Inseparable best friends, we met during my first week at primary school, he was the coolest kid in school, everyone wanted to be his friend and I think because of that the school headmistress buddied us together.

We literally spent every spare moment we had together including evenings sharing a bag of fish & ships from his local chippy washed down with a bottle of dandelion & burdock or cycling for hours in our neighbourhood without a care in the world.

But growing up had its toll on our friendship, I passed my 11 plus exam and got a place in a prestigious all boys Grammar School whereas Will got a place at the local secondary school, but we vowed that would not get in the way of our friendship.

Inevitably going to two different schools did have an effect and we slowly drifted apart, by the time I we turned 15 he was already in trouble with the police and rumours echoed that he was dabbling with soft drugs.

The last time I saw him he was a shadow of his former self, unrecognisable, skinny, rough and clearly doped out of his head. I recall giving him a hug and asking him to sort himself out, look after his health and whatever he was doing to stop it!

I think I in my late twenties, married, two awesome kids, a house, a mortgage and a successful career, I was back in my childhood neighbourhood and bumped into one of my old primary school friends, in hindsight a meeting I wish never happened.

No sooner than we had exchanged greetings she hugged me and said she was sorry about William. My whole body froze, deep down I knew but I had to ask, “What happened" I asked nervously, “he died last week of an overdose” came the reply.

I don’t recall anything else about that encounter, not what I did next, where I went or how I got home but I do recall his face as the child I grew up with, his blonde hair, his laugh and his smile, and I recall sitting in my car, in my driveway that evening crying my heart out, blubbering like a baby, wishing I had the chance to see him before he passed, to have been able to have helped him with his addiction, or just to tell him that he was the most amazing friend I ever had.

I had every intention to write about every adventure me and my best friend had, the laughter, the times we went fishing and the days we spent playing in the park or watching movies , but I couldn’t, even writing this is painful, publishing it more so as to this day my eyes well up just thinking about the best childhood friend anyone could have ever wished for.

In loving memory of my best friend, William.

"At some point in your childhood, you and your friends went outside to play together for the last time and none of you never knew it!"

Growing up in the UK, in a middle class white suburban area was not as bad as some TV sitcoms or movies make out, even being one of a very rare number of ‘brown skinned’ families in the area wasn’t that bad… if anything it kinda made us stand out in the crowd.

As a child I went to a local Primary School where me and my brothers were the only "brown" kids, that not only made us ‘special’ but add that we were smart kids, great at sports, and obviously handsome, again, me being the most handsome out of the four of us… it is a cross I bear!

Forget name calling or bullying, one of the biggest issues we faced was school lunch!

The school suddenly found themselves in a situation having to feed 4 young Muslim boys with Halal food, a situation they never faced before, but wow they handled it well…. Apart from one day when it all went wrong!

Being the only Muslim kids in a school meant we got some benefits, if there was any form of meat served at lunchtime we would always get compensated with extra scoops of mash potatoes or fish or chips, but many times we also be given a lump of cheese! That’s right, while the other kids had burgers and sausages, we got two scoops of mash, a puddle of bakes beans and a large chunk of cheese, and trust me, it was heaven. But this only happened when the head cook was in the canteen, otherwise God help us, we ended up with next to nothing or even worse……

There I am, eagerly looking forward to lunch, me and my younger brother lining up, trays in hand eyeing up the rhubarb crumble & custard, but to get to that we first had to finish lunch but we had a problem, the head cook was nowhere to be seen.

The dinner lady handed us both a plate of what looked like stew, potatoes, carrots, a strange looking sauce of chunks of pinkish meat. I explained that we cannot eat the meat and asked for something else, sadly the dinner lady angrily told me that we had to eat what as given to us just like all the other kids and to stop complaining!

There we are sat at a dining table, my brother staring at me and both is us refusing to eat, but with each minute that passed the dinning room emptied more leaving us sat there with a dinner lady standing over us demanding we eat and making it clear we cannot leave until we finish everything on our plates, forget the rhubarb custard, we had no chance of tasting that now!

We had no choice, we had to eat and eat we did, but with every spoonful came the urge to vomit but eat we continued until our plates were acceptably empty and we could return to class.

Let us just say that Dad’s visit to the Headmistress Office the next morning was rather vocal and the school never force-fed Ham again!

We all hold treasured childhood Eid memories of new clothes, family gatherings, food, presents and Eid money, oh how we all looked forward to our Eid money. But even as children some of us harbor memories that have helped our evolution into adulthood.

Mum & Dad would wake me and my brothers up nice and early, our clothes would be ironed and ready the night before and we all already knew our schedule for bathroom, mine included the ritual of using copious amounts of Bryclream to get my hair looking exactly right. Dad would always be prepared, and the one thing he would make sure we had was enough plastic bags to put our shoes if when we got to the Mosque, but I also made sure we carried a couple of extra ones, normally one of them firmly clasped in my hands!

Once parked up we would normally have a short walk to the Mosque, a walk normally filled with my Dad greeting people he knew whilst directing us, a proud father with his four sons in tow, obviously me being the most handsome.

It was always after Eid prayers, normally walking back to the car, usually when the crowds of people would be all rushing past us, that’s when it struck, that’s when I needed that extra humble plastic bag, all that anxiety building up over the previous few days, all those people… bang… that is when I keel over and would vomit!

Children today face more struggles then we ever did, as a early teen all I wanted was a Chopper bicycle whereas today our kids face social expectation pressure to have the latest phones, designer clothing, eat at the latest trendy burger joint, look perfect, live in fashionable areas and be driven around in anything but a Pajero!

As parents can we honestly say we recognise simple warning signs that our kids may be struggling, or do we need to train our maids, drivers and cooks to notice these things, maybe they know our kids better than we do and if that is true then something is very wrong!

My parents knew, they never actually said anything but they helped me combat my social anxiety by allowing me to do things they knew would help me grow in confidence. They supported virtually every decision I made including leaving school, returning to education, setting up my own business, being a DJ, joining the Police.. God bless my parents, they built an invisible foundation that allowed me to be who I am today.

Sometimes we have all portrayed a public image that doesn’t truly reflect who we truly are, but then again some of us learn from our childhood experiences to become stronger, more confident and rounded adults, that is exactly what I did.

I went from a well-hidden shy individual to who I am today, the obnoxious, narcissist, anti-vegan, anti-bullshit normal guy, sat at his desk writing this shite!

"if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you"