Love Is A Four Letter Word. So Is Riot – Part 3

29 01 2010

Previously on Limeyview :

The year is 1990, a young man is considering whether to set fire to a Porsche 911. As he dithers, his mind flips back to 1984 and a party in North London that is directly connected to this pivotal moment.

The Story continues

Away from the noise of the party, the garden was quiet and bathed in moonlight. Victoria was standing by the swimming pool, just staring into the water as if debating whether to jump in. She was shivering slightly, the May evening having turned chilly. In the distance a police siren broke through the silence. When she spoke, it was as if she had only just realised that someone was standing near her.

I hate them, the boys in blue, nothing more than thugs with badges.

I didn’t know what to say. I had never had any problem with the Police, never had any reason to think of them other than enforcers of the law and crowd control at football matches. I decided to say nothing.

She turned to me, smiled again and beckoned me to come nearer. For the first time, I noticed that her dress was adorned with a pin which simply stated “I Support the Miners.” Pulling my face towards her, she looked into my eyes and said

I don’t mind strong and silent. But that’s not you. At the moment you are wrestling with two thoughts. The first is whether you agree with my views on the Police, mainly because your conservative family upbringing hasn’t brought you into conflict with a man who is happy to lash out on behalf of the government. The second is whether you want to say anything that might ruin the moment.

And then she kissed me.

Needless to say, my parents hated her. Victoria was everything that they disliked. She was feisty, not afraid to express opinion, a member of the Labour Party and CND, had spent time protesting with other women at Greenham Common Airforce Base and was planning to go to university to study politics. I was infatuated by her.

With Victoria’s guidance, I started to question my conservative views. Over the next year we went on marches, attended demonstrations in support of people whose views clashed with the established order and even made a pilgrimage to Yorkshire to see the effects of the Thatcher attempt to privatise the coal industry. Foreign trips weren’t just about sitting on a beach but to parts of Europe that had seen conflict and to Berlin to stare at the wall which divided a city.  We listened to Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and The Clash. She was my Yoda.  I was a sponge for her teachings and she loved playing the intellectual. 

Some said that it wouldn’t last, the football-loving Tory and the Firebrand Socialist, but they were wrong.  We just clicked and nobody but us could understand why.

The first test came when we actually left school. She was a Grade A student offered a place at Oxford, I had problems with the silence of the exam room and had not done as well as my parents had hoped. I considered further education but decided that I would rather join the workforce that I had been defending, earn some money to enable me to leave the nest and achieve independence. So while Victoria joined the intellectual elite throwing herself into her studies with still enough time to join every socialist club on campus, I started work at a video-tape rental store. We saw each other when she came back to London for holidays, and 90% of the time it was as if nothing had changed.

It was the 10% that wasn’t any fun. Despite the fact that I was earning a monthly wage, I existed just above the poverty line and any thoughts of independence were tempered by the reality of having to remain under the watchful gaze of my father who ensured that the majority of my pay packet was swallowed up by paying rent to him. His attitude was that by learning the value of money, I would be less likely to continue down the path of “Marxist-Anarchic drivel” that was the real reason for my less than stellar educational performance. To be fair to him, he never blamed Victoria directly, but we both knew who he was talking about.

Victoria was constantly asking me to get a flat in London but the reality was that I was in no position to strike out on my own. It became the basis of arguments which normally ended with the accusation of “Mummy’s Boy” or the devastating insult of “Thatcher Lover”. But it was obvious that whilst I was a lowly video store employee, the dreams of a personal socialist utopia would have to be achieved by wearing a suit. In 1989, encouraged by my father, I started working in the City of London as an insurance broker. The pay was good, the hours were spent dealing with underwriters or in the pub and there was the opportunity to advance through the company if I displayed the “right attitude”. More importantly, it gave me financial freedom and the chance to finally leave the clutches of my parents.

A die-hard North London boy, my choices of location were limited to anywhere that wasn’t south of the Thames with easy reach of the Square Mile and had an Underground Station. With Victoria’s help, I found a one bedroom flat in Camden which was small but perfectly adequate as a refuge from the pressures of the city whilst also being in the centre of a bohemian paradise. Decoration was minimal, white walls with the requisite iconic picture of Che, Dali prints and The Terminator.  Independent at last, I was happy listening to music and switching between the four available TV channels whilst waiting for a phone call from Victoria to discuss the latest example of regressive, anti-democratic government legislation that was going to ensure our freedom was being eroded.

PART FOUR COMES TOMORROW – ANARCHY IN THE UK

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