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If you are a media outlet, publisher or local newpaper please feel free to contact me for a full .epub version of the book. phildalton101@hotmail.com

 

 

"The locals were hard men, working men, dangerous men, my Dad’s friends. A motley agglomeration of wizened and wrinkled faces, red noses, blue swallow tattoos and a hellish bark, which didn’t even come close to expressing how truly dangerous they really were."



 


"The leadened skies enforced a feeling of gloom. The impending rain had a coldness that preceded it. This Saturday I could tell my Dad was nervous. His ritual before leaving had been more sombre than usual. Deep lines crossed his forehead. He was lost in thought. Taking his hat he turned to me, looked me in the eye, turned, opened the door and walked out. I knew to follow him. Without a word we walked the 10 or so minutes to the Peculiar, the dark foreboding sky mirrored my Dad’s mood."



 



" Sometimes tea tastes like mud or worse it is Earl Grey. Often in places like: motorway service stations, aeroplanes, hotels and prison, tea tastes like shit. But when working class hands combined with good quality tea an old mug and a tea pot a certain magic occurs and the result is the grandest, most moreish cup of tea; the type of thing that you never want to end, where the quenched thirst is so satisfying you take a moment to pause and reflect on the effect of a usually mundane, unconscious task. This was one such cuppa."






" The temperature had plummeted and all those puddles were ice now. There was a crunch under foot which belied the truth of how slippery the ground was, but my Doc Martins were holding. The roofs of the rows of terraces where whitened by the ferocious hoarfrost. Ice crystals hung in the still air like tiny shards of glass burning your skin on contact."






"I heaved my way up the hill and settled myself down under the familiar branches of the old oak. For all my thunder it was a beautiful evening. The sun crept down behind my collar and I slowly began to let go of all the crap that the day had brought. I cracked the crown top with the end of my lighter and took a long swig.

...what was that all about on the train... that was really out of order... why did she have to be such a bitch about it..? oh well... but I do feel a bit cut up ... mmm I’m hungry... what’s in the fridge... wonder when Dad will be home tonight... pub quiz... probably late... god, she did make a tosser out of me today... well that’s the end of that... I still feel like a prick though... mmm... this beer is good... just what I felt like..."

 

In The Days of My Youth

Phil Dalton


The nameless protagonist is followed through four teenage years as he is taught the ways of the world by the working-class men from the pub; from football, music, wheeling and dealing, style, pulling and the value of hard work. The town is controlled by families and their influence is everywhere.  The Doc, an educated man, who works for the Verdict family as liaison, takes a keen interest in the boy’s learning and is pivotal in the shaping him into a man. During his education the families begin to be squeezed by outside forces and the eventual conflict that ensues looks to decide the boys future, if he has the skills to survive it.

 

 

Here is Chapter 1 for your enjoyment.

 



Chapter 1

What Women Want

As the doors opened I was aware that I was about to enter hallowed ground. The musty pine smell of cheap industrial disinfectant only managed to mask the stale cigarette smoke and tired beer that had a tinge of vomit lurking in the back of the palate. As a fourteen year old boy on that Saturday it felt like the Promised Land.

As a child I was fully aware that entering such a place alone was frowned upon to such an extent that it would have probably got my ear pulled from my body as George, the burly publican, had thrown me back out on to the pavement with a threat ringing in my stinging ears of informing my Dad of my indiscretion at the first possible moment.

However, on that day, Derby Day, I was ushered in as an honoured guest. See, this was my coming of age in my father’s eyes and today I would be allowed to sit quietly and watch the game with the real men. That day I was being initiated into the community, screaming along with them and being accepted and recognised.

We lost that day and even walking home with my Dad in his brewing foul mood after such a public humiliation, well as he saw the loss on derby day anyway, I still walked tall knowing that even in the tragedy of the moment I was now sharing that pain with the men at the pub.

