I clock him across the smoky and crowded dance floor of the Prince Consort discotheque. He is six foot, a couple of inches taller than me, blond with an athletic build and would be good looking were it not for the permanent sneer twisting his features. He's eighteen. I'm nineteen.
His mates call him Barney and he's a cunt, quite literally, from the wrong side of the tracks across town and he's from a rough family whose reputation he lives off.
He's heading my way because about an hour earlier he had been giving my mate Jeremy a bit of hassle. I had told him to piss off. And he had.
It's been eating him since, he has lost face, I can see that, and now with a few more beers in his belly he has come to even the score.
I watch him get closer. I shut out the thumping beat of the music and the dancers and focus, though pissed, on what I am going to do; have to do.
He's about three feet away and his eyes are angrily staring into mine. It's a mistake as he should be looking at my hands. I smile slightly to deceive him into believing that it is he who is in control and that I am no threat.
I smash my right fist as hard as I can into his face with the intention of pushing his nose into the back of his head and as I do an electric shock of pain shoots up my arm. He reels back in agony bringing his hands up to his face and turns away.
One hard punch and the cunt's had enough. I kind of feel good about that.
"Okay cool it lads, just stay cool everybody," says the DJ who has had a grandstand view. He also kills the music.
The dancers stop dancing and slowly realise that something has happened. Barney is over in the corner and one of his mates has his arm round him. Another one of his pals, quite short and probably underage comes up to me and says menacingly, "If you want trouble mate we'll give you fucking trouble!"
I want to laugh, though it is swiftly dawning on me that I could really be in deep shit, because the line sounds right out of a badly scripted gangster movie. I decide to brazen it out; they don't know me and maybe I really am useful, besides I took their mate out pretty easily and he was supposed to be tough.
"Look Shorty, it was between him and me, but if you want some of the same then feel free to have a go."
He says nothing and sidles off. The problem is my hand is really hurting and I'm wondering if I've broken a finger. I'm fucked if there is to be any more fighting.
I decide to get out but I have to do it coolly, if I show any weakness then I've had it. I nonchalantly push another one of his mates out of the way and make for the back way to the cloakrooms where Jeremy is attempting to chat up the cock-tease of an attendant. I've got to get him out in case they start on him. At the far end of the club by the entrance I just see one of the black suited burly bouncers begin to walk down, presumably called by the DJ.
I'm really shitting it now inside but I if I can keep my composure I stand a good chance of getting away with it.
As I step off the dance floor a big blond fellow with a petite brunette hanging on his arm says to me, "Who the fuck do you think you are?"
I just ignore him and carry on walking. And pray he doesn't come after me. I stroll down the corridor fairly confident that nobody is following me. I see Jeremy leaning on the door frame of the cloakroom and he is trying to impress the flirty peroxide blonde of an attendant. He looks a bit annoyed that I am about to interrupt him but he hasn't got a cat in hells chance of pulling her anyway.
I take him by the arm and out of earshot.
"Jeremy we have to get out of here. And quick. I've just smacked Barney and we could be in big fucking trouble!"
"Uh, right," he says, suddenly realising the seriousness of the situation.
"I want you to act completely normal till we get out of here," I whisper to him. He nods.
We make our way the ten yards or so to the exit. There is only one bouncer there; the other two are probably on the dance floor questioning people. I still can't hear any music. Not good.
As I approach the door I fear that at any moment a member of Barney's little group could just appear. And we still have to get past the doorman.
The bouncer sees us and to my amazement swings open the reinforced glass door. "Early night lads?"
"Well there's not a lot going on and I've got to work tomorrow. Good night!" I respond breezily.
I breathe a sigh of relief as I step out into the late evening air and walk up the stone steps to the pavement, the Prince Consort nightclub being below ground level.
As we reach the top of the steps I turn to Jeremy and say, "I think it will probably be a very good idea if we sprint back to mine and wait for the furore to die down."
We're both pretty quick but we have only gone about seventy yards when I hear a shout in the distance.
"That's him. After them, lads!"
We get to the top of St Thomas's Street and then turn into Spencer Road. We're both badly gasping and as we get to my parent's house I look for my pursuers. But we have left them behind and more importantly they haven't seen where I live.
I open the front door and we let ourselves in. It is quiet; my Mother and Grandmother have gone to bed.
"That was close Matt, what happened?"
"I punched Barney in the face before he hit me. I never realised he had so many mates and what's really bad is that I may have damaged my hand. It really hurts. I meant to punch him in the nose but I think I missed and hit him on the cheek. I think I'll leave it a while before paying another visit to the Prince Consort."
We suddenly hear a group of noisy lads pass by outside the window and exchange knowing smiles.
"Fancy a cup of tea Jeremy?"
"Yeah, don't mind if I do, Matt."
I fill the kettle and then place it on the ring of the cooker before lighting the gas...