Mistakes are known to happen, wherever you are, but some people are extremely unlucky.
A limit of the internet - one of many - is that people can create whatever idealogical design for themselves that they either desire or require, but you still know that mistakes are going to happen. From spending too much money at a staff night out and getting so drunk you can't stand to not spending enough money at a staff night out and failing to gather the courage to ask out the blonde barmaid with the breasts that seem to be staring at you, you can never tell what's going to happen for somebody. You can only ride the waves that hit you.
In the real world, with all of the masks pulled aside, we all have regrets. Many people will say that they do not, and have never found something in their lives that they wish they had done differently. These people are wishful thinkers in their purest form, for the world will always throw whatever it wants at you.
Often, alcohol is the source of the most obvious mistakes, even though a slightly misplaced foot can cause such issues as falling over onto an elderly co-worker with a dodgy hip. Alcohol makes everything that little bit bigger.
So it came with Matthew Cateland, that his mistakes grew almost as rapidly as his problems did.
Blokes can be secretaries too, Matthew reminded himself as he entered the office. That didn't make the job any less s--t, of course. He slung his satchel over the back of his chair and slumped in front of the computer, stabbing the "on" button with his index finger. A transcription to do, some interview with an angry councillor or something.
Matthew introduced himself as a journalist, but he never left the office. He didn't do any journalism. He did transcriptions, archiving, and all the little jobs that even the work experience kids couldn't be bothered to do. All for the minimum wage, naturally.
The desktop hummed into life, swiftly followed by an Internet window. Facebook came open first - not one notification. That was the disadvantage of being nocturnal - you picked up all your notifications as they came in, and never got that great feeling of being bombarded with love and friendship. He closed Facebook rapidly as the editor walked in, opening a blank Word document as cover.
"I need that interview by lunch, Cateland. You're not leaving this office till it's done."
"Yeah, sure thing." Sighing, Matthew plugged in his headphones and opened the recording.
"F--k, not Lewis," he groaned. Lewis was one of their three journalists. He was also a thickly-accented Liverpudlian. Doing transcription jobs was like a Russian roulette - either you got one of the local interviewers, and you could be done in an hour, or you got Lewis, and you were in for the night.
"Tough break, Matt," Laura, his fellow slave, patted him on the back, taking her place opposite him. She was older than him by about two years, which somehow justified her mothering him. Annoying, since she was cute. Not to mention she had a girlfriend anyway.
"What's your poison today?"
"Timesheets," she sighed.
"Oh, God, enjoy that."
"Fat chance. You guys playing tonight, yeah?"
"Yup, the Ivory at ten."
"I'll be there - assuming I ever finish this. Did you know Lewis only works three days a week?" Laura said indignantly after a few minutes in which Matt browsed the BBC News site.
"Thank God for that. OK, I've got to start working - rehearsal at one."
"Hullo, councillor Stevens. Thanks for meeting me."
Cutlery clattered on plates in the background, harsh against the buzz of conversation.
"He's doing the interview in a bloody caf!" Matthew groaned, banging his head on the keyboard. It was going to be a long morning.
Halfway to the water cooler, Matthew's phone vibrated - short and sharp, a text message. Sipping his iced water gingerly, he pulled it out. It was from Andrea.
"Hey Matt. How are you getting to the Ivory tonight? Want a lift? :) "
Matthew leaned back against the wall, chewing his lip. Andrea was dating Steve. They had only just gotten back together. Why couldn't she just leave him to wallow in his own misery for a bit? Matthew read the text over and over again, dissecting every last syllable to find some secret confession of love.
"Matt, you alright?" Laura ducked her head into the kitchen.
"Mmmm, why wouldn't I be?"
"You've been staring at your phone for the past two minutes, dear. Your cat die?" Matt was sure she was making fun of him.
"No, no. Just... text from Andrea."
"Your childhood sweetheart? The fit one on Facebook?"
"The very same. She's back with Steve." Matt banged his head against the shelves. Laura was privvy to most of the details of his romantic life - the briefing had taken all of two minutes, naturally.
"Ah, tough break. Why's she texting you then?"
"Cos I'm her new best friend? The bloody hell am I supposed to know?" Matthew snapped, crushing the cup and tossing it into the bin. He glared at it for a moment, then picked up and filled a new one.
"Matthew, she's texting you as soon as she wakes up, not her boyfriend." Matthew's phone vibrated in his hand. Andrea again.
"I'm leaving for the pub around 8.30, get off work at 4-ish."
