She’s writing another mediocre story about a recovering drug addict from the disadvantaged housing estate called….deep down she wants nothing more than acceptance…acceptance and a way out of something or another.

Her life and aspirations are between the covers of her unread novel called “Something or another…” The glue that holds her life together starts on page 1 and ends when all her words dry up.

Her so called literary aspirations are nothing but a pipe dream, what are the chances of ever being published?? She doesn’t know any famous or semi-famous writers or publishers as a matter of fact she doesn’t own a computer! Her two hours on the public library pc is an escape route from the shit hole estate that imprisons her. She sits next to a guy who’s probably a paedophile or some other kind of sex fiend…I suppose when she gets desperate she could always let him slip a finger or two???

Mediocre dreams in a world of unachievable ambitions…..

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The days were short. Sodium lit nights were long thanks to a surfeit of wiz, but the days were short and sludgy dark as we used Guinness to soothe our way through them.
 I can’t remember what I should have been doing at the time. I was probably in the dead days of a degree I no longer wanted, spending time in Stratford-upon-Avon where my parents lived, trying to escape in a town I hated. I especially hated the fact that the town name was so long you could never fit it all into the address sections of loan application forms. My best mate at the time was Billy. He was a chef. He seemed to have a lot of free time.
 We’d met up at lunchtime. We’d been out the night before and were speed sickened and nervous, dry coughs and drier, tighter guts. Two pubs into a daytime crawl that would be interrupted by a couple of hours of token evening rest at home before it started again. Four pints of Guinness drunk, easing the comedown, re-resourcing us for the night ahead.
 We were drinking in a pub near the old hospital that had recently been rebranded ‘The Firkin’. No one I knew knew what a Firkin was. It had been refurbished with faux-authentic wooden floors and fittings, planks with ersatz creaks. A large place, white walls with brown half-timbering, yellow light lingering in corners, conversations echoing through the spaces with piped Rat Pack Christmas tunes. We were conspicuous in our Britpop, Shelter Shop suits amongst the townie couples, shopping bags with logos and handles placed between their legs and the legs of the heavy wooden tables, who were our company apart from the large, red-faced solitary rustic just down the bar from us. This didn’t particularly bother us as we stood there, beginning to enjoy the alcohol buzz washing over the speedy nerves, conversation becoming easily louder as the day’s death neared. We were feeling almost good again, Christmas was coming after all.
 The rustic was dressed in the dirty, smeared and spattered clothes of a builder and it was his success at this particular trade that he was boasting about to the barmaid. She was one of those semi-familiar types you see working behind bars, you think maybe you were at school with her or saw her in Macdonalds  or maybe you went out with an enemy of her’s, that kind of thing. She had an ugly Warwickshire accent, turning all her ‘e’s into ‘a’s, and a strange thick-lipped, large-eyed face that could have been stunning if it wasn’t for the stupidity that smeared itself over her every feature, dulling her lustre and flattening any appeal. She had deep brown hair with several differing shades of dark highlights, huge lips and high cheekbones. She also had the kind of thighs and backside that would have made even my speed-wizened cock twitch if she’d just known how to walk properly.
 The builder liked her anyway. He’d already developed the over-familiar, proprietorial manner towards her of the sex-starved, alpha male drunk. In fact, he’d begun to give her advice in what sounded like a Gloucester accent, telling her how he’d alter the layout of the pub. He’d have done it early too, and cheap, he was a fucking great builder.
 Billy could hear what he was saying and was miming a slack-jawed impression of him that with his pinned eyes, chalk white amphetamine skin and Noel Gallagher hairdo looked fucking insane. I tittered and sniffed, it was diverting enough. My comedown was becoming manageable and I was starting to feel boozily good again. Perhaps it was this rising festivity that made me order two pints of the special guest draught bitter, ‘Santa’s Christmas Ale’.
