Thursday, January 31, 2008

Crispy Sea Bass in a chilli thai sauce

YOU may have noticed that there has been little activity on this blog lately. That is because the entire inhabitants of Wales on Sunday appear to have turned into some kind of God-fearing, non-drinking, early kipping cult. It is a bit like the Stepford Wives. One night the Fugitive leaves the pub rocking from that last couple of G and T's, the next day he is totally adverse to any suggestions that it might be worth "popping over the road for a few" after work.
And it has been very much the same with everyone else. The wonderful Withers (the tooth, the whole tooth and anything but the tooth) sidles away in that morose way of his, grumbling more than he has ever done. I think he may, in fact, have turned into Larry David.
"My name is misery and I shall inflict myself upon you at every opportunity," seems to be his mantra. Is this the same man who used to jump around mentally to ELO? I'm not so sure. I might have to pay him a surprise visit sometime, just to make sure Dirty Tim hasn't hidden the body somewhere and replaced it for an even more gloomy model. Might explain the New Year's Eve bruises.
It all reached a head last Friday when, for the first time in my living memory, not one staff member of WoS ventured over to the pub. Well, that doesn't include the Little Bowling Ball but he doesn't socialise much with us anyway on the basis that he disappears up the Boar's Backside to drink on his own and chat up any underage barmaid he can find: "Hello, my dear (creep, creep) fancy a rollie?" Thank God he's so old he thinks grooming on the web is the way spiders wash each other.
I felt very sad, and a bit deprived to be honest, as I wandered home on my own to a quiet night in with the telly, for God's sake. No Wren, either, on the basis that our work rotas are totally out of sync at the moment. Drat.
And the Prince of Darkness? Of course he wasn't abstaining. Trouble was he was away in Amsterdam with the Boss and his mates Biff, Griff, Jiff, Tiff and Sniff (to name a few Iffy types) getting up to all manner of things that I couldn't possibly guess at. It's not that the Prince is reticent to tell us about the good times he had while the rest of us were slaving away in Fawlty Towers, it's just that he can't remember any of it - apart from the sign on the wall of a pub called Nellies, where the boss stopped off to watch his beloved Bhoys. "No sectarian chanting, no smoking, no eating, no shouting..." sounded a bundle of laughs.

This week the former chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, David Moffett, paid us a visit to give us a talk on "Change Management". And very enjoyable it was, too. Quite useful, as well, for those of us at the sharp end of moulding together Meeja Wales.
His main laws seem to be: 1. Don't be afraid to piss anyone off. 2. Get rid of numpties. 3. Create chaos and build from there. Sound advice - it could even be the mantra of how I lead my life.
Also got to draw up a floor plan of how our new operations might be incorporated into the old offices. Spoke to IT about the situation and they made one hard and fast rule. "If we are to move all these computers around we insist on a clean desk policy."
"Absolutely," I replied, hoping they hadn't seen my desk of late. Come to think of it I HAVEN'T SEEN MY DESK OF LATE. Oh well.
The Gas, by the way, have drawn Southampton at home in the FA Cup fifth round. Wembley here we come. Rosey and Woody will both be shaking in their boots at the prospect of "the Mighty Red and White Stripes" having to pay a visit to Fortress Mem.

Cooked a very nice crispy sea bass this week, though the recipe from my new Nigel Slater book was actually supposed to be for Haddock or Hake, I believe. Still, this is how I did it...
Two fillets of sea bass
two tablespoons of cornflour
three red chillis
three spring onions, shredded
three cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
a tablespoon of light soy sauce
a tablespoon of thai fish sauce
a handful of basil and flat leaf parsley.

What I did:
Dragged the sea bass through the cornflour so it was nicely covered
heated vegetable or sunflower oil in a wok or deep pan - Enough to deep fry the bass.
When smoking hot deep fry the bass for three to four minutes then remove and keep warm in the oven, covered with foil
Drain off most of the oil but leave a small puddle int he bottom of the wok.
Fry up the spring onions, red chillis and garlic. The garlic must brown but not burn.
Add the soy sauce and fish sauce and stir.
Then add the basil and parsley.
Drizzle the sauce over the fish.

