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Nick Gerrard

Nick Gerrard
Originally from Birmingham but now living in Olomouc where he writes, teaches a little, and in between looking after his son Joe, edits and designs Jotters United Lit-zine.
Nick has been at one time or another a Chef, activist, union organiser, 
punk rocker, teacher, traveller and Eco-lodge owner in Malawi and Czech.
Nick has three books published all available on Amazon and other outlets:

Travelling for the hell of it. A kind of travel book.
Lyrics without music. Gritty poems.


Graffiti Stories. A short story collection.

(Safecrackers is in the collection)


Lisa pushes her hands into the mush, squeezing red through her knuckles, trying to find bits that will hold together.

-Hold on, shit, don’t fucking move!

-He fucking shot me…can you fucking believe ’e…he fucking shot me...Fuck!

-Don’t fucking move then, course it’s gonna hurt.

She pushes down hard and holds on.

Across the pub, propped up against the front of the worn oak bar lies a rocker, with a big gash on his head and a knife sticking out of his shoulder, his head is bobbing, and bubbles of spit and blood pop, and dribble from his mouth.

-Is he gonna die?

-I don’t think so, but anyway fuck him, I need to keep you alive.

-What about the other one?

-Not sure.

-It hurts like a bitch.

-You’ll be alright.

Lisa leans her head on Charlie’s, the big clock ticks. A group of revellers are singing ‘Dancing Queen’ as they weave past the stained windows of the pub.

She makes a call, gets John to pick them up.

She presses a little harder and smiles at Charlie.

He smiles then winces, squeezing some pain out as he tries to get himself comfortable.

-Bet you never expected this when I suggested moving to the city.

They both grin and sniff little laughs.

-You’re not fucking kidding.

She bends and kisses his temple.


Charlie and Lisa grew up in a small industrial town, dragged there kicking and screaming in the early seventies from the big city nearby; dragged to grime and soot and nothing to do but work and drink. Work was in factories that made carpets or iron. Drink was upstairs in supporters’ club meetings, down the Union halls, round the back alley or behind the park bandstand.

Kids were kept in line with put downs and whacks, and slippers and canes.

That’s where they had first met, in a local Working Men’s club, a Thursday night disco, mid-seventies Northern soul.

Both fourteen years passing for seventeen, but no one cared, everyone got served.

He spotted her from the bar, her pastel blue soul skirt swirling round. He glimpsed black knickers when she span. Short blonde hair, red lips. He was transfixed.

For the next few weeks he watched her, surrounded by older moustache and vest wearing soul boys; trying to impress her with their moves, their money and their banter. She laughed at their cheesy attempts at chat-up lines, but sometimes snogged them anyway.

He never could get up the nerve to talk to her; she only seemed interested in older blokes. He hated those soul boys with their wide flares and wide lies.




He loved the new sound, the new looks, the do-it-yourself attitude, the so what! And the music was short, sharp and powerful. He got some drain-piped trousers from an army surplus store; cut his hair short, spiked it and dyed it black; he already had the boots from the footy. He listened to John Peel play the Lurkers, the Vibrators, 999, and dub.

And then there was the Clash; singing about their lives, and giving two fingers up to it all.

There was nowhere to go, nothing to do. Nothing but falling-to-bits council estates and tired pubs and old-times terraced streets littered with chip papers and pissed up straights.

There were only local soul discos in backstreet dance halls, or upstairs above a pub, for one night only. And sometimes a mate would play the Boomtown Rats, the Skids, The B52s, the Jam, the Ruts, and sometimes even the Pistols or maybe the Damned or some reggae.

Fifteen minutes of rebellion out of a night of regular back drops and spins.

He would get up with four mates and pogo around, fight a bit, skank around a bit, stomp a bit. Just moving, with a passion, with a rage, for fifteen minutes only; the raga and the rage.


And some laughed, but some looked on with interest. And behind the soul girl’s giggles, behind the laughing tashes, the red lips and flares, were interested eyes, glancing eyes.

She laffed, but she looked, straight into his eyes. Just for a few seconds, but she looked.

-I like your hair.

He was stood waiting at the bar.

