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First memory, wheeled in a perambulator
Facing the wrong way—throwing a howling tantrum,
Bawling, fists clenched, railing at my mother
Who blithely ignores me.

First fight, losing til I kneed him in the goolies,
And, strange to say, he then becomes a best mate.
Back home, sent to bed without my supper
Having ripped my blazer.

First book, or the first I learned to read unaided,
My fingers tracing words and the coloured pictures;
Pirates, pistols, maps, a talking parrot—
Lost in Treasure Island.

First accident, steep hill where I lost my balance,
Over the handlebars—and broke my shoulder,
Much worse, my Raleigh bent beyond repair—
The bloody bus to school.

First kiss, and a hard-on when I thought about it,
Too young to push my luck—though that came later,
Groping at her tits down by the river,
Coming in my trousers.

First band, and the mess we made of Reed and Holly,
Wheedling new equipment from our parents,
Rehearsal nights, long drives to ten quid bookings
Jammed in our rusty van.

First mock-exams and a sinking heart, well knowing
I hadn’t made the effort and had blown it.
Punched a prefect, cursed my physics teacher;
Expelled for truancy.

First job, and a pittance paid on Friday mornings.
The move from home to a lodging house, small bedsit,
Starving— learned to cook myself an omelette
And go down on a girl.

First death of friend who’d spent too long with junkies.
Raids by police who tried to frame us rotten,
Learning the courts and cops fear clout and standing.
Deciding to get rich.

First flat of my own, first furniture from junk shops,
The scavenging for rent from empty pockets,
Madcap days and nights with friends and lovers,
Living for the moment.

First love, and the easy choice— I’m way too busy,
And if ‘it flies, or floats, or fucks, then rent it’,
Something in my heart is slowly closing—
Did I even notice?

The first million and the sickly scent of hubris;
Thrill of the chase— hard scramble up the mountain,
False bravado cloaking fear of failure;
Seeking El Dorado.

First home, estates; flash cars; and the ease of power,
Art by the ton and costly first editions,
Shards of fame—the breeding of a monster,
The loyalty of friends.

First illnesses and a creeping sense of panic;
Abandoning narcotics; empty evenings;
Planting broadleaf woods brings some atonement—
If you could call it that.

First verse— to a sunlit upland bathed in wonder,
A Muse I’d never dreamed of guides my footsteps.
Much to learn and no rest for the wicked—
If such is what I am.