The week after Christmas was not the best time to attempt to blacken Milky White’s name. Bloated with gifts and proof of his worth, he was immune to us. He was at the height of his powers, sqwarking on his Junior Hendrix electro guitar, Wormhole on the biscuit tins, rehearsing for the Scouts Christmas Party on the 29 th December.
« All we ‘aff to do, right, » Daz said when we met up The Cow’s Gate that morning, « is sneak round the back and pull the plug out. »
« Pull the plug out what ? » Skinny said.
« I dunno, yer cory, out the wall I suppose. »
« Be on the stage though, won’ it, the plugs, » I said.
« Well that’s that then innit, » Skinny said. « I aint goon in there just to get jamoboreed by a loada knock-kneed Scouts. »
« Norm I, » Dodge said.
« You’re just scared, » Daz said.
« What of, Milky White And his All-Stars ? »
« Yeah, » Daz said, « as a matter of fact you are. »
« I’ll git ‘im, don’t chew worry. »
« Oh yeah ? ‘Ow then ? You could always run up on the stage and kick ‘im up the arse while e’s playin. ‘E won’t be able to run after yer, will ‘e ? »
« Why don’t we ambush ‘im and cut ‘is strings, » Skinny said.
We hid in the laurel bushes down Copt Hall Avenue, outside the Methodist Hall where they were having the party at 3 o’clock. Only to see Milky White drive up in a chauffer driven Mini Van. His old man was the roadie too. Wormhole got out the back. We heard Milky say : « thanks pardner. » To his old man, for Christ’s sake, who said back : « you sock it to ‘em eh, Six-String. »
We hid our heads in shame as the big green doors swallowed him up.
« Now what, you lot ? » Skinny said.
« Round the back, get in through the kitchens, » I said. « I wanna hear ‘im an’ Wormhole do « Two Little Boys ‘ad Two Little Toys. »
« Old Ma Pimple’s gonna be in the kitchen doin’ the cream buns or something, » Dodge said.
Mrs Pimple was the battleaxe who did our school dinners, cheeks like the mashed spuds she dolloped on our plates, neck like the blanc mange we threw at each other round the tables. Today, when she wasn’t putting cream buns and Wagon Wheels on the Scout’s paper plates, she was dragging on a Kensitas in the kitchen doorway. We couldn’t get near the place. We could hear all the Scouts laughing at old Cripps the magician who ran the Chemist’s shop and did the Interflora. We’d had him at the Sunday School Party too where he’d tied his shoelaces together then done the splits and the shoelaces were normal again without him touching them. We laughed because he’d ripped his trousers. I doubt he was doing that again. Then the laughter stopped and there was the usual handclapping and hooping.
« They’re gonna stuff their faces now, » Skinny said.
Daz legged it across the cinders to peep in the kitchen doorway. Pimple couldn’t’ve been there because he went in without a second glance.
« ‘E bedder git me a cream bun, » Dodge said.
No sooner said than Daz came flying out like he’d hit a rubber wall, haring across the cinders and crashing into the bushes.
« ‘Ere you lot, guess what ? You won’t believe it. »
« No cream buns, » I said.
« There’s ‘undreds of Jamboree bags int there. »
« Well why didn’t yer grab some Daz, yer cory, » Skinny said.
« No listen dimbo, they’re all like ordinary Jamboree bags like what Pullins does, but one of ‘em’s not. It’s bin done special. It’s got this git on it with a guitar and it says : Milky White and his All-Stars. »
« Flippin aida, » Skinny said. « D’you fink ‘e really is gonna be on Toppa the Pops then ? »
« You prongo Skin, » Daz said, « ‘is Dad or someone ‘ad it done that’s all. It aint nuffing, not with them photostat thingys. »
« Oo’s got a pen on ‘em ? » I said.
No one did. I said we needed a black felt tip quick so Daz set off at a lick up Copt Hall Avenue to see if Cudlipp was in to borrow a felt pen off. He was the nearest. None of us had time to get home and back before the music and the Jamboree bags were given out. The pen came back in record time. Now it was up to me.
I found the box of Jamboree bags and carried it out to the bushes.
« What yer gonna write Sedge ? » Skinny said. « Milky and the Wombles ? »
« Hah, that’s not bad, Skin, » Daz said.
« Nah, » I said, « look. »
I looked at Milky’s All-Star bag long and hard.
« Urry up , » Dodge said, « I can ‘ear ‘em tunin’ up. »
« Got it, » I said.
Blacking out the letters and adding a few I turned Milky and his All-Stars into « Milky ate his Ball-s. » On as many other bags as could manage I wrote THE COW’S GATE GANG above « Jamboree Bag. »
We pinched one each, put the box back in the kitchen then scarpered just as Milky was twanging his way through something, none of us could tell. Could’ve been Wings but it was probably the school hymn.