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At The Edge by Steve Goodman

First published in Parisian cult mag "Cheribibi"

“You ready!”  Tim Wells ask, as he bounced on his heels ready for anything. Gary Fox looked at him with bleary eyes. Jesus it was six o’clock in the morning, no one had the right to be so energetic. He suspected that Tim had been at the Speed or cocaine. It wasn’t natural! I mean how could anyone be awake at this time of the morning?

“Tea” Gary said, more for his own benefit than Tim’s, who had a can of lager open in his hand and a carrier bag bulging with reserve tins. No doubt getting as pissed as a parrot was on his cards for today. “Not for me” admitted Tim with a smile and a telling swig from the can he held in his hand.

Gary went into the kitchen with Tim following on his heels. Gary didn’t like to drink so early. He was one of those people who acquired a hang over by mid afternoon if he started drinking much before eleven in the morning. With a cup of tea made Gary settled at the table opposite Tim when there was another knock at the door.  “get that will you!” he asked sipping his tea.

Tim complied and disappeared to the front door returning with Kaz and Kim, the two skinhead girls who lived in the houses off the estate. They weren’t bad lookers and there was rumours they were lesbians. Not that Gary had had experience or seen them at it. Just they were so tight as friends, rumours were inevitable.

“Alright girls, help yourself to a cup of tea!” Gary said, deciding he wasn’t going to rise from his seat till his own tea was finished. The two girls set about the task without a fuss and were soon seated around the table with the two guys. “I’m looking forward to today” Kim,  the designated driver

for the trip said, a smile of anticipation on her face. She was a veteran of  previous bank holiday trips mostly Margate and Southend. Today was something different a trip to Bournemouth had been planned by the lads from the Rose and Crown.

“You got the map?” Tim asked, as he got up to bin the empty lager tin.

“Yeah course” responded Kim, with a tone that sharply resented being considered a dumb blonde. “Just asking!” Tim said apologetically.

“yeah I bought it yesterday”.

“what time are the rest of the gang heading down” Kaz asked, brushing the fringe of her Chelsea cut back, with the edge of her hand. Gary loved the way she did that it was so flirtatious.

“They start out about nine o’clock, least that’s when the coach is booked for. He told her, trying to catch her eye in a bit of flirtatious play, yet receiving no response in reply. Were they Lesbian ?

***

“I’ll claim the front seat!” Gary declared in a way that would broker no arguments. So it was he found himself in the passenger seat watching the urban sprawl, coast past the window. Occasionally his eye would flit on the odd pedestrian out and about that morning. Checking them  and supposing their purpose for being out. .

The route was head in to Central London then out again via Kingston on Thames. Even though they were starting early in the morning there was a fair bit of traffic around. People on their way to work no doubt, or back from a party looking for bed at the same time as most people were still asleep or contemplating breakfast.

“There’s some cassettes in the Glove Compartment” Kaz said with a sideways glance, “Keep it light!”

Gary rifled through the Glove Compartment and rejected the punk and oi tapes for a cassette marked “Ska & Reggae”, Thanks to the four speakers in the car, the sounds of “Keep the Pressure on” by  George and Winston filled their ears.

The dense Concrete, Brick and Glass make up of central London, Faded and was replaced by the well to do, spaciousness of Kingston on Thames.

Cul-de-sacs and wooded areas. A glimpse of the river and then onto the motorway and endless Tarmac. Urban areas gave way to countryside and farmed fields.

***

After  Two and a half hours of  Driving, the signs saying Fleet motor port was ahead of them, seemed inviting to Kaz. She was about to speak, when Gary said “Can you pull in at the Motor port, A cup of coffee is called for!”

“Yeah Sure!” Kaz replied and indicated that she wanted to move the car into the outer lane. Allowing a Ford Cortina to pass, she moved in behind it and joined the slip road into the Motor port..

Within ten minutes they were walking through the Cafeteria and queuing up for expensive cups of coffee, all except Tim who was at a display stand of cream cakes, taking a bite out of everything on display and putting them back on the stand. Totally unnoticed by the staff..

After paying for the coffees, Gary and the two girls sat at a window seat.

“God it feels to early” Gary said more to himself than anyone else. Tim joined them, wiping cream away from his mouth with his cuff. Then reaching in his carrier bag for another beer. The thought of Cream and beer mixing made Kaz shudder, but made no difference to Tim.

The coffee was drunk with little ceremony and the barest of conversations. On the way back to the car, Tim excused himself and went into the shop. While Gary and the two girls went back to the car, the sun was shining with an intensity that promised a good day. Sitting in the car they only had to wait five minutes before Tim reappeared. Sitting in the back with a newspaper, Tim opened his Harrington and let a supply of stolen sweets and drinks tumble onto the seat between him and Kaz.

Kim started the car with a shake of her head. Tim was a incorrigible  thief. They rejoined the motorway and Gary marvelled at the speed they travelled, he also eyed up a classy blonde woman in a convertible sports car. Then watched the countryside slip pass. Which was interrupted by built up areas near the junctions.  Nothing much to do but enjoy the view and gossip with the Girls and Tim about people they knew.

The first hint of trouble was off the motorway, on one of the “A” roads leading into Bournemouth. Stopped at the traffic lights, A mixed batch of Lambrettas and Vespas, drew up and boxed the car in. They all looked at the mods and modettes around them, who in turn looked back. A sense of unease settled on the skinheads as they were outnumbered by four or five to one. Trying not to stare the occupants of the car looked ahead at the cross-roads whilst watching for trouble out of the corner of their eyes.

