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Jack The Lad, A Skinhead Biography. Soho. By Symond lawes


skinhead and skinhead girls piccadilly 1980, by gavin watson

Bev carver, Symond lawes, skinny jim, jayne and nigel buzby
Skinheads in Piccadilly London

Where the fuck is Soho¨? Jack said to Gav studying the tube map on the wall,

I am sure it’s in the west end¨

A bit to shy to ask adults, as Soho was known for sex shops and sleaze, not really the sort of place to encourage teenage kids to go hang around.

But where ever there was danger, there was always fun

The first time the lads had gone looking for Soho, they had studied the tube map looking for Soho station. But to no avail. Being street wise 14 year old skins, they didn’t want to have to ask a stranger and risk embarrassment, but just managed to find it by chance, wandering up through china town behind Leicester square, the shops changed from Chinese restaurants to small shops with the words ,Adult shop’ on the window. Handmade signs saying ´Model upstairs, above a shabby unpainted doorway, a bell hanging on the frame with exposed wires. Not really the place for a twiggy jack thought to himself. More like a model zeppelin he imagined.

Designed for ripping off rich Americans or drunks on a stag night, famous for sleazy shops and overpriced drinks in basement strip clubs. Porn cinemas and prostitution.

A few streets down, in Leicester square were the large theatres showing the Hollywood blockbusters, the caricature artists, painting pictures of ugly kids, whilst throngs of Japanese tourists photograph everything that moves, and most things that dont . The street buskers singing the same old Beatles and rolling stones songs to passing tourists. Well behaved London police officers playing the part of ´Bobby´, giving directions to the tourists, desperately trying to keep the image of nice London safe for the US Dollar and Japanese Yen. Smiling kids posing by red telephone boxes, in their plastic bowler hats.

But for the young skinheads it was a different world.

I´m bursting for a piss¨ jack announced to his mates, just gotta go to the loo¨

In the middle of Leicester square by the small garden there are some public lavatories. Walking down the steps the smell of disinfectant hits the nostrils mixed with the rancid smell of human waste. The tiled black and white chequered tiles, as you enter. The shiny polished copper pipes. Jack wondered to himself, who took so much pride in cleaning toilet water pipes. But any pride is a good thing he reckoned. All the lads piled down the steps to go for a pee.

But even in such a public functional place, there lurked danger.

Like rats, you are never far from a nonce in the west end, and like rats they scamper around looking to feed their hunger. A lot of runaways head for London. The bright lights, the romantic notion of a better life, the anonymity of the big city. Escaping some form of child abuse or unhappiness.

Like Ying and Yang, there is the Salvation Army and churches which are there to help and support. There is also the anti Christ waiting to feed.

When jack was 10 years old he had gone to the seaside, to Selsea Bill, on a very rare trip with his family.. Jack had been so excited, as lots of his mates had been there on family holidays, and had come to school telling stories of the sea and riding donkeys on the beach. Jacks town was about as far inland as possible in the UK, and it took hours to ever reach the ocean.

It was late autumn, and the place was almost deserted, a cold wind coming in off the sea. A closed fair ground and shuttered fish and chip shops, but any trip with his family was a great thing for jack and his sisters, and to see the ocean was almost magical.

Almost as soon as jack got out of his dads car, he needed the bathroom, his dad went crazy if his kids ever asked to stop for a toilet break on the journey, and the excitement of a glimpse of the sea, kept all the kids in anxious excitement anyway. His mum fed them boiled sweets for the journey, which was a lovely treat.

On the edge of the closed fair ground was a public WC. So jack headed straight for it, leaving his sisters and parents to wander along the promenade admiring the view, his sisters dashing down onto the beach to look for sea shells. The seagulls screaming overhead searching for washed up fish.

Jack was so excited to explore the seashore, he thought nothing as he ran into the toilet. Straight into a cubicle he slammed the door behind him, slipped the bolt across and took a seat on the toilet.

As he sat there, a piece of toilet paper flew under the gap beneath the door, and some footsteps walked away. Glancing down, jack noticed there was something handwritten on the piece of paper.


Jack was absolutely frozen with fear.

Öh my god, he thought, what can I do, I have to open the door to escape, but if I open the door, then he will get me. He had only just about heard of the word ´wank´ . It’s something Pitwell often talked about, but jack was a lot more interested in collecting football cards and climbing trees for conkers, than anything vaguely sexual. But he realized he was in serious danger.

He understood the danger from his father’s tempers, he got at home, the canings and beatings from school teachers, even the bullies in the street of the council estate. But this was a whole new danger. Something that even scared adults. There were often rumours around the streets about strange men in red Austin mini cars. His mother always told him, never to speak to strangers. Kids talked about this danger, but never in detail, no one really knew who they were, or what they did to kids, when they kidnapped them.

What was he to do, he sat frozen, unable to breath, as it might let out a noise, holding his heart trying to hide the sound of the beating, he let out a slight uncontrollable murmour of fear. Where was he to go, he would have to open the door at some point. Perhaps his dad would come looking for him. But maybe not. Maybe this man will kick in the door. Thinking about it, he realized that as he had came into the building, there was a whole group of men in the toilet. Why were they all there? Were they all bursting to use the bathroom, as he was, maybe they would help him. But then a thought hit him. Maybe they are all together, maybe they are all kidnappers and perverts.

