Read Stories We Could Tell Online

Authors: Tony Parsons

Stories We Could Tell

BOOK: Stories We Could Tell


Tony Parsons


For David Morrison of Hong Kong

Table of Contents


Title Page


Part One: 1977 - You May Not Be An Angel

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Part Two: 1977 - Angels are So Few

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Part Three: 1977 - Lovers of Today

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

CODA: 1977 - Another Girl, Another Planet

Chapter Sixteen

About the Author

By the Same Author


About the Publisher


‘I Feel Love’ Words and Music by Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte and Donna Summer © 1977 WB Music Corp, USA and Sweet Summer Night Music (66.67%) Warner/Chappell Music Ltd, London W6 8BS (33.33%) Warner/Chappell Artemis Music Ltd, London W6 8BS. Lyrics reproduced by permission of IMP Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

‘Stories We Could Tell’ Words and Music by John Sebastian © 1972 (renewed) Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp and Chicken Flats Music Inc, USA Warner/Chappell North America Ltd, London W6 8BS. Lyrics reproduced by permission of IMP Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

‘All You Need Is Love’ Words and Music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney © 1967 Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK) Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

‘Shame’ Words and Music by Reuben Cross and John Henry Fitch Jr © 1975 Dunbar Music Inc, USA, Warner/Chappell North America Ltd, London W6 8BS. Lyrics reproduced by permission of IMP Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

‘Dancing Queen’ Words and Music by Benny Andersson, S. A. Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus © 1976 BOCU Music Ltd. Lyrics reproduced by permission of BOCU Music Ltd, 1 Wyndham Yard, London W1H 2QF. All Rights Reserved.

‘5.15’ Words and Music by Pete Townshend © 1973 Fabulous Music Limited, London SW10 OSZ. International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

‘Goodness Gracious Me’ Words and Music by David Lee & Herbert Kretzmer © 1960 TRO Essex Music Limited, London, SW10 OSZ. International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

‘I’ll String Along With You’ Words by Al Dubin and Music by Harry Warren © 1934, M. Witmark & Sons, USA. Reproduced by permission of B. Feldman & Co Ltd, London WC2H 0QY.

‘If I Can’t Have You’ Composed by Barry Gibb/Maurice Gibb/Robin Gibb. Published by BMG Music Publishing International Ltd. Used by permission. All Rights Reserved.

Although the Publisher has made every effort to trace and contact all copyright holders before publication, this has not been possible in every case. If notified, the publisher will be pleased to make any necessary arrangements at the earliest opportunity.

Chapter One

They stopped him as he was coming through customs. Why wouldn’t they stop him? Terry looked like trouble.

His skin pale from too many sleepless nights and God knows what else, the second-hand suit jacket from Oxfam, the CBGB’s T-shirt, Levi’s that hadn’t been touched by water since the day he bought them and wore them in the bath (his mother telling him he would catch his death, his father telling him he was bloody mental), Doctor Martens boots and – the crowning glory – his short, spiky hair dyed black, and badly, from a bottle of something called Deep Midnight that he had found at the bottom of the ladies’ grooming counter in Boots.

‘One moment,

used like a weapon, like a joke. As if anyone would seriously call someone like Terry
. Two customs men, one of them knocking on for thirty, with mutton chops and a mullet, like some King’s Road footballer trying to keep up with the times, and the other one really prehistoric, maybe even as old as Terry’s father, but lacking the old man’s twinkle.

‘Been far, sir?’

This from the elderly geezer, ramrod straight, all those years in uniform behind him. ‘Berlin,’ Terry said.

The younger one, as hairy as a character from Dickens, was already in Terry’s plastic Puma kitbag, pulling out his God Save the Queen T-shirt, his silver tape recorder, a spare pack of batteries, a microphone and a change of Y-fronts.

As Terry’s mum always pointed out, you never knew when you were going to get knocked over.

‘Berlin? Must be lovely this time of year,’ said muttonchops, and the old soldier sniggered. They thought they were funny. The Eric and Ernie of Terminal Three.

The old soldier flipped open Terry’s thick blue passport and did a double take. The pale-faced, black-haired youth before him bore little resemblance to this incriminating snapshot from Terry’s previous life, his mousey-haired and baggy-flared life, the living at home with Mum and Dad life, the working at the gin factory life when he walked around lost in dreams, and all his dreams were of getting out.

In the mug shot Terry peered out at the world from under a failed feather cut, trying to look like Rod Stewart but coming out more like Dave Hill of Slade. He even had the start of a suntan. It was a snapshot from when Terry was still waiting for his life to start, and his cheeks were burning as the old soldier closed the passport.

Then muttonchops was digging deeper in the kitbag, making Terry flinch now, because he was touching the things that really mattered to him, pulling out a two-week-old copy of
The Paper
with Joe Strummer on the cover, looking as beautiful and doomed as Laurence Harvey in
Room at the Top
. He flipped the big inky broadsheet open, gawped blankly at the news pages, at headlines that meant nothing to him.

This Year’s Costello. Talking Head Cases. Bachman Turner Overdrive Disband. Muddy Waters – Hard Again. Fanny to Warm Up Reading?

