Not much to write about as stuff I want to write about I can’t legally write about due to impending court case, so heres a little story, set a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…
I’m 21 (no, not now, back in the midsts of time in those halcyon days of the early nineties), and I’m in the town of Blackburn, which I am sure is all satanic mills and grimy post-industrial gloom most days, but its a late July evening, and the sun is turning the whole place gold. I’ve had two pints of local ale, and its fondly sitting on a fish and chip tea and making me feel light and gently elated.
We embark to a Working Man’s Club, we being myself; Bonehead, a Geordie with an uncanny resemblance to the eponymous then-Oasis guitarist; Anthony, a friend who would later to go on to be a stupidly successful photographer; and Anthony’s mother, a divorcee who we were staying with that weekend after deciding our mutual home, a dank towerblock that sprouted like gloomy stalagmites from Newcastle Upon Tyne’s WestEnd, was driving us insane.
Working Men’s club are quite the best places to get drunk, and I have done in many. In a Catholic one in Liverpool, drunk on schooners of sherry, I made a huge faux pas by asking in the toilets where the condom machines were (I wasn’t in need, they were more conspicuous by their absence) ; in Skegness, within the Miner’s Welfare, we would sneakily steal drinks and decant them into our bottles of Panda PopS to make odd gloopy cocktails and then giggle madly into our Seabrook’s Crisps, before begging parents for 20p to have a go on Meteors. Within Nottingham itself, many happy days were spent sat on benches watching the slip into mild oblivion of parents, relatives and people I assumed were relatives for years until I discovered ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunt’ were just easier to explain than the multi-tendrilled way they were warapped round our kin.
In Blackburn, the bar was heaving,but the serving was swift, no complex things here. Vodka and coke were the most exotic thing on the menu, generic lager, bitter and mild the norm, served in plastic mugs not for safety, but for speed. The taps only turned off when the barrel died, a constant stream, a river of booze splaying out into two hundred streams, each one filling a vertiacel plastic pond, which drained just as the river flowed once again back into their directions.
The prices were, as you can expect, hugely cheap, free from greedy brewers or a need for any inwards investment of the place other than new j-cloths to wipe down the benches. Thus, the rounds were frequent, the pints downed fast, less the ambient summer heat and the convecting warmth of flesh on thin plastic curdle the contents.
We fell in with Anthony’s mother’s friends. They were composed of a type of woman that made Pat Butcher seem demure; menopausal, hairsprayed, decked in leopard-skin and diaphanous garb that made them look either like Liberace/ Tarzan’s love-child or a Quality Street.
Wonderful, bawdy women of an calibre I adore, a type of woman virtually unchanged since Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, through Shakespeare’s lewd ladies, and latterly as the matriarchs that underpin any soap, think the Bet Lynchs, the Elsie Tanners…..never your mother, this is no Freudian thing, but your mum’s mate, maybe, who winks at you with your twinkling eyes, sending adolescent shudders down your back as for a terrifying moment, you imagined them younger. Years of joining my Gran down St.Apleford Bingo Hall (RIP) where for two wonderful hours, life was a Beryl Cook painting…
So it was with no hesitation that I found myself invited to sit between two of the women, crashing Superkings, fielding jokes about toyboys, when a hand fell on my thigh “You’re a lovely lad, you are” I blustered a thank you, turning to see a perm sitting atop a face not a million miles from Les Dawson’s Dolly, and she turned her head from my gaze, coquettishly, then as she squeezed her hand even higher up my thigh, purred with a voice borne of a million Rothmans:
“Ah’m a reet slapper me, d’ya fancy a bag of crisps?”
“I’m, I’m, I’m allergic to, errr, potatoes-need the toilet”
I extricated myself from a talon-like grip strengthened through years of Bingo dobber dobbing, and rushed towards the gents, though my innards were far too constricted to relax into micturition. I slipped to a point diametrically opposed to where she sat, and after I had gathered myself, returned to my friends.
I related my story provoking not the expected sympathy but howls of beery laughter, and as they simultaneously stopped bending double in splutters and I realised I was directly in HER eye-line….a bag of crisps sails across from her, whirling like a Shuriken cutting through the blue smoke leaden air, and into my chest, where my arms by reaction clenched them, a heaving, salty bag of busom. I froze, then, under the gaze of amazed, too- shocked- to- laugh eyes of Anthony and Bonehead, opened the packet, and offered the crisps to their open jaws. Bonehead looked down at the crispy glories, then back up at me, and said with a deep Geordie burr: ‘Haway man. Divnae offer us yer love tokens noweh’.
Reader, I married her.*
*not at all true, I went back to Anthony’s mums, Bonehead drank too much, and wet the bed we were all sharing. The End.