He slowly stood, pulling his belt tight. Raising his courage. Very slowly, he pulled the bolt on the lock, trying desperately not to make a scraping sound of metal on metal, mustering every bit of courage he could in an attempt to allow his escape. The door slowly opened. With every ounce of strength, every piece of energy, he ran. Not looking at anyone, not giving anyone a chance to grab him, he darted for the door to exit. Within a few seconds he was outside. He ran straight into a car parked outside, and as he looked into the window he saw the face of the devil. A thin old man in bottle glasses, with greased hair, staring at him. The look chilled his bones, as he ran for safety towards his sisters and parents. He could feel the eyes of the demon on his back, but he wasn’t going to look behind him.

Making the promenade, he saw his family down on the beach, his sisters bending over and searching the sand for shells, by the edge of the tide, jumping waves and running to escape them. His parents walking along further inland.

His anxiety dropped as he reached safety. Running down the otherwise deserted beach, his sister called him,

¨jack, look I’ve already found a shell fish, as she held it to her ear, listen you can hear the sea inside¨

Instantly he decided not to mention the toilet experience to anyone. His dad would only get angry, his mum wouldn´t know what to say. And it would at the very least, ruin the day for the whole family.

Instead he picked a flat stone up and threw it as hard as he could into the sea, trying to make it skim the surface of the sea. It went up twice then disappeared into a large white rimmed wave of the ocean. Jacks dog ´George ´chased the stone straight into the ocean, which filled jacks heart with joy. The dog had never seen the sea before, and had been howling on the entire journey from home.

´George had endless energy for chasing sticks, balls and anything you threw for him. He was jacks closest friend. One of the few kind things his dad ever did, was to save George from being killed by the vet. He had been bought as a German shepherd, but had not grown. He was just a mongrel, so the neighbour had taken him in the pub and asked if anyone wanted to save the young dog from its death sentence. He soon became one of the biggest personalities on the estate, being Jack, the paperboys dog.

Walking along the beach, the kids were all having the best fun ever. As usual feeling starving hungry, but otherwise loving it. Along the side of the ocean road were lots of shops, all looking tatty, selling rock and postcards and one large one with red flashing lights and music blasting out. It was an arcade filled with amusement and gambling machines. Oh how jack wished he had a few coins to go inside.

¨right that’s it we´re going home!¨ jacks dad barked

What, why? His mother asked quite shocked

¨Bloody Wogs¨ his dad barked with hatred in his eyes, staring at a group of black teenagers who were in the amusement arcade. ¨

So that was the end of the family holiday.

Leicester square was buzzing with crowds of people as the young teenage skinheads entered the toilets. Jack eyeing up the situation, looking for an empty cubical. Most people would be oblivious to the parasitic nonce. They don’t look very different to any man you could see on a Sunday watering his garden lawn, they don’t wear anything different than anyone else. They could be a school teacher or a bus driver, married to a fat wife with blow dried hair. But hidden behind that mask is the sexual deviant, who prey on young boys in public lavatories.

As Stuart entered the toilet, he went immediately to the standing urinal, undoing his jeans zip. Richard a bit further along. Jack was on watch, and sure enough, a man came running up beside Stuart from one of the wash basins. As Stuart was going about his personal business the man stood and looked down at Stuarts hands .

¨Stuart, there’s a fucking nonce next to you¨ jack screamed as loud as he could.

Stuart, bewildered, looked to his side, to see the man of about 45, wearing a sports jacket and backpack, looking at him, trying to get his kicks.

The pervert realizing very quickly he had been noticed ran for the door. This was jacks chance.

¨ let´s do the fucking scum¨ he cried to his mates.

Racing forward. He wanted this piece of scum before he could make the street outside.

Stuart and Richard joined in the chase, but were slightly to late, as the nonce made the crowds of Leicester Square. He went immediately into hiding behind the tourists. But Richard chased straight into the crowd, throwing a can of coke which had been discarded on the litter bin.

´clang´. It bounced off the side of the nonce’s head, sending its contents splashing over the pervert, and some other people in the crowd.

¨fucking nonce¨ Richard called after him.

¨Bloody Yobs ¨ a voice came from the crowd

Yes did you see what that thug did to that poor man?¨ came the sound of his wife

Bloody skinheads, where´s the police¨?, another startled onlooker called out¨.

Quickly coming to his senses jack realized they were in a volatile situation. The west end is crawling with police, and the skinheads would be the first arrested.

¨leave it he cried out to his mates, there´s old bill about ¨

Yes I hope they lock you away¨, came the voices

¨Aww bollocks to you fucking lot, what do you know¨. jack shouted into the crowd.

As the lads got together and mutually decided to leave the scene sharpish, running up the side of the theatre into Leicester place.

Bring back national service¨ came a comment as jack stuck up the V´s to the onlookers as the young skins made their escape into china town.

Another statistic for the newspaper reports


Jack thought to himself as they trotted north into Soho. Sexual perversion and child molesting was a lesser crime than parking on a yellow line in the British court system. For the parking offence the driver immediately gains a fine. For the nonce the most he could expect was a few hours counseling if he ever made it to court.

