I’ve mentioned some of my friends in previous posts and before I begin this story I just want to clear up any confusion. Down my local there is a Bri, who features in my book Me & Gus on the Roof of the World, a Baggy Bri and a Baggy – three totally separate people, you follow me so far? This story is about one of them: young Baggy.
Now, for reasons that I won’t go into, Baggy calls me Dad. You can whine, whinge and beg but I won’t tell you the history behind that sordid little tale. The following is a story that Gus told me and Baggy admitted to under later intense interrogation.
Last weekend Baggy woke up on a Saturday morning, after a heavy drinking session with his mates. Not for the first time he couldn’t find his phone. He’s always losing his phone/keys/wallet etc. He has another phone that he uses for work so, after spending the morning looking for it, he used the Where’s My Phone app to find out where he’d left it this time. The map came up with a location in Atherstone, about 10 miles from Tamworth. Even his befuddled brain told him that he hadn’t been to Atherstone the night before, so he reasoned: “Some little chav from there has nicked it.”
Bent on revenge and filled with righteous fury he jumped in his van and headed over to Atherstone to get it back, and possibly inflict a modicum of harm on the perp. Upon arrival in the middle of the town he checked the app again for a more precise reading. He was a bit surprised to find that it was now in Lichfield, the thief was on the move but he wasn’t going to escape!
Baggy was by now in a rage as he drove the 15 or so miles to Lichfield. Whoever it was would pay dearly for this. Upon arrival in the centre of Lichfield, Baggy again checked the app for a precise location. It was now in Tamworth again! “What the…?”
It might have been on the 5 mile drive back to Tamworth that he realised that maybe his phone might be wedged down the back of the seat in the taxi he went home in the night before…
I’m putting him up for adoption!
I’ve always wanted to be an inventor. A wild-haired, wild-eyed genius who could revel in his “EUREKA” moment. Inventing a machine that would change the world and make me massively famous. Inventing a labour saving device that would bear my name. I’d like to invent something like self-buttering toast – now that’s genius! I haven’t quite worked out how that could be achieved yet but it sounds grand: The Breslin Butterer.
How about a wife mute button for the remote control? You’re trying to watch the game but she chooses that moment to discuss…I don’t know, whatever earth shattering nonsense she feels needs to be discussed – although its just an excuse to prevent you from being happy of course. Fret no more my fellow sports fans. Hit the wife mute button and no sound will escape that yawning maw! Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure that this doesn’t constitute spousal abuse so I don’t see it even reaching the design phase.
In the end I won’t invent, design and build the greatest thing ever because of two small problems:
1) I am not an engineer
2) I’m thicker than a slice of elephant pie
There was one great idea I once had though, and I’m positive that if I had followed through with it at the time it would have made me millions. It was this:
If you have ever passed a building site you will have realised that builders only know the first line to songs, eg: “Take that ribbon from your hair, dum de dum de dumdumdoo…” or “I’ll have the last waltz with you, doo dum de dumdum da doodoo.”
Right, so I was going to bring out a compilation album of all the favourites from the building sites, and supply it along with a laminated song sheet so they can sing along with them. Now there is a type of footwear that is favoured by builders called Rigger Boots, and at the time I was formulating this idea there was a player at Liverpool FC from Cameroon called Rigobert Song. (You know where this is going don’t you?) The album would be called “Rigobert Song’s Rigger Boot Songs”.
I pictured the TV advert for it as having Rigobert in his football kit holding the laminated song sheet and accompanied by dancing girls in toolbelts and hard hats, singing along with “We had joy we had fun we had seasons in the sun…” “And now the end is near…” and many many more!
I’m telling you, it would have worked!!!!
Popeye couldn’t remember when he had become invisible. He remembered a time when he wasn’t, but the moment between being visible and becoming invisible was lost to him.
Perhaps it had been a gradual process: the colour slowing fading from him like an old photograph until he became transparent; his particles no longer wishing to stay solid turned him into a fine mist before disappearing altogether. Perhaps he had merely gone out as if a switch had been flicked – there one second and gone the next. He looked down, confused as to how an invisible man still cast a shadow.
