I think I was suffering some kind of precocious mid life crisis. Iâ€™d been accepted to Uni and opted to have a year out instead. Partly through fear and partly to give myself the chance to master a deadly martial art so Iâ€™d be able to kill monkeys simply by slapping them lightly on the back. Whodahhhhhh!
Sadly it wasnâ€™t to be and after a very cushy few months spent on an EU grant supported language â€˜exchangeâ€™ programme (there was no exchange, they just paid for eight of us to go and piss around in France and get wasted really), I found myself with THC weeping from Playstation weary eyes round at my mates house. It was good and bad. Non productive on the life advancement front but Iâ€™m pretty damn capable at Tekken 2 now. Eventually my ears started to ache from the battering waves of my motherâ€™s insistent nagging and I had to find a job. As luck would have it, the end of my motherâ€™s patience coincided with a phone call from an employment agency I vaguely remembered registering with. Would I like to work at the Western Docks, alongside the ailing and technologically confusing hovercrafts? They kindly agreed to take 50p an from my Â£6 an hour wage if I would â€“ who could resist? I began the next day, my trusted half-ton Townsend mountain bike dragging me down the hill to be clad out in some itchy polyester trousers, a clip-on tie and a ludicrously fashioned waist coat. Dressed like a fallen gent in brightly coloured man-made fibres, I was to patrol the lines of waiting cars and try and tempt their passengers in to sample the wears of the run down Duty Free shop with my secret weapon : shite scratch cards.
The gig itself was alright, except that they made us wear luminous yellow jackets over our already adequate trainee tramp clobber. We began at 5am and the early mornings were fine, but when the summer sun came up it was oppressively hot down by the sea. Still, we only worked 8 hour shifts, so there was a golden slice of non-work life to be had in the afternoons and early evenings. I took the opportunity to rekindle my still fledgling social skills in the local pub where my mate was working. We played pool and tried to pretend everyone didnâ€™t know we were permanently caned. Until a particularly pink-eyed evening when one cocky cock-muncher was loudly telling his mongrel pet to â€œGET THE SKUNK, MURPHY! FIND THE SKUNK!â€. The fucking pleb. But I digress.
Perhaps because I was turning up looking a bit dead-beat and booze damaged, some of the Scouse, Geordie and Glaswegien degenerates, who made a living doing â€˜non-landersâ€™ to bootleg fags and booze, began to see me as a potential friend. Somehow, I ended up making some extra money selling some of the scratch card prizes, although why anyone would want to pay for the crap we were offering Iâ€™m not sure. Perhaps it was the extra act of crime involved â€“ the fiver expertly concealed under a losing ticket and reciprocated with the stone faced handing over of shades or keyring. We werenâ€™t supposed to like the fag runners, so it was frowned upon whenever they won at the scratch cards. Whenever one of the decent prizes had to be handed out, like the 90 stone Raleigh Mountain Bike, a nice white family was carefully chosen and asked to play the scratch card game by the Day Supervisor.
Once I was drinking in the local pub after work with a friend of a friend Iâ€™d bumped into. A lively guitarist fucker with mad eyes named Craig. After the icebreaking 5th pint, the inevitable explanation for the mad eyes came to the lager drenched fore â€“ Cocaine. Would I like some? Yeah, why not. Did I like it? Oh yes, with a fist clenched tightly and pointed straight to the motherfucking sky I liked it. I liked it a lot. But did it like me? â€œWho gives a fuck mate, Iâ€™m invincible. Have I told you about myself lately? Oh, I have, well youâ€™ll just have to hear it again then wonâ€™t you, because I am fucking awesomeâ€. Such was my winning mentality during that brief period. Only chance and a residue of intuition saved me from becoming one of those geezers without teeth who sit outside your local shop examining the bunions on their blackened feet and asking unconvincingly for 26p to go and visit a sick relative in the neighbouring town.
After another summer afternoon spent bouncing self important, drug-fuelled twaddle at each otherâ€™s impenetrable ear drums, I was invited back to Craigâ€™s for a taste of the latest gak. On the way we ran into a few familiar faces from the docks â€“ haggard and hard looking fag runners from the wrong part of Liverpool. It turned out they knew Craig too. It may have been the realisation of this fact that began the subtle ringing of alarm bells in my head. For the time being though, it was all jovial and off we went together to get coked up.
These people were devious but they were no actors. Even through the chemical haze of my own brilliance, I knew something bad was cooking. And then there it was â€“ the hoover bag was removed to reveal a large zip-lock pouch stuffed full of crack. And, would you believe it? I was the lucky lad chosen to take it for a walk through customs through to a drop off point when I started back at work the next week. My prize would be Â£500 in cash and a couple of grams of C for each delivery. It was presented to me like an opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands, knowing that there wouldnâ€™t be any choice with the fuckers when it came down to it. So, they were happy and I retained my dignity. For the few brief sweaty hours it took me to get my stuff together and catch a northern bound train. I left for Uni 2 weeks early and spent a shaky week in Blackpool reassessing my ability to judge characters and calling home frequently to appease my paranoia about any potential reprisals. All was well and when the time came I embraced the safe, home made soup environment of student life. All was rosy and the memory of those Orcs in track suits kept me stress free for an entire term. But it never takes long to find other ways to complicate life does it?