I find sometimes Americans have a rather skewed view of school days in England as a jolly hockeysticks kind of jape in which we all wore caps, sang the National Anthem every morning and looked fresh faced like Harry Potter.
Image by ''Atelier Joly''
Not when you attended a blue collar comprehensive in a third tier cathedral city like Gloucester. Those parties that Abi so graphically described in which you end up supping beer full of cigarette butts and various unsavory goings-on were taking place, were my parties.
And while I swear I didn't partake in the trashing of Dominic's house while his parents are away, I may well have woken up next morning clutching his True album by Spandau Ballet which I may or may not have returned. "Listening to Marvin all night long," the sound of my soul was drowned out by cheap Thunderbird wine, always the last thing to go at a party.
Sixth form parties took place at the Bristol Hotel, a tall and ramshackle ediface on the crumbling outskirts of the city center - the area dubbed the Zone of Transition in Weber's classic model.
We were certainly in transition, although less from boys to men than from four legged apes to apes who could stand on two feet. I recall Pashley in the urine stinking toilets of the Bristol. A grammar school reject in his sharp paisley scarf and long coat, a dangerous and edgy little version of David Bowie who was his hero.
"I'm going to f.... kill him," he said, as we tried to restrain him.
The only trouble was the "him" was Mr. Peters the science teacher. Pashley casually proceeded out of the toilers, crossed the capets stained with beer and crisps and the cracked concrete dance floor and punched Mr Peters on the nose.
The Bristol was the scene of much soft core debauchery. A bad night was a night when you went home having not snogged the face off a couple of almost strangers under the influence of a few pints of Tennents Extra lager and not even recalling the girls' names in the morning.
But the most memorable of sixth form parties was in another venue, a squat little place in the park. Mr. H, the music teacher, showed up with his retro disco and his latest girlfriend who had left school a week prior.
Mr D. the P.E teacher was muttering "wanker" under his breath but loud enough for Mr. H, whose hairy belly was sticking out under a yellow string top that was in vogue then, to hear.
We all got horrendously drunk and then as the party wound down, came to grips with the pressing problem of how we would get home. A taxi was the obvious answer but we had spent all of our money on lager. Gary - another spontaneous red head - offered to give me a ride home. I hesitated for a moment. He had drank more lager than me and was swaying around.
But then I thought of the alternative; walking home for miles on end and probably giving another midnight call to Kirk in which his parents would be right royally miffed when they were woken up at midnight to the sight of my friend Dean throwing up in their flower bed.
I climbed into the back of Gary's new car with another kid whose identity I can't now recall. Rob squeezed into the middle between us and Gary's friend Martin was in the front.
Even through my happy haze I started to become concerned by Gary's driving. When we dropped off Rob, Gary decided to drive his car onto his lawn and perform a couple of circles on the erstwhile manicured grass, decapitating a couple of his parents' prized gnomes in the process.
Then when someone tried to overtake him Gary decided to "give the fucker a race." The other car sped ahead and suddenly applied his brakes. Gary's car smashed into the back of him, turning his shiny green bonnet into a steaming concertina.
There was the horrid and dreadful silence you get when you are marooned past midnight in a hostile environment, before Gary climbed out to confront the other driver as we tried to dig ourselves out of the seats in front. Suddenly the other guy sped off.
Bizarrely Gary went crazy. He toped around cursing, found a phone box and called the police. The police showed up, made him blow in a bag, he tested positive and was taken down the station. By a stoke of luck he managed to test negative by the time he was given a follow up blood test at the police station.
It was the craziest end to any sixth form party, I have attended, more crazy even than snogging a girl with braces like the Hoover dam. The police spent a lot of time around my house taking witness statements in which I glossed over the fact Gary was drunk and had given the other driver a race.
I'm not proud to recall those sixth form parties but you certainly could not call them uneventful.