29 June 2010

Faded Lois Dreams.


Here's a little passage from the forthcoming book 'Faded Lois Dreams' from Andrew Vaughan available to buy soon.
"Andrew Vaughan's 'Faded Lois Dreams' is the tale of a northern footy lad residing in London on the cusp of what would become known as 'Casual.' It thankfully avoids many of the genre's clichés and instead offers an emotional and intelligent insight into the mindset of a young man trying to make his mark in the big city, a city that is described in meticulous detail; the pubs, the buses, the shops, the football grounds, the sights, the sounds, the smells of a London and a fan culture that has largely disappeared in the past three decades". Phil Thornton.
I'm not really a staying-in-on-Friday night type of guy but sometimes needs must. Especially as there is a gang of us going to Peppermint Place for cocktails and burgers later tonight.
Listen to me...fucking cocktails. But first I'm going down to Finsbury Park to try and get a ticket for the QPR and West Brom FA Cup semi-final at Highbury. Yeah, QPR. My second team. My London team. The R's, the Super Hoops. That great 1975/6 team when they almost won the league.
Parkes Clement, Gillard, Francis, Thomas and the others. And, of course Stan Bowles. My hero. A genius.
Coming down to London when I was fifteen to watch the great man. Songs of Steve Harley buzzing around my head while reggae music seeps out of the doorways of Shepherd's Bush and I sneak a Guinness in to wash down the Jamaican patties. This land of Steptoe & Son and on this clear beautiful Saturday in London N10 it is poignant to note that young Steptoe passed away a couple of weeks ago. Harry H Corbett, just fifty seven years of age. A heart attack. A complex man by all accounts. Filled my Saturday evenings with joy when I was younger. Him and his dirty old man of a father. West London rag and bone men yet ironically Corbett was brought up in Manchester . As was Bowles. Yet Bowles had that west London swagger. A beautiful footballer that helped transform QPR into a major side. Yet for QPR - that rise from the third division to the first one man was there all the way through. He won't be here today because Dave Clement - that elegant, accomplished full back that played four hundred and seventy two games for QPR is no longer with us. Thirty four years of age and - according to the papers - suffering from severe depression as he feared his career was over due to a broken leg he took his own life during the week.
Couldn't face life without football. One of the greatest distributors of a ball from the back and one of Rangers' finest couldn't face life without football. Today is for Dave. The boys from W12 will make sure of that. I change into my Saturday best. Warm enough to go without a coat I slip on my blue and white Benetton rugby shirt. Hoop across the front. Blue hoop for Dave Clement on this bright blue beautiful day. Lois jeans, laundered and crisp. Vent cut in the seam and sewed perfectly by Gal's mum. A seamstress by trade she sorts us lads' clothes out. Does the mum bit for us single fellas far away from home. And the jeans nestled perfectly onto the Forest Hills . Cleaned especially. The Lacoste belt from Tenerife with the metal crocodile on show. Watch glistening as the sun sneaks through the net curtains showing 11.38 and time to go. Wave to Ranvir, who beckons me over.. The shop is empty and she wants to chat. Dad's at the cash and carry so Capital Radio is playing loud. Filling the streets of Muswell Hill with some of the latest pap. She looks good. Tight faded jeans, white blouse unbuttoned - more than usual - to reveal a glimpse of cleavage and the patterns on her bra. Beautiful brown skin, perfect white teeth and painted toes. "Hey Rich, you look alright. "Well better than normal, anyway." "Stayed in last night. "Football today and Peppermint Place tonight. "You fancy it?" "The football, nah. "Wouldn't mind the burger place though." "Well come along." "I'd love to but you know. "Plus I wouldn't trust you." "And you'd be right there." I smile and turn. Left out of the shop and knock the window near to where she's sat. She blows me a kiss and I feel good. Really fucking good. As I get on the bus I feel guilty about feeling good. Think about Dave Clement and how I get so depressed at times But that depressed? I don't know. Maybe football's all he had. But no, the papers say he was married and had children and well... football's not that special. Girls and love and sex and music and clothes but most of all girls. Surely. A kiss from Ranvir. Her beautiful body. Her nose. Just ever so slightly too big. And her big brown eyes that can change from lonely to darting. From sad to sparkling in a matter of seconds. Football's good but it's not that good. It's simple, straightforward whilst women and sex are so complicated. Obtuse, awkward, intriguing, confusing, unobtainable and alluring. And everything else. I snap out of it. I have to. It's football and my second team is in the semi-final of the FA Cup.
