Wednesday, 16 December 2009

RED CARD. (Walk it off).

The door creaked open a fraction with a whining un-oiled squeal, a tiny pink female set of fingers pulling it open.

A shaft of dying winter light cut through the gloom of the corridor, slowly revealing....


She wore a pristine white dressing gown, her feet bare, shivering slightly.

She looked pure, untouched.

Her hair, obviously just washed, gleamed supernaturally in the muted winter sun, which flew down rapidly behind the ceramic rooves of the terraced houses around us.

Our eyes met.

She fired me a nervous, wobbling smile.

A pretty vague look.

Almost looking through me rather than at me.

Her voice was unsteady as she spoke.

"...Oh...He-hello...Didn't expect you to to be calling here....."

She crept around the door, pulling it almost closed behind her.

She's obviously being listened to closely....

By someone really alert behind that door...

Most likely her mother....

"Yeah...y'know...... I was kinda worried about'cha....Not answering my calls and that...Just...Wanted to know if you were Okay.."

I brought up the flowers and offered them to her.

"I should be working at the match this afternoon...But I wanted to see you Real bad....First time for everything, right? Putting a female before football....Guess my priorities have changed..."

She made no attempt to accept my offering. She simply stood at the door, arms folded. Her eyes flickered about as she squirmed uncomfortably, a weak forced smile slowly fading on her lips.

She eventually locked her gaze on the path behind me, her voice sounding eerily flat and emotionless.

The intimation was clear that I should have been walking away, back down that stretch of uneven concrete slabs, there and then.

"I can't really speak to you right now.....It's not the right moment for this.."

She was cold. Her posture was all off. Arms folded tightly, expression remote.

Those hypnotic eyes that had originally hooked me, were flitting about again like humming-birds over a nectar-rich flower.

I slowly, with an attempt to act as cool as possible, slumped against the door-frame, an invisible attempt to draw myself closer to her body. The flowers in my right hand felt heavy, dead and lame all of a sudden.

"If it's...a problem...Me calling here outta the blue, I mean...Like this....I can understand, Linda. Just...say, if it is...and I'll bail out...."


For a split second, it appeared like I'd hit a raw nerve. She bit her upper lip, shifting where she stood. I wanted to keep the momentum rolling, however foolish it came across.

Something inside me pushed the dial towards "Super-charged", "animated and alive".


My speech felt lucid, flowing like poetry.

Not as if it was a cheaply constructed script.

"See...I can acknowledge the mistakes I made when it comes to you, baby. The other night drove home to me HOW MUCH I MISS YOU. TRULY. And I ain't just talkin' about the physical aspect...You are so much FUN to hang around with......More than any girl I've ever been with.
And I WANT YOU...I WANT to feel that joy again....

Just to make you smile is a buzz, honestly. Like no other.

I reached out to take her hand in my own.

She didn't pull it away, yet didn't squeeze it like I squeezed hers.

"And it gets better...I'm older now. More mature, focused. I Got a decent job on the go and my own place now....Plus, all my family are back together....Only thing missing is a straight-up female....And I think if we could just -"


She released my right hand and placed two fingers softly over my babbling lips.

Her face was all of a sudden, resolute.


"I'm sorry Fred...But I don't wanna relationship with you.....I can't tell you any other way........"

"I....I don't really know what to say............ To that...."

"I know.....I'm Sorry ....but that's how it is, babe....."

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Just front it.

It's strange, isn't it?

The effect a girl who you really dig has on the male mind, I mean.

You'll willingly go through any hardship, all manner of personal shit, mental and physical, just to please her.

Go down on hands and knees on vicious broken glass, use her shit for toothpaste...

You name it, if you, like myself, have an obsessive nature, you're there.

No problems, no questions asked.

If it pays off, you feel like you've won the World Cup, Mr Universe, Wimbeldon and an Oscar combined.

If it don't, you feel like a rusty wreck on the scrap-heap, with all the empty, better designed yet ultimately soul-less slick vessels passing you, mocking you, all your failures and faults, when all your endeavours and energy have gone in the wrong direction.

