The following piece was written in 2008 and is based on a disco evening in Brighton with friends. I wrote it up when I got home! D is for Disco!
When you write a book a lot of chapters are discarded or rewritten. Most writing is re-writing. This chapter was chucked out of The D Word and The Catholic Woman’s Dying Wish because it didn’t fit into the story.
Before you read on here is a quick link to my books.
“It was a blustery March evening. I agreed to drive the four of us to Brighton.
My three friends stumbled into my Zafira, belching and giggling. They were already well oiled with cheap booze. They complained about the lack of space; their Asda bottles of vodka and lemon fizz swaying as they adjusted their bottoms on the velour seats. Dreary Debbie, a mum from the school tucked herself next to the empty baby seat complaining that her bottom was too big. We didn’t hear much more from her for the rest of the evening. She was in a moany mood and didn’t have a great deal to say so we gave up including her in the conversation.
‘Er Faye…. I wouldn’t wanna a shag in here…. ain’t exactly roomie, is it?’ Sex mad friend Sarah giggled as she adjusted her long corn beef legs. I had only met her a few times. Didn’t really know much about her but I got the impression that she was a vulnerable lass. Plenty of knocks in her life. Abused as a child and by men; laughing and partying came easy.
‘ I wouldn’t recommend it!’, I laughed back. ‘ Have tried it though, as it happens with some bloke. We were parked up next to a remote sewerage works. Smell was horrific. Bit off putting. His bottom was on the dashboard; my legs were caught around the steering wheel. Feet plastered against the window and our glasses of whiskey balanced on the back seat. Car all steamed up… like a scene from Titanic. You know the one in the vintage car, below the decks? My bloke was hardly Leonardo though. My hips… blimey… I felt like a doddery old lady for several days after. They were killing me. Never again! Well.. I say that, but I did actually attempt it again in this car. We were in a secluded slip road next to a castle. The setting was magnificent and there was a full moon. He was rat-arsed though. Not a great performance. I kept my legs propped up over the dash board while he fumbled around in the glove compartment for some tissues to ‘mop up’. You never see that bit in the movies, do you? Imagine Kate Winslet saying ‘pass me some bog roll – it’s leaking out everywhere’. That was a while back now. The closest I come to sex these days is being frisked at the airport or pick-pocketed in the shopping mall’, I laughed.
‘Oh yeah’, Rachel raised her eye brows taking a swig of bubbly drink. ‘Hey Faye… just think what you could do with that gear stick’, she chuckled, with a mischievous glance as I slipped it into neutral and slowed for the red traffic lights. There was a roar of laughter from the back of the car.
‘Could try a cucumber but don’t bother with a banana… one split inside me once. Call it a banana split!’ Sarah laughed. ‘It disappeared up there. I had stuffed it up that far. It was comfortable enough. I knew it’d come down in its own time; know what I mean? I went to work. I was a clerical assistant at the Inland Revenue. Right bunch o’ boring woofters there. Didn’t find it at all funny when that banana split decided to pop out!. Oh ok, ok, I’m exaggerating a little. Me red knickers caught it in time before anyone skidded into the chief executive’s office along the highly polished flooring.’
‘So Sarah, you alright these days?’ I asked as I worked my way into the correct lane and headed past the Brighton Pavilion – all lit up and awesome looking. ‘Yeah, suppose so. Me mam’s bin a right old cow lately. Mind you what changes? Due to ‘er I’ve spent me life in and out of mental wards; on and off medication. Abusive cow she is. And she’s not at all interested in her grand kids. Never visits. I don’t bovver na more, no what I mean?’ Sarah asked, to nobody in particular.
‘So what’s she done now then?’ Rachel asked. ‘Well I’m convinced me dad’s not me dad. Always ‘ave been. I mean wouldn’t you think it strange if your whole bleedin family was white and you was Chinese looking? People are always asking me if I’m Chinese. I just wanna know the truth. Know what I mean?’ she asked. ‘I asked her, outright the other day. I need to know. I asked if me dad is really me dad. She walloped me right across the flaming room. Me head smashed against the hard table. She was furious. Really furious. It’s got me wondering now’ Sarah told us showing us a large bruise on her forehead.
We clambered out of my car making our way, arm in arm, in fits of giggles through the drizzly rain. A light wind caught our hair as we turned the corner in full view of the sea ahead. The queue for the club was incredibly long. It was deceptive for it wound its way along some roping; rather like a queue for a mega popular ride at a theme park on an August bank holiday. ‘Oww, Faye, ya dun ‘alf scrub up well gal! Nice tight arse in that lacey skirt. And love the lippy. Suits ya’, Sarah commented as we tripped along in our high heels, avoiding the cracks in the pavement. ‘Yeah but my boobs are only a B cup… B is for barely there,’ I giggled.
