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Sculpture Of Man

Novel By: LukeD90

A journey from youth to manhood, from high school to university, via college, the workplace, the job centre and college once again. View table of contents...


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Submitted:Mar 24, 2014    Reads: 0    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


Pretty soon it was half term for my mates at Roundhay, and so for me it felt like half term as well, which was odd as I was working that week, and I was no longer at college. But on the Saturday night of "half term", Eloise was having people round at her's, and people were staying over, so I thought I'd go, much like half term last year. It was strange how much 2009 was mirroring 2008, with my holiday to Egypt in the early weeks, and then this.

I finished work and went home, and had something to eat. The plan was that Calum would pick me up, then Pete, then Woody from outside the White House, what with Calum having passed his driving test not long ago and recently acquiring a license. So at 8PM, he rocked up at mine in his parents' family carrier, which amused me as it was a massive car and he looked so silly maneuvering it. I hopped in and we were at Pete's house on Oakwood Lane within ten minutes, so I rang Pete who then joined us. Calum then turned back round, and went onto Roundhay Road, then Wetherby Road, where Woody was sheepishly waiting. We arrived at Eloise's house not even ten minutes afterwards. Eloise had kept my Becks which were confiscated at her party, so I cracked open a bottle. But then we were to venture back out and pick Jimmy up. Calum was planning the route meticulously and I was just thinking, fucking hell mate, it's a pretty straightforward route. So I finished my drink, and Calum, Pete and I got back into the car, and drove to Chapeltown where we picked Jimmy up.

The night was okay. There was certainly less drama this time round compared to the previous time, with no Prust losing it at Collinson. We mainly spent the night playing guitar hero, which was an untapped talent of mine, it turned out! Although I was a bit shaky on the drums at first, the drumkit for the game which Eloise had set up. We ordered some food like last year, and Pete paid for my pizza, which was nice of him, and I said I'd pay him back. And then it was back to the sofas to play more guitar hero. Jimmy, with his leftfield sense of humor, randomly blurted out, "Chk, chk, chk-chk-chk-chk, chicken and chips!" emiting the noise of a DJ's spinning vinyl on his decks, which we had a good laugh about, and then I said "Chk, chk, chk-chk-chk-chk, yeah, just a coke please, mate" which made everyone laugh. Not the most eventful of nights, especially around this period, but a good turnout nonetheless. By about 2AM we retreated to bed, with me, Pete, Jimmy, Woody and Calum all sharing the room I slept in the previous year with Hannah and Hammerton. Calum and I took up the two sofas, Woody used a mattress on the floor and Pete and Jimmy shared the double bed, something I'm thankful for as I'd have hated to have been in Jimmy's position, as Pete kept farting and giggling to himself.

The next morning, Pete and Jimmy disappeared into the bathroom so I was sat in the bedroom shooting the shit with Calum and Woody. We got onto the subject of my bus adventures. "What's the furthest you've been on one of these bus crawls, Luke?" Calum asked me. "Er, Bradford, probably, on the 72" I answered. Then I had a lightbulb moment. That was it! "Bus crawl? That's excellent Calum!" I said to him. I'd been in need of a term to describe these little trips, and Calum came up with it, likening them to a bar crawl. In honesty, I was longing for a bus crawl to somewhere in West Leeds, Bramley or Pudsey but my self-imposed exile from those places made it difficult. Later on, Calum dropped me off, home just in time for me to get ready for work and endure another tedious shift on the tills.

The actual week was rather uneventful. I remember that on the Tuesday or Wednesday I went on a bus crawl up to Temple Newsam, somewhere I hadn't been since I was still at college, but I wasn't enjoying it as the place was muddy, having just recovered from the snowfall, and the ground being damp as a result. I went on a walk up through the woods but it was much too slippy, and when I walked up the hill on the large field overlooking the house, my feet were soaking from the damp ground. So I turned round pretty swiftly.

But on the Saturday, Calum offered to take a few of us for a drive in his car. This was something I was pushing for him to do for a while, and he finally caved in. Also coming along for the ride were Jimmy and Pete. So once again, he pulled up at my house, and I got in his family carrier, before picking up Pete, and then Jimmy. Then we decided to head in the direction of Bradford. So along the Ring Road we went, past Sainsbury's, past Horsforth, across the bridge which links North and West Leeds and onto Pudsey, where we took a right at that big roundabout and headed along the main road which takes one all the way to Bradford. We crossed over the border and soon we were heading down the hill which descended into Bradford City Centre, with the streetlights flickering in the night sky in the distance, quite a dramatic view. I started taking the piss out of Pete and Jimmy's humour, which basically consists of them saying random words in an almost retarded voice. We passed a William Hill and said to them "the sort of things you say are like, "Will-yum Hirr!" It was all good natured though, and rather ironically, Pete and Jimmy have adopted "Will-yum Hirr!" as an in-joke since.