"That's twice in five minutes. You're just accumulating her pigeons now, darling."
Collecting pigeons. The text message measurement of power - Matt hadn't sent back her last text, so her pigeon was in his possession. Now, she had sent another, and he was two pigeons up.
"Fat lot of good the pigeons do me," he said bitterly.
"No helping you, is there? Chin up, Catie." Laura gave him a quick hug and headed back to the office. Matthew downed his water in one, wincing as it froze his entire throat, right the way down to the pit of his stomach. He bit his lip hard and flicked through his contacts. Sinking into a crouch, he held the phone to his ear. One ring... two rings. She wasn't going to answer. Three rings. Matthew sighed and prepared to hang up.
"Andrea, hey. It's Matt. Got your text."
"Oh, awesome. So, lift? I doubt you'll be able to lug all your gear from here to the city center - besides, rockstars don't do public transport."
"Damn right. Yeah, that'd be lovely, cheers. But listen, I feel bad just using you as a taxi. Let me come over and make you dinner after work," No reaction. Matt started compressing the cup. "Then we'll leave from yours, yeah?"
"Um..." Andrea hesitated. His fingers tore through the plastic and formed a fist. "Sure, yeah!"
"Awesome! There's a Tesco's down the road from you, yeah?"
"Yup, s'alright too."
"OK, I'll pop in and then be at yours, like, five?"
"Sounds good. See you then!"
When he sat down, placing a third plastic cup by the door, Laura was smirking at him. What? he mouthed.
"It's good to see you smiling for once," she answered simply. Matthew did his best to bring his smile under control, trying to frown instead, but couldn't. It was nice to have something to smile about for once.
"Thanks for this, Matt. Oh, I heard about your gig tonight. Fancy covering it?"
"A story, you mean?"
"Yeah. Features editor is on holiday." Mike, the editor, was permanently on edge. Funny, as there was never any news for him to edit. Maybe that was why.
"We have a features editor?"
"Well, Lewis. He has a camera, so features editor. So, you up for covering it? Get me thousand words by tomorrow night on the thing and a couple of photos, I'll pay you as a freelancer."
"Really? Yeah, why not? I'm feeling generous. Now, off you trot, I've got work to do."
Matt headed for the door, grinning broadly. He pushed his earphones in and pressed play. The Strokes' Room On Fire came on, pushing the corners of his mouth further outwards than they had been in weeks.
I wanna be beside her She wanna be admired
He had a date. And as he reached the street, the sun came out from behind the clouds for long enough to justify him popping on his sunglasses. Fridays were much better than Mondays.
"No, no, no!" Matthew slammed the chord out and stopped playing. "It's the bloody bridge now. Why can't you seem to get this, we change here!"
"For Christ's sake, Matthew, you change there. We keep playing the same thing for a bar. Now can you stop throwing bloody tantrums and play the song?" Luke snapped. He started playing the bassline from the chorus, facing Joshua. Matthew avoided their eyes - for once, they were right. The rest of the song was all fine, just not particularly alive. In fact, the whole rehearsal had been pretty devoid of excitement.
His good mood had lasted all of half an hour, until Joshua had played a two-bar double-bass drum fill right before the peak of his solo, throwing the build-up all out of whack. From then on, it had been mechanically going through all their songs, again and again, cocking up a different one each time.
Matt sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall, and picked out the opening arpeggios to Knocking On Heaven's Door. Luke sighed and joined him. But when the time came, there were no crashing drums to launch them into the song, just a moody silence. They stumbled on for a few bars, before giving up, leaving the G major reverberating off the walls.
"What happened there?"
"Can't be arsed to play this song again, we know it. Waste of time," Joshua grumbled. Luke caught Matthew's eye and held his gaze, making his placatory face. Matt bit his lip.
"OK, then, let's nail down our setlist."
There was little controversy, thankfully. They had more or less established a running order over the last few rehearsals.
"Wait. What about the other original?" Joshua demanded, running his drumstick down the list. Luke looked across at Matthew, and they mentally arm-wrestled. Luke lost.
"Yeah, about that, Josh."
"No. No sodding way. That's the only song we've got that's not in bloody 4/4. I play the same beat all night, this was going to be my song. You can't just cut it."
"Josh, mate, it's too much. That chorus blasts me against the wall every time you break out the double-bass pedal - we'll bring the house down, and not in a good way."
"The hell are you talking about? The Bad Apples always play proper heavy s--t, and they've played loads at the Ivory. You're just scared the girlies won't go for a bit of hard rock."
