It dawned on me today as I was shopping at Woolworths this memoir I’m writing, is like the Directors Cut of a movie. You know the option you can pick where the Director talks over the top of the movie and explains how it was made. That’s these snippets. If by some miracle this ever becomes a novel or holy moly, a movie, these bits would get cut out, surplus to requirements, but I kind of enjoy bringing the present into the past. A few thoughts of the day before I embark on sinking myself back into a somewhat forgotten history.
I hope you like this style too…or do you just want me to get on with the story? Maybe you’d just like me to stop sending you this shit, so you don’t have to feel obliged to read it. I’ll write it anyway…I’m too far gone now…I’m compelled to keep going.
I made a promise to myself to be open and honest and write it exactly how I remember feeling, no matter how embarrassing or hard that might be. There are some truths we don’t like to admit to, but they are often the parts that are us who we are..
Somewhere in early 1992, I moved to Stoke Heath, shutting the door to the bedsit on Allesley Old Road for the last time. I left with mixed emotions but like most things in life, it’s mostly the funny, outrageous things that stick.
So many friends had stayed over at that flat, not to mention the cousin Nick and Shelley who had temporarily been my covert faltmates. Half of YOG could tell a story about a night spent there. I only had two single beds and a small threadbare couch, but I recall at least seven or eight of us sleeping there one night. Bodies head to toe in the beds, one cramped up on the couch, others on the floor.
The Famous Five often had extended members. Scott Pattison hung out with us for a time. He was Sammie’s boyfriend for a while. He was hot property, as were all the boys Sammie pulled. She might have only been sixteen, but she was sixteen going on twenty-one. Always crazy, always dressed in some funky outfit she’d stolen from her Mum’s wardrobe and always with immaculate make up. She was what everyone called ‘rebellious’. Always waging school and not that she ever admitted it, but we suspected there was a bit of shoplifting going on too.
Sammie had an older sister Sarah. Everyone knew them (and still do to this day) as the Tuson twins. They weren’t twins, but it rolled off the tongue well. Sarah and Sam were both in YOG and both had star quality talent. I think Sam was the way she was, because she always felt like she was walking in her sisters shadow. Sarah was the angel sister who got shipped out to her Grandparents, when their parents split up. Sammie had lived there for a time too, but she got relegated back to her Mum’s when she became too much trouble.
Her Mum was a very attractive woman, who spent more time dating men, than caring about Sam. I remember nights hanging out at her Mum’s place while her Mum stayed over a new boyfriends house. Sometimes she’d come home, find us all there and flip out. We’d all get turfed out while she screamed and ranted and cursed Sammie for letting us all come over. We were in equal parts petrified of Liz Tuson and entertained by her. In her sane moments, she was really nice. She’d sit drinking with us, which kind of kept us going back to see which Liz we’d get on any given night. She too was troubled, so it wasn’t hard to work out why Sam was the way she was.
Sometimes Sarah, her sister would come and hang out with us too. They were quite the double act. They’d sing these gorgeous harmonies and for all the traumatic things running between them as sisters, they were ultimately really close. While Sarah was jealous of Sammie being part of our tight knit gang, everyone in her family knew Sammie was safe with us. We kept her out of trouble. Well at least we tried to.
Scott Pattison was the hottest ticket in town, but he was on his way to stardom and in our eyes, a bit of a local celebrity. We were happy to claim him as one of ours. Him and his friend John, both ex-YOGerts had scored roles in Starlight Express in London’s West End. To put that into some perspective, it was like knowing someone that is starring in a show at Crown Theatre.
My biggest claim to fame with Scott, was that I ate one of his boogers for a dare one night. After Spin the Bottle, Truth or Dare was our next favourite game. Who needed iPads and team sports back then? Lots of truths were spoken, mainly things we already knew about each other, but we liked to watch each other squirm by telling us who they really fancied, or who they last snogged or which base they got to with so and so!
I have to say at this point, sex was never on the radar. None of us were having sex with each other. Other than the couple of sweet liaisons Andy and I had had, it was all very innocent. Even though Andy and I had had sex a couple of times, it was kept very under the radar and never spoken about. Kissing and a bit of groping were as far as it went.
