Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Children of the Sun by Max Schaefer (Soft Skull Press 2010)

As he put his coat on Philip said, 'You know what you've done? Speaking of history: it's exactly what you've lost sight of. Nicky wasn't an Übermensch conjured up in a black mass on some moor. Skinheads were produced by socioeconomic circumstance, like every bloody thing else. The Blitz. The redevelopment of the East End, which dismantled old social networks. Post-war immigration. Teddy boys, mods and rockers, rude boys, hippies, punks. Unemployment. The collapse of the social contract.'
'I know that. It's why I was reading about the strikes. But it's not enough. It explains why people like Nicky existed but not what it was like to be Nicky.'
'Then focus on that. Not the bloody occult. Nicky's out with his mates and they start queer-bashing. What goes through his head? He's in a club and sees a black anda white man snogging. What does he think? No, fuck "think": what does he feel? Does he feel sick, does it turn him on? Both? What's it like to be Nicky in his body - fucking and fighting? But enough with the magick, because if one thing's obvious from that programme, Nicky was a very pedestrian kind of nazi.'
'What do you mean,' I said, '"was"?'
Philip stared at me.
'The Register Office can't find his death certificate.'
'Oh for God's sake.'
'Funny, though, isn't it? Look, all I'm saying is you can't separate ideas from reality that neatly. Ideas create reality. It's all connected.'
'Everything's fucking connected. We know that by now, surely? Chaos theory: you have a wank and there's an earthquake off Sumatra. Doesn't tell us anything, apart from maybe you should wank less. I think I'm drunk. Come on, darling,' he said to Tom. 'Let's go.'
pages 175-176
'All right Tony?'
'What are you doing here?'
'Coppers can't tell the difference can they?' says Glenn. 'All just skinheads to them.' He smiles. He has somehow got right next to Tony; he speaks quietly, but does not whisper.
Tony can't hack the look in his eyes and turns away. 'Wanker.'
'There's a few of us here, not just me. Well, we're on CCTV now aren't we, don't want to do nothing heavy. But the nice officers are going to walk us all outside for your safety and that. And there's no cameras out there.'
'You're a fucking race traitor Glenn.' Tony, because he doesn't know what would happen otherwise, collaborates in the conversational hush: they could be queuing at a supermarket checkout. 'You're worse than a fucking nigger.'
'If you like. I just wanted to tell you before it kicks off. There's a truce between us as far as I'm concerned. For old time's sake. But I can't speak for the other lads, so I'd run if I was you. When you get the chance. Is this bonehead wander a friend of yours?
He kicks both ankles of the man in front, who stiffens.
'Know him Tony do you?' mutters Glenn.
'Good, because when we get out of here he's dead. Did you hear me you daft nazi count?' Glenn kicks him again. 'When we get outside I'm going to kill you.' The man is visibly shaking.
Slowly the police begin to move the group towards the far end of the concourse. Beyond the cordon, watching reds yell taunts and insults. Some get a chant going, 'Police protect - nazi scum!,' until the objects of their criticism set dogs on them. Near the driveway for postal vans two men in donkey jackets conduct - amazingly - a paper sale. 'Buy a copy, officer?' one calls as the tense formation troops past. 'Read about how workers pay for the government failures. One pound solidarity price.' He waves it after them : Workers' Power', it says on a red background, and on black, hands off iraq!
Glenn mutters: 'How's your love life then?'
'Fuck off all right.'
'Touchy aren't you? Don't they know you're a poof these mates of yours?'
Tony says nothing. They are nearly at the closed-off bit where the new station is being built. In two minutes they will be outside.
'Bound to be some likely shags in this lot Tony. You know what these Europeans are like.'
From behind, Tony watches the face of the man Glenn has threatened to kill. He is listening; his pupil trembles against the corner of his eye.
'I can big you up if you like,' Glenn offers. 'You always were good in bed.'
The subdued shuffle of the skins' boots as they are herded sounds like rain against the roof.
'Better than Nicky if I had to be honest. To my taste anyway. Probably because in your own way you were even more fucked up. Did you see him on telly the other week? Bet that upset a few people.
pages 333-335

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