The courts were full of nonce’s anyway, judges and barristers all had attended private schools and been buggered by rugby playing elder kids as part of the normal initiation. So they didn’t understand what crime had been committed. They would often go to whores in the back streets of kings cross to have their arses spanked by some sexually abused runaway and pay them money for the service.

Whilst Mrs. Judge was at home in Twickenham worrying about the colour of the curtains, as little Harriot and Bartholomew were away at school studying law and sociology in the hope of following their father into chambers, or failing that, getting a high paid job at the BBC, or in the media to write about the menace of the lower class thugs in British society.

Soho peep shows were always good for a laugh. The darkened hallways and the row of booths, a little like confession boxes in a catholic church. Only instead of getting father O´Reilly, when the flap opened after inserting 50p you got a naked girl sitting on a bar stall touching herself for the gratification of anyone with a few spare coins. Sometimes she would be so excited she would be sitting there reading a book, with her lily white skin, cellulite and stretch marks visible to anyone with a few spare coins.

Amongst the sex shops and porn cinemas, Soho was also a place for the drugs trade, it was not uncommon to see a few smack heads lying in the gutter, or spaced out in shop doorways, pallid white skin with blackened eyes. Pupils like pin dots. The living dead, covered in cysts and boils, from too many poisoned needles. Resorting to thieving or begging for any spare change, once the good looks had gone and there was no room left for them on the peep show stool, when the curb crawler kept driving, the nonce onto his next victim. The wheels of the sex industry, ploughing on through the harvest of human destruction.

Jack wondered why in this day and age with all the information out there, people would still take that first puff of opium. That first chase of the dragon. Was Sid Vicious or the rock stars of the 1960´s so cool as to want to follow them to a lonely end. Did they really believe that they were immune to addiction. Or was it just a death wish that would soon be granted, their bodies being found in cardboard city under waterloo bridge. another victim to the paupers grave.

Late night cafe, for a hot mug of tea, or a Spanish omelet. A place to escape the cold night air, or to wait for the morning trains to start. A few drunk clubbers, some musicians sitting for an after work coffee. Late night whores on a break. Old school gangsters wearing the immaculate fitted suites of a bye gone era, after spending too many years behind bars, cooped up in wormwood scrubs. Undercover vice squad with yellow fingers, from too long sitting on stake outs smoking players number 10. The proprietor watching over his flock of misfits.

On the wall are pictures of beautiful Spanish hillside villages, the sunsets over the Mediterranean, white painted buildings and tango dancers, all slightly faded and worn, a tea urn sitting on the edge of the surface, with a steady flow of steam escaping from the top rim.

Family photos of children in Sunday best clothing, posing with their mother and father, proudly hanging on the wall behind the service area. Jack wondered what brought this guy to London, the city of thieves. Maybe he had got on a boat to seek excitement of the most magical city on earth, His own business feeding the English people Spanish food. Sending regular letters home about the great business in London, hoping one day for his Spanish sweetheart to join him, or to one day return a rich man to the village he had come from.

Furniture from 1960´s square melamine tables with wooden chairs. A yellow glow from too much cigarette smoke and cooking fat, creating a warm homely atmosphere, the transistor radio playing wonderful world by Louis Armstrong.

A politeness and courtesy to the night owls of Soho. Two young skinheads feel welcomed as they take a seat, resting the tired feet from the constant walk around the streets of the west end.

Two overdressed and over made up girls stand, the smell of perfume hanging over them mixed with cigarette smoke. One wearing tight leather dress and leopard skin coat. The other in a bright red micro mini skirt short enough, it almost reveals her panties. Her boob tube squeezing the breath out of her chest, pushing her ample breasts to bursting point. Bright red lipstick and almost red blusher on her face.

¨see you later Luca, back to work¨ one says as she blows the proprietor a kiss walking out of the late night omelet café.

¨stay safe darling¨ replies the Spanish guy behind the counter

Jack and Gavin sit by the window sipping mugs of tea. Jack watching the Mercedes outside with the Arabic looking guy behind the wheel.

¨mind if we sit here?¨ a strong female northern Irish accent asks.

Yes sure you can¨ jack says, looking up to see two pretty punk girls standing smiling at him and Gavin. Jack offering a big smile to the girls as they take their seats.

¨god I could murder a cup of tea¨, one of the girls remarks as she looks at the menu written on the wall.

¨I think you have to go ask at the counter, Jack says, I’ll come with you, I need a refill, thinking it a good excuse to talk to the girl.

The proprietor , a thick set man in his mid 50´s with jet black hair and dark brown eyes, a few too many hairs sprouting from his nose and ears, wearing a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, an apron not hiding his petruding stomach very well, a tea towel laying over his shoulder.

¨how can I help you kids¨, he asks the couple as he places some clean plates on the shelf.

¨two cups of tea, please Mr.¨, the young punk girl asks

Holding the silver aluminium teapot under the water boiler, he pulls the handle and a high pitch hiss comes as the boiling water squirts into the open pot. Swirling it around in circles, he pours the thick brown tea,

¨And what about you son?¨ he says to jack without looking at him, preferring to concentrate on the boiling water.

¨I´ll have two teas as well please¨, he says placing his two cups on the surface.

Rejoining Gavin and the other girl, who had already struck up a conversation, the two friends placed the tea cups on the table and sat down opposite each other.

