Trog woke to the sound of rusty bedsprings screeching their complaint as Mandy climbed out of the single bed they had been sharing. His eyes flickered open just in time to see her bend down to pick up her bra and pants from the floor where they had been discarded along with the rest of their clothes the night before.
“Fuck me, what a sight to wake up to.”
Mandy turned and smiled, clipping her bra on back to front around her waist. “Go back to sleep, it’s still early.” She spun the bra around and lifted the cups over her ample breasts before putting her arms through the shoulder straps.
“Why, what time is it?”
“Just gone six.”
“What? Well what are you doing up then? Get back in here.” He pulled back the covers and looked up at her, expectantly. When she didn’t respond, he patted the mattress next to him, sending up a cloud of dust mites.
Mandy sat down at the bottom of the bed, setting the springs off creaking again, and manoeuvred her feet into her pants. She stood up and bent down slowly, deliberately giving Trog another quick flash, before pulling her pants up and snapping them into place around her slim waist. “I can’t sleep, I’m too excited.”
“Yeah well, you’re not the only one after what I just saw. Anyway, who said anything about sleeping?”
Mandy smiled when she turned to face him and took in his erection poking up through the bed covers. She knew what was underneath, and it certainly wasn’t in proportion to his short stature. “Didn’t you get enough of that last night?”
“Does it look like it?”
“Yeah well, you’ll have to wait. I want to try on some clothes for Cleethorpes. I haven’t worn my skinhead gear for years now, I need to check it still fits.”
Trog ran his hands across the short stubble over his crown before clasping them together behind his head, propping himself up on the pillow to get a better view of Mandy posing before the full-length mirror built into her wardrobe door. She was brushing out her feather-cut, the only part of the skinhead look she had kept since moving out of Shefferham to work as a barmaid at The Black Bull several years ago.
“What made you give it up?” Trog asked.
Mandy glanced quizzically at his reflection in the mirror as she continued brushing her hair. “Give what up?”
“Your skinhead gear.”
“You don’t think I’m too old?”
“Nah, don’t be daft. You’re only, what, twenny-five?”
“Yeah well, same difference. Anyway, you know what they say, you’re only as old as the man you feel.”
Mandy laughed, putting the hair brush down on a nearby dressing table, and picked up a small cordless battery operated shaver. She flicked it on, and it buzzed in her hand like an angry wasp. “So how old does that make me then?”
Trog’s face reddened slightly as he replied. He had assumed she knew how old he was, and hoped his answer wouldn’t put her off him. “Nineteen.”
Mandy’s eyes widened slightly as she took in his age, but she didn’t comment on it. She knew he was younger than her, but she didn’t know precisely how much younger. After a short pause, she shrugged it off as unimportant. “Put some music on, yeah? But not too loud, these walls are paper-thin and I don’t want the old couple in the next flat complaining to the landlord again. We probably kept them awake half the night as it is.”
Trog smiled at the memory. It had been the first night he had slept over at Mandy’s place since they had first got together a few weeks ago. It had been her idea for him to stay the night, it would mean they could make an early start for the trip to Cleethorpes, she had said. Trog obviously didn’t take any convincing. He still couldn’t believe his luck that Mandy had chosen him out of all the other skinheads who frequented The Black Bull.
He peeled back the bed covers and sat up, feeling slightly self-conscious about his naked body. He was slightly overweight, with the beginnings of a beer belly, but his broad shoulders and muscular arms went a long way towards compensating for that. What he was embarrassed about was his lack of height. At just over five foot tall, he was a lot shorter than anyone he knew, including Mandy. Not that he ever let his insecurity show externally, of course. To everyone else who knew him, and certainly to those who didn’t, he was a cock-sure skinhead who took no shit from anyone, and was always the first into battle when any trouble kicked off.
He spun his legs out of the bed and pushed down on his penis with the palm of his hand, but his raging hard-on stubbornly refused to go away. Watching the rear view of Mandy in her bra and pants as she shaved her head didn’t really help. With a sigh, he pulled on his underpants, stretching the fabric out at the front in order to fit his manhood inside. He located his jeans and struggled into them, pulling the red braces up over his naked chest.
“After you with that razor, yeah?” he said, walking towards a battered old turntable in the centre of the dressing table. He thumbed through her collection of singles, old 45s by bands he had never heard of before. “Haven’t you got any Cockney Upstarts?”
“You know I only like the old stuff,” Mandy replied without looking away from the mirror. “I don’t see the point of all that shouty music you listen to. They don’t even have a tune, most of them.”
“So what do you want me to put on then?”
“I don’t mind, really. You decide.”
Trog frowned, and thumbed through the singles again. Not finding anything of interest among the plain brown cardboard sleeves, he turned his attention to a small collection of albums propped up against one of the legs of the dressing table. One with a photo of a group of skinheads posing by a brick wall caught his eye, and he slipped it out of its dog-eared sleeve before placing it on the record player’s long vertical spindle.
