My phone is ringing on Friday in 1995.
It’s my mate, Genuflect.
He says “Here, Luci, fancy nipping up to Newcastle tonight?”
I say “Sounds good. Got anywhere to stay?”
He says “Not yet. Fancy trying your hand?”
So I say “Yes.”
The Lucozade lights of the A1 drift by overhead again and again and again then they stop and there are only car headlights in a stream across the dark hills as if the North isn’t worth the light.
There is no Angel of the North, not yet.
Genuflect whispers to the MkII Fiesta, stroking the dashboard, persuading it not to die.
AC/DC on the tape deck.
Two long haired rockers in a battered Ford like a Happy Shopper Two Lane Blacktop heading to Newcastle in our pulling pants with crumpled fivers in the back pockets of our too-tight jeans.
We think we are it and maybe we are, just at that moment in time perhaps we are the sexiest men alive, though it’s debatable of course, but we believe it so who can say?
We cross the river and see The Boat and see The Bridge and we are aching with excitement, aching to get at the lasses so we lose the car and hit the bars.
On a Friday in 1995 cities aren’t all the same, each one is different and the people are different and they don’t drink coffee from brown cardboard cups in the street and there are no mobile phones and there is no internet.
On a Friday in 1995 in Newcastle there is music and girls and boys and women and men and drinking and fucking and fighting.
We like 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 on that list.
We drink beer in Trillians and eye up the lasses, lasses we know will soon be dancing in The Mayfair.
Genuflect is nudging me, pointing out lasses, excited, the air thick with hairspray and patchouli oil and Marlboro smoke and rock music. We drink bottles of brown until eleven, then head to the club.
The Mayfair. A great lump of a ballroom dating back to the sixties that is doomed to die in ninety nine but right now it is very much alive, pulsing with music and the thunder of boots on the huge dance floor, The Mayfair is why we are here – when we say we are going to Newcastle we really mean we are going to The Mayfair.
The Mayfair is poodle perms and lycra and cleavage and eyeliner and guyliner and leather.
The Mayfair is Faster Pussycat and Poison and Bon Jovi and Aerosmith and Whitesnake and, of course, AC/DC.
The Mayfair is sex.
We throw beer at our faces from flexy plastic glasses and prowl the dance floor and prowl the balcony, smoking Clint Eastwood cigars as we scope the talent, let the talent scope us, two Leeds peacocks in our weekend finery.
I prop up a pillar and try to look cool while Genuflect nips for a piss before going to the bar and he comes back looking very uncool, rushing, spilling beer from the bendy cups in his hurry.
He says, “Quick, Luci, I’ve seen this lass! She’s amazing! She’s given me the glad-eye and everything! Quick!”
I say, “Give me one of those fucking beers before you drown us. Now put your cock away and show me this lass.”
We keep our distance, play it cool.
He says, “There.”
And there she is.
True, she’s a stunner. Tall, very tall, just how Genuflect likes his lasses. Dark hair in a pixie cut, a little bolero jacket, legs as long as the A1.
I say, “Go for it mate. She’s giving you the eye again. Go for it and good luck.”
But he says, “Help me out, mate. You know I’m shit at this sort of thing. Help me out and talk to her mate.”
I see her mate.
I say, “That’s not her mate, mate. That’s her aunty, isn’t it?”
He says, “Don’t be daft! She’s a bit older, I’ll grant you, but she’s not bad.”
I say, “She’s easy forty! Tell you what. You talk to her, I’ll talk to Legs.”
He pleads. I concede. We go over.
Genuflect is soon chatting away to Legs, while me and her mate eye each other.
She smiles at me and shrugs. She’s about forty, I’m twenty one. I’m no good at sizes yet, but she’s no ten, or twelve, or fourteen for that matter. I’m as lean as a whip. She has nice hair, long and blonde. I have nice hair, long and dark.
She says, “I’m Rosie.”
I say, “I’m Luci.”
She says, “Tell you what, pet, why don’t I get us a drink?”
