A ska festival draws thousands of skinheads from across the country to the sleepy seaside town of Cleethorpes. Local residents and day-trippers look on in horror as the town is taken over by shaven-headed masses wearing boots and braces. But much to their surprise, the weekend unfolds peacefully.
That is, until a group of drunken bikers think it would be a good laugh to smash up a few scooters, thinking they must belong to mods. Revenge is swift and vicious, but the bikers have friends too. Friends who are more than eager to settle the score.
Trog felt the bed lurch to one side with a screech of rusty bedsprings, then bounce back up when Mandy climbed out. He moaned, still only half awake, and rolled over to occupy the space she had vacated. It was warm, and still carried her scent. Trog smiled and clutched the pillow, then drew it toward himself imagining it was Mandy as he breathed in the musky aroma. His eyes flickered open just in time to see Mandy bent over before him, picking up her bra and knickers from the floor. Trog grinned, suddenly wide awake.
“Fuck me, what a sight to wake up to.”
Mandy turned and smiled down at him as she clipped her bra on back to front around her waist.
“Go back to sleep, it’s still early.”
Mandy spun the bra around and lifted the cups over her breasts, then shuffled her arms through the shoulder straps. Trog yawned and stretched out his arms, enjoying the view.
“Why, what time is it?” he asked.
“Just gone six.”
“What? Well what are you doing up then? Get back in here.”
Trog pulled back a corner of the bedcovers and looked up at Mandy expectantly. When she didn’t respond he patted the mattress next to him, sending up a small cloud of dust.
Mandy sat down at the bottom of the bed, setting the springs off creaking again, and manoeuvred her feet into her knickers. She stood up and bent down slowly, giving Trog another quick flash before she pulled them up and snapped them into place around her waist.
“I can’t sleep, I’m too excited,” she said.
“Yeah well, you’re not the only one after that performance. Anyway, who said anything about sleeping?”
Mandy turned to face him. Her eyes lingered on Trog’s erection poking up through the bed covers and she smiled.
“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, and I need to check it still fits.”
Trog ran his hands across the short stubble over his crown and clasped them together behind his head. He propped himself up on a pillow to get a better view of Mandy posing before the full-length mirror on her wardrobe door. She was brushing out her feather-cut, the only part of the skinhead look she still kept from her youth.
“What made you give it up?” Trog asked.
Mandy glanced quizzically at Trog’s reflection in the mirror while she continued brushing. “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. She put 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. He had assumed Mandy knew how old he was, and hoped his answer wouldn’t put her off him. It had started out as a bit of a laugh when Mandy had first come onto him in the Black Bull, following a bust up with his girlfriend. Trog had been egged on by his mates, who taunted him that he would never be able to pull a fit old bird like Mandy. But over the few weeks they had been together he had grown quite fond of her, and didn’t want it to end just yet.
“Nineteen,” he said. He looked down at his toes and wiggled them under the bedcovers, then looked back up at Mandy to check her reaction.
Mandy’s eyes widened as she stared at him through the mirror. After a short pause, she shrugged and looked away.
“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 to himself as the memories flooded into his mind. Mandy was certainly an energetic lover, and it was a toss up between which made the most noise, the rusty bed springs or Mandy’s yells and squeals.
It had been the first night Trog had slept over at Mandy’s bedsit, and 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. Not that Trog needed 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. It wasn’t as if he was anything special to look at.
He peeled back the bed covers and sat up, feeling self-conscious about his naked body in the cold light of day. He was a bit overweight, he knew that, with the beginnings of a beer belly threatening to take over his physique. But what he was embarrassed about the most was his lack of height. At just over five foot tall, he was shorter than everyone he knew – including Mandy, though she herself was only a few inches taller.
But Trog would never let his insecurity over his height show in public. 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 bed and pushed down on his penis with the palm of his hand, but his raging hard-on refused to go away. Watching the rear view of Mandy in her underwear as the shaver buzzed over the side of her head didn’t help. With a sigh, he pulled on his underpants, stretching the fabric out at the front to fit his manhood inside. He located his bleached jeans on the floor and struggled into them, then reached down for the attached pair of red braces and pulled them up over his naked chest.