Your ability to absorb food and drink is limited when you’re in the midst of a stomach clamping speed comedown. Bread turns to ashes, water is barely tolerable. You even have to work hard at getting a proper drink down your neck, at first. I thought I’d got past this, and was actually looking forward to a change from Guinness. The ugly barmaid poured two pints of the guest bitter with studied unsexiness, lips shining like they’d been stung by a poisoned wasp. I was smiling as I took my first sip and paid for the pints.
That first sip was hellish: swillish, vinegary and flat. The second made me almost spew. I don’t know what I expected from the third. Maybe I was expecting to get used to it. Pints can be like that, vile at first but slowly growing to be lived with and loved.
Billy interrupted me before I could take that third sip. He said, “That’s fucking off. I’m not drinking that.”
“Steady mate,” I replied, “I fucking paid for it.”
 “I’m fucking complaining.”
“Go ahead mate.” I’d just taken that third sip.
Shiny Ugly Barmaid was still engaged in cheery talk with Fat Builder. He’d raised his arms up in an expansive gesture, illustrating some tale of his manly prowess, so that we could see the armpit holes in his scruffy green jumper that was contrasting nicely, in a septic sort of way, with his uncooked sausage meat face.
Billy said, “Excuse me.” He was a well-spoken cunt, Billy, his parents were teachers, so he sounded perfectly polite. Shiny Ugly made a dismissive hand gesture and shook her head once in our direction. Fat Builder’s story was obviously a good one. “Excuse me!” Billy repeated, slightly more assertively. Shiny Ugly turned and informed us, “I’m busy. Just wait.”
“I’m not after another drink,” Billy continued, “it’s just that this one’s off.”
She turned again and repeated herself. “I’m busy. Just wait.”
 “Come on love,” I interjected, “this pint’s piss poor. Tastes like fucking vinegar.”
“Right!” she responded, dark eyes flashing with something unhealthy and wrong in a woman, “there’s no need to swear. I’m busy.”
“Not that busy,” I answered, reasonably, still feeling festive, “and we’ve paid for these pints of old chunder and they’re off. We’re paying customers and we’d like our pints changed, please.” I was even smiling, couldn’t see the problem.
“I can’t just change people’s drinks,” she spat back, as though I’d just asked her for a hand-job out back, “I have to ask the manager.”
“Ask him then,” Billy reasonably suggested.
“He’s not here.”
“Well, just change the drinks and tell him later,” I suggested, “it’s not difficult.”
“The manager’s not here. I told you.” She rolled the words slowly out of her stupid mouth, as though we were the thick ones.
Fat Builder began to take an overt interest, half-rising from his bar stool, a pseudo-hardman, face trembling with adrenaline and ale, unable to look directly at us. “I’ve had two pints of that today and there’s nothing wrong with it,” he asserted.
I got a chemical surge, my own adrenaline triggering the last night’s residue. I looked straight at Fat Builder, darting black amphetamine hatred from my pinned eyes. “Well, there’s summat fucking wrong with you then mate,” I told him, exaggerating the Yorkshire in my voice, “and no one fucking asked you anyway. Pal.” He looked at me, and his face trembled again as he mumbled something mardy and replaced his fat arse on the bar stool. Probably fancied his chances against a couple of skinny shitkickers. Didn’t fancy it against a speed-wrapped Yorkshireman though, the soft fat cunt.
“Look love,” I said to the barmaid, ice sugaring the festive warmth now, “just change the fucking pints and we can all start getting on again.”
“I can’t without permission from the manager.”
“Well. Find him then.”
“He’s not here and I don’t know when he’ll be back.” She accompanied this assertion with some mouth movements, some kind of attempt at sarcasm, a smile perhaps.
“Can you phone him then?” Billy asked.
She huffed and tutted and shook her hands.
“Or just change the fucking pints,” I added once more, more Yorkshire steeling the tone in my voice.