We reached Bradford City Centre and Calum took us up some uphill road past the Interchange, until we were out of the city centre and in some suburb of Bradford. None of us actually knew where we were, and Calum seemed a bit embarrassed that we were lost. So we just had to keep following the signs for the city centre, whilst navigating whichever part of Bradford we were even in. A while later, and we were back in the city centre, and back climbing up that hill, back towards Leeds. And then, when we were back over the border and at the roundabout which meets the Ring Road at Pudsey, I directed Calum across the roundabout rather than left, so we'd be going down Stanningley Road rather than the Ring Road. We would therefore be passing through Bramley. So we moved down Stanningley Road, passing the limestone buildings and the viaduct, before moving on through to the housing of Bramley. "We're in Bramley now, I might have to duck down if Suzie walks past", I joked, something Pete didn't take in jest: "Really?! You're actually going to duck down?!" he exclaimed, clearly getting the wrong end of the stick. It was nice gliding through Bramley in the nighttime. Apart passing through that night with Dan, Big Jim and Cameron in the taxi, I hadn't properly been here since that morning when I was still at college in the first week back, which was funnily enough the first time I saw Suzie since the Kada's incident. We reached Town End and I saw a couple of buses parked up, probably the 49, and streetlights shimmering in the distance. I always found Bramley to be good for vantage points and they looked great at night. Then we crossed over, down Stanningley Road, through Armley, with the streelights of Kirkstall and Burley visible from across the river. "Luke, you owe me a tenner" Pete said. "Do I? No, that pizza cost a tenner, and those cigs were like two pound seventy. Eight quid at most", the cigarettes being what Pete lent me money for a week or so before this. "Oh, Luke!" he groaned. We eventually rounded the Armley Gyratory and bypassed town via the Inner Ring Road, and the rest of our journey saw us drive up Chapeltown Road to drop Jimmy off, before heading to Pete's, and then, finally, mine, where Calum dropped me on the corner of my street.

It was a good night. It was the first time in ages I'd properly seen Bramley. Ever since I knew Calum had a car I wanted him to take us on drives round Bramley, and I'd got it.

By the following Tuesday night, I had got myself into a bad sleeping routine once more, and I couldn't get my head down. So this was the next of many, many all nighters I had done since I left college. I reinstalled Battlefield 1942 on my laptop, the first person shooter about World War II, and one of my all time favourite games. So I stayed up playing it until dawn, shooting enemy soldiers, driving tanks, flying planes, commandeering artillery, and realising how great this game was which I hadn't played in years. I also teamkilled a number of my teammates, which got them riled, just for a laugh. Placing explosives on a Jeep and waiting for my teammate to start driving it before detonating it was one of my personal favourite methods. Dawn broke and I checked my phone, something I hadn't done all of the previous night for some reason. And I saw I'd got a text from Pete, at around 4PM: "Answer your fucking phone for once!" Well that guy can go fuck himself. Who does he think he is, sending me texts like that? Seriously, what was his obsession with me not picking up? He seemed to think it was something personal on my part, like, I had some kind of agenda against him going by the way he'd constantly get upset about it, when that wasn't the case at all.

Later on that morning, I once again went on a bus crawl. A rather exhausted route by now, but I hopped on the 3 to the White Rose Centre. The first signs of spring were showing on this day. It was still cold, but it was a cloudless sky, and the sunshine was glowing over the morning. As for the bus route, not as glorious. I'd overdone the 3 so many times, and like a lot of the bus routes in Leeds, riding them was just routine now. It seems like the magic of getting on a bus and heading out somewhere had been lost since the summer. Apart from the Bramley and Pudsey routes, of course, but again, I was still in self-imposed exile because of Emma and Elliot. And maybe Suzie. Beeston was no longer this enigmatic, intriguing place like it was in November 2007. It was somewhere etched in my mental geography.

When the bus crossed the motorway and passed the 'Welcome to Leeds' sign on the way back into town. I got a call off Pete asking what I was doing. He was telling me how he'd had an argument with his father, not for the first time, so he was feeling pretty low. If it weren't for this, I'd have lambasted him about the abusive text he sent me. I got off the number 13 at Thorn Lane and Pete was already there, with a tall lad named Tom Morgan, who he was at sixth form with. So we just chilled there for a bit, despite me being absolutely shattered by this point. Then Tom went to lesson, so Pete and I headed out, to meet up with Joe and Rhys down in Oakwood, who were already waiting there by the time we arrived. Pete and Rhys decided to get some chips from the chippy opposite Oakwood Clock, and then we crossed over to sit at the clock and just doss about. "oh, I'm surrounded by the smell of chips!" Joe moaned. This made me smirk. One of our many in-jokes about Joe was that he really, really loved chips. He once said his favourite day of the week was Thursday, because that was the night he ate chips on. Pete could see that I was amused by this. I mentioned how I'd done an allnighter playing Battlefield (and teamkilling), and Pete's reaction was, "you've been up all night playing video games?!" Well, not just to play Battlefield, but yes, my all nighter did involve that. So it wasn't long before I said my goodbyes, and headed home, straight into my bed.

