Tag Archives: Tex

Sleepless in Rotherham – Part 2

pumps

My back was killing me. I just couldn’t get straight. It felt like it had a  knot right in the middle of my spine. How I felt was reflected in the others as I hesitated before entering the pub where we were staying, looking back across the street at them making their way towards me. They were all in distorted shapes.

It was like watching a cripple convention on a walk-about..

Looking further down the street was Tommy. Looking dazed in the morning light, not quite sure where  he was.

My mind swept back across the previous evening and how it had panned out.

Hours earlier, (a lifetime ago it felt) we were stepping out into the night, from the bar  I was about to re-enter, feeling  relief to be away.

(see Sleepless In Rotherham – Part 1)

Having witnessed the unseen argument that had rolled across the ceiling above us, then seen the end result when the landlords girlfriend appeared in the bar, mascara streaking her cheeks. After listening to her loud description of what had happened in an almost indecipherable accent, well, it was nice to be heading into town.

We had decided to cut short our evening in the bar and leave our hosts to sort out their differences. So, it was step smartly forward, bumping each other as we discussed what had happened and (I won’t lie) laughing about the indignant way the girlfriend had described what had taken place up stairs which had ended for her with – as she put it –

A smack right in tha’ kisser“..

Our party for the night  consisted of six. Tex, Gaz, Dennis, Tommy, Colin and myself.

We landed in the first bar we could find, still laughing about the events, wondering how the evening would progress back at the pub.

“Well, lets face it. She’s finally seen the light! That 26 year age gap has come home to roost!”

said Gaz.

“Yep, that 46 inch waist difference may have come between them too!”

Added Dennis.

“Anyway. Lets not let it get in the way of our night lads! It our last night and time for a party!”

Said Gaz, with his usual enthusiasm. Gaz was a short, stocky lad. Around 35 and thickset –  hairy is a word closely associated with him. Black hair seemed to cover him like a light mat, giving him a kind of swarthy look – he reminded me of a small, stumpy monkey. He always seemed to be filled with an unsettling amount of energy.

This was reflected in the way his attention jumped from pillar to post.

gorilla

In this instance his attention zoomed in on   Tommy, the young myopic apprentice trailing along at the back. Gaz threw over his shoulder as we made our way into the city center bar.

“Right lad! You know what night this is? No? Let me tell you son! It’s Gaz’s pulling night! I’m going to trap off tonight I can feel it in my water!”

Tommy just continued to stare blankly at him, deciding that silence was the best option.

“Your sharing Gaz’s room aren’t you Tom lad?”

I asked him.

A silent nod answered the question.

“Well, you’re in for a long night. Have you got any cotton wool?”

“Cotton wool?”

he asked.

“Yeah cotton wool.”

The mute shake of the head was all that was offered.

“Well. Not to worry. You’ve got clean socks? Yeah? Yeah, course you have.”

“What do I need clean socks for ?”

He asked.

“Well if Gaz brings a monke – lady back to your room, and she’s screaming her head off as he’s throwing her all over the  shop, you can stick your socks in your ears.”

The myopic gaze  grew, if it was possible,  wider behind the dense lenses, his mouth a round Ooooh  as the image of  Gaz performing with a lady friend around the shared bedroom painted an image in his young mind.

It’d be like sitting ring side in a zoo.

“Mind you,”

I added,

“If the action spills onto your bed you might need a fucking blindfold too. Have you got any clean underpants..?”

Tommy’s shock gaze snapped to Gaz who interrupted.

“Never mind a blindfold lad.  I just want you to know something.”

And he paused for effect,

“If I don’t pull tonight and we get back to those digs and I’m on my own, you do know what happens then don’t you?”

Tommy’s mute shake of the head was as much as he could offer,

(He must have been running through his minds eye what state his underwear was in.)

“If I don’t pull tonight then you become stand-in. You know what a sub is? Yeah? You’re tonight’s sub.”

Sub?”

It was almost a whisper from the young lad, his  binocular like gaze a tad unsteady.

“Yeah. Sub. If I don’t pull I’m going to ride you round  that room like a blackpool donkey!! Like this!”

