Subscribe to Granta today

When You Grow Into Yourself


A few drivers had slowed to look up at the side of the coach as it circled the roundabout. Along one stretch of its window, near the back, three pairs of white buttocks were pressed against the glass like a row of film-packed chicken breasts. As the coach lurched off the roundabout one of these pairs of buttocks briefly disappeared, before returning emphatically to its place alongside the others.

Inside the coach Tom sat alone beside his kitbag, looking across the aisle at the hysterical gurning faces of the three mooners. The middle one had dropped his trousers to his ankles, his cock bobbing stupidly with the motion of the vehicle as it overtook a caravan onto the dual carriageway. Tom turned away, embarrassed, glad that the short journey was nearly over.

The coach was on its way to a budget hotel on the outskirts of town, an away-match policy now insisted upon by the chairman in the aftermath of the opening weekend of the season. Tom had not been at the club then. He had signed a few weeks later, shortly after being let go by his boyhood club in a brief and tearful meeting with the new manager. The memory of that afternoon was still difficult to think about. All of the second-year apprentices lined up in the corridor among the new man’s cardboard boxes and whiteboards; the office and its stale stink of the old manager’s cigarettes. Tom had stood by the door as the manager perched on his desk, which was empty except for a scribbled piece of paper and a scratched glass case with a blue cap inside it.

Read this article