Mark Me Absent

Dave and I used to bunk off college to go skateboarding, smoke cigarettes and listen to Metallica. Somehow we’d found ourselves ‘attending’ the Media Studies course together at Wakefield College, having spent the last five years at comprehensive school being aware of each other but not really knowing one another that well. I was the small kid who played guitar but was otherwise unremarkable and Dave was the skater who spent most of his time in the headmaster’s office, or so it seemed.

Pretty quickly we found that neither of us were interested enough in the course to give it our all due to our other preoccupations, such as being a rock star (me) and getting a job and earning some money (Dave), hence the regular bunking off. After Dave had skated his way expertly around the streets of Gawthorpe, popping ollies, kickflips and a variety of rail slides along the way – as I spent most of my time expertly falling off in my futile attempts at getting that damned skateboard to do anything other than just roll along the tarmac – we’d retire to his house, ensuring mum was at work first, and listen to …And Justice For All while leaning out of the bedroom window smoking cigarettes and marvelling at the complexity and speed of Kirk Hammett’s guitar solos or the sheer weight of James Hetfield’s riffs, some of which I’d learned and then showed Dave how to play.

Suffice to say, despite somehow making it onto the second year of the course, neither of us covered ourselves in academic glory. I barely scraped a pass and I don’t think Dave cared enough by then to even turn up for the end of course exams. For a short while we went our separate ways. I went back to college to study something I was actually interested in and Dave got on with earning himself a living.

Its all a bit hazy now but at some point we started spending time together again. By this time we were both self-employed, myself as a freelance sound engineer and Dave ran his own print shop with his brother Danny. Dave was doing well for himself, had his own place, his own car and some money in the bank, which I think was pretty much what he wanted out of life back when we were not studying at college together. His work ethic was second to none. I was self-employed but at that time I lacked the drive and pragmatism that Dave had to be successful – my head was still very much up in the clouds still dreaming of rock stardom. Was I jealous? A bit.

When I formed an originals band called Chief Mclean Dave quickly became our number one fan and for a short time he was our only fan, but his dedication and commitment to the cause and his encouraging enthusiasm for what we did were at once inspiring and unwavering. Certainly, he spurred me on even in times when it all seemed pointless, however, eventually, inevitably, Chief Mclean fizzled out, but out of its ashes arose the second incarnation of The Ned Rierson Trio, a covers band comprising all the members of Chief Mclean plus Dave on guitar.

And that is how I met your mother… I mean, came to be in a band with Dave.