Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
Two to talk
Up in the Lake District, bright and early - about 8 in the morning - me and 12 other men were awoken by a cursive knock on the unlocked door. We were all suffering horribly from drink and cocaine hangovers. I was the oldest, by at least ten years.
It was Johnny's father, come to deliver a massive lump of wood-hard stuff which he called 'bacon'.
The 'bacon' was cooked, but only one of us had the teeth to deal with it, the rest just having eggs for fear of stroke and heart-attack from the home-cured meat.
"Suck on that, lads!"
The night before, we had won the quiz in the local pub thanks, in the greater part, to the only gay in the very small village, who came through to the lounge bar with his radio microphone, and mouthed the answers to us in full view of the regulars, who watched in horror and resentment from the other side.
We did not pay for anything that night, and our £150 tab set up behind the counter was still pretty much intact for the next couple of days.
Johnny's father was a small, intense and very keen fly-fisherman. I had a few conversations with him before he died a few years ago, and I still see his old Volvo Estate being driven around Bath by a friend.
He would fire out a question - well, not so much a question as a fact of life - at you, then wait for your reaction to it by moving close to your face and staring intently into your eyes, in some sort of benign challenge.
"I'll tell you that for nothing!"
These stares lasted exactly the same time as the deliberate pauses in a piece of Tango music played on an accordion, I have just realised.