New schools were a nightmare for Mike and he knew about new schools. Dad was in the Army, something hush-hush meaning that him and his mum had to move every year. Just in case.They learned never to ask too much.
Mike was a man-child of 14, tall for his age, blue eyes, clear skin and knew the tricks of survival. He made sure that he had the latest haircut (sixties Beatles in, mossheads out), trousers hung at the right low, the trainers the right white and label. This gave him the space to sus out who the school top crowd was and so how to increase his camouflage.
All this was necessary because Mike had a secret: he hated sports, cars, banter and loved books, film, poetry and worse was straight. He could have lived with gay; one of his Dad’s best friends was gay so he knew life could go on. It meant he could never get close as it was all pretence, all show.
One day it all changed. It was the second week at St Rushes, one of those schools that was happy being hidden in the middle, too good to merit a hard look from Inspectors and too poor to attract the social climbers. And it was a school geography trip looking at the shopping patterns in the local cloned shopping centre. Mike was paired with Paul, a rugby build six footer. As they went round, Mike noticed Paul kept not looking at the bookshops and suddenly wondered. He tested it up by making some joke up about keenies that read books and sensed that Paul’s banter was as empty as his. Taking a risk, with his heart thumping, he suggested they looked round the 'serious' bookshop. The one with books not just in the Supermarket top twenty. Paul froze and looked at Mike then smiled and said why not.
In that acceptance was Paul being Mike’s best man when he married the girl of his dreams but that is a whole other story.