International Writers Magazine: Life
in a Northern Town a long time ago
Summer Super Time Ra-Ra-Ra
been teasing my hair now for a solid twenty minutes trying to get
some life into the pink and blue highlights in my blonde feathery
mop. I know its twenty minutes because thats when The
Tube had started on Channel 4, which is idly playing Jools Holland
chatting away to Aztec Camera in the corner of my bedroom. Ill
pay more attention when Paula Yates comes on, if I have the time.
Id love to be her, if I have the chance.
I grumble noisily
sending the straighteners clattering across my desk into a selection
of Care Bears. Sulkily I place the black kohl round my eyes and place
a beret on top of my spiky locks. Itll have to do. Ive been
out of work since half past three-I work as a summer casual at the local
dole office, oh the joy! Hehe- having told my manager I had a dentist
appointment all because I want to look good for tonight. Im definitely
a Thank God Its Friday kinda girl, you sort of have
to be if youre young and living in Filey.
You see were a little seaside town in Yorkshire so Saturday nights
get full of holidaymakers and that is just crap if youre local.
So we reclaim the town on Fridays and I love it. I dont get any
hassle from my folks, Mum will be up at bingo in Scarborough with Gran
tonight and Dad will be happy with a couple of tinnies and Bergerac
on the box before hes up bright and early tomorrow with his boat.
It sounds posh that doesnt it? Having a boat, but its nothing
special. Its hardly Howards Way -I wish it were! We live
in a little council house but nearly everyone in our street of exactly
the same looking little council houses has a boat in the front yard,
its that kind of town. The sea is in their blood or some such
crap. Mum sometimes moans at Dad to sell the sodding thing and move
up the road to Scarborough, but he wont.
I can hear the front door bell, that means Geoffs here to pick
me up, quick roll up of my orange fishnets, smooth down the Ra-Ra skirt
and Im off down the stairs just as Dad is shouting "Shelley!"
Geoffs a nice lad, quite hunky too apart from the big hawky nose,
and hes not short of cash Im told. He lives in Scarborough
and I know him through Marty from work, I give him a little peck and
he squeezes my bum causing me to squeal which he laughs at but then
I think what the hell and do a little whoop at the end of my squeal
cos its Friday, its summer, and we are out. Geoffs
car is his pride and joy, its a red XR3I or something, I just
see a Ford badge and the colour myself but he tells me its really
something else knowingly. Hes a boy racer, he even has the
furry dice that make me chuckle. We zoom off to the sounds of his cassette
of Level 42.
Were off to pick up Marty who lives a couple of streets away from
me. I like Marty but a lot of people think hes a bit odd. I suppose
he is, but sometimes I think its just an act, like I see him properly
at times without the silliness and then hes very kind and generous,
hed do anything for you. Like that night I was pissed in Scarborough
after celebrating passing my O Levels. It was the first time I had ever
really had a lot to drink and Marty was out with a couple of lads and
he came over and helped me get a cab and took me home. He even paid
the fare; I was too smashed to even know what was going on and I only
vaguely knew him back then as someone who lives near me. He never tried
anything on, he just wanted to make sure I was ok and gave his night
up for that. He called on me the next day with a little card saying
Congratulations cos apparently all I was talking about
all the way home was getting my results. He never asked for any money,
wouldnt take it.
Were at Martys street and hes lying on the communal
lawn in the middle of the road in a long jacket that swamps his skinny
body and a little pork pie hat. See what I mean about odd? He likes
The Cure too. Hes older than me, 19 I think but nearly
20, Im 18. Marty went to school with Geoff and theyve been
mates on and off ever since. You wouldnt think it too look at
them cos theyre so different but they work well together,
they have their own little language like a code and are always sniggering
into their pints. Sometimes Marty calls Geoff Geoffrey in
a George kind of voice from Rainbow that always makes me laugh, I hope
he does it tonight. Hes got up now and hes put his rolled
up NME to his eye as if hes Nelson or something, Geoffs
just called him a Benny and to get in the car. He isnt
being nasty I think its just something we do up here. Marty moans
about Level 42; hes into proper music and acts a bit
like Jools Holland or even John Peel at times, who I quite like on Top
Of The Pops even though I dont get his gags- but I like the daft
clothes him and the Canadian guy, Kid something, wear-however despite
his moaning I see him tapping his fingers along to Something About
You on the dash as Geoff revs off and I have a nose at his NME.
