I boycott American Apparel
By Jenn Ashworth
Location: Bus stop outside Piccadilly Train Station
9 bottles of Carlsberg
1 pint Heineken
1 Vodka and Red Bull
1 SFC dinner
£8.10 train fare
I don’t even live here, and I don’t want to live here either. But not living here means getting the train in, and, after midnight, the bus home. There’s a cloud of people waiting, jangling jewellery and stinking up my lungs with perfume and fags and kebabs.
I’m going to push right to the front of the queue. There are loads of policemen about. If anyone complains, I will shout out and cry and say ‘grab’ and ‘frotting’.
I am going to sit at the front of the bus and not close my eyes once on the way home. I am going to sit on my feet until the pins and needles go numb.
If you’re northern, it means you’re from Manchester, doesn’t it? I don’t correct them anymore. Which means I’m lying in an attempt to be… what would it be? Metropolitan? I don’t think I’ve ever said that word out loud before.
I make a vow. I will not blink all the way home. I will not sleep. I will make myself travel sick, concentrate on Carlsberg sloshing in my stomach, and never, ever say the word ‘metropolitan’ out loud.
When the bus comes, there’s a shuffle that ripples through the queuing crowd. No-one shouts, no-one pushes, but there is determined edging and some accidental elbows. I want to throw up on someone. It’s not the beer. I think vomiting, in this situation, would be an aggressive action – the first move in a war.
I get on the bus before I can ask a policeman if vomiting on someone’s Roxy trousers and slip-on Vans counts as assault. There would be no way to prove I did it on purpose.
There’s something about the water here. You can tell by the lather on the soap, and the ‘bored’ and ‘ironic’ expressions pasted on wasted faces. I sit down. My shoes hurt. My shoes are in the bottom of my bag and they are still hurting. My shoes are throbbing so much I pull the hinged flap at the top of the window open and throw them out.
I want to watch them bounce along the motorway, but we’re away on the M61 now, ploughing through ‘characteristic’ rain and on the way home.
There are some other words I am not going to say. Some more rules. I’m not going to wear American Apparel or invest in prescription shades. Never allow myself to flirt with emo boys or a wheat/dairy intolerance. I’m not going to say ‘Northern Quarter’ and I’ll pretend not to know where you mean when you tell me you’ll meet me in Cornerhouse.
The bus heads towards Bolton.
Jenn Ashworth is a blogger, short story writer and novelist. Her debut novel, A Kind of Intimacy, will be published by Arcadia in spring 2009.Stats: