Chapter 2: October 1998

We’re on our way to Carlito’s. Chambers has been trying to get us a gig there for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen him put at least five different demo tapes in the post and heard him call the venue a hundred times.

When nothing happened, I said ‘I told you so.’

When nothing happened again, I said, ‘I don’t give a fuck.’

Chambers kept doing what he was doing. He had a plan to get us out.

And now we’re out.

“Top ten songs of the last five years,” Chambers says.

I don’t hesitate.


We’ve made thousands of these lists.

Chambers falls into contemplation. I start to fidget, drumming along to the music. I look around the Fiesta. Chambers slogged his guts out to buy this car, serving coffee to the mums and dads of the same kids that told Ami he was pathetic, that he was ugly, that they were going to kill him. Ha. In the end, I did it for them.

 “Taillights Fade,” Chambers says eventually.

I shake my head. It was released in ’92. Chambers shrugs and picks Heart Shaped Box instead, but that came out in September ’93. A month too soon. Chambers tells me I can’t be serious but he knows the rules.

The sun rises higher. Not that it’s easy to see behind the clouds. Chambers pulls into a service station and aims at a spot between two badly parked Range Rovers.

“Will you get in there?”

Chambers eases the car into the space and turns the engine off.

“When have we ever struggled to fit in somewhere?” he asks.

I make a face and Chambers puts his arm around my shoulder as we walk inside. Because we watched it last night and probably for lots of other reasons we talk about Stand By Me. I used to wonder if Chambers’ parents loved the film as much as we do.

“At least they didn’t call me River,” Chambers joked before reminding me that we were born years before the film even came out.

We eat and get back on the road. With the motorway disappearing under our wheels, we start listing the top ten films of the eighties. We both choose Stand By Me, Young Guns and The Lost Boys, but Chambers has one pick left. I’m annoyed. There’s nothing better than those films.

“This better be good,” I warn him.

“Are you ready?” Chambers asks.

“I’m ready to kill you, if that’s what you mean.”

Chambers smiles.

“Go on, then,” I say.

“The Empire Strikes Back!”

“That’s not even an eighties film!”

Chambers looks disappointed, but who does he think he’s messing with?

“It was released in 1980,” he says.

That’s not the point and he knows it. It’s not an eighties film. There’s nothing eighties about it.

“So, Empire’s not allowed, and yet you’ve got E.T. on your list?”

“You don’t get more eighties than Spielberg.”

“What about Harrison, man? Pretty much as eighties as Spielberg.”

I’m not going to argue. Chambers knows exactly what I’m on about.

We fall into silence.

“It’s still not as good as The Lost Boys,” I tell him ten minutes later.

A lorry thunders past, puking fumes all over the place.

“If you say so.”

That drives me insane. As Chambers knows it will.

“It’s not about what I say. It’s fact.”

“Whatever you reckon,” he says.

Fuck. We’ve not even reached London yet and already I want to kill my only friend.

He better watch his step.

It’s not as if I haven’t got history.

Go back and start reading Children of Graffiti from the beginning.