What's it all about Mozzy?
Going back some 25 years ago now, I used to be part of a gang. I don't mean like a criminal street gang or anything like that, although at times it may have looked similar to that. It was more of a group of friends that hung out together on certain evenings and weekends. In British terminology in is called "a lads gang". A "lad", being "a young man". And so we were just a bunch of lads who liked to spend time doing stuff together. Mostly we would play video games together, play golf together, watch films together, stuff like that. There were seven of us in all and we all had nick names.
There was "Paulie"...
Paulie was the youngest and probably the most popular in the group and it was mostly at his house that we would all meet up at. Paulie was one of the most honest people I have ever known,. I mean he always spoke the truth of and was very direct about it. He also had the most infectious laugh, which is another reason why he was so popular. Whenever he started giggling it would set of a chain reaction until we were all lying on the floor in tears of laughter holding our ribs in joyous agony.
There was "Massey"....
Massey was tall and thin. He suffered from terrible acne which never seemed to get better. This meant he had a tough time getting girlfriend. This used to get him down and to compensate he would smoke cannabis. Massey was a strange lad in that you were never really sure if you knew him. You could nit tell what on his mind. He always seemed to have this look in his eye as though he kept a dark secret inside him. Thinking back I wonder now if he perhaps had Bipolar. No wonder the group sometimes teased him by calling him "Humpty Dumpty". When he was up he was really up and when he was down he was really down. And whe he was only half way up he was neither up nor down.
Then came "Pete"...
Pete being short for Peter. OK so it´s not a real nick-name but whatever. Pete was the tough guy of the gang. Stereotypically, he was also not the most intelligent and was built like the incredible Hulk - although he was not tall. He was not particularly short either but it was as though he was wider than he was heigh. He did regular weight lifting and had the reputation for being fierce fighter. He was once jumped upon by eight muggers and he had beaten the hell out of all them. He was black and blue from bruises after the ordeal but he had put three of the muggers in hospital. Pete was not someone you would intentionally pick a fight with and he had also a delicate disposition too. He could fly off the handle easily and so there was an element of fear when he did. No one wanted to get one of his mighty fists in their face. As it turned out, it seemed that I had a strange way of calming him down quickly. Whenever he was angry I used say a famous quote of wisdom and to Pete this used to sounded, well, for want of a better word.. "girlie". "What the fuck does that mean Arthur you dick!?" He would respond, and then fall into fits of laughter. This would diffuse the situation and suddenly I had an important role to play in the dynamic of the group.
Another member was called "Brox"...
I had no idea how he got his nick-name but he was really big guy - bordering on being over weight. He looked and acted tough but everyone knew he was a coward. If there was any threat of fighting - when we were all out at a bar - Brox was always the first to leave. No one thought bad of him for this but he was never entirely trusted within the group. It was as though he was tolerated simply because he had always been there from the beginning. Brox was the person in the group I knew the least and I too did not quite trust him. I could not put my finger on why, It was just a feeling.
Now I know I said that we were lads group, but one member who was a girl. "Joanne" or "Jo" as in "Joe"- Jo was definitely an integral member of the gang. She was the classic "tom-boy" type and you even often forgot that she was a girl somethimes. However, if you took time to look at her face properly, it was clear that was very beautiful. She looked remarkably similar to the actress Mary Stewart Masterson who plays "Watts" in the classic 80s film. "Some Kind of Wonderful". They could have been twins.
Jo was super intelligent and knew just how to twist every lad around her little finger. She made her own rules in life and everyone respected them. I never ever once saw any of the lads try to seduce her, bully her or disrespect her. She was tough, beautiful but could also be very caring if she saw one of the lads was feeling down. Most often this was Massey.
Next was Bri...
