FAME (film 1980, tv 1982–87)

SPUNK! Chapter 2 (An 80’s musical novel, inspired by past events…with plenty of poetic license).


I hate school. I hate the school bus and gangs of other kids… I hate grey skies and wind. Windy days at school are the worst, totally mental, everyone’s just demented….high on hormones anyway, god it stinks in Human Biology! Most of the girls are okay, one or two have got some decent fashion sense the others are right boffins and their hands are always up in class, ‘Me sir, ask me!” That or they’ll do ‘owt for the sixth-formers, especially if they’ve got their own car…Slags. Most of the fifth formers are just bum fluff and blackheads and always sniffing something, glue, marker pens, Tipex or their fingers after fish and chips or having them jammed down a girls knickers.

I get off the school bus with my head down and Walkman volume turned up. Under my breath I whisper ‘I am invisible, I’m invisible’…. They’re just jealous. A few months to go and I never have to come back here again, this school or this boring city. I’ll never have to deal with these idiots… they just don’t get it. They don’t get me….‘I’m invisible. I’m invi…’

‘…Ya big poof!’

No obviously I’m not invisible.

Where’s Vanessa? She’s always late.

I slide the volume to ten as the voice of Steve Strange wanes,

‘Aaaaa-aaaaaa, we fade to grey, (fade to grey).’

Oh no I fall into a black hole of panic, the sound of real life intrudes ‘Ya big girls blouse, give us a kiss you fucking poof!’ slips between songs on my top 40 mix-tape. I’m oblivious, well almost. I wait anxiously for the next song to start and I think oh god it could be Martha and the Muffins Echo Beach I don’t know why I bloody taped it…OR it could be Fame by Irene Cara. I hope its Fame, please let it be Fame. ‘Ey, bum-bandit! Watch your arses lads!’ Reality is not my cup of PG.

The intro to Fame, by Irene Cara finally fills my ears and I’m relieved. I slip from drizzly, damp and dull as dishwater into the parallel world of electronic disco music, legwarmers, Leroy’s bum and Bruno’s sleepy eyes.

Na, na, naa, na, naa, na, naa, na, naaaa!

Ahhhh, oxygen, I can breath! The soundtrack to my real life kicks in and I’m transported to the streets of New York 1980, standing on the steps of the High School For The Performing Arts. I’m kitted out in my best Fame outfit, headband, sweatpants and neon legwarmers. The cast surrounds me and it looks like we’re filming the scene where Bruno’s dad turns up outside school and blasts his new track to everyone on the street. It’s the video for the single and from the film, but I much prefer the TV program.

It also seems I’ve brought a few of the lads from the school bus with me, I thought they were all just dickheads but we all pick up the beat and join in the routine for a quick run through before the take. Looks like we’ve all been to rehearsals too, but they’ve been cast as backing dancers and I’ve got a main part.

I’m featured up front with Irene Cara. I know she doesn’t actually perform in the scene, but it’s my fantasy so it can be any way I want it. Bruno’s dad is so proud and wants the whole world to hear his sons music (well just West 46th Street) Yes right, as if! I suppose that’s the fantasy of a writer, like this is just mine.

Anyway the director shouts ‘action,’ the intro starts and the dance cast breaks out into ballet leaps, and jazz hands and contemporary twists and acrobatics. An 80’s style musical number all across the road and on top of the cars. Even the dickheads from school are quite good.

I’m saving myself to sing and look at Irene who’s in character and her face is lit up with the sound of the music, like she’s got some kind of inner firework display behind her eyes, she’s a real star. I know we’ve got a few bars before the first verse and so I break out a few moves myself and smile at her like I’m just one of the regulars at the school, she likes my style. I look around for Vanessa but she obviously didn’t get the part or maybe she’s rehearsing somewhere for a solo with Bruno. Lucky bitch.

