Friday, 15 April 2016


Basingstoke: Guy Fawkes' Night 1986

A gang of children are hanging out in 'the woods' just in front of the old peoples home where local mothers put on pale blue housecoats and aprons to look after the oldies.

The bonfire has a plank running across the centre of it and boys are riding their bikes through the flames.  Children play catch with firelighters bought from the Co-Op - why pretend you've got a hot potato when you can hold real fire in your hands?  We are out in the dark, unsupervised.

A boy (one of a pair of local twins who I am "not allowed to play with") turns to me and asks "do you want one?".  He is tall and slim, thin lips parting to show sharp teeth as he offers a lit cigarette in his bony hand.  I am eleven and impressionable - I take it.

I put the cigarette in my mouth and suck - the smoke enters my mouth and I cough it out.  It's like eating the remnants of an ashtray (and I should know, having been caught doing exactly that as a baby), I hand the cigarette back and run away.

Woodley: Late 1995

It is late evening and I am cold.  I'm wearing a short silver A-line dress, shiny tights and patent black dolly shoes.  I'm going with a colleague to see a DJ at the After Dark Club but we stop at his local pub first to collect his friend.  The pub is full and I am out of place - my short denim jacket not adequately hiding the fact I am dressed for clubbing, not playing darts.  

I clutch the bottle of Becks that is offered to me and stand close to my colleague.  A man correctly observes that I am "not his girlfriend" but is assured via some choice words that I am there as a friend, not a bit on the side, and that I am not up for grabs.

The man we are waiting for arrives.  He has hair like Action Man, dark brown eyes and neat, straight teeth.  "I thought you were going to be a bloke", he says.  He offers me a Silk Cut and I am hooked.

No comments:

Post a Comment