‘Your’s must be at least a C cup Sarah? C for can’t complain. And if I they are a D cup well that’s pretty damn good, ah girl?’ I enquired.
“So will you be getting bladdered Sarah, this evening? I’m driving; you can have as much as you like of course”, I reminded her – half wishing somebody else would drive one evening so that I could have a few whiskeys. “Me bladdered? Joking aren’t ya? Last time I went on a bender I threw up in me ‘andbag. The only liquor I shall ‘ave is what’s in this bag a liquorice allsorts ‘ere” Sarah roared with laughter, giving the air a little kick with her dainty foot and pulling a bag of sweets from her pocket. “Well if you believe that”, she added, you’ill believe anything”.
“Oh…. you mean you staying off the wagon or liquorice all – sorts containing alcohol?” I asked.
‘Oww, the arses on these guys…. wooo we’re gunna ‘ave a great night here’, Sarah shreaked as we weaved our way to the bar, squeezing a few buttocks en route and eyeing up the colourful, imaginative assortment of costumes . Superman flexed his muscles as Rachel pushed her way through, grabbing her huge arms to compare his muscles with hers. There were groups of women, dressed in school uniforms; black tights, extremely short skirts ; so short they revealed white panties underneath and police officers wielding plastic truncheons.”
“Like ya truncheon”, Sarah fluttered at one them. A group of pirates were making their way through the crowd; they wore striped leggings and had toy parrots attached to their frilly blouses.
‘Hey there cowboy’, flirted Rachel as she passed a cowboy from Toy Story.
‘Whatcha drinking? Texas mule piss?’ ‘Nice peg legs lady’, he swooned in return. ‘How comes you got an eye patch lassie?’ he asked.
‘ I was in a sea battle when an albatross flew over and pooped right into my eye.’ She quickly retorted.
A group of busty blondes were prancing around on the dance floor; size H cups – ‘H’ no doubt standing for huge … constricted in tight pink corsets with pink fluffy tails and floppy ears on their heads. Badges declared them to be ‘horny hens’ and a handsome DJ speaking over a mic said that he hoped ‘Chelsie and friends would have a superb hen night’.
‘It’s not fair is it’, Sarah suddenly said. ‘Why is it that blondes always seem to ‘ave more fun? Wonder if they know it’, she surmised.
‘Yeah but Sarah’, I looked around me, ‘there’s far too much competition here. I don’t stand a flipping chance. All I can say is I’m glad I’m not bi-sexual,’ I commented. Sarah frowned.
‘Ay, whatcha mean?’. ‘Well I couldn’t stand being rejected by women as well as men!’ I laughed.
‘Come on’, Rachel shouted, above the loud thud of music pulling our arms and guiding us towards the stairs which led along a red carpeted narrow corridor. ‘Let’s have a look for another disco in this place. There are several bars here and several discos each with a different theme. You’ill love the place!’ she said excitedly. We made our way along a mass of corridors, pushing through several heavy wooden fire safety doors on the way. We passed a bright pink poster warning ‘don’t be a prick, wear a condom’ and then turning a corner Sarah gave a shreak like a child seeing a sweet machine at an amusement arcade. ‘Owww, a toy machine. Ann Summers toys. That’s what I come ‘ere for. Toys. I love ‘em’. Without bothering to make a selection she loaded the machine with lose change, in a desperate hurry; as if she were purchasing a coffee before the train left the station platform. Nothing happened. We thumped and kicked the machine with Sarah squawking.
“I just want that willy whistle; why wont it come out”.
Two guys passed by and offered to help. “I think you needed 69p love. I could give you that – you only have to ask nicely”.
“Ow, you dirty man; bugger off”, Sarah said, swinging her bag at their legs.
The heavy thud of music filled the room. Strobe lighting circled around fixing on faces, making patterns across footwear, turning whites to persil adverts, sweeping and turning at different angles. A crowd had gathered at the edge of the floor. I wondered why they were not dancing . And then I saw why as I moved along, passing the pillars and tippy toeing above the crowd.It was ‘Disco Dave’. He had total command of the floor space. It was his territory. He owned it and controlled it– only until others felt confident to move in and invade his space. And because he had life membership they had nicknamed the club ‘Cremation’ from its name ‘Creation’. An old man.
“He’s the dog’s bollocks, Faye”, Sarah leaned towards my ear, as I continued to watch.