Wasted journeys to meaningless destinations.

Jumping on that bus to Bootle, was an experience in itself.

Didn't mind the driver smirking at me when I passed him the £1.70 fare. I was on a mission, and didn't have time to step aside and analyse my behaviour. A couple of old dears near the front of the bus looked at me with misty eyes, spotting the flowers and whispering to each other, their voices covered by the rumbling diesel engine.

I was almost proud of the fact I was heading into unknown territory, with no real plan of action.

Sometimes, I reasoned, you have to wing it and be impulsive.

Heroes and winners take chances.

Losers sit alone at home and rue their lack of ambition.

I had no script in my head of what I was going to say to her.

But then again... that's what makes it exciting, isn't it?

Sure is.....

The bus zipped through the city, Sunday hangovers helping the journey no end, and the traffic lights pleasingly accommodating.

Before I knew it, I had jumped off at Bootle bus station, the Triad tower and the Strand shopping centre looming around me.

I made my way out of the complex and headed up-hill, towards Vaux Crescent.

It was a brisk 20-minute walk and I was mindful of the awful fine rain spitting down on me, the type that caught you off-guard - one minute you thought it wasn't that bad but the next you were absolutely drenched and sneezing.

I arranged myself and my clothing, took a deep breath and steeled up as I reached the front door - it took me a moment to remember which house it was - It had been a long time.

I knocked lightly three times on the letter-box.

Almost immediately, a dog started barking and scratching wildly, making me jump up back in shock as it threw itself against the other side of the door. At that moment I remember thinking of those cliched old stickers that you would see in the grimy front windows of terraced houses with the cheap, ugly type-faces - usually a grainy photo of a slavering Rottweiler or pit-bull, above the slogan "I LIVE HERE".

Although meant to be a deterrent to potential burglars, I always thought it actually meant:

I waited there for perhaps a minute, although it felt much longer with the soundtrack of the animal hurling itself against the entry-point, the door-frame rattling. I thought about leaving the flowers on the step - then went against it.

She'd have known who they were from, surely - yet I wouldn't have been able to tell her exactly what was the sketch was. Maybe knock back later? It WAS a Sunday, after all....Maybe she was out?

I turned away from the door and started back down the front path, when I heard the hinges creak open and a stern female voice call out.


I turned back to see Linda's mother standing in the doorway. It was half-open as she gripped the handle with one hand, and the collar of the dog, which was only a small colly terrier. The dog frantically struggled to break free, it's claws clattering and slipping on the front step as it grunted, snorted and whined in protest.

Unconsciously I hid the flowers behind my back.

Linda's mother eyed me up and down with unrestrained suspicion

I had to collect my thoughts for a second before I replied.

She didn't seem to recognise me, which would make things a lot more awkward from here on in.

"Erm....Is your Linda there...Please?"


She shot me a quizzical look. I was dumbstruck for a moment. I didn't expect one-word answers.

Did she mean "Yes, she's here" or was she simply repeating the original "Yes?" question?

"So who is it??"

Right. Now we're making some progress. Not liking the piece-of-shit attitude on display here though, mind....

"It's....Fred" I replied shakily.

"WHO??" She barked her face screwing up, head tilted to one side towards me. Maybe my sense of body language was messed up, but generally when people act as such and make you repeat yourself, it's because hey want to soften you up before they deliver snotty one-liner to which you cannot retort. I smiled back through gritted teeth.


There was a flash of sudden recognition in her eyes and then her glare hardened, her stance going stiff. I'd no doubt been bad mouthed for years under her roof, called all the cunts under the sun.

Not that it bothered me of course.

It was for others to lose sleep about me.

"And what D'YOU wanna see her for?" She snapped, the dog still in her grip, gasping for air as it strained against it's collar.

I looked down to the floor for a moment and then lifted my head back up, a wistful smile on my face coupled with languid, dilated eyes.

