7 Life Moves On
Mike Thornton and Twiglet both frowned when Trog walked up to their table in The White Swan. He put down a tray containing two pints of bitter and a pint of lager, then sat down between Colin and Brian.
“Cheers Trog,” Colin said. He lifted one of the glasses and took a long drink.
“Yeah, cheers,” Brian said, nodding his head.
It was Brian’s first night out since being discharged from hospital the previous week. He’d jumped at the chance to get out of the house when Colin called round for him earlier in the evening, especially when Colin said he had arranged to meet Becky and Kaz. Brian confided in Colin as they left that he was sick of his mother fussing over him all the time, like he was some sort of invalid. She made Colin swear he wouldn’t let Brian drink any alcohol, and that he would keep him well away from any skinheads. She didn’t believe Colin’s story that it had been a skinhead who saved Brian’s life, preferring to believe the newspaper version saying it had been the police who saved him.
“It should be me buying you one though, I reckon,” Brian said, looking at Trog.
Trog held up his hand and waved off the offer. “Nah, don’t worry about it. I got some good news today anyway.”
“Oh yeah?” Colin said, leaning forward. “What’s that then?”
“Ian finally woke up this afternoon, it looks like he’s going to be okay.”
“Lazy bastard,” Mike said with a grin. Trog glared across the table at him. “What?” Mike asked with a shrug.
“He was in a fucking coma, you cunt.”
“Ah, okay, sorry mate. So what were up with him, like? Car crash or something?”
“Some cunt twatted him on the way home a few weeks ago.”
Mike looked at Colin. Colin looked away.
“So, um,” Mike said, “has he said who it was that smacked him then?”
Trog shook his head slowly, maintaining eye contact with Mike. “No, not yet. He says he can’t remember anything, but the doctor says that’s just temporary and it’ll all come back to him over the next few weeks.”
“I’m just off to the bog,” Mike announced, and rose to his feet.
Trog watched him go, then turned to Colin. “So where’s that scruffy mate of yours, Stinky or whatever his name is?”
“Stiggy? Fuck knows. I haven’t seen him since the Cockney Upstarts gig. I went round to his flat the other week but he wasn’t there. The Rasta next door said he hadn’t seen him either.”
“He’s probably off his fucking head on glue somewhere,” Brian said. “You know what he’s like.”
Colin shrugged. “Yeah, probably. I just wish he’d get in touch though. I nearly shit meself when I heard about that bloke they found in Shefferham with his head stoved in. I were sure that was Stiggy until they showed a photo of him on the news. I thought them fucking skinheads must have caught up with him or something.” He looked at Trog. “No offence, like,” he added.
“None taken,” Trog said. “They weren’t skinheads anyway, they were fucking boneheads.”
“What’s the difference?” Twiglet asked.
Trog looked at the half-caste in silence for a few seconds before replying. “Boneheads are fucking Nazis.”
Twiglet snorted. “What, and skinheads aren’t?”
“Nah, are they fuck.”
Born to Run started playing on the pub’s jukebox as Mike returned from the toilet and went to the bar. Twiglet groaned and shook his head. “Oh, fuck off!”
“No, straight up,” Trog said. “Your proper skinheads don’t give a fuck about all that Hitler bollocks. We love our country too much for that. Anyway, I’m off.” He turned to Brian and patted him on the back. “Good to see you out and about again, anyway. If you want to come down to The Black Bull later I’ll introduce you to the rest of the lads.”
Brian nodded. “Yeah, I might do one day. Not tonight though, I’m meeting me bird in here in a bit, then we’re off down to The Juggler’s Rest to see a band.”
“Yeah?” Trog said, grinning. “Well give her one for me. And enjoy your fucking hippy music.”
Twiglet and Mike were singing as Trog left. They raised their beer glasses and clashed them together.
“Scum like us, maybe we don’t give a fu-uck!”
* * *
“Yeah, cheers Mandy.” Trog looked over at a group of skinheads and raised his hand to them.
“Good news about Ian,” Mandy said as she pulled his lager.
“Yeah,” Trog said, smiling. “He’s gonna be fucking ugly for a while though, until they fix his face up. But the way them nurses are fussing over him he’s loving every fucking minute of it.”
Trog pulled out his wallet to pay for the drink. Mandy shook her head. “No, don’t worry about it. This one’s on me. So how did you get on in court the other day?”