And he span Tommy round and onto the bar, holding his hips and began  bumping him from behind.

Tommy was left clutching at the bar as Gaz simulated thrusting  behind him.

“Like this! (Thrust) I’m going to get lucky! (Thrust) one way! (Thrust) or another!!”

I swear, Tommy’s nails were drawing curls of varnish from the bar as he clawed at the surface, his glasses askew across his face, while Gaz hung on behind, banging away.

As quickly as he began Gaz’s attention switched and he suddenly released Tommy and turned his attention to his pint.

“But not to worry lad – I normally pull.”

I have to add here, building site banter can be – and is – quite raw at times. We did laugh because we knew the situation Tommy thought he was facing later in the night, would never happen.

(I feverishly hoped this was the case)

Dennis turned to the pale Tommy,

“I’d cross my fucking fingers if I was you son.”

The night progressed in high spirits. A good group of people to be out with. Its a strange situation to be in at times to be honest. You work on a variety of jobs for fairly short term periods, meeting different blokes on your travels. It’s not all peaches and cream and you don’t get on with everyone you meet. But on the whole, considering the short time scale you spend together, you can make some great friendships.

Tommy, on the other hand was young, naïve and worried he was in for a good bumming if Gaz didn’t have a successful night.

His answer to the prospect was oblivion.

“Whooa son! Slow down! its not a race lad!”

Said Tex as he watched Tommy pour his pint down his neck like he was on  a mission.

“Gaz was only joking you know lad.”

I offered, meeting Tex’s eye, then all our gazes sliding onto Gaz, animated at the bar, still full of excess energy as he descrided something to Dennis and Colin, all the  gestures busy and massively exaggerated.

I looked over Tommy’s head at Tex, both of us feeling that sense of relief knowing we weren’t sharing his room.

“Tell you what son, its my shout. Let me get you a pint lad.”

Tex offered,

By the time we reached the last bar of the night, a small club somewhere in Rotherham, we were helping Tommy along.

“Col! Colin! Don’t you think its time you took him back?”

“Whats? He’s not my responsibility!”

Everyone turned on him.

He was breaking an unspoken rule.

“Whoooa. Hang on pal!”

Interrupted Dennis.

“Yeah, hold your horses there  Judas!”

Added Gaz. (!)Then continued.

“That lad cane from the workshop. With you. An apprentice. Your responsibility.”

Colin was faced with four fellas looking at him and suddenly started to sober up realizing how his comment was being interpreted.

“Hey hang on I didn’t mea-”

“Yeah, yeah, we know what you meant pal.  But here it is. He’s your responsibility. You make sure he gets back safe! He’s a kid! He needs looking after!”

Continued Gaz, his indignation loud and vocal. As ever that bundle of energy was very animated in showing his displeasure.

“Wha? Yeah bu-”

“Yeah you bastard! Look at ‘im! You’ve let the poor bugger get hammered!”

He’s pissed because he think’s your going to bum hi-”

“Whoaaa!  What do think I am? Thats banter!!  He’s just a kid! Your supposed to be making sure he’s ok!”

“What? I can’t stop him drin-”

“So yeah! He is your responsibility! So lets have you! Get him home!”

Colin’s shoulders dropped as he  resigned himself to what was being placed before him and made a move to support young Tommy.

“Come on la-”

But  something suddenly occurred to Gaz and he interrupted with a shrewd, if drunken look in his eye.

“Here, hang on. Its your round.”

Colin paused in the process of getting Tommy straightened up,

“Wha-”

“Well that’s nice you skint-flint bastard! Put that girl back down and go get the beer in!”

“But you just sai-”

“Never mind what I said! I can see your game pal! Come on tight arse! Get to the bar!!”

Colin dropped Tommy back in his chair where he slumped forward onto the table,  his cheek pressed onto the surface, oblivious of everything at this point .

Colin made his way to the bar resigned to getting the beer in. I have to admit the rest of us were struggling to keep up with Gaz. His focus was jumping all over.

I took a quick look at Tommy as I made my way past him to the toilet. He was well away.

Minutes later I came back to my friends to hear Gaz again remonstrating with Colin over Tommy.

“Look at the poor bugger! Lookat’im!”