I know the first line is coming up so I look for the camera out of the corner of my eye and I take a deep breath. I’ve got the first line,

‘Baby look at me…’

Irene is surprised we’re doing the number as a duet but I’m pitch perfect and she’s really impressed, I think it makes her work harder for her line, she doesn’t want to be upstaged.

‘…And tell me what you see?…

She sidles up to me and shimmies as I sing my next line

…You aint seen the best of me yet

One of the dickhead dancers from school is too close and barges into me. I assume either they’ll edit that out or cut to Irene who’s giving it her all with a few hair flicks as she seduces the camera and sings,

…give me time I’ll make you forget the rest…

Then I’m pushed hard,

‘Move you fucking poof.’

I go flying onto the dirt on the verge in front of school. For a moment I think this might be part of a new story line, but no, this is the parallel universe that is my shitty school life. My Walkman headphones go flying and almost choke me. I look up to see Terry Owen, a lad in the same year as me but in the bottom class, the one for the dumbos, mental cases and mongs. He’s a twat, with a crew cut and cruel streak and loves to pick on people with his two dickhead henchmen, Crofty and Clegg, they’re twats too, always backing him up, like the two girls in the Human League with Phil Oakey. Wankers! Not the Human League, I love Dare.

Three frowns with bared teeth snarl down at me, more arrive and hover at a distance. The chattering sound of hyena’s laughter at my expense empties from my ears along with each of the other four senses and we all take off and disappear into my head and imagination. A steel door slams shut behind leaving a bag of ‘dead meat’ in a school uniform waiting for the usual pummeling. Knuckles twisting into me, their knees or scuffed shoes connect hard with my already bruised leg, or fingers held out in defense, but today nothing happens. Phil Oakey and his dolly-bird sidekicks have caught sight of someone else that they’ve got business with and loose interest and grab him around the throat before bouncing him off the bike shed instead.

I stand up, check I’m in one piece and re-engage in the drivers seat of myself and drag myself out of the gladiatorial arena, ignoring verbal abuse, paper, spit, prawn cocktail crisps another reason for sniffing fingers and Lemon Sherbet’s slung from the crowd, disappointed there is no blood

Where the fuck is Vanessa?

I slip into a stream of stale alcohol and cigarette smelling teachers who busily ignore me and the visible grass and dirt sprinkled generously over me. Not one single offer of a helping hand to anything that happens outside the school gate, or inside to be honest. They’re just not that interested in anything but the cheese and wine party they went to last night or Polaroid’s of a new three piece suite they’ve bought for their semi in a local cul-de-sac. I’m not that interested in their boring lessons either, so they can balls and I knick off ‘double crap’ first two periods and go to straight to plan B.

Vanessa and me meet in the boy’s loo when either of us have had enough, if we cant find each other we know where to look. The boy’s toilets near the woodwork labs are always quiet, there’s supposed to be a ghost of a kid from the 60’s in there, something to do with a circular saw and a boz-eyed teacher, picked up the kids arm instead of a plank of wood… blood everywhere apparently. I don’t believe in ghosts but I might die of boredom myself if she doesn’t hurry up,

‘Where the bloody hell is she?’

There’s only so much graffiti I can think of in one sitting.

A couple of younger boys, first years probably by the squeak of their voices, sound like they’re filling balloons with water from the taps, but I don’t think they’re meant for me. I hear them say something about Miss French the English teacher, sounds like she’s in for it, poor cow.

‘Ey, this is the men’s toilets, y’know,’ one of the lad’s shouts, so I assume Vanessa’s walked in.

‘More like the ‘little boys’ bog to me. Go on, piss off and take your funny looking rubber jonnies with you.’

Yep, it’s Vanessa. The lads scarper and I open the door.

‘I didn’t go to ‘double crap’ with Mister Thingy,’ I say.

‘Obviously. You know i never go to ‘double bollocks’ with that dirty old bastard anyway.

She hates Mr. Miller, he’s always looking at her boobs, he doesn’t even try to hide it, he just drools. Perv.