"Yes, all those girlies at the Ivory, Joshua. The Ivory, safe haven for the womenfolk."
"Oh, bollocks. Andrea and all her mates are coming, I've seen the Facebook event. Who are you after, eh? That brunette in her profile picture? Or the fit one who won't piss off our page?"
"Don't start, Josh," Matt shot back.
"Or is it the queen blonde herself? You know she's with the Apples, right?"
"Josh, you're out of order," Luke warned.
"No, he's the one who's out of order. He's just using us to get back at his old mates. I met the Bad Apples in the pub last night. They didn't part ways because he didn't want to move to the city. They kicked him out because he wasn't good enough, and because he tried it one with Andrea. A week later, he put up that advert in school. All he wants to do at this gig is upstage the Apples, so he can finally pull the singer's girlfriend. That's why he spends so much time showing off and trying to put us in the shadows."
Matthew faltered, leaning back against the wall. He was avoiding Luke's eyes, but couldn't resist their soothing pull. Luke's face, was, as usual, expressionless. He was scratching his coarse dark hair and gauging his bandmates.
"Josh... Joshie... what the bloody hell did you think this was? Why else would a twenty-one year old come and advertise in a sixth form college? Jesus, did you think he wanted you for your endearing ability to string three beats together? I know he didn't ask me in for my root-note skills. He wanted a pair of blank slates he could manipulate into becoming his star backing band."
"Hey, I never thought of you as a backing band. Rhythm section, more like." Matthew laughed weakly. Luke rolled his eyes and pressed on.
"Maybe we can talk about adjusting the band a bit, making it more equal. But not now. Jesus, mate, we've got a gig tonight. Let him have his night of glory, let him upstage the Apples, let him steal his love away. Rather her than another sixth former who's had too much to drink. And who knows, maybe she's got a couple of fit friends, eh?"
"I can't believe you, Luke. I knew you were a bit soft, but man, grow a pair. F--k this, I'm out." Joshua leapt to his feet, stormed to the garage door and then stopped. "No wait, I live here. Piss off, the pair of you."
He heaved the door open and folded his arms.
"Josh! We go on stage in five hours! Stop pissing about!" Matt snapped.
"This is my garage. Get out."
Luke looked mildly put-out as he packed away his gear. Matthew slung his guitar over his shoulder, grabbed his amp, and headed for the door.
"You really going to do this, Josh?" The drummer looked down his nose at him, chest inflating. He didn't answer. "Then get f--ked." As he marched up the driveway, he heard Luke say, "See you tonight", sounding as casual as he possibly could.
"Don't bet on it, wimp," Josh sneered. Matt waited for Luke to catch up, and the two of them headed for the bus stop together.
"F--k." Luke adjusted his bass on his back.
"I know, right? This is bad, man. Really f--king bad. Still, thanks for having my back."
"Sorta. I kinda feel like you two are a little team against me sometimes, I mean, you've known each other for years, you're in the same class, you're both sub-musicians."
"Don't push it, you. Nah, when you're being a twat, which is often, I take his side. He was out of line today. Let's just hope he gets back in time. You getting the nineteen?"
"No, seven. Going to Andrea's," The bad mood melted away suddenly, and he realised he was grinning again.
"Oh aye? Good luck with that, Matt. Isn't she... well... be careful, yeah?"
"You're early!" Her hair was dripping wet. For the first time in years, maybe ever, Matthew was looking at Andrea without make-up.
"So was the end of rehearsal. Can I come in?"
"Sure, but you'll have to bear with me while I get dressed." Matthew suddenly became conscious of the fact Andrea was in a towel. It was too short, floating around mid-thigh, and was clinging to her. Her shampoo wafted over to him as she retreated into the flat. "Kitchen's that way if you want to put your stuff away. Be with you in a minute."
Matthew faltered for a moment and watched her disappear into the bathroom. He took a deep breath, kicked off his shoes, and padded into the kitchen. Chicken, cream, and pasta. Laura had called it something fancy and Italian, but he had forgotten, being too busy memorising the recipe. It was six o'clock. First off, put the kettle on. More importantly, put in headphones - silence was boring. Muse's Unintended. Strangely appropriate. Having diced the chicken breast and the vegetables, Matt decided it was time for the pasta. He wiped his hands on his jeans and turned to pick up the kettle. Luckily, he didn't lay a hand on it, as he would almost certainly have dropped it all over the all tarted-up Andrea. He didn't need Laura to tell him that was not a good date move.