Even so it came as a bit of a shock, when the side window next to Gary was stoved in by a tyre Iron. Gary was Shocked, as he was covered in a shower of broken glass. Kaz squealed as the car was subjected to kicks by the group of mods who scrambled off their scooters to join in the affray.  The nervous buzz of fear gripped and constricted Gary’s throat. For a moment he thought they were “dead meat”. Yet Kim kept cool and jumped the red light, ahead. Causing a car to swerve to miss them with its horn blaring. The mods ran back to their scooters and gave chase, but the puny engines on the two-wheeled transports were no match for a car.

Inside the car, words were hurriedly uttered, with several comments said at the same time. Gary had said that he hadn’t seen the tyre iron coming. Whilst Kim cursed about the broken window. Tim wanted to slow down so he could throw a beer can at the following scooters. Kaz brushed glass splinters off of  Gary’s shoulder and told Kim to ignore Tim’s request. To which Kim replied she was going to.

After a ten minute chase in which the scooters shadowed Kim’s car. They gave up hammering the engines and dropped further and further back. Gary sighed with relief, as Kim carried on cursing her luck vehemently about the damage to her car.

“Pull over somewhere I want to get cleaned up!” Gary said to Kim, as he looked gingerly at the broken glass around him. Kim nodded and spotted a lay-by that was set aside for buses to use.

Gary stepped out of the car and glass fragments fell from his lap onto the ground. Tim decided to stretch his legs and also stepped out, one last swig from the can he had intended throwing at the mods earlier and he let it drop to the gutter. Kim went to the boot and got a hand brush, which she used to sweep the glass from the passenger side. Flicking it from the foot well out of the door and sweeping it from the base of the seat. With that done as best she could, she proceeded to knock the rest of the shattered window from the frame. After which, she also looked round the car, but asides from a shoe polish mark, she couldn’t see any other sign that the mods had been kicking the car.

Other cars drove passed them, some of the passengers looked the skinheads over with detached curiosity. Gary looked back wondering what they were thinking, were they telling their kids to beware of the wild animals?. Like some urban safari!

Gary exchanged a few words with Kim, talking about the damage to the car and offering  on his and Tim’s behalf to put some money towards it. Kim brushed off the offer, but appreciated the concern that Gary showed. It made her feel better and she even managed a curt smile, when Gary asked for one.

“that’s better!” Gary said agreeably. With that he called for Tim to get back into the car. Tim replied he needed a minute and disappeared up an alleyway between a newsagents and a grocery shop to have a piss.

The other three waited in the car for him.

“Well at least we know there are mods  about!” Kaz said  to the other two. She had voiced what the other two were thinking, that there was action in the air. The bank holiday held a different meaning to the skinheads, Mods and bikers, than it did for the average person. They weren’t interested in sandcastles, Kiss me quick hats, Ice Cream cones, no their perfect bank holiday was hanging out with others like themselves, drinking unhealthy amounts of alcohol and generally being boisterous. If there was a fight to be had, so much the better.

Arriving in Bournemouth Town centre, Kim followed a sign that said parking, to a car park just before the east cliff. Driving to the far end of the car park. Kim explained she was putting the car out of sight of the majority because of the broken window. She reasoned that when the car park started filling up properly, the less chance there was that someone would notice the broken pane.

With Everyone out of the car and the doors locked as best as possible. Gary asked Kaz for the time. “ten o’clock!” she responded then posed the question, “when’s everyone else get here?”

“We’ve got a meeting at the train station for twelve o’clock! It seemed the best place to meet since we don’t know the town all that well!”

“Well its time to explore!” Tim said with the edge of inebriation setting in. His carrier Bag of beers was looking well depleted. “Anyone want a beer?” he asked. Gary nodded and accepted a can of Heniken. Together the four of them headed back the way they had driven in. The Sun was shining strongly and it was warm enough for Kim to remove her Jean jacket and tie it around her waist. Her scarlet braces were picked out against the black and yellow piped Fred Perry that she wore. The other pedestrians eyed the skinheads up as a potential spot of bother. It was strange how the cropped haired look made people feel uncomfortable or uneasy. Its not as if they were going to attack everyone who came near them.

‘Sod ‘em’ thought Gary Fox as he sipped on the beer. He hoped that he would never be as nervous as the general public seemed to be. Fuck being one of the sheep. He was happy with being on the fringes of society, Him and his mates against the rest of the world. That’s the way it was.

A sign said “to the Pier” which they followed and walked down by the flyover which spanned the plaza in front of the beach and the pier. “Lets have a look at the Beach” Kaz suggested to the others. Gaining their agreement the four of them approached the Pier. Gary looked at the casual girls in their bikini tops and jeans, cotton skirts and boob tubes.

Secretly he hoped that fight wasn’t going to be the only action the day would bring. Looking to Kim and then Kaz he considered them both viable shags, but would they be up for it, or was there truth to the rumour they were lesbian ?

As they leant against the safety Railings and looked down on the beach, a loud noise coupled with the ballyhoo of shouted voices made them look to the Flyover, a gap before the concrete barrier afforded them a long range view of several hundred scooters riding in convoy. It was a shock to see so many of the enemy in an unbeatable force.

The four of them suddenly felt exposed, though the chances of them being spotted by the Mods were remote at that distance. Tim paused in his drinking and watched the parade pass by. Satisfied that he was watching the end trickle, he took a long draught of beer from the can.