-Thanks. Pint of mild, please.

-You’re Charlie Waites aren’t you?

-And you’re Lisa Stanford, you know me?

-Such a small place, of course I’ve heard of you.

-Yeah, all good I suppose?

-Not really. She smiled. But then I suppose you’ve only heard bad things about me too?

-I never take stories seriously, they’re just stories, mostly bullshit, most of the time.

-Can I get you a drink?

-Thought you’d never ask.

-Rum and black, please.

They sat down and chatted, and made each other laugh, and chatted some more, and sipped and smiled.

-So, you wanna walk me home?

-Love to.

They walked through the red-brick streets. Got chips from a Chinky takeaway, jumped up on a wall. The romantic aroma of beer and Charlie perfume merged with Tobi Legend’s ‘Time Will Pass You By’ coming through a council house window, he leaned in. And he tasted love; and love tastes of red lipstick and vinegar, No 6 tipped and Bank’s mild.

They started courting, meeting up at discos or round friends’ houses, with bottles of cider and Ouija boards, and fumbles with bra straps on a single bed; breasts smelling of fresh bread and clean babies’ bums. And fingers tight inside each-others pants; fumbling, scratching, scrapping, pushing. Lips and tongues, fags and apple breath.

And the ache inside their chests got stronger, the butterflies in their bellies flapped their wings faster and faster the more they didn’t see each other.

They went out, and went babysitting, so they had somewhere private, somewhere to masturbate each other, and try out fucking, which wasn’t successful but they wanted to try it, just to kind of get it out of the way. And at the end of the night they had to scrub the sofa and carpet of stains.


One year on


-What the fuck happened?

Lisa sat down in the Wheatsheaf lounge, her eye turning purple and her nose and check scratched.

-He’s a fucking arsehole, you know that.

-He did this?


-What did your mum say?

-My mum got it worse than me, I jumped on his back and smacked him round the face. He was pissed out of his head again, and smacking my mum around the kitchen.


-He’s just a fucking cunt. She’s tried to get him out but she always takes him back or he worms his fucking way back in somehow.

-What about the police?

-Yeah, like they are gonna do anything.

-Yeah, well fuck this, I’ll fucking get some guys together and we can have a word or two with him.

-No, it would only make things worse for us.

He kissed the purple skin under her eye, she slid her hand down his cheek.


They dreamed of leaving, of escaping, of getting the fuck out. Somewhere else, somewhere better, hopefully.





Lisa’s stepdad was a fuck-up, a big man about town but a fuck-up all the same. He was a dealer and got high on his own supply. Which was OK apart from the late night parties when he came back with other reprobates for a session. But it was when he on a bender that things got bad. On the gear he was bearable, and Lisa’s mum liked a line and a puff and a drink. And sometimes at those times when the mixture was right, when just the right amount of poison was consumed, there was romance and passion between them. Just enough to keep them together, just enough to make the beatings worth it.

But once he’d had too much booze in him, another man came out, a mean, bitter and twisted fucked-up man.

And he hated her mother, hated Lisa too and the boyfriends she saw. And more than all the other hates was the hate he felt for himself, so he beat up those close to him to be able to bear his miserable life.

The two women hid, they kissed and hugged, they escaped. They stole his money when he slept, they kicked him when he was comatose. They scratched him, slapped him, and got punched and kicked and slapped, and hugged and spoilt and fed.

Lisa tried to get her mum to leave, but her mum was afraid, of him, of leaving, of being alone.

But the beatings just carried on, everything just carried on.




Charlie hadn’t seen or heard from her for a few days, he was worried. He went round late; he knocked on the door.

-What the fuck do you want?

-Can I speak to Lisa?

-No you can’t, now fuck off!

He noticed blood on his hands, he pushed his way in.

-Get the fuck out of my way, you drunken fuck.

-I told you to get the fuck out of here, you little wanker.

He grabbed hold of Charlie’s hair and dragged him back, but he slipped.

Charlie got up and started laying into him.

-You mother…fuck…er…I’ll fucking teach…you…to…fuc…king!

