Monday, 14 April 2014

Story Thirty One - Westlife

Steven made a good friend in his time in the Unit. I suspect it was fairly one way but Steven really liked this dude. Inevitably they bonded over music. He introduced Steven to Amy Winehouse and The Coral.

When it was Steven's birthday, this guy (we'll call him Danny) took charge of the party preparations. He spent all day blowing up balloons and when it came to the party, he insisted that everyone wear a tie for the occasion.

The one blemish on his cool count was his love of Westlife. One day I visited Steven and Danny was in his room with music blaring out. I counted him playing "If I Let You Go" 24 times on a loop. I asked him once why he liked Westlife so much and he told me that Kian Egan had a great black jacket. Fair enough.

One day he wasn't around and I asked where he'd gone. He was being held in the police station. the night before, he'd kicked a member of staff's car and she called the police. It was quite late at night and he had to stay on his own in a cell overnight. My guess was that she got the police involved for the insurance but it seemed very excessive to me. Steven spent an anxious few hours, fearing that Danny would be sent to jail "forever and ever".

Danny left the Unit a few weeks before Steven came home. I asked whether they could keep in touch but was told that was not possible. I had a naive fantasy that perhaps they could visit each other and sing Flying Without Wings to their hearts content. I think they would have both liked that. Steven wasn't allowed to keep in contact because of "confidentiality" reasons. I asked the Unit to pass on our number in case Danny wanted to get in touch but I don't believed they ever told him.

About a year after Steven came home, I was in the Civic Centre one day and there was Danny, waiting in reception. he was with a support worker who didn't look at me the whole time we chatted. I asked Danny how he was doing:

"Fucking shit, Steven Neary's Dad. It's a horrible place. Can I come and live with you?" He told me that he had been moved to the other side of London and was visiting today to see if he could get a move back to Hillingdon.

I wanted to whisk him off straight away. But at that moment, the social worker arrived (Steven and Danny had the same social worker) and led him off, not acknowledging me or the fact we were having a conversation at all. She's got a good track record of moving people miles away from their homes.

We never saw Danny again. But everytime we play a Westlife song, Steven talks about "my good friend Danny".

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