Short for Brian of course - Bri was probably the most "normal" of the gang. He had done the best at school and went on to become a junior lawyer. He was a busy guy and so was not always there when we met up at Paulies house. He was slim, good looking, always wore a suit and was rather quiet but at the same time a little arrogant. I did not have a strong connection with the guy but I did not dislike him either. I think he distrusted me. I mean he never took the time to talk to me. He would just give me this cold stare as if to say "Im watching you". As I said, Bri was not always a regular but when he was there I noticed that there was a slight tension in the air. I later discovered that Bri had been secretly in-love with Jo (and still was). He had once asked her to be his girlfriend and for them to keep it secret from the rest of the gang. It was an unwritten rule that this was a "not allowed". Jo was out of bounds with regards to being anyone being her boyfriend. Im not sure why actually. Anyways, Jo had politely turned him down and then later told the others about it. The group saw this as a kind of a betrayal and Bri was confronted about it. He apologised and was still accepted as being part of the gang but in once sense he was somewhat "out" after that. All this happened before I was a member it could well be that this was why he disliked me. Perhaps I took his place and he resented me for that, but I am only surmising.
Then there was "Burt"...
Now Burt was by far the most mysterious of the group and he was also the most respected. One could almost say he was the leader but without actually being the official leader or making himself the leader. He had an inner authority about him that you just could not ignore. When he spoke, you listened. Burt´s real name was Andrew and he had got his nick-name from a funny incident that had happened long before I was part of the group.
Apparently they were walking though the city and come across a homeless guy begging for money. Andrew put his hand in his pocket to give to the guy some loose change. However, when he pulled out his out all the coins they went flying all over the road. Andrew could not be bothered to pick up all the coins and so went over to the homeless guy and said; "All those coins are for you if you are bothered to pick them up". The gang thought this was hysterical. (When I was told this story I did not think it was funny at all - I guess you had to be there.) Apparently the homeless was called "Burt" and so from that day on "Andrew" became known as "Burt" as a kind of reminder of the incident. From my perspective though, Burt was always called "Burt", and even to this day I cant think of him as being called anything else.
Right from the beginning I was fascinated with Burt because was he was quite simply the coolest guy I had ever met. I mean the guy never got stressed or angry about anything. He had this inner calmness that was almost mystical. One day I spoke with Paulie about it and he told me something quite remarkable about Burt. Apparently Burt had once been a very violent person even spending some time in jail. He had been involved in some serious violence including harming a policeman and a prison guard. When I heard this I just could not believe he was talking about the same person. Paulie went on to tell me that Burt had literally changed overnight after taking the drug known as LSD.
I knew Burt did not take drugs and so this surprised me. I decided to ask Burt about this directly. One Sunday afternoon I went to visit Burt at his house and came straight out with it.
"Hey Burt, is it true that you were once a violent person and that taking LSD changed you?"- Burt reacted in his usual calm cool manner and took his time in answering. I could see his mind ticking over figuring out who it was who told me. He nodded slowly. "Yes, it is true. I suppose Paulie told you?" He replied. I nodded.
"Listen Burt, you don't have to tell me but I am really intrigued to know what actually happened. I mean how someone can change so completely. You know me, Im interested in such things." I said. Burt smiled
He went on to explain that he had watched a TV documentary about LSD which told that just one tiny drop of the substance could alter your brain chemistry permanently. This alteration could be a positive change or a negative one. It was a lottery. Burt then told that he used to feel like there was a volcano constantly exploding inside him and this, he felt, was what made him violent.
He was basically living in perpetual inner turmoil and this was pushing him onto a path headed straight for a life of violent crime. In desperation he decided to try LSD. He did not say where or how he got the substance but needless to say it certainly changed him. His inner volcano become a calm ocean and he had remained that way ever since. This had happened thee years before I knew him. In his case at least, an illegal drug changed a negative human-being into a positive one. I knew Burt for another four more years, and in all that time, he never once lost his cool.
The final member of the gang was Mozzy....
Mozzy was the last one of the group that I got to know and he was also the one I became closest too but I will come back to that.
Before I tell of Mozzy I think it was about time I explain how I became a member of the gang myself. Basically it was through my friendship with Paulie.
