A while ago I did a poll asking what you would like to know. The winning entry was the Badger (me) meeting the Clopper (the wife ska angelhands).
So settle down with a good mug of tea, adjust your eye wear and prepare yourself for an epic adventure involving drugs, debauchery, mysticism and more loose ends than a wall of shelves put up by stegzy….Now read on….
When Badger Met Clopper
Part 1 – The protagonists
It’s 1996, a year has passed and I was still reeling from the blows dealt by Teana. I am wallowing in self pity and building up a great deal of resentment. Not only have most of my school chums pissed off to university or to the big smoke to start their careers, but my so called best mate Guy has gone against my advice and got himself involved with one of my ex-girlfriends, Jane. I am living in a cruddy bedsit above a fishing tackle shop, struggling to survive on the pittance that was income support (unemployment benefit). Apart from signing on every second Wednesday, I’d take myself to Southport College every Thursday afternoon in a failing attempt to further myself with some law qualifications. I would also spend some time with an old school acquaintance, Ray, an irritating bullying wastrel who fancied himself as a top class musician.
My resentment of Guy was subsiding but still causing me to seethe with anger. During his birthday the previous year one of my ex girlfriends, Jane, used her deviousness and cunning and had invited herself, through me, along to Guy’s 21st birthday celebrations. Guy, being one who would snatch any opportunity for a steady girlfriend, fell for her charms and ignored my advice of “Stay away or you’ll get burnt” and was already engaged to be married. (Curiously he did exactly the same thing nearly 10 years later with Scotts ex-girlfriend, Vee) I’d washed my hands of him and of her. So I was angry at getting fucked about by Teana, angry at Jane for using deceit to get to Guy and angry at Laura (yet another of my ex-girlfriends) for being the cock tease she was and her hobby of fucking with my head.
Some of my pals at the time, notably Min and Chris Herbert, delighted in tutoring me in the “ways of being a man”. I learnt their tricks and also how to use cunning and guile to get one night sex, use women and generally be a bastard. Much like a plumbers apprentice who would rather be an accountant I took my lessons in my stride, noting where I had gone wrong in the past; how to spot deceit and use it to my advantage; The “Min manoeuvre” (he demonstrated this by chatting up a pizza delivery girl that had come to his door, charming the pants off her and getting her into his bed in less than 5 minutes); but all the while thinking “these really are not the way to treat other humans”. My womanising lessons took a break during the week when I would meet up with Ray, more often than not, in his cruddy bedsit.1
I will illustrate Ray’s character by describing a typical episode of time spent with Ray. I shall assume that the previous meeting he had suggested that we went for a bike ride somewhere far which would require us to set off earlyish. History would have already told me that earlyish would be 11am at the latest. Any earlier than that would result in no answer at the door.
You would enter his flat at 11. Ray would then:-
– lounge in bed and:-
– play you his music (his music. Stuff he’d composed himself) Which wasnt all that bad if a bit irritating
– tinker with a sequence of his music that wasnt quite right to his ears
– ask you to make a cup of tea
– Watch telly
– Get up
– Get dressed
– Make something to eat
– Announce he was taking a shit
– Tinker more with his music or tell you about some new thing he was working on
– Smoke lots
– Announce he was taking a bath
– Take a bath
– Get dressed
– be amused at your apparent vexation at his tardiness and annoyance at the day being wasted
– Announce it was time to go and do something
– Tinker more with whatever it was to be tinkered with
– Leave the flat with you on your 5th announcement that you were going without him
A total wastrel and a complete fuck up. But being young, stupid and still wanting to live in the past I didn’t know any better and sought his companionship because despite his faults I’d known him a long time2, he did tell good stories, he listened and he also liked to make crazy stuff up like I did. He also made promises (most of which he never kept), talked of get rich quick schemes, getting me in with people he knew that might get me a job (they never, in fact I doubt these people existed) and meeting women. The world owed Ray something. I never found out what or why, but that is how he was. The world owed him and everyone else was trying to rip him off. Of course, this also meant by proxy the world owed me something too.
This was my existence. My youth. Slumming it on the dole. Staying warm in other peoples houses. Drinking their tea. Stinking their flats out with my cigarette smoke. Smoking roll-ups made out of cigarette butts. Eating the cheapest brands. Learning to loathing the whole world and how to be a bastard. Not nice. Dark, nasty times, brought on by my own ignorance and stubbornness. Something had to change. Someone or something new had to happen. But at the time nothing seemed like it was going to change. Until Ray got himself a job. He would check it out and once he was sorted he’d get me in (he never did). That meant I was left in my own flat for months on end…still wallowing in self pity but with enough time to blow shit up on my Amiga 1200 and watch X files videos all day. Until the loneliness hit and the realisation that I had to meet new people or suffocate. So out came the lonely hearts column of the Liverpool Echo and a brief tryst with a girl called Michaela. Stunningly beautiful but just out for a shag. We fucked all night. It was good. I needed more….further realisation hit that I needed someone new in my life…..
The months passed and Christmas approached. With the festive season came carol concerts. Croxteth Hall, our annual traditional “sing the same carols year in year out” event arrived and with it Ray whom I hadn’t seen in a while. He looked well to do. Smart, clean shaven, washed. Fresh. Flashing cash here and there. I told him my woes I told him how I was starting to feel lonely. His eyes lit up. He had an opportunity in mind.
“I need you to do me a favour mate” he said…..
1 – You will notice the similarity between Ray and Jim in that both are musicians, both like the sound of their own voice, both preferred their own environs to new places, both terrible womanisers and both users of class A drugs. (Another similarity will make itself apparent later on in this tale but I’ll not mention it lest to build up suspense)
2 – My first meeting of Ray was at school and involved him walking up to me, punching me in the head (really hard) and saying “Be my friend or I’ll hit you again”.