He said, relieving Colin of the beer he held.

I peered past the group at Tommy slumped on the table. He appeared to have belched once and followed through by throwing up across the surface, his cheek still pressed onto the varnished top, oblivious to what had happened.

Dennis sat him up, wiping him with a napkin.

“Come on Colin! are you taking this poor bugger back or what?”

Said Gaz, taking a pull on his pint.

Everyone stood and stared for a moment.

“Do you know what?”

Said Tex.

“I’ll come with you Colin. Lets get the lad back.”

“Yep. I’ve had enough myself. I’ll come with you.”

I added.

Dennis pulled Tommy to his feet, Colin getting a grip on his other side.

“Hang on lads. What about the beer. The nights young yet!”

Gaz’s voice had taken a wheedling  tone. I think he realized he had gone too far.

We took Tommy briefly to the toilet, gave his face a quick wash and made our way out to the exit half carrying him  as he stumbled along, his head rolling around as we made our way back to the B&B.

It wasn’t long before we heard Gaz behind us.

“Lads! Hey! Lads! Hang on!”

He caught up, puffing slightly, looking sheepish.

It wasn’t worth saying anything so we continued on our way, the conversation vague, everyone tired by now.

We arrived back at the digs to find all the lights out. Exchanging glances Tex took a step forward and tried the door.

“Fuck me. Its locked.”

“What? Your Joking!”

“No! It’s locked!!”

There followed thirty odd minutes of banging on the door trying to rouse the manager. But all we could hear was the pony of a dog going mad somewhere in the back.

“What are we going to do?”

Asked Colin.

“I know!”

jumped in Gaz.

“My car! I’ve got my keys!”

“Actually, so have I!”

Agreed Colin.

“Thank Christ for that! Lets get in!’

I said.

Tommy burped gently.

Tex and Dennis who were supporting him, took a softer grip, gently holding him further away from themselves. It looked  was like they were handling a hand grenade.

“What about Tommy? ”

Queried Dennis, as the lad in question belched again, a slight bubble appearing at the side of his mouth then popped and disappeared.

Everyone exchanged glances.

It was like we reached a mutual silent agreement.

“Right. Fuckit. Tommy can sleep it off in your car Colin.”

“Wha-”

“We’ll sleep in yours Gaz.”

“Hang o-”

“Right-oh I’ll open up.”

Agreed Gaz.

“I’m not having that in my car. What if he goes off??!!”

Began Colin.

“Oh, here we go again!”

Fired up Gaz.

“Didn’t we just have all this about your responsabil-”

“Alright! Alright!! Fuckit!! Get him in the fucking car!”

Shouted Colin.

We eased Tommy gently into the front making him comfortable.

“Right. Where’s your motor ?”

Asked Tex, turning to Gaz.

“It here. Right behind Col’s.”

We turned to look behind to see  a rusty looking dented, small, Mini Metro.

mini metro

We all turned to look at Tommy gently slumbering in the front seat of Colin’s Escort Estate.

“Are you taking the piss? ”

Dennis shouted  at Gaz.

“Why didn’t you say you drove this at the start?”

“Well you can all fuck off if you think we’re moving Tommy now – he’s staying in there. He could go off if we disturb him!”

Shouted Colin, having reached breaking point.

“Shotgun!”

I shouted.

“I want the front seat!”

Flared up Colin.

“Sorry Colin lad, Mike shouted it. It’s like, The Law.”

Dennis explained.

What followed was one of the longest, most uncomfortable nights of my life.

Five men – all pissed but rapidly sobering up – jammed into a small space, cramping and attempting to find a comfortable position. I resigned myself to having someone’s legs dangle over my shoulders as they attempted to find a manageable position in the rear seat with two other fellas to contend with.

What kept waking me up was having said person use my cheek as a scratching post for their sock-clad foot.

The morning couldn’t come quick enough. And I assure you  – it didn’t.

I think the most rested person in our group was Tommy, who slept like a baby with myself or Gaz getting out every twenty minutes or so to check him.

Our Landlord and his young girlfriend had in fact spent the evening drinking in the pub, making up it appears. Upon settling their differences they had made their way to bed and slept the sleep of the devoutly drunk.

