Every community has their own little eccentric character, someone who behaves and lives outside the general norms of society. Sometimes they are beset with mental problems and other times they are cursed by some kind of addiction that appears to have taken over their lives (normally an over reliance on alcohol).
But they will always stop and talk to you. Invariably the conversation will always lead to stories about how they were the first to land on the moon or they had travelled to all four corners of the world before they were 18 years of age. Tall stories that clearly bear no semblance to reality, yet each tale being more impressive than the one previous.
This then brings me to my own eccentric character. This individual I had known for about 5 years. He lived about six houses away from me and I would see him walk past clutching cans of lager as if his life depended on it.
His appearance wasn’t the norm either. For someone who was the near side of fifty he possessed an extra long head of died black hair which ran down over his forehead and from the back was resting on his shoulders. His attire would be more at home on a teenage Goth. Alcohol had certainly taken its toll on him and his speech was somewhat slurred, but he had a very polite and gentle demeanour.
Recently he began telling me that he is in fact a member of a rock band and his band are currently touring in the States, but due to ill health, he was unable to go. This rock band he says, were massive in the 1970s and 80s, and they still have enough fans to ensure that their touring diary is full. He even played guitar with Ozzie Osborne and worked closely with the founder of Iron Maiden.
I would listen to his story and think to myself that this ‘alternate’ reality is probably all that this poor soul has. His own life probably consists of nothing more than consuming copious amounts of alcohol and trying to survive each day as it comes.
Then one day he gave me the name of his band. UFO. I had never heard of such a group and in my mind I regarded it as a fictitious name, part of his ‘alternate’ reality. His name was Peter Way and again I had never heard of a famous Pete Way.
“Check on Google” he would say, in a manner that would suggest he was still enjoying his drink too much. “Type in Pete Way and I’ll pop up”. Again I didn’t take him that seriously.
Then one night I was surfing away and I’m not sure why but my friend popped in to my head. I quickly loaded up Google and within the search bar I type in Peter Way and UFO.
The next 30 minutes was an emotional cocktail of disbelief and embarrassment. Everything he had said to me was absolutely true. UFO was one of the biggest bands on the rock scene and Peter Way was one its original members. Checking out his fan site he did indeed play guitar for Ozzie Osborne.
Watching him perform on stage on YouTube was a revelation. He still looks the same, although too much drink and drugs has reduced his speech to a milder version of that of Ozzie Osborne.
UFO are touring in the states at the moment and on their official website there is a mention for Peter Way who is unable to attend due to ill health. Peter tells me that he is no longer doing drugs.
I felt a tinge of embarrassment for immediately dismissing his tales. I don’t treat him any different now, but whenever he starts talking about his days as a rock star and the adventures he had had, my ears certainly prick up and I listen intently, lapping up every word he says.
Take a look at Peters official website here
and the UFO website here