I was sorely tempted to to unleash my barbed tongue on her in a savage response to her bullish, childish and patronising attitude. I knew I could have her in tears within a minute, given the opportunity. I could crucify her and her daughter purely through the power of speech. I could expose her behaviour and draw parralels from her upbringing - put her mother on a real guilt-trip.

Having half-anticipated such a negative response, I had memorised a spiel that I could hit her with.

Well, actually I'm here on account of your daughter ignoring my phone calls and text messages. Which is strange actually, because just hours ago she was ready to have my kids.

Yeah, really. She was all over me. This was after she was provided (from an unknown source) with a big bag of beak, which she consumed like a pro over the course of the other night.

Now as someone who perhaps in a naive and misguided sense, cares about and feels affection for Linda, I feel I should inform you, her mother, of the situation. If you were to ask her about it I'm certain she would tell you all about it. Really, go ahead.


I snapped back to the present,shaking my head as I focussed on the moment.

No. Show a bit of dignity and self-control. To lose it is to play straight into their hands....

"It's just....I'd very much like to speak to her right now, if at all possible".

That's it. Play it polite. Best way to handle it.

There was a long uncomfortable silence.

The mother regarded me with a dark, lingering look that suggested she had just scraped me from the sole of her shoe. For the first time, I felt a REAL sense of self-satisfaction that I had slept with this woman's daughter.

"A MINUTE". She slammed the door shut, dragging the dog back inside with her.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied one of the curtains in the window directly above the front door flicker for a moment.

I brought the flowers up from behind my back. Quite why I was hiding them, I didn't know. I composed myself, adjusted my sweater and took a few moments to reflect.

I could actually understand why her mother had been so ratty with me. I remembered the story of how Linda's father who had three children - had suddenly came out as gay and split after maybe 20+ years of marriage. That's pretty lame in my book. You would have thought he would have at least fucking mentioned it before having three kids with her, likes.

A rough hand to be dealt with, no doubt. I supposed that in her shoes, I probably would have been rabidly anti-men as well, after such shocking treatment.

Then again, what was she like during the marriage? Did she drive him towards such action? Who was to know? The mind boggled, totally.

I felt a light touch of rain on my head and looked up to the skies.

Bootle isn't one of the most picturesque areas within Merseyside, but under black skies it's downright ugly, man....

Monday, 7 December 2009

One man in a million.

Sometimes, in order to prise truth from others, it is necessary to get square into their faces and demand it, full-on, with no compromises, no room left for them to wriggle out of the question.

It's all about the setting, the atmosphere, the issue at hand and the people involved in it.

Sometimes harsh, intense and confrontational, with screaming and shouting.

On other occasions with craft, tact and an under-hand use of head tricks and psychological suggestion.

This was a strange situation.

There was no underlying motive on my part other than a desire for some reality and honesty from Linda. However I felt about her personally, in terms of affection, emotion, lust, whatever - there was a primal in-built need for her to level up and give me the full script about her behaviour towards me.

As I marched into the city centre, grimy rusted shutters were gradually being pulled down before shop windows, as the clocks slowly swept towards 5:00pm.

I headed down a damp, traffic-rammed London Road, past the dilapidated pubs with leery, grubby young types in hideous track-suits and the older, red-faced men in tatty tweed jackets smoking outside the uninviting doorways. I stared straight ahead, feeling a sea of suspicious eyes beading my every step, reaching the end of the road and taking a sharp left by the Empire Theatre towards St John's shopping centre.

After a brief mental wrestling match played out in my skull, I opted for the stealth route.

No rants or hysterics would be on the menu, despite a seething, bubbling drive under the skin, urging me on to resort to such soap-opera bull-shit.


This would handled in an adult manner on my part.... I decreed as I broke into a sprint and dashed across the four lanes of honking buses and tooting cars that thundered left and right in front of St George's Hall, the ominous old building grey and imposing with the darkening skies behind it.