In a traditional sense The Peculiar was not really a pub. It was the end terrace of a block of fifty other red brick, slate roofed houses. The interior had been reduced to only load-bearing walls and the dining room chairs that lined it were each entirely unique. There was a short, hard wood bar erected in the corner, it always reminded me of the altar in St John’s down the road. Taps lined the bar, though everyone knew that your choices were restricted to lager or bitter. The mere hint of a coffee would have you thrown out the door by the red faced and slightly irate barman.

The locals were hard men, working men, dangerous men, my Dad’s friends. A motley agglomeration of wizened and wrinkled faces, red noses, blue swallow tattoos and a hellish bark, which didn’t even come close to expressing how truly dangerous they really were.

From that Saturday onwards I was known as Tom’s boy. In reality they have never stopped using this even up to today, but at least they prefix it with my name now. These men began to scrutinize my every move and became actively involved in my education, the type of education that only men teach to boys and that would stand me in phenomenal stead.

I learnt many lesson during that time, it was those that the Doc gave me which occupy my memory most. The Doc was a well dressed and well spoken local. Though in hindsight, he did seem something of the odd man out if you were to just scan the room. That’s if you hadn’t been walloped with a bottle or politely asked your business whilst having a shiv firmly place on your sternum. The Doc was an everyman, he had gained the respect of the others and was allowed to be a bit poncy as he was such a hit with the girls, which meant they followed him to the pub and allowed the others their fair share too.

He was the only man any of them knew that had a degree, hence the Doc, which in that town would have got you battered on a Friday night for being a fucking swot; something the Doc, his silver tongue and met promises had mostly avoided. The slight line of a scar above his right eye betrayed the fact he had not always escaped these situations with everything intact. But as the folklore goes the lads headed out in his defence and the fair people hadn’t caused a ruckus in town since. There were meetings between elders on both sides and a truce was struck.. bla bla bla.. at which stage I had usually switched off.

Anyway, I was taken under the wing of the local dragons and schooled in of their dark arts. The Doc’s lessons were some of the most compelling and have armed me with tools that threw open the mysteries of the female psyche just enough to have at least an idea of what is required to capture their attention and occasionally their hearts in the process.

It was raining the first time the Doc approached me. It was about six months after that game and by that time I had been going down the pub with Dad about once a fortnight. He placed his wet fedora on the table, leaned over asking me directly if it was ok to sit in the spare seat next to me. I was lost for words and with mouth open and just nodded. He went to George bought a pint and sat down. Presenting me with a coke in a glass bottle he said,

“So boy, have you got your cock wet in a girl yet?” and promptly laughed,

“Aah no, of course you haven’t, we should probably remedy that.”

He laughed again and struck up a conversation with one of the other locals about the proposed new bypass and I was left to blush like a beetroot in the corner. 

The Doc’s first real lesson came in the form of a challenge. The following Saturday he came in around the same time, bought me a coke and asked,

“So what do you think girls like in a man? And what do you think they hate?”

I looked at him, a tightening frown on my brow, and was about to answer when our boys scored and the pub erupted with jubilation.

As the sound returned to relatively normal he leant back over and whispered,

“Tell me next week, make a list.”

With that he moved on to another pressing issue and I returned to the coke and the match.

Needless to say the Doc’s question washed around my head for most of the following week, since I was running headlong into the unknowns of puberty I figured I could do with all the help I could get, especially as I was head-over-heels in lust with Vicky Burrows, a girl two years my senior. So I figured bollocks to it and sat down with the back page of my school book and a half eaten HB pencil and began to brainstorm, fruitlessly... It was at this point I realised I actually had no idea what women liked in men.

That Saturday I sat down to watch the game with a dejected look. I had a torn scrap from my school book in my hand and the feeling in my stomach that I was going to be humiliated. As these thoughts were eating at me the Doc walked in, sat himself down next to me and asked, “So what’s on your list?”

With shaking hands I opened the scrap of paper and read the list of three items to him, my body almost flinching in anticipation of the pain of ridicule.

“Err... I only have three things... Women like fast cars and money and women hate arseholes.”

