Well, We Were Sitting in the Car Dreaming of Those Hot Doughnuts

Well into my teens—although it may have been earlier—was probably the first time really. We never usually went down to the seaside as a rule; too closely tied to the city and its alluring, comfortable humdrum, I suppose. Were we always like that? Sitting there, we listened to thumping ragga, or perhaps it was drum and bass that screamed its glorious rage at the passers-by. In the city, we just couldn’t get ring doughnuts like those ones down there; at least we never tried that hard to. The supermarkets had won their war against our shallow refusals and the small businesses wailed defiantly without success on deaf, indifferent ears. Car parks replaced parks with parked cars and we let it all happen oblivious to the oblivion; lost within the X-Files, Terminator or something we were. Dreaming of being a lottery winner like bugs drawn to the streetlight; the easy way out, the lucky and lazy way of wishing on a star or wishing for a bigger car. Of all the stupid things to believe in, though, enticed by mangy street lights buzzing and about to go out. Hot summer days made us crazy with ideas and we did the drive down to Southend-on-Sea to see if the rumours were true. Doughnuts to die for, apparently; ten to the dozen, so we took the drive; went to see for ourselves if we could make anecdotal doughnut stories to retell one day parked in our big shiny cars in big shiny car parks where the parks used to be.

She Threw Your Stuff in the Bin Next to Mine

She was always so viciously proud; like a swan, she graced the paving stones of home. Threw her eyes around breaking hearts effortlessly as she pummelled along to wherever it was she always so purposefully went; none of us really knew. Your mistake was to underestimate her reasons for suffering you and your plight, however loved and enamoured you’d become with the idea of her wantonness. Stuff like that doesn’t just happen out of nothing, can’t ever be just random and unwanted. In time, we came to forgive her, though; her rage trumping ours as her form faded from our hearts and minds not always—we might add—so willingly released either. The last thing we heard, she’d shacked up with some wealthy prick who probably couldn’t believe his luck, or was too stupid to even realise the smouldering phoenix dancing around in his possession waiting to burn away what little vestiges of him there were to start with. Bin bags of freedom were hoarded on the fringes of what she had become, unbeknownst to his foolish, obfuscated eyes. Next thing we heard, she’d destroyed and mutilated his precious collections of useless things; dumped them out as she eventually did with everyone she collided with. To love her is to give your soul away to the succubi of torment and the archangels of ridicule, as so many of us have done and as so many will inevitably be condemned to do for evermore. Mine was yet to come, and, like many a fool before me, I marched into it so obliviously with eyes wide shut and arms wide open as she wrapped me around her twisted, bitter soul, engulfed me with her everything.

I Saw Him Sniffing Glue Late One Afternoon in Highbury

I suppose I’d never really forgotten about him and the weird, attractive rebelliousness of what they did that summer. Saw them all do it so many times, now I come to think about it; even though, thankfully, I was too chickenshit to try it myself. Him, like a god amongst men, with steely blue marbles glistening like dark ice in his eyes that slowly turned to red embers while I looked on in a kind of rapture like a kid at the circus, which I suppose I was in many ways. Sniffing Tipp-Ex, cigarette lighters, or nasty bags of glue never appealed to me as a clever thing to do; maybe I was just lucky that I wasn’t made the way he was; he couldn’t be that perfect and not be broken in some way. Late afternoon, we sat in the pissy bike sheds next to the Arsenal and he passed the bag around with a fake maturity that didn’t affect me at all. One by one, their eyelids crept slowly down over their eyes as the smell tickled my senses but didn’t tickle my fancy. Afternoon turned to evening and I knew they’d fall asleep there around him like disciples, lost within their intoxicated dreams of being grown-ups or whatever. In truth, like anything prohibited, there was an attraction, a gnawing type of curiosity that floated around at the time but never seemed to settle on me; not until much later, of course. Highbury drifted away as we grew up leaving those memories of summer days and the stench of glue and fags far behind, and I never saw him or those blue marbles again.