Next stop is Emmas. Emma is my best mate since infants. Shes
wicked. She comes running out the house shouting and singing "Shiny
Summer Super Time Ra-Ra-Ra!" which for a couple of years now has
been our little rallying cry for the summer. Though this summer has
been the best summer ever and worthy of the shout, official. Emma dresses
a little less way out than me. I suppose shes the more level headed
of us two, already shes going all ooh at what Im
wearing in a way that says shes a bit startled by it. Im
kinda hoping she might pair off with Marty. Fingers crossed, though
they hardly look at each other as we drive off. Im not sure about
Marty, Ive never seen him with a girl, but Geoff assures me he
isnt poofy. Theres a suggestion he has been hurt
in the past. He tells me I didnt miss anything in work for the
last hour or so and that his contract has just been extended for after
the summer and he hopes mine will be too as itll be a drag without
me his words. I hope so too as Im not sure about college
at the mo and I dont really want to think about it either. I just
want the fun to carry on.
We drive about for an hour or so, into Scarborough and up and down the
front, talking and laughing and playing silly games like I have
never as we go along and we all feel really brilliant, well I
do anyway! The sun is still out and its nice and warm but not boiling
hot, which I hate. The air is electric tonight and as sweet as honey,
I say this but get a funny look off Geoff. Emma defends me by explaining
Ive always been a nature girl and says things that others cant
really see. But I do, I really think tonight is so special, the whole
summer is and I feel alive. Im working Ive got my own money
in my purse and Im happy damn it!
We park up for a bit. Geoff wants to go the pictures. Theres a
film on called Highlander that hes raving about but none
of us seem sure. Marty has created some bizarre concoction in the car
with a few cans of Top Deck Pop and a bottle of Cider he had in his
huge jacket pocket. It tastes amazing and makes me feel a bit giddy.
We sit off in the car and on the pavement feeling the breeze coming
in over the sea wall and having tuned the radio into Radio 1 we have
a big sing along really loud and noisy to Lloyd Coles Rattlesnakes,
which we all love. I love the opening bit; it really does sound the
most summery thing ever and again makes me feel on fire. Some local
knob heads around our age with really pimply skin and white vests start
sniffing round trying to spoil our fun. One of them starts leering at
Emma and making comments about her chest, which makes her very nervous.
Geoff tells them in a firm way to clear off but Marty starts calling
them gypsy swine which makes me laugh but makes them a bit
eager to start something. Suddenly Geoff shouts for us to run and he
pushes the bigger one clean over. Marty jumps into the front driving
seat and me and Emma run quickly into the back. Marty revs the car up
just as Geoff jumps into the back with us and pulls his chinos down
to reveal his bare arse out of the window at the gang of lads! We find
this hilarious, Ive certainly never seen Geoffs bum before!
Then Geoff starts panicking cos Marty hasnt passed his driving
test or even had a proper lesson! So we pull into a side street and
they swap around, Geoff back at his beloved wheel.
After that kick we decide we should go to the pub so its back
into Filey town and the local pub that a few kids our age and older
usually hang in. We go and sit in the little beer garden as its
so nice and there are only us and a little old man with his dog there.
Its really good here cos youre outside and enjoying the weather
but you still feel like youre in the pub cos the landlord
pipes the music out into here and you only have to walk through a tiny
dark porch to get to the bar and order your drinks or play on the fruit
machine as Geoff keeps sloping off to do pretending hes helping
Marty with the drinks.
Its around 9 now, the night has gone brilliantly, Ive had a few
Cider and Blacks but not enough to send me mental, just enough to make
me relaxed and happy, though Emma feels a little worse for wear. Marty
is looking after her though, which is really sweet and hes been
dead funny all night, ribbing Geoff with the Rainbow voice, which made
Emma laugh so much her Pepsi and Vodka came down her nose! Then the
most beautiful song comes on, Life In A Northern Town by Dream
Academy with its echoey bits mingling with the sound of our very own
tide coming in just down the hill. I feel I can stand outside myself
for a moment as we all sit there swaying a little and singing along
and I savour the moment feeling the song is for us and about us as the
balmy cool crisp sea air settles and the reddish sun is streaking the
clear blue sky we have enjoyed as day turns to night. Its completely
beautiful to be young alive and so happy this summer. I do not want
it to ever end. I want to be here this age forever and then Geoff touches
my arm and I look at him and I feel I can swim in his big eyes, we move
closer and kiss to the sound of Ooohs! and Go on!
and drumming on the wooden bench from Marty and Emma and the braying
of that little old mans dog in the corner. I start giggling into
Geoffs mouth and our teeth knock and we have to stop necking.
We both smile a little shyly and I say "Cheers Guys" sarkily
but really, I mean it, because I am so thankful for being here loving
life and having friends like these.
This is the best summer ever, with the best Life in the best Northern
Town. Its my Shiny Summer Super time so
Ra Ra- Ra!!!
© Mark Cunliffe March 2008
by Mark Cunliffe
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