Mr Burns addressed the class, “I want you to write a short story. A story about what you think will make you happy.”
Claire sat at her desk busily scribbling away. If you love someone, you have to marry them. It’s the law. I’m in love with someone but he doesn’t know yet. I’m going to marry him when I grow up. Claire looked over to where Kev and me were sitting. Kev was trying to pull my book away from me. I hated Burns for putting us next to each other. I put my arm around my work, not letting Kev see what I was writing. Claire smiled. It’s the law, she wrote, I’m going to tell him at the Christmas disco.
Karen looked over Claire’s shoulder and laughed when she read what she had written.
“You’re mad if you fancy him.”
Bumper and Bernie sat watching everyone on the dance floor. Despite Damien’s speech, the day had gone really well.
“You never did tell me the reason why you wear a Banana outfit.”
“Oh it helps pull the birds. Phallic symbol and all that,” Bumper answered.
“And you find that it works do you?” She nudged him gently, laughing.
“Beating them off with a shitty stick, love.”
“Ooh, you have such a way with words you little charmer.”
“Tell you the truth, it never worked once. There was one girl, came up to the stall and asked me out, proper little stunner as well.”
“Oh yeah?” Bernie had a mock, hurt look on her face.
“You can imagine me all dressed in yellow, with a bright red face. I looked a right bloody picture. Turns out that she did for a bet. Her mates bet her twenty quid that she wouldn’t ask me out.”
“They still haven’t paid me that twenty pounds,” Bernie laughed.
I arrived around six and the lower school hall was already half full. The Saratoga Roadshow was in residence and the music was blasting, well as much as it could be in a school disco. Elvis and I had arrived together, not the most fashionable lads in the hall by a long way. I had on my Christmas clothes, a pair of baggy, tapered Geordie Jeans, a checked blue shirt and light blue, slip on shoes with white socks. Elvis wore a pair of light grey trousers that resembled Farah slacks but, as all the fashion victims would tell you, they weren’t the real thing as the pocket was in the wrong place and they were missing the crucial ‘f’ tag. He had a pair of dark grey slip-ons and wore a navy body warmer over a Madness T-shirt that he had owned since he was thirteen. It was starting to get a little tight on him but he liked it and that was what mattered.
We bought a cup of orange squash each and headed into the hall. There were a handful of girls on the dance floor, swaying gently to some poppy, soul number. The lads were dotted around the edge of the hall, attempting to look cool but not sure whether to dance yet. Bumper had on a cool, red, Michael Jackson style, leather jacket. It might have been plastic but the effect was great. He also had on the tight, black sta-press and black slip-ons with white socks. He stopped short of wearing a hat but was still by far the sharpest dresser in there. The lads in their Pringle jumpers may have disagreed but Bumper wasn’t a label guy, he had style. He practised his moon walking by the side of the dance floor. The girls stopped dancing for a while to watch him but only because he was about to bump into Mr Burns.
I looked about and as yet, Kev and his mates hadn’t turned up. They had made noises that they were too old for school discos but we knew they would be here. A Christmas Disco was a Christmas disco after all and nobody wanted to miss out. Claire had just arrived with Karen and looked fantastic. She wore a white A-line skirt and turquoise blouse. I could just make out the pattern of he bra under the thin material. I said hello as she walked past but blushed when I thought about her underwear. I also thought about what my chances of getting a Christmas kiss off her were but decided I was wasting my time despite it being a well-known fact that the girls were more up for it at Christmas. Just asking for a Christmas kiss was likely to be successful, unless you were a complete cheb like me.
The wallflowers were soon sprung into action when Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic by The Police came on. There was a surge onto the dance floor while everyone pogoed and tried to emulate the dance that Sting performed in the video. I looked over to Claire who was now dancing with Karen. Her breasts jiggled ever so slightly under her blouse and I smiled over. I’m sure she smiled back. Spirits were high; it was going to be a good night.
“You selfish Bastard,” Elvis was furious.
“I’m the selfish one? He only has to say no if he doesn’t want to get involved.”
“He’s just got married and you’re planning to get him killed.”
“Nobody’s going to get killed,” I argued, “you opted out remember. I just thought I would be polite and let you know what I was doing.”
