|Here is where it will end. But where is here?|
Tony looked down at the bar when I mentioned the violent thugs we had known. He looked down and thought about Glen. Tony had worshipped Glen. He had idolised Glen. He had always said that Glen was the brother he had never had. But now Glen was gone. Dead. Cremated and scattered. Gone from our lives, because he had played with fire. Tony finished his second drink, and getting the attention of the barmaid, he ordered more drinks. He then said that we had to think about the future.
The future? If it was to be anything like our past, then I reckoned that we were doomed, because people like Tony and me are on a downward slope from the day we are born, until the day we die. And if there is the occasional day when the sun brightens our lives, and warms our tired faces, there are so many more when rainclouds hang over us, and the only sky we can see is dirty and grey. No, we have no future, and as the pretty barmaid with yellow teeth slammed down our glasses of whisky on the bar, I could see from the corner of my eye that Tony knew what I was thinking, and he knew that I was right.
Tony grunted. His glass was stained with lipstick. He had been served whisky in a dirty glass. I can’t say that I was surprised. The pub was dirty. The lads fooling around in the corner were dirty. Their language was dirty. The barmaid with the yellow teeth was dirty. I imagined that the toilets were dirty. The bar was dirty. The ashtrays were dirty. The street in which the pub was standing was dirty. The people who made their way to and from the shops were dirty. We had left southeast London – which is also dirty – to find ourselves in another part of the world which was just as dirty and depressing. If the future was here, and we had turned the page, I reckoned that we had made a false start.
Tony slammed his fist down on the bar. A few of the lads looked at us, and then the barmaid with yellow teeth made an appearance. We may have been down and out, but we were entitled to clean glasses. She flashed us a forced smile, and taking the glass in her small hand, she held it up. Tony sighed. In our favourite pub, in southeast London, we had never once been served a drink in a dirty glass. Never! Never! Never! And now, in Brighton, we were expected to drink from glasses stained with a slag’s lipstick.
Tony stood up and wanted to say something offensive. I knew what he was thinking. Our favourite pub in southeast London was no longer our favourite pub, because we had finished with London, and so we had finished with our favourite pub. Dirty glasses and dirty pubs were all we had to look forward to, as we drifted aimlessly through life, until we found another safe haven in which to rest our weary bodies, and reconstruct our lives.
There were too many lads in the corner giving us evil stares, and when one of them told Tony that he was a fucking cunt, we realised that perhaps it was time to move on. Of course, such insolence would never have been accepted back at home, because Tony commanded respect, and if there was a problem to be resolved, Glen could always be relied upon in Tony’s hour of need. But we were a long way from home, and Glen was gone. Tony just muttered an obscenity, and turning as fast as his overweight frame would allow, he walked out of the pub.
Extract taken from "The Londoners Trilogy - Four Years In London" Out now on kindle via Amazon.