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Special Brew, serial killers, smiles and scowls…
By Andrew Vaughan
The golden can. The golden beer. 'The King of Beers'.
The ice-cold sweet syrup kisses my lips, caresses my tonsils, soothes my chest, warms my heart and saves my soul.
It is a Saturday in October. I take my tracksuit top from the floor, put my Nike Wimbledon's under the tap, finish my brew and step into the early morning sunshine.
Gregg's bakery opens in ten minutes and there is a Scotch pie with my name on it waiting for me. I need brew and pie to start the day. Ranvir in the Londis catches me looking at her tits and smiles that "if only my dad knew you were looking at my tits" smile and blows me a kiss. I haven't a fucking chance.
Muswell Hill is beautiful. Fucking beautiful. Crisp leaves rustle under my feet, the sun warms my brow and a bead of alcohol-induced sweat tickles my cheekbone. I nearly collide with a woolly liberal woman – of whose kind are prevalent around here.
"Sorry love", I say. She scowls. I get off on calling them "love". They hate it. I'm with them on the politics. If only they knew. In fact I'm further to the left than they are but I call people "love". I'm from the north, you see. We do things like that. We say "thanks" when we get off buses.
Past St. James' church and across the road by the pelican crossing. I could jaywalk but I am unsteady on my feet. Rock and roll from side to side and into the bakery. The smell of newly-baked bread fill up my senses more than John Denver ever could have thought possible. I sing the song to myself and say: "Hey Annie give me a Scotch Pie to calm the demons and Special Brew that wobble my insides."
She scowls. There is a lot of scowling going on this morning. I put my change in my pocket and I turn on my heels and go for a second pie. She really fucking scowls now. I laugh she gives me my change, I put it in my pocket and I turn on my heels.
"Hey Annie give me a third pie."
"Nah, only joking love."
She scowls and I smile. In fact I smile all the way home. Past St James', over the old railway bridge and across Cranley Gardens. A skinny bespectacled fella blocks my way into Londis.
"Scuse me, pal."
Begrudgingly he moves aside, unties his dog and heads down the hill.
"He's weird him", says Ranvir.
"Really fucking weird."
"No idea, mate.
"Just looks like the rest of the Muswell Hillbillies to me.
"Mind me own business me.
"Like everybody else. Have a drink, do my job and buy pints of milk off beautiful girls like you."
"Yeah, alright then.
"Makes a change from buying beer, don't it.
"You know what if you didn't drink so much, Rich, I might even let you fuck me."
Ranvir smiles. A great big fucking beautiful smile. Her dad catches the swearword, stops stocking the fridge with Edam and scowls. Really fucking scowls.
I haven't a fucking chance.
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