But then when you’re crossing the road to The Swan, Unfuckingbelievable! It’s her! Eating crisps and walking towards you with a brick-shithouse, Grady and Blue saying Fuck off and No chance, you saying Don’t say owt, shurrup that’s her husband, Newt saying Yeah right, just as they walk past, Carol giving you the quickest smile, throwing that screwed-up crisp bag behind her in your direction, glancing over her shoulder and smiling again, her husband not seeing, thank fuck, Grady, Blue and Newt now laughing and you saying See, see, I fuckin told you didn’t I? It’s Grady’s round in The Swan and it’s a pint of Merrydown and There you go shagger. It’s a good night. You like being out with the mesters. All old enough to be your dad but so fucking what? Friday night and wage-packet fuelled, two in The Bell, one in The Anchor, The Angel, The Crown, The Cross Keys, and now here. Nine-thirty and you’re feeling it proper. It’s like schooling, yeah? Fuck all the lightweights. Out with the mesters and no one fucks with you. Tell it how it is, and how it was with that bird Carol. The mesters laughing as you talk little stringy knickers that untie at the sides, Slap my arse slap my arse now fuck me from behind. And of course you don’t tell them how you shot your load in two minutes flat, how Carol said Don’t worry about it, then went off all sulky leaving you alone in the spare room, Ralph sniff-sniffing under the door-crack all night, you leaving early before she woke up, running tiptoe down the stairs, Ralph slobbering after you, Carol’s stringy knickers still fanny-damp in your jacket pocket. The barmaid gives you a slitty-eyed stare from behind the Heineken pump. Wouldn’t touch her with yours, Grady. And now Grady scowls, says Steady lad, and then to the barmaid, Ignore him Beryl, he’s been trying to keep up wi’ mesters, and the barmaid now laughing, singing Some-one’s gonna be sufferin’ tomorrow... And then in The Bull it’s your round, and just to show the mesters you’re real it’s three barleys in a pint pot, and the landlord telling you to Keep your language down, and in the bog you spew brown water, and on your way back to The Bell you piss in the bus shelter, and in The Bell taproom they all laugh because you’ve pissed down your leg and you feel a bit alone but that’s alright, you now telling some woman to Fuck off but you don’t know why, this bloke now telling you he’s Gonna smack yer one, but Newt telling him to Leave it because blah blah blah, you now singing Subterranean Homesick Blues stood on a stool pulling a moonie, Shirley the landlady yelling GET DOWN AND PULL YOUR TROUSERS UP BILLY-BOY OR YOU’RE OUT!... Grin. And now you’re telling someone called Tom that you Don’t take shit from no one as you button up, now sticking twenty p in the box for Stones and Yardbirds and Kingsmen. I WAS BORRRN IN A CROSSFIRE HURRI-CANE. Grady now prodding some gadge in the chest, telling him he’s a DIRTY FUCKIN SCAB BASTARD, lots of pushing, shit on the verge of kicking off, I WAS SCHOOOLED WITH A STRAP RIGHT ACROSS MAH BACK, the gadge getting pushed towards the door, people shouting SCAB! SCAB! SCAB! Shirley the landlady shouting ALRIGHT LADS! ENOUGH NOW! ENOUGH! You telling Tom you Don’t take shit, Not from ANY fucker COS IT’S ALLL-RIIIGHT NOW, INFACT IT’SA GAAAS, Tom handing you another barley and kissing you on the cheek ha ha with a Get that down you Billy-boy, and you saying No shit, Tom, Don’t take none from no fucking fucker, chink, LAST ORDERS PLEASE! LAST ORDERS! Barley fucking wine, Tom, proper mester’s drink, I WAS CROWWWNED WITH A SPIKE RIGHT THROUGH MAH, Yeh, get the fuckers in, LAST ORDERS PLEASE! Love is a fuckin lie. A. Fuckin. Lie. Just fucking is fucking. Know worramean, Tom? Blah blah blah. Cheers. To fuckin fucking. Don’t take shit. Right?... You put your fag out in the palm of your right hand. You and Tom look at the damage done... It’s funny.