I've been corresponding with my mate Paul over the last few days. Since his divorce he's found himself a new chick and a new house so we've not had much time. Still, we keep in touch when we can. It seems that in addition to his bionic knees he has severe arthritis in many of his joints. Cortisone injections are on the cards I suppose.

At the end of his last message he asked me "Why do we grow old" and I told him that it's because we had fun when we were younger. Just imagine a life where you were wrapped in cotton wool and did nothing with your years. What a waste that would be. So, I though I'd post a couple of episodes from our teenage years. I hope they're not too boring.

We'd be about seventeen and Paul reckons he's found this great club in Liverpool. It's in a bit of an unsalubrious area but they open at 10pm, serve a hot meal at midnight and only close when the clientelle either pass out or go home. It sounds perfect. There's a live band but we can always wear earplugs.

Saturday night and we turn up. Paul was right. This was a place that makes Toxteth look like Disneyland. An old warehouse down by the docks with some wasteground to park your car. When you go in through a side door where somebody's built a breezeblock corridor about a hundred feet long with three sets of double doors. The doors could be locked with chains and padlocks......from the inside. There's two lightbulbs in the corridor.

Inside there's an area about the size of two tennis courts blocked off with plywood. On one long side there's a low stage and on the other a bar about fifteen feet long with a metal grill to protect the surly barman from the customers. Paul goes off to get a good table by the stage while I get the beer in. There's an attractive poppet by the bar so I strike up a conversation with her.

I take Paul his beer and go back to my little flower. I buy her a drink, we chat. The band strikes up. She buys me a drink and we chat some more. The music changes and she says she has to go as it's time for her act. Holy moly, I've been chatting up the bands' singer. How cool is that? I go and sit at the table with Paul.

My poppet comes onto the stage and starts dancing up and down while the band warms up. She takes her jacket off so I assume there's going to be some dancing. I did start to wonder when she unbuttoned her skirt and threw it away. I think you can see where this is going now.

So, she's down to her stockings, panties and heels. She steps off the stage and sits on my knees. Wriggles a bit. I keep my hands in plain sight and well away from my flower as I don't want my arms broken by the two burly minders either side of me. Paul's grinning his head off. Petal goes back on the stage and I glare at Paul. "You knew this didn't you?" "I didn't think you'd pull though" he grins "And by the way, you've got lipstick on your forehead".

We stumble out at about four in the morning and go home. My mums' up having a cup of tea in bed so I wander in to let her know I've arrived home safe and sound. We chat for a bit. I'm leaving to go to bed when she calls me back. "Hey, you do know you've got lipstick on your forehead don't you?". Now I'm as red as a beetroot.

Paul and I used to go back there every few weeks when we could afford it. What's not to like? Booze for as long as you care to drink, steak and kidney pie with chips at midnight and a floor show. When you're seventeen this is heaven.

We'd been going there for about three months and one Saturday night after dinner we'd wandered off to the gents room (on the entrance corridor). I know it's usually the girls that go to the bogs in groups but in this sort of place you don't go on your own unless you want to end up on the floor in a pool of blood and teeth with your wallet missing. Ja, it was a bit rough.

We'd just washed up when there was a CRASH, CRASH, CRASH. Paul opens the door a bit and then slams it shut. He jams an ashtray under the doorhandle and starts looking around for a window we can climb out of. "What's occurring? says I. "You really don't want to know" says Paul. Too late. I'd already seen the boys in blue streaming past with their big boots and pointy hats. It was a raid and were in the middle of it. I would be in so much trouble with my mum if we didn't get clear and Pauls' dad would probably take his head off his shoulders.

We waited until the ruckus had died down and then slipped out of the door. and outside. Picked our way through the squad cars and riot vans and shot off. It probably didn't help when Paul wound down his window and shouted "So long suckers". But I'll suppose they didn't hear that over the sound of him frantically revving the engine.

I don't want to give the wrong impression of Paul though so I'll continue.

We used to go to a club south of the river called The Blue Lagoon. Licensing laws in England are pretty strict but if you're in a members club you can drink for as late as you can stand or sit up. For a pound entrance fee you can become a member. Perfect. The Blue Lagoon was mostly inhabited by norwegian sailers looking for girls. Ladies Of The Night looking for norwegian sailors and undercover cops looking for drug dealers. It's quite possible Paul and I were the only people who'd gone in there just to have a drink. It was really our sort of place.

About two in the morning we left. Stepped over the line of sleeping norwegian sailers on the pavement and started wandering around looking for a taxi. Our meanderings took us down to the river bank. In my town the river Mersey is separated from the Manchester Ship Canal by a thick sandstone wall. There's a swing bridge joining the land to the wall and we, for some reason, thought that we'd like to amble along the wall and look at the main river crossing bridge from below against the stars. It'd be impressive, right?.

After a few minutes I fell off the wall. Bounced off it once and then landed in the canal. That's scary as I can't swim. It sobers you up fast though. I managed to grab hold of the wall.

There's a splash behind me and I look 'round to see Paul in the water too. His head goes down, his feet come up. After a bit he surfaces. Then his head goes down and his feet come up again. On his third go I shout over to him. "What are you playing at". He calls back that he's looking for me. I say "I'm over here. What's wrong with you? Your eyes not working or something?". Paul swims over and grabs onto the wall.

We can't climb up it though. It's slopey but there's no hand or footholds. We start edging along it back to the bridge where there's a grassy bank and we could climb out. Pulling your way along when you're up to your lower ribs in cold canal water isn't fun. "Better get a move on." says Paul. "Why, what's up?" I asks. "Because there's a sodding big ship coming down the canal.". It was a couple of hundred metres away and its wash could knock us off the wall and pull us under its screws. You've never seen two blokes move so fast crabwise across a wall in your life.

We made it with about ten seconds to spare and the wash from the ship knocked us about another fifteen feet up the grassy bank. Paul fished about in his pockets and complained that his ciggys had got all wet. We climbed up the bank and went back to the Blue Lagoon. I got the beer in while Paul bought a couple of cigars. We dried our faces and hands on bar towels and the rest of us just dripped on the floor. No questions asked..........It was that sort of place.

So that's why we got old. Because we had so much fun when we were younger.