Wednesday, 29 July 2009

10 Minute time-out

I was left alone on the couch in the Hogshead for perhaps 10 minutes or so, subjected to penetrating stares and whispered disapproval from the other patrons at the bar due to Hayley's foul-mouthed outburst. I was tempted to stand up and announce that she WASN'T WITH ME, but thought better of it. I was praying her boyfriend would soon show up, giving me the chance to corner Linda and have a proper talk with her.

We'd be soon out of there, I reassured myself.

I thought back to when I had first met her, almost five years before. It was still vividly clear.

I'd been living in the spare room of my mate Peter's house in the Bootle area of the city, after returning from staying with my parents for a spell in the Isle of Man.

At that time I was like The Littlest Hobo - lugging all my clothes and possessions around in a torn and battered suitcase, desperately looking for permanent steady work and a place of my own to live. Peter was brilliant, he really helped me out. I at least had a roof over my head. It was just the serious lack of dollars and boredom that were the most depressing things to contend with.

One Saturday I decided to go out for a few drinks with some old mates of mine I hadn't seen for a good few months - Edgy, Zippy, Cully, Kennywise and Anthony. We wound up in a nightclub in Bootle, the name of which I had forgotten.

It wasn't the flashiest place to be, cheap and nasty decor, a breathing cliche of a DJ playing ABBA, Whigfield, Bucks Fizz. A dance floor populated with mostly middle-aged women and men, dressed and acting like they were 18 again.

We argued amongst ourselves about who's idea it had been to go there. The finger eventually pointed to Kennywise, but he was too gassed at that stage of the night to care, let alone defend himself from some serious verbal abuse. I elected to go the bar, and pushed my way to the front.
I was about to be served when someone tapped me on the back and a female voice behind me shouted above the music.

"Are you gettin' served there?" it came, slightly slurry and with a wobble in the throat.

I turned to see a girl who stood somewhat unsteadily in her floral dress, a half-smile on her face, head cocked to one side. It wasn't aggressive, it was playful.

That was what got me.

She ended up not only jumping ahead of me to the bar, but with me buying her a drink.

My mates became distant, forgotten. Everything I did from that point on was consciously directed and focused upon her.

We clicked, it was obvious.

It helped that she was very attractive to me - long flowing straight dark hair, hour-glass body of a woman, an impish smile that played below her piercing blue, come-and-get-me eyes.

We talked, trying (unsuccessfully) to be heard over the abysmal sounds that threatened to drown us out.

But words didn't really need to be said, face and body language was the key. And it was all positive, green-lights all the way.

You got this, maestro.....

I was introduced hastily to the friends she was out with - I didn't really soak up who they were or what they looked like, I was transfixed.... We sat together at a table at the side of the dance floor. Likes and dislikes were shouted to each other, phone numbers exchanged. I took it upon myself to go to the bar again, assuring her I would be back sharpish.

The spontaneous nature of how we met and gelled so quickly was a buzz, too right.

My natural shyness and hang-ups dissolved rapidly in her company. It felt fantastic not having to take the initiative in talking to a girl, let alone have her all over me. So I rolled with it.

We eventually ended up back at Peters, both pretty much drunk. It lowered the inhibitions, to the point that we were almost full-on in the kitchen. Intimacy became physical in no time at all....

But it wasn't a cheap sleazy jump. Far from it, it was shared, two-way traffic. At least that's the impression I got. She was forward, experienced. It was refreshing to meet someone with such self-confidence.

I started seeing her properly straight after, walking her the short distance to her mother's house the morning after, still giddy from the booze and testosterone surging through me.

I was about to replay in my head just why we had first split when her voice whispered in my ear, shocking me back to the present.

"So mister....we're movin' on, maybe down Matthew Street....Fancy joining us?"

She stood over me at the side of the couch, Hayley next to her still dramatically dabbing her face with tissue paper.

"Erm...Yeah, Yeah sure...let's go...." I stammered, reaching for my jacket...

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Sweet female venom.

It became clear to me, sitting with her for a short while on that shared couch in the Hogshead pub.....

That I still found her incredibly attractive.
I had honestly forgotten how alluring she really was.

