I’ve had a blog for a very long time. Over 20 years. Recently I’ve been thinking how it’d be nice to bring back some of the better old posts, once a week. I’m going to start with a series that I did back in 2009, before Blood on the Motorway was but a twinkle in my eye. I’d asked for seven one blog topics from people on Twitter and got some of my best blog material as a result. So, here’s the first, a suggestion from someone called @punk_beatz, but their account doesn’t exist any more. The passage of time, eh? his post was first published August 25th, 2009.
Back in my university days, when I lived in Sunderland, my friends and I found ourselves frequenting on particular takeaway with remarkable frequency. Back then there was only one alternative club night worth mentioning in Sunderland, and that was on Tuesdays at the terribly named Pzazz nightclub.
Opposite said establishment was an eatery whose name escapes me now, but we used to go with such frequency that when we entered the staff behind the counter used to greet us by name and immediately start our orders without questioning. Every Tuesday night, a large garlic bread with cheese. And I wondered why I could never pull at the end of the night.
One night, however, my choice of late-night haute-cuisine actually saved my life, or at the very least saved me a beating. Of my friends, one was a mild-mannered chap by the name of Ben, the other a slightly more fiery Scot by the name of Ian. One thing I should mention about Sunderland is that it’s pretty rough in the city centre, especially on the weekends. For these reasons, most of the non-dance nights used to take place on a weekday evening so as to avoid throwing the 200 or so alternative kids in the city onto the same streets as the ‘townies’ at two in the morning.
On this occasion, however, we stumbled out of Pzazz all full of vodka jelly and beer and mirth and into said eatery, only to be confronted by the sight of disconsolate looking staff, who all looked towards the far corner of the room as we walked in.
Naturally our eyes followed theirs and in the corner we saw five gigantic skinheads in Fred Perry tops staring back at us. Naturally, we turned our attention straight away from them and back to the counter. We ordered, careful not to turn our attention back behind us.
Once we ordered we started talking to the staff as usual, but quickly the man behind the counter retreated into the kitchen, and we heard a voice behind us. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ Turning, we saw one of the larger of the herd staring at us, malice in his eyes.
‘Um, ordering?’ I said, trying as hard as possible to show with my face a level of cowardice that would render any ensuing fight to be pointless. Instead of retorting, he simply shook his head and walked back to his table. We waited for a few minutes in silence before being handed our food and tried to leave unnoticed.
Back on the street, we wondered aloud what the hell that had been about, and then, foolishly, Ian looked back into the shop and made the sort of gesture that could only end badly for us. Without a word the skinheads got up from their table and ran out to follow us. We pegged it.
We were chased down the street, all the while scrambling to hold on to our food. We rounded a corner onto the high street and I lost control of the big box in my hand, spilling my delicious looking supper all over the street. Cursing, I turned and continued to run.
We stopped a little further along to see if we were still being pursued, just in time to see one of the skinheads round the corner and put one of his boots onto a large slice of garlic bread with cheese. He immediately lost his footing and slid backwards, falling backwards into a shop window, which luckily held, He slumped to the floor with a force that suggested he wouldn’t be immediately getting back up.
As his friends rounded the corner, they came across their leader lying stricken on the floor and stopped. Without waiting to see any more, we ran on into the night, now completely sober and with me suddenly very hungry. And that is how one night a garlic bread with cheese saved my life.