• I Wanna Be Adored - Chapter 13 - 1991 - Long Hot SummerDays

    “Long hot summer days, travelling out far.
    That driving music makes us feel,
    more than we ever are”

    So here I am. Just another juvenile delinquent hanging out in the park watching my mates play football. The only thing that could make the scene more surprising would be if I was actually playing football myself. St Ann’s Well Gardens is a quiet out of the way park. All levelled gardens and secluded tree-lined areas. It even has a sensory garden or garden for the blind. Something like that anyway. It smells nice. I happily watch the others having a kick about. The sun is pounding down on me, making my head spin. Well, that may have been the joints we were smoking earlier. As I watch them playing I am taken back to dad taking me to watch Brighton. He wasn’t much of a fan but he was always keen to expose me to as many experiences as possible. Well, that’s what mum told me anyway. Anyway, at the football, I would spend my whole time standing with my eyes shut and covering my ears with my hands. We didn’t go much. I wonder now if dad would have liked to have gone more often. On the TV you always see dads and sons going to the football to bond and stuff. I wonder if I made dad miss out?

    “Skin ouuoop, Allen … Allen skin ouuoop” Manny sings over at me to the tune of ‘Grandbag’s Funeral’ by the Happy Mondays.
    “Now that we live together, we both get foocked ouup” I sing back. I can’t stand an unfinished couplet. Although it must be said my Manchester accent really needs some work. Of course, I look around to make sure no one can hear before I swear in public. I also hope that Manny checked before he told me to roll up drugs. I doubt it though, he really doesn’t give a shit.

    I hold the joint in the palm of my hand and wait politely for everyone to come back.

    The afternoon floats on in a haze. We talk about nothing … and we laugh … pretty much about nothin. I have never before in my life felt this … happy … relaxed. Mum says that I am maturing and starting to understand myself better. Well she said that a few months ago while she was ..well when she was talking to me and not yelling at me. Funny thing is though, I understand myself far less than I used to. I really have no idea who this new Alien is, playing music with people and spending the afternoon in the park with people is really new to me. I knew who I used to be, I didn’t like it but I knew who I was. Now I don’t have a ****ing clue. And it is glorious. The joy of life right now is finding out who I am. Maybe I actually do like football? Maybe I should agree to go to a game with them. They all love it so much, there must be something in it?

    Tonight though, was all about The Gloucester. A night club in town. We, and most of the rest of our school year, have been going most Thursday nights throughout the summer. I guess the best thing about the place is that it lets us in with limited issue. Sometimes we need to produce our fake id’s and remember the date of birth of the previous owner. Not a tricky task but it makes me laugh when some of the others mess it up. Another good thing about The Gloucester is the music. So much indie and indie dance, a bit of soul and disco, lots of new wave all sorts really. But it kind of works. The last best thing about the place is the cloakroom area downstairs. It is quiet and out of the way down there and perfect for a quick break from all the music, noise and chaos of upstairs.

    After a relaxing afternoon at the park, and a quick visit to grubs for a burger we head off to the King and Queen in the centre of town for a few drinks before the Gloucester.

    Bustling through the crowds I check behind me to see if Manny is still with me. Usually, he gets the drinks, but these are things I need to learn to do. Manny is laughing as one of the lads from school has slowly bent down and dropped to one knee. As he is holding one hand up he laughs “Man, I’ve fallen” I think it’s a Vic and Bob thing. Anyway, they both find it hilarious. I am a bit flustered as right now I need Manny to help me.
    “It’s busy mate,” he says as he turns back to look for me. “Shall I get them?”
    I turn sharply and clip “No! I am going to do this.”
    I turn and push my way through the bustle. Eventually, I reach out one hand and grab the bar and pull myself up to it through a couple of people. I triumphantly wait at the bar….
    … and wait…
    .... and wait…
    .... and wait…
    Eventually, I feel an arm brush past me skillfully flourishing a ten-pound note. The arm is accompanied with a loud and cheery “hhee aarrr mate” seemingly right in my ear.

    The barman turns and looks at me, well he looks over my shoulder and then down at me.
    “Yes mate” he sort of smiles, pointing his finger at me.

    Soon again we are laughing, drinking, laughing and laughing. It's funny, kind of literally, but I was starting to realise that I was quite funny. Not always, in fact not often, when I meant to be but sometimes. Usually when I made a joke the people around just ignored it and carried on. Ever so often though I would say something and everyone would laugh. I am usually unaware of exactly why but it does seem to be happening more often. This is one of the social feelings that I am really beginning to enjoy.

    By the time we have left the pub, quite a group had gathered. Milling about outside in the warm summer night air we were waiting for the stragglers of our group. To the side of me, Tash and Lizzy are chatting and giggling. They wander closer and start to ask us about the band and stuff. I have pretty much changed my mind about them, in fact, I have changed my mind about people in general. People are a lot less frightening than I had thought, once you get to know them anyway. It may of course be that I am less frightening too? Who knows, but people were really starting to grow on me. I can understand why people enjoy each other’s company.

    As we chatted about the band a girl joined Tash and Lily. She was sort of looking down. Her face was covered by these tight springy ringlets of hair, thick and bouncing. It reminds me of Slash from Guns N Roses. I followed her gaze with my eyes and we landed on her black Doc Martens with yellow and orange Daisies carefully painted on them.

    We started to walk along to The Gloucester and Manny passed me a joint. I enjoyed the feeling of the smoke hitting the back of my throat. The joint went around a few times and I enjoyed the feeling of my brain feeling lighter. Feeling more relaxed and open. We sat for a while by this old fountain thing until the joints had been smoked. Somehow this girl has ended up sitting next to me. Her hair obscuring her face again as she was looking down at her feet. I offered her the joint and tried my best to speak. Trouble was nothing came into my head or out of my mouth.