If this was even a date.
"Jesus, Andrea, you scared the life out of me. Why didn't you say something?"
"I did, you didn't hear. So I thought I'd watch you cook. Nice to see a bloke getting busy in the kitchen for once."
"You're lucky - I very nearly got us Chinese."
"Then you'd have been getting the bus to the Ivory," Andrea said severely.
"You what?" Plumes of steam hissed up around him as he tipped the boiling water in.
"The deal was you cooking dinner in exchange for a lift." She smirked. "So what are you making me?"
"You know I'm allergic to milk, right?" Matt whirled round. Andrea was holding up the pot of cream in front of her face. She peeked around it, grinning. "Kidding. But I don't like green beans, so you can get rid of them."
"I'm not gonna bloody pick through the whole pile of vegetables just because you're fussy, woman."
"Yes you are. Now, silence is boring." Matt's heart leapt. "I'm going to put on some music."
Holding the pan at arm's length, he tipped the pasta in. It seethed and splashed at him, spattering his arms with boiling water. Marvin Gaye drifted in through the door.
"Turn it up!" He pulled out his phone and fired off a quick text to Laura. She's playing Marvin Gaye. wat do.
"Didn't have you pegged as a Marvin Gaye man," Andrea mused as she wandered back into the kitchen, brushing her hair. "Sorry about earlier."
"Yeah. No-one should have to see those horrors."
"Oh, yeah. I abhor the sight of near-naked women." Andrea slapped him on the back.
"You know what I mean."
"Look, Andrea, I've been having this argument with you for what, six years? You look lovely without your make-up on." He had decided a few years back that unless a girl was attractive au naturel, there probably wasn't much future in the relationship, and spent a lot of his time, somewhat insincerely, trying to convince female friends to boycott the chauvinist oppression of make-up. Andrea was the only girl... woman, who really passed the test.
New Message from Laura: Get in there, my son.
"Laura - girl from the office."
"Girl, eh? What's she like?" Andrea perched on the counter.
"Oh, the usual. Dark hair, pretty eyes. Cute face, nice smile. Lesbian, likes Guns N' Roses, aims to make it onto one of the national papers as soon as she can work out which one isn't a perpetuator of capitalist oppression," Matt reeled off Laura's Facebook profile with the calm efficiency of an experienced stalker.
"She sounds nice, why don't - wait, what was that one after cute face?"
"Along one more."
"Lesbian? Yeah, I've met her girlfriend. Hailey. Rather gorgeous, but equally lesbian, naturally."
"My life is one big tough break, babe." Matthew held his breath for the answer. He never said babe'. It was one of the little traps he left - quietly daring the girl to call him out on it. If she didn't, clearly she was in love with him.
"Always the victim, eh Matt?"
"A true revolutionary would tremble at the injustices I suffer," Matt shot back, pointing at the Che Guevara poster in the corridor.
"Oh, I've sold out. Now get cooking."
"To the dining-room with you, it's ready." The plates were hot.
Andrea snorted. "Dining-room? Not here, love, we're eating on the sofa."
"Ah right. Well, it's a step up from my handy "eat-and-surf" computer chair."
Matthew looked around the living room for the first time before flopping down on the sofa. It was spacious, but pretty sparse - posters from HMV had been plastered all over the bare walls to alleviate the misery of white wallpaper. A pile of IKEA boxes lay in the corner - meanwhile, there was a sofa, a lamp, and a little TV on the floor.
"Loving the posters. Bob Marley, Nirvana and Che Guevara?" He smirked. "Are we fourteen again?"
"Mmmm, corporate-sponsored counter-culture," Andrea grumbled.
"You bought them."
"Steve got the Nirvana one."
"Oh, good, I was worried you were an idiot," Matt had intended it to be a joke - it came out a bit too acid. He shoved a forkful of pasta in his mouth and chewed slowly. Andrea's fork hovered over her plate.
"Don't suppose you two'll be sharing a beer tonight then, eh?"
Matthew snorted and started choking on a green bean.
"Told you they were nasty. Speaking of drinks, why didn't you pour me one?"
Through coughs, he pointed at the bottles of wine in the kitchen. Andrea scowled and prodded him in the ribs.
His head definitely wasn't moving so much an hour ago. Back then, he could look to the side without turning his neck. Now, every lingering gaze exchanged with Andrea involved a careful balancing of forces to ensure it didn't end in a head-butt. At some point, perhaps when he had returned from the washing-up, he had ended up with her head on his shoulder. The conversation had fallen silent, allowing him to feel the way she shifted with each breath, and steal surreptitious glances at the blonde fringe falling across her face.