Sweet Jesus above...

She was sexy......

But there was also that nagging, annoying personal conflict that raged in my mind.

The one I couldn't suppress.

The one that made me KNOW... deep down... that I was human.




All the aspects of the male mind that lead to your downfall.

This required deep thinking.

Common-sense - the good angel on my right shoulder - dictated that I should just bail out of there and make excuses, be a good soldier and move on.

She's an ex.

You fucked-up in the past and never got back on the proverbial horse.

There's a solid reason why she's an ex-girlfriend.

You made that decision.

Listen to yourself.....

But I felt an irresistible impulse to stay and get into her head.

Hell-for-leather - The evil demon on my left shoulder - whispered that I should follow my instincts, forget the past.

Get into her man.

The internal argument flew through my mind like an unexpected natural disaster.

Where do the broken chess pieces of your life decisions lie on the board?

No contest.

The black playing pieces held sway.


It felt like the more that we spoke, the stronger the connection between us became.

She kept brushing her hands against me lightly, flicking her hair, shooting me sideways glances.

My lips felt dry, my pulse racing. I knew she wanted me, the signals were all too obvious.

The only problems were the constant interruptions from Hayley the blonde, who was really starting to annoy the fuck out of me. Her trashy nature, simplistic ignorance and screeching "D'yer wannnaaaaa slap?" persona had become painfully grating - very quickly.

How she and Linda were friends was a mystery to me.

Linda was what - 27?

Whereas Hayley looked maybe 18, 19 tops. Hayley was hyperactive, non-stop chatter, coarse and aggressive. Linda was subtle, quiet, a listener. It eventually clicked - they must have worked least that was the general vibe I felt I picked up on.

But still, I just wanted her to disappear.

There were still so many unanswered questions I had to put to Linda that had been burning in my head for almost 5 years, that demanded straight-up answers whilst she was still relatively sober.

But I couldn't get a word in sideways. I just sat there silent, yet attentive, nodding and smiling agreeably like a sad journalist at a loose, easy news story.

Deep down, I wanted a major terrorist act.

There was a brief, merciful few moments of respite from Hayley's incessant whinging about why her boyfriend hadn't called and that she was going to murder him, when she eventually got up from her seat and strutted away from us, presumably to the ladies room.

"So...where you two off to next then?" I asked, nervously running my fingers up and down the cool layer of condensation on the neck of my bottle of Miller.

Linda gave me a sly smile and a sultry look from the sides of her eyes.

"Don't know....Kinda up to Hayley, she wants to meet up with her fella'll be town though. You stayin' out yourself?"

This was too good an opportunity to let pass, and my spirits soared when she mentioned that Hayley might soon be occupied with someone else more docile to chat her mindless crap to.
And I always had the back-up option of calling Edgy or Leigh should things not develop positively, from a purely selfish perspective....

"Yeah, yeah I'm stayin' out tonight, definitely....Say, I may meet a few mates later on, was planning on catching up with them anyway. Would you like to join me?"

She went quietly coy, seemed to consider it carefully.

"OK...OK, yes. I'd like that..."

"Hey.....I was hoping you'd say that......."

I instinctively placed my right hand over her left, entwining my fingers with hers. She responded by squeezing them tightly. I consciously shifted closer to her on the gaudy orange leather couch, leaning my head close as I whispered in her ear.

'We've been here before, haven't we....? I know I made bad mistakes in the past, but it's a buzz to see you again Linda, really it is.."

She turned to face me, tantalisingly close enough to smell her perfume and see the gleam of her lipstick.
"It's a buzz to see you, too..."

I was on the verge of meeting those lips with my own when Hayley returned, screeching; "HE'S NOT ANSWERIN' ME FUCKIN TEXT'S, THE DICKHEAD!!"

She flung her phone at the table in the front-top of the couch, the casing almost shattering with the force of the impact. Several customers and staff at the bar turned in unison, a low murmur running through them. Linda broke away from me and jumped to her side, putting her arm around her and whispering something into her ear as Hayley started to cry.

Her boyfriend can't turn up quick enough. Need some other cretin to keep this crank occupied.