“Fucking hundreds!” Gary swore as he looked to Tim, who raised his eyebrows by response and then lowered the can to speak.

“We’ve gotta find some back up!”

“There must be other skinheads in this town!” Kim added.

“Well lets find them!” Gary stated and moved away from the safety railings. The others fell in behind him, the scenic panorama left for the tourists.

They walked through the Winter Gardens, towards the Square and Gary tried asking a few kids if they knew where the local skinheads were to be found. One kid didn’t know what a skinhead was and his friends didn’t know. He tried a young guy next, but he wasn’t any the wiser. It was at the far end of the gardens, just by the subway that cut across under the road, that they struck pay dirt. An obvious football hooligan gave the four of them the nod. To which Gary called out “Here mate?” the guy stopped walking and turned back to face him, “Yeah ?”

“We was wondering where to find the local skinheads, do you know?”

“You from London?”

“Yeah that’s right!” Gary knew the accent they spoke with gave that much away. Tim watched the exchange and wondered what was passing through the football hooligan’s mind.

“You know the Mods have got a run going on down here, there’s gonna be thousands of them about!” The local guy said to Gary. Tim became interested and moved to Gary’s side. “Thousands?” he asked. The football guy nodded, “Yeah that’s what the radio said this morning!”

Gary was taken aback a bit, talk about caught between a rock and a hard place. Like Kim and Kaz, he knew those kind of odds would put them on the defensive. Tim on the other hand revelled in the fact that it would mean far more chance for aggro.

“About the local skinheads?” Gary reminded the other guy. Who told them the directions to a café called “Cherries” after the local football team, where the skinheads hung out when the pubs weren’t open. He also pointed out where to find a pub called the “Central Bars”. This he told them was shared by the various football gangs, Skinheads and punks, it was where everyone was meeting prior to the afternoon skirmishes that were bound to happen.

Thanking him for his help, Gary and the others set off for the café. Which turned out to be near the Lansdowne in amongst the parade of shops and burger outlets. Even before they reached the café, they spotted the small collection of skinheads that were hanging out in front of the café .

“Oi Oi” called out one of the skinheads as he spotted Gary and his three companions. Gary smiled at the greeting as they walked up to the local gang. Through the café window they could see the place was busy with skinheads, punks and the occasional casual. All in there were around forty people. Quickly information was exchanged about the Mods, apparently thirty scooters had passed the Cherries and come under fire from coke bottles, cups and saucers. Gary spotted the tell tale signs of shattered glass across the road. Kim told the skinhead who had spoken about the damage to her car and how pissed off she was about it.

When asked if there were anymore from his area down the town, Gary told the locals that there was a coach load due in at 12 o’clock.

“What’s the food like here?” Tim asked a blond skinhead girl who had caught his eye. She was short about five foot two inches tall, had cats eyes painted on her face with mascara, rouge lipstick and wore a Ben Sherman shirt with braces clipped on a pair of Levi jeans. Her chest jutted out and spoke of  firm large breasts. She responded that the food was okay and offered her name as an after thought. “Well Michelle, I’m Tim”

Pointing to his friends he introduced the others to her and the Bournemouth Skins. When Tim entered the Café some ten minutes later he and Michelle were talking like old friends. Gary decided that some food was called for and followed him. As did Kim and Kaz.

Four all day breakfasts later and the two different mobs of skinheads were getting on like a house on fire. Gary had found out that the Bournemouth skins were from different areas around the town. Altogether they numbered about five hundred skinheads in different gangs like The B.O.C., West Howe, Turlin Moor all united under the title of The Bournemouth skins.

There was friendly piss taking as the Bournemouth mob found out that the two Londoners supported their local team Millwall. One of the Bournemouth Skins, called Steve relayed the fact that Millwall had helped out against Portsmouth when AFC Bournemouth had played them at home. Gary nodded, “Yeah we hate Portsmouth!” he told the other skinhead, watching him as the other guy’s eyes drifted from him to Kim.

There was a smiled response and twinkle in Kim’s eye. Was she lesbian, or had the rumours been wrong? He found himself stabbed with minor pangs of jealousy that this other guy could solicit such a response from Kim.

“What’s the time?” he asked Kim, breaking through the unspoken communication between them, without seeming too obvious. Kim looked to her watch and said “Ten thirty” Steve turned back to Gary and asked,

“What’s so important about the time?”

“We’ve got a coach load turning up at twelve”

Steve’s face lit up, “Fantastic, bring them down the central bars – we’ve got a lunchtime disco there!”

Tim broke across “What’s it play?”

Steve Looked to him, “Reggae, Punk, 2 - tone and a bit of oi!, you’ll find two-tone rules down here we pressured the radio one road show  into playing Bad Manners – Can Can track”

“How did you do that?” Kaz asked.

“We kept calling out for two-tone and they gave up trying to play the chart shit to us. That was funny, there were two punk girls we know who were out of their faces on acid. The DJ got them up on stage and they fell about laughing every time he held the microphone to them. Netty ended up crawling away from him on all fours. God knows what he made of it!”

A skinhead who wore bleached jeans and jean jacket, with Cherry Red doc Martins and a West Ham coloured Fred Perry, leant in the doorway.

“Steve, there’s some mods giving us the once over!”  Steve stood up and commandingly said “Everybody out!” The skinheads stood up from their chairs, as did some of the punks. Not wanting to be left behind Gary, Tim and the two girls followed the crowd through the door.

