Putrid Modern Hell #22

by HST UK on December 3, 2011

Last Night in Town

I’m not good with goodbyes, I find them terribly awkward, and I think I have some kind of psychological attachment disorder which prevents me from actually saying them. This has hampered me to the point that whenever an old friend or acquaintance leaves the city I tend not to turn up to their leaving party, instead I wish them a cold curt good luck message either via text message or Facebook.

It was therefore a surprise when I met up with some old friends last Saturday. These folks were part of a crew of misfits that I’d known since childhood. I was the ‘Will Hunting’ of the group, the one with so-called genius and untapped potential; they were the South Boston toughs. In truth ‘tough’ was a good word to describe the old gang. Often nights out would end in fights and petty vandalism such as the ceremonial throwing of a builder’s cement mixer into the River Wensum.

There were some crazy moments. I remember we once found a dead hedgehog on the side of the road, picked the smelly spiky carcass up using a few pages of tabloid newspaper, put it inside a kebab tray and then left it on some poor bastard’s doorstep. I did it because those boys egged me on. I dread to imagine how the poor bastard reacted when they picked the kebab tray up from their doorstep.

Prior to meeting up with these friends last night I had lost touch with them. Sure they added me on Facebook last year, but we hadn’t met up in a while. You’ve got to worry about Facebook and other such social networks, how it can be used to keep people at a distance. To remain in contact, yet at the same time be hardly any different to names scrawled in the old discarded address book that gathers dust on the bookshelf.

Anyway, it was interesting to note how little and how much they had changed. The two brothers in the group, I had known since primary school. I remember our first meeting near the water fountain in the school corridor. Both were wearing identical blue replica football shirts, I made a disparaging comment about the team they supported, they told me to “bugger off” and we fast become friends.

Then post high school our paths failed to cross, at least until I worked with the eldest brother at a DIY store. Again, we hung out, and through the brothers I met a small time drug dealer, a psychotic brick shithouse, and an assortment of other wide boys and chancers. We would hang around at a pub down the bottom of the hill near our workplace, then we’d hit the city, if we survived the dance floor scuffles and pizza shop stare downs, we would usually head back to the brothers house, smoke weed, listen to classic gangster rap albums and watch shoddy films like The Leprachaun and How High.

I realised last night that a lot of things had changed. For one thing – Me. Perhaps I had deliberately cut these people from my lives. I remember one night when it all brewed over, the gang had been clubbing in the basement of some scene bar that played old school hip hop music. The older brother was eyeing the room, paranoid that blokes were staring him out. I looked around and saw nothing. As the booze flowed, he got more hostile, snapping at us all. I could tell it was going to kick off big time. I left them all at it. As I left the door I heard shouting, and the sound of glass breaking.

I’m not up for senseless drunken confrontation. So it surprised me when I met up again with the brothers in the beer garden of that pub down the bottom of the hill just how much they’ve mellowed. The older brother had suffered a major health scare last year, life threatening, he was now the father to a baby girl, he was moving out to the States to be with his new partner and child. The younger brother after stuttering his way out of the shadow of his older sibling, he had a steady job. The brick shithouse, also known as the big lump, the head-hunter of the gang, he had avoided trouble in recent years and was also a proud family man.

What happened? When did everyone settle down and get so God damn serious?

After four hours of catching up at the pub we got into a taxi cab and decided to hit the pubs and bars on the notorious Prince of Wales Road; scene of past nights gone wrong. We visited a bar named after an Italian Gangster. I surveyed the room, and decided it was best to start working the room. Now, it is important to tell you that for a good couple of years I have misplaced my mojo. I found the approach nightmarish, and had no game.

For some reason in recent weeks I have been wreckless and dangerous, and I guess chicks like that, a huddle of girls were chatting around a table and I instantly bounded in. Posh girls from Newmarket, girls on hen nights, thirty five year olds who’d seen better days, bunny-eyed teenagers, whatever, for the whole night I was sleazing. I suppose the night had some misses, a Polish blonde was completely disinterested in my lecherous behaviour. During our final stop at one of the Ibiza chill bar places that sell bottles of beer for a fiver, and feature DJs playing crap Balearic House, I was chatting to this one lady wearing a panda spotted dress who was looking lonely as her friend was being groped by one of those rugged looking poncey blokes that appear in adverts for French fragrances, sporting designer bum fluff on their chins. I started to talk to her, compliment her, got a few laughs, before her friend reached down grabbed her by the arm and the three of them walked away; possibly to engage in a ménage a trois.

The night eventually ended, and the old gang parted once again. I said goodbye and wished good luck to the older brother, and hoped his trip to the States would be a success. Will I see the others around town? Who knows?

-RJW

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