All posts by Mike Walsh

I began this blog as an effort to keep in touch with my children away at university. Basically writing down episodes I experienced over the years. All true, though names have changed out of repsect to those involved. What suprised me was how much I enjoyed writing them down and how many there were. What I regret, are the funniest stories I haven't worked out how to make respectable enough to repeat....

Moonwalking in Manchester.

Terry glove

Eddie, was a bluffer.

Smart, trim, in his early 30’s, very confident. And a Bluffer.

No other word for it. Bluffer. They appear on site and you can see them a mile off. Have no idea about what’s involved in doing a job, because, they don’t need to. Man management is their thing. They manage a job. Co-ordinate. Make things work, organize and grease the wheels so everything runs smooooooth.

Only things don’t go smooth. They gradually slow down and eventually, come to a standstill.

Because the problem with people like Eddie, is they talk a great job, very “Pro-active,” very,

“Can DO!” and “Nothing will stop us! Eh? Eh Lads?? Nothing will stop us!!”

He’s not the one having to overcome his last cock up mind. That’s down to the lads, to “Overcome!” it. with their “Positive!” attitude.

I once worked on a shopping mall where there was a famous sports branded shop. And every morning the manager gathered all the employees to come together in a group to “mentally prepare for the day”.
Then, it was form a circle, rush into the center, jump up, high 5 no one, (because nobody had a clear target) so it was a lot of empty flapping, instead of meaty, determined slapping noises. Then whoop and holler and shout,

“Yeah!”

and

“We CAN do! Not CAN”T do!!!”,

rush back into the center of the circle for another flap at each other, share a cheesy grin and set off to stack their shelves and colour coordinate laces.

And I just thought, “What a bunch of twats..”

Well, Eddie had that effect on me. Every time he came out with some positive spin on some bullshit job, I knew it was another cock up that “We” could overcome.

And I did. I just thought,

What a Twat.”

So under Eddie’s “watchful” eye, the job progressed. Or more realistically, slowed down, mainly down to “Managing” things to the point where we were running out of materials and fixings because they hadn’t been ordered. And now, it was the Lads fault. Lads were laid off because they didn’t have materials with which to complete work. So incomplete work became their fault. Things were on a slow downward spiral. Added to this, the main contractor was beginning to squeeze and they weren’t shy in sacking their own staff, having cleared the decks and brought in a whole new department of foremen and agents.

Insisting on a subby firm sacking one of their foreman would have been minor by comparison.

You could see the stress building round Eddie. Little twitches. The smile getting a bit forced by the minute. The derring do attitude gradually melting away.

And the most foolhardy thing he did, was trying to lay the blame squarely at the door of the guys who can actually pull you out of the shit, the guys trying to do the work regardless of Eddie’s obstacles.

And suddenly, he’d found, he didn’t have many friends prepared to help him out of it.

There will be guys I’ve worked with over the years, who will read this and understand. You cant be a foreman and treat your men like arseholes. They don’t forget.

Because sooner or later, it just becomes a matter of time before your found out.

And Eddie’s time arrived.

Opposite the job was a café. One of those glitzy, shiny new cafe’s built specifically for the brand new apartment block that had been built above it. People would grab a coffee and a wrap on their way out to work in the morning. It was quiet any other time. The fact that our job was opposite must have been a life line because it was busy all day, especially at dinner. Men would sit inside and watch the world go by. The young girl who ran it was a stunner so that may have gone some way towards the business increase too.

This particular Friday was like Eddie’s D-day.

The pressure must have become unbearable to the point where something had to give. I’m always put in mind of Chief Inspector Dreyfus from the Pink Panther films starring Peter Sellars.

Where Dreyfus has finally reached snapping point and his ticks and lunatic giggles have become painfully obvious. And those around him are eyeing each other nervously, waiting to see who’s going to make a dash for it first before he blows.

I believe Eddie reached his very own nuclear meltdown point in this café, on this day.

It began with Eddie sat in the café having a brew with the labourers foreman, a young lad called Justin. Justin had been promoted purely for his willingness to do what ever Eddie said, and only added to the ludicrous state of affairs with his useless contributions.

So, Eddie is sat having his “Plan Of Action” talk with Justin, in the café at the peak of the busiest period in the day. Its crowded, full of people all having their lunch, with the noise swelling as people were talking louder to hear over their neighbours conversations, and suddenly, Eddie leaps to his feet and starts singing. (or more exactly shouting)

“IN THE NAMMMMMMMME OF LOVVVE!!! WHAAAAAT MORRRRRRRE IN THE NAMMMME OF LOVVVVVVE!!!!”

As you can imagine, instant center stage for Eddie. The silence was actually deafening, There’s an odd nervous,

“Ha!”

while that persons mates said

“Jesus, shut the fuck up”

The only other noise is the scrape of chair legs as everybody in his immediate vicinity collectively slid their chairs away from Bono.

Eddie in the meantime just stood there grinning, doing that nodding head thing, where he’s still keeping time in his own head with the music, looking round at various people like he’s just invited the next person to leap up and bang out the next line..

Only as you can imagine, its one of those English situations where nobody wants to make eye contact even with the person next to them. Or (heaven forbid) attract attention to themselves, because nobody knows which way this barmy bastard is going to go.

So, Eddie starts from the beginning, in a slow, low voice, still looking round as if someone is going to join in.

“One man come in the name of love, One man come and goooooo”

Until the girl realizing she has a potential lunatic on her hands, bangs down on her counter and just shouts,

“Oi! Pack it in or get out!!”

To which Eddie seems to give himself a mental shake, apologizes and asks if he can use the toilet.
The girl is as nonplussed as everyone else sat there goes “Umm?” and points down the corridor to the back of the shop, and off Terry trots.

All I could think of was ” This is like Stars In Their eyes. He’ll be out in a minute with ” And tonight Mathew I’m going to be….”‘

And he didn’t disappoint. In spades.

Just as a bit of normality is being established, and people are talking again, (whatthefuckfwasthatallabout?) the door from the toilet Bangs open. Anyone still in the café turns towards the noise, and Eddie leaps out wearing nothing but an apron he’d found in the rear and starts moonwalking.

Seriously.

“Den! Den! Den! Denden!! Den! Den! Den! Denden!!!”

Sliding round the café like he had lard on his feet, bare arse hanging out of the back of the apron.

The girls first mistake was letting him use the toilet. Due to shock.

Her second was due to disgust and shock, when she realized, this naked man had her apron on!

“Get my apron off you dirty bastard!! Wha? Arrr!!! Nooooo!! Putitonputitonputitonnnnnnn!!!

Too late.

Off came the apron and Eddie testicles is putting Michael Jackson to shame. He’s still going for it when the police finally arrive shortly after, managing a final crotch clutching, “Hee! Hee!” before the calming hand of the law guided him towards his clothes.

In all of this he’s been full of beans. Completely good natured. Even stopped moonwalking when they asked him to.

“You lads don’t you like Michael Jackson?”

This all changed when they decided to put handcuffs on him and he went off like a mad clog dancer.

