scott looks to the left and right -, trying to work out the best way to slip away and get some food. it takes him a few seconds to realise that he is trapped – at the end of the street is a large & solid-looking metal barrier, with a double row of police in front of it, police are standing on both sides of the street and when he looks to the back of the march just in case he can sneak out that way he sees with just a touch of panic that he has no chance. The police have neatly funneled the last of the marchers in, closing off that exit with a line of very large police horses. Scott has never met a horse up close, he’s not scared of them or anything, but these are big buggers and the only thing that Scot knows about horses is that they kick and bite, so he’s not planning on taking any risks by getting too close.
He’s heard about this – kettling, he didn’t think it would feel this bad and of course now, the moment he finds that he can’t, he really really wants a piss, that 3rd pint was not a good idea.
he looks about for familiar faces and is stupidly,hugely relieved to see Lee and Kev a few feet ahead, he moves towards them, hoping that they cant see how anxious he feels, hoping that he is still coming across as just a bit cool
“alright” he mumbles
Lee nods, Kev is focused in rolling a fag, but grunts, Scott is not sure if the grunt is aimed at him or the general difficulty of rolling a smoke one-handed on a cold & windy day.
the three of them stand there, Lee and Kev seem watchful, they are less relaxed than earlier, its as if they are wiating for something, Scott cannot believe that they are actually excited about listenng to some speeches, there must be somethuing else going on and he wants to know, wants to be in on it.
“so, what happens next?” – he shuffles his feet, doesn’t look up, tries hard to give out that dis-interested vibe.
The look he perfected at school, the one that made sure that teachers left you alone, that hid any interest you might have in a lesson, that kept you tight with the proper hard kids, kept you safe from the random violence meted out to the boffins, the fuck wits who dared to give a school a go.
Lee points to a group of youngish guys stood to one side
“local – know the ground, they reckon there’s a big mosque just the other side of that roundabout near the coaches – we’re gonna give the police the slip there, go & kick some towel heads in – make a bit of mischief, you coming?”
the question is casual, but Lee looks right at him as he asks it.
scott realises that this is a test, he needs to answer just right, this is his chance to get involved, get taken seriously, do something, get noticed.
“yeah – go on then” – he pauses to pull out a fag, makes a bit of a production of lighting it
Kev leans forward and ruffles his head – his hair is so short now that the touch sends shivers up Scotts’ spine
“F*** off, you old queer”
Lee laughs and moves off towards the knot of men he pointed out to them earlier.
The speeches drone on, Scott is bored, he’s right, it is just like school, mostly he tunes it out, remembering to clap when everyone else does.
They are part of a larger group now – 30 or 40 guys – Scott is the youngest , they dont say much, just stand there smoking, occasionally stamping their fee tto keep warm in the biting wind, waiting for this to end, waiting for the real action to begin.
Scott remembers the last real fight he had – Yr 11 – this big Somali lad – Omar somebody or another.
wasnt really his fault, they had a supply teacher, didnt understand how things worked, Somails sat together, pakis together, white boys in the back row. She tried to make them sit all over the place, so Omar starts calling his mother – Kyle and Tye hear him. so Scott can’t pretend it isnt happening, has to do something, defend their honour, keep the respect.
he lunges at Omar, gets a punch in, Omar is huge & shakes him off, this makes Scott so angry that he proper looses it – feet & fist flying the class go mad – shouting and cheering
“fight fight fight”
the teacher looks terrified and it takes 3 staff to pull them apart.
Scott got an external for that – 3 days at home – like that’s a punishment.
His mum went mental,especially when she had to go up to the school with him and grovel to keep him in school for his exams, but he can remember just how good it felt, how satisfying that first punch had been.
he really hopes that today will be as good, just wishes that he can have a wee before it all kicks off.