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What a Character

24/10/2011

I suppose Patrick wanted to fit in more than anything else.  He had a problem when he wasn’t the same as the people around him.  His assumptions about other people were flawed; he was driven to acquire money, not be in debt, and to be respected for the size of his wallet and he expected other people to be driven the same way, especially other working class blokes like himself.  Patrick never quite saw that you could agree to differ.  If he saw a flaw in your arguments, if your acts did not match your deeds he would raise an arm and his voice in triumph and crush you with your mistake.

Patrick had started life in the traveller community and through an unexplained episode in his younger life escaped into the army.  He fitted here.  The army breaks you into bits and rebuilds someone in their desired image. Since Patrick no longer wanted to be who he had been, this suited him.  He was stationed in Germany for a while but when a relationship turned domestic with the arrival of a daughter, Patrick took the opportunity to duck out of the Army by being court-marshalled after hitting an officer.  After he left the Glasshouse he left his family and disappeared.

I met Patrick working in the scrap metal business.  We shared a table in a working man’s cafe in Edmonton round the corner from the small yard he owned. He didn’t look his age, somehow he looked around mid thirties rather than his actual 43.  His hair was black and swept straight back from his forehead as if Elvis would thank him for the affectation.  He looked intently at the economic text book I was reading – ‘That teaching you anything mate’ he said.  He picked up his Daily Mail and showed me the front page with its usual dose of outrage and scaremongering.  ‘This is what tells it as it is’ he said, nudging his small side-kick next to him for approval.

Perhaps it was me that didn’t fit in here.

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