Elvis was beginning to annoy me.
“Well you’re still a selfish prick.”
“What are you two arguing about?” Marie returned from the toilets.
“Nothing, I was just saying I was tired and wanted to go home. Elvis was trying to persuade me to stop.”
“Surely you can stop for one more.”
“Let him go if he wants. It’s a free country.”
I grabbed my jacket and said my goodbyes. I left my car in the car park and got the girl from reception to phone me a taxi. I needed Elvis on my side but I didn’t know how to persuade him.
After the Police had been on we all had an excuse to stay on the dance floor. Despite her smile, I had already decided that I would have no chance of a Christmas kiss from Claire so I looked about for a victim with lesser morals. There was a commotion at the door and a couple of the teachers headed for the entrance hall. Sara Nesbitt had downed the best part of a bottle of Strongbow before she arrived and had now thrown up in the entrance hall. They left her in the staff room until her parents came to collect her and somebody went to find some sand to cover the pile of vomit. By Monday the story would have been exaggerated to the level where she had drunk a litre of vodka and two bottles of whisky.
Everyone went back to dancing just as we saw Davison and friends arrive. After Sara’s entrance they were now checking everyone’s breath to see if they had been drinking. To a man, every one of Kev’s gang’s breaths stunk of extra strong mints. It did little to hide the smell of cider but it did enough to gain them entrance. This was mainly because the teachers gave up after smelling Tomma’s breath that stunk more of halitosis than cheap cider. They all lined up against the back wall looking edgy.
We danced, jumped about and pretty much enjoyed ourselves for the rest of the evening. It was getting towards the end of the night when the Thompson Twins ‘Hold me now’ came on. It was one of my favourites at the time and became one of my all time favourites when Karen Walker asked me to dance. I had spent all evening wondering how to ask someone to dance and she had saved me the bother. I hadn’t really taken that much notice of her before apart from her being Claire’s best mate but I couldn’t hide my grin, I really liked her. She was about an inch taller than me and had brown, bobbed shoulder length hair. She had a pretty, slightly up turned nose and a beautiful smile. She looked cool in her pink and grey, diamond-patterned sweater. I realised that as I was taking all of this in, I hadn’t actually replied.
“Come on then, are you going to dance or not?”
Taking my hand Karen led me away from my friends. She placed her arms around my neck and, as was the custom, I placed mine round her waist. We shuffled around. I’m not much of a dancer so I doubt we were in time to the music. Her head was on my shoulder as we danced. Elvis, Bumper and Gilbert had now stopped dancing and were stood behind Karen with their thumbs up. All apart from Bumper who had formed a circle with the thumb and forefinger of his left hand and was poking the index finger of his right hand through it repeatedly. I mouthed “Fuck Off,” as I shuffled round so that Karen was facing them. I wish I hadn’t. I was now looking straight at Claire Pearson who was dancing with Kevin Davison. The earlier feelings of elation now sunk to the bottom of my stomach. I felt sick. I knew I shouldn’t be feeling like this, I was with Karen after all. I shuffled round again so that I couldn’t see Claire and Kev. The record had now changed. It was the last one of the evening. ‘It must be love’ Madness’ cover of the Labbe Siffre classic.
“Am I going to get my Christmas kiss then?” Karen shook me out of my thoughts.
“What? Yeah. Certainly.”
Whilst this was my first kiss, I knew what to do; I’d been practising on my pillow for long enough. We snogged for the length of the record. To be honest I didn’t know when to stop but Karen didn’t seem to mind so we carried on. We left the hall hand in hand and kissed again as we left. Her dad was waiting in the car park for her. Bumper, Elvis and Gilbert were waiting for me outside.
“Well done mate, what was it like?” Elvis shook my hand.
“Well, you know,” I said dismissively.
“I don’t. That’s why I’m asking,” said Elvis. They all slapped me on the back and congratulated me on the way home but I wasn’t as happy as I should have been. I hadn’t seen Claire kiss Kev but she had been dancing with him. That was bad enough.
I went straight to bed when I got home, not sure how I should be feeling. My tears soaked the pillow as I cried myself to sleep.
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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