Cinders Disco was bound to be hoaching, Tina Turner so loud that it vibrated through the walls and brought out goosebumps on my eardrums. Tony, Boaby and me had left the Student Union mainly because it was closing, but also on principle, to prove a point that if the snotty, good for nothing cows, didn’t want to look at you there were plenty of places where they would. We’d headed sharpish, clattering down the cobbles of Ashton Lane and out at the Cross and were near the front of the queue, which admittedly was mainly guys in denim shirts and denim jackets, but there were a sprinkling of girls shivering in the rain with us and clopping along gamely in heels high, which brought their big hair up to shoulders of a Neanderthal’s arms they were clinging onto, which gave us Uni boy’s hope. From grey hair to nay hair was our war cry.
An outburst of laughter from the bouncer on the door when he looked at me confirmed our night was over. ‘Come back when you’ve grown a pair of balls,’ he said, chortling through his nose and nodding at me to his pal, the other bouncer on the door, to confirm I was the punchline of his mirthless joke.
‘But I’m twenty-wan,’ I said.
Boaby standing at my shoulder, chanced a smile. ‘He is,’ he said.
‘You can fuck off, as well,’ growled the other, older bouncer, as he took a step forward. Clean shaved, with a taut mouth and his hair in a ponytail, he was frowning so hard it gave me a headache.
‘Vamoose,’ said the younger bouncer, the line of the velvet jacket and the black bow tie he was wearing doing little to contain a torso the size of a boxing ring.
‘Aye, we’re just goin,’ said Tony, pulling at my arm and guiding me away.
I didn’t need much persuasion, but Boaby stood his ground, ‘I’ll remember your face, pal.’ He wagged his finger at the older bouncer.
Roaring like a gas main, the bouncer charged. Boaby ducked away from him into the crowd behind him and we made off, sharpish. Tony knew a place on Byres Road that might still be open and if we chipped in together we might be able to afford a slice of pizza. Boaby sketched in a few details of what he’d have done to that bouncer if we hadnae pulled him away from him, but we were only half listening. My head was down, leather jacket sweating off the rain, but shoulders damp, locked in my own misery. We were near the blackened wall of the hospitals when I blundered into two girls that were going the other way, towards the cross.
‘Sorry!’ I said, hands slack with defeat
Soft melting brown eyes stared back at me. Slight and pale. Blond hair tied back. Her and her pal weren’t dressed for the weather. Blue hanky-thing was half buttoned onto a red wool dress. The effect, intoxicating, but I was already pissed.
Her pal was her mirror image, but in her case if a mirror had legs it would have run off sharpish. Hair an architectural triumph. She was Clyde built to last, out for a night out with more face paint on than General Custer saw on his last day on earth. Eyelid droop. Gamey smell. Face shiny with sweat and rain and tight as herring, she tried to catch my eye. Red Mini skirt but much shorter than her friends, she had to pull at her white knickers to cover her fanny
There was no way I was getting aff with her. She should have been hanging from a hook in the fishmonger’s window across from the library. I drifted and swerved, jostling through a crowd of giggling girls at the traffic lights that squinted their eyes to avoid looking at me, none of whom I knew and all of whom I wanted to know. I stared down the driver of a Morris Minor as I crossed the road, daring it to knock me down. I expected Boaby and Tony to come sauntering behind me, but when I looked back they were gabbing ten to the dozen to the two women.
Boaby was cocking his head eyes fixed on the good looking one. I knew he was going through his spiel. Slipping into action mode and presenting his profile to her. ‘This is my best side. I don’t want to show you my other side because that makes girls go weak at the knees.’
Tony was in on the game, but in a more advanced position. He’s pushed her up against the hospital wall engaged in a medical procedure, wasn’t so much kissing the good looking one’s pal than trying to hoover up any spare tonsils.
I lit the damp squib of a fag as I considered my options. The only wan getting fucked at that time was me, as with Tony’s pad out of the reckoning, I’d no place to stay the night. I headed up towards Great Western Road and started walking. Wetter than the Man from Atlantis, I’d be sober by the time I got home, but then I’d have to face the music and explain things to my mum.