PROPER MESTER’S BEER THIS
Not like that puff piss you’re supping, says Pete. He takes a swag from his can of Tennent’s Super, eyes swinging left then right at Tony and Jake, who grin at the fat bastard to show their bum-chum yeses. I wish the bus would hurry up. I wish Jake hadn’t told Tony and Pete about the Hawkwind gig. I wish it were just me and Jake. But then again, I wish it were just me now. Jake’s a cunt for siding with Pete. Tony might as well be wearing a sheep-fleece too. I take a swag from my squash bottle, feeling the glow of whisky, sherry, elderberry wine, gin, brandy, and cherry liqueur going down my throat, the flat tang of orange squash dry on my tongue, the booze humming the walls of my mouth. Pete makes a hacking sound in his throat then gobs a greenie at my feet. I take a step back and lean against the bus shelter. Jake and Tony laugh as Pete hacks another up. He gobs again. This time it hits the toe of my trainer. Creamy green slime bubbles slow off my foot towards the pavement and Jake and Tony laugh like girls, all high-pitched and squeaky. I wipe my trainer on the grass verge, feeling sick and angry. Pete drinks, deadeyes me over his can, black pit eyeliner circling his arrogant-fuck eyeballs. I swag at my stuff as the 83 makes its way down the hill. I am fifteen and skinny. Pete is nineteen and built like a fat-fuck brick-shithouse. This is why.
When we get to Sheff we have a couple in the Howard Hotel. I’m not talking anymore. Them three cunts sit at a table by the door. I’m playing pinball, drinking my barley wine, smoking a Number Six. It’s been non-stop shit since the bus stop. All led by fat bastard Pete. The other thing is, I know he fancies Rache. This is another reason why. He’s got no chance anyway. She’s fit and he’s a fuckarsed swamp-donkey. On our way up to The Sportsman, Jake asks me what’s up. I tell him nothing’s up, but in my head I hear myself shouting Fuck You. I put Stone Free by Hendrix on the jukebox while they’re at the bar. Pete’s patches on his denim jacket are pathetic. Stupid glittery Quo and Motorhead. A really wank AC/DC patch that says Back in Black under a crap Angus Young head that looks like a cow wearing a mong’s face. You can always tell the placcy DC fans. They only know the new stuff. Anyone that’s real knows the early stuff with Bon Scott pisses all over the Brian Johnson stuff. I put Cream’s White Room on too, then I notice an old Quo song from the Sixties. I punch in the letter and number and make a bet with myself. I go over to the bar, smiling, happy the cunts haven’t got me one in. I order another barley. Pete calls it a woman’s drink. I light a Number Six and tell him Actually, it’s stronger than yours, turning the bottle around to show him. He doesn’t even look, turning to Tony and saying Did you hear something queer then? Tony looks up to the ceiling pretending to listen, cocking his head one way then the other. Jake laughs. Pictures of Matchstick Men comes on the jukebox. I neck the barley, order another, and as the barmaid takes the top off it I ask Pete if he’s heard this track before. Pete says no because he doesn’t listen to shite. I drink, feeling the glow. Them three go and play darts, Pete’s Status Quo patch glittering under the dartboard spotlight. Twat... In the Frog And Parrot, Pete, Tony and Jake order Roger and Out. Pete bets Tony and Jake he can sup more than they can. I go to the pisser. When I get back they haven’t got me one in. Strongest beer in the World, says Pete, bringing a glass of treacly shit to his fat-fuck lips. He downs it in one then clanks the empty glass to the bar. Fifteen fuckin percent, he says, wiping his gobshite gob on the back of his hand. I order two more barleys, not saying a word as Pete talks more shite. The more I listen, the more I realise it’s Pete that does all the talking while the other two just play noddy-dog. I drink and think. Jake asks me again What’s up? and again I say Nothing. He turns to listen to Pete telling a story about how some gadge down the pit kept nicking some bloke’s sarnies, so one day the bloke shat onto some bread to make a shit sandwich and put it into his snap tin. Pete says That stopped the cunt. Jake and Tony laugh like girls. I don’t believe the story. Surely you’d smell shit before you put it into your mouth?... Sometimes I don’t know how I feel about people. I like having mates but then I see things for what they are. Jake doesn’t give a shit about me when Pete and Tony are around. When it’s just me and him he’s totally different. Like that time a few weeks ago. Why be like that with someone then behave like you’re ashamed of them when you’re with other people? I drink and think. Am I? I look at Jake as Pete tells another hard-man story about the pit. I don’t feel that way towards Jake today. At all. I fancy Rache all the time. I don’t really understand why I feel like I do about certain people. Jake went all weird after that thing a few weeks ago. I didn’t see him for a fortnight. Maybe he told people? I remember that time with Carl Partridge’s sister at that party when we were kids. She said if I showed her my cock then she’d show me her fanny. I showed her my cock. She ran off and told her mum... I go over to the jukebox. Three songs for twenty pence. My Sharona by The Knack, Money by Flying Lizards, Hong Kong Garden by Siouxsie And The Banshees. Back at the bar them three have got them in again. No one got me one in. I buy myself a barley, pretend to go to the bog, take myself to the City Hall. When I get there I realise I have all the tickets. Then I realise them three haven’t paid me for them yet. I sell three to a tout on the steps for half of what they cost me, finish my barley and go inside.
When Hawkwind come on I realise how happy I feel. I look up at the television screens flashing with nuclear explosions and think how beautiful the end of things are. I like people sometimes, but usually I don’t. People lie, use you for what they can get, talk shite about what you mean to them. I stand among a thousand people smelling of sweat and fags and booze. Their bodies press against mine. No one looks at anyone else other than at the band. I’m with a thousand others, but I’m totally alone. Beautiful, as my right hand is wedged against the curve of an arse. Girl or boy, I don’t even look.