Where you two from¨? Gavin asks, my mum is from Ireland.

¨really, where from, asks the girl, we are from Belfast¨

Port Louth, by the prison¨ Gavin replies.

¨Wild place that, all the families from both sides go and live there, to be near the old man in jail, the girl says with a laugh, having their own private war¨.

Gavin continues ¨my mum hates it in Ireland, she has been here since she was about 18, got out as fast as she could, my uncles also moved to England, so we don’t really have any family there at all nowadays, I have never been there, but my uncle was a champion hurling player.´ Billy Dargan .

¨Oh that’s grand, I hope to move away from Ireland too, maybe we will stay in London, we just got here today, so we don’t know yet. London scares me.¨

Ha-ha jack laughed, you are scared of London, and you got the IRA blowing the fuck out of your town?

¨Oh it’s not as bad as that, don’t believe all the news reports, if you don’t get involved with it, they leave you alone¨.´ The IRA blew up the police station down my street once, but that’s about it¨. London is full of muggers.

¨Yes I guess so, Jack said, my brother was in the army over there, but he was stationed down in south Armagh, a place called Crossmaglen¨

¨Oh yes that’s called bandit country, they have shite going on across the border down there.¨

¨I´m Mary by the way, and this is Bridget, nice to meet you´.

¨My brother is a Belfast skinhead, but he´s over here now, living in Kilburn, do you know him, he´s called Mickey Doyle¨.

¨No can’t say I do know him, there’s a lot of skinheads in London´, but might have met him at some time or other,¨ Jack replied.

So what brought you to London, you just visiting your brother and shopping¨?

Well , something like that. Bridget here thinks she is in the family way, so we had to come over here, you know how it is being catholic in Ireland, she is going to the family planning clinic tomorrow, her ex boyfriend doesn’t want to know, he´s a waste of space, the feckin ejit¨.

¨Oh well I am sure you will be ok in London, there´s more Irish here than in Ireland.

Is that a fact, I was a bit worried we might get a hard time here, because of all the political shite.

¨No, like you say, don’t believe the media, our estate has loads of Irish, I don’t think the average Englishman blames all Irish for a few fucking scumbags, Gavin said, when my mum came over in the 50´s there was a bit of ignorance to the Irish, they used to have signs up in lodging houses, saying no dogs or Irish, but that’s ancient history.

So what brought your brother here, work¨? Asked jack.

Ha-ha, our brother, she said with a big smile. Biggest fool of them all, wherever there is trouble , our brother won’t be far away, he decided one night to steal a car, to get home from the pub, him and a few ejit mates of his.

The next day we get a visit from the ´Boys´, they tell our brother he has one hour to leave Ireland, turns out the car belonged to them. Luckily for him our Dar knows a few people, so managed to sweet talk them into agreeing not to take my brothers knees, if he left, and my father paid for the repairs to the car.

Silly fool, he parks the car a few streets away, thinking no one would notice, the local skinheads, in their big boots and no brains. You can´t blow your nose in my street without all the neighbours knowing how many tissues you use¨. ´

´so of course the Provo’s were round the house before breakfast, knocking me Ole Fella out of bed in his Y fronts

Hahahaha, so he moved to safe London, full of muggers, hahahaha, Jack said with sarcasm.

Yes, something like that, she said, he has to send me father money every week. He got a solid leathering from me Dars belt, to send him on his way. ¨she said, as all the four new friends laughed together.

A man came into the café, immaculately dressed in a sharp 3 button Italian suite, with a full length Crombie style overcoat draped over his shoulders, a pair of smooth’s, so shiny you could see your face in them.

¨hey Peter! The man behind the counter called out, in a very pronounced Spanish English accent, a huge smile across his face and an outstretched hand. The two guys hug, and the proprietor kisses the man on the cheek.

¨how’s the lovely clean air of free London my friend,

¨just great Luca, but the air is not so clean these days, with all these cars about¨.

¨what you want my friend? anything you like on the house, my home is your home¨ he continues

With that, the two old friends went into conversation about old times, dropping the volume levels gradually to a quiet talk.

Jack watched them as they spoke, imaging the stories those two guys could tell. Men from a different era, The jazz clubs of Soho, the swinging 60´s of the Mods . And The London underworld. Judging by Peters clothing, the way he held himself, with confidence, and the fact he wore a deep scar down the side of his face. Not a Chelsea smile, but a sign of an old street fight and a cut throat razor.

¨jack stop staring, Gavin’s voice broke through jacks thoughts¨.

¨Ur ur yes, shit, jack stuttered realizing he had been eyeballing someone who could take it seriously the wrong way, and returned his attention back to the girls.

¨so how’s the punk scene in Ireland¨ jack asked Bridget.

¨Yes pretty good, I like the English bands more. I love Sousxie and the Banshees, X-ray Specs¨ she said.

Yes they are good bands answered jack, but I love Stiff Little fingers and the Undertones¨.

¨Yes they are good an all, but all the best music, comes from London, you have so much here, most of the Belfast punks have turned skinhead now, they all love madness and the specials¨.

The conversation carried on about the punk and skinhead scenes in London and Ireland. As peter the sharp dressed guy crossed the room towards three other older guys of similar age who were sitting in the corner. As he passed the young skinheads table he smiled.