Sliding across the starting switch with his thumb, he sat back down on the bed as a loud mechanical click sent the record sliding down the spindle. There was another mechanical click as the tone arm jerked across and came to a stop hovering above the outer edge of the record for a few seconds before dropping down with a loud thunk as the stylus hit the vinyl.
The record was very scratchy, having obviously been played a lot during its lifetime, and Mandy squealed with delight when she heard its “Watta-watta-watta” opening, her hips already swaying in anticipation of the music to follow. Trog folded his arms and watched her, smiling to himself. It was worth putting up with the awful music if this was the effect it had on her.
When Mandy had finished shaving in front of the mirror, she switched off the electric shaver and spun around on one leg, crouching down low before slowly rising back up. Holding the shaver like a microphone, she began to sing along to the record, her free arm and hips swaying in time to the music as she made her way slowly towards Trog with a glint in her eye. When she reached him, she ran her hand over his head, coming to rest on the back of his neck, and held it there. She thumbed on the shaver, and smiled as he gazed up at her. Putting the shaver to his scalp, she started to shave him, gently moving the implement in straight lines over his head.
Trog stared at her breasts, which were just above eye level and jiggled enticingly with her arm movements. He couldn’t resist slipping an arm around her waist and pulling her closer so that he could rest his face between their twin mounds. He felt the hand on the back of his neck pulling him in closer, and heard Mandy gasp before she reluctantly prised his head away and resumed shaving him.
A few minutes later, she switched off the shaver and slid off its plastic guard, blowing the short hairs from the blades. Trog reached out for her again, but Mandy was quicker. She put a hand on his forehead and gently pushed him to a prone position on the bed. Quickly bending down to put the shaver safely on the floor, she climbed on top of him, setting off a new symphony of creaking bedsprings.
Trog handed the suitcase to the taxi driver and watched him toss it unceremoniously into the boot of the car before climbing into the driver’s seat and waiting impatiently. Trog opened the back door and gestured for Mandy to get in first, before sliding in beside her.
After almost an hour of trying on different clothes, she had eventually settled on a black and white Ben Sherman plaid shirt and a short denim mini-skirt to show off the black fishnet stockings she was wearing beneath it. Her red braces hung down from the skirt uselessly, only being there for show. Her outfit chosen, she had then spent another forty-five minutes deciding what else to take with her, and filled a suitcase to bursting point despite Trog’s protestations that they were only going for two days. Trog, meanwhile, only had the clothes he was wearing and a change of underwear and a spare shirt. Anything else he might need, he had said, he would be able to buy while he was there.
“Where to, guv?”
“Train station, mate,” Trog replied.
“Going anywhere nice?” the taxi driver asked, pulling out without indicating.
“Cleethorpes,” Mandy said. “There’s a ska festival on, we’re going to that.”
“Oh yeah? I quite like that Madness meself, driving in me car and all that. Well you’ve picked a good day for it, judging by the weather.”
“Yeah,” Trog said absentmindedly, staring out of the window at the row of boarded up shops rushing by. This village is dying on its feet, he thought. Fucking Thatcher. The sooner we kick that witch out the better.
Mandy, sensing his sudden gloom, sought his hand and squeezed it gently. “This weekend is going to be fucking brilliant,” she said quietly.
At the train station, Trog paid the fare while Mandy climbed out and straightened her skirt, pulling down on the hem. She looked around at the large gathering of skinheads, and nodded at a few faces she recognised from The Black Bull.
“All right, Mandster? Looking fucking good there,” one of them called out, and she waved to him, smiling. She had been a bit apprehensive about venturing out in her skinhead gear again after such a long break, but the man’s comment immediately flushed any doubts from her mind. She was back where she belonged, amongst her own kind, and there would be no more trying to pretend she was something else just to satisfy people who didn’t understand.
The taxi driver retrieved her suitcase from the car’s boot and dumped it down by her feet. “Here you go, love. Have a good weekend.”
Trog picked up the suitcase and headed towards the ticket office with it, Mandy following close behind. There was a short queue, and when they reached the counter Trog ordered two first class tickets to Cleethorpes.
“First class?” Mandy asked, raising an eyebrow.
Trog shrugged, pulling out his wallet to pay for the tickets. “Might as well do it in style. Looks like the train will be packed out, and I don’t fancy standing up all the way there.”
“Yeah but don’t you need to save money to pay for your fine?”
“Nah, I just pay that a few quid a week, I’ll not even miss it. I got a good bonus this week, we hit a rich coal seam so production was way up.”
“It’s all right for some,” Mandy said, looping her arm through his as they made their way to the station’s solitary platform.
“Trog, you fat bastard!” a voice boomed, and Trog spun around, a wide grin on his face.
“Aye up, Stew. What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Going to the festival aren’t I, you soft get. Don’s here as well, he’s just gone off to get some fags. All right, Mand? You scrub up well, didn’t recognise you with your clobber on.”
Mandy smiled. “Er … thanks. You’re not too bad yourself, Stew. New flight jacket?”
“Yeah, got to make an effort, haven’t you?”
“So how come you and Don are going then?” Trog asked. “You don’t even like ska. Don calls it bongo music.”
“Yeah, so? You don’t like it either, but you’re going.”
