Wednesday, 12 August 2009


His brother had offered him the job and he had taken it. It wasn’t as if he was in a position to refuse it. The job was this: ambling about streets distributing flyers for three hours. The flyers were actually ‘VIP passes’ which entailed discounted entry to a local nightclub.
11pm-2am. £6/hour.
Gregg had taken it. It wasn’t as if he was in a position to refuse it; he was broke.
He’d encountered people doing this job dozens of time before. They came up to ye and zealously conveyed the merits of patronising a particular establishment.
Gregg wasn’t sure if he had the necessary demeanour for this type of work. Still, as stated, he wasn’t in a position to turn anything down. Fuck it, he’d give it a shot.

The two brothers caught the bus into the city at the back of 10pm. They went to a nearby pub before going to the club. The club was called Vitreous China. It was a dancehall reggae night that was on tonight. Not a sub-genre that Gregg was particularly interested in.
They sat in the pub with pints of beer and filled out half the flyers with the initial ‘G.’ This would signify that anyone using these passes had obtained them from Gregg as opposed to the other lassie he’d be working with. Or working against, really.
As they sat filling out the passes, Gregg felt a bit tense. A bit weary. He wasn’t exactly enthused about the next three hours. Trying to engage the attention of bands of marauding drunks. He’d likely be ridiculed, or worse, beaten perhaps. He just lacked the constitution for this type of work.
He took a deep breath. Just get on with it. It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine.

At 11pm he left his brother at the club. His brother was in charge of the guestlist.
So he set out. He set out. It had begun to drizzle. His sweater had a hood, fortunately.
He set out.
He had the flyers in his pocket. He took them out. He put them back. He wasn’t ready yet. He wanted to pace around a bit first, see what was what.
He passed a couple of groups of people. He clutched the flyers in his pocket. He kept walking. He wasn’t ready. He trudged wearily.
Christ, this rain. He began to feel morose.
The next group of people he passed he reached into his pocket. This was it. Here goes.
“You guys need passes for Vitreous China?”
The way it came out, it was like a rhetorical question, like it was a foregone conclusion that of course they didn’t need the damn fucking passes and apologies for disturbing them in the first place.
They regarded him sympathetically and shook their heads.
They walked on. He walked on.
He walked on. There. That wasn’t so bad.
He repeated the procedure with the next group of people he encountered with similar results.
This was okay. This was fine. He was just warming up.
His fucking right sneaker had a hole in the sole and was admitting dampness. His sock was soaked through. A most unpleasant sensation. Ah Christ fucking shit.
Fuck it. He walked on. Should he walk on? Or should he maybe find a spot to lurk? Should he keep moving or remain stationary?
He text messaged his brother, enquiring about the best spot to hang out.
Near Starbucks was the response. Which made sense. Starbucks was at the corner of a crossroads with a few nearby bars and clubs. It was a good spot to intercept bands of marauding drunks. Then he could coax the cunts into going to Vitreous China and thereby earn himself a nice wee commission for bodies enticed into said establishment.
The thing was there were a few other guys with flyers hanging around there. So he kept walking. He walked on, he wasn’t ready for territorial disputes yet. He’d patrol the entire area, scope it out, maybe tap into an as yet undiscovered hotbed of potential clients.
The intensity of the rainfall was increasing. A regrettable fact that had to be admitted.
A text from his brother. Did he want to borrow the DJ’s jacket? No he didn’t, it was fine. He had a hood, the rain wasn’t too bad.
So, here he was. This was quite a humbling experience, really. I mean this is what he had been reduced to. He clutched the cards.
He stopped walking. He was coming to the end of the road. No more bars. It wasn’t busy at all. He crossed the street to walk back the way, reluctant to just about-turn on the same side of the street.
Ah fuck, he was trapped now. He’d have to walk back past all the other guys staked out with their flyers. They’d be sizing him up the bastards. Who’s this motherfucker? He looks like a motherfucking fool. That’s the kind of thoughts the bastards would be harbouring.
Well fuck them. Gregg strolled onwards, clutching his cards.
Here came another group of revellers. OK. Cards at the ready. Five of them in the group. He counted off five passes, slowing down as they approached.
“Vitreous China tonight, guys?”
They seemed non-plussed as they accepted the cards he proferred. This was how it was done, ye just foisted the damn things on the cunts.
“£3 entry, £1.50 drinks.” He was rattling off the banter now. They thanked him for the cards and he thanked them for taking them. Work the nice guy angle.
The rain had died off. He pulled his hood down.
He was back at the Starbucks junction. He turned down onto the adjacent street, passing a blonde lassie who held a stack of Vitreous China flyers. He tried to catch her eye but she never noticed him so he just walked on. He got onto the street that ran parallel to the one where the club was located. Plenty of bars along here as well.

The rain had started up again. It was heavier this time. Gregg took shelter in a Pizza Hut doorway. The streets were almost deserted now. It was 1am. Pizza Hut was closed but there were lights on inside. Why was that? What a waste of electricity. Why was it, though? Was it to draw attention to the place, advertise its existence there? Probably. Still, Gregg was sort of grateful for the light. He was drawn to it, like a moth.
He leaned against the wall and gazed at his soaked sneakers. So this was what he had been reduced to. It was one of those moments for questioning what it was all about, I mean why would you actually want to be alive? He chuckled to himself ruefully.
In scenarios like this he like to entertain overly bleak, exaggeratedly melodramatic thoughts. A kind of self-effacing black humour to see him through.
A spider was crawling near his shoe. Like him it was seeking shelter from the weather. Normally averse to spiders and the like, Gregg felt a kind of solidarity with the thing. So small and frail. He almost felt tenderness toward the wee thing.
A good ten minutes passed with no pedestrian passing. Then a couple of women walked past but ignored his offer of two VIP passes to Vitreous China.

This was okay. This was fine. This was no it wasnae okay this was hopeless. Nightmarish. This was spirit crushing. Maybe he’d just toss the flyers and walk away, walk off into the night. There was always that option to consider. He would walk all the way home, arriving exhausted with blistered feet.
So this is how he was trying to earn money at 26 years of age. Christ.
Alright, no point going down the path of self-pity. It could be worse, much worse.

He just didn’t like people. Or necessarily understand them. All these groups of young people, prowling the street on a rainy Sunday night. What were they yearning for? What did they hope to achieve? It was depressing, it was completely senseless.

He saw some pretty lassies. What’s more, they looked cool. They didn’t look like potential Vitreous China clientele.
“You guys need free passes for Vitreous China?” Gregg had reverted to his rhetorical tone. Except this time he avoided the feeble, apologetic overtones. He sounded sardonic, fey even. He offered a wry grin.
“We’re okay,” one of the lassies told him and she smiled back at him knowingly.
That was good. You needed wee moments like that, moments of respite from trying to engage with the mindless hoards of feckless drunks patrolling the streets.
You get these wee pockets of euphoria, these wee moments fleeting though, always fleeting. They got swallowed up by the all-encompassing existential dread that was characteristic of the human condition.
He walked on, clutching the flyers, feeling the rain on his face.

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