My first job out of university was at a local newspaper working as a designer. When I started, Paulie had already been working there as a junior designer for a couple of years. We hit it off almost immediately. I hated that job but it was made bearable because of my growing friendship with Paulie. As I said, his laughter was contagious and so we laughed our way though the misery of that job. I don't want to waste time explaining why the job was so awful but lets just say our boss was related to Hitler.
We started having lunch together and I liked him more and more each day. He was just a great guy really, I don't know what else I can say. Anyways, one day he invited me to his house to; "hang out with his mates." I accepted. When I arrived, the rest of the gang were already there, except for Mozzy. It was then that I discovered that Paulie was known as "Paulie". For the last six months at work I had been calling him Paul. That first night I had not laughed so much in years. I had arrived at around 6pm and after the initial introductions were over we started to play some games on the Play Station.
From what I could gather, the favourites were Tekken and a Formula One motor racing game.
After about an hour of this, an alarm clock,that was on top of the TV, suddenly went off. The room became silent and everyone stopped playing. A serious look came over everyones faces. "What´s wrong?" I asked.
"Don't worry Arthur it is just that typical lad time again." Said Jo.
"Lads time?" I enquired.
"You will see." She said, and then smiled and rolled her eyes up to the ceiling.
"It´s 7 O.clock Arthur" Said Paulie, who then went and switched on the TV.
Everyone in the room stared at the TV with an expression of intense expectation. I wondered what on earth was happening. Then the program started. "Toppless darts".
It was a cable TV show that I had never heard of before. It was literally just 10 minutes of women playing darts while they were topless. I was baffled at first but then of course I realised the point. When the topless woman threw a dart, their breasts would wobble. Talk about a show based entirely on male titillation. I could have been worse I suppose. I guess for lads aged in their 20s such a show made perfect sense. Jo, being the girl, took it in good spirits and commented; "Guy are just so predictable".
I soon become a fully welcomed member of the group and after about six weeks of being with them I finally got to meet Mozzy. When he saw me he gave me the biggest smile I have ever seen. I mean I don't think I have ever seen such a friendly looking face. "Hi, you must be Arthur, I have heard so many good things about you, Im Mozzy." He said shaking my hand. Needless to say I liked him instantly. Mozzy worked part time at a youth club, a job he did not really like but had to do as part of his unemployment plan. I soon discovered that Mozzy was genius at playing all of the Play Station games. I mean he was literally unbeatable. In those days local bars would to hold Play Station competitions in order to attract the younger generation. At that time the most popular game by far was Tekken.
To those who do not know this game: it is basically a fighting game where you choose one character from a list, such as a bear, a Bruce Lee character, a guy made of metal and so on. Whenever Mozzy entered into these, Play Station competitions, the gang would go along to support him. Honestly, 99 times out of a 100, he won. This was how he made some extra cash. I mean you had to see him in action to believe it. To anyone who does not know about this game, these fighting characters could do special moves and these moves were activated by using a combination buttons on the play station pad.
For example, left, left, right, up and then down, might make the character do a high kick, and so on. Whenever I played this game I just ignored these combinations and simply pressed all the buttons at random and hoped for the best. Mozzy, on the other hand, knew all these combinations of every single character off by heart.
Mozzy did not have an ego. I mean, he was not big headed. In fact he was one of the most humble people I have ever known. Honestly, it was impossible not to like the guy.
One weekend we all went playing golf and the only one who did not come was Mozzy. When I asked why he had not come everyone looked down as though they were ashamed.
"What is it? He is OK isn't he? I asked.
It was Paulie who explained; "He couldn't afford it Arthur. I thought you understood that Mozzy is dirt poor." When I heard this I was disappointed and a little angry with all of them.
"Why didn't you tell me, I would have paid for him for God sake!" I said, showing my anger.
