Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Little Bit Of History Repeating (Part IV - More War, Sex & Recession)

I watched the slug crawl across the carpet, my eyes still hazy from the caustic vapours rising from my mouth.
I couldn't tell through the bloodshot, whether this morning's temperatures were spiked with window frost or condensation?
The tinny voice in the clock-radio on the floor confirmed frost.
And an announcement that several thousand public sector workers were to lose their jobs.
Color Me Badd then sexed-up sleepy Wiltshire without our consent, followed by GWR FM's looped infomercial on AIDS, sandwiched perfectly with Salt 'n Pepa talking about sex. Again. Baby.

Swindon. March. 1991.

The single bed was cold, yet heavily indented, and wet.
Was that sweat?
She was certainly a big girl if I remembered correctly.
It wasn't legacy.
It was condensation. She had obviously left a lot earlier.
She'd also scrawled her telephone number on my mirror, in lipstick, and circled it in a defiant flourish.
A cosmetic loveheart that looked more like an arse.

Dodging the fag butts and used condoms, and kicking over a heavily fingerprinted glass of Thunderbird, I stumbled to the dressing table and tried to remove Revlon's greasy message.
This month's paltry wage had already been spunked on three successive nights out, and I was now in desperate need of Windolene.
I switched on the portable black & white telly and fiddled with the blu-tack+coat hanger aerial.
It was 8-27am.
And we were still at war.

I'd been made redundant three times since Saddam had invaded Kuwait, and both sides were now hurling missiles at each other indiscriminately.
Was this the beginnings of World War III?
Was this even a war?
The comics I had read as a child never featured saturation bombing or scuds.
Dresden and Guernica were never considered battles or combat.
Just fuck-off punctuation marks.

My head pounded with unsuitable empathy.
The guy who rented the upstairs room had switched on his Montego's engine and left it idling while it defrosted.
This was a less than salubrious area of town, and I couldn't help thinking how trusting he was. The car was worth less than a tenner but the cost of a barrel of oil had just reached unprecedented heights.

The slug had stopped.

I made the decision for the second time that week, not to go to work.
What was the point?
My commission-based job wasn't paying any commission, and there was little I could do about it.
A typical day would involve punting out-of-work accountants into a soul destroying void of joblessness.
I was in 'recruitment'.
And I needed a new career.
And I also badly needed to pay my £30 a week rent.
I was an itinerant temp without baggage.
Or a car.

By 9-30am, Cheese had arrived unexpectedly.
He had important news. A mutual friend from back-home had been involved in a near-fatal car crash, and was critically ill in hospital.
Cheese took one look at the crimson coloured mirror, another look at the slug on the carpet, and said "Come on. We're getting you out of here".

We sang Oleta Adams all the way along the M4.
We arrived in Surrey before Hannah Gordon had begun introducing the guest artist on Watercolour Challenge.
I offered Cheese a fiver for the petrol, and he laughed.

You can reach me by caravan
Cross the desert like an Arab man
I don't care if you get here
Just, get here if you can......

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