I’m sorry if I’ve told this story before, but I was reminded of it the other day, when one of the parties concerned mentioned the cinema we had been to and from which we were coming home, when it happened.
Who knows what film we had watched, lost in the mists of time, the Aaben Cinema, where we had been is literally lost in those misty times, eventually its ruins demolished in 1993. Actually, maybe we had been to the Grey Parrot in fact, which was adjacent to the cinema. It closed in 1988 and was also demolished. On second thoughts (third thoughts) maybe we had been to both the Aaben Cinema and the Grey Parrot, that sounds quite likely. Both these places were in Hulme, and both had a reputation for being a bit on the rough side, but I don’t remember us ever having problems when we visited; no doubt we just kept ourselves to ourselves and were quiet and polite. We probably didn’t look at anyone either, no eye contact, no trouble… usually.
It was a miserable night when we left wherever we had been, it was heaving it down in a typical Mancunian way, and we hurried along the paved paths between the blocks of flats and arrived at a bus stop with a shelter, to wait for the late bus – maybe an all-night bus, to take us home to Chorlton. No doubt we were talking about the film, or the pub, no doubt we’d had a great time and were reliving it.
The rain was coming off the roof of the shelter in sheets when we were joined by a very, very drunk man, carrying a parcel of fish and chips, and wearing an aggressive and dangerous attitude. Although we were no longer students but respectable teachers, he took against us, and his language,, as you might imagine, was ripe, offensive and aggressive. The streets were empty of any other people, no taxis passed by ready to be flagged down and save us, we were trapped in the bus shelter with a drunk maniac, building up a head of violent steam against us timid innocents.
“I’m gunna ****in paste yer, yer ****ing jessie!” he bellowed at Andy.
I think we were holding our breaths, praying for a police car, or any sort of car, and Andy quietly removed his glasses and stowed them in his inside pocket.
“Here, hold these while I ****ing lay one on yer!” the man exclaimed and thrust his packet of newspaper wrapped chips at Andy.
I have to confess, Mike and I were useless, there was nothing either of us could think of doing, but I think I did bleat out some ingratiating apologies, pleading for a peaceful resolution.
The drunk pushed his sleeves up his arms…
And then a bus crept up on us and its doors glided open.
“It’s our bus, we can’t miss it!” shouted Mike, and the three of us bounded aboard.
“I’ll get yer next time, yer jessies!” yelled the man, shaking his fist, but making no attempt to board the bus.
The bus doors now glided shut, and the driver pulled away from the bus stop, his windscreen wipers thunking back and forth across the windscreen, making little difference to the sheets of water which were falling from heaven.
We slumped into our seats, Andy still clutching the drunk’s parcel of fish and chips.
We can laugh about it now, probably less hysterically than we laughed about it in the safety of the Manchester bus.
I found this about the Aaben:
and this about the Grey Parrot:
Thank you Rachel Leslie for the photo