The fists smashed into his face, again and again, and blood burst from his eyebrows, and his lips bulged blue instantly.

Lisa came down the stairs, with a rounders bat.


His skull popped and slammed into the pastel pink wall.

They both stood over the limp man, panting, trying to catch their breaths.

-Is he dead?

Charlie leaned close to his mouth, and among the fumes he felt breath.

-No, but I think we’ve fucked him up pretty good.

-Not good enough.

Lisa started smashing his arms and legs with the bat, cracking bones.


She laid into him, all her frustrations, all her anger came out through that bat.


Charlie stopped her after a while and leaned in close to his face again.

-Still not dead.

They went into the kitchen and bathed each other’s cuts, made a cuppa and added a splash of whiskey for their nerves.


-We need to leave this place, tonight. How’s your mum?

-Battered but OK, she’s staying with my aunt.

-OK, grab what you need, and I’ll meet you down town, by the Bay Horse.

They kissed on the doorstep, harder than they had ever kissed before.




-I know where we can get some cash.


-The Irish Club, they have a safe.

-Yeah, but do they have any money?

-Probably not much, but it’s always full of big drinkers.

-And Punks, would be like stealing from friends.

-Or lending it from friends.

He shrugged and laughed.

-OK, let’s do it.

They were sat in a tacky spruced-up Capri, in the Bay Horse car park, in town; a red one with a black stripe down the side.

Charlie had nicked it off the estate, obviously from a Starsky and Hutch fan, sad fucker!

-You ready?

-Sure, let’s do it.

They got out and walked a couple of blocks, slowly, arm in arm; two lovers on their way home.

It was late and only a few people littered the streets; drunks trying to find their way home, a few groups looking for a lock-in or a late night curry house.

Opposite the indoor market on the corner of the big roundabout stood the three wooden huts that made up the Irish Club, they vaulted the back wall into a little shielded bay area.

They smashed the padlock with a hammer and easily kicked in the flimsy delivery doors.

Through torchlight they made their way to the bar.

-What’ll you have?

Lisa pulled up a stool, and grinned.

-Why, kind sir, I’ll have a whiskey and ginger, no ice.

-A fine choice, madam, I think I’ll join you.

Charlie poured two long ones.

-To new beginnings.

They clinked glasses, drank and leaned heads together over the bar.

-Now, where is this safe?

-You’re standing right on it

He pulled back the rubber mat and lifted up a wooden trap door, and there was a small black safe built into a lump of concrete.

-Shit, I thought we could just lift the bloody thing out, then smash it open later.

Lisa smiled, got up and came round the bar. She took out a little case, unzipped it and laid out what looked like dentist tools on the side of the bar.

-Now, I’ll show you a few things I picked up from my real dad before he left for good.

-I knew you knew some, but do you think you can handle this?

Lisa stepped up, moved him to the side, and got to work on the lock. Charlie stood on the other side of the bar savouring his drink, smiling and nodding, watching his girl. God she was beautiful! And clever too.


-Shit, you know a lot! How much is there?

-Four or five hundred or so.

-Cool, let’s get going.

They grabbed some bottles and crisps and smashed the fag machine, stuffed it all into a duffle bag and slipped out the wooden doors.

They sauntered arm in arm back to the Capri, and headed for the city.





Early 80s


Life wasn’t easy to begin with. There was no work, but the money they had stolen helped them furnish a bedsit in a Victorian house, where they shared a bathroom and toilet with a couple of working girls.

Their rent was paid by the Social and the fortnightly cheques were just enough to get by on. They could eat well with cheap cuts off the rag market on a Saturday afternoon and good veg from the Asian grocers. Most weeks, just enough to scrape by. But some weeks, they had no electric, no booze, and worst of all, no fags.

So naturally they looked for ways to improve their lot, ways to live a decent life.

Cash to enjoy a reasonable life.

Lisa’s safecracking skills came in handy. They emptied the gas fire’s slot meter in their flat, careful to leave a few fifty pence coins for the landlord. And soon they had a little business going, emptying the meters of the other tenants and friends nearby, for a little fee.


