Thursday, November 30, 2006

It’s Your Funeral

My local pub is The Last Chance. That is not it’s real name but it is more accurate.

Men in acrylic and polyester. The pool table is the first thing you see when you walk in. An awful lot of children under the age of ten to be found in the front bar after ten o’clock at night.

You get the idea.

It has two redeeming qualities. It is less than two minutes walk away from my front door. And. Well. Being a perverse sort of person I strangely love it.

The other night. I pop in. This I do maybe twice a week. I have frequented more, but that need has gone. Now it is whenever there is nothing of interest occurring at home (ie: there are thick-set actors on the tele-vision informing each other that they are having a ‘giraffe’ and I feel a need to smoke a cigarette whilst sitting down with a drink in my hand. I can do these things at home, but not all at the same time).


I enter The Last Chance. And suddenly realise something is amiss. The bulk of the clientele are wearing suits.

This is VERY unusual. They cannot all have had court appearances on the same day.

I feel quite uneasy. The sight of a (now empty) buffet table does not reassure.

Black suits. Black ties.

At the bar, I ask the question.

Me: Erm. Look. Is this a private function or something? Should I be here?

Barmaid: Aw. Some gadgy died. We put on a spread. But they’ve eaten it now. What can I get you?

Thinking ‘Well I’m here now’ I order a drink. Sit down. And look around.

Everyone is in black. Not only black suit and tie, but black shirts as well.

That strikes me as trying too much.

He can’t be that dead.


I haven’t been to a Wake in some years, but I’m sure that the mixture of random members of the public and a jukebox is not the ideal.

‘Scooby Snacks’ by the Fun Lovin Criminals starts blaring. The mourners LOVE IT.
I frown and sip my drink. I feel a bit uncomfortable. Not only am I the only person in the room not to be mourning the loss of an acquaintance, I am also not dressed in wannabe gangster garb and pretending I am in The Sopranos.

And am not thinking that songs celebrating a life of crime constitute the perfect send-off.

I peer at the buffet table. I have never known The Last Chance to offer this sort of facility. And where is the pool table?

The buffet table has very thick legs.

Oh fuck. It is the pool table. They have pushed it against the wall and put a table cloth over it. In memory of a person that is dead. So they can put food on it. So that people can then eat it and put inappropriate things on the ‘jukey’.

I take another sip of my drink. I think about my house and how nice and warm and not full of twats it is. I take a gulp.

A middle-aged man and woman are at the bar drinking their drinks. They are in black. He is very ostentatiously rubbing her arse. Really comprehensively. It is a surprisingly large arse, but he is doing his best. Cheeky slip of the fingers behind the waistline of her skirt. Tongue in her ear.

Another mourner goes to the ‘jukey’. After a few moments the less-than-mournful strains of Franz Ferdinand come vomiting out of the speakers. ‘Take Me Out’.

I do not know if it was a joke.

Taking-in this theatre of Massive Inappropriateness, I begin to wonder about myself.

Maybe all these people have the right idea about life. It’s shit, and at some point you die. We’ll eat some food off of a pool table in a shit pub and forget about you. Whilst pretending to be gangsters because we got nicked once.

But then the coup-de-grace.

Finishing my drink very quickly, I hear the sound-system of the public house crackle into life. The landlord comes on the microphone.

‘Ladies and gentleman. As you all know…’

Thank Christ I think. He’ll mention the ‘jukey’ and general issues of ‘deadness’.

‘……at The Last Chance, Monday night is quiz night. The forms are going round, only a pound. Winner gets a round of drinks.’

The mourners all take a form.

Well. Wouldn’t do for the day to be a total loss. A ROUND OF DRINKS! It’s what he would have wanted.

I finish my drink and leave.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

New Neighbours.

This occurred today.

For some months the houses to the left and right of our humble terraced abode have been vacant.

To the left due to the fact that the guy’s wife had left him and he had gone away on what one can only assume to be an extended party. (There is a longer story here but it may be for a later time).

To the right due to the ongoing not-being-aliveness of the elderly lady who had inhabited it. She was quite stubborn in the whole not-being-alive-anymore arena.

The left, I am informed by Tired Mam, saw activity of the moving-in nature today. A couple. No children. Thirties, she reckoned.

I am concerned, due to previous neighbour scenarios at other addresses. (Again, another time). It had been quite nice not having any.