As an accompaniment I brought some new potatoes, halved, to the boil and simmered them for 10-15 minutes, then transferred them to a frying pan where I fried them in butter and oil together with some sliced leek.
When the potatoes crisped up and browned a bit I served them up as a side dish.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A birthday cornish pastie

WHAT better way to celebrate your birthday (the grand old age of 48 today) than to watch The Gas win a thrilling FA Cup tie against Fulham. Well, the game was played on a quagmire of a pitch and actually finished 0-0, but our lot are becoming a dab hand at penalties, having beaten a nine-man Orient side by the same manner in the previous round. I also enjoyed one of the fantastic cornish pasties they sell at the Mem. Next stop Barnet!

I had some great birthday presents, like a retro Rovers shirt from my brother, a Fall CD, two cookbooks and Sixth Sense, the story of the Gas' promotion year from Wren. I have also got Duncan Fletcher's autobiography so I can now find out the true story of why we poor Barmy Army souls had to suffer the humiliation of a 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia last winter. It seems a long time ago.

On Sunday Wren and I travelled up to Birmingham to finally buy the engagement ring. On the advice of Wathanovski we stayed overnight in the city - enjoying a relaxing night at the City Inn around the beautiful canal area. We had a good stroll around in the rain, then enjoyed a tasty evening meal at the Homemade Burger Co on the tow path.

Next morning we braved the bad weather to walk to the jewellery quarter where we got some helpful advice on how to search out the best quality diamonds, settling on a ring from Bond and Martin jewellers. I had spent the previous day trying to remember the pin number to my credit card. Eventually I got it right and handed over the hard-earned dosh, only to get a big shock the next day. Checking my bank statements I realised that instead of paying out of my credit card account, I had actually managed to stump up a rather substantial amount from my bills account, leaving me the best part of £500 overdrawn. Doh!
A quick call to the bank, though, and they generously agreed to extend my limit. Now I'll spend the rest of the year paying it off, I imagine. But it's all worth it - honest, Wren!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

bacon and mushroom sauce with grilled polenta

AT last Wren has seen my true colours - and she is still sticking by me. That must be some miracle in itself and well worth a gem encrusted ring running into, well, the hundreds. I was unable to contain myself on Shutts' leaving do night, particularly on arriving at the City Arms to see my own personal DJ in full flow.
All I needed to hear was the first few bars of XTC's Senses Working Overtime to wind my tie around my head, remove my shirt and leap around like a demented 40-something punk rocker - which I guess is what I am. Hammered, is the official word for it.
Still, there was no lasting damage, apart from the banging sensation in my head this morning, so I think I got away with it.

THERE was a terrific turnout to say goodbye to the big man and I was charged with drawing up a WoS souvenir front page for him and giving his leaving speech. I think both went down pretty well, but I have got to praise Shutts for his quick-thinking riposte to my monologue.
"When I arrived at Wales on Sunday I thought I knew everything there was to know about journalism," said the Big Man. "Rippers, quickly told me I was wrong, because HE knew everything about journalism!"
From there it was over to The Yard where the great and the good - former colleagues of the gentle giant - arrived en masse. There was also his little harem of party-girl Lyds, Sian off the Echo and others too many to mention.
Even good old Rosey and Becks got on the train from London to turn up and wish him bon voyage. Not that he is going very far, just around the corner to Llandaff Towers. He has landed a job on the Beeb website. Traitor.
Harry Hawkins, our former work experience lad who always enters to his own theme tune, turned up as well. When Harry makes an appearance the entire WoS crew sticks its thumbs behind its lapels, in the manner of Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins, and bounces around from foot to foot, knees pumping high, to bellow in Mockney voices "Arry Awkins, Arry Awkins, Arry, Arry Arry Awkins". Poor bloke, must be getting a bit sick of it by now. Mind you, serves him right for working on the Newport Argos Catalogue, I mean newspaper.
There was also a brief appearance by the grey-bearded wizard of former sports desks across south Wales, one Ray Parker. Ray, now retired, didn't realise until I informed him last night that his name prompts a hundred impression on the People and Star news desks when mentioned. Thanks to my old mate Stu, who used to take off Ray for them on a Saturday night.
You see Ray used to do a bit of radio, and covered Merthyr Tydfil for his sins.
And Stu loved the way he used to sign off: "This is Ray Parkeeeer from Penydaaaaren Paaark". A legend, our Ray, more so than he realises.