¨Tut tut, what’s this town coming too, he said, bloody skinheads

Hey Luca you don’t want these trouble makers in here, he called over to the proprietor, who was in the process of washing some blue and white striped mugs.

¨Get them all a hot drink on me, he said with a wink and a smile, as he took his seat with the other three guys.

Jack gave a shy thank you smile, in recognition of the generosity shown by the charismatic stranger, the 4 fresh cups of tea arriving soon afterwards to the table.

¨see London’s, not so bad¨ jack said to the Irish girls, who seemed enthralled by this new city.

Gavin pulled out his camera and took a few shots of the girls, which sparked conversation.

¨ I wanted to go to college to study photography , remarked Mary¨. But I couldn´t afford it, I had to get a job, so I ended up working in Woolworths, but at least it was in the photographic processing department ha-ha¨ she laughed.

¨ I never studied a thing, Gavin said, just got hold of a camera off my old man and started taking pictures.

Gavin often used his camera for opening doors, got him free into gigs as well as a good tool for chatting up women.

¨Great fun printing the pictures in the bathroom, as well, interjected jack, then turned his attention back to Bridget and the conversation of music. Jack loved punk music, and also liked punk girls, as they tended to be feminine and wore more revealing clothes than the skinhead girls.

Bridget was a small framed girl, her hair dyed black, with bright green Irish eyes. She was wearing tight fitting black jeans, destroy shirt which was torn across the chest to reveal a slight cleavage and black bra. Her leather biker jacket with love hearts and anarchy sign painted on the lapel in Tipex, with a few band pin badges, one saying Belfast punks, Sousxie and the banshees badges., alternative Ulster, oh bondage up yours, Her skin was crystal clear with a natural beauty. A soft gentleness about her. Small petite hands with manicured nails painted black, with a few silver rings, silver bracelets and pieces of material tied around her wrists.

¨Fancy going for a walk¨? Jack offered the girls

¨Yes sure, why not, can we go see Trafalgar square¨? Asked Bridget.

¨ I thought you said you´d been sightseeing today¨?

¨well we have, but London´s massive, we seen all the shops in Oxford street and Covent Garden¨ laughed Mary.

Yes bet you did¨, jack said with a raised eyebrow and frown, thanking god he wasn’t mugged into that sightseeing trip.

Taking the last mouthful of tea, jack stood and slipped on his prized Crombie, doing up the three buttons, adjusting the red handkerchief in the top pocket and brushing it off with his hand, he walked towards peter, the sharp dressed guy, but as he did he noticed the guys all stopped talking, on his approach. Jack sensing not to step to close, stopped and just nodded at peter.

¨thanks for the tea mate¨!

Peter rose his eyebrows. Don’t mention it , enjoy your girls. A short pause as jack turned away,

¨Keep your nose clean son,¨ Peter chipped in,

As jack walked away, ¨ if you can’t keep it clean, don’t get caught! ¨

Walking through Soho at night was a different experience than during the daytime. Gone were the shoppers and city workers, the black cabs and motorcycles couriers. Replaced by drunken clubbers wearing this week’s trendy clothes, staggering about looking for a kebab to wash down the alcohol, homeless sleeping in shop doorways, sheltering from the wind and rain, the scruffy dog sleeping at his feet, dirty clothing and one bag to hold the worldly possessions, making a bed on piss a stained pavement.

Piles of rubbish waiting collection from the council workers dustcart leaning against lamp posts.

Red lights flickering in upstairs windows above closed video shops.

¨If the Nuns could see me now, Bridget laughed, as she read the posters pinned to the porn cinema windows. Debbie does Dallas ¨she said as she tucked her hand around Jacks arm

Gavin and Mary were walking in front, probably discussing the meaning of life, knowing Gavin, he was always deep in thought about astrology, karma, from the latest hippy book he had read about metaphysics.

Through the streets of Soho the gay rent boys at old Compton street, the Chinese restaurants of china town surrounding Gerard street, on the edge of Soho, bordering Leicester Square and theatre land. Who knows where they all come from, rumours of human trafficking, stuffing people in container s on ships and backs of trucks, all the way from small villages in China, to work the restaurants and sweat shops of London and Europe. Controlled by the Chinese Triad gangs of Hong Kong. But no one really knows, they don’t mix with English people, live a parallel life within the city. But they don’t cause any public concerns. There are never stories of Chinese muggers or street riots, so they go un noticed, so long as the Peking duck stays cheap and tasty.

Maybe due to Bruce Lee movies nobody fucks around with the Chinese, as British kids are well aware that every Chinese person is a trained killer, who can take the biggest man down with one flying kick or karate chop.

Old Compton Street looks like any other West End Street, but Jack felt glad to have Bridget on his arm as they walked along. This strange group of bikers standing around, dressed in too much leather, with no obvious signs of motorbikes about, and even less females for comfort.

Jack felt eyes on him, as he walked, but kept his eyes on the path in front, his conversation with Bridget, perhaps subconsciously pulling her a bit closer to him, as he passed along the road. Bridget seemed unaware of anything odd about these people.

Reaching Charring Cross road unscathed, jack felt a sigh of relief. Relaxing slightly.

¨they give me the creeps¨, he said to Bridget, who was busy chatting about something , which had become a blur to jack, his mind was otherwise engaged.

