Gary, or Gaz as he was then, convinced me to move to London to share a bedsitter.
Prior to that we'd shared pretty much everything else you could think of - apart from each others bodies...we weren't that way inclined. Beer, women (or girls at that time), fights, getting bollocked by parents and police.
We were pretty wild kids to be honest - although not especially malicious.
We did everything together. Played football for the school team, smoked cigarettes behind the school army cadet truck, shagged girls in the school army cadet truck....
Gary has 4 brothers. David, the oldest, Paul, Nigel and Graham.
One night, in the bedsit in Hounslow, Gary rang home to discover his baby brother Graham had a burst appendix and was gravely ill.
We hitched a lift back up north in an articulated lorry.
The driver kept getting drowsy and saying he had to stop so me and Gary took turns driving this massive truck (at the ages of 19 and without even a car licence) up the motorway heading north.
Not only did we, and many many other car drivers survive this lunacy, more importantly, Graham survived.
I probably spent more time around Gary's house than I did my own. His mum and dad were my mum and dad to me. His brothers were the brothers I'd always wished I had - selfishly so there was someone else for The Dragon to beat up.
At 21 years old he married - too young. He was trying to grow up and mature, I was heading down a very slippery alcohol and drug induced slope. We were growing apart. He'd protected me for so long he had to move on, with or without me.
Entirely because of my penchant for self destruction we eventually lost touch after I caused a fight at his wedding and, as he has admitted, he thought 'Bammy lad....you're lost...I can't stop this...I tried' - and he bloody well did try too.
This was the days before mobile phones and the internet so, when you 'lost touch' it was hard to find anyone again. Of course I could have contacted his mum and dad but I was far too wrapped up in self destruction to think of anything obvious like that.
By the time I met Caz - who saved me from myself - it was all a long time ago and, well, I didn't think anyone from those days would want to know me.
At the age of 49 Gary contacted me on 'Friends Reunited'......'I think it's time we had a beer' he said.
My daughter drove me to the appointed pub and I walked in and immediately recognised him after 28 years.
It felt like I'd seen him last week.
Is it weird?
Since that day we're close again....as close as we were all those years ago. His son told me he was quite tearful that evening when he got home. So was I.
There's a few - more than a few - cracking tales of what Gaz 'n Bammy got up to but, for now, I have my pal back. And even better, after meeting his first younger brother Paul on a trip up north last year, I got to meet the other brothers this weekend at Gary and Cassie's Silver Wedding bash.
"You haven't changed a bit have you Bammy?" they said - which may quite possibly be a worry.
Caz took a while to get used to everyone there calling me 'Bammy' as it's not a name she's particularly familiar with. EVERYONE called me 'Bammy'.....I felt like a kid again!
Paul hadn't made it down in person but his sons were there......"BAMMY!...We grew up hearing about you! Everybody said you must be dead!!"....oh dear....
"You were a name that never went away Bammy!" said Nigel, "Tales of you were told many a night"
Gary's dad died many moons ago but I have been to see 'mum' a couple of times.
"We never forgot you Bammy. I'm so glad you're alright now" she said to me.
The Silver Wedding was slightly unreal to me. My pal? Silver Wedding?....Still, I've had one with Caz so I suppose time happens and stuff happens.
Oldest brother David smiled at me benevolently and, I suspect, wondered how the hell I was still around - although he seemed genuinely pleased that I was.
I hadn't seen, or spoken, to my adopted brothers for over 34 years and it might as well have been yesterday.
If you ever want to understand the true meaning of the word 'PALS' it's here. Gary and his brothers.
Caz never gave up on me. Gary and his brothers never did - apart from considering the possibility I was dead.
Still, I'm not so I was there and I'm so glad and happy I was.
Thanks Gaz. The kids you grow up with are the kids who remember you and the kids who'll always be there for you - when they finally find you again.
Bammy 'n Gaz
Bammy 'n Dave
Bammy, Gaz 'n Dave
Bammy, Gaz 'n Dave singing 'Heroes' in Spanish....it's a looong story....
My best PAL ever...always
When you find a true PAL...never lose them...never lose touch with them....keep them. You'll never replace them...
Gary told Cassie (who I met for only the second time that night....she's a babe!!!...that if they made 25 years he would sing 'Hero' to her...in Spanish...AND HE DID!!!! INCREDIBLE!!! THE OLD BUGGER CAN SING!!!....I wondered why he asked me to print this songs lyrics out in Spanish at 11:30 pm the night before....we all sang along - although we reverted to English in the end....after THAT much alcohol English was hard enough!!!
Cassie cried a bit. My old PAL is an old romantic after all...he's also something of a hero of mine....er...not quite like the song I hasten to add!!! ;-)
Sing along now!!!.......and I'm nicking Gary's idea.....for you Carol.....totally for you xxx
Laters and let's be careful out there....