“Yeah but Mandy does, and that’s the only reason I’m going. So what’s in it for you and Don?”
“Mate, it’ll be wall to wall fucking skinbyrds the whole weekend. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that? Besides, there’s other stuff to do at Cleethorpes – arcades and shit. It’ll be a right fucking laugh.”
“What’s that then?” Don asked, walking towards them with a lit cigarette bobbing up and down in his mouth.
Trog spun around to face him. “Alright, Don. Stew were just saying why you’re going to Cleethorpes.”
“Nowt else to do, is there? Anyway, look at you—” he said, turning to Mandy. He looked her up and down, appreciatively. “Fucking hell. Trog, you jammy bastard. How the fuck did an ugly cunt like you pull that?”
Trog smiled, and put an arm around Mandy, drawing her closer. She trailed an arm over his shoulder. Don’s eyes drifted back down to her legs, and he shook his head slowly. “Fucking hell,” he repeated.
When the train arrived there was a surge of bodies towards the doors. There were only two carriages, and the train was already half full, so there was a lot of light-hearted pushing and shoving to get on in order to claim a seat. Most of the train’s occupants were either skinheads or rudeboys heading to the festival, with the odd family with young children out on a day trip looking bemused at the sheer number of shaved heads and pork pie hats surrounding them. A black youth sitting next to the window had a cassette player on his lap, a large ghetto blaster type, and it blared out dub reggae music, much to Don’s disgust. He glared at the youth as he walked by, hoping to catch his eye and daring him to say something, but the youth was busy in his own world, nodding his head in time to the music as he stared out of the window at the drab, grey landscape.
Trog deposited the suitcase in the luggage rack near the train door and led Mandy by the hand into the first class compartment. Unlike the over-crowded second class area with its cramped seats and mass of bodies standing in the aisle, it was deserted save for a middle-aged man in a dark blue pinstripe suit who was reading a copy of The Times. The man glanced up at them over the top of his newspaper as they entered, and ruffled it slightly to show his contempt before turning his attention back to yesterday’s stock market figures.
“Cor, innit posh?” Mandy exclaimed, taking in the plush, spacious seats. “There’s doilies on the arm rests and everything. And look, curtains. Curtains on a train, that’s just fucking mental.” She tugged on a corner of the curtain and it swished effortlessly across the window. Another quick tug and it swished back.
Trog sat down, pleased that she was happy with his choice of tickets. The extra expense was definitely worth it to see the look of pure joy on her face. She’d had a hard life growing up in Shefferham, and was no stranger to poverty. Her father had died in a factory accident when she was ten years old, and her mother had struggled to support them both on unemployment benefits and a cash in hand cleaning job at the weekends. Things got even harder when some busybody reported her to the social and they cut her benefits in half.
“You know what would make this even better?” Mandy said, standing before Trog with her legs wide apart, swaying with the movement of the train.
Trog gazed up at her, liking what he saw. “What?”
She smiled, and straddled him, kneeling down on the seat before lowering herself into his lap. She put her arms around his neck and gently drew his head into her chest. Feeling him stiffen, she started to move her groin backwards and forwards over his.
A faint cough came from the seat opposite, followed by a louder one when it was ignored. “Excuse me,” the suited man said, folding up his newspaper and leaning forward. “This is the first class compartment, you shouldn’t be in here.”
Trog leaned across to one side, looking past Mandy towards the man. “What’s it to you, like?”
“I paid good money to be in here so that I wouldn’t have to put up with the likes of you. Either get out or I’ll fetch the guard to throw you out.”
“Fuck off,” Trog growled, and returned his attention to Mandy’s breasts.
“Right, well don’t say I didn’t warn you,” the man said, rising to his feet. He put the newspaper under his arm, picked up his briefcase, and stormed out.
“Fucking dickhead,” Trog said under his breath. Mandy laughed, and sat down beside him, her face flushed.
A few minutes later the man reappeared, train guard in tow. “There they are. It’s a disgrace, that’s what it is.”
The guard glared at Trog and Mandy, contempt clearly visible on his face. “Tickets please,” he said in a monotone.
Trog grinned as he pulled two train tickets from his wallet and handed them to the guard. The guard’s eyes bulged slightly as he glanced at them, and he punched holes in them before handing them back. “Thank you, sir.” He nodded politely at Mandy, setting her off laughing again. “Madam. Enjoy your journey.”
He turned to leave, and the suited man called out to him. “What, that’s it? You’re not going to do anything about them?”
The guard paused in the doorway and turned to face him. Calmly, he said “Sir, they have valid first class tickets for this journey.”
“Well that’s just not good enough. I shall be writing a letter of complaint about this, you mark my words.”
“As you wish, sir,” the guard said, turning to leave. He rolled his eyes at Mandy and she smiled at him.
Trog leant forward in his seat and glared at the suited man until he unfolded his newspaper and hid himself behind it. There was a slight tremor to the man’s hands that made the newspaper rustle slightly, and Trog didn’t care whether it was due to anger or fear. He turned to Mandy and grinned. “They let any old scum in here these days, don’t they?”