Out on the street a little way down. Were around ten scooters carrying mods in pairs or solo, they were stationary and ticking over. One of the Bournemouth skinheads went to the pavement edge and stepped out onto the street, with his arms held up – “You fucking want some?” He shouted so that the whole street could hear him. Gary took a quick glance around at the mixed crowd of skins and punks. The skinheads were adopting a menacing air, as they made a move on mass towards the scooterists. The Mods responded by making a U-turn and racing off the other way with “V” signs, and shouts of “Wankers!” and “Fuck off”.

“Strange how we’re the wankers, but they’re the ones running away!” Gary said gleefully to Tim. “Always the way!” Steve responded as he overheard.

Satisfied with a small victory, the mob returned to the café in drips and drabs. Gary and Steve sat down opposite each other and entered into a conversation that ranged across the nightclubs that they frequented. Steve seemed jealous when Gary told him of the Punk and oi clubs such as the Tiger’s Head, Thomas O’Beckett and the Walmer Castle. Steve acknowledged that they had to mix time with the casuals, in places like the Town Hall, The Maison Royale. There were no specific punk clubs though  gigs happened at various pubs in the town or over at Poole.

Kim and Kaz were talking with a couple of skinhead girls and a guy. While Tim was talking about aggro he had been in with a mixed audience of punk and skins. Tim was loud and once or twice, Gary stopped his conversation as the audience burst out laughing. He wondered what Tim was telling them.

***

At eleven Fifteen, Steve told Gary that it was time to head to the central bars. To which Gary explained that he was due to meet the coach at Bournemouth station. Asking where it was prompted Steve to assign one of his gang as an guide. The guy he selected was called Jay, a natural born comedian. Also the girls talking to Kim and Kaz volunteered to join them. Thus the small group of skinheads set out for the station while the rest of the mob headed in the opposite direction for the lure of beer pumps and cult music.

“How far is the station?” asked Gary, as they waited outside an off – licence for Tim who was buying another four tins of lager. Much as he liked his friend Gary couldn’t help thinking he was on the road to becoming a hopeless alcoholic. Tim’s capacity for drink, without falling over was a source of amazement for Gary.

It was one of the Bournemouth girl’s that answered first, “Its about ten minutes walk away!”

Gary looked at the girl and she smiled in response. She was pretty, with dyed red hair, holding the classic Chelsea shape. Her face was thin, but not in a gaunt way. Her cheeks perked as she smiled and her green eyes also added to the smile in a sparkling way.

She wore a “4-skins” t-shirt, that had come from the Last Resort and a denim skirt, fishnet stockings and red socks inside oxblood monkey boots.

When Tim emerged with his beers, the group continued to the station. Waving to a carload of skinheads coming the other way, who had tooted the horn and shouted “Skinheads” out of the open window.

In the sub walk, beneath a roundabout, they came across a group of punks, who had obviously been in a fight. They were sitting on a bench and the flowerbed wall. Jay recognised them and asked what had happened. A tall gangly Punk with a bleeding cut on his forehead and swollen and bloodied lips “Fucking mods, bastard hit me with a crash helmet, didn’t he!”

There were half – a dozen punks and even the girl with them had been hit by the mods. Her carefully crafted spiky hair and been pulled and her legs were bruised from the kicks she had taken. Her t-shirt was ripped showing her bra.

“How many were there?” Gary asked.

“Dunno I’d say twenty or so” Answered a punk who was dabbing his lip to see if it had stopped bleeding yet.

“Where are they?” Tim added, voicing Gary’s next thought.

“Up by the station!”

Jay smiled and looked to the two Londoners, “Guess they’ve jumped from the frying pan into the fire, if your mates are on time!”

“Yeah they’ll be there!” Answered Gary self assured. He wondered what the mods were doing at the station. Probably meeting others off the train.

Looking to the girls, he was about to tell them to stay there, but Kaz had other ideas. “Don’t you even think about it, we’re coming with you!”

“Alright, but if we’re outnumbered stay to the back!” Looking to the Punks, “What about you guys, you want some pay back?”

“Of course, replied the punk with the cut on his head.

Checking his watch, “We’ll give it five minutes, then head for the station”. Gary assumed that would be enough time to allow a positive meeting with the coach. Having the odds in their favour for the first time that day wouldn’t go amiss.

“You from London?” asked the Punk girl. Gary and Kim both spoke to confirm her guess. The punk girl then went onto say she was thinking of moving to London., having gone there several times for concerts.

“You like UK Subs then?” Gary responded after reading the band’s name on one of the girl’s patches. Tim broke away from the conversation he was having with Jay to pipe in that he liked the Subs as well.

This made the punk girl smile and say she had gone to a squat with Charlie Harper and the rest of the band following a gig at The 100 club.

After five minutes or so of conversation, Gary decided it was time to make a move. “you lot ready?” he asked and several “yeahs” came back, the sitting punks stood up and Gary asked Jay the way to the station. He pointed to one of the exits from the plaza. “Let’s go!” Gary said his jaw setting in grim determination. They moved through the tunnel and climbed the steps back up to the street. Several hundred yards away, there were a set of traffic lights and a sign on a pole, from which Gary could just make out the British Rail emblem. The sign pointed to the left.

The conversations had died down as each of the newly formed gang prepared themselves mentally for the challenge ahead. It was the unknown that they had to deal with, an internal battle for the courage to face up to the fight ahead.

Turning left into the Station approach road, they could just make out the Coach that had pulled up outside the station, people were getting off.

“Is that our lot?” Kaz asked and the London crowd strained their eyes to try and recognise whether it was the SE London mob or not.

