Over 24-hours away from my laptop and internet seems like an almost insurmountable aeon. Having returned home from a day away the BT internet keeps cutting out in the middle of watching Futurama on TV Shack. It’s usually been reliable, if overpriced, but recently has been playing up. Hopefully it can keep it together for me to rattle off this blog post, possibly watch something else before retiring with a book and a brew.
We went out in Hanley (Stoke-on-Trent) last night for a friend’s belated birthday celebration. We arrived at her house in a new build estate, surrounded by tiny show homes and sprawling building sites peppered with cement silos. Beer and punch were quickly and copiously imbibed before piling into taxis and riding into town. Hanley is hideous. The worse thing I can think to say about it is it reminds me of Preston. The town centre is nice-ish, as are the outlying suburbs, but the areas between are scary crumbling hovels and pointlessly complex roundabout-obsessed road layouts.
At Walkabout my girlfriend and another female friend were having a little dance on a slightly raised area beside the dance floor. Nearby a group of four men began leering and made a move in her direction. They looked like Sid the Sexist’s group of friends. Looking resplendent in their finest tracksuits, either rough looking for their age, or pushing too old to be behaving like that. One of them, a wiry ugly looking fucker, reached out and grabbed my girlfriend’s leg. I immediately stepped up. That’s right; it was on.
I knock his arm out of the way and stepped in front of him. The details of the conversation are mostly vague, but I remember some of the exchange. I definitely told him to behave like a gentleman, perhaps not in those exact words. He said, “There’s four of us, and one of you.” I said something brave and manly like, “I don’t care how numerous your gang of ruffians are, you don’t touch her.”
By this point I noticed that although his friends still stood beside him, they didn’t seem to be backing him up too much. I expect they realised she wasn’t available, and the path toward her was blocked by an impenetrable wall of Kevin... a short spectacled chap in glasses, who was also (in the spirit of our planned trip to The Club gay bar) wearing a touch of eyeliner. Luckily for me I had completely forgotten about the eyeliner. Perhaps this made me look a tiny bit mental.
(P.S. Not eyeliner... guyliner, apparently... What’s mascara? Misterscara... does that work? Lipstick becomes... chapstick... that doesn’t work...)
He continued on an angry rant, getting in my face and shouting. Because of the music, and my conviction that he was an idiot, I couldn’t really tell what he was saying, but it was along the lines of “fuck off and mind your own business or me and my cohorts will lay a beating upon you”. I remained stalwart; defending my fair maiden’s honour. At this point my girlfriend began stroking the back of my hair and I could hear her cooing my name. I thought this was strange behaviour considering the predicament I was in. Soon he fucked off leaving me standing my ground, but with a nervous hyped-up energy.
My girlfriend seemed unperturbed by the stand-off, and the night continued to plan; drinks and a good time. The next day (today) I asked her why she had started stroking my hair during the almost-fight. She gave a reply which after a few hours of mulling over and simmering I still don’t understand. She said, “I thought you were just chatting”. Now the possibility is there that this groping idiot and I were so far from coming to blows that we actually did look like we were chatting. But from where she was she couldn’t see my face, or that of the would-be attacker. However the question remains; what the hell would prompt me to stand and have a chat with someone who had just grabbed hold of my girlfriend’s leg in a predatory fit of drunken perv. Where is the logic? I cannot make the pieces fit in my head; I cannot make her statement make any sense.
Obligatory tension and hormonal alcohol-fuelled idiocy aside, the night was a fun one. My little victory felt sweet, but I feel bitter because the grand nature of my triumph is not properly appreciated by the very person I (nearly) fought for. Boo hoo.
After the Battle of Walkabout, we threw some shapes. Actually we made shadow puppets against the wall using the stark dance-floor spotlighting. Then we went to the closing down/moving house party at The Club. On the outside it is a gray concrete box; the sort of building that looks like a terrifying working men’s club, surrounded by razor wire and impenetrable to anyone except locals. Inside however it has a friendly atmosphere, populated mostly by lesbians, gays, drag peeps, and us tourists. The music was fun stuff like Queen and Grease (no surprises really), but the heat was unbearable and the air was pure sweat. We staggered around for an hour then left, to find a taxi and recover from the stuffiness in the cool night air.
And we all lived happily ever after. The end.