I sometimes go to the demos with Da and Geordie - but most of the time I just get told to go home.
'Oi, Tosser!' Geordie shouts through the crowd, 'Sod off, will ya?'
Tosser. That's my name, amongst my big brother and all his stupid mates anyway. It isn't my real name. Even Mam and Da weren't simple enough to call me that. Wouldn't surprise me though. Thick as bricks, the pair of them. I mean, they almost f***ed up my birth certificate. Forgot I was a boy, didn't they? Was almost called Shirley. But lucky for me they realised their mistake before it got wrote down - only after a nurse pointed out that their lovely baby girl had dangly bits though. They couldn't think of a name, so I got stuck with the old family favourite. I'm Jack Greystone now. 'Jacky' when Mam's in a good mood - so once in a blue moon. Da can't be a***d with me at the moment, not with him and Geordie fighting the coppers every minute of the day. Geordie's his favourite, the golden child. He was the one that Mam and Da actually wanted. They didn't want me, nor little baby Karen neither. I can understand why they can't be bothered with her I suppose - all she does is whinge. Mam tears her hair out over our Karen.
But why me too? That's what I don't understand. I mean I get on alright with everyone round our estate, and I ain't been in trouble with the filth or anything. Most kids at school have. But now their Da's are home from the mines because of the strike, they can't run riot any more. Not that they did any real damage. Just gave the police a bit of a run around, that's all. It was all in fun, and it was just f***ing funny more than anything else. One lad, Shocks, can hotwire a car is less than thirty seconds. But sometimes it goes wrong and everything goes up in smoke. Then we have to run in case the bobbies nick us. That's how Shocks got his name: after a bad wiring his hair stands on end, like he's been electrocuted or something. None of us are skinheads - we might have Da's on the dole but we've still got our pride. I suppose this is what it's all about - the strike, Mam's moods, everything - pride.
I'm not old enough to do anything proper to help. Geordie can - he's been down the pit ever since he left school - plus he can take a right good whack at any bobbies who try it on. Best I can do is chuck a few paint bombs at their vans, maybe smash a couple of the windows. I'm only thirteen, not old enough to take part in any of the proper fights. 'Union members only'. Since when did you have to be a member of anything to have a good punch up? I don't get into fights as a rule, because I know if I did I'd get a clout round the ear for my trouble. But it doesn't stop me taking the occasional swipe at one of those riot squad types. You have to leg it quickly though, otherwise you get a crack on the head with a baton. I can usually get away because I'm so small, but more often than not the poor sod behind me gets it instead. I try to feel guilty afterwards, but my attitude is if you don't want to get hurt, don't go to the demos. Simple as.
Anyway, Geordie just told me to go home. No way - I'm not going back to Mam and Karen. So I walk. Our estate's so big, you could probably walk for miles and never see the end of those new council houses. I see my house, but go straight past. I'll come back later if I feel like it. It's not like anyone's around to send me home. They're all down to see whether any policemen get it in the neck, or tucked up inside their houses, scared to come out. I'm not scared. I'm Jacky. I own these streets. They're in my blood. Nothing can take them away from me, not even those b******s down in London. But this place is going down the pan and we all know it. Shocks's Mam's back on the wacky baccy, and that's as sure sign as anything. Shocks's Mam's drug habits will tell you all you need to know about the strike situation. A few months back she got clean, after the bosses said nobody would be 'let go'. But as soon as this new wave of strikes came along, she got all spacey again. Sad, that. Mam knew her at school. Apparently she was a bright cookie, passed her 11+ and everything. Then she shacked up with Shocks's Da. But he's long gone, and she's lost the plot. If I've learnt anything from thirteen years in this s***hole , it's that adults are a f***ing waste of space. We'd be better off without them.