The next day, I woke up at about eight, having had a good sleep, so that morning, a Thursday, I decided to go on a little walk before work. On Old Park Road I bumped into Prust, who was on his way to school. "Alright?" we both greeted each other, Prust smirking for some reason, probably the idea of me being up this early being so ludicrous! Around this time I had actually put some consideration into going back to Park Lane to do a recently opened music course (which turned out to be a foundation degree in the end) It was just an idea, a desperate one. I told Pete and the guys this in my garden later that day, and Pete was doubtful. "You won't enrol though, will you?" he sneered. "What do you mean?" I said. "Well you couldn't even finish your last course at college" he answered. "So the fuck what? What does that mean?" "Well you just won't finish this one" "You don't fucking know anything, how can you even tell I wouldn't be motivated for it? Do you have a fucking crystal ball or something?" I snapped. Pete did like to give me little digs about dropping out of Park Lane, which was rich of him, as he was slack in sixth form and was going to Music College anyway, so he was basically about to throw his A-Levels.

That Saturday, Dan rang me, asking if I was up for a few drinks in Headingley, to which I was. I was to meet him and Mav at The Box, who I hadn't seen in a while. So I turned up at around eight or nine and those two were already there. I got on the JD and Cokes, and we spent about two hours or so just chatting and drinking. Then we decided to head around the corner to The Arc, but we cut down a darkened sidestreet which links Otley Road with North Lane, and along the way there was some lone middle aged man who Mav started trying to initiate conversation with, for whatever reason. We got into The Arc and went upstairs, but not long afterwards Mav decided to do one and get the last bus home to Otley. So it was just Dan and I now, slugging the JDs and chatting. It was only midnight when we decided to leave, but just as a taxi pulled up outside the Arc which Dan had flagged down, two Indian lads came round the corner. One of them, a large, fat guy, asked us "Can we take your taxi?" "Can you fuck?" Dan snappily replied. This incensed this guy. "Oi! Don't fucking swear at me! Who the fuck do you think you are! You fucking cunt!" he started yelling, as Dan and I swiftly turned round and walk into The Arc, this angry guy following us, with his mate who was now in the taxi calling "Come on man! Fucking leave it, just come on!" The bouncer on the door let us back in but not the guy who was wanting to batter the fuck out of Dan. "Fucking hell, guess we may as well get one more then" Dan laughed. Well I hadn't seen such aggression since I had been mugged, I'll tell you that. So we had one last JD and Coke, and then I headed out in a taxi, back home, rather pissed.

It was around this time that I was really getting back into my first person shooter military games. As mentioned, I had started playing a lot of Battlefield 1942, partially inspired by frequent access to the Tactical Realism website and the whole World War II theme of that place, even though I only went on it to troll with Tristan. And having watched a lot of war films and just generally being really into the military during this period, I developed an addiction to the game once more. I even joined a clan, called Axis Of Evil, or, *AOE*, as their clan tags read. It was hugely unorganized but the people in it were nice enough, and I was promoted to the rank of Sergeant within weeks of joining! Tristan also trolled their forum, by posting a message: "THIS IS SHIT...YOU ARE ALL FAGGOTS, FUCK YOU" We would communicate through the program Ventrilo, which gaming clans used via the medium of microphones. This led me onto checking out Ventrilo Harassment videos on Youtube, a series of videos where someone would record themselves going onto Ventrilo and playing sounds down the mic, and the others getting wound up about it. Still very funny to this day!

I also had my hair cut around this period. Not short, I was still rocking the lengthy locks, but it was a sort of bowl cut style, almost similar to someone in a Madchester band. Indeed, on one occasion when Jimmy called for me for the first time since I'd had my hair cut, the first thing he said was "Shaun Ryder!" Cheers Jimmy. I was literally in need of a hair cut. There were several knots in my hair that I just couldn't undo, so I had to get a bit of it chopped off. And it looked better in the bowl cut style. My hair had got way too long and messy.

