The words of Royston Blake are a source of guidance and solace for many (possibly). In this extract from chapter 8 of Deadfolk, Blakey tells us what to do in those despairing moments when all we need inspiration and all we get is knock-backs...
I got The Good The Bad And The Ugly off the vid shelf and went to slot it in. But then an old tape caught my eye and I picked that up and all. ROCKY 3 it said on the front in my best handwriting. I slapped it in the player and slumped on the sofa.
I dunno if you’ve seen this film. Most folks has, I reckon. Most folks rate it as the greatest film ever made. But to me it were more than that. And I’d never really known why. Not until now, as the opening credits rolled.
The story starts with Rocky as World Champion. He’s rich as a plum pudding and only fights chumps. Reckoning it best to go out on top, he announces his retirement. But along comes a new feller called Clubber Lang, mouthing off that Rocky’s a fairy and offering to give his bird a seeing to. Well, the natural happens and they ends up in the ring. But Clubber’s harder than Rocky reckoned. And Rocky himself is softer than what he thought. Clubber wins, and Rocky’s washed up. A former champ.
And that were where I were coming in. I’d been watching this film again and again and not knowing why. But now I knew. I were like Rocky, see. I’d known glory in the past. Ever since nipperdom I’d walked the streets of Mangel like a lion prowls the jungle. Folks was afraid of us. And rightly so. But it weren’t like that now. Not since Beth. Now folks laughed at us and called us bottler. I’d killed a Munton and what did folks do? Made a fucking joke out of it and laughed a bit more.
But, right, Rocky weren’t happy about being a former champ. And nor were I. He had a mountain to climb if he wanted his glory back. It were steep and hairy in places and it didn’t look like he were up to it. But he started climbing anyhow.
I watched the film all the way through. Rocky won. He stood atop his mountain and held his fists high. I cried a bit, then dried my eyes and turned the telly off.
As well as me finally seeing that Rocky’s situation and my own was the same, like, there were summat else in the film that made us think. Rocky won, but he’d done it with the help of Apollo Creed, former enemy and now bestest mate. It were Apollo who trained him up to take on Clubber again. And it were Rocky’s wife who talked him out of the dumps he’d fallen into. He’d got help from them what was close to him, in short. And it got us to thinking.
Who could I call upon for help?
There was Legs, course. I’d already turned to him, and his advice had led us to more shite. Weren’t his fault mind. He hadn’t said go and kill the fucker. Only twat him he’d said. But he’d been a bit off in the gym and I didn’t fancy calling on him again just now.
Who else were there besides Legs?
Finney, course. But he weren’t the sort you’d want help from. Bit of a twat, like.
Sal. Well, what about Sal? I know we was only seeing each other casual like, for shagging and that, but hadn’t she said she loved us? And I reckoned she meant it and all. I could tell by the way she always had a nice welcome for us. Couldn’t help with my problems mind. She were only a bird after all. But maybe I ought to give her my ear a bit more, like Rocky done with his bird. Wouldn’t do no harm and there might be a shag in it for us.
That were all by the by anyhow. Mates and birds can only go so far. When Rocky got in the ring, he did it alone. No one can do his training for him and no one can throw his punches. I were dancing around the room as I were thinking this, doing a bit of shadow boxing. I were feeling alright. The muscle rub had sorted out my aches and pains. Or perhaps they was still hurting but I didn’t care.
Didn’t matter. Things was looking up. I were a fighter and I could feel a fight coming on.
A big one.
FREE THE MANGEL ONE