They then both vanished towards the toilets, leaving me on my own, sheepishly shrugging and mutely throwing my hands apologetically up to the audience she had garnered.........

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Dirty Laundry.

When I reached the Hogshead pub, it was surprisingly quiet. Just a few customers milling about, most of them in suits and dresses,
Aintree 2008 tags hanging from their clothing like a badge of honour. I had removed mine on the way from the train station, it was annoying me, swinging from my top button for some reason.

Sky Sports News was playing on all the plasma screens dotted about, and there was no discernible kind of music in the venue to be heard, which I found depressingly symptomatic of these franchise bars.

Most saw-dust boozers in the city had a beat-up old jukebox stuck unevenly in a corner somewhere.

That's not to say that the selection of tracks on offer were any good, like.

Usually they just featured populist shite like The Greatest Christmas Album in the World - Ever, Now! 65, Westlife's Greatest Hits, Top Gear - The Album.

But there were diamonds in the rough. The Jacaranda Bar on Slater Street was my personal favorite.

Ahhh. The Jac.

The original home of what Mick Jagger once allegedly referred to as the "Four-headed-monster". The Fabs. The "Four lads who shook the world".

A diverse, chilled-out place to meet your mates in.

No knob-heads with bad attitudes ripped on cocaine, no uptight women with chips on their shoulders the size of the Rock of Gibraltar. Which was mystifying really, when you considered that bars like Dom Juan's just across the street was full of them. It was like a clash of two schools of thought - People who were thinkers, with social skills, genuine smiles, alert, intelligent, cultured, possessive of positive attitudes.....and those who were not.

Just a friendly venue to sit in and chat to the stranger next to you about society, music and popular culture. None of that senseless fighting over how some flake had spilt your pint - a simple "Sorry mate" and you were sorted. 99% of the time you would end up sharing a few scoops with them. It was just that kind of venue.

Plus, the jukebox they had in there was the business - full albums, only a few greatest hits compilations. The Queen Is Dead, Never Mind the Bollocks, Wish You Were Here, Are You Experienced? Kasabian, Abbey Road, Sticky Fingers, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And the Spiders From Mars..... It was a selection of familiar music that crossed decades and genres that any punter truly into their tunes appreciated to the max.

But here I was in the present, sipping on a watery, loose bevvy, the latest test cricket scores droning from the TV set above my head. Nothing to keep me in this gaffe.

A light yet insistently repetitive tap on my left shoulder.

No-one here knew me - did they?

I spun around to face this intrusion.

A bright-eyed statuesque looking blondie, smile fixed on her face, posture firm and fixed, addressed me:

"Is your first name FRED...?????"

Was it?

Of course it was. But why are you...YOU...of all people ............asking me questions such as this?

In this bar, at this time...?

"Yeah, it is.....How'd you know that??" I mumbled apprehensively.

"It's just that me mate says she used to go out with you, oh, aaaaages ago..." She said coyly, smile widening.

I couldn't think of who it would be. Several names and faces flashed through my mind. But I didn't want to hazard a guess.

"Yeah?... really?..... small world isn't it?" I said, completely scoobied.

She turned away, giggling to herself, striding away to an unseen corner of the bar, leaving me standing there mute and shocked, like a flicker of lightening had struck my forehead.

I stood there silently for a few moments, trying to examine what had just been said.

It didn't make sense. It was all backwards.

She had seemingly vanished, and I was strangely inwardly suspicious, too wary to follow her. I turned back to the bar, sipping on the last of my pint.

I listened to the TV and the muted conversations around me twitchily, wanting to exit that place in the coolest possible, I'm-expected-elsewhere fashion.

Another tap on my shoulder, making me almost spit the last remnants of my pint from my wobbling lips. I spun 180 degrees on the spot, looking pertubed, quizzical.

A quick glance, then........Cover -uuuuuupppp.....

"Hello there Mister....saw you just walk in this place....Been a while hasn't it?" said Linda, her confident manner and forward nature unsettling me just for a moment. I stood there mutely, feeling awkward and nervous. I could only look at her up and down, with a fascinated sense of disbelief.