“Only one way to find out!” Gary said striding out in front of the knot of street cults. Jay came to his side and matched his step. The closer they got the more assured that it was their gang he became.

“Gary” Shouted one of the coach party. Gary recognised him as  Millwall Martin. “Alright my son!” Gary called back.

“yeah what’s happening?” Martin called back, several members of the coach party walked out to meet Gary and his newly acquired gang. There were jubilant pats on the shoulder from the Travellers.

“Seen any mods, here?” Gary asked Martin.

“Nah we just arrived!” Martin replied.

“There’s some mods here” Gary told him his eyes searching round, “They attacked the punks who are with us!”

“Lets go on the hunt then!” Martin Answered back.

As they neared the coach several people greeted the advanced party.

“No time for that there’s mods here somewhere!” Martin announced.

“lets get `em then!”

Amass the combined coach and Bournemouth gangs numbered some sixty-five youths in all. The coach party was a mix of skinheads, Punks and football types. Together they headed through the booking hall and out on to the platform of the station. Someone got the bright idea of Chanting “Skinheads, skin-heads, Skin-heads!”  Straight away it was taken up by the others. It was amazing how much it charged the bloodlust of the baying mob. Though several passengers were spooked by the arrival of such a mass of potential trouble, there were no sign of any mods on the near platform. Gary told Martin he would check the other side, as the view of the London bound side was obscured by a train waiting at the platform. Tim joined him and they crossed the footbridge to the other side. The platform was busy but yet again there were no sign of  mods.

“What about on the train?” Jay said as he caught up to the other two.

Together they spent several minutes walking the length of the train, peering into the carriage windows. Apart from some girls who smiled at them there was no sign of anything to interest the hunters.

On Jay’s suggestion they also tried the street beyond the waiting room, there was nothing there either.

“Shit!” Tim uttered when it became apparent that the mods had got away.

“Forget it, lets get back to the others!” Gary said sharing the disappointment his friend felt. A chance to hit back for the attack on the car that morning would have done his sense of vengeance good.

Back on the other side of the station, the mob were waiting for Gary and his companions. Further along the platform the railway staff were looking anxiously from what must have been an office or staff rest room. Gary knew it was time to leave the scene. The last thing they needed was to be corralled by the police.

“Any luck?” one of the London mob called out to them as they descended the stairs to the platform. “Nah they must have scapered!” Tim called back.. Moments later they were discussing their next move with the rest of the mob. On Gary’s insistence they went back the way he had walked earlier. The intention was to join up with the rest of the local skinheads in the central bars.

It felt good for Gary, to be at the head of the mob, there was a lot of boisterous behaviour going on behind him. As well as the chanting of “1-2-3-4 – we are skinheads hear us roar!” From a sideways glance Gary could see that Jay had a smile on his face. Yeah it was good to make an impression, kind of gave him pride in his area, his people and what he was. Well past the Cherries café, they were just coming up to a pub called the Long Bar, when an upper window shattered and glass rained down on the street. From the middle of it a skinhead picked himself up and gave a two finger salute to the people staring out of the upper windows. Obviously he had jumped through the glass.

“Oi mate what’s up?” Gary’s shout caused the skinhead to turn and see the gang of like minded souls. He became excited and animated in an instance. “Quick the fucking mods are up there” he shouted back pointing wildly at the upstairs bar.

“YEAAY!” A unified cry went up from the mixed gang of Londoners and locals as they ran for the bar door. The girls sensibly stayed back and let the guys do their thing. In through the door a bouncer made a grab for Gary, but he was too fast with a dodging step that put him out of reach. The bouncer was swept back as the rest of the mob flooded through the doors. The downstairs bar was devoid of mods and the clientele reacted in panic and sought refuge by the main window. As Skinheads and Mods clashed on the stairs. Gary grabbed one mod and punched him in the face, before hauling him off his feet and throwing him down the stairs behind him into the rampaging mob. The Mod disappeared under a hail of eager  boots. One mod cried out “Fucking skinheads” and threw himself down at Gary, both of them tumbled into the legs of the mob behind and several of the London Crowd fell over them.

The Mod was trying to punch Gary, and Gary was having a hard time, sorting out the sensations, as his own people were treading on both of them. A pain in the side came from a kick by someone’s steel toe caps, as they sought to attack the mod but missed. As the bodies lifted themselves off of Gary, the mod found more space to lay on effective punches and both he and Gary, got to their feet grappling with each other, though the mod was making an effective attack, he was right in the middle of the skinhead mob. First Tim and then Jay joined in to defend Gary. Tim landed a flurry of Punches that saw the Mod go from  an offensive to defensive stance. When Jay put the boot into his stomach, he folded and went down. Above them on the stairs was a landing and on that platform, a battle royal raged. Glasses were thrown and a table came tumbling down the stairs and collided with the fighters. There were many voices, shouting, Cursing and grunting.

Gary saw one skinhead hit on the head by a glass that caused a savage cut, which  squirted blood on impact. The skinhead stumbled to the back and held his head, stunned by what had happened. Kim had entered the bar and went up to him, “You alright ?” she asked, resting her hand on his shoulder and gingerly taking his other hand away from the cut. Seeing that blood was flowing freely from the gash, she reacted by rushing to the bar and getting a bar towel to hold onto the cut. Even as this was happening a stand off had developed between the males of the Mod and skinhead factions. The mods that could move had retreated back up the stairs to the upper bar room, the head of the crowd was populated by mods who had weapons formed from broken up tables and stools

The skinheads on the landing were threatening and beckoning them to attack . Yet no one wanted to make the first move up or down. The Catcalling and threats were over-ridden by the bell as the landlord rung it to get their attention. “I’ve called the police!” he shouted.