I noticed around this period that the number 40 had been extended all the way to Pudsey, via Bramley and Stanningley (or Swinnow, home of Emma, on the new 40A), and for a few weeks I had my eye on it, but for a while I still didn't have the courage to head out that way. But on one Wednesday, I had booked myself to do a four hour overtime shift at work starting at 2PM, so I thought I'd check this new bus route out in the morning. I got driven into town by my Dad on this sunny day, and then headed on down through town. On the way I saw TK with Jordache, a guy from Roundhay who had short black hair, who were both now at Building College, so I spoke to them for a bit. "Where you off?" TK asked me. "Off to my cousin's in Pudsey, then work" I said, half lying. I continued and walked down to the stop outside the Duncan pub, where we used to get the Free Bus to college back from Kada's, and where the 40 would pick me up from. About five minutes of waiting around took place, and then the bus rolled up, having returned from Seacroft.

Well the bus took the now sort of familiar route towards Bramley. Past the train station, and down Wellington Street, before heading up the Inner Ring Road to the Armley Gyratory. From there it would head straight up Stanningley Road, all the way until the exit onto Bramley Town End, where it crossed that bridge, and then headed onto Stanningley Road, where it travelled along until it reached the railway bridge, just before Pudsey, and then it took a left under that bridge, and uphill, across the bridge over the Ring Road, and up into Pudsey. So nothing I hadn't seen before, and not the most intriguing route through West Leeds. But then, as the bus reached the junction with the main road running through Pudsey, it crossed over and went on down through a back road, which passed through a side of Pudsey I hadn't seen yet. I had a splendid view over Leeds in the distance, and I could also see the pink tower blocks of the Gamble Hill Estate in Bramley. The bus pushed on along this road, going right through a residential estate, the morning sunshine glowing, before turning off down another street. This was great. The bus finally turned off onto it's terminus at Station Street, a rather modest looking road, with a few garages and not much else on it. I decided to stay on the bus, until we set off again, headed straight on, surrounded by nice looking limestone terraces, and at the end of Station Street we turned right, and then the bus went down a rather familiar looking road. It passed a certain house, and then I realised. That was the garden where Suzie dropped her beer! A bit further along and we passed that pub that we went in to use the toilets off. And then we pulled back onto the main road, with the cenotaph one side, and the Sainsbury's on the other side, where Suzie held my hand and tried to coax me over the road after pulling my hood down in an effort to get me to buy booze. As for the rest of the journey, the bus simply went back the way it came, back down through Pudsey before going down into Stanningley, then passing through Bramley, Armley and then, finally, town.

What a glorious morning! That was the first time I had properly been into West Leeds since I attempted the number 9 then 8 from Seacroft, when I was overcome with illnmess. It almost felt cathartic in a way. Hard to explain, but it was just good to freely go through Bramley and Pudsey and discover a new part of this section of Leeds. Retrospectively, I don't even know why I had this silly fear of running into Elliot or Emma or, dare I say it, Suzie. In fact, I might even go as far as to say that the morning I got that bus to Pudsey and back was the happiest I had been in quite some time. I guess this new bus route, in Pudsey which was somewhere I already viewed with a romantic outlook on, made a change to the now mundane rituals in my life.

I had a bit more time to kill, so, speaking of mundane rituals, I just got on the number 16 to Seacroft and back, which was basically the same route as the 4 but it went through some Burmantofts backstreets rather than past St. James' Hospital, and then the 51 to Morley and back, both of which were now pretty boring routes, but "safe", in terms of the lack of people from Park Lane living along them. I killed a bit more time in town, and then I got the 51 again, but this time to work. Went into the canteen and fished out some loose change to buy myself some crisps with, and then began a typically average shift at work. Four hours of the usual malarky, and despite how the sun was shining gloriously on this day and I wanted to be out there in it, I was in high spirits because of that bus trip to Pudsey.

I got picked up at six and my mother was ranting about some poor customer service advisory at Homebase who was being unhelpful about a replacement mop, or something. That night, Pete had a free house and the previous evening Calum asked me if I was going, to which I said "Yeah, I'm up for going to Pete's.....free house." I don't know why there was a pause in what I was saying, but it amused us both. So I finished up my pizza and then I got a lift up. Already there aside from Pete was Jimmy, Calum, Randeep, Joe, Sam, Woody and Rhys. And a fuckload of beer. I had a couple of cans and just spent a few hours there with those guys. It wasn't a mental night and I only left at about eleven when my Dad picked me up, but it was a nice, chilled out evening, with us just sat in Pete's garden drinking beer and sharing anecdotes and whatnot. Overall, it was a great day, and a great day was something which I had been in dire need of for some time.

