Alan Hammond ('as in organ') likes women - some of his best friends are female, he says. He particularly likes them if they are young, good-looking, don't have embarrassing regional accents and don't hang around in the morning.
Alan meets a lot of women. Last Friday night, for instance, he and his chums - Lee, Matt, Trevor, David and Billy - were out in Leicester introducing themselves to girls. They had gathered in a bar in the city centre, where they stood by the ladies' lavatories.
'It's the perfect vantage point,' said Matt, 22. 'A woman can send her mate to the bar, but sooner or later every bird in the place will have to walk past us.'
It was a scene repeated, probably, in every town in the country: a gang of likely lads on the pull. Except that nowhere else can the pursuit of women have been turned into quite such a determined science as it has been by Alan and the Leicester boys.
'When you go into battle it helps to be Prince Albert of Monaco,' Alan said. 'But when you have no fame, no dosh, and you look like someone off Crimewatch, you need another strategy.' Last Friday that strategy was being put into operation.
Alan is 37 and has never married. For most of his twenties he tried to make it as a pop star and developed a taste for a life of casual work and casual sex.
A couple of years ago he decided to summer in Newquay. There he met up with a group of lads who had gone to Cornwall to surf and pump iron by day and work as bouncers and barmen by night.
'Well, they called it working,' Alan said. 'In fact we were being paid to pull.'
Alan, who no longer knows anyone his own age ('they've all gone to a place I've never been called Settling Down') recognised kindred spirits. He became the younger lads' sexual Fagin, their Fonz, and turned them into a formidable 'pulling machine': efficient, ruthless and relentless. At the end of the summer, they had so many notches on their bedposts that their furniture appeared to be in the terminal grip of woodworm.
Alan knew from experience, however, that Leicester on a winter's evening would be a tougher prospect than Newquay in the summer.
'Pulling cold is never easy,' he confided. 'It's much easier to pull in a work environment. Work's like the football league season, picking up points week in, week out. Tonight's like the FA Cup: 90 minutes of do or die.'
The match tactic was: go in mob-handed, banter, invite women to join you in a moving party and never look too keen.
'You try,' said Matt, 'to ignore them into bed.'
And you don't drink.
'Never go out there wearing beer goggles,' revealed Alan, sipping a glass of lemonade. 'Otherwise you end up going to bed with Madonna and waking up with Hilda Ogden.'
Within minutes of the evening's kick-off, the boys were in front. Two pleasant-looking women in their twenties were talking at a table. Alan and Trevor moved in.
'What you doing, girls?'
'Just having a quiet drink, thanks.'
'Come with us if you want to have fun.'
After an hour's chat which was engaging, funny, charming even, the boys decided to leave the bar for a night-club out of town, and the two women came along too. Trevor called them a 'two-pack carry-out' as he put them in the back of his ancient Volvo.
'I used to be on 20 grand, Cavalier GSi, three-bed semi, everybody's goal, I'd reached it,' he explained as he drove too fast through rural Leicestershire. 'Then me mate said: 'Stop this, live your life.' So now I work when I want, and enjoy myself.
'People say: 'Sooner or later you'll take life seriously.' What's the point?'
But these boys seemed to be taking their life very seriously. There was nothing fickle about their pursuit of hedonism. Their clothes were expensive; their pectorals well-gymed; their sex safe ('I don't like getting my willy smelly,' explained Alan). They had a philosophy which is at once selfish ('we won't get pinned down') and yet relies on group solidarity.
'In Newquay we shared a caravan,' Alan said. 'If you brought a woman back and someone was in the double bed, they'd get out, no matter what time it was. Women, I've found, don't have the same sense of loyalty.'
Jimmy Dean's night-club, about 10 miles from Leicester, is owned by Lee's dad, who used to be in the pop group Showaddywaddy and sensibly sank his earnings from the music business into licensed premises. In the foyer is a replica of the Porsche in which James Dean wrote himself off. As they walked into the club, with their well-honed attitude and their well-labelled gear, the boys immediately stood out from the regulars like John Cleese in a crowd of pygmies. Alan surveyed the scene from the balcony.
'See those lads over there?' He pointed to a group in hair gel and casuals. 'They won't even talk to a woman tonight. By just being able to strike up a conversation we're achieving more than they'll ever manage.'
'Most lads are just sheds,' added Matt. 'They've got the personality of a wooden structure.'
As they watched, Alan explained that pulling technique should vary with the location. In Newquay, it paid to be direct. In London, though, you 'can't go to a party and say: 'Oi, skirt, c'mere. I want you.' They'd ring the police.'
Leicester seemed to be a to-the-point kind of place.
' 'Scuse me, love,' Billy said to a passing teenage girl. 'Why do you wear your hair like that, with a fringe?'
'Oh, well, I, I don't know,' the girl stuttered.
Billy leant forward and gently flicked the hair off her forehead.
'But you've got a beautiful face, you shouldn't hide it.'
'Oh, no, I haven't, ooh, ooh, no,' twittered the girl.
'But you have,' said Billy. 'David, hasn't she got a beautiful face?'
'Yes, Billy, she has,' said David, in a tone of voice which suggested this was not the first time he had heard this routine.
The girl, meanwhile, was melting. She had probably been watching them for some time, Alan reckoned, so it didn't really matter what they said to her. To be chatted up by Billy and, more particularly, David was, he added, a Holy Grail for the women of Leicester.
'Girls would throw themselves off a roof and land at David's feet just to catch his attention. And, while he was stepping over their prone bodies, Billy would whip in there and shag them.'
Despite their success, the lads became bored by Jimmy Dean's. It was decided to seek new hunting grounds, so the party, by now increased by another two women, moved on. The destination was Sapphires, a night-club in the former mining community of Coalville, where several of the boys' pulling careers had begun.
On their way there, things started to go wrong. Even the pulling life can have its downs. Trevor pranged his car. ('Sod it,' he said, 'that's my night ruined.') And Matt had a fight with one of the women. ('If a slag slags me off, I'll hit them, doesn't matter if they are female.')
But if they had stood out at Jimmy Dean's, at Sapphires the boys were treated like pop stars - local heroes. The doormen let them in for free and clucked around them: 'Pulled anything, lads?' On the dance floor, drunk local youths in bad mail-order kit swayed to Whitney Houston.
A man in a leather cowboy hat, probably younger than Alan but looking 20 years older, staggered across the club and looked enviously at them.
'Call me a snob,' sighed Alan, catching sight of the man. 'But a place like this makes you want to get on the blower to that nice little chick you met last week and beg her to marry you. It's that bad.'
He decided he wanted to leave, and negotiated accommodation with one of the two-pack (who later said she 'hadn't had such a laugh for ages').
'You got a spare room?'
She had and they left. While they waited outside the club for a taxi, David appeared holding hands with a girl who had blonded hair, stack-heeled boots and a look on her face not unlike a pools winner.
'That your car?' he asked the girl, nodding at a brown Chevette. 'Well, get in and wait for me, I want to talk to these.'
As the girl dutifully climbed inside, David turned to Alan.
'I just want a lift home,' he explained. 'I'll tell her to piss off when we get there.'
You can see more about Alan and the boys' summer of love in 'Short Stories Special: The Sex Hunters' at 10.30pm on Friday 18 December on Channel 4.
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