A Town Called Malice by Nick Quantrill

Scarborough, 1981, hot and sunny, the first place I visited as a Mod on my scooter. A classic Vespa. I saved up the money from my first job as a YTS dogsbody. Took me months and that was after my Mum slipped me some extra. John, Kev, Wayne and me all went up the coast from Hull, whipping in and out of the slow moving bank holiday traffic, eager to get there with Skirlaugh, Bridlington and Reighton all flashing past in a carefree blur, cheering and celebrating when we spotted the clear blue sea in front of us. Best day of my life. It had been a time of discovery for me. I love the old records by The Kinks and The Small Faces as well as the new ones from The Jam. There was the discovery of girls and sex, or at least trying to get them. I thought I was Jimmy from “Quadrophenia” when I was just a lad from Hull. But it was a way of life, a way for me to feel part of something. Some local lads chased us around the seafront that day, pushing families aside as we tried to get away from them. Ice creams and chips going everywhere. It was a thrill at first, but in a panic, I tripped on the stairs leading to the beach. A couple of them caught up with me and pinned me down to make sure I didn’t get away. I wasn’t sure if it was my screaming I could hear or the day-trippers who witnessed it. The lads beat me black and blue until the police dragged us all away in their van for another kicking.

Scarborough, 2011, hot and sunny, the first place I’m visiting as a grand-dad. Me, a grand-dad. Inside, I still felt like the kid who came here on his Vespa all those years ago. This time I was a passenger in my daughter’s Vauxhall Astra. I still play The Kinks, The Small Faces and The Jam on the car stereo, despite her telling me it’s old man’s music. I feel sad that she’ll never get to experience being part of something like I have. She’ll never know the closeness and sense of belonging it gives you. You just don’t get that kind of thing anymore. Everyone stays in their own houses these days, playing with their computers and phones. It’s not real life. I still get to see John and Wayne from time to time, though. Kev’s gone too soon. Specialist pub nights and decent cover bands keep it alive for me. I count out the change in my pockets and pass what I have to my daughter, saying she should put it towards treating the young one to an ice-cream. We walk down the sea front, lost in the crowd of people doing the same. We pass the spot where I was attacked all those years ago. A lot has changed because of that day. But you have to look forwards. Mod had been the making of me but it had also been my downfall. I look back at the spot and then at the young one. Life goes on. It was hardly the scene of a battle like Clacton or Brighton in 1964, but when all you’ve got to your name is an old Vespa scooter and a criminal record, it might as well have been.

Bio : Nick Quantrill lives and works in Hull, East Yorkshire. The first Joe Geraghty novel, “Broken Dreams”, is published by Caffeine Nights. “The Late Greats” followed autumn 2011. His short story, “Sucker Punch”, is included in the “Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 8”. For more information, see www.hullcrimefiction.co.uk

3 thoughts on “A Town Called Malice by Nick Quantrill”

  1. Love this new style, Nick. Proper love it. It’s got Joe written all over it, between the lines and spaces. That heart, that spirit. that willingness to face down the truth. Top stuff, mate.

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