A Place on the Hill

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In the warehouse at work, someone had spilt what looked and smelled like lavender fabric softener on the floor. In a quiet corner away from others, I stood there and breathed in its scent and within seconds was taken back to a time and place from my youth. Closing my eyes, it pulled me in and there I was, behind the bar of the pub I used to work at back in my university days. That pub on the hill. The pub it would take 35 minutes to walk to while listening to Send Away the Tigers and getting no further than I’m Just A Patsy. The lavender scent, it was the same that used to emanate from the dishwasher I would load up with empties. The guy who ran the place paid me Β£5 an hour cash in hand, all of which was spent on beer consumed in the seven hours I’d be serving and then the taxi fare home. The joint was a spit and sawdust place situated in a housing estate. During my time there, I remember witnessing an old man get sucked off by a woman half his age. It was early evening, and the deed was done in a discrete corner near a pool table when the place was pretty much empty. While the woman’s head bobbed up and down in his lap, he turned his head to me and winked. Another time, I opened a fridge in the cellar that unknown to me contained rotting vegetables and promptly puked up. It was in that cellar I attempted to change a barrel with a girl I worked with. Her name, what was it? Claire. Yeah, she was a cute one alright. We made a right mess and fucked up badly. Beer sprayed everywhere soaking us head to toe, and I vaguely remember slipping over at one point and accidentally-kinda-not-accidentally touching her breast. She smiled, and I saved the moment for later and replayed it over and over again far longer than I shoulda. Every so often, towards the end of the night when a lock in was being held, I would go into the kitchens on the pretence of fetching my cigarettes, but really, I was stealing porn from the landlord’s secret stash. It was in a cupboard near the dishwasher. Shitloads of DVD’s and magazines bought from some Chinese guy who came around in the afternoons selling his wares no questions asked. The landlord never noticed though because he was always pissed and I encouraged his inebriated state by serving him shots of brandy I would pretend to write down on my slate. Arriving home to the flat above the chemists I was living in after my shift had finished, I’d carry on drinking with whoever was around, or if the place was deserted, I would put on one of the dirty movies I’d pinched and more often than not fall asleep dick in hand. Waking up on a Sunday morning, I’d smoke to bring on a shit then head out to work in the book store, the one where I would meet Sophie not long after. Opening my eyes, I’m back in the warehouse and looking down at the remains of the fabric softener someone’s attempted to mop up. A few years on from when I walked out of the pub for the last time, the landlord went on the run for staging a break-in at another pub somewhere up north. Saw his ugly mug on Crimewatch once and laughed myself silly. Sophie is in London somewhere taking photographs. The pub’s still standing, albeit refurbished, and the flat above the chemist is still there. Walked past it only last month on my yearly return to that town that will never leave me.

A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon.co.uk

A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon.com

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