Vanessa’s hunched over the sinks in the mirror doing her best to rub off the remnants of the black eye-liner still caked on from the weekend.

‘I was thinking right, Vanessa says, what’ll we do when they give us main parts in the school play?’

I didn’t even have to think about it,

‘Just have to tell ’em we’ve got a better offer in London won’t we.’

Vanessa nods, finishes her clean up job and grabs my arm, we make for the door.

‘Get away from all the dickheads and pervs.’

Yes she’s right.

‘That’s show business isn’t it though. It’s dog-eat-dog out there!

‘Yeah…Dog-eat-dog. Dog Eat Dog, Adam and the Ants, love that song don’t you?

‘Yeaaaah!’

We exit the toilet and make our way to ‘double shite,’ which we both take together with Ms. Boulder. She’s a feminist and doesn’t like men… or spiders, though she soon called Mr. Smith when we left a big daddy-long-legs on her copy of Spare Rib.

I start singing the lyrics to, ‘Dog Eat Dog,’

Doggie, doggie,’

I mime that I’m fucking Vanessa from behind.

‘Doggie, doggie and fuck the dog and push me daddy-o’

Vanessa turns and shoves me on the ‘push me daddy-o’ part.

‘Shouldn’t it be the other way around?’ she says cattily.

We hear a snigger, it’s the two Stu’s watching us from a corner. Stuart Thompson and Stuart White might as well be Siamese twins ’cause they’re joined at the hip. They’re pervy little buggers and really obviously stare at Vanessa’s boobs too, everyone stares a Vanessa’s boobs, she hates it. They’ve got minds of tabloid newspaper reporters, but with worse spelling. As she passes, Stuart White attempts to touch her boob but she deftly blocks him and gives him her best ‘fuck of and die’ stare.

I grab Vanessa’s arm, the arm that’s about to wallop him and pull her into the classroom.

‘Leave him, come on!’

‘Knob-head!’ she shouts.

Stuart Wade sniggers! They follow us into the classroom and sit right behind. Stuart Thompson goes all limp wristed and purses his lips as if he’s got my whole character off to a tee.

‘Oooooo!’ Give us a kiss ducky!

I ignore him.

‘Right, register please!’ says Miss Samuels.

No one takes a blind bit of notice of her. The classroom chatter gets louder and drowns out another attempt of her to calm us down. She sits momentarily behind her desk but then stands again. I think she thinks it’s more imposing but there’s not that much visible difference, she’s tiny, pretty invisible either way. She waits for everyone to be quiet. She’ll be waiting for a long time with us lot…Her dress sense is dull and boring, grey, grey and more grey, except she wears interesting shoes, like little dolly shoes, but bright red. Oh and she has a silver horseshoe clip holding back her lank grey hair. Aren’t they supposed to be lucky? Anyway she’s a dark horse.

‘Ey! ‘Nessie? ‘

White does his best Marcel Marceau miming impression of his face between her breasts. Vanessa turns in her seat and sighs showing utter disdain and boredom of the two arseholes sat behind. She retaliates with pretending to wank a tiny willy, his tiny willy which pisses him off. Then two tiny willies, which pisses Thompson off. Mission accomplished.

Miss Samuels is having her usual ‘double shite’ nervous breakdown, she probably should have retired ages ago, that or started popping pills for her nerves. It always seems like she’s on edge, either of a nervous breakdown or break out into a violent massacre, in her red dolly shoes, it’s fifty fifty. If she wasn’t two foot nothing I’d bet on the massacre. Her rage implodes and she staggers to the store cupboard. Poor love.

‘I just need to… pop into the…store…’

Her arms flap and for a moment she can’t get the door open. Everyone roars with laughter at the sight of three tampons stuck to the back of her skirt.

What is it with teenagers wanting to break the will of teachers? Not that I’m any better, but I just know what its like to be on the receiving end. So does Vanessa.


If you enjoyed this chapter and want to read Chapter 1 click this link.

Let me know if you liked my writing or have any other comment below.

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