I was mesmerised and captivated by this retired dustman flinging his arms around; flexing his legs; bending and twisting to the beat. In heart shaped shades he flashed a toothless grin across at us; stretching his arms and pretending to climb the air on a ladder, clawing up, up in white silk gloves. And as the beat changed he swept his hands, as if he were painting the air this time. His feet tapped up and down, onto the heels and forward onto tiptoes; between the coloured neon floor lighting squares. People had gathered to watch, jeer and be entertained. “I thought that was Freddie Kruger”, said one. “Bless him; I wonder what his secret is”, said another. “The crowds are restrained tonight”, Rachel explained. “You wouldn’t believe what he’s been through though in his years of clubbing. He’s been vomited on, spat at and he once broke his ribs when a big black guy tried to trip him up. People are horrible. He doesn’t deserve it”, Rachel told us as she sipped her coke.
“He just doesn’t stop”, I said in amazement. “We’ve been standing here…what half hour now and he’s not had a second’s break”, I added, watching him spinning and twirling like a child in need to Ritalin.
“We’re meant to be having fun”, I nudged her out of her fixed gaze of melancholy. “Hey”, I said cheerfully, “Does he ever get lucky with the birds?”. “Nah”, Rachel said, turning her nose up, “getting lucky for him means being able to find his car in the multi storey, or staggering to the car, successfully avoiding the pavement pizzas”, she chuckled. “Has he managed to programme his pacemaker to open the garage doors?”, I jested, giving her another light nudge.
The style of music changed. Drums banged; cymbals crashed. The retired dustman, carrying his emaciated body moved to the side and took a large gulp of coke as he leant on the nearest pillar. A couple of guys whispered something to each other and stepped forward, tapping him on the shoulder and startling him. “Erh, old man, what do you get off on then?” they asked.
“Pardon”, he replied looking confused. “What drug are you on? I want the same. Or are you on Viagra for the shrivelled up old penis”, one of them sneered. “Chemotherapy”, he retorted; an answer which made them look ashamed and they retreated, quickly.
“Old man”, shouted another guy, brushing past us and standing menacingly over Dustman Dave. Quite obviously sozzled and clinically insane as Rachel later remarked he began an intimidating tirade.
“My bird and her mates would like to have a bit of the dance floor now; do you mind eh; stepping aside and letting them flaunt their bodies. You’re well past it. You should be in Eastbourne – at a tea dance not in Brighton nightclubbing. It’s outrageous. You’re a disgrace.” He laughed; with a look of triumph and satisfaction; like an SS officer looking down into the pit of freshly mowed down bodies.
“Er R”, Sarah nudged Rachel. “Did ya hear what that deranged geezer.”, she said in alarm, relaying the details across. Soon Rachel was marching over, seething, her fist clenched on the ready. Dreary Debbie, dull as dishwater unfolded her legs and rose for the first time that evening, to take a look at the action. We all moved in ; outraged, yet hesistant and unsure what was about to kick off. Rachel had courage. She was used to this. She could fight other peoples’ battles. He had as much right here as any one of any age she confidently told them. “Clear off before I get the security guy over”, she told him.
“That old bag o’ bones should get home for his horlicks”, the tirade continued. “He wont be sowing his wild oats here….prunes and all bran are all he’s got to look forward to”.I’m not quite sure what happened next. Rachel was provoked. Disco Dave stood there, still leaning, at ease against the pillar. He was used to it. He didn’t appear upset. Life was too short to bear grudges. Life, he knew too well, could be cut short. He was determined to enjoy it to the last. He watched, as a merry-go-round of action ensued. Plastic glasses were splintered; beer sloshed and splattered; menacing looks; ranting, screaming and then silence as the group parted, dumbfounded as dustman Dave moved to the centre of the floor – and began to dance; up and down, round and round he spun, reaching up, bending low. And clapping and cheering – from the other side of the floor broke out.
“Keep it up, well done, good on you”, they shouted, raising their glasses as if in congratulation.
“There’s plenty more years left in you” one of them shouted.
Age is just a number.Watching dustman disco Dave twirling to the beat and glancing around soaking in the colourful atmosphere I knew that at 43 I was far from past it. It was so exhilarating to come to that realisation. And I wasn’t asleep and my watch said 2am. That was a major achievement. I hadn’t even yawned all evening. And my legs had not given way under the strain of dancing ; my feet could dance some more and I wasn’t out of breath after 10 minutes. Dave could do it. I could do it.
I closed my front door, kicked off the stilettos, rubbed the aching feet and headed upstairs. My head was sore; my energy drained. A teddy bear and an empty babies’ milk bottle as I turned the corner to the landing were reminders of reality and motherhood and Cinderella returning to rags. I wondered which child would disturb my precious sleep with growing pains or a wet bed and a prod at the crack of dawn for a story or cuddle after a dream about monsters. Quite possibly I was past it, after all.