“Time to quit” Gary told Tim, then he shouted “Fall back the old bill is coming!” He had to shout it several times before the attention of his fellow skinheads was gained.

They left the scene of the battle in a rush for the door and ran off down the street. Not knowing where he was going, Gary called for Jay to take the lead. Jay showing some sense of the need to get off the main shopping road, took them into a side street on the right. They carried on running till the adrenalin subsided enough and they slowed to a walk. Looking behind him Gary could see the mob was scattered back about a hundred yards and so he stopped to allow the others to catch up. A couple of London skinheads arrived first and were talking about the action, “Did you see me hit that lanky guy, fuck me I hit him so hard he flipped over backwards!”

“Alright Gary!” said the one who was listening to his friend’s boast. Gary nodded and told them to hold up while the rest caught up. Very soon they were a cohesive mob again. Several skinheads showed the scars of battle including the guy who had been hit on the head. Kim came up to Gary and said “You need to see this!” to the injured skinhead she said “Show him Greg” As the skinhead pulled the beer towel away, Gary grimaced it was a nasty cut. “your going to need stitches in that one!” he observed.

“Yeah that’s what I said” Kim agreed, “I’ve offered to take him to the hospital in the car!”

“Well if your sure?” Gary answered back, feeling like it wasn’t going to be much fun for Kim to wait in casualty. Kim nodded and Jay who was also listening to the conversation, asked one of punks who was also cut if he wanted to show them where the local emergency room was. With that arranged, Kim voiced her concerns for finding the car again. Saying she needed to be in the Winter Gardens to know her way back to it. The Punk said that was no problem, he could show her the way there too.

The mob carried on following Jay as he led the crowd to the Central bars, which was sited near the square at the foot of a hill. As the combined gang entered the establishment, they were watched from across the street by a lone mod on a Vespa. No one noticed him and when the skinheads and punks were off the street, the mod started his scooter and made off in the direction of the beach.

Inside the central bars, were the other skinheads they had seen that morning at the café as well as other members of the Bournemouth skins, also a healthy collection of punks and football casuals. Gary and Tim looked round the place, It was a sizeable bar in an “L” shape. With Mirror tiles on one of the walls. The bar had mirrors and chrome a plenty, the bar itself was covered in what looked to be red leather, but was probably PVC, a foot rail and stainless steel bar top. Ashtrays and Pumps and drip trays, lined the bar.

Steve came up to the pair and greeted them, “Found the rest of your chaps then?” he noted. “Do you want a drink?” he asked.

“Yeah please, a lager!”

“Same here!” Tim responded.

Within ten minutes the London gang was integrated into the clientele. The local skinheads were keen to share the knowledge of the city that the Londoners had. They also identified themselves as supporters of London teams like Chelsea and West Ham. Though there was a rivalry between such teams and Millwall, the London gang let it go with ease, there was no need to dwell on the animosity they felt towards the ICF or the Headhunters.

The disco unit in the corner came to life with a low hum of electrical power. Gary looked over and saw that a large skinhead wearing a green/bronze tonic jacket and plain blue button down shirt, was manning the decks.

Picking up the microphone the Skinhead spoke, “Okay welcome to the central bars, we’re going to have a good time this August Bank holiday. I’ll be playing a mixture of punk, oi and ska. First up is Keith Poppins – Longshot kick de bucket!”

The tune wasn’t a version of the famous Pioneers song that Gary knew, it was a low key dub cut that simply oozed class. As the tune played several skinheads and skinhead girls took to dancing in front of the DJ behind the decks.

Gary still had a quarter of a pint in his glass, when Tim offered to get the next one for him and Steve. Quickly he drained the glass and passed it across to Tim. Who went to find a bit of space at the crowded bar. While he was there Gary and Steve talked with a couple of other skinheads who had come down from Camberley. They talked about a mod gang called “Junction 13” after the motorway turn-off that was near the pub they used. Apparently the skinheads in that part of the world were badly outnumbered, as the mod gang had about three hundred members. Compared to the skinheads number of forty members.

As the conversations flowed the music changed to punk and the Exploited’s “Fuck a mod!” track was received with a roar of approval. That was swiftly followed by the Anti Nowhere League’s “woman” Gary was enjoying the occasion and gave Kaz an encouraging hug, which could mean something or nothing.

Before it could evolve into situation, the hug was interrupted by the doors from the street exploding with a rush of Mods, who roared as they entered and attack everyone in sight. Glasses flew and the clientele of the pub counter attacked and a free for all developed. Gary punched one Mod in the head and ducked when another tried to hit him with a tyre iron. That mod was grabbed by Bear who head butted him and caused him to drop the weapon. Then Bear Drove him to the ground with a flurry of punches.

Gary aimed a kick at the fallen mod and connected with a thud. When another mod attacked him and caused Gary to go on the defensive. They traded punches with little result, the punches that landed on Gary’s head were ignored as he hit back and kicked out with his boots.

A glass thrown by someone behind him hit the Mod on the forehead and caused a cut , that distracted him. Allowing Gary to land a telling punch on the guy’s Jaw – crunch it connected and the mod’s Legs gave way and he slid to the floor.

