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YOU’REGONNAGETYOURFUCKINGHEADKICKEDIN! Pt 5
By Phil Thornton
‘Yeah, I’m not sure…..’ Stoney hesitated and caught the professor’s beady, brown eye….’it’s difficult….’
‘We can have a break if you like, how about something to eat?’
Stoney nodded. He caught Ramon’s eye and put his thumb up. Ramon came straight over and smiled that inscrutable Portuguese smile which Stoney read as ‘with your boyfriend again Kev?’
‘Yeah er I’ll have the bean and chorizo soup please Ramon.’
‘OK Stoney’ Ramon smirked…’and for your friend?’
He didn’t like the way he said ‘your friend.’ Maybe he was still a bit para but there was no mistaking Ramon’s sarcasm. He bit his lip as the Prof studied the small laminated menu.
‘Erm, actually I’ll have the same please’ the professor said looking up at Stoney and shooting him a quick, ratty smile.
‘Certainly sir, a good choice’ Ramon scribbled in his notepad and winked at Stoney.
‘What’s your fucking problem Ramon?’ Stoney growled, loud enough to cause the students across the room to look over.
‘No problem’ Ramon stuttered.
‘Well do us a favour and just bring us the fucking food over yeah?’
‘OK, Jesus’ Ramon muttered as he sloped back towards the kitchen.
The professor looked startled and a bit embarrassed. Stoney’s body language was giving off aggressive vibes. He looked over at the students who suddenly averted their gaze and stopped sniggering. He looked back at the professor who nervously toyed with the buttons on his old fashioned Dictaphone.
‘Fucking smart-arse!’ Stoney said fixing the old Scot with his best ex-hardman face before smiling which seemed to ease the professor’s nerves a little.
‘So, anyway yeah, not an easy thing to talk about Heysel. Not because…..’ he paused again.
‘I understand, it was a terrible tragedy and Liverpool fans were all classed as murderers…’
‘No that’s not it.’ Stoney interjected, ‘See I didn’t give two fucks about those dago cunts, never had a flicker of fucking shame or remorse because I was kinda dead here.’ Stoney pointed to his where he thought his heart was. ‘I used it, took advantage of the situation because….’Stoney paused again. Ramon walked over with the food.
‘Two bean and chorizo soups’ he said curtly placing the bowls in front of them.
‘Thanks Ramon’ Stoney replied pleasantly, attempting to diffuse the tension.
‘Anyway what about you?’ Stoney asked the professor.
‘Yeah how did you get into this game then?’
‘What sociology you mean or this book?’
Stoney shrugged and took a sip of his soup.
‘Well I got into studying late in life to be honest. I did five years back in the mid 80s.’
Stoney looked gobsmacked.
‘What five years in jug?’
‘Prison, yeah.’ the professor answered realising that his confession had aroused his subject’s interest. Stoney could barely believe that this mild mannered academic had served time.
‘Nothing too serious I’m afraid.’
‘Five years, must’ve been pretty serious.’
‘Aye, burned down my office, insurance job.’
Stoney laughed. The professor began laughing too.
‘I had my own business, nothing to write home about, just a small graphic design company, printing, anyway got into a lot of debt and’ he paused ‘next thing, Barlinnie here we come!’
‘Is that where you got into the sociology then?’
‘Aye, did my degree in there, best thing I did to be honest. I was never cut out for business. Lost my wife mind, she moved in with my best mate….so-called best mate after a year….’ His voice faltered a bit and Stoney felt obliged to console him, realising that he was in no position to cast stones at best mates moving in on best mates birds, although in Stoney’s defence atleast his best mate was dead at the time.
‘Sorry to hear that mate, bastard eh?’
‘No, fucking relief it was, sour faced cunt she was.’
Stoney laughed loudly, almost spitting his soup out. It was the firsst time he’d heard the professor swear or even display a sense of humour,. He realised that he’d been as judgemental and prejudiced against this ‘limp wristed egghead’ as no doubt the professor had been about this ‘brain dead hooligan.’
‘So how did you end up doing this then?’ Stoney attempted the remember his name…..what did the email say again? Michael Johnstone? Yeah he was sure it was Michael. ‘Michael isn’t it?’ Stoney asked hesitantly.
‘Mike’ the professor corrected, opening up a channel of informality.
‘Kev’ Stoney replied.
‘Well I’d always been interested in crowd behaviour. My dad used to take me on union rallies when I was a kid and I loved being in crowds, supported Celtic as a kid back when they’d get 60,000 gates. Loved it. Fucking loved it. But then…’
‘Celtic eh? Used to despise those Fenian bastards when I was in the army.’