Life was just becoming more enjoyable. Coupled with that bus crawl out to Pudsey, I'd found a hobby in playing Battlefield 1942 and spring was starting to come through. Things weren't entirely perfect, of course. I was still pining for Suzie, still looking at pictures of her on Facebook. I had no idea how I was even going to encounter her again. Occasionally when talking to Dan or Sean I'd drop hints about a "college reunion", such as saying something along the lines of, "I kinda miss college, I wonder how everyone there is doing" and the like. But they just didn't seem interested any more. Sean, who at one point his life seemed to depend on being around the college gang, seemed to have moved on. He was happy with just Dan and I.

Speaking of Dan and Sean, I met up with those guys around this time, for the first night out I'd had in ages which involved Sean, what with him being down in Henley-On-Thames. Also coming along was ginger Ed. I'd sometimes say 'hi' to Ed at Sainsbury's as he worked there, but didn't properly get to know him. Sean had suggested going down Greek Street for a few drinks tonight. His mother was to pick us up, so she did. As mentioned, I'd had my hair cut around this period, but when I mentioned it in the car after Sean's mum collected me, he told me how he hadn't noticed. Good one. When we got dropped off on Woodhouse Lane, Sean decided to walk up to his mother's car, which was stopped at a set of traffic lights, and do some weird dance to get her attention. It was rather strange, and embarrassing. As one person in a passing car shouted to him, "sort your life out!" We walked on down to Greek Street, which was down near the train station, and headed into a bar which was rather upmarket looking, but completely empty. Dan arrived not long after, and then so did Ed. "Yeah, man, this place is normally good, plus the waitress is fit" Sean explained. But it was dead. I don't know why Sean had this great idea of going here, but we decided to head on to Jake's, and spend the rest of the night there. A pretty uneventful evening, all in all.

Around this point, Moe seemed to have done a disappearing act. He would never be on MSN, he wouldn't answer his phone and he hadn't updated his Facebook in a long time. Basically he was inactive. I was wondering what was going on with him. That is, until Dan told me what was happening. He had been sectioned. What? Apparently Moe was feeling depressed so he turned himself into a mental health ward, and he was basically stuck there now. What the hell? I knew Moe could be depressive, understandable, as his parents basically dumped him in Britain when he was just fourteen, before returning to Tehran, but he wasn't insane, just dour at times. That said, his life in his flat wasn't great. Some dude who Moe described as looking "like Bin Laden without a beard" had moved in, a friend of his father's, and was quite an imposing figure. It was just strange how Moe was basically sectioned. Apparently, American Jake was in the same ward as him. Jake, who had already been sectioned in the summer for trying to assault his Dad.

The following week, I had another overtime shift, on a Wednesday, just like before, so this time, I was to check out the 40A to Pudsey, which ran along a similar route to the 40, as you'd expect. So once again I got on outside the General Elliot, then was taken past the train station, all the way out to the Armley Gyratory, along Stanningley Road through Armley, up to Bramley and then along Stanningley Road. The bus took a left at the junction with the Fire Station, and then it went under a railway bridge, past some factories, across the Stanningley Bypass, and at the end of the road, it took a left. I was now in Swinnow, travelling up that hill into Pudsey. Council houses passed by, and before I knew it, I was in Pudsey. The bus passed the bus station, and continued along Chapeltown, the main road through Pudsey, before taking a left after having cleared all the shops, and went down a side street, before swiftly turning right. I was at the terminus and like the previous week, I stayed on instead of getting off. I spent about ten minutes just reading a copy of the Metro, before the bus engine turned on, and I was off again. The route was now the reverse of the 40 the previous week, so it was a fairly lengthy jaunt through the quiet, leafy backstreets and residential areas of Pudsey. Once again it was a sunny morning, and Spring was starting to come through, so there was a lot of greenery. And I had such a great view over Leeds from the route of the bus. I could see Bridgewater Place, and all the other high rise buildings in Leeds City Centre. They all looked so far down. Was Pudsey really that high up? Eventually the bus pulled up at the junction with Chapeltown, and it went straight across, down the hill into Stanningley, then down Stanningley Road, past Bramley Town End and Armley, and back into town.

And again, I killed more time before work by getting on the 51 to Morley and the 16 to Seacroft, and again it was a fantastic morning. I had rediscovered some joy in bus crawls, something I was growing bored with. Pudsey was such a great area for scenery, and the greatness of that morning's journey was fresh in my mind when I was waiting for my shift, and finally doing it. When I finished, I went home and logged onto Facebook, making the status: "Long arse day", because despite the greatness, it really was long and tiring. Pete commented: "should have chilled O_o"

That Friday night, Tristan, Jimmy and Calum came round to chill at mine, and we just had a couple of beers. I remember showing Tristan my teamkilling skills on Battlefield 1942, which involved me planting a load of dynamite on a plane, and when my teammate climbed in, ready to take off...kaboom! Naturally Tristan was amused. It was a so-so night. I got a text off Pete asking when he'd be able to get the tenner that I owed him. I honestly didn't owe him a tenner! A fiver for the pizza, and about three quid for the cigs, like I said. Where was he getting this extra two quid from?

