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Do you remember the summer holiday when you left school?
By Phil Thornton
I got picked up by me mam and dad from school and my school, Helsby High formerly Helsby Grammar School For Rural Gentlemen, was a good six or seven miles from our house. Although I didn't know it at the time, this was to be the last family holiday I'd have with me ma and da, younger sister and two younger brothers. Devon was a long way away and it was very hot and there were six of us plus luggage in a small car. Not ideal driving conditions.
I can't remember why I'd got picked up at school as I think I'd already picked up my results - 4 GCSEs, not a very good return on five long years of educational apartheid with pupils called Miles, Giles and Tarquin The Etruscan (from Alvanley). All I knew at that point was that I never wanted to set foot inside that preposterous plazzy public school again (25 years later and I haven't so far), so fuck A levels and fuck university and fuck a 'career' (how middle class is that?) because all I knew was that I needed a new pair of Kickers and my own ale money instead of bumming it off me ma.
200-odd miles and many hours later and we arrive at this 'guest house' (a fancy word for B&B) in leafy, suburban Paignton on the so-called British Riviera. The place is set on a hill and is quite an imposing whitewashed Victorian gaff. The owner is a Basil Fawlty type self-declared 'eccentric' (never trust anyone who calls themselves an eccentric because they never are; they're just rude cunts) who shows us to our rooms; our Claire has to share with our Ste and I'm sharing with our Gaz. The room is large and I'm actually looking forward to the week. It�s a bit too posh for us if truth be known and when Basil Fawlty turns up with a cheese board and places it on our table, the table nearest the kitchen door, we proceed to scran the entire plate, not realising that social etiquette dictates that one simply cuts a few slices for oneself and passes the board to the next table. When Baz came back to find an empty cheeseboard he almost collapses and then chastises me ma, saying �in future do you think you could possibly leave some cheese for our other guests?� Me ma�s face is a picture but we just laugh our heads off by her acute prole embarrassment at flaunting the accepted codes of Torquay society.
The weather is magnificent and the days are spent on the beach or wallowing in the sea on lilos. I can't believe I'm actually enjoying this holiday but the exams are over and the world of work seems a million miles away. What work there is that is. Thatcher's demolition job is beginning to really bite back home but down here, it's a different story. It seems so prosperous, so genteel, so very very different to our usual North Welsh hellholes; Rhyl or Prestatyn.
The Spain world cup is being played but England are out by this time. We watch a few games in the hotel's lounge. I can still recall Schumacher's tackle on Battiston and the stunned disbelief that he stayed on the field after almost amputating the French player's legs. There's one of those sit-down spaceys and a silly little bar on one side of the room and me aul fellar's letting me sup Tartan bitter which I've taken quite a shine to.
Three pints and I'm pissed however, so I go out and see what action there is in town. There is NO action in town, the place is dead. The local scals wear Hunter leathers and straights and Kickers, they have those Blancmange style tapered at the side, bushy at the top perms. They look infact just like the scousers back home which is a huge surprise to me because even we haven't caught onto that look yet. Holiday resorts ofcourse have always been placed where fashions catch on before most inland towns, as visiting trendies spread their sartorial germs. I play the bandits and the spaceys hoping to latch onto girls but there are no girls (it's a TS Eliot style Wasteland). What girls there are seem to be foreign and they do not appear to be interested in me. So I kill a few of em. Not really.
There are a few days out, to Torquay where there are more girls not interested in me. On the one rainy day we go to the pictures in Torquay to watch Quest For Fire, a film about Neanderthal men having gang fights with cavemen and shit. Millwall v Chelsea in other words. We're too late by the time we've parked up and me dad's kicking off big time. It's OUR fault we're late, it appears. So we watch this comedy called Airplane instead. It is perhaps the funniest film I've ever seen and remains so to this day. Me dad's in a better mood now. Lloyd Bridges has cheered him up no end. This is no time to give up heroin! There's also a boat trip to Teignmouth or was it Dartmouth, wherever it was it was shite.
One afternoon there's a market on the prom and there's a record stall. I buy the 12" of Coati Mundi/Kid Creole's 'Me No Pop I/Que Pasa' on Ze Records. I've just started collecting 12 inch singles and disco, funk and Kent/Charlie northern soul compilations from places like Cheverton Records in Liverpool and Spin Inn in Manchester. I think I'm hip to the beat daddio. That summer as we left school I was getting into what is now known as 'hip hop' although it wasn't called that back then. My mates were going the other way, the indie route but Kraftwerk seemed to be the common key; we'd go to 18th discos for once despised 6th formers and records like DAF's Der Mussolini was the biggest tune of the night, uniting everyone in one big fascist groove thang!
On the final day of the holiday I got badly sunburned and was itching to death. So I got pissed on more pints of Tartan to ease the pain and end up pissing the bed I�m sharing with our Gaz. He�s fast asleep so, humiliated by the prospect of telling me mam and dad I�d pissed the bed, I get up and gently edge our Gaz onto the pissy side of the bed and get in his side. Next morning, before the maid comes and further shame is heaped upon my poor ma, I inform her and me dad that our Gaz has pissed the bed. My ma had a quiet word with the chambermaid and our Gaz cops the blame. He was only 10 or 11 at the time and I didn�t tell him til he was in his 30s.
On the way home, me mam and dad decide to pay my cousin Lorraine and her husband a visit on the outskirts of Bristol. We go into Bristol city centre and I'm amazed by two things; the number of punks still hanging around after they'd become a missing breed in the north west and the black kids body popping outside one of the department stores. I'd never seen British kids popping before and it was truly breathtaking. I think Jeffrey Daniel's famous demonstration of this new dance had only been shown on Top Of The Pops a few weeks earlier.
The Sunday was notable for two things; the world cup final where the majestic Italians of Zoff, Gentile, Tardelli and Rossi beat the even more hated West Germans 3-1 at the Bernabeu. And the first telly screening of Ridley Scott�s still awe inspiring Alien. Unfortunately I was still dying of sunburn induced itching and covered in calomine lotion to really enjoy this double whammy TV spectacular.
A few months later, I was starting an art A level at Widnes college and turned up to an open evening in a pair of me dad�s shoes that I thought looked a bit similar to Adidas Korskias. They didn�t. I then realised that I�d never get to become a top scal or even a mediocre scal, whilst still dependent upon the generosity of my father�s meagre �housekeeping� allowance that dictated that, no matter how much he earned on the docks that week, me ma always got the same budget with which to feed and clothe us. No more holidays in the sun with our Gaz, our Claire, and our Ste. No more begging for change for a few bottles of Newcy Brown to sup in Jubilee House binsheds. No more jarg Littlewoods Keynote versions of the latest street wear. YTS-ville, here I come!
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