Collars and Jumper

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At the end of the week, I met up with the History crowd at the Student Union bar. It was a downbeat evening. A truly awful song came on and one student began a weird dance. Surprisingly, two girls joined in. What was unforgivable lay in their attempt to move provocatively around him. I couldn’t believe it. I looked around and they were smiling and clapping in slow motion. I knew them and didn’t want to. This was all wrong, but they were caught up in the moment. As the gyrating and noise reached fever pitch, I felt embarrassed for them. I told the student beside me that I had to be somewhere else – as in anywhere else, really quickly – when I heard a conversation behind in loud, plummy voices.

“Have you heard his accent?”

“I don’t know why they let his type into University.”

I looked down and half-turned toward two students. Both were older and bigger than me. One had upturned shirt collars and the other went for a pastel-coloured jumper-over-the-shoulders look. Poshies. They looked down at me and smirked. I shook my head and faced them.

“Are you talking about me?”

“We are actually,” Collars replied, clearly feeling safe in the studenty surroundings.

“You ought to know your place,” Jumper added.

They laughed a bit too loudly. I breathed in, grabbed Collars by the throat and forced him against a wall with a thud.

“I have just as much fucking right to be here as you,” I snapped.

They both looked startled.

“There’s no need for that,” Collars spluttered, struggling to regain his arrogance.

“This just isn’t on,” Jumper chipped in.

I wasn’t about to get an apology and it wouldn’t have been a smart move to deck them. I let Collars go. The History students were giving me some strange looks, so I left. The weather had turned and I walked along the dark, cold streets of Newcastle in the steady drizzle. With hands plunged deep in my pockets and head down, I knew I didn’t belong there. Besides, I really hated that fucking song.

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