She looked so different, it was strange. Her skin was pleasingly tanned, her sleepy blue eyes gleamed and shone supernaturally. She had a floral yellow dress on that made her glow. And she had subtle slashes of blonde in her shoulder-length dark hair, not too extreme but pleasing. Her smile didn't waver, it seemed real to me, not forced.

Yeah, she looked fantastic.

"Hey....Yeah, it's...been a while...... How are you these days then?" I said, laughing to myself in my shyness.

"I'm good...just got back from the races, had a ball.....You looking well............ very smart in that suit, I gotta say....." she breathily replied as she flicked her hair away from her face, delicately stroking it behind her ears with deft fingertips. She tilted her head to one side slightly, and bit her bottom lip. It was a slick and beautifully orchestrated piece of body language, inviting yet guarded at the same time. She knew she had me.

"You on your own?"

Deceptively hard to answer that. Did she mean literally on my own or in the male-female aspect? Play it safe.

You've got this down.

"Yeah.....well at the moment, I'm Han Solo like....was thinking up catching a few mates in town later, we've been to the races as well...." I rummaged in my suit jacket and clumsily flashed her my Aintree tag.

"'s a wonder we never bumped into each other earlier today then....." she said, her fingers stroking her own tag slowly.

"Listen, Linda....About the past..." I was about to say, but she thankfully stopped me by softly reaching up and placing her right index and forefingers over my lips.

"Shhhh. That can wait. I'd very much like you to sit with us for a bit......It would be nice to talk properly, wouldn't it, Mister?

I imagine at that moment my face lit up like traffic lights.

"Yeah....I'd like that, Linda....."

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Sentimental journey.

As soon as the last race was over and the crowds started to surge out of the exit gates, we all made our escape. Edgy was off to see his bird, as was Leigh. Mark wanted to hang out on County Road, he was too smashed to even consider going into the city centre. It took 15 minutes of dead-end, argumentative debate with him to settle the whole issue.

That left just me and Zippy.

God bless him, I thought he was a smashing lad. He'd give you the very shirt off his back if you asked him for it. And he was a top mate when you were in a jam.

But his endlessly repetitive wild-eyed, rabid rants about Shankly, Daglish, Rush, Barnes, Rafa Benitez and his squad rotation policy, Istanbul 2005, and how Gary Neville was an absolute TWAT - were getting too much to bear. It didn't matter that I was a blue - it was just the same old vinyl to me, stuck on a jumping needle.

There's a time and a place, Ste. I just wanna party.

I was somewhat relieved when he stubbornly insisted on staying in West Derby Village for a few pints. That did me just fine. I fancied hitting the city centre for a few before going home - Maybe catch up with Edgy and Leigh later on.

I made my farewells and headed to the Merseyrail station.

It was crammed with hundreds of people, singing, dancing, drinking, fighting and fucking. Nervy squads of painfully young, obviously inexperienced policemen tried to maintain order as the train flew into the stop, desperately trying to keep people from falling into the path of the rumbling machine. It was like central Tokyo at rush hour, but without the orderly, clock-work precision and that strange (to Western eyes) sense of silent manners that the Japanese seem to innately possess.

After much swearing, shoving and pushing, I found myself stumbling into a carriage near the front, trapped like a sardine between a blind-drunk overweight girl with a hideous Kermit-the-frog green dress on, and a young lad with fresh sick plastered all over his suit, seemingly falling asleep where he stood. There were muted cheers, whistles and cat-calls from the passengers as the doors of the carriage shut and started to jolt forward.

Maybe town was a bad idea, I thought. There would be blood spilled on the streets that night, no doubt. Always was when it was fine weather and people were trashed. I deliberated whether to get off and meet Mark or Zippy - the next stop wasn't that far. Safety in numbers and all that.

But a flash of a smile from the girl the opposite side of the carriage swung it.

No, I had bigger fish to fry. I tried to maintain eye contact, but she turned away as much as the confined space would allow, holding her mobile phone to her face as she laughed into it.

Town it was.

The journey didn't take that long.

Maybe 10 minutes or so.