The rush from those two bus crawls to Pudsey died down sure enough before long, and I was back to the boredom, back to the realization of the mundane. Those two bus journeys were a real hark back to those college mornings when I'd be bus crawling it to Pudsey and Bramley regularly, in the sunshine, but the excitement could only last so long until you realised that your future was still, at this very moment, being stuck in a shitty part time job until the foreseeable. I was still doing these walks up to Roundhay and back on a daily basis, pretty much, and they were what got me out of the house, besides work itself and the odd night out with Dan and Sean and people. Pete and the gang would still come round to mine on their lunch breaks, but a lot of the time, I was still in bed and had to drag myself out of a sleep just to accommodate their needs, which was to just sit round doing little for an hour. The 40 bus was a nice little ray of sunshine in an otherwise dull period of my life. I just needed some excitement.

One Friday, in March 2009, my mum said she was going to drive into town to pick my dad up from his work so I offered to come along that evening. So we drove into town, outside the Merrion Centre, where his offices were, and he got in. And on the drive back, my mum decided to go up Scott Hall Road and then down through Chapel Allerton, for whatever reason. And as we went down to the junction with Harrogate Road and Potternewton Lane, I was sure I saw Suzie walk past! If it was actually her, she was with some bearded geezer. I know this may have been that cliché of seeing someone who has had a profound impact on your life everywhere, but I was sure that this was her. She was even wearing a brown leather jacket, something Suzie would wear from time to time. Was it her, or was my mind playing tricks on me? I was still quite obsessed with her. I'd still be checking pictures of her out on Facebook every day, still fantasizing about possible situations during which we'd finally, just finally, get together. In fact, in one hypothetical scenario, the end result being that I got with her, of course, I had an idea to put my Facebook status as "Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat!" Or, in short, fuck off Sam!

I got in having seen this person who may or may not have been Suzie, and I ordered myself a pizza from Chicago's in Chapel Allerton. It took forty five minutes to arrive as per normal, and when it arrived I devoured it. And when I was near to my last slice, my bedroom door suddenly opened. "Yeah, what?" I asked with a mouthful of pizza, thinking it was my mum. It was Tristan. "Hacked!" he grinned as he walked in. "Tristan? Alright mate? What you doing here?" I asked. "Thought I'd come round" he further grinned. "Bit random of you to turn up now though" I told him, still surprised, as I finished my pizza. "Yeah I know. But fuck it, let's go Tesco and get some beers" he said. "Nah, not tonight, too tired" I told him. "Why are you too tired?" he asked. "Just am." "Come on man, why don't you want to get something to drink?" "It's too late anyway, and I wasn't expecting to chill with you tonight" I said to him. We ventured out into my garden, and had some cigarettes under the night sky, sat on the deckchairs. "Why do you have to be such a bitch?" Tristan asked. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Well, look. It's Friday night, it's the end of the fucking week, it's what we always do" he said to me. "Yeah, but I was hoping for a quiet night in, man, you know what I mean?" "I do know what you mean, but come on, why don't you want to go Tesco?" In truth, I didn't want to go because of what happened when we got mugged. I wasn't suffering from agoraphobia, of course, but I didn't like the idea of walking the streets late on a Friday night, after that incident, which happened close to my house, so in a respectable area, out of the blue. Eventually Tristan had no choice but to not go and get beers. It was selfish of me, I know, but I just didn't want to be out there. We spent about half an hour chilling in my garden and smoking, before going inside and logging onto a Tactical Realism clan's Teamspeak server, a similar program to Ventrilo, to cheer Tristan up. To be fair, we had a good laugh, winding up the people on that server, who had previous problems with Tristan in the past, or 'Leving', as he was known to them.