¨who do, the Buzzcocks? ¨ Bridget answered, a bit confused.

¨No, said Jack, Fucking Queers¨

¨Are the Buzzcocks Gay?¨ She said

¨No, I don’t think so, said jack, but all those Poofs in Compton Street are¨

¨Who…. Those bikers¨? She remarked, looking back over her shoulder, I thought it was a hells angels club or something¨

¨Yes but with a few too many moustaches for my liking¨, laughed Jack

¨Aww leave them, they do no harm¨, She said tugging on Jacks arm

¨Idon’t want to know the harm they do to each others arses¨, Jack joked back

¨Urrr you´re disgusting, she said, screwing up her face.

She giggled a little and rested her head on jacks shoulder, as they walked, jack was worried slightly that her makeup would smudge onto his prized coat, but thought he wouldn´t mention it, he was quite enjoying the feminine touches coming from Bridget. He wasn’t sure if he was on a result here with the girl. Was she putting out inviting body language, or was it was just her friendly Irish nature.

Walking down Charring Cross Road, jack was giving Bridget a bit of a history lesson.

¨Denmark Street, they call Tin pan alley, because of all the musical instrument shops. The sex pistols used to rehearse in an upstairs room above a shop there, McLaren paid them 25 quid a week, before they made it big.

And that’s the National portrait gallery, where they have all the old biscuit tin classics, Constable, or whatever his name is, you´d know his paintings, countryside stuff, with horses and carts etc. the Heywayne or something like that.

That church is St Martin’s in the fields, weird to think this was all fields, once upon a time. The actual city of London, is only one square mile, and was once walled, its where the tower of London is and all the banks. It used to have gates likes Bishops gate etc.

They got a doss house now at St Martin’s for all the homeless, and a lot of those big buildings are embassies, like Canada and south Africa. And there is Trafalgar square, jack announced as Nelsons Column came into view.

¨You know a lot about this stuff Jack, I am very impressed, the perfect English gentleman tourist guide, did they teach you this at school?¨ Bridget asked.

HAHA jack laughed, they teach us fuck all, apart from how to bend over for a whack on the arse from a wooden cane. And especially nothing about British history, its politically incorrect. We have the industrial revolution, all about the toll puddle martyrs and who gives a toss who invented the fucking safety lamp. They teach us nothing about our culture or political history. I just like it, my ancestors were undertakers in Drury Lane, which is just up the road there, at the time the first white settlers were discovering America ¨.

♪have you seen the muffin man, the muffin man♪ Bridget began to sing.

¨Maybe you are the muffin man Jack hehehe¨ she giggled.

♪yes I know the muffin man the muffin man♪ she teased and kissed jack on the side of his cheek.

¨My family have always been Boggies, Bridget laughed, don’t think we ever had anyone as grand as the muffin man. I think a lot left during the famine, to England and America, and ever since then we have tended to leave Ireland, I don’t want to go back, there´s nothing there, in the North with all the guns, bombs, army and police everywhere, it’s no place to bring up children¨ she said with a sad sort of sigh, her mind drifting back to home for a short moment.

¨What about the south¨? Jack asked

¨Never live there, it’s all farmers and cows¨ she said, you don’t get much Rock n Roll in Cork¨. She laughed out loud to herself, putting on some sort of accent, as if laughing at people from Cork.

¨So you gonna be a born again cockney girl now then¨. Jack asked

¨yes something like that, I will start my own band and become the next Souxsie Sue¨

¨Irish Irene and the screaming Fenians¨ Jack suggested

¨sounds great, where the Albert Hall¨ she laughed.

♪ I came a long way from Tipperary, to the streets of London Town♪ jack began singing to make up a song

♪ Where I met a crazy English clown ♪ she sang

Up ahead Gavin and Mary had stopped and were talking to a guy in the street, who looked like another skinhead.

¨seen any skinheads knocking about?¨he asked

¨No not since earlier on¨ Gav replied.

¨You got any fags?, I’m gasping. He asked.

¨no mate sorry, jack answered, we don’t smoke¨

¨I got some rollies, Bridget piped in, as she opened her satchel which was covered in writing from a marker pen, and decorated with pin badges of mainly British punk bands, anarchy symbols and a CND patch.

Searching through her makeup and other things, girls carry around in bags, she pulled out a packet of Golden Virginia.

The guy looked a bit worse for wear, as Bridget handed him the tobacco, jack noticed his hands were black and bruised, visible sores across his knuckles, covered in dry blood, covering the Indian ink tattoos, blood was also all over his green flight jacket. Jack didn’t really want to ask him, what had happened to him.

¨That’s great.¨ He said raising a smile across his face, taking the tobacco and searching for some papers inside.

He stuck a paper to his lip and hissed a little, as he touched a cut , putting his fingers in the pouch to get a few strands of tobacco.

¨that’s looks a bit painful¨ Bridget said, as she curled her eyebrows.

¨ Oh its nothing, I just got out the cells, the old bill gave me a right good hiding. Look, he said as he poked out his tongue, to reveal that is was torn almost in two, from left to right.

Shissssshh, Bridget let out a sound, as she peered at him, touching the side of his face gently. Jack and the rest of the guys also stared in horror.