Making it impossible to rouse them.

We, on the other hand, spent our final day on the job walking around like we should have had a wheel chair each reflecting what it must be like to travel in a third world country.

car

I hate Mini Metro’s.

And I couldn’t say goodbye to Gaz quick enough..

Sleepless in Rotherham – Part 1

Myopic

We were sat around the bar in the  pub nursing a beer each, exchanging glances then rolling our eyes back to the ceiling,  listening to the rumble of an argument going on above our heads.

It was just the start of the evening.

I have to admit, I hesitated about writing this one.  Not that it was a terrible situation. It was just that I was trying to work out how I could actually portray the whole set of circumstances. Sometimes, what is incredibly funny is difficult to get across. Part of this problem is actually capturing the mentality of the moment, not the smuttiness.

I instead try to share the ridiculous circumstances that we can find ourselves in, reflect back upon them and laugh. I hope, (I really do every time I write one  of these ) that I manage to get that across and not have someone sat reading it thinking,

Jesus..

In this case, waking up intermittently to find someone’s legs dangling over your shoulders, using your cheek to itch the itch on that persons sock clad instep was verging on the ridiculous but I’ll get to that.

I had been working on a nightclub refurbishment over in the Yorkshire town of Rotherham.  It was a typical shopfitting job – 12 hour, 7 day weeks – and I had been there some several weeks already, but the end was in sight. The job was drawing to a close and a group of the lads had decided to go on a night out, let off some steam after a fairly intensive work period.

We were staying in a pub B&B a short distance from the job. The digs we were staying in were quite tired looking. A pub that let out the upper rooms of the property. These were basic bedrooms, 3 – 4 to a room with one box like wardrobe taking up space, a tiny sink, a small table, a tiny kettle (no cups or brewing gear) and one window.

Jammed into this room were the beds.  The pub had maybe 4 rooms available, all quite similar. The lads staying here shared two toilets and one bathroom, all situated at the end of the corridor that ran in between the rooms. The bathroom had one of those doesn’t-quite-work-showers that has no real pressure behind the water.

It just spits intermittently at you. All you could do was  jump in at the end of the day and get clean as best  you could.

The landlord, it has to be said, like to imbibe with the patrons, so that come bed time there would be a slight sway to his movements. Then he would throw the light switch and worry about cleaning up in the morning. This lacks-a-daisy approach was highlighted to me in the middle of my first night.

I made the mistake of getting up to go to the toilet in the early hours, opening the door to head off down the corridor to relieve my bulging bladder. Only to find  this huge, donkey of a dog, illuminated by a faint night light on the other side as I opened it.

I managed to slam it shut as it launched itself at me, its meaty weight thudding against the door as I  landed in the open wardrobe behind me with a muffled Whinny.

My urgent need to pee retreated immediately.

Then the shock hit me and I needed to go even more.

I clawed my way out of the clothes and hangers, panting and whimpering in turn, with the urgent need to go now ten fold. I was fumbling around in the dark crossing my legs trying to decide where I could relieve myself, while listening to the beast snarling and scratching away at the door.

Mmmmmm. Whats going onnn?”

Came the muffled question from a room mate.

“There’s a dog! Its not a dog! There a fucking werewolf  outside the door!! I need to piss! I think some piss is coming out!!!”

I replied, a slight hysterical edge to my voice as I stood clutching myself, hopping from one foot to the other, wondering how much pee a  toy kettle could hold. I wondered frantically what every one else had done before me. I do remember coherently  thinking through my panic,

If I get through this, don’t ever brew up in the kettle

 

KETTLE1

Nnnnnn. S’just the dog. Don’t go out. Piss out the window.”

I have to admit I actually stopped hopping around to momentarily  peer at the invisible person in the dark.

What?”

Mmmnnnn. S’window. Piss out the window.”

And the indistinct half asleep figure rolled over, burying himself in his duvet. I stared at him for a few moments then the urgency of my situation came pressing back.

Ah. Well. When in Rome…

It was a matter of moments to open the curtains slide the window up and – sweetbabyJesus – instant relief.

