the cold is deep into his bones now – the union jack he draped across his shoulders hours ago is now wrapped tightly around him, a desperate attempt to keep some warmth in, some of the biting wind out.
scott is terrified that his shivering may be mistaken for fear, the men around him seem untouched by the cold, some are dressed only in t-shirts, bare arms folded as they stand impassive, watching the police watching them.
the speeches must have finished,there is a change in the energy of the crowd, the police line is tighter again, as they move in to shunt the marchers back to their coaches. Lee and Kev are moving forward, sliding into position with the local men, Lee nods towards a tiny side street
“we leg it up there, through the industrial estate , across the roundabout and bingo – paki land central get in”
scotts nods – what else is there to do?
suddenly, there is a shout and as if on a signal, 100, 200 men start to run, scott goes with them, feet pounding on the pavements, heart racing, but careful to stay near Lee and Kev, who move surprisingly fast for blokes who smoke as much as they do.He looks at Lee, grins with the physical pleasure of movement, the union jack is unfurling from his shoulders, he catches sight of ‘himself in a shop window, the flag is like a cape and for a moment it’s as if he is superman, flying to rescue the citizens of Metropolis – it feels good.
the police have been taken by surprise and the group have covered a lot of ground quickly, they power through the arse end of the city centre – bursting out – looking for trouble, looking for pakis, towel heads, guiness bottle women, anything really to make this day feel worthwhile. to live up to the hype, their promised day of reckoning.
And there it is, the road narrows ahead and stranding waiting are the enemy . There is a moment when both groups pause, cannot believe their luck, this it – face to face,no civilians, no police.
Scott remembers a film he saw with his dad, some olden days Scottish blokes, real Berserkers, they did this shouting thing when they went into battle – it’s happening now – all around him men are shouting, noises beyond words – raw animal noise and Scott joins in as they run
he has no real idea what will happen when the 2 groups meet – this is bigger than the school routs he used to take part in his school against its’ historical enemy – that was always more about bluster, rep building, being there, a few blows and then allowing your mates to drag you off .
today, he thinks in that split second before it all kicks off, may be something else completely.
And then, it starts, Scott throws himself at this guy, about his age, a bit taller but lighter, more fragile looking,and its nothing like in the movies or in Modern Warfare, its messy and grappely and it bloody hurts.
Scott is doing alright though – gets a few punches in, see his man on the floor, goes to give a good kicking but and he doesn’t know why, he pauses, just for a moment, looks up and in all the chaos around him, somehow, he meets Lees’ eyes and Lee nods and its like time has slowed right down, frozen even and scott has time to look at the figure on the ground, has enough space to take a deep breath, and then he kicks again and again and again.
And now there is a new noise, cutting across the shouts, the grunts, the moans ,the sound of horseshoes on road, 30 police horses, big,sweated, snorting horses are cantering up the road>Kev grabs him
“time to go” he says,matter of fact tone, not even out of breath
Lee and Kev scoop him up and all 3 of them start to move away, quickly heading back toward the coach.
Scott feels something cold, damp on his face, he touches it with his fingers, blood, but he’s not sure if its his or someone elses – he dabs at it with the union jack flag which by some miracle is still wrapped around his neck.
All three of them are walking arm in arm. but it feels ok, not weird or gy or anything. Actually, it feels better than OK, it feels great.
Scott feels like a warrior.