"It is not that Arthur. Any one of us would have gladly paid for him. Mozzy has his pride. He wont let us help him and we have to respect that. We all feel bad about it mate". I understood and then I felt even worse. I had no idea things were so desperate for the guy. On top of that, I later learned that he lived in an apartment that was located in crime ridden area. His father had abandoned him and his sister when they were very young and his mother had died of cancer only a year ago. She was only 48. His sister, who lived with him, had leukemia, and now Mozzy was also taking care of her. She needed some kind of special treatment but they could not afford it. This meant she was slowly dying. When I heard this story I felt sick in my stomach and I am not embarrassed to say it made me cry. I mean, considering his dire straights, I just could not understand how the guy could possibly smile the way he did. It was enough to break your heart. Paulie told me not to mention any of this to Mozzy because the only thing Mozzy had was his own personal pride and dignity. I respected this but I would be lying if I did not say that my view of Mozzy changed after that.
One day we were at Paulies house playing Formula One and Mozzy came in late. He looked a little depressed. "Any luck?" Asked Burt.
"No." replied Mozzy.
It turned out that Mozzy had gone for a job interview and he had not got it.
"You should ask Arthur Mozzy. He has a funny way of seeing things differently. I reckon he can help." Said Paulie. Now I was intrigued. Mozzy looked right at me.
"Anything I can do to help mate just ask." I said. But it was Paulie who answered for him.
"Mozzy is pissed off. He wants to have a career in something, but he has no idea what he would be good at. He wants a proper job so he can have proper wages." He explained.
"What do you think Arthur?" Asked Mozzy.
I starred at him. "Let me have a think and I will give you an answer before the bed of the evening." I replied. After one session of watching of Toppless Darts, two goes at Tekken, and three cans of beer later, we were all thinking about heading on home. It was a working day tomorrow. Just as we were about to leave Paulie remembered; "Wait a minute, Arthur was supposed to tell Mozzy what career he should choose." Everyone stop and looked at me, including Mozzy.
"Well I have had some thoughts on the matter." I said.
"Go on." Said Mozzy, with that typical beaming smile on his face.
"Well I´ve been thinking how good you are on the Tekken game". Paulie laughed; "Ha ha ha, he wants you to become a Pro Tekken fighter." Everyone burst out laughing.
I smiled and said; "Not exactly".
"Go on Arthur, ignore them, Im listening." Said Mozzy. The room became silent.
"Well, what impresses me about you Mozzy is the way you can remember all the codes on that Tekken game. I mean there are literally hundreds of them and yet you can remember them all so easily. Icant even remember one of them." I said.
"So!" Responded Burt.
"Well I wondered if perhaps he should try computer coding. I am pretty sure that computer coding is going to be big in the future in ways that we just cant imagine. At the very least you might get a job in the video games industry Mozzy" I explained.
"Hey that´s not a silly idea. I told you Arthur sees shit differently!" Reacted Paulie.
"Well have a think about it." I said.
Three weeks went by and no one had seen nor heard a thing of Mozzy. A week later he came by and again it was clear that he was depressed.
"Have you had any thoughts about computer programming?" I asked. Mozzy shook his head and replied; "I went to the local college to inquire about courses. There were courses available but in order to get on them you had to have exam results from school." He told.
Mozzy had missed so much school from taking care of his mother and sister that he left with no exam certificates at all. "So that´s the end of that dream." He said. I felt terrible.
"Any other ideas Arthur?" Asked Paulie.
"No not really. I pretty much thought coding was the perfect job for him. Im so sorry mate." I said, feeling that I had let the lad down.
Two weeks later it was Christmas and, as usual, we all went out on the town with the plan of going back to Paulie´s afterwards.
Again Mozzy could not come due to lack of cash. This time the guilt was too much and so I decided to go and visit with Mozzy. "Listen lads, Im going to go and see Mozzy, I will catch up with you all later. I just cant bear the thought of him all alone at Christmas. Can someone give me his address?" I said. Everyone became quiet.
"You don´t want to be going there Arthur." Said Burt.
"Why not?" I asked.
"No offence Arthur but you are not used to crime and it could be dangerous for you. It is Christmas and there will be muggers about looking for cash. You could also get your nice car stolen or at least find it standing on four bricks" Explained Burt. I gulped because I knew he was right. Still I decided I just had to go.