It took 6 coppers to get him in the van. And then the transit was rocking on its axles as terry bounced backwards and forwards off either side of the van roaring.

It eventually drove off still rocking, taking Eddie to somewhere for a lie down.

And that was that. Within a day or two we had a new foreman and things got back to normal.

Until 2 weeks later.

In the mean time we’d been told Eddie had been put away for a rest, a bit RnR in a nice hospital to help him get better.

Until I did my normal thing, and get in work half an hour before everybody else and am sat outside on a lovely, sunny morning, waiting for security to open up and let me in.

Who comes walking down the street.

Eddie.

“Hi Mike!” Cheerful as ever.

All I’m aware of is it’s 6.40am and no one will find my body for at least 30 minutes. I know Eddie has the strength of ten men, but I only have the strength of nearly one.

“I’m back! Today! Ready to get this job back on its feet!!”

And then he just says,

“I’m not fuckin mad you know.”

(I beg to differ mate)

“I was in America. Had some business – with the mafia. You know how it is.”

(…)

“Had to take care of business during the night. Missus didn’t like it. Had to give her a slap. In the kisser. Got lippy!”

(Thank fuck she didn’t know any Michael Jackson songs)

“Phoned the police on me! Got me deported!! Mafia not happy!!”

(Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus)

“When we got back she paid me back by washing me clothes – In Biological powder!!”

(..?..)

“I had an allergic reaction.”

(nodnoddontmakeeyecontact)

“To my clothes. Had to take them off. Had to. It was burning. BURNING!!

(Ohfuckhesgoinoffagain!)

“She washed my clothes in biological powder! BIOLOGICAL POWDER!! SHE KNOWS I”M FUCKIN ALLERGIC TO BIOLOGICAL POWDER! THE BITCH!!

(Hashegotaknife?Ohshitohshitohshit!)

“But I cant stand round talking all day. Work to do! I’ll see you in a bit!”

And off he marches to finds a way into the job.

I, on the other hand, am blowing in a paper bag heading in the opposite direction.

It shortly transpired, Eddie had left his hospital by his own accord – somehow. He was later picked up and helped back there.

I hope he eventually got better.

With a “Can do!” attitude I’m sure he managed it.

Jonny Moonshine

Moonshine2

I first met John while walking around Bury checking out a job as the one I was working on was coming to an end. He was working on the front entrance of a Witherspoons and was machining some material. I got talking to him and it was through him that I started on a bar refurb in Wigan some 3 months later, where I actually got to know him.

This was the job I mentioned previously where I also came across Jimmy, (see “Have You Heard of Jesus?”) the born-again Christian, getaway driver. Its a long story.

I became firm friends with John who is an absolute gentleman. He’s some 30 something years older than I am, always neat and tidy, dapper even, and looks fantastic for his age. He’s a very quiet, private person, with very dry humour. Tends to speak only when he feels its something worth saying.

So if you want someone to keep a secret, Johns your man.

Brew time tends to be a set routine of john with his pre-set snacks, the small-but-often diet. Very particular. Brings his sliced tomatoes in a separate container, then adds them to his sandwhiches because,

“They make the bloody bread soggy!”

He’s old school, that pre-war generation with the stoic outlook. And none of the ridiculous Political Correctness that is so often applied to everything these days.

Why can’t I call it a Blackboard?? Political what now?? It black and its a board!! Talking bloody nonsense!!!”

He wears glasses that he tends to look down his nose through, so there can be a pause as he gives a measured looked at something before answering a question. Unless I’ve wound him up enough to bite.

“Something on your chin John..”

“Be something on your bloody nose if you carry on..” the reply will be whipped back.

And, he has magnificent eyebrow, ear and nose hair that can only come with age, (or wisdom as john likes to think). The barber trims the lot every time he goes for his hair cut. I often imagine the barber with Johns head between his knees, sheering..

I love Johns company. I can relate to where he grew up, as I came from the same original area which only began to change a few years after my Mum and Dad moved, with me in tow, a few miles away from it. In those days, none of the old houses had hot running water. I still remember my own Grandad telling me of Friday night bath nights at Harpurhey Baths, an old Victorian swimming pool with beautiful tiling through-out, though sadly long gone. You went there after a week of making do, stripping down, using boiled up water in the sink, a flannel and a bar of soap.

There were individual changing booths poolside, with a 3/4 wooden door on each. Above, a balcony ran the perimeter of the pool and up here were compartments with baths in. In those days a man came along with a big spanner, loosened a nut at the end of the tub to release the hot water. When he felt it was full enough, he would tighten it to stop you using more than your quota. Then, in you popped had your bath and were good for another week.

Talking to John about these things was like catching up to a piece of the past. Things I had been told about on my grandfathers knee. Not so much good old times because they weren’t. They were hard for all concerned. But a greater sense of community existed. You knew everyone shared the same hardships.

But as I got to know John, he eventually became Jonny Moonshine.

A much better name.

John travels as much and as frequently as possible. All over the world. Loves his holidays. And now he’s retired he tries hard to maintain his 78 year old playboy lifestyle and has recently discovered cruises.He treats it like its his own enormous private yaght. Also, he’s the only person I know who navigates via pub names. And if you were to get directions off him, sign posts would invariably be pubs scattered along the route. This may give the wrong impression. Please, don’t get me wrong John isn’t a drunkard or any such thing.

However he does appreciate a good pint and a good pub. And that’s a vastly different thing.

And one thing he could tell you about is a good pint and which pub he had it in, probably looking off into the distance and smacking his lips as he does..

A couple before his Tea always adds to his appetite he says. Again this is a routine long established and long may it continue says I!

The name Moonshine came about after he visited Tennessee, in USA. The night before flying home, after some hesitant consultations with some local’s, (beer probably had something to do with it too,) John arranged to meet, in the middle of nowhere, 2 shadowy gentlemen, bearing Clay pots. Within which was the real deal Tennessee Moonshine. After paying these kindly gentlemen for their succor, he made his way back to his Motel to show Joan his wife, the beautiful pots and what lay inside. She in no uncertain words, explained to john that trying to board a plane with such obvious containers was likely to lead to johns rapid incarceration, and introduction to American Justice.

So, he decided to buy a couple of lemonade bottles, which he duly emptied and,(with regret it must be said) transferred the contents of the splendid clay pots into said bottles. As the moonshine was crystal clear it was a foolproof plan.

Then, as panic and imagination set in, he decided that the best course of action was, to drink as much as was humanely possible prior to flying. Just in case it was discovered and confiscated en route through the airport. As it happened, he literally sailed through customs. Though at one point, thought he had gone blind due to the moonshine but finally calmed down when he realized he had rested his glasses on his head.

He only managed to actually board the flight with Joan shoring him up on the steps. Once in his seat he slept like one in a coma. Snored like a chainsaw across the Atlantic, and only came to, and regained the use of his legs, and eyes, as wheels touched down in Manchester.

Not long after I bought him a hip flask which, he would bring with him on a night out. Offering “snifters”.

And I can confirm, my legs and lips ceased to work for periods, but there isn’t much else I could tell you, because that whole period is a black hole in my memory.