I had a quick moment of almost drying up again as the dog  – obviously feeling cheated – threw itself at the door briefly. But to be honest, nothing was interrupting that flow for long.

Eventually, the stream petered out, the relief indescribable. I climbed back into bed and took a deep, ragged breath and attempted to  settle back down. It took a while for the adrenaline slowly easing away.

The following morning after complaining to the landlord as he brought the breakfast through, and listening to his deep apologies, and knowing he wasn’t taken my near death seriously when he described his pet, saying,

“Aww, nay lad. He’s nobbut a big soft dog!”

I left the pub shaking my head, promising myself I wouldn’t get caught out again, only to see Dennis stood by his car, distracted, looking skywards then back to the vehicle, sniffing and  gingerly touching the roof and windscreen.

“Alright Den?’

I asked.

“Yeah. I think so. looks like someone’s poured something all over the car, Its all tacky…A bit sticky.

I had a moment where I gnawed a knuckle, thinking

Please God don’t  taste it,

but i’m happy to say  he managed to restrain himself from that next step.

The trouble with this kind of work is you tend to live out of a suitcase and never really settle. It becomes a blur of get up, go to work, back to digs, have your evening meal, beer and bed.  The real hard core would spend the  evening drinking which I never understood. You would literally be drinking away the money you were working away  to earn in the first place.

The accommodation was never the best either. Basic in the extreme and you always ended up sharing a room. This wasn’t so bad if you were there with a work mate you knew. But if you landed on a job as a new face, it was pot luck who you ended up sharing a bedroom with.

Initially it was four I didn’t know, a situation I hate, but more familiar faces appeared as the job progressed so that I ended up partnered with a good friend of mine, Tex. The room situation changed as the job progressed with people coming and going. The four sharing the room at this point were one guy I worked frequently with, (Tex) (See Tex, The Amazing Memory man and Fred West The Carpet Layer) one I knew (Gaz) and the other I didn’t very well (Dennis), who was the remainder of the four I started with in the room.

Due to the intensity of the work as the job neared its conclusion, the firm had sent extra lads up from the workshop to help give a final push. Two of these were Colin, an established bench hand joiner and Tommy the young 18 year old apprentice.

Tommy was a slight figure, a nervous quiet kid who hardly spoke. He wore the thickest, heaviest looking lenses I had ever seen on a young lad. He had that myopic way of tipping his head back to look down his nose through the glasses to really focus on something. It looked like he was trying to balance the glasses on his nose – which I wouldn’t be surprised about considering how heavy they  looked.

The overall impression left him looking at things with a slightly vacant expression, his mouth partly open each time he did it.

Every time I saw him he reminded me of the character Dustin Hoffman played in the film Papillon. papillon-1973--00

“Come on boys it our night out tonight!”

Shouted Gaz, throwing an arm around young Tommy’s shoulders and giving him an enthusiastic squeeze, as we made our way back to the digs to get ready. Gaz was enthusiastic about most things to be honest. His attention would flit from one thing to another in rapid succession.

It was hard keeping up at times.

Added to this was the site humour.  Which, was at times caustic even merciless. You just had to know how to handle it. Never show a reaction and if you did be damn sure you gave back a lot worse than was coming your way.

Gaz seemed to thrive on it.

He was quite ready to rib anyone he could. And Tommy, who I think  was just about getting through puberty – found himself fairly consistently in the firing line,  just because he didn’t know how to react.

And he was one of those kids that you just know, I mean really know, has spent most of his life being ribbed in one way or another and never been quite sure how to react to it. We all took turns to make sure he was ok. I mean a joke was a joke as long as it was funny but you didn’t want to make someone a victim.

Back at the digs and it was have something to eat, up stairs and wait for your turn for the shower, back to your room and dig something out of your case to wear and get your last pair of clean underpants out, handling them like they were the Holy Grail.

Quick spray of deodorant and it was down to the bar to wait for the others and a quick pint before heading out.

Which was where the evening began.

Lads began to filter into the vault, in good spirits looking forward to the night out. We scattered ourselves along the bar, a group of young couples at the other end of the room the only other people in the pub, friends of the landlords young girlfriend.