Word got round, and people came calling for the safecrackers’ services; people’s meters, of course, cheap safes and security boxes that junky cat burglars had stolen. And sometimes they opened the backs of shops late at night.

With the money they earnt they were able to score some weed and a little speed. Go for an Indian or Chinese when stoned. Go to the Fighting Cocks regularly for beer and rock. The Red Lion for blues and weed. Or they got dolled up for a night out in town on acid; all-nighters at a blues with speed and ska, or down the gambling house for bets, red stripe, spliffs, dub and mad-chats.

They always had friends round for food and a smoke.

They started to love their life, love the adventure, the thrill; the music, the drink, the drugs.

Charlie played bass in a Clash-rock-reggae band and Lisa did art courses down the unemployed centre.

They moved into another Victorian house and got two rooms, and their own kitchen and bathroom.

They smiled and rested their heads on each other’s, and clinked wine glasses on the steps on a sunny evening, and as the girls worked the streets they kissed as they exhaled smooth smoke slowly from an introverted spliff.


As they got more cash they got more gear, they started dealing a little; a few tablets here, a gram of wiz there, an eighth passed on with only a slice for profit. They never started out with the idea of making money, it was about creating a good feeling. When travelling punks hitched up in town they supplied all the needs; getting cheaper draw from the Jamaicans for bulk buying, and making a little with the pass on. People turned up for the after gig party in the overgrown garden at the back, to fire-dance and rant. To share a floor in sleeping bags, and laughs and snogs, and drugs and hugs.

They loved the friendships they made, the community spirit, the under-class; the hookers and drug pimps, the striking man and Lefty uni prof. The hobo punk and hippie artist, the greasy musician and Rasta toaster.

As is nearly always the case, their own habits increased, their own consumption of hard drugs grew, and with it the mood swings, the bad come-downs, the paranoia, the pain. So grams became ounces, eighths became quarters. And one night awake became two, became four.


And happy smiling friend-filled cool breeze evenings, became dank back-alley staircases and needles in ill-heated bare bedsits. They borrowed gear to sell gear to pay for gear to top themselves up, then the need for more became a need for more, to lend some more to sell some more to need some more.

They reined each other’s excesses in, for the sake of each other, for the sake of themselves. They had each other to keep check on each other. They stopped each other crossing the line. There were mood swings, and fights, and arguments over petty shit, and bad come-downs, and lost days. They saw each other through, just about, kept each other back, on the right side of that thin line.





There was a rocker’s pub, the Green Man. The gang who ran it were called the Outcasts. A city bikers’ gang with few bikes, but they had connections, with the Angels and organized criminals. They dealt in everything, from smack to hash, robbery to gash. They kept the Green Man, a place to hang, a place to organize, a home. Where metal heads gathered to smoke the black man’s weed in peace, with cider and napalm death, and mucky blondes with smeared black eyes, denim, and big creamy tits.




The clubs in town didn’t really cater to the tastes of the young people, not the inner city kids. They catered to the estate kids, the outer-ring-road kids. There were a few discos where casuals flocked to drink and fight and find a gran to fuck. Dear entrance and disco balls, Dexys and The Specials, aggro and flicks.

There was no venue that catered to the tastes of the inner city crews, nowhere in the centre where they could come together, people from the North- and South-sides. No place that mixed punk with dub, New Wave with ska. It was one or the other, sometimes at parties or one-off gigs.


Charlie and Lisa saw a chance to start something up, to make a few quid as well, but really just for the hell of it. They had a mate who had a job as a security guard, for a few disused warehouses near the post office tower just off the ring-way.

Underneath the old grey-brick ten-storey building was a huge cellar, a labyrinth of small rooms and a couple of large ones. The place was fairly clean and dry.


A group of mates went with Charlie and Lisa to check it out and an idea was born, the Dungeon.

A city-centre-night-out-cool-dive, with a chilled vibe. A quid on the door for a stripe behind the bar. With weed and wiz on sale all round. Three bands on live and rooms for toasters and sound-systems.

They started on a Friday, then added Saturday, from once in a blue moon to twice a month.

The cops knew about it, but didn’t care, there was less trouble than in the centre.

