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Jesus H. fuckin Moyes! My eyes scope the tiny, unfamiliar room, of which the walls are painted black. I spy a poster of Bjork on one wall alongside an Audrey Hepburn portrait and a map of the world on the adjacent one. A greasy smell, which is coming from the empty pizza box that lays right next to my head makes me strangle someone. I feel a bit like Lloyd Grossman trying to work out who lives in a house like this? All I have to do is turn over but because I can hear her snoring next to me, it’s possible I may shatter into a million little pieces if I do. I continue to scan the room when I notice a pair of minty arse K Swiss trabs, a near empty pouch of Golden Virginia and a rather large thong that can only be described as ’crusty’.
This can mean only one thing; I’ve blagged for a student. Either that or I’m in a late night episode of Hollyoaks. When I finally do find the courage to roll over, it is revealed that she’s deffo no Hollyoaks starlet and I’m more likely to have picked her up in the Pilgrim than the Newz Bar. She actually looks a bit like a fat version of the buck toothed ex-Liverpool striker, Milan Baros. Read into that what you will. Always thought he was quite lush anyway, nowhere near as dreamy as our very own Mikel Arteta though. What lovely hair he has. Oh well, all farewells should be sudden and that, so I mumble a quick ’see yer later girl’ before I stand upright and try and grasp the concept of getting dressed. My skull appears to be made of glass and I reckon the slightest little thing will shatter it. My mouth feels like the inside of a crab’s head and I do believe something like cement has set up my nostrils. The student snorer is dead to the world so I slot a few of her CDs into my coat pocket before I creep out the door.
As I get in the lift I pretty chuffed to find that I’ve selected the Beta Band’s 3EPs and The Scream’s seminal ’Screamadelica,’ two mighty fine albums, even if I do say so myself. See they’re not all bad these students. As I’m exiting the left and heading towards a bit of daylight and fresher air, I start rifling my own pockets to see how much dough I’ve got left from last night. At two bells yesterday afternoon I was four hundred quid richer courtesy of a budgeting loan from Breck Road jobbies. I also extracted a oner from the roulette machine in Ladbrokes but, irony of ironies, right now this Lad is Broke. £4.66 and a couple of Marley lights are all I can muster up. Fuckin’ ’ell man £495.34p gone and all I’ve got to offer is Milan Baros’s chubby sister. This has to stop. Soon!
I’m marching down Catherine Street wondering how I’m gonna get some readies together for tonight. I bail into the Caledonia for a curer and to try and get a plan together. I request a pint of Kronenberg from the barman. I just want to get it down my neck and vacate the premises ASAP because I’m the only one in there and this barman looks like the sort who might want to engage in a bit of chatter. I’d never chat to a whopper of this caliber though. For a start he’s got one of those Big Brother haircuts; y’know the ones where it looks like you’ve got a smack head’s couch on your head? I deffo reckon he’s got a Wkd side an’ all. To top it all off, he’s singing along to Hard-Fi on the radio and wearing a t-shirt that says ’While you’re reading this, I’m checking out your tits.’ What an utter fuckin’ beaut. I should’ve made my own t-shirts with ’Just because it’s ironic doesn’t mean it’s not shite’ plastered across them. I could’ve sold em outside gigs when The Darkness and Goldie Looking Chain were playing. Could’ve made a fuckin’ fortune.
Anyway I lash the rest of my Kroney down my gullet and contemplate what I’m going to do with the £2.46 that remains. I give smack head’s couch head a half let-on and trudge my way to the door. In some sort of Home Counties twang, I hear him reply to my raised eyebrow with a ’take it easy bruvver, look after yourself. Peace out!’ I feel the blood rise in the back of my neck but instead of filling him in, I give it the old ’Is right lad, later!’ and I mean it because I WILL see him later. But for now I stand in the doorway and fasten my coat right up. Outside it’s raining……
I find myself on London Road. My mate does the scran in one of the bars there. He also slings proper shite skunk to the students as well. Yeah man, I think, I’ll get myself a feed and a weed while I’m in the vicinity. It’d be foolish not to, wouldn’t it? As I enter the bar, I see a lad I know, Topper. From the kip of him Topper has well been hammering the steroids and the sunbeds. His skin is like the Ronseal Man and his chest and shoulders are fucking ginormous but he’s got a tiny little olly head. He reminds me of those Action Men I had when I was a kid, y’know when you’d snap the head off and you’d be left with a little stump. That’s Topper that is. I’m hoping he doesn’t see me but from the way his kite goes, I know he already has. I humour the fool,
‘Alright Topper lad, how goes it?’