The land lord was a fifty-something big beer bellied chap. In complete contrast was his young twenty-something blond bimbo of a girlfriend.  In very trim shape if somewhat dizzy, it left you shaking your head  watching them together trying to understand the relationship.

The argument only became noticeable as the noise of it rose above our heads. As it became louder it became quieter in the bar as every one strained to listen in. I mean, you couldn’t actually hear anything. It was just the general undecipherable rumble of an obvious argument and punctuated by the heavy steps across the ceiling, slamming and banging of objects.

You only knew who was shouting by the change of octave as the young girl threw her obvious dissatisfaction  in.

The argument came to a final close with a solid THUD on the ceiling. Followed by the  stomp of steps away to one side and opening and slamming of a door.

We sat exchanging glances, laughing quietly. I think that’s another thing that we fail to admit at times. We do laugh at other peoples misfortune. Not necessarily in a nasty way but in a sniggering kind of observation.

It’s never as funny when your in the situation, but its always entertaining to watch someone else deal with it.

The young girl suddenly appeared amongst her friend, mascara runs on her cheeks and obviously unhappy. She was surrounded by her friends and whispered words of concern were expressed but all we could hear were her loud replies.

Ah only said, I didn’t agree! ‘E’s a bastard e is. Ah Bastard!”

(whisper whisper?)

Ah don’t care! Ah told ‘im! Ah’m no dolly bird! Ah’v a mind of ma own!”

Contrary to evidence.

(whisper whisper?)

‘E said ah was lucky to ‘av ‘im! The cheeky fat bastard! “E’s tha lucky one ah said!

(whisper whisper!)

Ah told ‘im – ah did! Ah said  -“A diet wouldn’t go amiss for tha’ likes of you!”

(whisper whisper?)

That’s when he smacked me right in tha’ kisser…”

We made our way into the night shortly after..

Tex, The Amazing Memory Man…

moustache2

It had been a difficult taxi ride home, as I was drunk enough to be unable to remember clearly directions to where I lived. And my wife was certainly no help being worse than I was. It was as I swayed outside my front door at 2 in the morning, with my wife propped against me, trying to make a key hit one of the 3 locks I could see. Closing one eye only narrowed it down to 2. Then the realization had struck me.

I had just arrived home, definitely the very worse for wear after returning from the evening celebrations of Gill’s wedding, the daughter of my friend Tex who I’ve mentioned before in Fred West The Carpet Layer.

Along with my wife, Jane and I, he had invited Jonny Moonshine and a friend Mark I had grown up with. We were a regular drinking gang and used to meet every-other Friday for a beer and a catch-up. The hotel was a lovely affair in Castleton, in between Manchester and Oldam, and the main room had been hired for the evening reception.

It was a beautiful summer, and I had spent the afternoon sunning myself in the garden, having a couple of cold beers and a relaxing read. I was looking forward to the evening and had already spoken to Tex to see how the day had gone. I think he was nervous but happy that things had run smoothly.

I was due to pick up John en-route to the venue, meeting Mark there. I have worked with Tex a fair few times over the years, and saw him on a regular basis. I’d known him from being 9 tears old, when we moved round the corner from him. Our garden ran the length of the adjacent 3 houses and my dad had converted one of the garages into a workshop at the bottom end of the garden.

Tex had done the same to his garage and his backed up to the side of my dads. Tex always knew when my dad was on a roll working in there, because all he’d hear was Bruce Springsteen thumping out. And when my dad had heard Tex machine wood he had stuck his head over the fence to have a chat about work. The end result being Tex eventually started working with us. Just as I began serving my time as an apprentice joiner.

Tex is always good company. Always talking and fills the spaces. And with work he’s meticulous with detail. Preparation being all. Always neat. Tidy. This is reflected in his personal presentation. Clean and tidy. Shaved each day, with a trimmed moustache. And as long as I’ve known him he’s had that moustache. Not a normal, plain moustache.

It’s a bristler.

moustache3

When a normal person is a bit indignant, annoyed or happy, the emotions are standard fare planted on their faces.