I jump off the bus before Finsbury. Clear my head and notice the sky has clouded over. The pubs are rammed. West Brom everywhere. A smattering of boys all dressed-up but in the main a boisterous set of barmies. I make my way to the ground. Down the Blackstock Road looking for some QPR faces. The Plimsoll Arms is solid QPR... at last. I grab a lager and by the time I've took the top off it I've sorted a ticket out. Talk about Dave Clement puts a strange lilt on matters. This isn't what it should be. Ninety minutes from Wembley and all that.
The game is grim but Bob Hazell shepherds Cyrille Regis out the game and the R's go through one nil. I slip in and out of the gaps through the gates and away from the celebrating super hoops. Around the backs to Holloway Road and pick a 43 up to the Angel, dive onto a 73 and alight by The Rising Sun. Few have been working so I check the scores with them. Some northern kid called Geoff's just started. Right little Perry Boy and all. Seems to have fitted in just fine. Likes a beer, the footy and his music. Got an eye for the girls. Seen him chatting to Val Bombone. Our Italian goddess. She's our Sophia Loren. Trestles of thick brown hair and curves - what curves. She's impenetrable in all senses of the word but best of luck to the kid. It'll be fun trying... Signorita Bombone is not one of the Rising Sun crowd. In fact there are none of our girls here this early evening and that's good. Tonight's just a few of us going for a meal at Peppermint's. Have a chat about football and drink too much. The others are due in an hour - so make that an hour and a half with their timekeeping. I get a Guinness and join Elt, Martin and Perry Boy at the bar. Early Saturday evening. Few shoppers, office workers and the odd few out for the night. The sirens of Tottenham Court Road are blaring outside while in here we are cocooned against the harsh realities of city life. I like pubs when they are like this. Elt flashes a couple of foreign girls a smile and offers them a light for their cigarette.
They seem content with their own company and that's fair enough. Cheryl walks in and shouts me from the door. "Rich, get me a drink mate." "Sure what's up?" She's shaking as she tells me the tale. On her way home after work and a middle-aged woman's only gone and jumped. Northern Line southbound and stood right by Cheryl. The girl has her own demons she doesn't need this. She's done what I would have done and simply turned and gone back up the escalators and out of the hell hole that is the London tube system. There was no sound. The woman didn't scream.
The driver would have seen her too late but will now see her for the rest of his life. Cheryl's crying. I say to Elton: "I'll let you know later." I lend her a tenner so she can buy herself a brandy and Babycham and get me a Guinness. Insists on going the bar. Her tough upbringing means she'll battle through this and as she's at the bar I think about that tube system. Some girl we know her brother either fell -or jumped - underneath one. It's too easy. You can hear the train approaching. Feel the warm wind coming down the tunnel. One step, maybe two. Time it correctly and it's over. Ten, twenty, thirty or more years of torture can be obliterated. Easy way out. Easier than drinking weed killer - which is what it is rumoured Dave Clement did - I'm sure. But it isn't for me. I hope not any way. Tone, Dell and Gal are here. I explain about Cheryl and we decide to fuck the food off. There will be other times. Now is for beer and getting our heads around things.
I walk Cheryl down to Centrepoint for her bus. Not sure what to say or do really. Tell her I'll speak to her Monday. Let her boss know if she isn't it. She'll be in. Tough girl. The evening turns into night. Elton is paralytic. Perry Boy's nicking ashtrays, glasses, cigarettes and all sorts as we move through Fitzrovia from pub to pub. Or the ones that are open on a Saturday night. The White Hart, the Fitroy, Newman and finishing in the One Tun for the free jukebox and biker girls. By last orders we've had enough. Gal and Tone wait with me for the 134 before tottering off home to King's Cross and the Angel. I make it upstairs and read my programme and before I know it I'm off the bus outside the house. Home? Safe. With thoughts for Dave Clement and Cheryl and sleep...

3 comments:

  1. Brilliantly selected passage - will definately be looking forward to reading this, Good Post

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  2. Looks like a top read this

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  3. Yes - looking forward to reading the whole book!

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