Popeye had stood on this corner every day for more days than he could count. He had nowhere else to go. He had a home just up the way a little, a place where he slept, but he couldn’t bear to be in there during the day. Not without Irene.
Popeye was little more than a boy when he met Irene. He was at a dance in the town with his mates, the weekend before he shipped out. Excited at the adventures that lay ahead overseas, yet the moment he saw her across the room he knew he no longer wanted to go.
He’d never been scared of anything in his life before, but walking up to her that night and asking her to dance was the bravest thing he had ever done, or would ever do. They danced together all night until the band stopped playing. He walked her home, taking as small a step as he could, as they talked of everything they could think of, holding hands, happy. When they reached her door she stood on tiptoes and planted a little peck on his cheek and made him promise he’d come home safe.
Months of humping his rifle and pack in a stinking sweaty jungle, never knowing if they were waiting behind the next tree to ambush him, and every day all he could think of was getting home to Irene. Then one day he walked proudly back up her street in his uniform, topped off with his shiny medal, and claimed his prize. They married within a month and she gave him a precious daughter within a year.
He worked at the mill every day then came home to his wife and child a happy man. Eventually Elizabeth grew up and married to have a family of her own. He and Irene had the house to themselves and made plans for his retirement. They would travel the whole world.
It was the day he finished his very last shift and walked in the house newly retired when Irene first complained of feeling ill. They didn’t get to fulfil all those dreams because it didn’t take long for the cancer to see to her. He remembered clearly the day after the funeral, he left the house at first light and went and stood on the corner where his street met the main road. He didn’t return home until the sun went down. Without his Irene there was nothing there for him; the house was empty, dead. He stood on the corner and watched the world go by.
At first the locals stopped to talk to him. After a while it was reduced to nods and waves. Another generation and nobody knew him at all. People hurried by, the only recognition he got was from children who teased him because he vaguely resembled a cartoon character who like him had one eye larger than the other, smoked a pipe and shaved his head as he had been doing for years since his hair went thin on top. Somehow the name stuck and everyone started referring to him as Popeye. That was until he became invisible altogether.
Nobody spoke to him anymore; he hadn’t spoken to his daughter Elizabeth for a good while. The only reason he knew she was even alive was because she let herself in once a week to leave groceries for him and pick up the money he leaves for her. Popeye wasn’t even sure how old his grandchildren were by now.
The world kept turning and the seasons kept changing but one thing remained constant, Popeye would be stood on the corner. One day some local teenagers noticed he was there, how they could see him he didn’t know. They encircled him, taunting him, using language so foul that if their parents had anything about them they’d wash their mouths out with soap!
Popeye stood there, he did nothing. They’d get bored eventually and move along, leave an old man alone. A tear sprang up in his large eye and he tried to blink it back but they’d seen it. The taunting went to a new level:
“Look he’s crying!”
“Ahh, poor old bastard, want the nasty lads to leave you alone?”
“I think that might be advisable boys…” The voice behind them made them stop and spin around. The man behind them was in his late thirties at a guess, Popeye knew his dad and his granddad. Had seen him grow up from a scruffy little urchin but he’d never spoke to him. That was probably because Popeye was invisible.
The youngsters struggled to find courage amongst themselves; this was a live one, a much different prospect to a crazy old man. One of them stepped forward “Or what?”
He was grabbed by the lapels and dragged up onto his toes. “Or else I’ll give you the hiding of your life kid. This is Popeye’s corner and you’re not welcome on it. ”
The lad paled as he was let go, one last shout of bravado but they were already retreating: “I’ll have my dad on you.”
Popeye’s rescuer laughed, “I know your old man and he knows where to find me, I doubt he’ll turn up though.” He turned then to Popeye: “You need anything Popeye you know where to find me, yeah?” Then he walked away.
Dusk was gathering and it was time to head home. As he walked up his street Popeye smiled to himself for the first time in…who knows how long? He thought maybe he’d give Elizabeth a call.