It was enlivened no end by the guy across from where I stood with his shirt unevenly tucked into his trousers, shirt and tie ruffled, who suddenly decided to take a piss on his seat. He instantly created a torrential river of boozy urine that ran down the carriage mercilessly, sending people scattering to avoid it, screaming curses at him as he stood there, grinning idiotically to his mates, maybe around 20 guys, half of whom were collectively stood holding their heads in their hands, shaking their heads in shame.

He was ruthlessly panelled by four or five others for his trouble and thrown unceremoniously off face-first at the Sandhills station, rolling over himself several times with the momentum, eventually lying face up, staring at the sky mouth agape.

His spectacular exit was to a chorus of "WHA-HEEEEEE-EEYYYY!!! HA HA HA HA!!!" as the doors slid shut and we pulled away.

Comments bounced around our carriage.

"Young ones these days...No respect, eh Arthur??" muttered the respectable-looking old lady standing with her husband, shaking her head rhythmically.

"Thought yer told him to wait till we got ter the station?? What am I gonna tell his ma now??" said the lad's stocky, no-neck mate to the rest of his crew, shaking his first in exasperation.

"Was he with youse? He's a fuckin' disgrace!!!" screamed the big girl next to me in the pea-soup green dress, jabbing her finger at them accusingly.

Moorfields station finally pulled into view, and I wriggled through the ram-packed carriage to alight.

I made my way out of the station hopping up the escalator, deftly dodging a pissed-up couple on my way, who were sitting on the moving steps, having a blazing row.

It's a blessing being single a lot of the time, I remember thinking as I eased past them, their drunken slag-match reverberating up and along the tiled corridors.


A deep breath.

I thought about calling Edgy or Leigh.

No, scrub that, I'd wait till I reached a boozer.

Right, let's go. Watering hole of choice? Hmmmm....not too sure. Not too arsed that I'm on my own now. I'm my own best company, really. Just want to muse about the day and have a reflective couple of scoops.

The Hogshead bar on North John Street seemed handy enough.

I strolled through the square at the rear of the Town hall, soaking up the late afternoon sun, absorbing the great architecture for what felt like the first time. The Nelson monument, the war memorial, the imposing, powerful Exchange Flags buildings that loomed around me.

Britain had survived (and won) WW2 thanks to this remarkable area. The secret navy base that guided ships across the Atlantic Ocean against the Nazi U-boat fleets was hidden underground of this square, transmitting vital signals to those slow, vulnerable merchant vessels delivering food and essential materials to the nation.

It was now a tourist attraction, but my Grand-dad Joe and Grand-dad John, who had both served in every theatre of that savage conflict, had told me stories about it when I was a child, when it was still on the official secrets act.

You can't silence - or deny - the words of GREAT men, REGULAR Liverpool men who lived and fought in such a colossally historical event. There's no generation written about in the annals of human history that can compare with the mental, moral or ethical strength of those fellows.

They saved the world, plain and simple.

It was times like that, that I wished I'd had a jazzy digital camera on my person. You took the great, epic, crafted elements of your home town for granted sometimes. Only your aged eyes and first-hand experience of walking by them gave you the vision and insight to accept and understand how hard the people who made such magnificent buildings had slaved and toiled to design and construct them.

A police siren and the honk of a taxi horn snapped me out of my moment of historical fascination.

To the pub, I thought.

"Shuuuruup lad...I never knew that.....Abaaar the war and that....." uttered Dean, leaning forwards, utterly entranced by my storytelling.

"Yeah....Oh yeah....I gotta get to that bird, kinda lost track there forra minute....Hang on...Here we go....."

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

5 months before.

April 4
th 2008. Ladies Day, Aintree.

Home of the greatest steeplechase in the world.

And a trainee psychologists' paradise.

I was looking and feeling more lethal than a great white shark - a jet-black suit, maroon shirt topped with an ice-blue, pencil-thin tie. Brand-new BASE LONDON shoes on, not a scuff or scar on the black leather to be seen. The kind of outfit I could happily go into the final oven wearing.

