I went to a Pet Shop Boys gig in Chicago. They were halfway through their set when they played Suburbia.
I had never really made the connection between you and the Pet Shop Boys before, but suddenly I realised that the first Pet Shop Boys music I ever had was a taped copy of their Disco remix album that you made for me.
You must have had it for Christmas that year, in 1986. I would have been 12, and you were 11. I clearly remembered you playing Suburbia on the stereo in your room, and during the Pet Shop Boy’s live performance, I couldn’t help but sing along, taken by surprise by this new memory, with tears slowly streaming down my face.
You were more like a brother than a friend. Looking back, we rarely did anything at all as adults, not much beyond getting together and talking, having a drink, having a laugh, sharing our thoughts. We just enjoyed each other’s company.
I can’t express how much I miss you.
There are, of course, memories that immediately spring to mind: playing in the sand as kids; playing with Star Wars toys in our gardens; skinny dipping in the river; drunken escapades in our local pubs; working in a call centre together; day trips to France; a holiday in Ibiza; camping in the garden. However, now and then, I am treated to snapshots of memories that I had forgotten all about, and Suburbia was one of those.
The drive home from the gig was a long one, through Illinois road works, in the dark and heavy rain, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I wept for most of the journey. I wasn’t weeping for the songs or for the Pet Shop Boys, but rather for the memory of that distant time, long ago, when you and I knew that we were going to be best mates forever and ever.
I wish you were still here; let’s run with the dogs tonight, in suburbia.
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