“Jesus Spain killed those suckers,” Matt says.
The game was a total non-event but I was happy because I’d backed them to win the competition.
“Yeah it was a nice result alright. I put 300 quid on them to win the Euro’s so they’d better come through.”
“300 quid on a country who are perennial bottlers, and always choke in every major competition?”
“I know but I lost my arse on those United fuckers and I need to start recuperating some of it back.”
“Why how much did you lose on them?”
“A grand because of the ginger twat Scholes.”
“A grand and this on top of the 500 you lost on both Chelsea and England?”
“Yeah but I won 700 quid off Liverpool.”
“You’d want to watch that.”
“I know you actually forget it’s real money when you’re betting online. I’ve been going through a bit of a blip lately.”
Usually I’d consider myself a good gambler but lately I’m becoming a bit of a degenerate. With Liverpool always flattering to deceive, and Man U always scoring their customary late winner, football-like everything else in my life-just seemed pointless. I started out betting to make big games more interesting but then resorted to betting on irrelevant games I knew nothing about. Even when I won I lost because I’d get giddy and end up betting on whatever game happened to be on next, heavily backing an Italian team just because I’d heard of them.
“ING-GUR-LUN….ING-GUR-LUN…..” a few lads behind us start chanting but like a virus, it spreads quickly and it’s not long before the majority of the pub are infected.
“ING-GUR-LUN…ING-GUR-LUN…” the crowd chants louder.
“I hate the way everyone assumes we hate the English because we’re Irish. I hate the English because they’re English,” I say.
“What the fuck are they singing for? They didn’t even make the competition,” he says.
I look around and I can see the hate brewing. If there’s one thing the English know how to manufacture and export its violence. The gas thing about them is they don’t need something as trivial as a reason to kick off-it just comes natural.
“ING-GUR-LUN…ING-GUR-LUN…” the hate crescendo rises as tables, chairs, fists, and feet are banged. It’s only a matter of time.
SMASH.I don’t know how it began but by the time I turned around they were already at it.
Some young Pakistani lad is doing his best to fend off his aggressors. There are so many fists flying that I can’t make out the numbers involved. The Pakistani has taken a few digs but surprisingly has managed to stand his own. The group back off and I can see it’s four against one. Somewhere from the side a glass is thrown smashing the Pakistani lad straight in the face. No sooner has the first glass smashed that a shower of glasses from the original group rain down on the poor victim. Luckily most of them miss, except for one, which he shields off with his arm before running out the front door. The group give chase but now spontaneous fights are erupting in pockets throughout the pub as glasses fly through the air in every direction.
“WHO ARE YA, WHO ARE YA, WHO ARE YA” is chanted in the victims absence as if he were an away fan at the footie.
I look at Matt never having felt so Irish in my life.
“What the fuck do we do?” I say.
“Well we can’t move cause we’ll get caught up in the crossfire. Just stand perfectly still until we can make a break for it.”
The thing that scares me most about the violence isn’t the violence itself but the sheer randomness of it. It’s not just your stereotypical fat bald tank with “love” and “hate” tattooed on their knuckles, or men with pictures of wives, who have long since left, on their shoulders. It’s your average Mr. fucking 2.4 children. I watch as geeky middle-aged men with glasses hurl pints through the air, while their missus gives the youngest a pack of Walkers cheese and onion crisps. Fat old men with five bellies holler like hyenas overjoyed at some imaginary victory as they jump up and down on tables. The women are just as bad if not worse. I hear some middle-aged woman shout over her gin and tonic, “PAKI CANT GOT WOT HE DESERVED”, while others use it as a chat up line as it if it was an amusing ice-breaking anecdote “did you see when the glass smashed his face? His face was gushing”.
After ten minutes the party is in full swing and Matt spots an opening at the side entrance. We casually make our way towards the exit following two girls in front of us.
“Get your tits out for the lads,” a fat man who ironically looks like Roy Chubby Brown shouts out. A group of lads suddenly turn around from both sides and swarm around the women. “GET YOUR TITS OUT, GET YOUR TITS OUT, GET YOUR TITS OUT FOR THE LADS…GET YOUR TITS OUT FOR THE LADS.”
