“I’m rat-arsed” our hero shouts to the whole pub. “And this is one of the greatest working class songs ever!” as the familiar block chords are joined by a familiar drum roll and a scrawling copycat voice. “Slip insiiiide the eye of youuur miiii-iii-iinnd…”
The pub is energised immediately: arms in air, hands aloft. White wine for the ladies, Carling Extra Colds for the men. A sprinkling of WKDs for those planning to make the most of the bank holiday tomorrow. Drinks are raised to Gallaghers, Lennons, comrades.
By the guitar solo – which our wannabe Noel G spends rambling around the pub with the wireless mic and encouraging air strumming at each table – there’s a victorious feeling that the whole pub made the sing-along a success.
“A proper class working class director is Shane Meadows” our hero explains when he triumphantly stumbles over to greet us and check that we know who Morrissey is. These things are important.
His mate calls him a wanker; he retorts “You’re just a fat Peter Kay”. Peter Kay wins the round with a “You just handed the league title to us” (they are both fans of Manchester you see, one of each club, and City have just thrown the towel in against Arsenal). Some sort of equilibrium is maintained until the next point of contention arises (less than sixty seconds away, no doubt).
For a bank holiday Sunday, this West Yorkshire mill town is getting busy. Bouncers start in the afternoon, female legs are on show, fancy dress is in full swing and pitchers of cocktails accompany gaggles of girls from bar to makeshift dance floor. Men do the decent thing and stare for just.. long.. enough.
The bars are all about fun and and flirting. The pubs are about meeting and drinking, with the occasional splash of singing and eyeing up. This is on-trade pre-loading.
As we up to leave – and it’s because we have a train to catch not that we want to – we leave our protagonist bouncing to A Town Called Malice just as a well made up clown walks past from the toilets, quickly followed by a female Robin Hood complete with tights and bow and arrow.
Our new mate won’t let us leave without handshakes and promises to never give up on good music, whilst checking he can’t tempt us with the variety club after nightfall.
There’s a moment of reckless doubt…
Waiting for the train, maybe we’re just a couple of marketing managers seeking a dose of Common People, enjoying a rough pub safari in a working class area. Neither of us have ambitions to be the karaoke hero when we grow up.
After all Homeland is on in an hour, and there’s a spare supermarket beer in the fridge.