Away in the distance Gary saw a Mod who must have been on acid or something, patiently breaking mirror tiles one by one, with a toffee hammer, oblivious to the fighting going on around him. Elsewhere Tim was leaning across the bar top and helping himself to the contents of the till, after the bar staff  had abandoned their post in the face of such violence.

The battle raged for ten minutes before the Mods were driven out of the door. They backed down the street with the mixed crowd of Football hooligans and Street kids counter attacking. Members of the public got out of the way in a state of  panic.  As the hooligans fought each other.

The Police turned up and sought to separate the fighters. At first they had little success and the fighters turned on the police. Yet as the Police presence increased with a convoy of vans and cars, the Fighters dropped back self protectively. Allowing the police to go on the offensive. With Truncheons drawn they pushed the mob Gary was a part of back down the steps into the Central Bars. The Mods were likewise herded towards the seafront..

Inside the central bars the management were adamant that the boozer was closed for the day. Much to the consternation of the crowd. Gary shouted out that he was going down the Winter garden’s and his mob should follow him. Outside on the street again the police had gone with the Mods and there was no opposition to their leaving the Central bars.

“Where we going?”  asked a skinhead who came from Lewisham, he was a member of the 4-skins road crew. “Down the seafront!” Gary answered him feeling charged up and knowing the Mods were likely to be there.

“Let’s Go said Tim”

Kaz came up to Gary and said “I’ll stick with you, if its getting violent!”

Gary Put his arm around her waist and gave her a squeeze, “Yeah sure sweetheart” he pointed towards the seafront and the mob began walking towards the chosen battlefield.

As they passed through the Winter Gardens, the holiday makers looked on in awe. Some stood and stared, while others sought to get out of the way of the street kids. Everyone knew trouble when they saw it.

Arriving at the Plaza in front of the Pier, a large mob of Modernists were hanging around and some were posing on their scooters. A section at a time the Mods became aware of the skinheads, punks and hooligans, as they marched relentlessly toward the mods. The Police only had a token presence which wasn’t enough to deal with the sudden threat. that had appeared from nowhere.

Kaz could feel Gary tense up as she had held him since leaving the Central bars, it was obvious to her that he was ready to fight.  Tim threw his glass he had been carrying from the pub. Though it fell short, it caused the mod guys to walk out to meet the assault as the Mod girls moved a safe distance away in a hurry. The Police officers came between the two mobs, yet no one was paying attention to them, Law and order was about to break down.

Who had shouted it no one knew but the war cry of “Fucking have `em!” rang out and the Skinhead mob broke into a run. Like battling armies of the old order the two mobs clashed in a flurry of fists and boots. Everyone was keen for the battle and Gary broke away from Kaz and tore into a knot of five or six mods lashing out in all directions. It was a mad thing to do but as luck would have it more skinheads followed him into the action and took some of the pressure off as they took on the mods. Shouts and cries rang out as fighting broke out all along the flowerbed that had separated the two mobs. The Police were being attacked as well and sought to get away having given up on keeping order. Tim gleefully punched and kicked a mod guy, then took a crash helmet on the head that left a gash and knocked him to the Floor. Gary had seen the move and ran at the mod with a flying kick, which caught the mod in the stomach, his crash helmet fell from his grasp and rolled away as Gary found his feet and let fly with two punches that pulped the Guy’s lips, in a spurt of blood. Satisfied that the Mod was beaten Gary turned his attention to Tim.. Helping him to his feet, he asked “You alright guy?”

“No I fucking ain’t!” Complained Tim as his hand went up to the cut and came away covered in blood “Look I’m fucking bleeding!”

All around them, there was fighting in Progress. Gary took Tim’s arm and guided him away from the fighting. Sure they were a safe distance, he called to Karen one of the Girl’s who had come down on the coach to look after Tim.

Satisfied Tim was okay Gary turned around and regarded the scene, there were people down and being kicked all over the place. He spotted a skinhead on the floor being attacked by four mods and ran at them with a hollering shout. Punching and kicking he managed to wrestle a crash helmet from the grasp of one of the mods and went wild as he flailed out with it, feeling contact as it smashed into one then another mod.  Under the weight of such a mad attack the Mods lost courage and fell back.

Just then a Siren began wailing as police reinforcements rushed to the scene of the conflict. Throwing the helmet away Gary turned away from the mods and went to the back of the skinhead mob looking for Tim, the sirens meant they would be swamped with angry policemen who weren’t going to be gentle.

At the back the girls were beginning to leave and Gary couldn’t find Tim, but as he looked, he came across Kaz. She was happy to see him as the Sirens were so close it was obvious that the Police Reinforcements were nearly on them.

“Time to get out of here girl!” Gary said with a cheeky grin, grabbing her hand he lead her away from the battle that was fizzling out, yet still carrying on in places. It was everyone for themselves. The Police had to get the padlock off the approach gate, before they could drive onto the Plaza from the ramp away up to the left. Not that Gary was interested in watching their progress, he was more concerned with getting Kaz away from it.

They walked away up a slight hill, then Gary spotted the fact that the roof of the Amusement arcade was easy to cross over to from the Embankment. On the roof was a square building and Gary quickly reasoned they could hide out on the beach side of the building and the police wouldn’t know they were there. “Follow me” he told Kaz, the gap between the roof and the embankment was a large step to make but he and Kaz managed it. Gary crossed to the end of the roof and looked out towards the Plaza and Pier, the police were racing down to the battleground in their cars and vans and the fight was breaking up, as the two warring sides came apart. Some still carried on the fight as the presence of the police didn’t register so intent were they at destroying their enemy.

