Why the eighties I couldn’t say. It hadn’t been my choice, it hadn’t been my turn. The sunshine and colour don’t fool me, it’s a miserable decade and no amount of Athena outlets changes that. In the front Maurice is arguing with Jerry about the speed limit. Maurice learned to drive from the Sweeney and Jerry in a Triumph Dolomite. We’re in one now because we’re blending in, Simon in his monstrous scarf on one side and Rob in sunglasses on the other.
I say, “Why are we here again?”
“Again,” I’m hoping it makes a lot more sense this time. The eighties aren’t just bad because of the music and the Hammer-pants, but because if we’re absolutely going to get killed then it’s here. This is where it all started, when I could pretty much assume at some point I’d be shot at but still not be guaranteed service at the bar.
“We’re forgetting what happened,” said Simon.
“I’ve been trying,” I say, I’m quick like that. “But someone always insists on making me remember.” When we stop at the lights it’s to the theme songs of the decade, and not the hits everyone thinks of being wall-to-wall but the real dross. The thirty of the top-thirty each week identical with the synths and the pastel jackets, with their jumping-girl singers in ra-ra skirts. There’s a lot of good music in the eighties, only it doesn’t really happen till the nineties. When I turn back Simon’s produced a trumpet that needs by all evidence that follows, batteries.
“Sonic gun,” he says happily.
“Of course it is, because when you’re in danger a real gun simply isn’t enough. It’s more important to make violent bastards shit themselves first.”
“I’ve got a gun,” says Rob.
“Magnum in the glove box,” chimes in Jerry.
“Three-fifty-seven,” they say together. Rob adds, “I bet Maurice hasn’t got a gun?”
But Maurice, trying to stamp on Jerry’s foot so we can accelerate a little, doesn’t answer. He swears as they fight for the wheel until we bounce to a stop, Simon the first out with his magic trumpet and a plastic glass of overpriced red wine. Rob shows me his magnum. It’s very shiny.
I can be a right sulk at times. I’ve really got better years to be. In both directions there is only road and I don’t much like either. It’s a hitching dead zone. Exactly the sort of place you end up without any idea on which side of the road to stand and decide quite quickly that it’s whichever one the next car you see has taken a liking to. They’re in the boot, all of them, and after a snowstorm of pasties is dug through Simon is triumphant as he reveals the invention he has hidden there. Sleek and suspiciously marked only by a single red light that to join in the fun winks at me.
Back in the eighties we gained all these abilities from Blue Sunshine. Simon reminds us as he berates us all for swanning off and just plain enjoying ourselves across the century.
“I’m pretty sure I never took any,” says Jerry.
“You don’t know what you took,” Simon says sternly.
But Jerry points out he does; because he never took anything.
“I took it for you,” says Rob.
“And this,” says Simon quietening us all down with a wave of his silver box, “is a tracker. Wherever we go Carl and Alex will find us. We can’t escape them, they’re always there. Hunting us down, in really great suits.
“Can they not?” this from Maurice who with a petrol-can of lager is suggesting a picnic.
“No,” it’s a Simon no. A ‘no’ with eyebrows on it. It’s a no that does not allow for arguments. It’s a final no, a no that carries its own punctuation. And the punctuation it carries is a full stop.
He’s fifty soon.
And so we wait until the pubs open.