Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Song at the ear's turning

It was the Feast of St Trisant, the patron of Welsh rustlers, and I was celebrating down The Tethered Goat with a few honoured guests of our guild. Ron the Barman happened to be marking the 60th anniversary of his desertion from the Essex Irregulars - "Told me to stop shooting Dutchmen, so I legged it and carried on. Got a medal from someone - not sure who" - and was topping our pints of Champion's Freckled Johnson with belts of blue curaçao "for the Royal baby". Spirits and hemlines rode high as talk turned to New Year resolutions.

These midwinter pieties, much like careers and amorous rebuffs, simply don't occur to Welshmen, who preach the perennial pattern of "live slow, drink long, and leave someone else's corpse", but this year I suddenly yearned to make my mark - and not just in a jaundiced snow drift on the way home.

The public house is my natural environment, home as it is to dusty sedation, nostalgic odours and bedraggled women, and so here I must make my stand. I looked from companion to companion, and fast realised I would never outdrink the K-Man, outsmoke Dazza, beat The Dog in the "neighbours said he kept himself to himself" stakes or hint at the hedgerow allure of Rock-Chick No.3.

Again struck by my essential shallowness, I glanced up at the bar, past Shitty Dave, Maniac Postman and the undercover lager drinkers, and snagged on the Last Year in Marienbad loop that is Nottingham John's motorways-and-marketstalls monologue.

"...I telt him once if I telt him a million times not to come off at Tamworth that early, 'cause that's where the coppers patrol in unmarked Subarus..." he ground on at some blameless soak who'd never travelled further than the bookies on anything faster than his polished bunions.

And then it dawned on me. This is where I could excel. From my epic apprenticeship as a man in a pub, I could emerge as that master-craftstman of unfounded counsel - the Man In The Pub.

Too long has my lady wife had to burrow beagle-like deep into the set of my latest schemes, only to flush out the Bibulous Badger of Saloon Bar Bollocks, heralded as ever by the caveat "well, bloke down the pub said..."

How proud she'll be, I thought, no longer to have to disabuse, or sometimes simply abuse, me on such matters as whether stamps are legal tender, the Pope controls the European butter mountain, and owls cannot  physically be gay. Now it will be me sending husbands home with a fleaful of fibs in the ear.

It's not even 2014 yet, and I'm already preparing material for my debut next to the giant whisky bottle full of buttons and pesetas this Friday. Here's an amuse-bouche for you Epicurians of the expendable:

  • "If you knock off a policeman's wife while he's on duty, he can't arrest you..."
  • "The Queen lets you off if you eat a swan's wing, but only as long as you did it one-armed. You get a Royal Pardon. That's how they caught that Abu Hamza..."
  • "The mob and Castro killed Marilyn Monroe because they thought JFK was round her place - that and they was worried she'd make another film. Kennedy topped himself in grief, got the CIA to stage it to look like an assassination. Ginger Spice is their daughter, and all..."
  • "Earth's flat, mate - Moon as well. And I can prove it..."
  • "Japanese women, right..."

All of this wisdom can be yours for a pint of Abdication Special and some nuts - proper ones, mind, not them dry-roasted ones. Scientists showed they're made of sweepings, held together with piss and cocaine. On the other hand...