فصل 11

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فصل 11

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Chapter 11 The Full Monty

It was the morning of Friday 25 May. Gaz was walking down the street on his way to see Alan, the manager of the Millthorpe Working Men’s Club. He had a difficult job to do and he wasn’t looking forward to it. He had to tell Alan that they weren’t going to do the show.

Worse, he had to ask Alan for his hundred pounds back. That was Nathan’s money, not his. He had been a fool to let Nathan take it out of his post office account.

Perhaps, thought Gaz, he would have to take that job in Mandy’s clothes factory. Then she could see he was trying to do something.

As Gaz crossed the street, a car stopped beside him and a man jumped out. It was Alan. He stood in front of Gaz, waving his arms excitedly. ‘Where have you been?’ he said. ‘I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I haven’t heard from you in days.’

Gaz stared at Alan unhappily. Then he said, ‘We’re not doing it, Alan. The show’s off. Sorry.’

‘You must be joking,’ said Alan, ‘You’ve got to do the show.

I’ve sold two hundred tickets.’

Gaz froze, his heart in his mouth. ‘How many?’ he said. He was silent, trying to work out how much money they would get for two hundred tickets.

Guy, Horse and Lomper were sitting at a table in the Job Club, feeling very sorry for themselves. They were back to their old way of life, filling in job applications and playing cards. Dave was sitting at a computer, trying to type a letter and feeling very depressed. Why hadn’t he stayed at Asda? Everything was Gaz’s fault. Everything.

The door opened and Gerald walked in, wearing a new grey suit and with a big smile on his face. Luke Marcus, the Job Club manager, hurried over to meet him. Gerald was a big success story for the Job Club. Although he was fifty-three, he was back at work within six months. He was a wonderful example for the others.

‘Congratulations, Gerald,’ said Luke. ‘Well done!’

Gerald had wanted to come and say goodbye to his friends, but now he felt a little embarrassed. He was very pleased to have a job, but he knew he would miss them. They had had a lot of fun together.

‘Nice suit, Gerald,’ said Horse.

Mandy’s clothes factory. Then she could see he was trying to do something.

As Gaz crossed the street, a car stopped beside him and a man jumped out. It was Alan. He stood in front of Gaz, waving his arms excitedly. ‘Where have you been?’ he said. ‘I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I haven’t heard from you in days.’

Gaz stared at Alan unhappily. Then he said, ‘We’re not doing it, Alan. The show’s off. Sorry.’

‘You must be joking,’ said Alan, ‘You’ve got to do the show.

I’ve sold two hundred tickets.’

Gaz froze, his heart in his mouth. ‘How many?’ he said. He was silent, trying to work out how much money they would get for two hundred tickets.

Guy, Horse and Lomper were sitting at a table in the Job Club, feeling very sorry for themselves. They were back to their old way of life, filling in job applications and playing cards. Dave was sitting at a computer, trying to type a letter and feeling very depressed. Why hadn’t he stayed at Asda? Everything was Gaz’s fault. Everything.

The door opened and Gerald walked in, wearing a new grey suit and with a big smile on his face. Luke Marcus, the Job Club manager, hurried over to meet him. Gerald was a big success story for the Job Club. Although he was fifty-three, he was back at work within six months. He was a wonderful example for the others.

‘Congratulations, Gerald,’ said Luke. ‘Well done!’

Gerald had wanted to come and say goodbye to his friends, but now he felt a little embarrassed. He was very pleased to have a job, but he knew he would miss them. They had had a lot of fun together.

‘Nice suit, Gerald,’ said Horse.

Dave left the Job Club twenty minutes later and went home. He didn’t want to listen to the others talking excitedly about their plans for the evening.

He turned the key of his front door and stepped inside. To his surprise there was a small suitcase in the hall. What could it mean? Was Jean going somewhere? Perhaps her mother was ill.

He hoped it wasn’t bad news. ‘Jean?’ he called. Jean?’

He climbed the stairs to their bedroom and found Jean sitting on the bed with her jacket on. She had her back to him. Dave knew there was something very wrong. He sat down on the bed next to her.

‘What’s the matter, Jean?’ he asked gently.

Jean turned to face him and he saw that her face was wet with tears. She was holding Dave’s red leather G-string in her hand.

She had found it at the back of a drawer when she was putting away his socks.

‘Well, this explains a few things,’ she said. ‘All those nights you were late home. I thought you were out looking for a job. I’ve been so stupid. You were with another woman, weren’t you?’

‘No, Jean, no. I was with Gaz . . . really,’ said Dave.

‘Oh, I see,’ said Jean. ‘She’s one of Gaz’s girlfriends, is she? That makes it even worse.’

Jean had never liked Gaz. She had tried many times to keep Dave away from him, afraid that he would lead Dave into trouble.

She began to hit Dave. He stood up, held her shoulders and said, ‘Just listen, will you? There’s no other woman. I’m . . . I was a stripper, right? Me and Gaz and some others thought we could make a bit of money by taking our clothes off. The G-strings were for our show.’

