In the early days of this site I wrote a fair few pieces which featured my old friend and workmate Patrick Kearney, the man otherwise known as ‘PK’. He was the one who first bought me malt whiskey, who set me up with my first ‘proper’ girlfriend, who drove me to Ludlow and who had a major role in what still ranks as one of the craziest days of work of my life
I have not told you much about the man himself, though. Tall, thin, bespectacled and gangly, he was in some respects an older version of me. By the time I met him he had become one of the few full time employees at Leamington McDonald’s; having failed his A levels on at least two occasions he had decided instead to devote himself to working for the clown, something which he did for every minute available to him.
One thing that I have never fathomed out about PK is whether he was desperately insecure and keen to be liked, or incredibly over-confident and attention-seeking. Certainly, he loved to shock people. At a time when most people of our age were developing a political consciousness and, by and large, veering to the left wing, PK was so resolutely right wing that one of his favourite claims was that a local printer had refused to make him a t-shirt saying ‘String Up Nelson Mandela’. Having reached the age where he could drive, and having enough money to buy a second hand car, he seemed determined to prove that the laws of the road did not apply to him, driving unaccompanied for months before passing his driving test, often driving after having several drinks and yes, I was stupid and impressionable enough to be his passenger.* In fact, on one occasion, my sister Karen greatly upset him by refusing to let him give her a lift home after he had been drinking. I took his side. He and I were the idiots.
None of which is to suggest that PK was in any way a bad person. It was all teenage posturing, although as I say I am not sure of which kind. To put it bluntly, we loved the guy. He was generous to a fault, the first to step in if someone needed help and for the most part reliable. His pursuits of the various female employees were so hapless and so doomed that there was almost an unwritten rule that if PK was interested in a girl, you didn’t get in his way because, frankly, he had a tough enough time without the extra competition.**
In Wednesday’s installment, I’ll recount some specific memories of the man which illustrate what I mean, because for all of his failings this was someone you couldn’t help but like.
*I recently found out that there were 49% fewer cars on the road in those days. Which is a good thing, as one of PK’s favourite tricks was to pretend that double white lines in the centre of the road turned the highway into a Scalextric track, meaning that you had to drive down the middle of them. I am not sure that, nowadays, he would have got away with this unharmed
**Even I, who stood less chance of getting a date that he did, stood aside on a couple of occasions. Which at least prevented me from making a fool of myself.