The poor women aren’t the usual tramps and look genuinely horrified. I see a few lads nudge each other pointing straight at the two of us. Fuck they must think we’re their boyfriends. Almost simultaneously the two girls turn around searching in vain for a knight in shining armour. One of the girls is really pretty and even amongst the chaos her blue eyes still sparkled as she looked me straight in the eyes. “GET YOUR TITS OUT FOR THE LADS,” I sing feeling myself die inside. It was like slowly gutting the lovable family dog Rover with a flimsy Stanley knife right in front of them. I watched her beautiful eyes drain of life and vitality as she crumbled right in front of me before bowing out the door with her head sunk, almost like she was ashamed of herself. Right then all the other lads broke out laughing and rubbed my head like I was some kind of hero. “Nice one geezer,” one of them said. I smiled playing up to what was now my darling public; slapping hands, and high fiving until I could finally leave.
“That was a close one,” Matt says.
“Yeah I could certainly do with a drink,” I say.
Outside isn’t much different with the neon lights from various pubs only serving to highlight the blood, piss, and puke stained roads. Groups of girls stagger and fall up the road, nestling down on street curbs while friends scream, or throw up. The lads swagger about the place like they own it waiting for the wrong person at the right time to inadvertently give them the eye. Food seems to placate a lot of the masses as they hungrily scoff down kebabs pouring most of it on to the street. Piss streams flow from nearly every alley, side entrance, bush, or relative dark spot, although a brazen few walk with their cock out, pissing as they go.
We walk into the first club we can find called Babylon and the place is empty which given what just happened makes it the perfect spot. I take a seat not far from the bar while Matt gets the first round in. The place is dark and featureless except for a blue light which illuminates the tiny dance floor. In the far corner I can see a young girl or women playing darts with what looks like her boyfriend. I still can’t make out if she’s a young girl who looks old or an old woman that looks young. Her boyfriend steps up to take his shot and straight away I’m in no doubt as to the lady in questions age. He’s not so much her boyfriend as he is her pimp. He must be at least in his fifties wearing a polo shirt which barely covers his beer gut, Hawaiian shorts, white socks and black sandals. It’s only on closer inspection that I see his mullet and a moustache. Jesus this poor girl is really earning her money. Matt slams the drinks down breaking my concentration.
“Did you catch a load of pimp daddy cassius over there?” I say.
“Yeah that’s some dead rat he’s got under his noise. I see his bird is pregnant as well-classy,” he says.
I’d only seen her from behind but looking over now I can see the bump in all its glory hanging over her hot pants. I down Matt’s crazy concoctions and head over to the bar for a top up. People are slowly beginning to trickle in as the girl takes another sip from her cocktail watching her pimp playing in silent awe. I bring the drinks back to the table and Matt looks quite excited.
“Your one over there seemed to be checking you out,” he says.
I turn around and see a couple of blonde girls hovering around the bar but neither displaying any tell tale signs.
“Are you sure?”
“HIV positive. Why don’t you go over there and chat her up?”
“Yeah sure, why not? And then afterwards I could take for a ride on my Harley Davidson a la the Fonze!”
“Sarcy prick. You’d swear I was asking you to stick your cock between her tits.”
“I know I just hate all that chatting up bullshit. And what if she’s not interested? I’m nowhere near that drunk.”
“You do okay for yourself.”
“The whole process feels like an interview and I hate always having to be “on”. The fear of rejection isn’t worth the potential payoff.”
“That why nothing ever happened with Kim?”
“Exactly.” The very mention of her name hurts.
“But she was mad about you. I’m 99% certain you would have had a chance.”
“I know but I keep thinking about the 1%. What if she rejects me? Then we can’t even be friends.”
Although now I’m worse than her friend-I’m her sister. Every time she goes on a date I’m subjected to every painstaking detail.
“Suppose, have you heard from her at all lately?”
“No I don’t really keep in contact with her anymore.”
The pain became too much. Having to advise her how far to go with her last date was the final straw. I seek the comfort of my drink but I’m not the only victim of this conversation as my pint has almost all but disappeared.
“Jesus Spain killed those suckers,” Matt says.