The weather was pleasant, sunny but not too warm. A godsend when you're kitted out in your best gear for 5 or so hours, on your feet all day, necking over-priced booze like it's 24 hours until Armageddon and last orders at the bar.

Normally, such events weren't my scene. It was all too forced and false for my liking. Young lads with cheap NEXT suits and shoes on, hastily procured just hours before the event, strutting about the place like Tony FOCKIN Montana, snarling and curling their fists like they had a real point to prove. But just what was the point, exactly?

I just buzzed off their collective demeanour, their shallow, clueless, soulless, balless attitudes.

You have a cheap suit on. And a shitty vision of life and how the world works. No doubt you'll either get yourself some action off a random slag in the Mood Indigo bar tonight or an arrest sheet. Possibly both.

Me? I was above such stupidity. I just wanted to have a good time.

I'd met up with a few old mates - Edgy, Mad Mark, Leigh, Zippy. We had already sunk a few pints before entering the racecourse, mindful of the fact that the price of entry and alcohol would be hurtful to check your bank balance over the morning after.

After a trawl around several bars packed with an assortment of screeching middle-aged should-know-better women crudely plastered in fake tan, we eventually got to the race venue. We were individually patted down by the stone-faced security men at the entrance, who looked bored to tears.

The place itself was heaving, masses and masses of people, some already drunk, wobbling about the course perimeter comically. The bars dotted around the track-side were heaving, doing a roaring trade. We all chipped in to buy a crate of lager. It would save having to wait to get served for ages. It was a ridiculous amount - around £40 if I recall, when you could go to the supermarket down the road and get the same number of cans for under a ten-spot.

That's the real reason they were searching people, I reckoned. Not to weed out terrorists - they just wanted to ensure no one was bringing their own booze in, so that you would be forced to pay over the odds.

Mark placed our bets on for us - I was useless at gambling anyway, so I just let him put my horses down for me. I had no passion for it to be honest, but the other lads just lapped it up.

I was more interested in the women knocking around the course. There were some spectacular ones, that was for sure. Naturally beautiful, not too much make up on and tastefully dolled up for the day. It was hard to stay focused on the actual races, just looking about.

Bunches of lads like ourselves wandered about, competing over the attention of these choice females. There were occasional flare up..."Yer lookin' at me fookin bird? Yer was wasn't yer ya CUNT!!!"

Then predictably an all-too-brief fight would kick off, to a soundtrack of ear-splitting female shrieks and low, tribal male grunts.

But no-one really got hurt. It was funny to me, they all seemed to get in their own way as they swung their arms wildly about like human windmills, doing more damage to their own self-esteem than to their opponents. Even the big guys who looked handy in a scrap were useless, their tight suits and drunkenness inhibiting their fighting prowess. Security men would then show up within seconds to stop these sideshows, racing in like Terminators, garish black Kenwood jackets on, brows perspiring. It was ridiculous.

Although the prize of a beautiful woman was worth fighting over, even if you were wasted.

And there was the flip side of that particular coin of course. The vulgar, trashy stuck-up bitches who looked and sounded rougher than sandpaper. The females that made you wince in embarrassment, the kind that blindly play to the stereotype tune. I wondered what people from outside the city would make of Liverpool after encountering such individuals. The impression would not be a good one, that was certain.

The day flew past, and we weren't even drunk. Pretty astounding considering that everyone else around us seemed to be totally hammered. Mark had struck lucky on the final race for just over £200, and had bought a bottle of champagne to share with us. The bets he had placed for me had been abysmal drop outs. But I hadn't bet that much anyway - £20 tops - so I didn't mind so much.....

"Shuurrupp lad....where does this bird come into it then?" growled Dean, impatiently shifting about in his seat.

"Just about to get there, Deano....Trust me..."

I took a deep breath:

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song, And I'll try not to sing out of key. (2 weeks on).

Days - 14 Days
Hours - 336 Hours
Minutes - 20,160 Minutes
Seconds - 1,209,600 Seconds

It's a lifetime, unless you're sunning yourself on a golden stretch of loose glass grain, cheap booze and ciggies in hand, loose women in bikinis wiggling about past you, flashing you fuck-me-eyes.

