To get to RM’s I had to walk down through the top of town, past the Vulcan, past the kebab shop and then adjacent to the delight that is Wetherspoons. This journey had been fine for a long time. Unfortunately for me though, I had become fashionably corrupted by the RM’s massive in just the little while that I’d been there. On this evening, I wore, for the first time, baggy jeans. And when I say baggy, they could have doubled up as a gazebo. My mate Rob Meredith was going to sling them I think, and like the scab that I was, I took them off his hands. (Fuck knows who he nicked them from. Scott probably.)
And as I strolled passed Spoons, my jeans sweeping the grotty pavement beneath me, I was spotted by a local man who was more Neanderthal than Sapian.
“What the fuck are they bonzo?”
The man looked like he had spent his life smashing his head against a railway sleeper.
“Jeans mate, just jeans”.
As if my calm response was going to calm him. No chance.
“Absolutely no women are into that shit. Normal jeans, that’s what you need. You won’t even get into Kooler with them on.”
I knew he was wrong. I had been wearing normal jeans for years and may as well have been invisible. And also, he clearly hadn’t heard of Ceri Collins. Ceri Collins. Even his name rolls of the tongue. Ceri Collins. Never had I been so jealous of another human. Met him when I was a kid, been jealous of him ever since. Ceri Collins. Say it with me. Ceri Collins. Feel’s good doesn’t it?
I made it up the British Tip – the strangest named incline in the whole of Wales. The smell of weed was wonderful, but I wasn’t yet interested in its benefits. The bouncers were already at the bottom of the stairs, with the pensioners in the bottom bar, all witty and well-watered. I gave the upstairs bar a quick once-over, but there wasn’t really much point. In a few minutes the doors were opening and this bar was about to get well and truly soiled.
What if he was right though, the Wetherspoons gargoyle? What if I had decreased my chances with the opposite sex by throwing on my mate’s unwanted jeans? Nah surely not. Sean Smith is wearing far crazier shit, and he’s with Claire Thomas. And look, over there is Dale, dressed like he’s just climbed out of MTV2 – you telling me his attire is off-putting to the ladies?
And look there’s, oh great. There’s Ceri Collins. At my bar. Ceri Collins. Even his fucking name. Look at him. He’s wearing make-up and he still looks more manly than me. Gav, the other barman on shift, gone out for a fag, even though we’ve just opened up, so it’s just me. I’ve got to serve this boy-god from Heolgerrig. Heolgerrig. Oh look at us we have a golf club. Well lardy fucking dar, my brother drives a Ford Escort, so have some of that.
“What you drinking Cer?”
“Best barman in the Valleys you are. You know me Al, straight-edge mate. Anything but alcohol.”
Of course you are. I mean, was it too much to ask for you to have secret alcohol dependencies? Or maybe you could have been an out and out twat. But noooooooo , you have to be a really nice fella making good decisions. Look at his hair. Look at it!!!! How can it look so good whatever colour you dye it, however long you have it, whichever way you style it. And now look at my hair. Look at it!!! Like the pubic shame of a sheep. If my hair was a style, that’s what it would be called. Sheep shame.
The evening had an angsty feel, which happened from time to time. There’d been a scrap early doors and I think some of the Cyfarthfa girls had fallen out. It felt fragile. But then in the end, all the DJ has to play is Lincoln Park’s ‘In the end’. And together we remember that it doesn’t even matter.
The air cleared to the jumps and lashes of the mosh pit. Sean and Claire looked divine, obviously. Hayley, Linzi and Crem making the place look heavenly. And hello, what’s this. A girl? A real girl? Stood, at the end of my bar? But she has a drink in her hand already. Why doth she linger with such an overt flirt in her eyes? (Ok, don’t lead with that pube head.)
“Everything ok with your drink?”
I asked, but of course I knew the answer. I’d served her, the drink was bastard wonderful.
“Yeah it’s lush. You’re Alex yeah? Can I ask you something quite forward?”
Shit the bed, it’s happening. My insecurities drifting way back down the British Tip, back to Spoons to the gargoyle who insulted me. ‘Have that, you horrible tool, look where my jeans have got me now. Look at Rob Meredith’s jeans!!! And look at my hair! Worship the Sheep shame. Worship it!!!
“Yeah of course, quite forward is good.”
Ok, my brother is close by and he might have heard me say that shitty line. Ah yes he’s definitely heard me. He’s laughing with Wakey and Smilesy. They won’t be laughing in a minute when I’m getting this girl’s landline. (Please go to Afon Taff, please go to Afon Taff.)
“Ok, so, this is a bit weird. But can you introduce me to Ceri Collins?”
For fuck sake. Ceri Collins.