No. 30 The TOTS Man

The fat Mod was having birthday drinks after work. I didn’t have any money but he said I could give him my luncheon vouchers and he’d buy me a few pints. We went to the Railway Pub. I hadn’t been there since the Merchant Seaman No. 23 had stood me up.
After getting thrown out of the pub at closing time a bunch of us went to TOTS, ‘Talk of the South’, a Southend night club I wouldn’t normally go to. The men in the club were office types but I eyed up the best looking suited guy. We danced and snogged and he invited me to a party that Saturday at a pub across the road where he lived in Southend. He wrote his address with my eyeliner on my fag packet.
The party was fancy dress, I went as a Stone Age woman. I’d dried out some of the dog’s old lamb bones from the garden, I wove them into my Mohican and used them to secure the hessian potato sack that covered my body, intermittently. Over the sack I wore a black and white furry rabbit waistcoat I’d bought in Benidorm (a holiday with Marni where I got salmonella and was too ill to get off with anyone. I loved that waistcoat, it had leather tassels, I begrudgingly took it to the charity shop soon after when I realised it really wasn’t cool re animal rights stuff).
I arrived at the TOTS man’s flat, the door was answered by a man on crutches with blacked out face and bloody bandages covering his legs, I walked into the flat.  In the living room stood a man dressed as an Egyptian Mummy, covered in toilet roll selotaped all over his body and head. Behind the sofa a solider in full camouflage jumped out and pointed a gun at me.
“Can I smoke in here?” I asked. I couldn’t work out which man it was who I’d danced and snogged with a few nights before. None of the men said anything, I was ushered out of the flat by the one with the gun and we walked over the road to the pub.
The party was in full swing. I felt young and out of place. Although most at the party were heavily disguised in fancy dress, they were all what I described as ‘normals’. I imagined them all wearing suits.  The three men seemed to know everyone and chatted with all.  I stood on my own, nursing drink upon drink, wishing I had borrowed Mum’s Mini so I could make a quick escape.

By the end of the night the Egyptian Mummy’s toilet roll was off his face and I could see he was the TOTS man. The pub cleared and he took me by the hand and we went back to the flat. He tore away the toilet roll and hessian sack and we had sex on the floor of the living room. I could hear the soldier and the war veteran having sex with their ‘normal’ women in the bedrooms, probably on beds.

I wasn’t surprised the TOTS man never called me. My eyeliner was blunt so the number would have been difficult to make out. I was exhausted and had exhausted the Essex scene on all fronts. I was thinking these thoughts while I was having sex with him. My fantasy that a TOTS kind of an office type man might work – hadn’t. I felt like an outsider and had no idea where or how I would fit in with anyone ever.  I’d been getting tingling in my fingers and had left the band I had been playing in.  I couldn’t play keyboards for now.  I was sick of the Southend music scene anyway, didn’t feel it mattered.

Someone new, something new had to happen, and soon.



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