At last, he was visible again.
I’m so sorry I haven’t been around recently – missed me?
I have been very busy recently doing stuff for others, so much that I haven’t had time for you and that’s not something I’m happy about. I hate abandoning my friends. Then, just as soon as I get it finished Mrs B turns up with yet another bug from that plague pit of an office she works in. They allow the bare minimum of sick leave so people come to work sick, honestly they once sacked someone in a coma – I kid you not! So this latest germ passes around the building like an unwanted gift gracing multiple weddings and then she brings it home to me. Bang – I’m in bed for a few days with sweats and shakes, feeling like I’ve got the world’s worst cold turkey.
We’re talking in-flu-en-za my friends. Not a bit of a sniffle, not man-flu as we’ve discussed before; this was a bad, nasty, evil, end of days, four horsemen of the apocalypse and their mom, extinction level event!
Today my temperature has dropped slightly below dangerous but I still feel crappy and have a cough that erupts from my lungs leaving pieces of my throat lining splattered across the screen every few seconds. But, damn it all, I will soldier on!
I won’t be watching the Super Bowl next year, I’ve had all I can take. Unless the Steelers happen to be playing, but after this season’s showing that might not be anytime soon. I do have legitimate reasons for deciding to stay away:
The game lasts an hour – 4 quarters of 15 minutes each. So why does the bloody thing take 5 hours? It started at 10pm GMT and finished at 3am the next morning. That’s right, it actually lasts two days! This means I cannot watch it live and so I record it to watch at a more godly hour. It also means I have to avoid anything that might tell me the score from the moment I wake up to the moment I get a spare 5 hours to sit down and watch it. Luckily I have a very handy fast forward button that means I can watch the whole thing in about half an hour if I cycle past all the messing about that goes on between plays and that awful noise that is the halftime show. Just shut up and get on with the game!
Why are there adverts every time play stops? Companies pay a fortune to get their ads on during the Super Bowl, yet I’m sure there are many like me that detest them for it and vow never to buy their products. Just shut up and get on with the game!
Why is there a three hour pre-game show where various “celebrities”, half of which I don’t even recognise, are asked their opinion of what the result might be? Who gives a big fat hairy hoot about their opinion? How much did they pay their agents to get this thirty second gig to boost their failing careers and make them seem in the slightest bit relevant? Just shut up and get on with the game!
How come the commentator announced that the Seattle Seahawks were now the WORLD champions when no one else is allowed to play? That’s why it’s called the National Football League, not the interNational Football League. Moron!
Which leads me very nicely to my last point: why is it called football when out of forty-odd players only one of them actually kicks it? Stupid stupid stupid game!!!
You might be wondering why I’m ranting this time – not that I usually need an excuse. The thing is sometimes me and Mrs B have a bet on certain things between us. I won’t tell you the amount, that’s not important and it will get me ranting again. Mrs B knows nothing about sport, any sport. She doesn’t care about sport and says the noise of the crowd gets on her nerves.
So this woman, who doesn’t know a punt from a hail mary, decides she wants to bet on the Seahawks. She doesn’t pick them because they had the best defensive record in the NFL, or that she thinks Russell Wilson is one of the most exciting young quarterbacks around. No, she chose them because she thought the Seattle Seahawks was a nice name.
Now do you see? Now do you realise why I’m ****** fuming? DAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m looking for Elsie. Why can’t I find Agnes, Iris, Lilly, Nelly, Betty or Beryl? Where is Gert these days?
You decided to name your children Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper Seven just like David and Victoria did; of course, the Beckhams are the height of good taste – not just chavs in Bentleys then? Ahh right, you thought it would be a good idea to call yours Bentley.
Sorry what? Miley’s a girl’s name?
I thought Blake, Crawford and Findlay were second names not first. It’s so confusing, I get mixed up. And then they tell me that Cheryl is now pronounced Shhh-eryl. It seems that now Kyle, Callum and Tyrese have moved in there’s no more room for Bert, Andy or Steve. Poppy and Pippa and Peaches have pushed out Paula.
