thought of it – but she loved that boy a lot I do know that.
There were even funny times through that whole process of court and prison; I was asked by a court usher one day who I was representing; it seemed we didn’t present as the usual attendees – I explained that I was actually the mother of ‘customer’ they were to say the least surprised. I can look back now and realise that although it was a torrid time it put Luke and I together a lot. It meant I spent more time with a teenager than most Mums would – albeit often in a court room – there’s a whole lot of waiting around believe me! Luke learnt a lot about others from different places and backgrounds in the ‘institute’ – (prison) and leant to play table tennis like a pro! Other than that? Not a hugely useful experience – but it will have helped to form the man he became. Oh, and yet – not a tidy one clearly! I’ll use the excuse that he was rebelling against the whole experience – and yet I know he was just a messy b*gger! Signing off on that note – I know i’m going higgledy piggledy (spellcheck just allowed that term!) but hopefully it’s reading ok! 🙂