I was to see the Eagles Of Death Metal with Pete and Hammerton on the Sunday that the clocks went forward, at the Academy in Leeds. Hammerton bought me a ticket and I don't think I've yet reimbursed him for it. I still had work that day. Recently I'd been doing shifts which involved collecting trolleys from outside and rounding them up, which I didn't mind, because at least I was on my feet, and Ed was usually on trolleys as well so I could talk to him. If I'd get hungry, I'd slyly go into the canteen and get myself a bag of crisps, which usually worked, but on this occasion, when I was tucking into my Doritos, Matt came in, the supervisor, and spotted me. "Luke, have you got a minute?" he asked me, so I stepped out into the corridor with him. "Right. Can you explain to me why you're taking a break? You're supposed to be out there collecting trolleys, not in here" "Er...I'm not feeling too well" I lied. "Well, fine, but could you get back out there as soon as possible, please?" I'd never seen him as annoyed, but it was understandable, so guiltily, I went back into the canteen, finished my crisps, and then headed back on out into the car park, and continued gathering trolleys and putting them in the bay. But I didn't have one of those ropes which connected the trolleys, so I went back inside, and had a look under the stairs which led up to the staff room to try and find one, but none were there. I came out, and Matt came up to me. "What are you doing now, Luke?" he asked sternly. "Just looking for a connector for my trolleys" I answered. "You're really testing my patience today, Luke" he said to me. Safe to say, I wasn't asked to go on trolley duty for a while after that.

I finished my shift and when I turned my phone on I had a few missed calls off Pete, whinging that I wasn't picking up. Fucking obsessed, this guy was! Did he not know that I was in work? Then, when I got in, I logged onto Facebook and I had a message off him which was rather lengthy and, again, whiny. Telling me how he's been trying to ring me, and how I can't use being at work as an excuse. What the fuck? I was at work, how the fuck was I supposed to answer his calls? He pissed me off when he was being like this, needlessly whiny. Then he rang me: "Yo, where the hell have you been?!" was the first thing he said. "I was at work, man, what's your problem?" I said to him. "No you weren't, you don't work at eleven!" "Do you not know that the clocks went forward last night? I started at twelve, which would have been eleven yesterday!" There was a momentary pause, and then "Oh shit! Sorry, man! Sorry!" he laughed, rather awkwardly. We then went through our plans for the gig.

I went to Hammerton's at about seven, and we chilled in his bathroom, the now light evening sky shining through, and then we were driven into town by Hammerton's dad, and dropped off at Millennium Square, just round the corner from the Academy. We walked up to the Academy, and went inside. It was like a cinema, what with the style of carepting! Whenever we'd go out for a cigarette we'd have to be wearing wristbands issued by security, and smoke in the designated smoking area, which was around the corner from the main queue. We got speaking to this man and woman who were reviewing the gig for a magazine, and they told us that Eagles Of Death Metal were playing Reading and Leeds, the line-up announcement being the next day. The woman also told us to describe the band in one word, so I said "sexy", which made her laugh. At one point, when we were waiting in the crowd, I started talking about Suzie. "But Luke, you don't even know Suzie! In fact, I'd say I know her as well as you do!" Pete said to me. Man, what the hell was he on about? He's never met Suzie, let alone kissed her like I have. How can he make such ludicrous statements like that? He wasn't there that night in Pudsey, he did not have a full idea of what went on!

The support band, The Hot Melts, were okay, they were quite punk-ish, quite Weezer-ish guitar music. Nothing mesmerizing, but decent. They finished, and then we waited another half hour until the band came on and kicked into their blend of Garage Rock. It was a decent hour of solid rock and roll. The drummer from Queens Of The Stone Age, Joey Castillo, was with the band, a very tight drummer. It wasn't a mindblowing, lifechanging gig, but just a good fun performance by a band with their tongues lodged firmly in their cheeks. The crowd were good and overall it was an enjoyable night, even if the recently opened Leeds Academy was a bit "corporate" feeling. We were out by about ten, and we walked up to the Merrion Centre, where my dad was parked, and we got in, and were driven home.

The next day was Leeds fest announcement day. Everyone was planning to go this time round, including Jimmy and Calum who didn't make it the previous year. As usual, the whole day felt like a huge build-up to the announcement, and when 7PM rolled around...I was left a little disappointed. Although I was pleased to see Ian Brown's name on the Main Stage line-up it wasn't that great of a line-up. Sure, headliners Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead and Kings Of Leon were strong bookings, and The Prodigy would be fun, but it was a pretty weak line-up, as agreed by Pete when he instantly fired off a text to me: "disappointed with the lineup man". Still, pretty much the whole Roundhay lot was off down, so it was still going to be good, and anyway, I was going to Glastonbury with my dad and Uncle Patrick in June, as the tickets had been bought long ago.

