Thursday, April 28, 2005

Chapter 21

PHIL
I got into work late the Tuesday after Pontin’s. It felt like, teabreak over, back to the same old shake it all about. I got down the wet end and the Wildman was working at me bench. He just give me this gormless look and carried on. Olly asked how the holiday was and said Lenny was looking for me.
I thought I must be due a bollocking but he come and told me I was moving onto buffing. I was chuffed to start with. The money was better, plus you got the chance to do City and Guilds, and that meant day release once you got to Stage Two.
Inside a fortnight I was wishing I’d never changed over. The thing with the buffing is, you can’t wear gloves really. You need to feel the hide up against the roller to get the finish even. There was some chemical they put on the roller. It softened up the leather. And your fingers. I must’ve been a bit allergic. Me fingertips went bright pink, then the skin started peeling off like really bad sunburn. Stung like fuck. I asked about swapping back but they weren’t having it.
At home Paul had started picking up the guitar again. So seeing him playing, I was already getting reminded how far behind him I was. I’d got this habit off him of pulling a face whenever I hit a bum note. Me and him was in our room and I was running through the set. I pulled that face. Paul goes, ‘Pick a note, any note.’ Then the same again. I’d pull that face, he’d laugh. After a bit I stopped even pulling the face. Paul looked over, worried. He said how I could do with putting some time in.
But the more time I put in, the worse it got. The band had a practice up the Merman ready for the bingo gig. I was playing the lead bits on ‘Me Again’, but it was hurting so much I kept going out of time. People was alright about it the first go through, but the third time Animal goes, ‘I’ll do the lead for now if you want. Swap back another time.’
Then on ‘Dead in the Water’ I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t have no strength in me fingers. I seen Patrick rolling his eyes. I was ready to smack him one to be honest. Then Danny goes, ‘Jesus.’
I said, ‘I’m doing me fucking best.’
He said, ‘Not that. Your hand.’
I looked down. Me left hand was covered in blood.
Around then’s when everything started feeling different for me. Like everything was slipping through me fingers. Literally.
Come the actual night of the bingo gig I was fucking up royally. I was almost glad when that Tony pulled us off. I was making meself look a cunt. That’s probably why I had a bit of a bad time after.
That was another thing. That bingo gig was the first time the real collegey lot started getting into it. I remember sitting in the back of Terry’s mini outside, with me teeth gritted. He said he was taking a year out. I said, ‘How do you mean?’
He said it again, ‘Taking a year out,’ like everyone knows what that means, as if I was thick for not knowing.
I know some of that lot can be alright but I haven’t got much time for them. The way they talk to you does it for me. They’ll let something slip about how their mum and dad’s better off than yours. Then they’ll get embarrassed and say some bollocks about how their dad’s worked really hard, like my dad’s never done a hand’s turn in his life.
At the party after, that Alan said how it must be marvellous to have a craft, to work with your hands, all that shit. It’s nothing though. It’s like swimming or whistling. It’s just a knack. Not even nothing out the ordinary like kids at school who were doublejointed.
The other thing was the Christy business. It was right over the top. He got on your tits but it takes all sorts. He was just wired up different. I was half-pissed down the Merman with him once. I’d seen this thing on the telly about adoption and I said to him about how I used to think I was adopted. He said how he used to think he was autistic after he seen something on the telly about it. He was full of stuff like that.
There was just this different atmosphere starting with us lot. No prizes for guessing who I blame. Then maybe that’s just me knowing better afterwards. But even as early as that I felt like it was downhill from there onwards; downhill all the way.

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