“Fifty quid fine and thirty-six hours attendance centre.”
“Attendance centre? What’s that then?”
Trog shrugged. “Dunno, some new bollocks they’ve come up with. I have to go to this place in Shefferham every Saturday afternoon for the next ten weeks.”
“Oh,” Mandy said, looking down. “Do you have to go this weekend?”
“Yeah. They said if I miss any they’ll add an extra five hours on top of the ones I miss, as well as another fine.”
“That’s a shame. There’s a Ska festival on at Cleethorpes this weekend, I thought you might want to come with me? We could get a room in a bed and breakfast, my treat.” She leaned her elbows on the bar and smiled across at him, her chin cradled in her hands.
Trog closed his eyes and ran his hand over the stubble on the back of his head. “I should really go to this attendance centre thing,” he said, avoiding Mandy’s gaze.
“You could go there next weekend instead, I’m sure they won’t mind. Go on, it’ll be fucking brilliant. I haven’t been to anything like that for years. We wouldn’t need to spend the whole weekend at the festival, there’s other stuff we could do. And it’ll be a right laugh, there’ll be skins from all over the country there. It’ll be just like the old days.”
Trog frowned, then nodded his head. “Yeah, fuck it. They’ll have to do without me this week. I’ll tell them I’m sick or something.”
Mandy jumped up and down, clapping her hands together, and squealed in excitement. She reached across the bar and grabbed Trog by the neck with both hands, pulled him close, and hugged him.
* * *
Colin, Brian, Becky and Kaz were in The Juggler’s Rest watching the band set up their equipment when Stiggy walked through the door with a short-haired girl in a baggy Discharge T-shirt.
“Stiggy!” Colin shouted. “Where the fuck have you been? And what’s with the fucking beard?”
Stiggy grinned and raised a hand. He went to the bar for drinks, then swaggered over to their table.
“All right, Col?” Stiggy said. “You remember Sally, right?”
Colin looked at the short-haired girl standing by Stiggy’s side.
“All right,” she said, nodding.
It took Colin a while to recognise her at first, because she had cut off her pink fringe and the rest of her hair was starting to grow out. It was the bottle of Babycham in her hand that clinched it.
“Er, yeah. All right, Sally.”
“I brung your record,” Stiggy said. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a twelve inch album. “I thought it were shite at first, but it sort of grows on you after a while.”
Colin took the record and flipped it over to look at the front cover. With everything that had happened he had forgot all about lending it to Stiggy.
“Cheers, Stiggy. So how did you know we’d be in here?”
Stiggy shrugged. “Friday, innit? Where else would you be?”
“So where have you been then?”
“Here and there.”
Brian drained his glass and rose to his feet. “Anyone want anything from the bar?”
Kaz frowned. “Should you be drinking that much in your condition?”
Brian groaned. “Don’t you start as well. I’ve had me mam fussing round me ever since I got out of hospital. I’ve only had a few pints, it’s not like I’m going to get smashed out of my head and start a fight with a gang of skinheads.” He looked at Stiggy as he spoke. Stiggy’s face reddened.
“Yeah well,” Stiggy said. “That’s all sorted now. We—” Sally looked sharply at Stiggy and nudged him in the ribs. Stiggy looked away and took a sip from his cider. He sat down opposite Colin and cradled the glass in his hand. “Look, the thing is, we’re getting off in the morning. There’s some people after us, so we’re moving away.”
“What, for good?” Colin asked.
“Where are you going, like?” Brian asked.
Stiggy opened his mouth to speak, but Sally got in first. “Manchester.”
Colin frowned. “What the fuck’s in Manchester?”
Stiggy looked at Sally, then shrugged. “No idea, I’ve never been. But I reckon it’s a big city with loads of people, so it’ll be easy to lose ourselves there.”
“Blimey,” Brian said. “Fucking Manchester, eh? Well good luck with it, yeah?”
Stiggy nodded. “Cheers Brian. That means a lot.”
“You’ll keep in touch though?” Colin asked. “Send me your address when you get sorted so we can all come down and visit?”
“Yeah, of course I will,” Stiggy said, looking away.
“So,” Colin said, rising to his feet. He held his beer glass out in a toast. “Here’s to Stiggy. Cunt of the year, 1982.”
“Piss off,” Stiggy said with a wide grin.