Can you can admire and hate someone at the same time? Such was the case with Foxy.
I was 11 and it was my first trip abroad, a school trip to France. We set off on a coach from our school, Belmont in Durham at a quarter-to-early o’clock in the morning and headed south. Somewhere in the Midlands we stopped at a public school to pick up some older kids, presumably to share the cost of the visit. They were older than us, probably even as old as 14. One of them was a ginger curly-haired boy called Foxy.
The coach got onto the ferry at Dover. I felt queasy so couldn’t eat any breakfast. We were back on the coach in France and my travel sickness continued, fueled by the potent smell of teenage cigarettes that fumigated the coach. We stopped at some service station for lunch, but I couldn’t eat anything. Not even a salad, each of which was accompanied by a large green slug. Later we learnt it was a gherkin. We didn’t have gherkins in the North-East.
We drove on to Paris and spent a few days there in a guest house, then onto Orleans where we stayed in small chalets. Me, Richard, Steven and Ian stuck together and enjoyed our adventure. We didn’t see the older boys and girls much. We didn’t buy fireworks and throw them around or get drunk or smoke. We did drink too much hot chocolate at breakfast though.
But occasionally I’d notice Foxy. He was just a little bit cool, a little bit self-reliant and a little bit confident. He didn’t care about peer pressure or the official tours.
On the coach journey back he’d acquired a girlfriend and with his arm nonchalantly draped around her, rested his head on her chest as he defaced the white cotton head rest cover in front with her pink nail varnish. In big sparkly pink letters he wrote the word, ‘Foxy’ and underlined it.
Can you can admire and hate someone at the same time? Defacing the coach paraphernalia riled with my sense of fair play. But the guts, or arrogance to not care about what other people think and do it anyway was something I admired. I wanted to be Foxy, put my feet up on the coach seats, get the girl.
I don’t know what happened to Foxy after that. Maybe he went from strength to strength. Maybe he’s out there now, driving around in a convertible Bentley, head of investments at a large hedge fund. Maybe he’s a successful raconteur, a mover and shaker in the film business, now living in LA. Or maybe he peaked age 14 and it was downhill from there. Maybe now he’s fat and old, been made redundant from the local car dealer, just divorced from his third wife, paying what money he can to the children he had with the first. Or maybe he’s the same old Foxy, a free spirt, no-one can tie him down, always on the go.
That was the first time I recognised self confidence in action. I knew it was something I wanted. It took me another ten years before I could claim it for myself.
When did you claim yours?
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