It took me some time to find the place and indeed the area did look like something like a street off the film Precinct 13. I parked my Mitsubishi Galant outside of a run down six story high building. Mozzy lived on the top floor. Not surprisingly the elevator was broken so I had to use the stairs. On every floor landing I saw used syringes on the floor and the whole place smelled of urine. If I am honest I almost turned back but I talked myself into carrying on... "well you are here now, whatever happens, happens"
I knocked on the door and seconds later Mozzy opened it. This time he did not have a big smile on his face but an expression of shear surprise. "Arthur, what the hell are you doing here?"
I showed him a six pack of beer; "I cant have you celebrating Christmas on you own mate" I answered.
He showed me into the living room and I asked about his sister.
"She's took a turn for the worse. She is in hospital." He told.
"Sorry to hear that mate".
"I can´t believe you are here Arthur" He said. Now he was smiling.
"Well I thought it was about time I visited you. It is Christmas after all, good will to all men and all that stuff." I said trying to normalise the situation.
I spent about three hours with Mozzy that evening and we talked about all sorts of things. I admit though that, every now and then, I went over to the window to check if my car was still there. I don't not know if Mozzy knew I was doing this because I pretended I was just walking around the room and glance out of the window. If he figured out what I was doing he never said anything.
"Anyways Mozzy, Im afraid I must be going, Im supposed to be visiting my brother" I said.
"Sure thing Arthur. It was really fantastic that you came, it really was."
Oh by the way, I have a Christmas present for you." I said, and handed him a brown envelope.
"What? What is it?" He asked.
"It´s just a little something from one friend to another." I said. He opened the envelope to find $1000 dollars inside.
"What the hell is this Arthur?" He said, and now he had a very serious expression on his face.
"Now, it is not charity, it is a gift. Just being your fiend is a gift to me Mozzy, surely I am allowed to give you a gift in return. And if not at Christmas time, then when. I think you are a great guy. Those smiles of yours are with every cent. Please, just accept it Mozzy. We dot have to speak of it again." I said.
He threw his arms around me and began to cry; "Jesus Christ Arthur!" When two guys embrace like that, and there is a strong emotion, well let´s just say the situation feels a little awkward and there is an element of embarrassment when it is over.
No one saw Mozzy until five months later and when we did he had good news.
In fact he could not wait to tell us. What had happened was nothing less than a small miracle. Mozzy had been looking through the local newspaper for jobs and saw a notice saying "Programmers wanted. No experience or qualifications needed."
He decided to go along and see what it was ll about, as did over 500 others. Located in a hotel in the city, there would be a test given in a large hall and if you passed this test then you would be accepted onto their computer programming course. think it was C++ or something. The test consisted of questions with the answers already given listed between A to E. All you had to do was to tick a box. Mozzy told that, during the test, several people were swearing, screwing up their paper and walking out. Well, to cut a long story short, Mozzy passed with flying colours and now five months later he was top of the class.
"Coding is fcking easy. I love it." He said. We all celebrated for Mozzy that evening and I was so happy for him. We all were. It was about time his luck changed.
After that we never saw Mozzy at Paulies place again.
When I inquired, Burt told that Mozzy had been accepted at a University in London with a full scholarship. Three years later he was head-hunted by a major video games company.
10 years later….
I was now married with a daughter aged nine and I was in my late thirties.It was December and it was snowing lightly. I had just picked up my daughter from School and we were to have a look at some toy stores to give me some idea of what she might like for Christmas. As we were walking a yellow car slow down and seemed to be following us - like curb crawling, if you know what I mean. I noticed that this was no ordinary car but it was some kind of super sports car. It looked like a ferarri but Im not sure if it was one.
The guy in the sports car honked his horn and then the passenger window came down. I figured perhaps the guy was lost and needed directions. I stopped and looked inside the car.
"I thought it was you, at least I hoped it was you. Arthur it´s me." He said.