That evening, I went to the pub quiz with Calum, Prust, Woody and Kaan, so the usual routine occurred, Calum calling for me, with us meeting Prust in Oakwood, and then Woody and Kaan to meet us on the doorstep of the White House. The talk of that night was obviously the Leeds fest line-up. "Ian Brown!" Calum exclaimed excitedly, whilst Prust kept mentioning how he wanted to see The Prodigy. "Yeah, The Prodigy will be good" concurred Calum. Going to these pub quizzes was now a regular Monday night thing, and it usually gave leeway to some good Calum quotes. For example, not long after Calum hacked Woody's Facebook account, he made a group: The Calum Appreciation Society. When Woody regained control of his account, he deleted it, but Calum asked for Woody to make a new one anyway, and said to him "Don't forget to leave a nice little message!" Another time, when walking out of the pub, Calum made some kind of offensive joke, and Prust said "Don't say that again", laughing. "I'm not going to SAY IT AGAIN!" whined Calum in response. There were some pretty funny nights at the White House, although there was one night when Tristan came along, and he basically got absolutely rat-arsed by the time we left, which was only around half past ten usually. For us, it was normally a pint or two and then home, but he treated it like a fucking night on the tiles.

The next morning, I was awoken by a knock on the door. I roused myself out of bed, throwing some clothes on, and answered it. Surprise, it was Pete, and he was with Morgan. Morgan pointed at me and pulled a shocked expression, over my new haircut. "Yo, can we chill in your garden?" asked Pete. "Not yet, man, only just woken up" I said, still half asleep. Morgan asked if he could use my toilet, so I let him. "Yeah, you don't have to come round all the time you know" I said to Pete. "Don't you ever want to chill somewhere else? It must get pretty boring here" I went on. To be fair, those guys were round all the time, and it was often dull just sitting round in my garden for an hour. Pete moodily put the packet of the sandwich he was eating in my bin. "Has it not occurred to you that we just want to see you?" he snapped. I never said he didn't want to see me to be fair, but he and the others would insist that we chilled in my garden rather than at Thorn Lane or wherever. Morgan came out and those two went off, Pete in a mood. He was so easy to upset, was Pete. You didn't even have to say the wrong thing to him and he'd get offended.

I did say that I'd be up for chilling later on, once I'd had a coffee and a shower, and I needed to see Joe anyway, as I had to give him that two hundred quid or so, for the Leeds fest ticket, as he was once again getting everyone's tickets reserved at Jumbo Records. So I gave Pete a ring, and he was at Thorn Lane with the others, so I went up to chill with them. Jimmy, Prust, Hammerton, Randeep and Calum were all there, prepared to give Joe the money. Christ, imagine if Joe got mugged on the way into town! We pushed onto Oakwood, where I could draw the money out, and I did from the HSBC bank, before handing it over to Joe. Jonny was with us by this point, so I was talking to him about Leeds fest. He was telling me how he wanted to see Kings Of Leon. Everyone seemed really up for Radiohead whereas I wasn't too fussed, as I was never a massive fan of them, and for some reason those guys saw this as me hating them.

On the following Saturday, Dan, Sean and I went out, and Tristan came along. Sean's mother pulled up at mine where Tristan and I waited and we got in, headed for Chapel Allerton, Tristan and Sean greeting each other. Tristan had been aware of Sean for a while, as I'd tell him stories about him. And in the car, Tristan said "yeah, Luke's told me loads about you" "Really? We might have to have a word then, see what's going on with that" Sean blankly said. Fucking nice one, Tristan, already ruining things with your mouth and you've known this guy for two minutes. Tristan just turned to me and grinned, cheekily. Cock.

We arrived at Zed Bar and sat outside in the large smoking area. "You off Leeds fest then, Sean?" I asked him. "Yeah, man! Really looking forward to Arctic Monkeys" he answered. We headed off over the road to draw some more cash out, and then Dan arrived. "Alright Tristan? Been playing with your two inch dick?" Dan grinned at him, in typical style. It was a pretty unmemorable night, proof of this is that I know that we went to town but I can't even remember where. Probably Yates' or Lounge Bar & Grill or somewhere. Quite a surprise considering how it was Tristan and Sean's first time meeting each other, so you'd think that with two huge egos in close proximity to one another, there'd be fireworks. Well, at one point Tristan pulled the "prove it" response on Sean over something, which was met with Sean saying "you prove it." "Make me" Tristan then said.

I guess the Leeds fest ticket was a testament to how sometimes work can be worth something. I mean, I did slave for my wage. But now five months on from when I decided to call it a day at Park Lane college and not much had changed for me, lifestyle-wise, apart from me being slightly more cautious about walking around at night after the mugging. I had finally come to accept, however, that my life was different to how it was a year ago. Dan and Sean were still on the scene, but things just weren't as happening. There was no interesting tension between Dan and Emma any more, no expectation of Suzie to fall into my arms and tell me that she loves me, just not much to write about. Still, on the plus side, things were less tense, as Park Lane was a pretty tense environment, and I'd be seeing a lot more of my Roundhay mates, the guys I needed to be around when the darker moments at Park Lane came into play. And the weather was just starting to get better, but for now, I was Luke Devine: Retail Assistant, and that was all there was to me.


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