¨fucking old bill punched me in the face and I bit into my tongue¨.

It looked horrifically painful, jack thought almost cringing, as he felt his own tongue in his mouth, imaging the pain this guy must be feeling.

¨Oh you poor love¨, Bridget continued, as she looked at his mouth, in a caring almost motherly way, as if speaking to a young child who had just fallen off of his bicycle.

¨Why did they do that¨? she asked,

¨I got in a row with some Gooners up at Finsbury Park, and the fuckers nicked me, gave me a right pasting in the cells, but at least they didn’t charge me¨: he said with half a smile.

Jack noticed the skinhead was wearing a London Yids badge and a Tottenham Cockerel. Arch rivals to North London team Arsenal FC.

The guy handed back the tobacco to Bridget, but she held her palm up, and pushed his hand away.

¨No you keep it dear, it looks like you need it more than me, you have had a bad day, she said with a caring soft voice and smile.

¨oh if you insist, the guy returned, quickly pushing the Golden Virginia into his jacket pocket before Bridget changed her mind.

He then tapped his jeans and jacket, whilst holding the unlit cigarette in his mouth.

¨Got a light?¨ he asked from the corner of his mouth, with a raised eyebrow and a little boys cheeky grin, feeling really happy, with the generosity shown to him by Bridget.

¨Here you are, now go on with ya¨. Bridget passed a disposable lighter, closing his hand around it, with her hand.

¨You´re a sweetheart ¨. He said giving Bridget a hug, and a kiss on her cheek.

¨Hope you don’t mind mate. He said to Jack, you got a cracking bird there, make sure you look after her¨.

Bridget giggled slightly and looked at Jack for a split second, which in turn he felt a blush sweep across his cheeks

¨Have a great night¨! He said as the flame lit the end of his cigarette, allowing him to inhale a large lung full of relaxing tobacco smoke.

He took Jacks hand and shook it, and with that, walked into the London night, with a slight stride in his walk.

¨what’s a Gooner¨? Bridget asked Jack as they began to walk.

¨ An Arsenal football hooligan, Gooner is the name for Gunners firm. That guy was a Yid, which is Tottenham Hotspur, they are the big north London rivals, a bit like West Ham and Millwall in East and South London.

¨ha ha, you boys all want to be hero´s, always have to have something to fight about, thought you had a bit more education here, you are as bad as the lads back home¨.

¨Don´t look at me, I’m a nice boy¨. Jack said, giving his most angelic smile possible.

Bridget smiled, like a teacher does, not believing a word.

¨Besides, I come from High Wycombe, we got a shit team, made up of butchers and bakers.¨

¨and candlestick makers¨. Bridget added, giggling to herself.

¨ha ha you know the team then Bridge¨?

Jack paused to let the joke have some time.

¨No I never really been a big football fan, I think my dad put me off it, coming in pissed on a Sunday afternoon and turning the movie off we had all been watching, for the start of match of the day. I am much more into music and having fun. All that running about and millions of hours talking about 90 minutes of pretty boys kicking a bag of wind around, then getting in the bath together afterwards, doesn’t do it for me¨.

¨hahahaha you are funny Jack, she said. My sort of boy¨.

Trafalgar square was empty, just a few people standing on the road above the Square waiting for a night bus, and one guy in the far corner sweeping up discarded litter..

The four teenagers just messing about. Gavin leaned against the big grey stone held his hands together and gave the girls a bunk up onto the surface surrounding Nelson.

Jack jumped up himself, and immediately climbed onto one of the four brass lions, which sat at Nelsons column´s base.

¨pull me up jack¨. Asked Bridget, as she desperately tried to be the tom boy and join jack on the climb.

Jack leaned over and took her hands, pulling her up to join him. The both sat astride the lion, as if riding him, jack felt the closeness of Bridget against his body and smelled her perfume and the beautiful fragrance of female, as she looked out over London.

¨That’s Whitehall down there, where Maggie and the Government do their stuff. At the End is Big Ben, I think you can see that from here. And the next street over there is The Mall. We can go visit Lizzie if you like¨.

¨Who´s Lizzie¨? Asked Bridget.

¨You know, Lizzie, The Queen, Elizabeth¨! Jack Explained

¨Oww got ya, Bridget said, as she got the joke, Yes lets go see the Queen at Buckingham Palace, do you think she will make us some tea?¨

¨I am sure she will, we can tell her some loyal subjects are over from Ireland, maybe we will get some Digestives, or scones¨. Jack added.

¨I want to meet the Corgi’s, I love dogs¨, Bridget said as she slid down off the Lion.

Walking down through Admiralty Arch into the Mall, the sight of thousands of parades over the last few hundred years.

Jack was giving Bridget the tourist guide, all about how the Royal Navy was controlled from here, and the Horse guards which did all the ceremonial stuff for the tourists. Reading a few plaques, under military statues. From days gone by, when the British establishment, honoured its fallen heroes, killed on a far way field. During the time Britain was building her Empire.

