Wednesday, December 05, 2007

waggon wheels (rollin' rollin' rollin')

REMEMBER that famous film of the veteran US soldier in the wheelchair entitled "Born On the Fourth of July". Well I reckon the Prince of Darkness will star in the sequel "Born Yesterday".
Tuesday's Boozeday events were interrupted by a scruffy looking individual in a wheelchair who, however hard I tried to imagine it, bore absolutely no resemblance to Tom Cruise. Having been helped out of Sh*tty O'Grim's by a very kindly Smashy so that he could have a cigarette, the man in the chair, having drunk a steady stream of pints of Stella throughout the afternoon, decided to follow our motley crew to The Yard.
While the Wonderful One, Roberts and I were standing outside puffing on a tab, he rolled up to within a few feet of the pub back door and demanded: "Help me boys I am in desperate need of the toilet."
Withers was his usual christian self. Keeping his eyes firmly fixed in the other direction, he insisted: "I'm not helping him, that's Smashy's job. Anyway you might have to get his thingy out!"
Smashy, however, was firmly ensconsed in his pint inside and had not seen the dilemma facing us at a time of Goodwill to All Men.
At that moment the Prince of Darkness decided to join us for a cigarette. And, lo and behold, it was the macabre one who came to the rescue. Roberts, belatedly, sprang into action and they wheeled the poor chap, now fast asleep in his chair, down a ramp, into The Yard, and helped him into the toilet.
I can't record what happened within those confines because a. I wasn't going anywhere near the scene and b. Because the Prince and Roberts remained completely tightlipped when rejoining us at our table.
All Roberts would offer was "he's hardly an invalid, he's only busted his foot and he's got a plaster on that". He then insisted that our "war hero" would have no trouble leaving the confines of the men's room.
Ten minutes later and he was revising that assumption. "Come on Prince of Darkness, we'd better go and find him."
Moments later the Prince and Roberts emerged, pushing our poor vet out into the street once more.
Only Roberts returned. The Prince, he told us, had gone to help the poor blighter cross the road to O'Neill's.
Ten minutes passed... 15... 20. Of the Prince, there was no sign. Had he decided to push the geezer all the way back to his home in Culverhouse Cross, the invalid ordering "just a bit further mate," like that guy who carried a woman's pushchair to the top of a mountain in a famous episode of The League of Gentlemen?
Withers went out as a one-man search party to find him. He returned a few minutes later. No sign. He picked up his phone and tried to ring the Prince. There was a ringing noise on the table. The Prince had left his phone behind.
Finally, the Prince arrived, looking flushed and out of breath. "It's just not right," he said, shaking his scraggy main and turning puce from the cold and effort. "I pushed him into O'Neill's but they couldn't find the key to the disabled toilets. The bloke was very apologetic but it's a disgrace really.
"I then had to push him on to the Queen's Vaults. Thankfully someone knew where he lived and offered to make sure he got home. I had visions of walking the entire length of St Mary's Street looking for a toilet."
His mood wasn't helped when one of the Yard Birds (our politically correct nickname for the female members of the Yard staff) told him: "Oh yeah, he was hear the other day. Sick all down his front, p*ss*d himself. It's a regular occurence."
The invalid, I think she meant, NOT the Prince of Darkness.
I get the feeling the Prince might be hiding in the shadows next time the drinkers' version of Ironside comes asking questions...

Saturday night and we had an early finish. We were printing WoS in Birmingham so that they could shut the Cardiff press down and do urgent repairs. So we all decided to go out on the town to celebrate the birthday of Withers' flatmate Grace.
We decided to call this outing Super Saturday. It was like lifers being on day release from a maximum security prison, and we drank accordingly.
Smashy, the Prince, Baker Boy, Withers and myself were joined by Wren, Posh and Becks. Eventually we adjourned upstairs for their excellent Indie night Twisted by Design. And the booze kept flowing.
At one stage I bumped into one of my Beeb fan club Steffan, and to show our new cameraderie we took over a piano in a backroom - even though I have never played the thing before in my life. As a result we produced a quite effortlessly tuneless duet. Girlfriend Wren, frightened we would be chucked out or, worse, accosted by giant bouncers, stuck by her man. Or rather, she scarpered pretty quickish. Eventually an old bloke turned up and said: "Please leave it alone boys we have only just had it tuned."
At the end of the night, after voddies and all manner of other alcoholic mixtures, there was suddenly a great catastrophe. It began with Withers: "I can't find my coat!" he shouted.
I wandered over before he lost the plot, pointed to a coat three yards away and inquired: "Is that it?"
He looked at me quizzically. "Only when I have put my hands in the coat pockets and found something that I own can you call me a tw*t," he ordered.
Two seconds later I called him a tw*t.
Meanwhile, there was more upheavals elsewhere.
"I can't find my jacket," said Wren.
"Nor can I," declared the Prince.
"Nor me," said Smashy, making his way out of the building and down the stairs.
Within seconds I had found all three jackets. Just call me Coatfinder General.

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