But then things had a habit of happening to Mr. Moonshine when he had a drink.

It was a similar story when his son “passed” out as a police officer and john went to attend the ceremony. Having watched all the awards, the shiny new uniforms marching up and down, and tasting some of the beverages available, it was a disappointment when the day was forced to end prematurely when it started to rain. Torrentially. And it made for a quick exit for the car.

On entering the venue, there was a central island that you drove around to enter a car park, then walked back around it to the venue entrance, through the building to the parade ground. So when the rain began to fall in volume, John decided that the best and quickest way to the car was via straight over the central island. And, he charged from the doors and onwards over the island, head down at speed.

What he didn’t realize was that the core of the island, was a pond.

He was knee deep before he could stop and he only managed to do that when momentum was reigned in by weeds in the water. His forward movement ended abruptly by diving head first into the pond.

Unfortunately, I can only wish I had been there for that one. Because I would have paid good money to have witnessed it in person.

Another time, he decided he was having family round for a BBQ. which, he wheeled out and held in his garden. It was of course a roaring success. Upon completion, John, having had a few, packed Joan off to bed with,

“I’ll just tidy things away.”

Which he promptly did.

A couple of hours later they were woken, (or Joan was, John was comatose), by a Police officer and Fireman who had been alerted by a neighbour, of all the smoke gradually issuing from Johns house. Joan was whisked from the house in her nighty, whilst an officer risked life and limb by hazarding the stairs to rouse John.

John promptly refused to leave unless dressed, which, it has to be said he did rather smartly. Leaving some minutes later looking very debonair, if glassy eyed, in a 3 piece suit and shiny shoes..(He may have even shaved.)

This in some comparison to Joan, breathing through an oxygen mask, who by this time in an effort to protect her modesty was dressed in a neighbours Donkey jacket, which finished 4″ up her arms, and a pair of size 10 trainers, that flapped on her feet every time she took a step..

It so turned out that John when clearing away, had “cleared away” the still smouldering BBQ back under the stairs where it was normally kept. This eventually set fire to them and was responsible for Coco the Clown and James bond walking into casualty.

I don’t think Coco has ever forgotten.

But I have to say, I still thoroughly enjoy this wonderful mans company and see him regularly.

A fantastic once-in-a-lifetime gentleman.

My friend Jonny Moonshine…

There’s A New (Deputy) Sheriff in Town

sheriff badge

My daughter Emily and her boyfriend Vinny, recently travelled over to France to stay with Kerry and Wayne at their new home. I know everybody on both sides was looking forward to this, having seen little of each other for months, it’s just so nice, to catch up with those you love.

Emily, is a beautiful, amazingly bright young woman and I never cease to feel awe at all her achievements. She’s like a ray of sunshine in my life every time I see her, and never fails to make me smile. (Usually with some ridiculous comment.) She is forever effervescent, very bubbly and always dizzy in such an endearing way.

She is studying at university to be a Speech Therapist and is totally dedicated to her cause. I don’t think people realize just how incredibly in depth the intricacies of the subject are.

To my shame, I know I didn’t. But I do now.

And with an important family member suffering from a serious neurological disorder, I’ve no doubt it fires her constantly, to succeed in this field.

But as she’s in France she was adamant the chance to speak French. Having received top grades at GCSE and A level in French, it was an opportunity to put it to use. And believe it or not, she speaks fantastically well.

Now speaking to her via Skype I know how excited she was to have this opportunity, just hoping that the natives would understand her. To her surprise and what I think Emily never took into account was – that people in France speak french as well!!

Incroyable!

So when the local Mayor held a party for the village, Kerry and Wayne jumped at the chance to introduce themselves to other villagers via – (magnifique!) – Emily.

It was a roaring success! Apparently, my daughter is now engaged to her boyfriend Vinny. This came about whilst having a conversation with an elderly french lady who was partially deaf. She couldn’t quite hear what was (eventually) being shouted, a real cupped ear and squint of concentration moment for the Madame.
With Emily trying to explain Vinny was her “boyfriend’ (mon copain), and the old dear deciding to go for a visual translation to fit her own idea and shouting back,

“Ahh! Oui! Fiance’!! Tres bon!! Fe`licitation!!!” (Ahhh! Yes! Fiance’!! Very good!! Congratulations!!!)

Not much you can do in those circumstances. The shock could have killed her so Emily just shrugged and said,

“Oui! Merci….”

In the mean time she was contending with Kerry and Wayne guiding (Pushing) Emily in front of people they wanted to be introduced to, it was like

“Speak Emily! Speak French! Now!!” Tell them – Me Kerry! Him Wayne!! Indiana!!!” Whilst making frantic eye contact with the target and pointing at Emily.

I’ve no doubt that the old, “Shout Loud” to be understood had been used quite often by Kerry and Wayne up to that point, and having Emily there to translate was a chance to introduce themselves and look normal.

(Oh yeah)

(The whole village are aware of Ostrich Whisperer and Indiana Wayne)

But, it was an opportunity not to be spurned and Emily was walked around and thrust upon most of the village population. And Emily, upon realizing she was understood, (finally), couldn’t be shut up.

She’s been blathering away like a mad French washerwoman for the whole trip. And the only disappointment has been that some French people like the chance to practice their English…

But Emily persevered just for her own enjoyment and probably badgered almost everyone she met into speaking French. I think even if she had met someone who wasn’t French, they would feel obliged to make the attempt, just to try and dispel the disappointment in Emily’s eyes…She has that effect.

In the meantime, Kerry and Wayne have been establishing themselves further into village life. The farm they both help on, owned by Pierre, is a monument to the abstract. With the Ostriches and Camel, there are also Zebra, bison, horses, poultry, Goats and assorted domestic pets..

Pierre lives in a beautiful – what can only be called – a mansion. Ornate and rustic all rolled into one.

He obviously likes a bargain, because during Emily and Vinnys visit, he had cat litter delivered for his cat. (2 tops.) And when I say delivered, I mean by van. Somewhere in the region of 1/4 of ton.

This is an estimate. All I can go off are the 6 wheel barrow journeys it took Indiana Wayne to unload it.

(And that’s not easy in spurs)

This cat can obviously shit like an elephant with a laxative death wish. You wouldn’t want it in your garden.

Also on the delivery were bottles of natural spring water. This being for Mark Antoinette. The goat. Who lives in the basement. Now mark isn’t your normal “Maaaa” type of goat. Without exaggeration he’s as big as a donkey, and goes more like “MAAAAA” in a deep bass. And I think the only reason he lives in the basement is because He chooses to live in the basement. You want to move me? Bring it sucker.

The first Wayne realized he was there was on his initial trip down to drop off the cat litter. It was one of those moments where you walk in, pause, look sideways actually make eye contact with the goat, and realize,

there’s a big fucking goat in the basement

It was a shared experience that Mark handled better than Wayne. Mark ignored Wayne, while Wayne upon realizing he was minus his whip, gave a little whinny, tried to rearrange his legs and get the wheel barrow between him and El Donkey.
Happily I can reveal Mark decided not to trample Wayne.