‘Sound man, apart from that scran I’ve just ate.’
I don’t really want to know but I know he really wants me to know, so I continue to humour him.
‘Why what’s up?’
‘I’ve just took me bird to that tapas bar in Queen’s Square and the soft twat put a load of little starters on me plate.’
‘That’s what tapas is though’
‘Fuck off lad, if I order a meal then that’s exactly what I want, a meal. I mean it’s just a lack of respect innit? Fuckin cheeky Paki bastards.’
‘Tapas bars are Spanish’
‘And what like?’
‘So they don’t originate from Pakistan.’
‘Yeh but a Paki’s a Paki innit, all the same to me lad.’
I just laugh cos I feel that’s all I do with this mush. I bid him farewell and swing the doors of the bar open then Topper shouts me back.
‘Ere y’are lad gerron these!’ and pulls a little booklet out of his pocket. It’s a mail order Chinese firework catalogue. I haven’t got a jar of glue what’s going on here but then he starts his waffle again.
‘Y’know that bommy night display in Sevvy Park and the one down the Albert Dock, well this year they’re buying all the gear off me. I charged them well over the odds like but I’ll do you a good deal though. £100 for twenty Beijing exocet laser shooters’ he points to a weirdly packaged box on one of the pages. Personally I’d rather light five twenty pound notes and smoke them one after the other than give him a ton.
‘Nah, I’m not into fireworks.’
‘Yeah but gerron it lad, these come in a wooden box with proper ropes for handles, know worra mean?’
I make a face that says ‘I couldn’t give a flying fuck if the handles were made from solid gold and the box was carved by Old JC himself, you aint getting a oner off me.
‘I’ll bear you in mind if I ever need any fireworks Top, I’ve gorra shoot, see y’later.’
‘Laughin’ lad, be quick though it’s only six weeks til bommy night.’
I take a seat at the bar and wonder whether Topper the crank will ever change. I hope not, he’s pure comedy. Jordan, my cooking mate, appears from the kitchen. His eyes resemble the coin slots from the fuity in the Punch & Judy and I’m guessing it has something to do with the herbs he’s been smoking, rather than the ones he‘s been bakin‘.
‘Alright Jord lad, any green?’
Instead of answering he just pulls a moody bag of dark green, twiggy shite from the pouch of his chef’s apron. I roar off him and remind him that I’m a pal not a punter, so he reaches for that daft chequered hat he wears and pulls a fat bag of sticky icky stuff from under it. That’s more like it lad.
‘I’ll pay yer next time though, I need all me dough for tonight…is that sound?’
Jordan winks then nods towards the bar. I guess that means ’yes it IS sound‘, it’s so sound he’s offering me a pint.
‘Yeh go ‘ead lad, any chance of a short as well, large Courvoisier?’
The stoned chef just shrugs. I take that to mean ’why not me boss isn’t here, fill yer boots.’ Is right! He puts an ice cold bottle of Becks in front of me but I notice he uses the cheap and nasty shite instead of Courvoisier for my short. Beggars can’t be choosers though eh? Which reminds me of something someone once told me about Keith Chegwin. What with him being a major pisshead, his autobiography is called ’Cheggars can’t Be Boozers.’ If that’s not true, it fuckin’ should be, it’s genius. I raise my glass in a salute to Sir Keith of Chegwin then lubricate my neck this fuckin jarg Courvoisier. Fuckin ’ell, it tastes like what I imagine Cheggar’s piss tasted like when Cheggars COULD be boozers. I kill my bottle of German in two swigs but the Cheggars piss taste still remains. I march up to the kitchen.
‘Eh Jordie, any chance of some tucker lad, I’ve got a mouthful of Cheggar’s piss ere and I need the taste to go away. One of your currys should do the trick.’
He gives me the thumbs up like that was the most normal request he’s had today. Saying that though, it probably IS what with all the students ordering shite like Power Shandies, Turbo Vimtos and Snakebites all day long., the fuckin Hard-Fi listening bastards. Which reminds me, I must go back and see that ming from the Caledonia.
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