Nightclubbing in Brum, 1988

By Thomas McColl

 

I look a right sight
as I’m travelling into Brum on a Saturday night.
It’s hard enough making the grade
when you’re still just a hapless teen at the tail end of Thatcher’s decade,
and though one plus
about these times is that I’m able, still, to smoke a fag
while swigging a can of beer
on the top deck of the bus,
the biggest drag
is having to wear a suit –
it’s taking the piss –
and I can’t believe I’m saying this,
but it’s lucky I chose branch banking as a career,
for it’s 1988,
and though everyone says how much they hate
being made to wear a suit
(that’s more often than not a Mr Byrite one to boot),
us fellas
have no choice but to dress
as if we’ve all got jobs
as bank tellers
just to get into nightclubs – in my case, one called fucking Snobs!

.

Who are we meant to impress
or even fool?
We’re all still just a bunch of yobs –
just ones who don’t look cool,
and there’s fuck all we can do, for it’s 1988,
and though everyone says how much they hate
being made to wear a suit
(that’s more often than not a Mr Byrite one to boot),
rave ain’t hit the mainstream yet
to liberate the dress code,
and the Roses ain’t made their boisterous baggy entrance yet
to liberate the playlist at Snobs from endless Depeche Mode,
the Blow Monkeys, Hue and Cry and fucking Lloyd Cole.

.

Well, one thing at least: I ain’t still on the dole.
But, unfortunately, I work for a bank – Lloyds Bank.
I hate the job but it’s them I have to thank
for payday,
and being as I don’t just need this suit tonight but also on Monday,
I really oughta
drink less, not more,
or else by the end of the night,
I’ll find I have a suit that’s soiled with spilt Snakebite,
and all I know is whenever I dare to step onto Snobs’ sunken dancefloor –
which is much like stepping into a paddling pool without water
(and, as it happens, I actually dance like a toddler in a paddling pool,
especially to ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’, the best ever song,
which turns me into a flailing fool,
a chimp in a suit) –
well, something usually ends up going wrong.

.

Last week, I tore my trousers and lost a button,
and being as I work for Lloyds Bank in Sutton
(they have high standards there in that posh part of town),
I don’t want yet another dressing down,
for it’s 1988,
and though everyone says how much they hate
being made to wear a suit
(that’s more often than not a Mr Byrite one to boot),
I at least get value out of mine,
but some consolation! – Roll on 1989…

 

Thomas McColl

 

Biography

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Thomas McColl was first published in the West Midlands Arts magazine, People to People, in 1988, and since then he’s been published in magazines such as Envoi, Iota, Prole, Fictive Dream, Here Comes Everyone and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and in anthologies by Eyewear, Hearing Eye and Shoestring.

His first full collection of poetry and flash fiction, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, is out now with Listen Softly London Press.

Thomas now lives in London and works at the House of Commons, having previously worked in the book trade. He has an Amazon page and a Twitter account @ThomasMcColl2

 

Featured image: Matthew Brown, © Snobs Nightclub