Little Jacob, Jude and Noah are no saints I can tell you that, and…no really, you’re being serious: Miley’s a girl’s name?
I’m desperately seeking Susan but Charmaine, Chantelle and Chardonnay have never heard of her.
Oxfam: 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world
Oh no no no, not never again. I went through that detox thing I was telling you about and while yes, there is a definite improvement in how my body feels, my brain went into a mini meltdown.
DAY ONE: It was pretty easy. Some of the recipes were even (almost) tasty. I’ve never been a fan of avocado, and wheatgrass takes a bit of getting used to, but overall it was doable. I thought that I could breeze through as I didn’t feel hungry at all.
DAY TWO: I got used to being able to hold down avocado and still there were no pangs of hunger. This is a doddle! Already I was feeling more energised and the second day headaches I was expecting didn’t really materialise – bonus!
Yet, as the evening wore on, I started fantasising about food. I got an insatiable craving for toast. I tried ignoring it and concentrating on the television but the screen kept fading into the background as my mind’s eye was filled with different combinations on toast.
The corners of my mouth turned down and I swear I can’t remember the last time I felt so bloody miserable. That night I was awake until about 2.30am thinking about my favourite steak and kidney pie, before pure exhaustion drove me into a sleep plagued by dreams of Bakewell Tarts that begged me to eat them.
DAY THREE: My life felt empty. “Detoxing will make you feel great as the poisons leave your system” they said; it’s a lie. I didn’t feel great, not even remotely good. I longed for poisons.
Maybe I did appear to have more energy, but that was only because I was bouncing off the walls in the desperate need for a cup of tea: oh caffeine, I am so sorry I have forsaken your love!
Then, just as I thought I could not sink lower, I finally experienced that feeling known and feared by much older men than me – the moment you realise you can no longer trust your farts…
DAY FOUR: Forget it, there was no day four.
I decided that I would kick the whole thing to the kerb and stop being such a fool. I don’t need to torture myself with stuff I don’t like the taste of in order to be healthy. What is the point of living if you can’t enjoy it? Yes I’m going to eat better and replace one meal a day with a fruit and veg smoothie, but I am NOT going to make myself miserable by forsaking what little pleasures life has for me.
To my toaster: I’m sorry I’ve been away old friend, I promise I won’t ever leave you again.
Okay, maybe this post is over a week late but the sentiment remains the same – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
My sister bought me a juicer for Christmas so you can guess what my resolution was…yes that’s right, see how much dust the thing can gather in the cupboard. Not really, I’m only kidding! I’ve started a seven day juice detox today and intend to stick with it; I need to get years of poison and self-administered food and drink abuse out of my system so I’m not even sure 7 days will be enough.
This was my breakfast:
1/4 medium sized cucumber
10 oz. wheatgrass
And if that don’t have you hanging your head over the bowl I don’t know what will: it came out of the blender dark green – yeuch. I got the recipe from the Juice Master and I think the point might be that after throwing up and then beating him half to death I will feel so much better!
I can’t wait to see what’s for lunch
Something else I wanted to tell you about: I actually WROTE a letter! Not typed, not emailed – wrote, with a pen and paper. Wow. It has been that long since I did it the old-fashioned way I wasn’t sure if I could anymore.
I mean sure I make notes with a pen and paper but they are mostly illegible scrawls, a code known only to me, but a full letter in readable English? I’m still not sure how I managed it.
What happened was my uncle sent a xmas card and put a note in to say he was sorry he hadn’t read my book Me & Gus on the Roof of the World but he didn’t do eBooks, or emails for that matter. I wrote back to him to let him know he could get it on Amazon as a paperback (another shameless plug but I am, by definition, not ashamed hehehehe).
Writing a letter by hand feels good, much more personal than typing it out or emailing. I’m going to do it more often and I reckon you should give it a go too. As for detoxing…I’ll leave that up to you.
For human rights to flourish, religious rights have to come second | Deborah Orr