At one stage I somehow managed to forget the smoking ban, lighting up in the upstairs bar of The Yard, to which Rosey gently reminded me: "Rippers, you can't smoke in here any more".
The amount I've moaned on about it, you would think I would remember its existence.
That was probably the last coherent thought I had that night.

On Thursday night I had some ready-cooked polenta, and decided it would be a good idea to grill it with some grated parmesan sprinkled on top.
It would be a bit plain on its own so I mixed up a quick bacon, mushroom and tomato sauce.
I chopped up onions and crushed some garlic, then fried it gently in olive oil and butter so that it softened, adding bacon and turning the heat up slightly to cook it.
I then added a mixture of button mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms and oyster mushrooms and cooked them for a while before adding four tomatoes, pureed in the new mixer Wren bought me for christmas, along with a handful of ripped basil and flat-leaf parsley leaves and some salt and black pepper.
Leaving that to simmer on the stove I then turned the grill up to full and chopped the polenta into thick slices. I gave them a quick dusting of olive oil then cooked them on the one side (it took a while to get them to crisp) before turning them over and grating the parmesan over the top. When that started to brown I removed them from the grill, put them on a plate then poured the bacon and mushroom mixture over the top.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A nice Italian (psychologist)

I feel like I've somehow wandered onto the set of the fugitive. Rather than sitting next to good old Roberts he appears to have been replaced by Dr Richard Kimble. Where once there was an Elvis Presley wannabe there now seems to be a haunted figure on the run from the law. I keep looking around to see if Tommy Lee Jones is lurking in the background.
Friends assure me that said mystery man is, in fact, Roberts. The difference is that he has decided to grow himself a thick black beard which entirely covers his chin and ages him about 15 years. This is a man who, only a couple of weeks ago, was talking about having a middle aged crisis, having reached the astoundingly old age of 41. Never mind.

Talking of youngsters, the big man is leaving. Shutts dragged his huge frame out of the building on Saturday and will never be seen lurking the corridors handing out pattacakes to his girlie groupies again. A sad thing.
He will leave a big hole in our lives, mainly down to the fact that he's so tall he makes the Eiffel Tower look like a traffic cone. Not only that, but he was the tea monitor, badgering you every minute of the day. "£1 for a cup of tea, Rippers?" he would say like some overgrown version of Cardiff's favourite tramp, Shaky Hands Man.
Still, I'll miss the big yun. He is off to work on the Beeb's website, poor chap, and no doubt he will come back kicking and screaming to join us all in the wonderful new world that is Meeja Wales.
For now, though, we are saying an extended goodbye to him.

On Wednesday we went out to a nice little Italian restaurant to bid farewell to the big man. I had offered to pay, having received our generous christmas donation from one of the correspondents who believes the best way to continue writing stuff for the paper is to send us enormous cheques in the post. And, by jove, it seems to work.
Anyway, enough of this bribery and corruption, on to more exciting matters. There was Wathanovski, Smashy, the Prince of Darkness, the Fugitive, Shutts and myself who visited Prezzo on St Mary's Street in Cardiff.
Kimble, being the swarthe bastard he claims to be, perused the wine list and ordered a special vintage for the table, without checking for anyone else's approval. When the Lithuanian waitress returned later with the wrong one he was not best pleased and sent her scurrying back to the kitchen - poor girl.
That was when the restaurant decided to send in the big guns in the form of another waitress who obviously had experience of dealing with the likes of the prickly one. After a brief conversation she looked into the Fugitive's eyes and declared: "I'm a student psychologist". We all waited for answers, but even she wasn't qualified enough to analyse the workings of our colleague's mind.
It was an enjoyable meal, it must be said. I had a very nice, and pretty spicy, Calzone.
And it was helped all the more by the fact our departing colleague Shutts didn't drink all night - him being t-total - and turned himself into designated driver to give us all a lift home. Another reason why he'll be greatly missed.