Late this evening. I am in the back yard having a cigarette. Over the wall I can hear two gentlemen in the back yard of next door having what seems to be a post-moving-exertion chat. It is clear that one is New Occupant, the other is mate/brother who has helped.

In the manner of all men, they are having a conversation totally irrelevant to the task at hand. On this occasion a tele-vision show involving people who are not in the least celebrated by the general populace but are still referred to as ‘celebrities’ and that is apparently hosted by someone called ‘Antandec’.

I smoke my cigarette and listen for a bit.

Suddenly the back door of my new neighbour is flung open and a lady enters the back yard.

Unseen Lady: [Very Emotional]: Boxes. Boxes. BOXES. Everywhere. BOXES!!

Unseen lady then bursts into tears and there is the sound of a door slamming behind her as she re-enters her new abode.

There is silence for a minute.

Unseen Man: Say what you like about Antandec, he can make anything watchable.

Companion: Oh yeah.

As neighbours go, they seem quite normal.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pulling More Than a Pint.

Bloody Hell, I think. I'm never going to win these bastards over.

There are two types of good barman.

The first is the type who can pour a drink correctly and in a timely fashion. Not the greatest of feats, one would think, but even the briefest research in any city centre drinking emporium will quickly establish what a rarity this is.

The second is the one who can do the above. But can also remember your name, what you do for a living, what you like to drink and when, will remember a snippet of a conversation you were having three nights ago, knows all of his customers, is liked by them, will introduce you to new people with common interests, will give you a few drinks 'on the house' if you nip round and collect some glasses for them and is generally knowledgeable, helpful, and will make you feel happy that you walked into the emporium in the first place. They are Very Rare Indeed.

And as such are Made Guys.

When they go out of an evening, they know everyone. They rarely pay for drinks. They get in all the clubs for free and 'lock-ins' are the norm.

I have been working behind this particular bar for a few nights now. I also live there. It is ten years before now. I know now that these were to be the last of my genuinely carefree days. (This is just an observation. There is a lot to be said for having things to care for and about.)

And I am getting NOWHERE with the regulars. It was an unusual city centre pub in that the bulk of the clientele were regulars. All of whom new each other. But did not know me. And they are not letting me in.

I will never be Made at this rate.

One witticism, one wry observation and I'll have cracked it.

Upon request, I begin pouring someone a pint. Noticing that there is more air than beer reaching the glass, I begin to feel uneasy.

I am on duty alone, and have not been shown how to change a barrel.

I am alone due to rather complicated relationship the landlord and landlady 'enjoy'.

He is Australian.

She is Enormous.

'You know,' she confided in me one afternoon in the kitchen, 'we originally got married just so he could stay in the country.'

Her hand flew up to her mouth and her eyes went wide.

'Goodness. It sounds awful when I say it like that doesn't it?'

I assure her that on the contrary, it sounds like a fairy tale and she seems content.

A person will believe anything if they need to badly enough.

Anyway. They had one of their periodic rows and she'd gone to visit her parents in Devon, and he had gone into a sulk.

I apologize to my customer, secure in the knowledge that he will now not be putting my name forward and dash to the flat upstairs whilst still pondering my strategy for conversational gold.

The living-room door is shut. This is odd. Landlord and Landlady always keep it open. I try the handle. It is locked. Very strange.

I bang on the door.

After a moment Landlord opens it, looking flustered. Well. He was probably a bit surprised.

Actually, I think to myself in the space of a few milliseconds, he looks a bit red in the face as well. And a bit sweaty.

I cannot see the television, but can hear it.

Of course. He has been working out to one of those exercise videos, I think.

Whilst fully clothed.

It must be a particularly energetic routine, because the unseen woman I would suppose to be presenting it is panting and wailing fit to burst.

This, I also think, will explain why he is clutching a rather damp-looking towel. At waist height.

I am then rather surprised to hear a deep, male, guttural German voice emanating from the unseen television:


Rather puzzled by the whole thing, I explain the non-beer situation and return to my duties.

Beer duly arrives, and Landlord returns to his abode.

I am still puzzling over how to win the acknowledgement of my clientele. I mean. One Funny Story would do it.


I am quite slow about this sort of thing.

It all hit home after about five minutes.

I never bought a drink again.

