I wasn’t always this angelic.
There was a time in my life that my mother would rather forget.
The time when I was a big fish in The Piranha Posse to be exact.
It wasn’t for very long, just while I was a teenager doing my bit for the disaffected yoof. The members were all from the same inner city collection of vertical communities much vaunted in the drug addled sixties and seventies. These days the liberal fashionistas would call it a ghetto and be clamouring to star in a documentary filmed there, and Jeremy Kyle would have most of the residents on speed-dial.
We were formed shortly after the opening of our new chip shop. It wasn’t called ‘The Piranha’ as the owner, Andy, probably didn’t think that would draw many customers in. Besides, piranhas are very bony and a bit hard to find at Billingsgate. We could hardly call ourselves the ‘Golden Cod Posse’ could we? Not if we wanted to keep our dignity we couldn’t.
Andy always had the latest video game machine in the shop and a permanent special on out of date saveloys. Gang membership was obviously subject to an initiation ceremony which was pretty gruesome in nature. Anything that involves pickled eggs and a Casio stopwatch is never going to be pretty is it?
Once in though, you were able to show off your prowess in the quest for the Holy Grail that was the Pac Man fifth key. Any non member found at the controls when a Pee-Pee comrade was waiting with his ten pence in his hand got many a hard stare I can tell you. If they looked like getting close to the high score they may even have been the recipient of a tut or two.
Our intimidation didn’t stop there, oh no. Every now and then there was tension between us and our sworn enemies, The Kebab Krew. This often happened when they dissed the product range Andy offered, or when we suggested that the doners they offered weren’t strictly all meat. Every now and then someone’s pride would be wounded enough to prompt some fisticuffs. Trying to get chilli sauce stains off faded jeans and pastel coloured desert boots afterwards was quite a challenge.
Towards the end of that era, true to form, the Yanks turned up in the shape of the MacMuffin Massive and tried to impress out ladyfolk with their brash behaviour. An uneasy truce brought a temporary alliance with the Kebabers to combat the superior numbers. Summer evenings were the favourite time for dozens of takeaway fanatics to gather to take part in lively debates about the merits of their particular cuisines of choice.
Occasionally, someone would find the noise too much and they couldn’t quite hear Jack and Vera’s latest domestic so they’d get on the phone and invite the biggest group of fast food connoisseurs along to join the party. Bobby’s Boyz would turn up in numbers in their green Transits to have some fun and generally get some much needed exercise. They never brought a bottle though. Cheapskates.
Things have moved on since then.
For a start, the names have got sillier.