The dares however got more and more adventurous. I remember Sammie running to the petrol station in her underwear one night to buy cigarettes. It was about 5 degrees outside, but she bloody did it. Lisa ate a mint biscuit that Sammie had down her pants and Andy spent more than a few minutes in the wardrobe with me on more than several occasions . Clearly I’d planted these sort of dares for Lisa and Sammie to make. Andy never seemed to mind the four minutes of pashing and groping that took place in that confined space. And neither did I. There was licking of armpits and eating gross concoctions and knocking on doors and running way. Stupid stuff, that we found side-slitting.
We were never into drugs, certainly nothing hard ones anyway. Someone had told Andy and Nick that they could find magic mushrooms in a field outside of Coventry and so under the cover of darkness they went in search of them. They came back with a bag full and we brewed them up and drank the broth-like elixir.
We sat in Nick’s bedroom staring at each other, waiting for something to happen.
‘Im not feeling anything.’ Andy said.
‘Me neither.’ I replied.
But after about an hour we all went a bit nuts. Nick thought Donald Duck was chasing him on a motorbike and I thought I was hemorrhaging blood, which actually might have been the onset of my period. We all slept in Nicks room and laughed in our weird paranoia. I’m not sure we were actually hallucinating, more like feeling the effects of poisonous fungi tea. Needless to say, we never did it again.
Our next drug attempt fail, was being told that if we dried out banana skins, we could mix the reside with tabacco and smoke it to get high. Like a bunch of apes, we tried it. Nothing happened, except to reiterate my dislike for bananas. My flat stunk of charred banana skins for ages.
Then one night we decided to go hard. Get the real stuff. Scott had been given a tip off (cause he was a celebrity and uber cool), that if we drove to Hill Fields, which might sound like a pleasant place where Anne of Green Gables might hang out, but it was the dodgiest part of Coventry were drug dealers and hookers lurked of an evening, we were to ask for a dude called something scary like The Killer or My Big, and he’d sell us some hash.
Wanting to impress my friends, I said ‘I’ll drive, whose coming?’
Andy, wanting to impress Scott, who he secretly admired and wanted to be like, said ‘Me. We’ll go!’
Andy and I left Sam, Lisa and Nick at the flat, got into NOB and drove into Hill Fields.
Quite frankly, I was already high on having Andy to myself for the assignment but we both knew if we successful in our mission, we’d be seems as super heroes to our friends.
We pulled up outside the address we’d been given. Call me niave, but I think it was a brothel. This massive black dude, came up to the window of NOB and Andy whispered, we’re looking for The Killer.
‘What do you want?’ the massive bulk of a man said.
Andy was trying his best to sound brave and street-wise, if not for me, for The Killer.
‘We wanna to score some hash?’
Andy looked at me, like I might know what to ask for. ‘We’ve got twenty quid.’ I said trying to sound like I was all over this drug buying thing.
‘Ounces man! How many ounces are you after?’
Andy and I looked blank. The Killer looked like we were wasting his time.
‘How many ounces will twenty quid get us?’ Andy finally said.
The Killer, reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny block of something the size of a Pez sweet wrapped in silver foil. Andy handed over the twenty quid we’d all put in a fiver for.
‘Thanks mate.’ Andy said taking the haul and then looked at me with a face that said Get us the fuck out of here!
When we got back to the bedsit, Matt Wing has arrived. Matt Wing was Lisa’s Andy. Matt and I had a lot in common. He was the only other YOGETTE with a full time job and a car. He was also the other YOG heart throb and an honorary Famous Five member. Matt drove a VW Beetle that was always breaking down and was the leading man in every show YOG I ever did while I was in it. If it wasn’t for the fact I loved Andy to death, and Lisa loved Matt, he might have been my next love interest. I always enjoyed kissing him in Spin the Bottle. I’m not sure Nick was so thrilled to have Matt there, as it meant he was the seventh wheel. Sammie and Scott, Matt and Lisa and Andy and I…loved up and ready to get high.
Andy produced the small parcel from his pocket and we all looked to Scott hoping he knew what to do with it. I’d never seen marajauna in its hash form. A small brown block that like looked more like a square kangaroo dropping than an illegal substance.
Scott got his lighter out and started crumbling pieces of it into a rizzler tabacco paper mixed in with a broken up cigarette. Into a joint. We passed it around and took a few tokes before passing it on again.