Good times to be had, no doubt.

Sample some local culture, be fascinated by the customs and attitudes. You call your parents and tell them that you are well, the food is great (even though it's purely full English breakfast that you've been living on), and that yes, you are being careful, sex-wise.

You feel like a different person - am I right?

We are all just whores on holiday, playful carefree nymphs cavorting in Caesar's palace.

No comebacks, no fall-out. Just hedonism.

Beautiful simplicity, really. No morals, nobody to answer to, no conscience. Just like ancient Rome.

But when it came to 2 weeks in the Cubes, 14 days was like a life sentence.

It was an unforgiving and merciless place to live when you felt down and out. No sympathy oozed from it's damp, diseased walls. Only an unyielding and relentless blank reflection of your own pain and depression.

The routine of work, sleep, calling round to your mum's on a Sunday to show her you were in one piece, watching shit TV, reading the same passage from the same well-worn book, listening to the same music which sounded stale, even though you loved it initially - was getting very

However hard I tried, nothing could distract me from Linda's knock-back.

Or her continued silence.

I was angry at the world, pissed off, on edge.

I hated myself for my own stupidity and gullibility, cursing my vulnerabilities and my naively open, honest attitude. Too often I'd been manipulated and played with like a beat-up Rubik's cube, led on, sent up.

I'd been too blind until it was too late.

No longer, I resolved bitterly as I sat in my living room, my face furrowed and lined with rage and pain.

I tried to analyse what was wrong with me, why she had treated me so. What drove me to madness was that I couldn't identify exactly what I had done to make her stab me through my fucking heart.

I never beat her, spat at her, stole from her, called her names. I never disrespected her or her family or friends. There wasn't a moment when I didn't worship her and think the best for - and of - her. I just wanted to make her happy. It beggared my self-belief that she would ever want to lose someone who cared about her so, by callously and contemptuously throwing me away like so much human garbage.

I would have died of personal shame to do that to someone with such flippant arrogance and ignorance. It was beyond my way of thinking, my upbringing, my soul. It was the reptilian, predatory nature of her behaviour that truly chilled - or was it boiled? - my blood.

Here was a female...someone who could bear children and nurture them, look after them.

The progenitor of man.

The Eve to my Adam.

And she was that shallow and cold....that's what really sickened me.

During that time, I would roll about in my bed, agonising night after night after night after night after night.

Having a keen mind can be such a burden.

I fantasised every one of those 14 lost nights about how, whilst I lost sleep and sanity, she would be in all likelihood, laughing herself to sleep with a twisted sense of smug self-satisfaction.
I would convince myself that her game plan all along had been to soften me up for the kill, make me lower my guard before she knifed me.

My moment of introspection was broken suddenly by the creaking of my door, which I had forgotten to lock.

Dean's annoyingly good-looking head was wedged between the door and it's frame, timidly peering in with his Superman-blue eyes.

"Yer alright lad?..Ain't seen yer forra while......Not up to anything are yer? Ain't disturbin' yer am I, lad...?"

I shook my head and exhaled loudly. I had to stop thinking to myself so much, I reasoned as I woke up. It would be the death of me.

"Nah...not at all, Deano...Please, come in and sit down, have a can..."
I waved him inside, pointing to an empty armchair.

"A bit of company would be....great..." I mumbled, sipping on my cold cup of tea.

"So...What yer been up to, Frederico lad? Any news?" Dean chirped with his affable, harsh-yet-familiarly warm Norris Green accent.

I needed to share my problems with someone.

Dean was always with different birds, and never seemed to get stressed about them. I knew he wasn't a close mate at that time...but given my emotional state and the gravity of the situation, maybe he could be of help....

" ever been messed up over a girl? I mean, really had your head done in by one?"

He leaned forwards to me, perched on the end of his seat, his eyes widening in that freakish way, expanding to saucers.

"Shuuuruup lad....All the time lad...had murder, PURE murder with some of 'em.....why, what's wrong?

"Let me explain.....Stick with me, it's gonna take a while" I said, not only drawing breath but dipping into the most twisted memories I had locked in my skull......