Celtic Illumination, part 226, Step, step, cha, cha, cha.
It dawns on me that I sat down and was trying to tell you about the time that I was speaking to Tim Lort on the telephone. As you will remember it was the seventeenth of April, nineteen eighty five, at twenty three minutes past one in the afternoon. I was simply trying to tell you about what Tim and I were talking about. That was five blogs ago, or nine thousand, four hundred and eighty words. It’s about thirty seven or eight pages of a standard novel if we were talking books. And once again I find myself having to step back or sideways in time to facilitate the story. The steps in this blog are more difficult than the steps in the Haymakers Jig. What I am saying is that although I want to tell you what Dave Magee did next, before I can do that I have to go back to the previous weekend and introduce you to Vic Storey.
Excuse me everyone but this is Vic Storey, say hello. Vic was the head cook of the airman’s mess at Wattisham. In fact he actually was the chief cook and bottle washer. At the same time that I had moved up to deputy bar manager Vic had been appointed as chairman. The station commander would appoint the chairman; the committee would elect all other positions. Vic was a lovely happy go lucky type of fellow and his attitude towards what was legal, or not, would put him in a good position to be an honorary good ol boy. On a Saturday the Families Club only opened in the evening time. On Sunday there was an afternoon session and an evening session. So; as it was Saturday afternoon Vic and myself decided to take a wander over to a local pub for a few snifters.
The pub was The Bristol Arms. A new landlord had taken over and to tell you the truth he was a bit of an arse, he and his staff looked down on anyone in the forces and he and they always let us know this. He thought we were not good enough to be in his pub. He had a soft top Mercedes motor car which he parked by the main entrance into the pub, which felt like a very weak attempt at showing off. In fact to show you how highly we regarded him, we walked past his open top sports car one day as it started to rain quite heavily and not one of us bothered to tell him that his car was filling up with water. Despite this it was pleasant enough pub and would usually provide a bit of craic. Vic and I arrived, positioned ourselves at the bar and launched into the beer. It was a few pints later that we noticed these fluorescent stars around the bottles on the shelves declaring that ‘doubles’ were one pound each.
We decided that we would have double, but being clever fellows we decided that we would buy one double and then split it. We ordered one pink gin. The landlord wasn’t there, but the bargirl served us our double gin and then refused to give us an empty glass. I’m sure you have all been in a situation where ’bloody stupidity’ takes over and this situation was no different. Vic and I dug our heels in and felt that the bargirl was showing us that she was in charge; she would tell us what we could or couldn’t do, after all we were in the armed forces and beneath her, in a social class sort of way. As we were now into one-upmanship territory I decided to trump every move she could ever hope to dream up in her daft little head. There was an ashtray by us on the bar so I asked her if she would empty it for me. She refused.
I took the ashtray and emptied it on the floor beside me, then blew out the remaining dust and ash before pouring a half of the double pink gin into the ashtray from which I began to sip. Ignoring the bargirl I then began a conversation with Vic as to what he thought was the best brand of gin. She wasn’t impressed with the royal flush I had presented against her pair of threes and stormed away, refusing to serve us. Now; we hadn’t been barred, there had been no official reprimand or warning given. Vic and I finished our drinks and left. I hadn’t really given the incident much though, until now, now that Dave Magee was suggesting that we head down to the Bristol Arms for a quick pint. As we walked over to the Bristol Arms I told Dave what had happened the previous week, partly I suppose as a joke and partly as a sort of warning, for if the landlord lived up to his previous behaviour there would be a confrontation when we arrived.
Whether I was a good judge of character, or the landlord lived up to his name, I’m not sure, but as we walked in to the Bristol Arms the landlord pointed to the public bar area, which was empty, and said, ‘I want a word with you in there, now!’ There were not very many people in the pub so I wandered through and went up to the bar to meet the landlord. He was standing in the gateway that allowed the staff access to the drinking area. His arms were folded and he was trying to look menacing. “Right!” he began. “I’ve been told that you were in here upsetting my staff last week…” He then launched in to a speech that he must have been practising all week long and which I couldn’t be bothered listening to. It was a situation where he would believe his staff and not us, so there was no point in arguing with him. All I could do was let him finish his speech and then ask him to go and pour me a pint. Well two, because Dave was standing behind me, he would want a beer too.
I hadn’t really noticed Dave who had come in and was stood standing behind me. The landlord may have seen Dave but he didn’t know Dave, nor did he know that Dave was Irish, like me. So when he mentioned the Irish word, in a detrimental sort of way, the poor fellow didn’t realise that he had crossed a very serious line. Dave was a hard and fast Orangeman, who still even today proclaim that they are more loyal than the English, but in England even the grand master of loyal orange lodge this, that or the other, is still regarded on the mainland as nothing more than a bumbling Paddy, who speaks leprechaunese. I could see that the landlord was either coming to the end of his prepared speech, or that he had run out of steam, for he was no longer looking at me but at Dave. Dave was standing with his penis in his hand asking, “Do you want me to piss all over him or his bar?”
I think it would be safe to say that the landlord was in a state of shock. The situation was a ridiculous one, no more than a bit of chest beating and social positioning. Had Vic or myself thought that we had in any way insulted or intimidated the bargirl we would have turned up the following day and apologised without regard or hesitation. Of course the landlord was a stuck up racist pig and we should not expect any understanding or apology from him. Dave certainly knew how to put his point across. We sat at the bar and had a pint but decided to leave after that drink and head back. I didn’t really want to go back in to the Families Club but Dave convinced me that I should rise above them, after all, it was one of the wife swappers who had made the false allegation against me, which had been a nonstarter in the first place, so Dave encouraged me to go back in to the Families Club and have a few beers with him.
Al, the wife swapping bar manager, was serving behind the bar and insisted that Dave and I have a couple of free beers as a form of apology. Vic Storey came in and the three of us positioned ourselves at the bar and launched in to a very enjoyable session. We had plonked ourselves on bar stools and were quite comfortably leaning against the bar counter. It was a quiet night with not many people in the club and it became even quieter when Sandy, the wife of the wife swapping bar manager came in. I gave her one of those looks that I hoped expressed the deep disgust I had for her, and not just for her false accusations. She left the bar area and we could hear her busying herself in the kitchen area. We three caballero’s continued drinking.
We were all comfortably ignoring Sandy; unfortunately she was not intending to ignore us. For whatever reason, I didn’t know then and still don’t know now, but she came in to the bar and walked along behind us. Nothing out of the ordinary there, except she had opened a tin of black gloss paint in the kitchen and had now poured some down the back of my trousers, Dave’s trousers and Vic’s. Irene and Dave’s wife must have seen the pair of us, both together and individually in some states, but for the pair of us to interrupt their wine powered baby drooling event, asking if they would like help to clean our arses, must have rated pretty highly.