Every now and then I get bits of information from home. Usually it’s my mother giving me an update on a long-forgotten neighbour or acquaintance. Tonight it was the death of someone I went to school with.

Michael Duffin was one of those guys who was in and out of my social circle throughout school. The kid I remember is probably a very different character to the man who was murdered in the early hours of Saturday morning. Nevertheless, the brutality of people and the fragility of life make you stop and think.

When you leave school, you imagine the people you left behind. That their lives go on in parallel to your own, and they generally follow that pattern of education, relationship(s), kids, career, mortgage. Not necessarily in that order, but you get my meaning.

When someone from your past turns up dead, you think about the decisions that led to that point. Was it a walk to the shops? Staying in the bar for one more pint? Moving to a new town? But you can’t stand still, you’ve got to live your life whatever happens. The future – contrary to popular belief – isn’t written.

As far as memories of Michael go, I have a picture in my head of a generally happy kid, eager to please and to fit in. I vaguely remember a food fight in the cloakroom (outside Harry Kennedy’s class) in Primary School where he ended up getting sprayed with what seemed like a thousand lemonade bottles. I think the later years in secondary school he struggled a bit (didn’t we all), and eventually he fell off my radar. But like I said, you always assume that your school friends are out there somewhere, getting on with life.

And it stops you in your tracks when you find out they’re not.

Funny how I have this overwhelming urge to say goodbye to someone I haven’t seen in around 14 years. The best I can do is offer my condolences to the family.

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