    I have had a lifetime of feeling like people are in my space bubble. Every bump felt like a push, Every push like a shove. Walking down the hall at school was often like death by a thousand cuts. This was different though, here was someone right in my space bubble and I didn’t mind. It didn’t feel bad. It may have been the beer and dope, I don’t know, but I liked it.

    “I’m Katie,” She said quietly, half turning to look at me. I wanted to reply but my mind went blank. I am not sure how long I waited but it seemed like an eternity. It was certainly long enough for her to turn back to look at her boots. Eventually.
    “I’m Alien” I reply and half turn towards her. I have this habit of not looking into people’s eyes when I talk. It makes me feel weird and I start to stumble over my words. I usually end up looking at their mouths. I am not even looking at her and I feel like that again.
    She looks over at me and I see the flash of her light brown eyes, green flecks seem to shine in the moonlight. Well, street lights really but moonlight sounds so much more… well you know.
    “I know” she laughs gently and turns her eyes back to the floor. It felt like she had left me. “I saw your gig at The Richmond.
    I smile again, “What did you think?” I say dropping my gaze to the floor… and her boots.
    We both sat, locked in a gentle pause. Then she looked up and me, her eyes sparkled and she smiles “I thought you were really good.”

    I look away and smile. Now we are both sitting and gazing at our shoes.. I kind of look over at hers too. They are cool.
    “Did you paint those yourself?”
    She nods her head slowly “My friend and me did them.”
    “They are cool” I confirm.
    We become aware that everyone is moving. We all head off to The Gloucester.

    All night we drink and laugh. Dance and talk. I never knew there was so much to talk about. I never knew that all those pointless and inane conversations were so… every time we go for a dance Katie is there too. Maybe she just really likes to dance. Occasionally I would see a flash of her brown eyes lit up by the disco lights. It made me sad when I looked over and they had gone again. She dances likes she is on ice. Floating over the dancefloor. I don’t think I have ever seen anything so graceful. Her hair covered her face most of the time Occasionally she would flick her hair back and I could see her face. Occasionally I could see her smiling and it made me feel safe. She spins and swirls around the dance floor. She looks over at me. Holding me in her spell. Then spinning again and letting me go.

    The tragedy of this whole evening is that we have spent the whole night near each other, yet we haven’t spoken more than ten words. Of course, this wasn’t unusual for me, even now. I often said very little to people, for very long periods of time. It always drove my mother nuts. The thing is though I haven’t really wanted to say much to anyone. Well not that anyone ever wanted to hear. Now though I really want to say things. Trouble was I don’t know-how. I used to practice conversation with my dad and my psychologist. It never stuck though. I never understood why someone would ‘make’ conversation. Talking was either necessary or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t there then why on earth would you make one?

    We stumble out of the club and wait for everyone else. As usual, we have spent all our money inside so we can’t afford a taxi home. Luckily it is a beautiful summer’s night. The full moon was keeping us lit as we walked up around the station to cut through the Seven Dials and back past Saint Ann’s Wells gardens. I think that both Tash and Lizzy live around there somewhere. It all kind of made sense as it was all the way home for all of us.

    Staggering a little, gently tripping as I went, drifting and into my own head. Vaguely, wondering how it was that Manny was still talking. Lizzy and Kate were still listening and laughing. Tash was walking behind me and talking quietly with Rod. Moggsie, Dave and Whitey were walking behind us all, arm in arm and singing football songs. Well, I assume they are football songs anyway, I didn’t recognise them and they seemed to be about a range of people whose names I didn’t recognise and ‘Palace scum’. Whatever that was.

    Looking up I noticed Liz, Katie and Manny had got quieter, sort of whispering. Their eyes flicked back at me a couple of times and made me feel really uncomfortable. Katie is shaking her head and sort of laughing. Eventually, they start playfully pushing each other. Maybe Liz wants Manny to herself and they are trying to get rid of Katie. Whatever was happening it was weird and I was feeling like the old Alien again.

    All of a sudden she stopped sharply. Sort of looking over her shoulder. I step over to the other side of the pavement and look over my pavement to see what she is looking at. As I step across she does the same and I very nearly walk into the back of her as I am looking behind me. I stop just in time but I am very nearly bowled over by the football hooligans singing and jumping.
    “Oi ****ing watching it Alien” They all laugh as they manoeuvre around me. Their move is actually quite skilful and impressive given that they are drunk and still arm in arm.

    Katie turns and laughs too as they walk and sing in front of us. She smiles “Well that didn’t quite go as smoothly as I had hoped”

    The yobbos start a chorus of “ Alien is our Leader. Alien is our King…”

    “May I walk with you?” Katie says sweetly considering me with her big beautiful brown eyes”

    “Ooooohhhhhhh, wankwankwank, **** **** **** wankwankwankwankwankwank”

    It was kind of hard to hear her with them so close . . . and so loud. I look over at them, still trying to process what she said. “Of course” I smile.

    As I step aside to give her space to join me she does the same. We both bump into each other, laughing and doing that awkward thing where we try and sort ourselves out. I am not sure How this manoeuvre has been so challenging but eventually we work it out and end up walking next to each other. Way behind the others. We are still not talking much and I make a mental note to work on my conversation skills.

    She slowly reaches over and rubs her finger over mine. I gently open my fingers and she takes my hand. My head is full of tiny explosions. I usually hate someone holding my hand.

    This is nice.
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