But the powers that be, the unseen powers that be, the drug barons and club owners, didn’t like it one bit. So, they decided to do something about it.


One warm summer Friday night they sent the Outcasts, with a couple of Hell’s Angels to supervise.

The place was heaving, bodies were sweating and grinding, bobbing and weaving.

Some African tunes with a flute lead in the one room, The Daffodil’s chirpy-bursts of punky pop in the other. The place was rocking!

There we no bouncers on the door, just a few people to take cash.


Out of the back of transits came the Outcasts, all denim and leather, greasy locks, and chains with razor blades in them, baseball bats and knuckle dusters.

They battered the guys at the entrance and waded into the crowd. Anyone and everyone was targeted. People’s faces were slashed, heads bludgeoned with bottles, arms snapped with bats.

People panicked, they ran, they fought each other, they cowered in corners, they trampled on legs and arms as everyone tried to get out.


The Outcasts moved from room to room sweeping all up in a fury of swings, smacks and poundings.

Charlie and Lisa were at opposite ends of the Dungeon when it all kicked off.

Charlie got off quite lightly. Some smacks on the head with bottles, a few knife slashes on his arms as he frantically tried to make his way to Lisa.

When he found her she was lying on a pile of bricks, unconscious.

Lisa had been hit around the face with a bike chain; the blades had embedded into her checks, chin and forehead. She had also been hit with bats, her arm was twisted and the right leg black.

Charlie picked her up and carried her to an open doorway that led out to a walkway that lay above the cut. With the mayhem coming towards them he took Lisa in his arms, stepped onto the crumbling brick wall and jumped into the canal, and to safety.


The Hell’s Angels moved slowly amongst the chaos, supervising. Stepping in when the Outcasts overstepped the mark, when the blows from bats continued after the blackout, when enough bones were cracked, when enough of a face had been sliced.

They came, they conquered, they left.


They left streams of bodies in the street, fire engulfing the basement, and blooded, crying, frightened faces everywhere.

A fleet of ambulances arrived to take away scores. And friends dragged friends onto taxi floors, limped and dripped through night-bus doors, and hugged and wiped eyes, and comforted as they hobbled down the road, away from the cops.

No one talked to the police, what was the point? They knew who it was, but did nothing. Many were injured badly, scarred for life, the hospital was packed, no one had died, the Angels saw to that.





Everyone was shell-shocked, people’s lives had been affected. People fought with less fire, people played with less passion.

Lisa was in hospital for a few weeks, she was badly concussed, and had her arm and leg set. Her facial and head wounds were deep, and over the next three months she had a couple of operations to try and cover up the gashes. The hospital did as good a job as they could, but she was left with scars, inside and out.


-You look fine, honestly.

-Don’t fuck with me, Charlie, just tell me the truth.

-You hardly notice them, and in fact I think they make you look even more beautiful.

He stroked his hand along her cheek.

She snapped it away.

-Really, having fucking scars makes me beautiful? Go fuck yourself, Charlie!

-Fuck me, Lisa, what do you want me to say? I think that they don’t make you look ugly, and they have done a good job patching you up.

-Patching me up, what am I, fucking Frankenstein or something?

-Look, you’ve finished the treatments now so we can get back to normal.

-What the fuck exactly is our normal, Charlie? Normal robbin’, normal dealing? I can’t go back to normal, Charlie, we can’t go back to normal.

-Let’s just get you the fuck out of here, and then we can see.

-Yeah, we’ll see!


Charlie cooked her food to comfort and ease; corn beef hash, Irish stew, cottage pie, bread and butter pudding.

But Lisa couldn’t find comfort and was uneasy.

-So, how are things in the big wide world?

-Quiet, everyone is still shaken up.

-And what about those fucking biker cunts?

-They haven’t been around much, keeping to their own pub I suppose.

-I wanna hurt them, Charlie.

-I know you do.

-No, I mean I really fucking wanna hurt them!

-And how the fuck do you propose we do that?

-I’ll come up with something.





The Green Man was known to house an old safe where the Outcasts kept cash and a stash, in the upstairs office.

Charlie was told that the safe was an old one, so Lisa favoured the drill.