I say, “No, allow me.”
But she doesn’t allow me. She gets us a drink and we get chatting and I get her a drink and we have a bloody good laugh.
Then it’s two in the morning and we’ve had a few beers and we’ve had a few dances and Genuflect is eating the lips off Legs’ face so we lead the two lovebirds outside and flag down a taxi.
Rosie says, “Look, Legs is staying at mine and it looks like your pal is staying at mine now too. Why don’t you come back for a cuppa?”
I say, “Go on then.”
She has a nice house.
We sit at the kitchen table and drink our tea, trying not to listen to those two crashing around and moaning on the pull-out bed in the living room.
Rosie puts the cups in the sink and walks to the door.
She says, “I’m off to bed, pet. You coming or what?”
I say, “Alright then.”
Her bedroom is a woman’s bedroom not a girl’s bedroom and the bed is as big as The Mayfair dance floor.
I nod at a photo. “Is this your young ‘un?”
She says, “Aye. That’s my boy. He’s at his nan’s tonight.”
I say, “Where’s his dad?”
She says, “Your guess is as good as mine, pet.”
While she’s in the bathroom I slip under sheets much fresher than mine at home. She turns off the lights and she moves across the room and in the light creeping in from the street I see she’s wearing a long t-shirt and nowt else and she gets into bed beside me.
She says, “You tired?”
And I say, “Not really. You?”
And she says, “Not really n’all. You think of anything that’ll tire us out?”
And I laugh and say, “I can think of a lot of things.”
And she says, “Show me.”
And I show her.
She is softness. No sharpness or harshness or angles, she is gentle curves and smooth skin and comforting weight.
A while later she says, “You’ve never been with a woman before, have you?”
I say, “Give over. I’ve been with loads of women.”
She says, “I can tell you’ve been with girls, not women.”
I say, “Alright then, what’s that make me?”
She says, “That makes you a boy, pet.”
I say, “Alright. What do I have to do to be a man?”
She says, “I’ll show you.”
And I say, “……… Jeeezus……. fucking Hell…….. don’t stop!”
And I say, “Slow down…. I’m gonna come….. Fuuuuck……”
And I say, “….yeah…..yeah….. oh yeah…..”
And she says, “You sure you can breath under there?”
And she says, “Down a bit… up a bit….. up a bit….. THERE!! OH RIGHT THERE!”
And she says, “Pass me that tissue. You got me in the eye that time!”
And when it is light we are tired and we sleep.
Later I wake and she is gone. I doze, wake, doze. I move and wince as the dried blood from the scratches on my back stick to the sheets then I doze.
I wake when I smell bacon.
I shuffle downstairs in last night’s clothes to find Rosie at the stove with Legs and Genuflect at the table. Rosie looks great, Legs and Genuflect look rough.
Rosie says, “Morning pet! Sit down and I’ll get you breakfast.”
I grin at her. She winks at me.
The two love birds pick at their breakfast while I wolf mine, wash it down with two pint pots of tea. Afterwards I sit out on a bench in the garden with Rosie while Genuflect and Legs stumble around inside.
I say, “What you reckon about seeing each other again sometime?”
She laughs. “I can’t see that happening, can you?”
I say, “Well, can I give you my number or something?”
She leans across and kisses my cheek. “Let’s be realistic, eh? Let’s not bother with all that. Besides, you’ve given me enough.”
A bit later a taxi rolls up and honks it’s horn and me and Genuflect drive off in search of the abandoned Ford Fiesta.
On the way back down the A1, the sun rising high on our left, heading South, Genuflect quiet.
I say, “You get what you wanted last night, mate?”
He shakes his head. “She wouldn’t do it. Said she had a fella after all, that she wanted a last fling but couldn’t go through with it. My bollocks are like fucking watermelons.”
I just laugh.
He says, “Listen, though. I owe you one. You did us a good turn last night.”
I smile, say, “Don’t worry mate. It was my pleasure.”
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