But did have to suffer numerous drinking sessions with Landlord (he always paid) who would inform me in some depth quite how much he 'loved his wife'.

Who? Free Willy? You'd fucking have to, I thought. But did not say it. He had just given me his Sega Megadrive after all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

'I've Just Caught My Boss Having a Wank!'

Coming soon.

As they say.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Licensed to Kill*

I need cigarettes.

My local off-licence is conveniently situated 1 minute and 32 seconds walk away from my front door.

I go there.

Woman in front of me in queue.

Troll Woman Behind Counter: Are you seeing him tonight?

Woman In Front Of Me: Aye.

TWBC: Give him theym from us.

Hands over box of Roses chocolates.

WIFOM: Aaar. Thanks.

She departs. TWBC notices that I have overheard.

TWBC: Aye. She’s the sister of one of our customers. He hasn’t got long. The drink, ya knaw. Liver’s knackered. Another operation this week. They say it’ll be a miracle if he pulls through. Nae chance, really.

Me: Em. O.K. then. Twenty Regal Filter please.

TWBC: There ya gan.

We complete our transaction.

TWBC: [quietly] Such a shame. [To herself] One of our best customers an’all.

*Title suggested by semi-anonymous reader Philip. Genius, and much better than all I had thought of.

Not very funny post-script 13/11/06. He's dead. Didn't make it throught the surgery. 28 years old. I don't know his name.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Cigarette Incident.

Favourite Son and Favourite Daughter are at The Pond. I am in attendance. Obviously. (Fuck me. The Pond is about five miles from the house. I wouldn’t let them wander off. Unless I was having a nap.)

It’s not really a pond – it’s far too big to be described as such, but I will admit it is by no means a lake.

I am struggling. The ducks and the mallards are fine, but the geese and the swans are somewhat temperamental, as are the moods swings of my offspring. My guard is high HIGH up.

Added to which the fact that FS can barely walk, so is hands-and-kneesing it much of the time, despite the fact that the grass run-about-at-will area is littered with surprisingly large, round and firm droppings from the local bird-aristocracy.

So, I am juggling this, the fact that there is a large amount of WATER nearby (that apparently it is very easy to drown in), killer birds of huge proportion and the potential bird-flu (were it not pretend) to be contracted from all the SHITE everywhere, with attempting to provide my Favourite Offspring with an impromptu afternoon out.

But we’re O.K. We feed the ducks, I shoo-away the more fearsome birds and everything finally runs smoothly.

For about five minutes.

We run out of bread.

We are a fifteen-minute bus ride away from anywhere that sells bread.

I inform FD of this grave news.

‘We’ll just have to go sweetheart.’

She is not one to give up as easily as me. She spies another young family approaching. A young mother with her two girls.

Without a word to me, FD goes marching up to them. She is three at the time.

FD: You. Give me some of your bread now. Please.


Toward the end of a very long afternoon, FD has arguably robbed at least three families of some time and pleasure. And bread.

And I cannot admonisher her. She wanted something. Thought. Went and asked for it. Was not rude. Got it.

Did not cry for somebody else to sort it out for her.

Hmmm. Still don’t know if it was good or bad. Anyway.


Fuck. I think. It’s only fucking eleven o’ fucking clock and I’ve got NO fucking cigarettes whatsoever and there is no chance of fucking getting any at fucking all until at least half fucking one and I for cunting one am not cocking happy about the fucking situation.

One peasily (it’s a fucking word now) twatting little cigarette and all would be fine. I cast about me.

The only smoker in the office is Very Scary Guy Who Killed People In The Falklands. I have never spoken to him.

For obvious reasons.

I think about my strategies for achieving the hallowed cigarette.

‘Hi, erm, I know we don’t know each –‘


‘So, Killer –‘


‘Hey, erm. Cor. Smoke much do you. I can help you cut down. Just give me –‘


I remember Favourite Daughter. The look of pride, youth, confidence and strength on her face.

I march up to him.

‘You. Give me one of your cigarettes NOW. Please.’

VSGWKPITF blinks, looks around him as if to make sure that this is happening and then opens a desk drawer and GIVES ME ONE OF HIS CIGARETTES!


She is a genius.

( He later revealed that he thought me a thorough cunt for asking in such an off-hand manner. He gave me the cigarette. Who’s the cunt?)
Go to newer posts