“After you with that shaver, yeah?” Trog said. He walked toward a battered old turntable in the centre of the dressing table and thumbed through Mandy’s collection of singles, all old 45s by bands he had never heard of before.
“Haven’t you got any Cockney Upstarts?” he asked with a frown.
“You know I only like the old stuff,” Mandy said without looking away from the mirror.
“So what do you want me to put on then?”
“I don’t mind, really. You decide.”
Trog looked through the singles again. There was nothing of interest among the plain brown cardboard sleeves, so 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. He put the record on the turntable and slid across the starting switch with his thumb, then sat down on the bed while the record player clicked and whirred into action. The record popped and crackled like frying bacon as it began to play.
“Watta-watta-watta,” someone sang, and a slow ska beat started up.
Mandy squealed with delight. Her hips swayed in time to the music as she shaved herself. Trog folded his arms and watched, smiling. It was worth putting up with the awful music if this was the effect it had on her.
Mandy switched off the shaver and spun around gracefully like a ballet dancer. She held the shaver like a microphone and sang along to the record as she made her way slowly toward Trog. 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. Trog gazed up at her and smiled back. Mandy put the shaver to Trog’s scalp and started to shave him, moving the implement in straight lines over the surface of his head.
Trog’s spine tingled under the vibrations of the shaver and he let out an involuntary shiver. He felt an immense urge to reach out and grab Mandy, to draw her toward him and pull her onto the bed for a quick shag. He reached out, slipped an arm around her waist, and ran his fingers up her back. Mandy shuddered and bit her lip, but continued shaving him. When Trog’s fingers strayed down and slipped inside her knickers, caressing the apex of her buttocks, she sidestepped him and turned her attention to the back of his head.
When she finished, Mandy switched off the shaver and slid off its plastic guard. She blew short hairs from the blades, then put the shaver down on the floor by her feet. Trog reached out for her again, but Mandy was quicker. She placed a hand on his forehead and pushed him to a prone position on the bed, then climbed on top of him, setting off a new symphony of creaking bedsprings.
* * *
Trog handed a suitcase to the taxi driver and watched him toss it into the boot of the car. Without a word, the driver climbed into the cab and drummed his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel. He looked out at Trog and Mandy standing on the pavement, and made a point of looking at his watch. Trog opened the back door of the taxi and gestured for Mandy to get in first, then slid himself in beside her.
After almost an hour of trying on different clothes and then discarding them, Mandy had settled on a black and white Ben Sherman plaid shirt and a short denim mini-skirt to show off the black fishnet stockings she wore beneath it. Her red braces hung down, their loops extending a few inches below the hem of her skirt, and from a strap around her wrist hung an old Praktika compact camera.
After finally choosing what to wear for the journey, Mandy 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 underpants and an extra shirt. Anything else he might need, he had said, he would be able to buy while he was there.
“Where to, guv?” the taxi driver asked. He pulled out without indicating.
“Train station, mate,” Trog said.
“Going anywhere nice?”
“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. He stared out of the window at a row of dilapidated terrace houses rushing by.
Mandy sought Trog’s hand and squeezed it. “This weekend is going to be fucking brilliant,” she said.
Trog turned to Mandy and smiled. “Well if this morning is anything to go by it definitely fucking will be.”
At the train station, Trog paid the taxi fare while Mandy climbed out and straightened her skirt. She looked around at a 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 the skinheads called out. Mandy smiled and waved to him.
The taxi driver retrieved the suitcase from the car’s boot and dumped it down by Mandy’s feet.
“Here you go, love. Have a good weekend.”
Trog picked up the suitcase and headed for the ticket office, with 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, and pulled out his wallet to pay for the tickets. “Might as well do it in style. Looks like the train will be packed, 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, anyway. Fifty fucking quid on top of me wages.”
“It’s all right for some,” Mandy said. She looped her arm through his as they made their way to the station’s solitary platform.
“Trog, you fat bastard!” a voice boomed. Trog spun around, a wide grin on his face.
