Ste (Dina)

It was many moons ago when I first saw Ste, I remember quite clearly, one of a few memories that remain clear to this day. It was parents evening at school which puts the time at around 1976, I was just growing into the teen I became and felt good. I was good with my dad. He came across in a positive way I probably judged by looking and comparing with the other dads that night. Talking of dads, Ste’s dad was definitely positive, he was short but had a smartness about him and a kindly appearance. One up to Ste, pity he did not have his dad’s features, his nickname from before I met him was Dina, because his jaw made his head look like a dinosaur. Anyway that is when I first came across him. He was wearing a long cardigan that had its own belt which he had used to wrap the cardy  closed. Back then there was a detective on TV that had made the cardigan pretty much the fashion in some parts. Starsky and Hutch and I think it was Starsky that wore the cardigan. When Ste wore it though because he is very short it seemed to stretch from head to toe, it buried him but you could tell that he felt really cool. On his feet and they were the fashion that is not an issue, he had the duck shoes. The front of the sole opened up to almost a full circle, and people wore them, I couldn’t get any cos we were poor. Again on Ste they looked like clown shoes and I remember stifling a laugh. Maybe that might have formed the way we interacted from that moment on. I do not mean that I looked on him as a clown far from it but I guess I did not take him too seriously.

I never saw it coming and was surprised when I heard that he was smoking crack. Not shocked because so many people were getting involved in one way or another that the surprise element had left the building. We had drifted apart toward the last months arguing over a girl. Same argument we always had since the days when we would be in his bedroom spraying his dads deodorant around getting ready for the youth club disco. His mum would be out all night and his dad wouldn’t be back till three am, popping in about midnight to check on us. As a taxi driver it was flexible to check on us but we were pretty much respectful of the house and the rules. His mom worked two shifts sometimes because back then the work was needed, she was a nurse at St Marys Hospital. I was staying at Steve’s for the summer holidays and having a ball. Totally different to where I lived in the flats in Moss Side, it was semi detached houses and youth clubs and pretty girls two big parks and plenty of trees and gardens. I was made to feel really welcome by his parents and I knew his older brother already, so I was having the best time. We made plans every day before we decided to do anything, and it always involved girls. We laughed a lot, and got involved in all kinds of mischief but never trouble. Giving ourselves handles and going on CB radio at night was something we would do at night trying to hook up with girls. We had our first real fall out that summer and it was over a girl. When we left school we lost touch for a few y ears until one day we met and he had his own flat two bus stops up so we were inseperable for a bit, again. His flat actually became the place to be for a bit, and we had one mutual friend so that helped as well. Everyone would meet at his before going out at night and some good times happened. He met his first baby mother living there and they went through a lot together. She gradually forced him to grow up and stop having people using his flat although it was not easy for her because Ste loved having people in and out in fact he was the main instigator after me. He loved girls coming round at all times and we met some girls together often. We were competitive as I recall regarding most things back then. When an argument over a football match was getting too heated it was him and me up front on behalf of our teams. Everybody had to control us because I threw a bottle of water at him I think, or passed him a bottle and threw it too hard I am not 100% We were the two that were about to fight before everyone stepped in and cooled it down. After he moved his girl in with him we might still see each other at the nightclubs. The next spot became a flat in Hulme so after the club people went toward Hulme and not Longsight any more but Ste would come to Hulme as well so we still talked and seen each other about. Come to think of it the most important maybe it was Ste that took me to the next level regarding music. I would be all Earth Wind and Fire and Ste would come with Brothers Johnson and Dexter Wansell and I would be like “yes” Yeah Stevie loved his jazz soul and I had a whole new perspective from Ste’s knowledge. He was a cool cat that is the truth. He would have loved Game of Thrones if he was around today and he would want France to win the Euros. Ste went through some hard times too, he always had a condition to do with his breathing but I don’t remember exactly. I remember seeing him at his flats and we were high on the balconies looking down on this particular cold night. He was hungry and had no money and was making choices unlike him, typically nothing I may have said registered, his mind was made up. Actually I was reminded that I could go home at anytime and eat food. He was hungry. A few days later I heard about him being arrested attempting to steal a bag of money from  a person emptying the coins from machines in pubs. The person he was with used excessive violence but he took the biggest sentence and it was his first time, six years and with hard core villains because it was classed as robbery he would serve two thirds of the sentence instead of half. That is the worst result that could have happened to him but it did. I went on a few visits while he was still in Manchester and could see that he was struggling but after he got transferred to Nottingham jail things got better for him, I went about three times to Nottingham and it turns into a whole day of planning and stuff, getting a few others to come as well. When he came out of jail he changed and got very moody and dark, our last argument was about rap music and not girls but it was the last time we spoke. I heard stories like gossip I suppose. One was that he was smoking crack and he lived in Salford. Then I heard he had been found dead on his settee by his brother, three days after falling dead from a mixture of smoking crack and having bad lungs. He had been coughing blood at the end I heard at the wake. I went to the funeral as well. He was a good guy Ste and even though we were not talking he played a big part in my life.

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