at work in Leeds

Thursday night was no longer called Thursday amongst their quintet. It was poletastic night – as christened by their now favourite haunt in their home town of Leeds. For some time now, their lives had all but revolved around the goings on at the Yate’s pub in the city where they lived.

Courtney and Sarah first stumbled upon the veritable minefield that was poletastic when they were wandering around the city one afternoon after work. “50 quid bar tab for the best dancer!” they almost simultaneously exclaimed as they were passing the pub, their necks bent towards the banner, flapping in the thick, moist breeze of the Leeds air as they read while they walked. For the prize of the best pole dancer each week, they could almost certainly put an end to their daily struggle to scrounge together enough cash to eat and intoxicate themselves, on a daily and hence, a weekly basis. What’s more, with the help of their close school friends and housemates of some 4 years, their success was almost a surety.

They had talent and sex appeal – it was clear in their minds. Courtney was almost 5 foot 5 inches tall. She had ample thighs and a zeppelin-like rear-end, and almost never wore enough clothes to cover her spilling torso. “Fuck I look good” she thought to herself practically every time she left home and glanced at herself in the mirror, and then the glass at the front door, and then the panels in the window of her father’s van, and then the perpetual pools of mud on the driveway leading out towards the glistening street. – Mantra-like in her self-mutilating repetition. Sarah was slightly taller (by almost 6 inches, in fact) and mimicked the physique of McDonald’s grimace, almost always flaunting her gratuitous amounts of flesh in skimpy clothes and oversized heels, her udder-like breasts spilling infinitely from her cheap clothing.  Excited by the manifestation of their master-plan, they ambled home to meet with the others and deliver their exciting news.

Poletastic didn’t come off quite as well as they hoped in the initial weeks. There were almost always others there each week (male and female) who would stand them up and steal the show – implanting themselves in the memory of the inebriated crowd until voting time came, and their group would fade into insignificance (Yate’s made available cocktail creations such as “Viva las vegas”: Bacardi, vodka, cranberry juice and lemonade; the “Jelly baby”: Malibu, Archers, Vodka, blue Curaçao, pineapple juice and grenadine and the “Aussie summer crush”: Yate’s Aussie white wine, triple sec, Midori and lemonade – all for £8.95 per pitcher, to help everyone forget – 2 for £12 before 8pm) wondering where the 5 of them went wrong again, for another week. When Graheme lost his job at Burger King, and had been without employment for the sixth week (struggling to look after his and Felicity’s 9 month old baby girl) things were becoming dire, and the poletastic plan wasn’t panning out how the girls had initially envisaged. It was time to get serious.

After weeks of trying in vain to win the poletastic poledancing competition (that they “so deserved to win”) Graheme, Courtney, Felicity, Sarah and Laura were almost at a loss to explain just where they could possibly be going wrong. “What’s thair fookeng point en stoodyen all them vedeos end pructisin our merves at that foorkin plairground if way aren’t eaven gettin any fokking money for et!” screamed Courtney in Graheme’s malnourished, junkie-esque face, her cheeks jiggling with the force of her inquisition. “We mart as well be focking streppen!” she added, turning sideways to the loungeroom’s mirror to admire her muffin-tops spewing outwards from atop her excessively tight, excessively tiny skirt. “We naird ta coom up weth anothair wair of grabben the room’s attairnshunn”, whimpered Laura, intimidated by Courtney’s severe arrogance, which she justified in weight. “Boot wa’re alrairdy the fooken stars!” snarled Courtney, in intense Yorkshire snarl – “What more can we fooken do!?”

Hesitantly, Graheme began to speak in his gutless voice: “What ef way drass oop a bet?” – the silence, listening, urged him to continue – “I mairnn, we can use the black laghts ‘round the pawl, end mairbe dress oop en floo-row end use fluorescent pairnt on our budies, and raaarrrelllly stand out when we’re oop there”.

