When I was around 17 years old Sheffield City Council thought it would be a good idea to build a block of flats, in the centre of town for single people under 25. What a flippin great idea!!
My friend and I went to the housing department after being on the list for 3 months and were given the keys to a brand new 2 bedroom chintzy furnished flat.
Hawley Street flats will go down in my history as being an absolutely bonkers time of my life. As you might expect, life was pretty much one big party. At the time, we were working behind the bar of the Limit Club on west street which deserves its own blog, or even two. This was our life:
Get up at the time most people get home from work.
Lie in front of fire with 3 bars on watching neighbours, Emmerdale and Home and away whilst drinking tea and smoking fags.
Head over the road to Marks and Spencers to buy food for tea.
Eat tea and fondant fancies
Drink tea and smoke fags
get ready whilst smoking fags
stroll up the road, past the jobcentre where we had a) signed on or b) been for a Crisis loan (as we had run out of fags) at some point over the last few days. Incidentally millenials, we had an actual UB40 then. It was a signing on card before it was a weird kind of reggae band with a chubby brummy frontman.
Work behind bar which consisted of drinking Diamond Blush and smoking fags at the end of the bar.
Leave ‘work’ and go next door for a healthy snack of chips and cheese sauce.
Go home, have a spliff and lie on my rented sunbed and pretend i was in Greece, with a fag in my hand.
Cough alot, go to bed and repeat.
Now I know for a fact that at least one of you will remember these times. Am not naming names but one of my now oldest friends, I met on Hawley Street. He was sharing with a self professed white witch with a reputation for being a bit over zealous with the bleach, both on her hair and during her many spells of obsessive cleansing of any exposed formica surface . We used to communicate our plans and arrangements through our bathroom windows.
Josephines? Berlins? Cairos? Sin Bin? Isabellas? What you wearing?Got any fags?
Pass us some hairspray through…..
Sometimes, my friend would go to his mums for Sunday dinner (we were devoid of any such normal family stuff) and if we were lucky, he would bring back a frozen Sara Lee Gateaux, come round to our flat and we would aim the hairdryer at it until it was defrosted enough to get a spoon into then we’d watch the ‘Hitman and Her’ and smoke really badly made spliffs because we were crap at them and suck on lumps of semi thawed cake.
Sometimes the munchies would overwhelm us:
Just down the road at West Bar roundabout there was an all night bakery. Not a shop. An actual bakery where they baked bread and cakes. I can’t rememer how we discovered it but I tell you what you could get a bag of cake for about virtually nothing. We would raid the ‘2p jar’ and carry the coppers down the road. Usually 3 or 4 of us, and follow the waft of baking bread and doughnuts then run home with our bags of goodies. It was so wonderful I sometimes wonder if it was real!!
As you can gather, nutrition was not top of our agenda. We were enclosed in a sort of gated community of the most diverse community of ‘single young people under 25’ you can imagine: gay,straight, working, slobbing, musicians, drug users, transevestites, crazy times. It was amazing people.
We were living in the middle of town. We were loving life. We forged amazing friendships.
In the words of many a heasdscarved being:
” we didnt know how lucky we were”
In these times of austerity and general persecution of young people by the government, its hard to believe how different it was then in the early 80s. We used to get our rent cheques and go and cash them at the bank..and propably spend it on fags. We weren’t trained in adulting but had been gifted a lifestyle which we were left to get on with.
I was particularly naive and untrained in independent living and acted accordingly. I had been getting by on my own somehow since I was 15 and when you have spent weeks at a time eating porridge for all 3 meals of the day, this break I got felt somehow right. Like I was getting my good karma.
During this time I made some of my most questionable style choices. I remember one day, me and my friend went to the market and brought a few metres of purple, stretchy material that was a kind of tube. We cut it up, made it into a strapless,sleeveless,dress type thing. Liberally applied a few layers of ‘duo tan’ and went off to the limit looking like a pair of half melted mixed berry soleros. We however thought we looked fabulous and were proud of ourselves for our ‘out of the box’ thinking.
Hawley Street is still flats. I believe some of it’s original tenants still remain as later on they were given the option to buy. I wouldn’t want to revisit. Many of those we knew are gone. Beautiful, crazy souls taken too soon.
Some of us have gone on to lead perfectly normal lives which require actual adulting; paying bills and not living on a diet of fondant fancies and fags.
dedicated to Rita and Steven who shall forever be the most fabulousxxx