“Aye up, Stew. What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Going to Cleethorpes aren’t I, you soft get. Don’s here as well, he’s just gone off to buy some fags. All right, Mand? You scrub up well, didn’t recognise you with your clobber on.”
Mandy smiled. “Er … thanks. You don’t look too bad yourself, Stew. New flight jacket?”
Stew patted the sides of his jacket with pride. “Yeah, got to make an effort now and again, haven’t you?”
“So how come you and Don are going then?” Trog asked. “You don’t even like ska. Don calls it fucking 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. He walked toward them with a lit cigarette bobbing up and down in his mouth.
Trog nodded. “All right, Don. Stew were just saying why you’re going to Cleethorpes.”
“Nowt else to do, is there? Anyway, look at you—” Don said, turning to Mandy. He looked her up and down, then whistled. “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. She trailed an arm over his shoulder in return. Don’s eyes drifted back down to Mandy’s legs and he shook his head slowly.
“Fucking hell,” he repeated. “Jammy bastard.”
When the train arrived there was a surge of bodies toward 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 other skinheads 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, boots and braces surrounding them.
Trog deposited the suitcase in a luggage rack near the train door and led Mandy by the hand into the front section of the lead carriage, set aside for first class passengers. It was partitioned from the rest of the carriage by a door with an ominous warning about the consequences of unauthorised use.
Unlike the over-crowded second class area with cramped seats and a mass of sweating bodies standing in the aisles, first class 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 over the top of his newspaper when Trog and Mandy entered, and ruffled it to show his contempt before turning his attention back to whatever he had been reading.
“Cor, innit fucking posh?” Mandy exclaimed, looking around wide-eyed. “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 across the window. Another quick tug and it swished back.
Trog sat down opposite the man with the newspaper, pleased Mandy was happy with his choice of tickets. The extra expense was definitely worth it to see the look of pure innocent joy on her face. He was quite surprised himself at how plush everything was compared to second class, but he didn’t want Mandy to know it was his first time travelling in style too.
“You know what?” Mandy said. She stood before Trog with her legs wide apart, and swayed with the movement of the train as it pulled out of the station. She pulled the camera strap off her wrist and dropped the camera down onto a nearby seat.
Trog gazed up at her and smiled. “What?”
Mandy smiled back and straddled him. She knelt down on the seat and lowered herself into his lap. She put her arms around Trog’s neck and drew his head into her chest. “I fucking love it in first class,” she whispered, and kissed the top of his head.
A faint cough came from the seat opposite, followed by a louder cough when the first was ignored.
“Excuse me,” the suited man said. He folded up his newspaper and leaned forward. “This is the first class compartment, you shouldn’t be in here.”
Trog leaned to one side so he could look past Mandy and glare at the suited man.
“What’s it to you, like?”
“I paid good money to be in here, I shouldn’t have to put up with the likes of you. Either get out or I’ll fetch the guard to throw you out.” He folded his arms over his chest and breathed loudly through his nose.
“Fuck off,” Trog growled.
“Right, well don’t say I didn’t warn you,” the suited man said, rising to his feet. He put the newspaper under his arm, picked up his briefcase, and stormed past.
“Fucking dickhead,” Trog said, loud enough for the man to hear as he stepped through the door and slammed it behind him. Mandy laughed, and sat down beside Trog.
A few minutes later the man reappeared with a train guard in tow.
“There they are. It’s a disgrace, that’s what it is.”
The train guard glared at Trog and Mandy in contempt. “Tickets please,” he said in a monotone.
Trog grinned as he pulled the two train tickets from his wallet and handed them to the guard with a flourish. The guard’s eyes bulged when he glanced at the tickets, then he punched holes in them and handed them back to Trog.
“Thank you, sir.” The train guard smiled and nodded at Mandy, setting her off laughing again. “Madam. Enjoy the rest of 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 these louts?”
The train guard paused halfway through the doorway and turned to face him. “Sir, they have valid first class tickets for this journey,” he said.
“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 train guard said. He rolled his eyes at Mandy and turned to leave.
Trog leaned 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?”