‘Aye well….I’m not Catholic myself but my dad couldn’t square being a Rangers fan with his politics so….’
‘Proper fucked up that, I couldn’t understand it all this IRA stuff but now I suppose it all comes down to politics doesn’t it? Religion’s just an excuse do yer reckon?’
‘Aye, well in a way it is, dressing it up as religion, the act of union, the Irish occupation but then again Cromwell was the worst bastard over there and he’s a left-wing hero for many people so, y’know, it’s all relative.’
‘Don’t know much about that Mike, not really up on that bit of history, the civil war and that. Do you still go the match then?’
‘No, haven’t been since I was a lad.’ He paused ‘My dad died and I never went back to a football game again….’
‘How old were you when…?’
‘Eleven, fifth of February 1963. Good man he was my da, good fucking man.’
The professor slurped his soup and Stoney watched as he swallowed hard to regain his composure.
‘Yeah Heysel’ Stoney returned to Belgium more to allow the professor to recover his composure rather than for any great desire to dredge up those awful memories. ‘as I said, I made a name for myself with the lads after that game. The game itself, I didn’t even see what happened really. I was there with three lads from the army, two Cockneys and a lad from Plymouth and we all bunked into the ground, it was just fucking shocking. The whole day we’d been around the main square and the pubs and there was little kick offs going off with the Juventus fans everywhere and because of what had happened in Rome the year before, there was a lot of bad blood. Me, I never really had anything against the Ities, never met one in me life, but I was 19, in the army, I just hated everyone, anyone who wasn’t English, anyone who wasn’t a Liverpool fan. I ran at the Juventus fans with everyone else. We all did but we were miles behind the lads nearest to the fence, You couldn’t really see what was happening, it was just the usual thing y’know everyone got carried away, I don’t think one fucking Italian got smacked during that charge. It wasn’t really till we saw the stretchers and the Ities kicking off on the other side of the pitch that we realised it was serious, that people had died……’
Stoney’s voice wavered and the professor looked over at him, switched the Dictaphone off and took another loud slurp of his soup.
‘This thing you’ve got about dads, is that to do with your own dad dying when you were a kid?’ Stoney asked.
The professor didn’t answer immediately but sat back in his chair and allowed the question to resonate before nervously coughing.
‘I suppose in a way, yeah, that erm, area has always intrigued me, not in a’ he paused again repeating ‘not in a Freudian way you know Sig…’
‘Yeah I know who Freud is’ Stoney replied jokily.
The professor laughed at his own condescension.
‘I’ve spoken to six lads like yourself now Kev and without exception they’ve had bad relationships with their fathers, or no relationship at all’
Stoney nodded but added his own interpretation..
‘Well, I’ve met lads who’ve had much worse relationships, proper abuse, kid’s homes, sexual abuse the lot, so I count myself lucky in a way, I don’ think we can use that as an excuse, young men like to fight each other, simple as that. At least it sounds like you and your aul fellar got on together.’
‘Aye we did and I know what you mean, it’s all relative I suppose but I think there’s a definite link there, the absence of a positive male role model and gang activity.’
‘Maybe? I dunno, that’s the working class way isn’t it?’
‘That’s what I’m trying to find out Kevin, I could be totally wrong.’
‘I mean some of the lads take their own sons along now, do fucking beak infront of em, take em to the aways, brasses, the lot, it’s changed. There was a split when we were kids, our dads tried to keep us away from the aggro, like me auld fellar with the Chelsea fans, I could tell he was scared but he wanted to protect me, now the fellars are encouraging it with their own kids, like a badge of honour, bragging about their lads doing time, selling gear, it’s gone mad.’
‘Do you think that’s symptomatic of the age then?’
‘Why do you think it’s gone like that then?’
Stoney thought about it before answering.
‘That’s hard to say, me, personally I think in the 80s everyone got off on that fucking Tory ‘me me me’ thing, looking after number one, everyone wants the flashest car, the most expensive fucking jacket, six hundred quid Prada kagools, all that shit, it’s all about posing and acting up. I mean I was as bad as anyone at the time. I wanted to be top dog, I wanted the best looking bird, the nicest car, still fucking do if I’m being honest but I’ve got other priorities now. Some lads just don’t wanna fucking grow up, that’s the top and bottom of it. All lads really. I’m glad I’ve got a daughter because it forces you to grow up a bit, to see how fucking shallow it all is, how you treat people, women. I dunno! How’s yer soup?’
‘Delicious!’ the professor nodded.
To be continued.
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