Jean stopped crying and was silent, listening. She stared at Dave in astonishment. She hadn’t expected to hear this.

‘Strippers?’ she repeated. ‘You - and Gaz - strippers?’ She couldn’t believe it.

‘Yes,’ said Dave. ‘We were quite good.’ Jean waited for him to continue, but he looked down, embarrassed. ‘But . . . in the end I couldn’t do the show.’

‘Why not, Dave?’Jean asked.

‘Because I’m too fat,’ Dave replied sadly. ‘Look at me, Jean.

Who wants to come and see me dance?’

Jean put her arms round her husband. So this was what his problem of the past few months was all about. He was unhappy because of his weight, because he was fat. She looked up into his face, her eyes shining with love. ‘Me, Dave.’ she said. ‘I do.’

The Millthorpe Working Men’s Club was full of women, smoking, drinking and laughing excitedly. Worse than that for Gaz, there were at least fifty men. Men from the pub, from Lomper’s factory band — even the police were there.

‘It’s for women only!’ Gaz complained to Alan.

‘Nobody told me,’ Alan lied. ‘I didn’t know.’ He wasn’t going to turn away the men and lose a lot of money. The Club had never been so full, not even for the Chippendales. There must be four hundred people out there.

The men were in a small dressing room at the back, putting on their uniforms. To everyone’s surprise, Gaz was the most nervous of all. He couldn’t keep still — he was walking up and down the room.

‘You’ll be all right when you’re on stage,’ said Gerald, fixing the top button of his shirt.

‘On stage?’ repeated Gaz in horror. ‘I’m not going anywhere near the stage. I’m not going out there!’

Just then the door opened and Dave came in, dressed in his uniform, smiling and ready for the show.

‘Dave!’ cried the others in astonishment. Everyone was very leased to see him. Dave’s eyes were shining with happiness and he looked like a different man. Nathan followed him into the room.

‘There was nothing on television tonight,’ Dave joked, ‘so I thought I’d come and join you. I found Nathan walking around outside.’

Gaz looked angrily at his son. Mandy would kill him if she found out he was here.

‘It’s all right, Dad,’ said Nathan. ‘Mum’s out front in the crowd.’

‘Is she?’ said Gaz in astonishment. ‘With Barry?’

‘No, she didn’t let him come. She said it was for women only,’

said Nathan, knowing his Dad would be pleased.

Alan rushed in again. The crowd was getting impatient, he told them. They’d paid their money and they didn’t want to wait any longer. ‘I can’t keep them quiet,’ he said. ‘You’ll have to go on now.’

Suddenly, Dave became the leader of the group. ‘Get your jackets on,’ he told the others, then stepped out on to the stage and began to speak. Looking out into the darkness, he could see Jean sitting with her friends, Sharon and Bee. She was smiling at him, proud and happy.

‘We may not be young,’ Dave told the crowd. ‘We may not be pretty But we’re here . . . and for one night only, we’re going for the full monty.’

The crowd cheered loudly as the rest of the men followed Dave out on to the stage and lined up behind him. Then the stage lights went on and the music began to play.

Gaz sat alone in the dressing room. Mandy was looking for him on the stage, wondering where he was. Perhaps he came on later.

Nathan decided it was time for him to do something. ‘I’m going to get really angry with you in a minute, Dad,’ said Nathan.

He put the security guard’s hat on Gaz’s head. ‘Listen, do you hear that noise? All those people cheering? Well, you did that.

They’re cheering for you. Now get out there with the others . . . now. Go on! Out!’ He held up his arm and pointed towards the door.

Gaz was very surprised but he was also grateful to Nathan. He knew he had no choice — he had to do the show. When the crowd saw him join the others on the stage, another enormous cheer went up.

The men were dancing really well, moving their bodies sexily in perfect time to the music. Not one of them was nervous now.

This was their big moment and they were enjoying themselves very much. The crowd was loving every minute of the performance — even the police were cheering.

Gerald saw Horse’s pretty niece, Beryl, and smiled at her warmly. He wondered if she would be interested in an old man like him. Like the others, he felt like a different person.

Tonight was the end of a long and difficult journey for them all - Gaz, Dave, Gerald, Horse, Lomper and Guy. It hadn’t been easy but they had done it.

Gerald had a new job and was free of Linda at last. Dave’s troubles with Jean were at an end and they could start again. Gaz, the proud father of Nathan, would soon have enough money to give Mandy, and maybe, just maybe, win her back. Lomper had made new friends and had had a lot of fun. Everyone had changed a lot over the past weeks as they found there was a lot more to life than the Job Club.

The men took off their jackets, shirts and trousers and, smiling, threw them into the excited crowd. Finally, they were naked except for their red leather G-strings. They turned their backs to the crowd and the G-strings fell to the floor.

Then, while everyone went crazy with cheering, they turned round again, holding only their hats in front of them. They smiled happily, threw their hats in the air and stood in front of the crowd, naked and proud.

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