Jack felt a sense of pride, as he walked down the Mall, admiring the palace buildings. The architecture. The flag poles lining all the way down the road, one of the few places in Britain they still flew the union jack on occasions. The guardsmen outside the palaces, in their immaculate red tunics and bearskin hats, were just there to collect the tourist dollar. But as an Englishman Jack still felt a pride in his heart, and yearned to be part of a Britain which travelled the Earth, spreading education, designing and building railway systems and hospitals. Trading with tribes, in distant nations. Discovering amazing new breeds of animals and forests. Being feared and respected by all the other World powers, bashing the French and Spanish for Gold in the process.

But this was 1981, what future was there for today’s youth, what did this country hold for him. Unemployment and maybe a council flat if there are any left. Some shit job in a factory or supermarket.

¨ It’s a bit dark and quiet down here Jack, are you sure we will be ok¨?

¨ Yes, this is tourist central, you won’t get any problems here¨ Jack answered,

The two walking arm in arm down the road. Jack felt good. It was really lucky to meet Bridget in the café, she seemed a really nice girl. Jack was wondering how he could see her again, and was hoping she decided to stay in London. Maybe she would come visit Wycombe some time. Was he going to get a kiss at some point tonight, he was wishing.

The City was quiet, just the odd car passing along the Mall, it’s not a bus or truck route, and there were no other pedestrians.

The pair were just wandering along casually, enjoying the evening, when behind him jack felt the thump of running feet. Looking over his shoulder, he saw somebody in the distance coming towards him. Not sure who it was or quite what to do, Jack immediately thought it best to keep Bridget calm. His natural male protectiveness coming to the fore.

He carried on chatting, but was concentrating on the feet, bracing himself for some sort of confrontation. Gavin was up ahead. Jack wondered if he had noticed yet, but didn’t want to raise the alarm, because he didn’t want to frighten Bridget, but she had noticed, jack felt her pull a bit tighter on his arm. Maybe she was also thinking about not to panic.

Speeding up his step slightly to close the gap between himself and Gavin, bracing himself as the footsteps got nearer

Jack was on high alert, his muscles tightening, but he didn’t want to look at the person running, hoping he would keep on going. He pulled his hands out of his pockets, clenched fists.

The guy passed him, overtook Gavin, then in front he stopped the run, and went into a slow pace.

He was a young black guy.

Gavin had noticed and looked back to Jack, to see where his backup was. Jack was thinking the same thing.

Something made jack look over his own shoulder, maybe for an escape route, but to his major alarm he saw a big mob running towards him.

Shit! He thought, this is going to be a proper row.

This was definitely getting more serious by the minute. The guy in front was holding them pinned in, as the rest of the mob caught up. Jack stood his ground and turned. He was used to street fighting, and knew Gavin would be thinking the same thing. He weighed his options up in his mind.

Fight or flight. Well he wasn’t going to run for several reasons, mainly that Bridget would slow him down, and if he did run he would almost certainly take a beating, or his friends would. He had learned that its always best to front out a situation, however much it goes against nature.

Bridget had stopped talking, she must have noticed the impending situation. Jacks stress levels were rising, the adrenalin and rushing of blood to the head. His sensing becoming hyper aware, as all the sounds disappeared. Jack focused

In a situation like this jack always applied the same rule, just go for the biggest one, take out the leader, in a firm, you will have the fighters and the followers. If you are going to take a beating then at least inflict as much damage into one of them as you can. Get hold of him. Bite him, punch and gauge his eyes out, but whatever you do, but don’t let go. If they are going to kick the shit out of you, then use their guy as your shield keep your face and body as close to him as you can and cause him maximum damage, the more vicious you are, the less you should get hurt. Most attacks will be over in a few minutes, so just hold on. Unless they have a blade, you should only end up with a few cuts and bruises. But long gone were the days when Jack would let anyone rob him, without a fucking good fight.

The mob approached, but as they neared it became apparent that they weren’t looking at jack. They divided and ran either side, as if Jack were a lamppost. He didn’t feel any punches, and kicks, were they going to attack Gavin first?

A thought struck him. These were white guys, and not the black mob Jack was expecting. Who were they?

They all ran past Gavin, then like a pack of wild dogs tore into the lone black guy.

The game had changed, but both jack and Gavin were pumped and ready to fight. But instead of defensive, it turned to offensive. Without a word Jack and Gavin charged towards the mob to defend the lone victim. Gavin grabbed one by the shoulder, spinning him around as Jack sprinted in, his fist raised, lining it up for the first jaw to smash.

The guy raised his hand up from his jacket pocket, he was holding something.

Pointing it directly at Jack came the words

¨Old Bill, Fuck Off¨!!

Like a sportsman’s getting the whistle, Jack just sort of froze mid flight, as reality hit him. Maybe with a little help from Bridget who grabbed his coat tail.


Perhaps it was the girls company or location, but for whatever reason. The police didn’t react to the Skinheads, but put their attention back to the black guy, who by now was spread eagled on the pavement, Two undercover policemen holding him down, knees pushed into his back, as they pulled his hands behind him, clipping the handcuffs on him. Cursing and swearing at him, as another stood over him, speaking into a radio.

The four teenagers were all silent as they walked for a few minutes, past the dramatic scene.

¨We should be getting back. Was the first words Bridget spoke, as she hung onto Mary. I don’t feel safe, let’s get back to the room Mary¨:

Another night ruined by the fucking Police. Jack thought, scratching an imaginary ACAB tattoo into his knuckles, as the two girls said their farewells, never to be seen again.

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