I made across the front plateau at the forecourt of the building, past the war memorial and the towering lions and statues of long-dead heroes that surrounded it, dodging grotty expanding puddles of rain that had sprouted up amongst the slippery cobblestones. I'd only just pulled on the new footwear, and was wary of getting it destroyed mere minutes after christening it.

I cleared the Hall and bounded down the steps at the side of it, past the huge illuminated video screen that flashed up advert after advert mutely. Straight across four lanes of roaring buses to the relative safety of the traffic lights.

Then around past the Penny Farthing - a pub I'd never set foot in and swore I never would.

A boozer that had somehow survived countless recessions that had plagued the city, yet had never had a face lift or a switch in the demographic of it's lowlife clientele.

I was all set for making towards the bus stop for Bootle, when I found myself jangling the loose change in my right jeans pocket and heading straight for the tiny flower stall at the side of the bus station, which looked as though it was shutting up shop for the day.

Why flowers? Only one man in a MILLION looks right with flowers. Given the unknown scenario you are about to bounce into, flowers seem like a stupid, empty gesture. You only buy flowers for a female when you've fucked up in the worst sense and want to atone. Valentines and birthdays don't count. It's a given on those days....

"How much for the red one's, luv?" I heard myself ask the buck-toothed, hunch-backed middle aged woman behind the stall with the curly dark hair and the hang-dog eyes.

She eyed me up curiously for a moment.

"Two pounds a bunch at dis hour, like...What's de occasion, lad?" she grinned, her prematurely aged face freakishly accentuated in the dying light, neon shop-lights and fine misty rain.

The result of too many John Player Specials and Skol Supers in her youth no doubt...

Won't you fuck off out of my head? I don't need your advice right now!

I tried to blank out the inner demon, however much he taunted me.

He had a point, though.

But what was it for?

"Er...Just for me girl-friend..Well, kind of...Yeah..I mean, No...Well...

"I dunno..."


(Take a breath..)

" say Hello...Catch up..Knowhaddamean?" I stuttered, suddenly aware of the flux of people walking past behind me, mainly females, taking a moment to nose at a man buying flowers.

A rare event, in their eyes.

"So who's the lucky girl, den, lad?" She grinned with her yellow crooked teeth, as she passed me a wrapped bunch of roses.

They looked sweet, almost edible. How she had managed to wrap them so expertly and in a professional manner so quickly was beyond me.

It was worth 4 dollars.

What a saleswoman.

I didn't have to stop to think about that question, as I passed her £4 and jogged towards the Bus-stop, turning my face back to reply as I spied the number 53 roll into stop 2.

"It's..just forra girl I need some answers from, luv..."

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Fresh out of the box.

So what next?

After a frantic scorched-earth cleaning policy in the cube, until it smelt and looked decent again, I had lashed the stinking clothes I had been wearing into the laundry basket and decided to finally part ways with my Reebok's...

They had given me a long, hardy service way beyond the time-span they were originally designed for. They had seen many memorable escapades and been walked, ran, danced in and kicked off by the heels in countless places.

For something made for an absolutely minuscule amount of money, on a production line manned by shockingly under-paid, over-worked and under-aged slaves in some face-less Indonesian sweat-house before I eventually took them out of a box, tried them on and parted around 600% of their face value in a jazzy liverpool city-centre sportswear emporium for...they had been trusty, comfy and dependable training shoes.

But they were coming apart at the seams, smelled like hell and had served their last shift. I launched them into the bin unceremoniously.

There was a beautiful pair of Vintage Adidas ZX, smooth royal blue numbers with an understated yet timeless look to them, still nestling unworn in the shoe-box on top of my wardrobe. Weather and compatible ironed clothing availability permitting, they would be broken in tonight, I determined.

I stood under the shower for maybe 30 minutes, feeling the toxins slowly, stubbornly oozing away through my pores.

I had a precision shave, studied and controlled.

It being a free weekend, I didn't have the enemy of time and getting ready to contend with work. So I could afford to take my time and be at one with the razor - zen style, rather than tearing up my face with it like normal.