“And way cen wear tutus and use glowsticks in our her” chimed in Laura, her voice rising with the excitement of Graheme’s thoughts as she motioned around the room, imagining all of her sexy friends, glowing in the dark, shrouded in the poisonous, artificial mist of the smoke machine and extending ridiculous fluorescent auras with the help of the blacklights above, their own bodies skipping, lunging, writhing around and against and at arms and legs reach from the brass pole…

to be continued.

and that’s when we saw them

I suppose you kind of get used to the antics and the sights and sounds at Poletastic nights.  It’s basically all of the same people who are there every other night, and the few random people who have been lured in by something just as equally inexplicable as whatever the other people were lured in by.  Night after night.  After 3 years of monotonous pulling and pouring (some say I could have been going on for 8 years) everything in front of me is literally a massive kaleidoscope of the collective realities in their heads, liable to being twisted in any way, shape or form that I pleased.  Whales everywhere, parasites, leeches, chemicals, beer, alcohol and dust.  That’s about where it lay for me these days.  Sounds .. fuck.  How does that sound?

“Not too busy tonight, looks good so far huh?” I heard one of them say to the other when they were at the bar ordering their blue wkd’s.  I saw people doing weird, inexplicable shit all the time, but like I said, you just get used to it.  This time though, I couldn’t avoid the flash of their clothing, accented by the flash of their skin. Fuck it was bright.

There was about 3 of them at first, then about 5, all dressed in similar interpretations of the theme “obscene amounts of fluro, high-viz clothing, nothing too big”.  And when they turned around to walk away every time, there were things growing from things that were deep within other things that were attached to backs and then to flesh and bones like all people.  Miserably though, they seemed to have disconnected themselves from life itself, and were the suckling of Poletastic.

God.  I can’t believe I just used the word suckling when referring to them.  Or even writing anything including the mention of these people…

and then i vomited

Needless to say, they went on to take out the night convincingly.  And as time went on, with the help of a less than subtle relationship of sexual innuendo between the dj cum Poletastic compare (who was a mid 40’s round and rough man, perhaps the manager of the pub) and one of the 4 girls of the group – or should I say pod – as well as their always cutting-edge outfits, they (or one of their group of 5) would win Poletastic, almost week in and week out. . .

Anyway, I hardly ever left the bar to clear tables.  Why the fuck should I?  I’m fat, so I should be allowed to be as fat, because that’s my image.  Someone who clearly doesn’t move much, shouldn’t be expected to play the part of someone who moves.  Much.  It’s just not going to be convincing anyway, it’s as simple as that.  – I don’t indeed know why I did so on this particular night, maybe just so I wouldn’t have another blue wkd encounter with my fluro nightmare.

So off to the tables:  Glasses, pints, more of them, here, there, some paper, pints, another piece of paper.  I stopped to admire the view.  There they were..  Glowing brightly beneath the blacklighting around the pole-floor…

ill let your own interpretation of whatever that looks like – from how you’ve perceived the characters in this story – rest in your mind

I put the pieces of paper down first so I could unstack the tower of glasses, janking up my arm like a great caterpillar of glass.  As I was stacking them into the rack to be washed at a later date (let’s not forget also, that I was sweating heavily by now) I noticed the figures on the paper and went in for a closer inspection.  Beneath a droplet of sweat from my brow, I saw it there:  The “Poletastic Prizemoney” circled in the corner, and the rest of the figures, prefixed by words like, bread, jam, Iceland, Yate’s, booze.  Then proudly, Graheme walked up to the bar and insisted “There aars there” pointing at the paper in my hand from somewhere beyond the glow of his fluro yellow arm-stocking.  I knew there was a hand there, and I reached out and placed the pages of paper I waved in my hand, into the glow.  Eventually it consumed the paper.

(i wondered what it was like to be them)

How they perceived reality and their lives in comparison to so many people was wildly unimaginable.  I wondered what made them dress up like that.  Why?  Why here?  What is going through your mind man?  And what the fuck is going on in your mind for the rest of the week?  God id like to know. That’s the impression I got anyway.  Because this piece of paper that I read was a budget of their lives, revolving around a sticky, brass painted, pole in a place that peddled alcohol addictions.  That I worked in.  I started asking questions.

Sometimes life is more acute than other times.  (he swallows the book) I saw what everyone saw anyway, but maybe no-one saw what I saw. So I went and talked to them all, and made up this story, because they told me they can’t read.  I never told you that huh?  And if that sounds ambiguous to you, clearly all that this was, was another stark reality from the other side.

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