Anyhow, Pierre is a retired vet and well versed in what his live stock need to stay healthy. And it just so happens that Mark needs bottled water. For what reason I am yet to discover, but it sounds romantic.

In the beautiful rustic kitchen, with the rustic windows and lovely rustic table, lives the chicken. In an apple box on the windowsill. Le Cluck being afraid to leave said windowsill because of the dog who sits and watches it waiting, just waiting for it to get down so it can eat it.

And the day previously Wayne had arrived to see Pierre, only to find him having just castrated a young male cat. On the rustic table. Not for fun I hasten to add, but because it had been, (as all the bastards do,) pissing all over the house. Then it was a quick mop down, brush the bollocks in the bin, bread and cheese slapped on the table and an invitation to “Manger?” (Eat?)

Lots of belly slapping ensued and “Full!” from Wayne.

In the meantime the day to day routine are becoming more established, with Wayne ready to move forward in his animal husbandry.

It so happened that Kerry and Wayne had to move animals around and needed to put the camel, zebra, bison and horse into the field adjacent to Nancy and Ronald’s, two breeding Ostriches. Ron is huge, bigger than the female, very territorial and very aggressive. So care is needed around him. I don’t think people realize how much damage these birds can do. Its not like they’re over size blue tits. These things could quite easily trample you into the ground without to much effort. They may look fluffy, hopping from foot to foot, but they could kick the crap out of you and come back for seconds.

So, if you can imagine, the two fields have a dividing fence but shared gate, that when open allows access to both fields.

Now obviously preparations were needed in order to complete this task safely. And eager to demonstrate their new abilities, they took Emily and Vinny down to watch.

Wayne, went prepared, in his 10 gallon,(tipped jauntily), Spurs, kite like chaps and new Deputy Sherriff badge, looked the ultimate professional. And no doubt Emily and Vinny thought so too.

It was a simple matter of opening the gate and herding in the various livestock. The camel goes first because (of course) the zebra follows the camel. After that someone takes the horse and the bison follows the nag.

But during this as the zebra heads in after the camel, in the background came the dull drumming across the ground.

A quick check over Waynes shoulder see’s Ronald Galloping across the field to confront the intruders. So then its a race to get the horse in and (oh Jesus) the Bisons taking in the scenery. A smack on its arse and its moving again with the “Derumderumderumderum” getting closer.

Waynes just manages to slam the gate closed as Ronald rams into it. Then its a case of trying to keep the gate pushed to, but unable to lock it, whilst Ron is attempting to kick the shit out of it, Wayne and anything else his flailing legs can get to.

I swear, if it had been for a South westerly blowing in Waynes chaps, he wouldn’t have had the strength to hold that gate shut.

Kerry in the meantime is hopping round Wayne as he’s wrestling with the gate and Ron, trying to latch it with out getting too close to El Kung Foo.

Finally, they managed to latch the gate.

I think, nay, I know this months visitors have had a great time. Because without a doubt, Kerry and Wayne always go out of their way to make someone’s stay an experience to remember.

But If you visit and they suggest a little bit of “herding”.

Just say no…

Bless Me Father…

Boxing Gloves

As a young boy I was raised as a practicing Catholic. And when I say “practicing” That probably, was what it actually was.

I’d practice being good and not doing bad things.
I’d say my prayers every night and ask God to keep everyone safe, working through a litany of names.
“Even those people who weren’t part of my family.”
And include in my prayer that I loved everyone just to demonstrate I was a good Christian. And to push my dedication towards world peace further, I would also include “even Mary Mcguire”, a girl in my year at school who, I actually couldn’t stand.
Like God wouldn’t realize…
Same thing every night. Daren’t change it.
It was OCD on a biblical scale

At school religion was an important part (to the catholic school) in the development of young minds. Things had changed from when my own parents were children only slightly. In my day, it wasn’t as common to find a priest as part of the school teaching staff. Instead they came in once a week to teach specifically religion. Hands on. In my parents day, a priest was a major part of the established school environment, and actually taught a number of lessons.
And, have a major influence in your welfare and your perceptions of religion.
It wasn’t uncommon to find a Priest who felt a good thrashing was an essential part of your education in life. And how many unstable minds there must presently be, from that generation out there, currently waiting to “go to hell for their sins”, I just can’t imagine.

When my Dad was at school there were a number of clergy part of the teaching staff and they set demands towards you’re education, soul  and physical well being. For instance. My dad and his brother were part of the school boxing team, (It being a well accepted fact in those days, that kids could knock seven shades out of each other till one wailed “Mother” in an organized competitive venue, and, be much better off for it) (They may have had a point).
But there was never any real money to spend on equipment and you made do and used what was available.

This particular night my dad’s brother, Chris, arrived home after fighting in one of the Monday night, inter school boxing events. Upon walking through the door it was obvious he had been the victim of a particularly bad thumping. Which surprised my dad, as his brother was a rather good boxer.

“Jesus. What happened to you?” was the inevitable question.

“Father Toby. That’s what happened!”

It so followed that Father Toby – who ran the boxing club with the zeal of an evangelist on crack – was handing out glove’s and shorts to the team’s combatants at the start, with the regular,

“May God give you the strength to rip his block clean off my son, “

And

“That wee fella has a glass chin. Say an “Our Father” before you get in that ring lad and he’ll help you put him out cold.”

And then Chris received his shorts and gloves. Upon popping the shorts on he found to his dismay that they were some 2 sizes too big. “Father Toby, these short’s…”

” Get them on Walsh, and thank God that you’re not fighting in you’re underpants and feckin wellies!!

Feckin heathen..”

No negotiation or discussion, just get them on and get on with it.

So Chris dons the shorts and gets in the ring with his opposite number.

Who proceeded to thrash him.

The problem being that Chris is clutching his short’s trying to keep them up, all the while boxing one handed with no guard. And every time, in a fit of temper, he releases the front of his shorts, to try and land a punch, his shorts fell down.

So he’d catch them mid way down, drag them back up and clutch them to his midrif. Until, with wounded pride another fit of temper would make him forget the shorts and begin round housing his opponent. It was catch 22, clutch the shorts – thump,thump,thump. Let go, try and fight, down they go.

Vicious circle.

With Father Toby apoplectic ring side threatening hell and damnation.

When he came home he was battered. With a clip off father Toby as a parting gift.

So, as a Catholic, the church made an impression and part of my early childhood, till I could have a say in it, revolved around the Church. Going to Sunday mass, sat with my grandad, my sister and brother. I’d always start sat next to my brother, until it degenerated to fidgeting finally to messing about. Then we’d get a dead leg each and yanked either side of my grandad.

A whispered,

“Pack it in”

And making a fist  with his middle knuckle prominent, threatening another dead leg. With two dead legs Steven hawkings would have lapped us. Best wait till the first one wore off before getting another..

That was just a Sunday. Saturday would be Confession. On a Saturday we would be taken to church at some point to confess our sins, seek God’s forgiveness, and be forgiven by his earthly representative, (Father Pierre in this instance) And have a clean soul, ready to receive communion during the following days mass. This involved being given a piece of consecrated bread which represented the body of Christ and the sacrifice he made for our souls.

So Saturday was all important in that, to receive the Communion on Sunday, you needed to heal your soul as well as  regain the grace of God by going to confession and “confessing” you sins to God’s earthly representative.

Confession required 3 acts.

Contrition – demonstrate your sorrow for your sins.

Disclosure – Confession of those sins

And Penance – do something to show you regretted doing them in the first place.

The priest would hear your confession, forgive you, then give you a penance – in this case so many Our Fathers or Hail Mary’s etc…

So, in you’d go to the confessional to work off your sins, whilst there were a whole line of real sinners sat outside, clutching their rosary beads, quietly waiting their turn. From my point of view this failed on a number of levels.

Firstly, you were encased in the wooden booth, clad with curtains inside to try and muffle the sound, with a little perforated viewing hatch so you could confer with the priest. It was always dark, quite claustrophobic and there was always this musty smell in there. Some churches did a face to face confessional, where you looked the priest in the eye while you admitted your sins..my eyes would have watered.

And secondly, A number of the priests were quite intimidating, and to find myself in a private booth with one of them, hoping everybody sat outside couldn’t hear me, was quite disconcerting. Being expected to bare my soul and admit what terrible things, I as a 9 year old had done, to one of these priests was unthinkable to me.

I hasten to add nothing terrible ever happened, it was just my own natural reluctance to speak privately of anything I may have found embarrassing to someone, who lets face it, was a stranger.

So, I would lie in confession.

I know this sounds terrible but if its any conciliation as a child I don’t believe I did anything really terrible.

I am, as you can imagine I am going to hell.

So I would go in and be all

“Bless me Father for I have sinned – blahblahblah. I have been rude to my mum, shouted at my brother, not cleaned my room, and I said I feckin loved Mary McGuire again…” You get the picture..

And the priest would then say,

Blahblahblah Say an Our Father in here, then as a penance say 4 Hail Mary’s out side.”

The amount was a reflection of the seriousness of your sins. So then you’d come out and ask each other,

“What did you get?”

“Couple of Hail Mary’s and 3 Our Fathers. You?”

“250 Our Fathers…”

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuck!”

Then the priest would finish with,

“Go in peace your sins are forgiven …”

And off you go, say your Hail Mary’s and you were right for another week.

Anyhow, this week I had Father Pierre, whom I have to say was particularly intimidating to me for no exact reason I can think of, other than the fact that he was always so serious.
I’d done all my confessing, was on the final part and am told to say my “Our father” now, then so many “Hail Mary’s” outside.

So I’d begin,

“Our father who ‘art in heaven….”

Then completely dry up. It was like getting stage fright.

“Um. sorry father, I can’t remember my Our Father.”

And Father Pierre went off like a fucking rocket.

“WHAAAAAAAT!! GET OUT! GET OUUUUT! YOUR A DISGRACE! YOU’RE AN ANIMAL!! AND SAY 15 MORE HAIL MARY’S!!!!”

So I stumbled from the booth, falling over myself in the rush, with what ever anonymity I may have had gone.
Everybody in the pews waiting their turn are looking at me. And you can see. I mean really see , they’re all thinking,

“What the fuck, has that kid just admitted?”

So bad as I feel about telling lies to cover my shame of my real sins. And for forgetting my “Our father” after confessing. Even, for saying I loved Mary McGuire, when I damn well didn’t. I just thank God it wasn’t one of those face to face confessionals.

Because I know deep in my heart, that God or no God.

I would have admitted fuck all.

Have You Heard Of Jesus?

Who's Your Buddy Jesus

It was 1996 and the build up for the European championships taking place in England had begun. “Its Coming Home ” was on the radio all the time along with Simply Red’s “We’re In this Together”. And in the background taking up as much listening time on the radio was Tubthumpings ” I Get Knocked Down (But I Get Up Again) ”.

And to top it off, it was turning into one of those fantastically sunny summers, when its a pleasure to get up to a lovely warm morning and go to work in that early heat and clear blue sky.

I was starting on a new job fitting out a bar in Wigan, where, it seems, everyone injects themselves with a hypodermic full of bravery every morning and come’s ready to fight the world.

“God was born in Wigan.” I often heard. (He wasn’t)

So we had Baddiel and Skinner “Coming Home” on all the time and 4 pies for a pound. That’s what else I remember about that job. You could buy 4 pies for a pound. It normally cost you a pound for one anywhere else. but this was Wigan. Pie central. They don’t call them Pie eaters for nothing.

My first day on the job, the first person I meet, is this slightly built fella, shaven head, very mild looking and slightly hesitant.

“Hello mate, looking for Tony? The agent?” I ask.

“In the back fella. I’m Jimmy.” And he offers his hand passing his brush to the other.

“Alright jimmy – I’m Mike. Nice to meet you. You the site labourer?”

“Aye. That’s right fella. Have you heard about jesus?”

And I just went,

“Fuck. Off.”

Not, I hasten to add to insult or abuse, but I just had no time for someone I didn’t know immediately trying to recruit me to The Lords Work. (I’m a catholic, I have enough guilt as it is.)

I kid you not. And that was my introduction to jimmy. A Born Again Christian, In every sense of the word.

As I settled in to the job, it turned into one of those jobs where the Craic was fantastic. Everyone worked hard, but it was a laugh all the time. You spent your time trying to stay in front of someone else’s wind up by coming up with one first, and keeping them too preoccupied to get you back. It was like double Jeopardy, trying to anticipate the next set-up and topping it before you became the target.

It being a building site there was no mercy. And if you actually put yourself on everyone else’s radar, well you only had your self to blame and best take it on the chin and stay mum. Because if you bit, your life would not be worth living until some other unfortunate would line themselves up as a replacement.

So it was a daily battle to come up with a better wind up than someone else’s, or just pay someone back. And, if you could, form a posse and get the other’s to do the dirty work. You were better being at the back of a lynching than front and center…

It may sound cruel or mean but it was anything but. It was a very funny environment to be in and that’s why this job stick’s so firmly and fondly in my memory.

But getting back to being a target. Enter jimmy from left stage.

He started by removing the Page 3′s that had been stuck up on the wall where we had brew. Then slapping a bible down on the brew table, (If anyone would like to read it..) citing his religious beliefs. Well that’s all well and good but this wasn’t the height of political correctness we have to submit to these days. We were still allowed to have a black sense of humour and laugh at inappropriate things. Because, lets face it, sometimes it is funny when someone else falls on their arse.

So when he began taking down the site’s pride and joy (Linsey Dawn McKenzie and Donna Ewin), Jimmy Just became “Target No 1“.

But I have to say Jimmy intrigued me because he really was a nice bloke, Just you know, So focused, in his beliefs. Like he couldn’t or daren’t consider any other option’s or choices in life. Couldn’t try something in case it was too good – daren’t risk it. (Whooooah, Too much pleasure down that road, must be a sin! A temptation! That’s torn it, I’m off to hell!!)

So one day when Jimmy came over to where I was working to clean up, I finally asked him,

“Jimmy, what happened? What actual defining moment turned you towards God?”

Because the only way I could reason it was, nobody becomes Born Again without having had a revelation in their lives, some terrible moment or experience that re-aligns a persons thinking. A search for some form of stability in the life. Direction.

I always feel nervous about religious zeal, the sheer strength of belief, it always feels like there’s an indoctrination involved. But maybe that say’s more about me…

“What do you mean?”

“Well, what made you become a born again Christian Jimmy? What trauma actually happened in your life that made you feel you needed saving?”

And eventually he began to tell me.

“Well,” he started, ” I was a bad lad. I mean a BAD lad.”

“What do you mean Jim? A nice lad like you? Bad? Gerraway.”

“No fella, I was a real bag of trouble. Drinking. Doing Drugs and fighting all the time. Went off the rails. Getting mixed up with the wrong crowd. Real wrong crowd.”

“What, and then you found God?”

“Well no.”

And he’s sort of stood there rolling the brush handle between his hands, and then says,

“It was serving 6 out of 9 years for armed robbery finally did it.”

And I’m looking at Jimmy, mild mannered Jim, real quiet fella, with hands now resting one on top of the other leaning on his brush handle, with his chin resting on top, stood looking off into the past telling me this.

And I’m all thinking is, “Fuck. A. Duck.”

It turned out jimmy, was the getaway driver. You know. A pro. leather gloves, shades kept the engine running outside whilst the real loons went in with the sawn offs and swag bag.

Only, it wasn’t Pro. It was some lads he knocked about with decided they’d get rich quick. (Rob a bank! Yeah! That’s the way. In and out with a big bag of dosh.)

Only, they nicked a ford Capri. 2 door. Pull up. Jimmy (the Get Away Driver) jumps out. lifts the seats forward so the balloons in the back can get out.

Then jumps back in and sits revving the motor as they rush into the bank to rob it.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had all gone dressed up – 4 Teenage Ninja Turtles would have looked fantastic.

“Ok every one!! Cowabunga!! Don’t do anything stupid and no one gets hurt!! If you’d all like to place any money or anything of value (Pizza?) in Donatello or Michelangelo’s bag and we’ll be on our way! dominos shut in ten! Get a fuckin move on!!! ”

While Leonardo is sat outside revving the arse off his Capri..

Anyway it’s not long before they all rush out and they repeat the performance in reverse.

Jimmy leaps out, seat held up – everyone squeezes in, (Everyone got they’re seat belt on? No? George? Buckle up lad. Clunk click and all that.) mirror, indicate, manouver, annnnnd off we go.

So. They’ve done it. Robbed a bank.

And now they’re racing round Wigan with sirens in the distance trying to make good they’re getaway.

And then (I take this as the defining moment) They come to a choice.

Blue lights flashing in the distant distance and they either go onto the motorway or off over the moors.

And, its fallen to Jimmy, The Getaway Driver, to decide.

Now you can imagine them thinking, ” Mmm. motorway? Or off up into the middle of no-where, up a road with hardly any turn offs, that heads up onto the moors?? Mmmm. Which way? Well the view’s ever so nice this time of day on the top’s…..”

But its got to be The Motorway. Hands down. Every time. Multiple exits. Head off anywhere before the police get near. etc etc etc.

”But the thing was,” said jimmy to me,

“What Jim?” I ask,

“The thing was fella, I hate driving on the motorway”.

“I’m just all nerves. Panting in a paper bag job see. Get panicky!”

So, off they go up onto the moors blue light’s ablaze behind and shortly, blue lights swarming towards them in the opposite direction. And it was decamp and run for it in four directions.
Course. This fooled the police immediately. Didn’t know what to do. Lads got clean away.

Only they didn’t. Police just let the dogs after then then strolled over and popped the bracelets on whilst they were getting ragged around the heather.

And there was jimmy, 6 years later having found god whilst inside. Having decided he needed this in his life. The structure. The stability it gave him. The focus it gave him to rebuild his life.. and I’m happy to say, it did.

New man, on the straight and narrow. Just a little unnerving at times..the intensity.

And I was glad to have listened to him. Felt I’d learnt something worthwhile.

But whenever a siren flew past the job all you’d hear would be –

“Jimmy! Jimmmmy!! They’re coming for you Jimmy! Run You Fucker! They’re fucking COMINNNNNG!!”

Sympathy is all well and good, but you didn’t get any in Wigan in ’96…(I Get Knocked Down..)

Dust Motes…

 

Dust Motes

Every time I see them, floating and spinning in the air, caught in a ray of sunshine – dust motes –  when some movement has disturbed them and lifted they spilling and spiraling in the light, my mind drops back about 10 years to a job I was working on.
It was brew time – time for a cup of tea and a sandwich. I was sat holding a brew in an empty room as people trickled in.  And the sun was shining from some hidden point in the roof, picking out all these spinning paticles, floating in the air.

There was a new face trying to slide in and find somewhere to sit before  anyone else noticed him.

“Lads this is Billy, New apprentice.” Leave it with them. Fair game. You can see all the eye’s sliding round to weigh up the new arrival, just deciding what wind up they’re going to use..

John just tipped his head back and looked down his nose through his bi-focals, dismissed the new face with a look, then went back to reading his paper. (Read about John in Jonny Moonshine and Jonny Moonshine Rides Again.)

We had been asked to take on board a new apprentice by the bricklaying contractor,

“No strings, I’ll pay his wage, you teach him – he’s a mate’s son – said I’d see him right.”

So no harm, make’s for a change a new face, bit of entertainment seeing if he can learn or not. See if he’s clever enough to try and adapt to his new environment, take onboard what’s thrown at him. See if he breaks.

Fresh Blood. So to speak.

His name was Billy and he was dizzy to say the least. Bit slow in fact. not sure if you were taking the mick or having a craic with him. But I’d have to say that tends to be the case with most 16 year olds. New apprentices, all a bit nervy, and quiet at first. But ALL thinking they’re going to be a joiner by a week Thursday.

“Piece of Piss mate. Can’t tell me nuthin – S’easy – I know how it works see?  Wide head me. No one put’s one over on Billy boy…”

Welcome to reality Bill.

What had followed was 3 or 4 weeks indoctrination in thrilling apprentice pastimes  like,

How To Sweep Up SHIT.

And,

How To Carry Wood From Here To Wayyyyyy Over There. (And Back Again Because It’s The wrong Gear Billy!)

He Finally began to understand around the 4th week when he was doing another fabulous apprentice routine which was,

Getting The Bacon Sarnies For The Lads.

Upon his return –

“No sauce on sandwiches Billy,” (It was like a cardinal sin) “Off you fuck son and sort them out.”

This being a big job Billy complained (S’miles away! S’other side of the job, You don’t need sauce), where upon it was spelt out with Billy listening with dawning comprehension.

“Billy. You need to realize something son. You don’t contribute anything to the working of this job. Don’t You Understand? Your job is to run and fetch and carry. Bring that here take this there. That’s the set of skills you currently possess.

You, take up our, time, having to organize you. You’re progress in this job will be measured by how and where you stand when we’re working, with what tool you have in your  hand, ready, just quivering with readiness, to pass the right tool over at the right time.