Tex’s has a moustache which adds to his facial expressions. It tends to reflect whatever mood he’s in. I don’t think he realizes. Its up, down or bristling, going which-ever way his lip takes it. Happy, sad, shock, indignation, angry… Every shape his mouth makes as circumstances dictate, his moustache is an extension of that current situation. It actually works like a 3rd eyebrow..
Its a very visual attachment on his face and adds gravitas to almost every expression he has. He’d look naked without it.

He always has something to talk about. Its like every day is a lesson in information when your in his company. He as an eclectic memory, and relates every story to you with a whole list of additional information and side-trips into other tales before finally getting back on track with the original train of thought.

The main thing with Tex is names. He remembers a persons whole name. I struggle to remember first names. Shit. Some days I can’t remember mine. When Tex is telling you some story from his past, he’ll tell you about a certain person and I think he knows their first, last, middle and confirmation names. And the names of the that persons dog. A conversation could go something like this.

“Saw Old Billy Mcglocklin the other day. Still going. He used to deliver meat to all the big hotels in town. Billy used to drink in the conservative club. Liked a pint of stout before a game of snooker. Said it worked like ballast. Always ordered in 3 pints just before the bell for last orders at 11. Would order a taxi for quarter past and down the last pint and be walking out the door to climb in it at 14 minutes past. Lived on Broadway. By that butchers. You know George? George the butcher? Had a brother called Albert? George lived down Crab lane, No 4- no No 5, off Swan Street?. Was a miner for 18 years before he started in the butchers. Married to Mary. She used to be a Finnerty before she married George. Then she became a Flannigan. Always said she preferred being a Finnerty. Didn’t sound so Irish she said. Don’t know if I agree with that mind. Well Billy went to school with her dad, Albert. Years ago mind. You know Albert? Albert Finnerty?….”

And the mustache would work along with the stories.

Bristling.

Eventually he would stop for breath, and you would be able to throw a question in that you had being trying to hold onto from about ten minutes ago. If, that is, you could remember what the start of the story was about.

Tex could have told you though.

It was the same with street names. He will tell you a tale about a job and you’d be able to drive there yourself by the end of it. There’d be some verbal side trips off to another place, as he’d remember something else mid-way through what he was explaining about, and you wouldn’t get back to the end of the original tale till you’d travelled to Wales, fished a beach, then travelled back (M56/M60 junct 18 etc) to, “Oh aye, that job over in Didsbury.”

And then know enough about it to be able to do the job yourself..

His ability to remember information is unbelievable. Someone could explain something to me and I’d be out the door ten minutes later and be stood there bewildered, wondering,

where was I?/how had I got there?/and wtf is this leaflet in my hand about improving my memory???

Tex is the most informative person I know. I’m extremely close to him and think of him like a 2nd dad. He’s one of the few people in this world I’d think of first to confide in if I had a problem.

I’d have made myself comfortable when he stood up to make the father-of-the-bride speech is all I’m saying.

He’s fantastic company and as your coming to understand, has so many tales to tell. And he can’t move on in a story until he’s nailed down an elusive name that’s on the tip of his tongue. So he be circling round the tale, not moving forward until he suddenly snatches the missing name from a distant memory, and everyone can take a breath again.

You wouldn’t want him as your pilot. He’d have a moment of hesitation, where he knew he could see the airport, but would be sure he had forgotten something, and would be patting his pockets and couldn’t land until he finally remembered what it was. There would be some flights you’d be circling round on fumes until you finally land and taxi to a stop on the runway. (And Breeeeeathe)

Anyway. Back to it.

We eventually arrived at the venue having collected Old john on the way. We met mark and went in to find a table and get settled in.

“I’ll get the first round in.” I offered.

We got the drinks in and made our way into the room, muted lighting and already busy with people who had been at the main event during the day. Sitting down at a table, covered in a lovely table-cloth with a flower arrangement and candle lit, we settled in and took stock.

Everybody had obviously had a good day. Its always stressful for the bride and groom, just the sheer nerves of the day. But it looked like they were finally able to relax and enjoy the evening. We managed to say hello to Gill and her new husband Pete, congratulating them both, then briefly catch up with Tex who was still up in the air but enjoying himself.

