The Victoria Baths

We’d crossed the road in the first place because we’d seen the two men arguing. There was a woman with them. We couldn’t tell whose side she was on. We were impressed with the way the man hit the other man with the Mountain Bike. We assumed that the men were on drugs. They looked haggard and dirty.

When The Victoria Baths first opened, many of the houses in the area didn’t have bathrooms, so the local residents enjoyed the opportunity to bathe thoroughly and often. We were (and are) students; we wash(ed), but not too often. Still, we were cleaner than the man who hit the man with the Mountain Bike and the man who got hit with the Mountain Bike. So, we assumed they were on drugs.

Not on drugs in the way we were (and still are) occasionally, recreationally, on drugs, but on drugs in the kind of destructive, dependant way that makes you hit an acquaintance in the face with a Mountain Bike on a summer afternoon in the street opposite The Victoria Baths.

The man who had hit the other man in the face with his Mountain Bike got back on his Mountain Bike, and they went their separate ways, the woman going with the man on the Mountain Bike.

Maybe they had been arguing about the woman, and the man with the Mountain Bike had won due to his quick violence and quicker thinking. They were probably arguing about drugs though. Maybe one of them owed the other drugs. Maybe they were drug dealers who had worked together and fallen out with each other. The Turkish baths inside The Victoria Baths used to be a favourite meeting place for Manchester businessmen, who would hold unofficial meetings there, half nude, lobster-steamed. The men in the street were wearing clothes.

After the argument/Mountain Bike assault had finished, we continued on to the shops. We bought cigarettes, and lit them, and talked as we walked down Hathersage Road. I proposed that from then on, the act of hitting a man in the face with a Mountain Bike should be known as ‘Hathersaging’ someone.

We agreed that that sounded more like a sex act. I spent a lot of time describing increasingly improbable sex acts, trying to find one that fitted the name. I was (and am) an enthusiastically crass young man.

Although we laughed when we saw the man hit the other man in the face with a Mountain Bike, we felt bad inside, for both of them, and felt bad for people who have constant problems with drugs. (Unlike our occasional, recreational problems caused by drugs).

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One Response to “The Victoria Baths”

  1. March 27, 2009 at 5:01 pm, Chris English said:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this piece.

    I didn’t catch what exactly the gentleman had been hit with though?


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