THAT, will show your taking note of how a job is done Billy.

THAT means your learning Billy. And THAT means you’ll be trusted to actually use your own hammer on something other than your thumb..

Now, Off you fuck and get the sauce…”

So it was a turning point for Billy. Every apprentice has one, when they either finally settle down, work and make head way with what they’re trying to learn……or they don’t.  And then they spend their day getting bollocked,  because really, they’re wasting everybody’s time.

So Billy settled and the weeks went by and he began to learn. And he was a nice lad Billy.

A bit wild and daft but he tried and worked hard.

But there was always Some drama, or some situation he’d get himself into over the weekend.

He was working with me one day and not overly responsive. So  I’ve eventually stopped what I’m doing to really look at him and I realize he’s literally grey. So I say,

“Billy, you feeling ok?”

Yeah. well, bit rough – heavy night last night with the lads. Tried something new. Was great.”

“Oh yeah? What was it? Bit of circuit training or weights? Worn you out son?  Something like that?” (Say’s a lot about how my mind works against this younger generation),

“What? Oh, no. We did some ketamine. Brilliant! Off me head! Wankered! Don’t remember a thing! Thing is though, thing is, feel a bit crap today. Bit rough. Feel slow. Breathing, a bit heavy.” ( No. Really?)

And I’m stood there having one of those WTF moments thinking “WHO, I mean WHO, takes a horse tranquilizer??”

then I remember who I’m looking at and sort of go, “Ahhhh. Yeahhhhh.”

Or when we returned to work after Christmas and we’re loading doors up to a work area. One man front and back because these doors were seriously heavy. So there I am with Billy, lumping these things onto pallet trucks, then over to where we’re working, then up stairs and…you get the picture.

Each time we get to our destination it’s a chance to get our breath, have a moment before we start the next one. And I keep looking at Billy, knowing something is out of place but just not asking, thinking, it’ll come to me shortly.

Eventually Billy takes matters into his own hands and say,

“What do you think? You’ve not said anything.”

“Well why don’t you just tell me about it Bill.” say’s I, still not clocking what he was talking about but thinking silence is the best thing here, let the lad talk, and Billy says,

“Me eyebrows! What do you think?”

And I look and suddenly realize his eyebrows are gone. (Another WTF moment)

Just two big pink spots where they used to be. And, truly, he looked like a simpleton. I mean a proper window licker.  And all I can do  as I realize is fold over and laugh and laugh and laugh, until it was actually painful.

“Billy, Bill what the fuck have you done?”

” Christmas party!  Got wankered, on ketamine and a bit of Prosac? And just flaked out. You Know how it is.”

(No Billy, I’m sorry, I don’t)

“And me mates – the bastards – well they sort of sanded me eyebrows off with an orbital sander. Didn’t feel a thing though!! ”

(Plenty of pre- op shire horses will rest easy)

So there’s nothing else for it.

“Billy, ”  I say, thinking “he’s never going to go for this one,”

Haven’t you thought about drawing some on??”

And Billy says ( I swear to god)

“Yeah! Course I did!! I’m not stupid you know!” (?) “But me mates – the bastards – Kept rubbing them off with the snow!!’

So I say,

” You want me to do some for you?’ (pleasegodpleasegodpleasesayyes)

“What?”

“You know. Draw some eyebrows on for you. I could do it. Easy. ”

“You reckon?”

“Yeeeeeah. No prob.”

“Ok then.” (Ohthankyoulord)

“What sort do you want then? ” I say fumbling for my permanent ink marker pen.

“What?”

“You know – happy eyebrows! Or Sad eyebrows. Or angry – yeah – angry  eyebrows  would look great Billy. Nobody will mess with you then Bill!”

“Yeah! That sounds top! Do it! Do what you think!!” (It’s like finding Aladin’s lantern and 3 wishes)

So I set to work on Billy. And at the end of my masterpiece – which was nigh impossible for laughing – Billy Looked like the Emperor Ming.

And then another one of the lads who had turned up to watch and had been stood trying to chew his knuckle’s, in an effort not to laugh, says,

Billy You look like a right tart.”

“What?  Really?”

“Yeah Bill. A Tart mate. Too thin those eyebrows. Look like a girl. ‘Ere, give me that pen.” And he set’s to work.

In a matter of moments and heavy scribbling Billy is transformed. If Anybody ever watched a Charlie Chaplin film, they would remember his nemesis – and actor called Alfred Eric Campbell, frequently cast as The Bully. He of large stature and big bushy eyebrows.

As you can imagine it was now actually painful to draw a breath around the laughter.

And Billy’s going,

“What’s that like? They better? They are better aren’t they?

Do they look real now?” ( arrrrrrr I’m going to wee – omg I can’t get any airrrrrrrrrrrrrr).

And it was the look, Just that vacant, docile look on the boys face, as he’s looking at us waiting for an answer.

And as he wandered off to show everybody else, all I could think of was that big empty space in in Billy’s head, and dust motes floating around all sparkly…

What The Mop Lady Saw

mop lady

After much soul searching and sleep deprivation due to sharing middle of the night nappy changes and feeds, ( A Japanese prisoner of war Camp Commandant has a  lot to learn from a 1, 3 and nearly 5 year old’s at 3am,) I finally faced up to the fact that I really did need to have the snip.

I hasten to add, I would have continued down the road to ruin and had more children if only for the novelty of making up  extraordinary names,  then settling for normality. And telling each one at individual times amazing lies,

“You were a mistake and your mother trapped me!” This tormented Emily for  a while.

Or

” YOU were always my favourite! Don’t tell your sisters or brother and sister”, – depending upon whom I decided to lie to. Then watching them, unable to resist, going to the  sibling they felt in most competition and saying,

I’m dads favourite! YOU were a mistake!!”

It went on and on. But most of all I loved all of their company ALL of the time.  Just for the simple joy of hearing “Why?” or “What’s that for?” or “How?”. Just anything to have a lovely conversation and coming up with the most outrageous answers. I loved taking them all anywhere. If any of them do read this they’re each thinking “Probably means ME really. Cos I am his FAVE.” Not so.

I mean All and each of you.

The sheer enjoyment of thinking some terrible story (LIE) up on the spur of the moment in reply to a question. For example, I once convinced Emily after she complained about time, (takes so long! Why so slowww!), that if she concentrated realllllllly concentrated, she could stare at the clock and actually SEE time move. Bear in mind there wasn’t a seconds hand.

And she did. AND she convinced Holly to sit with her  – See! See time move holly! ( My work was complete.)

Holly being slightly more clued up even at a younger age lasted a matter of minutes. Emily went on for around an hour.

I don’t know who this reflected the  better on to be honest. Holly for seeing through it or, Emily and her levels of concentration.

So living in a 2 bedroom terraced was fine but rapidly running out of space when Callum arrived. And I more or less immediately made an appointment to  see my local GP about a vasectomy, Had a conversation and then It took me a further 12 months to finally confirm I was having it done and the whole process started to roll forward.