An alarm sounded, and she shot bolt upright.
"S--t, the concert - we need to get going!" She was on her feet and fixing her hair.
"Can you drive?" Matthew raised an eyebrow - or at least, that was the direction his brain sent to his facial muscles.
"See that wine bottle? You had about of it. The real question is, can you play?"
"Easy." Matthew stood up briefly, and collapsed backwards into the sofa.
"Can you even walk?" Andrea sighed. She grabbed his hands and pulled him to his feet. Not entirely accidentally, he fell forwards onto her. Giggling, she placed her hands on his chest in an attempt to steady him. Matthew took it as an invitation, and leaned in. Just before he closed his eyes, he noticed Andrea's were shut, and her lips were parted.
He could feel the warmth of her breath on his face when her hands stiffened and pushed him back.
"No, Matthew," she said, her voice clipped. Leaving him swaying slightly, she picked up her keys, pulled on her coat, and headed for the door. "Get your stuff and meet me downstairs."
You pulled yet? I've been thinking... maybe this isn't the time? Abort, abort. x
Laura's timing was, as usual, atrocious.
They drove to The Ivory in silence. Suddenly, silence wasn't just boring, it was uncomfortable. Matthew didn't even dare touch the radio to put something on. His hands were folded in his lap - he was now annoyingly sober.
The worst thing, though, was that in the enclosed space of the car, he couldn't avoid the smell of her shampoo. He tried holding his breath, breathing through his mouth, and eventually gave up. He had a sudden image of one of UG's image-macros, the words "She smells good, man." plastered across it in all their creepy glory, and smiled wryly. Andrea frowned at him, but made no comment.
When the Ivory appeared down the road from them, Andrea pulled up.
"Get your stuff, I'll find a parking space. See you in there, yeah?"
"Andrea, we need - "
"No, we don't. Nothing happened, we were both drunk, forget it."
"You were going to kiss me back," Matthew protested.
"Drunk, Matthew. For f--k's sake, I have a boyfriend. Drop it, OK? Get your gear, I'm going to get fined."
No sooner had Matthew heaved open the heavy doors, Luke was on top of him, his knuckles white around a pint-glass of Coke.
"Matthew... Joshua isn't here."
"Still? Damn. Phone?" Matt sighed, making his way through the crowd to the stage.
"Straight to voicemail, it's off. I called his home number." Luke added, "Mrs Josh says he went out a while ago."
"Well he's not gonna tell his mum he's throwing a tantrum, is he?"
"Let's not call it a tantrum, eh, Matt? In fact, when he comes back, don't mention it, yeah?"
"Dickhead deserves it." Matthew leaned into a grubby door and entered the "artists' room", stumbling on a little step. As it was classed as a private residence, smoking was cool - as, apparently, was putting out your cigarettes on the carpet. And spilling your beer on it. All of this, he knew from hearsay and other bands' boasts - he had never been allowed through the door.
The beer was on tap. Matthew stared at the little sink for a moment, and the draught beer tap protruding from the wall above it.
"That has got to be the coolest thing I've ever seen. Why you on Coke, Lukey - no-one to ID you here?" Matthew teased, picking up the cleanest glass he could find and pouring himself a pint.
"We go on stage in an hour, I didn't want to fuzz my head up already."
"I've been on the wine for a couple of hours," Matthew boasted.
"Grape and the grain? How did it go then?"
The door opened again. Steve swaggered in, a hand held in his. The owner of the hand followed him in. Andrea stumbled over the step, and resolutely didn't look at Matthew. The Bad Apples frontman scanned the room briefly, noticed Matthew, and kissed her on the lips.
"Badly, I presume."
"You're a bloody sage," Matthew said tersely. He dumped his amp in the corner, and leaned his guitar up against it. Finally, he draped his jacket over it. Steve dumped his coat right next to his little pile, knocking the guitar over. Matthew shot a hand out and caught it by the neck. "The f--k, Steve?"
"Oh, sorry." Steve drawled. "So, taking my girlfriend out for dinner, Matthew? Worried I don't feed her well enough?"
"I didn- she just gave me a lift."
"Back the f--k off, Cateland," Steve growled, before flouncing out of the artists' room.
"What a prick," Luke murmured.
"I know, right? Andrea!" Matt called, as Andrea filled herself a pint glass and headed for the door. He crossed the room in two paces, took hold of her shoulder, and leaned down to whisper in her ear, "You didn't bloody tell him anything, did you?"
"Just that we ate together - you think I'm stupid?" Andrea snapped. Matthew let go of her arm and stepped back. As she followed her boyfriend out, a pair of brunettes burst in.
"Oooh, this is grotty," Hailey giggled. Laura gave a forced smile and mouthed "drunk" in answer to Matthew's raised eyebrow. He realised the arm around her girlfriend's waist wasn't so much affectionate as structural support.
"I believe the term is gritty, babe. Wouldn't you say, Matt?"
"Rock n' roll, more like," Matt shot back.
"Weren't you a three-piece?" Laura said pointedly. Luke tutted and pulled out his phone. No answer.
"Alright, guys, the night starts now! First up, we've got a local band, by the name of..." the barman unfolded a little piece of paper. "Anticitizen One! Make some noise for the lads!"
There were still only two lads. They sat at their table, looking up at the stage in horror. The barman looked down at them and raised an eyebrow at their pale faces. As sporadic applause (and free-beer fuelled cheers from Laura's table) broke out in the pub, he descended from the stage, bearing down on them.
"Guys, you should be up there - your gear's all ready, right? There only two of you?"
"Not ...exactly. We're waiting on our drummer." Luke was talking to his beer.
"Waiting? Guys, you're supposed to be on now!"
"I know - he'll be here any minute now!"
"Well... go and entertain them somehow. You've got five minutes till I ask the Apples to cover your slot, OK?"
"Don't do... OK, that's great." Matt glanced at the table where Steve was holding court. If Josh f--ked this up for them, he would never forgive him for it.
The barman sighed disapprovingly and wandered off.
"Entertain them?" Luke snorted, "Should we dance?"
"Nah, let's just chat to them. C'mon man - drink up." Matthew downed the rest of his beer in one, fiddled with his sleeves for a moment and stood up. The stage seemed to have risen a good meter since he had arrived. Ignoring the stairs, Matthew vaulted up onto it, stumbling past the microphone and almost falling right back off.. He turned to face the audience, dispersed and mostly unimpressed. His heart pounding, he reached for the microphone.
"So... what about David Cameron, eh? Who here is feeling really smug that they weren't thick enough to vote Conservative? I know I am." Matthew was no stand-up, but he was generally able to elicit some laughs. The pub was a mix of silence (from those who were watching and listening) and animated conversation (from those who couldn't care less). He suddenly felt overwhelmed by a wave of "I'm an idiot", when he noticed a prominent Conservative politician, glancing disapprovingly at Laura and Hailey at the table next to her, sitting in the audience. Said Conservative politician had been elected with a record majority in the area, and was immensely well-liked. "Oh," he said feebly.
"You'll have to forgive my guitarist," Luke said hastily, taking the mic out of Matthew's hands. "He's a bit of a bleeding heart - did you know he wears sandals to rehearsal?" A few chuckles. "With socks!"
Matthew took the opportunity to observe the crowd - it was loosening up a bit. More people were looking, several were now smiling. He leaned over and whispered in Luke's ear, "Keep it up, I'm getting us drinks."
While Luke paced the stage, launching into a placid diatribe (only Luke could square that circle), Matthew made his way to the bar and ordered two drinks. He laid his head on his hands, flat on the bar, trying to sober up before the next pint arrived. Luke had saved them, but he could only really buy them five minutes, tops - tonight was music, not stand-up. This could be very bad. Luke stopped talking. Matthew frowned.
Four high-hat hits. The bass launched into Superstition, their first song. He whirled around - Joshua, clean-shaven at last, sitting behind the drums, smirking slightly.
"Mate - make that three," he threw the request over his shoulder and half-ran up onto the stage, picked up his guitar, and joined the other two, foot propped up on his amplifier.
"So what about David Cameron, then?" Hugh asked, trying to ignore the sirens a few streets away.
"Who?" replied Greg, who seemed content to stand at the counter for the first time since Hugh had started work.
"The guy who runs the country," responded Hugh, nerves in his tone. "Did you vote for him? My dad says he's really started to f--k up the world."
"Is he the black guy who likes change?"
For a moment, Hugh stopped looking out of the window awaiting police cars just to glare at Greg. Unfortunately, he had no idea whether Greg was being serious or not. His face, as ever, gave nothing away.
"What?" asked a puzzled Greg. "I didn't say the N word, did I?"