Quickly flicking through
The Paper
now. Not even glancing at the double-page centre-spread cover story on the Clash by Skip
Jones, the greatest music writer in the world, but pausing – as if that’s what it was all about! – when he got to the classifieds.

‘Dirty Dick’s Records – get yourself a dosel
muttonchops read out loud, pulling a face. ‘That’s disgusting, that is.’

He tossed
The Paper
to one side and rummaged deeper, producing Terry’s battered copy of
The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby
with entire paragraphs underlined, and then the truly irreplaceable – cassettes from Terry’s recent interview with the legendary Dag Wood, the only man to be booed off stage at Woodstock.

Terry watched the priceless cassettes being handled as though they were something that they gave away with the petrol and he felt like telling the bastards to do something useful, like go and catch Carlos the Jackal.

But he thought that might be an invitation to a full body search, so he bit his lip, clenched his buttocks and wondered how long his girlfriend would wait for him.

‘And was your trip business or pleasure, sir?’ said the old soldier.

‘I’m a journalist.’

It still gave him a kick to say that – nine months into the job and it gave him a thrill to see his name in a by-line, especially next to the postage-stamp picture you sometimes got. Small things, but they signified that Terry was becoming the someone he had always wanted to be. They couldn’t stop him now.

said the man, a note of suspicion in his voice, as if a real journalist should be wearing a suit and tie, or carrying a briefcase, or old or something. ‘What you write about then?’

Terry smiled at him.

It was the end of a summer day in 1977 and there was something in the air, and in the clubs, and pouring out of every radio. Everything was suddenly good again, the way it had been good ten years ago, back in the Sixties, when Terry was a child, and his parents still thought that the Beatles seemed like nice boys.

What did he write about? He wrote about the way everything was changing. From haircuts to trousers, and all stops in between. What did he write about? Oh, that was a good one.

Terry thought of something that Ray Davies had said recently, about how he felt like sobbing his heart out whenever he looked at anyone’s record collection, because it was just so moving to see that personal soundtrack laid out before you, naked and open and fading with the years, because if you cared about this kind of thing then it was all there among the scratched vinyl and the cracked gatefold sleeves, as plain as could be, all the hopes and yearnings of someone’s private universe, and everything that a young heart could possibly want or need or yearn for.

‘I write about music,’ Terry said.

Misty was waiting for him at the arrivals gate.

He saw her before she saw him. He liked it that way. It was one of his favourite things in the world – to see her before she saw him.

Misty. His honey-haired, cat-faced darling. Tall and slim in a simple white dress matched with a pair of clonking great biker boots.

Girls were starting to do that all the time, pairing something undeniably feminine – mini-skirts, fishnet tights, high heels, Misty’s simple white dress – with something brutally male – DMs, spiked dog collars and wrist bands, Misty’s motorcycle boots. Throwing their sex in your face, Terry thought, demanding to know what you were looking at, and silently asking you what you were going to do about it. It was a new thing.

Slung over her shoulder was a bag with her camera equipment. Dangling from one of the straps, where you might expect to find a little plastic gonk or perhaps a figurine of the Fonz or Han Solo, there was a pair of handcuffs – pink fake mink handcuffs. You
couldn’t tell at first glance if they came from a toyshop or a sex shop.

Misty and her pink fake mink handcuffs. Terry sighed at the sight of her.

She was like a girl from a book. No, a
– you couldn’t say girl any more, that was another of the new things, it wasn’t allowed to say girl, you had to say woman, even when they were still – technically, legally – girls. Misty had explained it all to Terry – it was something to do with what she called
the suffocating tyranny of men

Funny that, thought Terry.

Yes, she was like the bird –
– in the Thomas Hardy novel they read at school, the year he dropped out and went to work in the factory.
Far from the Madding Crowd
. Misty was like the woman in there – all female softness, but with a thread of steel you couldn’t guess at by looking at her. Bathsheba Everdene. That was Misty. Bathsheba Everdene in a white dress and biker boots, Bathsheba Everdene with a pair of pink fake mink handcuffs.

She still hadn’t seen him, and the sight of her face scanning the crowd full of strangers made his soul ache. Then she caught his gaze and started jumping up and down, so glad to see him again after being apart for so long.

Over a week!

She ducked under a sign that said STRICTLY NO ENTRY and ran to him. She wasn’t the kind who cared about signs, she moved through the world as if she had a right to be there – anywhere, everywhere. Like a woman in a book, like a girl in a song.

‘Look, Tel,’ she said.

She had the most recent copy of
The Paper
in her hands. Almost a week old, and somehow the ink was still damp, and her fingertips were black, and there on the cover was a gaunt, grim-faced man with platinum blond hair standing in a trench coat by a great wall with a sign that said,
Achtung! Sie verlassen jetzt West Berlin

Terry’s story on Dag Wood, written on a hotel laundry bag and phoned in from Berlin.

‘So what’s he like?’ Misty said, and he had to laugh, because normally the question drove him nuts.

15.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

One Ride (The Hellions Ride) by Camaron, Chelsea
The Moneylenders of Shahpur by Helen Forrester
A Wrinkle in Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle
Outriders by Jay Posey
yame by Unknown
Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts
Man on Two Ponies by Don Worcester