‘Red’ Pete was as left-wing as they came. Few on campus could match his fire for hard-line, unforgiving, Marxist-Leninist rhetoric. Even within the sanctum of his own set you had to be wary of expressing the wrong opinions to Pete: get in his bad books and you’d be labelled ‘capitalist swine'; sometimes he’d say it with a smile, sometimes not.
Pete and I stayed close over the years, but drifted as friends. I still see him most days at work – ‘Sir’ Peter on his way to the boardroom, me on my way to the factory floor.
I like to think he’s still a revolutionary at heart.
By day our top floor apartment echoed to the sounds of learning: flats where manuscripts said sharps; clashing C minors in place of sweeping D majors. On the faded green settee proud parents sat nodding nervously in time.
By night the door was firmly locked, blinds drawn and the heavy curtains closed. It would then be her turn. There were never any missed notes; never anybody to listen except me.
Mother had played Carnegie Hall at 14, for a President at 15. By 17 I was born, and nobody seemed interested in her any more.
Mr Juniper lived alone at the end of Cotton Lane. The sprawling branches of an untamed Oak meant it always looked dark in there, even in summer; summer was the only time we ever went inside. He ran the athletics club, the papers said he was a state champion in his day.
We always used to change in the room at the back. Dust covered every surface. Above the blocked fireplace he had one of those big, ugly moose heads – it was a dump, but he was a good coach.
Mr Juniper now lives in the Morndale Penitentiary. I never saw the eyes move, but the jury were sure.