We carried on talking amongst ourselves, taking turns to buy a round. Then I started to complement the round with a shot of Vodka, from the bottle I had brought along. In the end we were just buying cans of redbull to add to it. Jonny Moonshine slid out his hip flask and began to compound the situation by adding his trademark Tennessee Potcheen. Which had an alcohol content of some where around dropping a hippo, just shy of killing it.

Definitely comatose level.

As you can imagine, things became unsteady. Old john seemed to be on a mission. Mark on the other hand had caught the eye of an attractive woman and had reigned in his drinking in an attempt to be able to communicate with her. Jane, who normally just doesn’t drink, seemed to be going for gold. I should have known things were heading in the wrong way when she demanded to dance with me when a slow number came on.

“S’dance. S’go dance. Now!”

Now normally I’m the last person she’d want to dance with. As I only dance from the belly button up. Everything below that point kind of becomes glued in place. Have you ever watched a football game with one of those wind-blown, tubular figures behind the goal, with air blowing through the torso so it stands upright? But really, the only parts that really move are the arms that are waving around its head like some sort of demented Mexican wave.

Yeah. That’s me.

Not that Jane cane write home about her dancing. But, well, I wouldn’t want to dance with me.

So I should have known she was blind drunk by that point.

Getting to the dance floor was an achievement all by itself. We were both weaving our way over to the crush, and I think our drunken staggering took us off in opposite directions of each other at one point. We were of the same mind you understand. But no actual coherent hand-eye co-ordination. And it was only by fortunate pin-balling off people in the direction we each took, that we were just plain lucky in bumping into each other on the dance floor.

Because, much as I love my wife, at that point I’d have clung to the bride if she landed in front of me.

We managed to get a firm grip on each other and gently swayed along to the slow tune.

What I believe happened next was, we actually fell asleep, each one slumped, propping the other upright. Because I suddenly came to with a start, with no-idea how many songs later, with the music half-way through some high tempo, Bee-Bop tune, and with bodies bouncing around our gently swaying postures.

Obviously it was time to go.

We made our way to the taxi’s outside and I’m still unsure how we got home.

It was there, at the front door that I suddenly realized we had forgotten Jonny Moonshine.

“Ohshiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!Ohshitohshitohshit!!”

What could I do? There was no way I could leave my wife. I couldn’t walk straight myself. Ah well. I’m sure he would understand. How drunk was he anyway? Nahhhh. He’d be finnnnnnne.

I was too drunk to worry over-much and I say with a little shame it didn’t take me long to go to sleep.

The next day dawned painfully. I took myself downstairs and made coffee. Lots of coffee. I was probably on my 3rd cup before I began to seriously sort out what had happened last night.

“oh shit! John!”

I was straight to the phone.

“Hello? John? Oh thank Christ for that! You OK? I’m reeeeeally sorry about last night John. Can’t apologize enough. You get back alright?”

As I connected with John and Mark that day, I managed to piece back together what had happened and they filled me in on their side of the evening.

Mark had spent the evening with the young lady, staying reasonably sober, even, arranging a date. John on the other hand was near paraletic. To the point of Mark realizing Jane and I had left, going in search of him to make sure he was ok.

He eventually found him in the men’s toilet, feeling his way around the walls. John unable to competently find the exit, had decided it was a process of elimination and was working his way around the toilet by feel alone. Along the wall, into then out of the first cubicle, into then out of the next and so on. Reasoning that one of these doors would lead to sanctuary.

Mark came across him just as he was feeling his way across the urinals.

Anyhow, it was a case of putting him in a taxi and sending him home. John told me the next day,

“The only thing I remember, and I have the bruise to show it, was trying to focus and lean forward to put my key in the front door. Only I completely missed and went head first into the bottom panel and nearly head-butted my way through it…It bloody hurt I know that.”

Jane didn’t even get out of bed the whole of the next day.

I know 3 things with confidence out of all this. Tex, would have taken a deep breath through his nose, and squared his shoulders, his moustache rising and bristling as he did so, and he most certainly would have remembered his way out of the toilet – for sure.

And, he’d have remembered his own street – definitely.

But, he sure as fuck, would have remembered Jonny Moonshine.

drunk