There was a satisfyingly large amount of gloopy stubble in the sink when I had finished. I rinsed it out, broke out a fresh unused toothbrush and roughly scrubbed my fangs until they sparkled.

I was still shaking the water loose from the holes in my head as I pulled on a low- key blue sweater and a pair of light grey Armani jeans I had been saving for a drinking excursion.

The new footwear was tight, but not uncomfortable. They looked pleasingly sleek prowling beneath the new denims, and squeaked with the cries of box-fresh new soles on the fake wooden surfaces.

I grasped for my mobile. 4:00pm. Not a bad effort considering the workload involved and the attention to detail required.

I dialled Linda's number.

Five rings.



I debated whether to call again, or text message her.


This called for something direct, in the face.

I reached for my jacket, pocketed my keys and phone and headed out towards the city below, clouded in hazy rain and a dying ember sun.

The now too familiar voice whispered to me again.

Just front it.......

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Roll the dice.

It took a good few hours to recollect the events of the night before.

My body switched to tidy-up mode, and I practically flew around my cube in a numb worker-drone state of mind, restoring it to some semblance of order and sanity. My brain was inert, on auto-pilot. No sentimentality or introspection was permitted, only basic functions and sensible behaviour.

I pulled on a grubby old sports sweater, a pair of worn-to-destruction Reebok Classics and an ancient no-name creased set of jeans covered in paint, ink and god knew-what-else.

Flashbacks were strictly off-limits until I had tidied the flat up, lashing a bulging bin-liner full of leaking half-empty booze cans and wine bottles outside into the purple-plastic wheelie-bin on the street.

Then a thorough brush and mop of the fake wooden floors.

Prison inmates on remand would have been in awe of my feverish cleanliness.

Makeshift ashtrays were emptied, windows were thrown open. A shot of sickly air-freshener in each room, hell on the nose and lungs. A cursory blast in the kitchen, a few loose glasses in the sink that I didn't recognise washed, dried and polished until they sparkled like newly-forged crystals.

OCD to the max.

The bathroom was fairly decent..until I went to check my reflection and realised the mirror had vanished, a rusty nail stuck into the cheap plaster where it had once hung.

I scoped around....there it was.

Sitting square on the living room floor, still bearing the powdered scars from the night before. My reservations about drug abuse and how it messed up people suddenly hit me.

Then the machine in me said:



Job done, no questions asked.

It took maybe two hours, exerting myself with a frantic energy that left me lying on the couch sweating and gasping for a ciggie. Then, and only then, the barriers in my head rolled down and I could think again.


Where were we again?

OK yeah....

Last night....

I took a long, hard drag of a smoke, lying on my beat-up leather couch whilst my memory kicked in.

The chemicals felt ugly, diseased, harsh on the throat.

But they were hard-earned.

Like the crow's nest crew-member on the tower of the Titanic, I saw the truth in front of my face...

.....too late.


Glad you mentioned that. I knew something was missing, demon.

OK, yeah. But what else?

How did I get here?

We had sat there when Hayley and Ste had bailed, flush on the living room floor. My right hand intwined into her left, a few minutes of uncomfortable silence.

A couple of "Remember that time when..." conversations.

A lot of "I'm sorry for when I...."

Did this, did that whatever and whatever you didn't do.

Nervous pauses, drunken kisses that meant nothing, really. But when you thought back, that intimacy was worth waiting for on such a crazy night.

A bed shared.

Nothing sexual, mind. We were both too skulled to do anything physical. Just the warmth of soft smooth female arms and legs clasped around your wasted form was enough.

And then..

She left.

No goodbye, no goodnight kiss.


A solitary text message.



I glanced at my watch, amazingly still intact and working.

15:00. SAT.

I recall laughing at that moment to myself and thinking:

"It's only 3:00pm. You can shave, shower, brush your teeth and preen yourself in that time-gap"....

That's right, my boy. But what you have to ask yourself is:

Do you really wanna get into this female?
Is she worth it?

Just roll the dice, boy...see what numbers come up...."