Red Tips

Posted on April 20, 2009


By Martin Reed

It was all so friggin simple, wasn’t it, back then. All us young shites, seven year olds running havoc around the estate, putting the craps up the old folks setting our crackers off behind them like that, driving our mams wild walking dogshit into the house, or letting off stinkbombs, not sure which smelled worse, but all the friggin same we were loved. Don’t you think? Or am I remembering it with a bit too much rose tint?

Sod it. You know. Just sod it. Cos what I really want to know, what’s really friggin hurting me now is how I came from that little shite, that charming lovable little shite to me, twat-u-dont-like, sitting here, not a word to say to no one cos no one’s got a word to say to me. It isn’t the isolation that’s hurting, it’s the little shite I left behind somewhere down the road.

We’d be out every night after school, you know, just larking. We’d always have a pack of sweet fags with us, red tipped, smoking them to be like our dads, or like Ken’s brother Dave who always had a real one hanging out of his mouth but never give us one himself though. Always said, no you little shites, it isn’t worth it, you don’t know what it’ll do to your insides, him puffing away all the while, us standing there mesmerised by how cool he looked though he only had a year or two on us, our candy ones dangling from the sides our mouths, like Dirty Harry.

So we’d run riot, late home, late up, late for school, late for everything. Except some of us grew up didn’t we. Grew up and moved on. Ken, the twat, he manages all the friggin bus drivers on the forty eight through Crosby. Well he’s really arrived, hasn’t he. His brother Dave, he got arrested for some drug thing, but even he made good when he got out. Now he manages the bar on weekdays down at Sparkies.

But me. Charming lovable shite inside, big hairy fuck on the outside me. Good for nothing like mam always said when she held me close, not really bothered with trying to move on, not really figured how or why I’d want to, but sitting here all the same wishing they’d bring back those fake red tipped ciggies because the cost of the real ones is just so friggin crippling.


Martin Reed grew up in North West England. He now lives and writes in London. His work has been published in Critical Quarterly and a number of erotic anthologies, on Decongested, Elimae and IS&T. He’s a member of Fiction Workhouse and blogs ineptly at Worded.

Posted in: Fiction