Anyway the day arrived of my appointment  in a private clinic in the center of Manchester, which I had been dreading but was more or less adamant I was having it done. And, it being busy Jane and I decided not to try driving through the heavy traffic but parking on the opposite side of town and walk the 15 minute or so walk over. Beautiful sunny summer day, blue sky lovely and warm. So No worries off we go.

We eventually arrive at a lovely old building and make our way up stairs to the clinic, and walk into the waiting room which is surprisingly small, scuffed vnyle on the floor with plastic chairs squeezed in snugly and its crowded.

Its one of those rooms you walk into and you can actually feel the tension. It was charged with nervous energy. 

Men sat with partners, all either sweating slightly, looking at the ceiling or shoes, or trying to look nonchalant  and relaxed and drape themselves in their chair. Anywhere but at each other.

All,  trying to avoid eye contact and when they inadvertently do slide they’re eyes into someone else’s, sort of raising they’re eyebrows at each other, rolling eyes,giving a slight shrug and a little ” Pff “.

It was like being in your very own private Masons club where everybody knows what’s what, but barring a secret handshake no one is actually going to speak about it. 

Anyway eventually my name is called and I stand up,like dead man walking, hitch up my trousers, square my shoulders and am led (by Jane) into a tiny office adjacent to the waiting room.

There then follows a conversation that began with “Mr. Walsh are you aware of the actual procedure? No? Well let me tell YOU, we Inject  a great big needle into your testicals and ……” That was the way it translated and It was at this point I lost interest and faded the conversation out. (Fingers in ears, sucking thumb etc  “I’minnahappyplace,I’minnahappyplace…”)

So I finally convince the doctor to send me through and just let me GET ON WITH IT.  Because, if I’m honest, I’m fine if I know something has to be done. I just don’t need to know the hows and nitty gritty, chopping and cutting and injecting stuff that is part of the procedure.

And so there I am being led into the next room. And the next room is not a patch on the waiting room. Its about 5 times bigger with a couple of sofas at either end and two doors. Its like going to the swimming baths and first getting in the paddling pool then jumping into the 100m all singing all dancing pool next door. Its massive.

There’s so much space! I’m led to a lovely 2 seater sofa,(leather), Inlaid with Oak (fabulous), cushions everywhere, nice oak coffee table, flowers, lovely thick carpet….

It was a room that exuded Plushness.

And as I’m leaning back being nonchalant, (looking at the ceiling or floor, draping,), I became aware that at the other end of the room, in the distance, Door No 2  opens and a chap who has obviously just had the procedure done, is being led, stumbling slightly and vacant eyed, to another little island  of comfort at the opposite end of the room. Straight away I’m sat up straighter trying to catch his eye while the kindly nurse is asking him if

“..like a cup of tea sir? ..Biscuit??”

Finally she head’s off to pick up Sirs refreshment and as she passes me Leans over and says gently,

“If you’d like to go into the changing room and remove you’re lower half then  on through the next door into the theatre…You’ll be fine…”

And on she goes.

So up I get and make my way to door No 1, and as I do I’m sort of hissing at this guy, until I finally catch this his eye and sort of whisper/shout over to  him,

“How was it mate? Everything ok…???

And he sort of eventually focuses on me and says,

Yeah mate. No problem….. Be over before you know it.”

And so, reassured  in I go. Its a matter of moments  to strip down to my T-shirt and socks and step into the theatre. Where upon the cleaner mopping up and the surgeon turn and look and the surgeon says,

“You can leave your underwear on if you like…” (This actually happened. I cringe even now.)

So Its a quick reverse, undies slipped on, venture back in,(mercifully the cleaner had exited) I’m popped straight onto the table and  begins explaining to me what the procedure entails. Whoooooooah. (No worries doc, I know all about it, you just crack on and we’ll get this over with)

So he begins.

First of all he attempts to slide, (out of my view), 2 forcep like clamps about 12” long which he sort of murmurs,

“We’ll just pop these on…..heeeere….”, And I feel these thing’s sort of CLONK on my testicles.

This isn’t actually too bad at first, but as the seconds pass, the weight of these two clamps hanging from my testicles on either side, dangling towards the floor, begins to tell. In a short space of time it feels like I’ve been kicked (gently) in the bollocks. That achy, throbbing sensation in the stomach, that sort of increases as the seconds tic by. So when he (out of view) slides out this needle you’d use on an elephant, its sort of a relief to know he’s going to numb it. Which he does. Eventually. (Oooooooooooooooooh)

Anyhow, onwards he goes. He’s made the incision, tugged and pulled and does the first side no problem in two shakes. I’m actually starting to relax. Then, notice the lady wandering back in picking up where she left off mopping, gradually working round the room, and I’m lay there with no trousers on, sort of following her covertly out of the corners of my eyes. Trying to decide if this 60-something lady is a nurse or a cleaner?  

Eventually she finally lands court side by the table whilst the surgeon is working away, pauses, has a look down, and  I mean, a really good look, and just stands there for a couple of moments, chin on mop, with pursed lips and you can see her mentally giving out marks. And I’m like,

“Brrrr, Is it cold in here? Is anyone else cold? I’m freezing! You look cold doc. This is not the warmest room I’ve ever been in I’ll tell you that for nothing!!.”

And then she moves on. Mops to Door No 2. And leaves.

The surgeon during this hasn’t even acknowledged her presence or lifted his head. Beavering away finishing off the first side he’s finally cauterizing the incision, with that little electric sizzling sound. Its like an utterly surreal moment, like I was the only one who saw her.

And then, He’s on the final leg so to speak. Last nut to do, here we go home in 40. No problem.

Starts the incision and muttering “Here we go, last bit now, just let me know if you can feel anything…”

And I go “ No that’s fine, it’s okAAAAICANFEELITICANFEELIT!!!!!!” And then he prised me off the ceiling.

Actually it took a couple of attempts, of knuckle gnawing, bed clawing  to finally numb it, by which time I was feeling pasty, very grey and just utterly relieved when the electric sizzling started up. And when the clamps were finally removed I felt that I could actually stop panting and breathe normally again.

Then it was a case of – carefully – standing up, with what felt like a padded 2lb nappy packed into my undies “For support Mr. Walsh“, and a “Just Pop In the changing room (Door No 2) and slip your trousers, on then make your way next door and take a seat.” 

So in I go, hoping I’m not going to bump into the cleaner and see disappointment in her eyes, get dressed and on through the next door, walking like the ultimate stereotypical cowboy into The Plushness. I sort of walk crablike  to the immediate island of sofas and sit tenderly down. Make myself comfortable and try to put out of my mind the shock of the last few minutes. Then a nurse appears at my side and says ” ..Would you like a cup of tea?Biscuit??”

And I just nodded and thought, “Jesus, your dead right I do.”

And as she disappears through Door No 1, I hear ” Psst! Oi! Mate!!” and turn round and at the little sofa island at the other end of the room is a guy sat on the edge of the seat. I looked dumbly at him and he said in that sort of whisper come shout,

“How was it? Everything ok?? “

And  I just thought  “That fucking bastard”, and said

“You’ll be fine mate. Be over before you know it….”

Parking on the other side of town didn’t turn out to be a good idea either.