One would think I would have remembered that kind face but I didn't. Not at first. Not until he smiled that is.
"It´s not Mozzy it is it?" I responded. He laughed and his smile became bigger.
"Ha ha no one has called me that for years. Listen, Im just going to park over there, wait for me here." He said. "Who was that Daddy, he has a very nice car?" Said my daughter.
"He sure has. He is a special guy your Dad once knew a long time ago." I explained.
If there was ever such a thing as a hugging competition Mozzy and I would have won it easily that day.
We went to a local cafe and caught up with what life had given to us or thrown at us. Mozzy told how Sony had head-hunted him straight from University and his contract gave him a percentage of all profits made on every game he was involved in. And apparently he had already been instrumental in several of them. Basically he was now a hot shot computer games coder and was, well....rather rich. He had paid for his sister to have treatment and she was now doing fine. She was even married.
This happened about 20 years ago now and I am sad to tell that I never saw Mozzy again.
But before we parted on that winters evening, he knelt down to my daughter and said; "You know, your Dad is one hell of a guy and I owe everything to him." And then gently squeezed her nose between his fingers.
"That´s not true Mozzy. It was you that passed that test, it was you that went to university and it was you who turned your life around. I am so proud of you mate, you deserve every bit of it." I said.
"Ah, don't think that I have forgotten that it was you who first put the idea in my head of ever becoming a coder in the first place. And don't think I have forgotten that Christmas night all those years ago either. What you gave me that night Arthur was more than just the money. It was something far more valuable. You saw something in me that I could not see in myself. You believed in me and that gave me the courage to believe in myself. I have come here tonight to tell you that I can never repay you for this, but I want you to know that… if there is ever a time in your life..if you need help…with anything at all…" He suddenly choked up and had tears in eyes. Just as I now have tears in my eyes as I write this as the memory of that moment comes flooding back to me.
As I said, I never saw Mozzy ever again. The last I heard he emigrated to Canada.
Some times, on some days, I think of those care-free days having out with the gang. Watching Topless Darts and playing Tekken on the Play Station. And during the winter months, when the snow is falling lightly on the ground, I miss my old friend and wonder what his doing these days.
I honestly don't know why I wanted to share this because I have never spoken of it to anyone before.
I guess Im getting older.
If you are interested to know what happened to all of them...
Paulie went on to start his own graphics firm and now employs over 20 designers. He is also happily married and has a son.
Massey died of a heroine drug overdose and was found dead lying in a gutter outside a McDonalds. Jo was the only one of the group who attended his funeral. Sadly I heard about it too late.
Jo became a bank manager (I will not say which one). She is now some kind of financial adviser and is rather wealthy. She never got married but apparently has had had several affairs. She still has men wrapped around her little finger.
Pete became a carpenter, of which I would never have been able to predict. He married a girl he met at a night club and are apparently madly in love, even after 15 years of marriage. It seems her beauty calmed the beast. I heard Pete was a great Dad who spent every spare moment of his time taking them swimming, showing them how to fix their bikes, playing ball and generally supporting them in every way a Dad can.
Brox ended up going to jail for mugging and old lady...I know know any more than that.
Bri became a hot shot lawyer and once made it into the news for defending a drug dealer and getting him off. He is married with two kids.
Burt, well I heard Burt became some kind of high class gangster. Apparently he owns several nightclubs in London and Manchester. I think they are called "Burts." He never married.
As for me, wellthose who follow my blog know that I became art director of an advertising agency. After surviving a car crash I had a life epiphany and decided to become an artist. I emigrated to Norway and now run a small gallery.
What all this means I have no idea, perhaps you can tell me? But on some rainy days I do wonder what happens to all these life experiences? What happens to all those special moments when we leave this earth? Like when we hug our fiends with tears in our eyes because of some kind of wonderful?
But what I do is...if I had to do it all over again, I would.
Whats´s it all about Mozzy?
Thank you for visiting my blog and I wish you a warm welcome back next time.