The three-storey high pub stood on a corner, in a back street of bonding warehouses and needle alleys; of sooty grey brick, fenced off tat yards and done-up red courtyards which now hosted street food stalls and vintage markets, and housed hidden dance venues and gambling dens.

The pub held local metal gigs on the second floor, and the bar held leather-faced navies, leather-jacketed rockers and black dudes with spliffs on the go and blonde quaffed birds in tow.

They picked a Thursday night, they waited in the Carlou Café just down the road, next to the bus depot, with a clear view and sausage, tomato and brown sauce sandwiches, and dark stained mugs.

The pub crowds slowly emptied out; staggered or swaggered on home, arm in arm, cheek to cheek, in off-beat harmonies.

Charlie slurped his tea.

-Do you have to?


-That disgusting noise.

-Oh very sorry, your ladyship, I’m sure. Av-u-seen the state of your face?

Lisa licked under her mouth and lapped up the dribbling brown sauce, she proceeded to lick all around her mouth.


Charlie, sniggered, smiled and wiped the last smudge away.


-So, the back door should be a doddle, and the door to the office.

-And you sure the drill will do the job?

-We can only find out.

At one-ish three Outcasts locked up the bar, and took off.

Charlie and Lisa waited twenty minutes, then paid, slipped a pack onto their backs and crossed slowly arm in arm. They passed some serious clubbers and hen party scrubbers, but the streets were fairly quiet.





Down the side of the pub is an alley, a few bins, rubbish and crates lying around. Charlie takes out his lump hammer and pad, and smashes the weakest points of the door. It gives way easily and with a crowbar he wedges it open at the lock, they slip inside.

They both put headlamps on, squeeze past bike parts, crates and piles of crisp boxes, and tiptoe up the stairs. Charlie does the same thing with the office door and they enter.

A desk and cabinets occupy one end of the room, the middle a pool table, more crates are stacked at the other end along with more crisps and boxes of magazines, bike parts, a serious sound system and racks of albums. In between two cabinets is an old grey Dudley-Chubb and Burton safe, four foot tall, almost three foot wide and just as deep.

-Shit, this is bigger than I expected.

Lisa smiles and inspects.

-And gonna be a whole lot easier than I had expected too.

She takes out her drill, magnified lenses and tool kit. She drills close to the old combination lock, Charlie in turn glances at Lisa and at the street, from behind a grubby yellow curtain.

Lisa stops drilling, puts the lenses on, looks through the hole at the mechanism and manipulates the teeth until they align. The teeth click, she leans back, removes the lenses, and turns the bar handle.


Charlie comes over and they both look inside.

-Shit, that was easy.

-What the fuck, Charlie!

-Shit man, they have tonnes of shit in here.

They start taking stuff out; kilo blocks of cannabis, full bags of trips, quarter bags of coke and wads of cash.

They leaf through the stuff on the table.

-Shit, how much do you think is here?

-A fuck of a lot, couple of hundred thou maybe, and so much gear!

-Charlie, we can’t possibly take all this.

-Why the fuck not?

-It’s too bulky for a start.

-No problem, I’ll find some more bags.

-But we are gonna look suspicious.

-We can call John to meet us outside.

-We are gonna get fucked, Charlie, if they find out we took all this stuff.

-Doesn’t matter if we take a little or a lot, if they find out we stole anything from them we are fucked so we may as well take it all.

-True, fuck it then.

Charlie goes out to look around for suitable bags.


Lisa starts taking the rest of the drugs and cash out and piling it onto the pool table. On a little shelf are some papers in folders, and receipts, and an old wooden cigar box.

Lisa takes the box out and sits down at the desk. Inside are some earrings; beautiful earrings, antique silver, with what looks like small purple diamond butterflies. There are other pieces of jewellery: necklaces, bracelets – of red and blue combinations.

A beautiful violet collection.

She positions the two earrings on the desk in front of the chair, scoops up the remainder into her shoulder bag, kneels down and continues to empty the safe.

At the door, a bleary-eyed Outcast watches her.

She turns, and they both stare at each other for a second, for a lifetime.

Then they both move.

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