 And I waited...

He chuckled and took a sip of his pint,

“Well sure girls hate arseholes and fast cars and money definitely help ‘em like you”

He smiled, stretched his legs and organised his jacket, got up and disappeared into the gents.

The crowd in the Peculiar took my attention. Drawn into idle conversation with some of the other lads as we settled down for the second half and I almost forgot about the Doc’s interrogation. It was only later in the afternoon he returned to the conversation. It would not have been appropriate to speak of such things during the match; the Doc was more of a fan than he cared to admit.  He sat himself back down next to me and began to speak,

“You are not wrong, but think about it, not one man in this pub is a rich man nor owns a fast car,  but all, with the exception of probably George, who is to all intents and purposes an arsehole, have never struggled to attract women... so what is their secret?”

 At this point I figured I would have to continue my futile search another week, but a little unexpectedly the Doc continued,

“It doesn’t matter if it is a single date or a relationship women need to feel secure. Everything you do should build up this picture in her mind. If you can do this then you have a chance of keeping her relatively happy.

Oh, and remember if you try to bullshit or blag this she will work it out sooner than you can think it up, never forget women have a highly sensitive bullshit-ometer, so give her the respect she deserves.”

 He continued,

“It is a really big deal to most girls to allow a man to take her, if you neglect to realise and respect that, you can expect to spend many nights with only your own highly polished knob for company.”

He paused, the pub had emptied out by this time and the faint waft of cooking was coming through the front door as houses along the terrace began to prepare the supper for their starving hoards.

“The knight, the merchant, the artisan, the old king and the thief. Each of these men attracts different types of women... err well in my experience it is more like the same women at different times.

He moved a little closer and spoke in a hushed tone. I knew from his manner he regard this as important information,

“The knight is the protector, he is strong and brave and carries status. The merchant is successful, a bread winner, a provider. The artist is the lover, the inspired one, the pauper, potential. The old king is mature, trustworthy, experienced and the thief is the bad boy, the rebel, the bit of spice, the hopeless cause.”

He shook his head. He was beginning to drink a little more slowly than during the game and a rosiness in his eyes betrayed the work it was doing,

“You son, have got to try to acquire as many of the positive attributes of each of these icons and balance them within you. If you can succeed in this you will make yourself desirable to many more women than if you are only just one of these men.

 If you want her, you have to be attentive, son you have to listen to what she says. I don’t just mean her words I also mean her inferred meaning too. What is she really saying when she tells you her last boyfriend was a real twat and was never available and so on?”

 I stared back at him and he just kept going. The would have been no point in breaking his flow,

 “It is a warning to you to not try the same malarkey with her”

He looked me in the eyes,

“Be easy-going, don’t dictate to her, rather negotiate and capitulate your position occasionally to show her you care. And don’t be scared to show her and others kindness, it speaks of your character. Be loving, show her affection, but don’t smother her. If you can show equality in every decision your lady will respect you too, just as you respect her. And most importantly have fun and be fun. Fun is contagious so allow it to be part of every encounter. Let your name and fun be synonymous in her head and she is sure to call you again and again.”

With that he winked, stood up and prepared to leave,

“Before I forget, next week we will expand on the arseholes a bit more.”

Lying in bed that evening, I tried to piece together the gist of what the Doc was really trying to tell me. I knew it was important, however having never considered this before I was a little taken aback. From that moment on I was determined to write down what the Doc taught me. So at least I had some hope of sifting through it. At that moment there was a knock at my bedroom door. My Dad had arrived home after time with the boys. He handed me a paper bag,

“The Doc said you might find this helpful.”

I opened it and inside was a small, black, leather-bound notebook. Thumbing through the first few pages I found a note.

Now don’t you going using this for anything apart from our conversations and keep it somewhere secret and safe.

My Dad wobbling at my door, wished me good night and I lay back down and began to document what I could remember of our conversation, then put it safely in a lock box under my bed and went to sleep.