Kaz joined Gary and took a quick look,  while Gary turned round and pointed towards the small building on the roof. “We can hold up over there till the police have gone!” He led Kaz to the sea facing side of the building confident that any police that took the road they had walked up, would not spot them because the building was in the way.

There was a door that he tried but it was locked. Edging himself down with his back to the wall he sat and looked out to sea. The sounds of Sirens had stopped and the sound of distant shouts had taken their place while the police restored order and made their arrests.

“Christ that was a fight and a half!” Gary said to himself, but drew an agreement from Kaz. Patting the space next to him he said to Kaz “Sit yourself down we’ll be here for a while yet!”

Kaz complied and started talking about Tim, he had been concussed and had wandered off with Karen looking after him. So she thought they would be alright. To which Gary had said they need to keep out of the way of the police, with the wound Tim had they were sure to be arrested.

After a little while Kaz  leant against Gary and rested her head on his shoulder. Gary reacted by turning his head and kissing her forehead. Kaz Looked up into his eyes, her Brown eyes glowing, a slight grin and then she moved her lips to his. Within seconds they were kissing passionately. Both holding each other. Gary ran his hand along Kaz’s thigh, which caused her to shiver in delight. She was too close for him to place his hand between her legs, so he moved it round the shape of her hips and slid gently down the back of her jeans, between her panties and bare flesh. Which was cool to the touch, As he kissed her he stroked her bottom as best as he could in the constricting space of her jeans. Kaz responded by turning into Gary more and hooking her leg over his. With deliberate pressure she pushed her pubic mound against him. Gary gripped her bottom more forcibly and pulled her tighter against him. Kaz shuddered with delight and broke the kiss so she could breathe heavily. With enough air she kissed him again, her hand travelled down to the front of his jeans and massaged his forming erection.

With his free hand Gary returned the complement and felt her wither as he massaged her where it counted. fumbling with her zip he managed to draw it down but had to admit defeat at the resistance of the waist  button, until Kaz helped him pop it. The hand which was down the back of her jeans felt the sudden release of pressure and he dove deeper to cup her cheek. His other hand felt the moisture of her pleasure mound through the panties and then hooked under the waist band to dive gently through her soft pubic hair. His fingers felt a willing wetness as she again broke the kiss. Nuzzling her neck, he kiss and nibbled on it. His fingers stroking her swollen clitoris. Both of them were caught in the excitement of Love’s sweet magic

Kaz moaned and spoke through bated breath, “Fuck me, fuck me now!”

Gary was all to willing to oblige, They both worked together to get her jeans and panties down. Then she lay down with her legs open and drew Gary on top of her, both her hands went to his jean front and trembling hands undid his flies and waist button. With his jeans partly down, he eased his erection from his boxer shorts and plunged it into her pussy. With a sigh from both of them. Pumping away they kissed and caressed as the sexual temperature rose, Kaz matched Gary’s movement and together they climbed the mountain of Venus, the orgasm that was threatening to happen exploded on Kaz, Gary was aware of the increased wetness as she came. A few moments later he climaxed as well and fell panting on top of her. Exhausted they both lay locked together for a few minutes before Gary rolled off.

Smoking a cigarette they both had the jeans pulled up now. “Do you think its safe to leave now?” Kaz asked with a smile, she had enjoyed that, it was better than fighting. “Yeah lets try it!” Holding hands they crossed the roof and got back onto the embankment. Carrying on up the Hill at Gary’s insistence. On the road they had only gone fifty yards when a police van drew up and two burly looking policemen got out. “Alright your coming with us!”

“Why we haven’t done anything to be arrested for!” Kaz lied quite blatantly. “We’ll arrest you if you don’t come with us!” replied the Driver of the van. “Where we going?” asked Gary.

“All Londoners are being put on the train!” Replied the Policeman “Going by your accents you don’t live here!”

“But we came by car!” replied Kaz.

“What your car?” Asked one of the Policemen

“No our friends!” Replied Kaz.

“Well the travel arrangements have changed your going by train” insisted the policeman.

Gary was reluctant but knew the Police would just take them to either the train station or the police station and if it was the police station, they were liable to find themselves in court the following day.

“Alright take us to the station then!” he surrendered.

Kaz complained bitterly to the Two policemen. While Gary thought they could travel to the next station and come back to Bournemouth.

The drive to the station was filled with the passenger goading Gary, “You’re an hard bastard aren’t you!” trying to provoke him. But Gary would only reply “Yeah pretty hard” in an agreeable way.

At the station his idea of jumping the train and heading back to Bournemouth went out of the window. As the police had twenty-five of the London crowd penned in by dogs “Alright Gary, Kaz” Tim said as they approached him. “Your Looking better!” Gary said, Tim had a bandage around his head and was looking more with it.

“So what’s happening?” Gary asked Tim

“They’re Waiting for the London Train then they’re escorting us back!”

“Shit!” Gary said. Knowing his plan was lost.

Within fifteen minutes five more London Skins had been rounded up and the escort began. They put the skinheads into the first class compartments reasoning that each compartment only held six, so they would be easy to handle.

Looking out of the window, Gary said to Kaz “You know what we did on the roof, I didn’t think it was going to happen because..” He couldn’t finish as Kaz laughed and said “Neithier did I me and Kim thought that you and Tim were gay!”

“What!” Gary exclaimed, then seeing the funny side of it he laughed to.

THE END ?

© Steve Goodman

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