“I’ve said I can’t do that without speaking to…”
“Well fucking ring him then!” Billy instructed. She turned and wrenched the phone from its holder on the shelf behind her. As she did so, she disturbed a stack of CDs and knocked them crashing to the floor. We didn’t laugh. There was no need. She dialled a number, poking the little numbered buttons with an unnecessary pressure, then held the receiver to her ear impatiently. There was no answer from her manager, because she slammed the receiver back into its holder and wordlessly began picking up the CDs. As she bent, there was a nice curve to her thighs that would have been very sexy indeed if she hadn’t been the kind of rural slag who enjoyed spit roasts from bikers. She said nothing.
Billy chirped up first, “Well?”
“He wasn’t there!” she snapped over her shoulder, just before she rose and replaced the CDs on the shelf next to the phone.
“Well,” I said, feeling much less reasonable than I thought I sounded, “can we just have new pints so that we can start enjoying ourselves again. I’m thirsty.”
 “I’ve told you I can’t change the pints without speaking to the manager.”
“Take a risk,” I smiled, “it’s always easier to apologise than to ask permission.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she spat, actually producing a small shower of saliva.
“It means: change the fucking drinks,” Billy explained.
“You’ll have to wait.” She turned on her heel and footslapped her way back over to Fat Builder. She had a big smile on her face as he rebegan his banter and we were left with two pints of undrinkable, vinegary sludge. This was a significant problem.
“What are we gonna do man?” I asked Billy.
“If these don’t get changed in five minutes, they’re going on the fucking floor.”
“Yeah,” I laughed, but I knew he probably meant it, and a fearful reluctance crept into my cells, the chemicals and adrenaline fading. We both lit cigarettes and waited for some minutes. With nothing to drink, this quite quickly got boring.
“Oi! Any news from that manager of yours yet?” I asked. Time was pressing. Shiny Ugly had a vile smile on her face and was twisting a hank of hair behind a large rubbery earlobe. Fat Builder’s face started shaking and he almost got up from his stool again.
I felt really tired now. “Like I said before pal, no one asked you. Fuck off,” I told him He sat back down. I turned to Shiny Ugly. “We’re fucking paying customers and this is shit. Phone that prick of a manager, or, alternatively, just do summat sensible for a fucking change and replace these fucking drinks!” She stamped over to where the phone was and with reluctant aggression detached it from its holder once more and poked the number in. She was slatternly and sloppy in her mannerisms, making a token gesture to some twisted notion of service. She let the phone ring a few times, but soon surrendered to her obvious desperation to replace it on the shelf. She gave us one poisonous glance and headed back over to Fat Builder.
I picked up my pint and held it meaningfully up to the light. Then I asked her, if she’d like, in the interests of consumer fucking satisfaction, to taste this piss. She stared at me wordlessly, painfully, the cogs of her intellect screeching. Billy was also looking at me wordlessly, but he knew why. He nodded.
I was feeling too tired for all this really, scaring off Fat Builder had exhausted me. I raised the pint further above my head, but letting it just smash down seemed too final. I lowered it with a gentle motion and rolled it underarm along the floor. A long swirl of the shitey liquid poured out on the sandy brown planks. Billy threw his pint into the middle of the swirl and it shattered. There was an impressive crash and twinkle. Fat Builder rose from his stool for the final time and we rushed to exit past him. His voice piped up with some high-pitched fucking Gloucester flavoured carrot cruncher shite. I grinned and mimed a head-butt. He flinched and I gave him a flat-vowelled “Fuck off!” to keep him warm. We were out.
We hurried off into the monochrome evening, big pale paving stones and streetlight blazing off half-timbered buildings, cutting the whiteness with a dirty yellow, a trail of abusive shouts with the words ‘You’re barred’ mingled in somewhere following us. A hundred yards ahead we turned and saw Shiny Ugly standing outside the pub with her hands on her hips, the attitude of one who has yelled. We wouldn’t be going back to The Firkin for a while.
“Where to now then, Bill?” I asked.
“The Encore,” he replied.
The Encore, tourist pub down by the river where we’d worked together over the summer. It was a good choice. We knew the beer was okay there. We’d stolen enough of it.