The wonderful Withers has two new front teeth. They cost £2,600. Ouch!
As he put it, instead of going to the City Arms on New Year's Eve it would have been cheaper to take a round trip to Sydney to see the fireworks on the harbour bridge.
Mind you, Withers probably would have fallen off.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dexter John Perry - a tribute

THE packed crematorium was hushed, a tear in most eyes, as we said farewell to all-round good guy Dexter Perry, who died over Christmas after a long-running battle with illness. A sad day. But I couldn't help but break into a smile as the vicar bowed his head and the music began - not the soul-searching sound of the church organ but the opening bar chords of that great Clash anthem "Should I stay or should I go?". I must admit the man in charge of the service didn't quite know how to act as Joe Strummer bellowed: "Darling you've got to let me know... should I stay or should I go?"
If requesting this particular piece of music - rather than the more common choices of Frank Sinatra's My Way or Robbie Williams’ Angels - was Dexter's final act, then it was one that summed him up. A person full of mischief, good humour and, put simply, fun. And in answer to the question: You should have stayed, Dex, for much longer.

THE first time I heard the name Dexter Perry was when I was at junior school. My future friend didn't even go to the same one as me but as a kid I used to report on the school football team (being classed too small to play in it - some things never change!)
One day our sportsmaster gathered the team around for a pre-match briefing. He finished it off with "... and don't you worry about that Dexter Perry." Even at the age of 10 his impact was spreading far and wide.
By the time I got to the Ridings High School his name was already legendary, possibly because his dad had taken to naming him after that former England cricket captain Ted Dexter. It was a name that stood out. And Dexter - tall for his age, well built, and a dab hand at any sport he chose to follow, whether it be basketball, football or athletics - lived up to the name.
It was after school that we started to get to know each other - at the Rising Sun public house in Frampton Cotterell, if the truth were known. We used to sneak in there as 14 year olds, Dex tall enough to pass for a lot older while I hid behind him, wearing a cravat because I was convinced it made me appear more mature.
Evenings of knocking back cider and blackcurrant or lager and black, accompanied by a game of three-card brag, were followed by a slow, meandering wobble to Fromeside Youth Club for a night of mayhem. Underage drinking? Terrible thing.

There was also a famous trip to the Rheine Valley in Germany. A crowd of us went across and I recall a night spent drinking German Bier in the front room of a bar that resembled a little house. While we supped away at the strong lager we watched European football on the TV, cheering on West Ham and singing "I'm forever blowing bubbles". When we realised that you didn't have to pay for your beers immediately we kept getting the orders in, then worried what the final tab would be. Looking at each other, we did an immediate runner back to the hotel.
Dex had been wearing green that night but by the time the teacher knocked on our dorm door an hour later most of us were ready for bed. The only one who wasn't was Graham - and he hadn't been with us that night. When we opened the door the teacher announced: "A local bar has complained that a group of English schoolkids had run away without paying for drinks. He said one of them was wearing green trousers and a green shirt." His eyes scanned Graham whose clothes, purely co-incidentally, were a complete match. The legend of Shades of Green was born.

A bit older and Dex and I began to frequent the Western Coach House. The landlord there, Howard, told us he was thinking of launching a pool team and, naturally, we became the founder members. It shocked Howard a bit though when I suggested we put on a bit of a bash for Dex's birthday. "How old will he be?" asked the barkeep. "Um, 18 actually," was the reply. This was around a year after we first became regulars.

I recall, too, when Dex first began his job at Sun Life in Bristol. I used to meet him in the Full Moon in Stokes Croft for games of pool with his workmates, normally followed by a good old session. And I remember when he first met Karen, nee Paulton, his future wife, and the instant chemistry between the two.

The build-up to the wedding, though, didn't go without its hiccups. Quite alot, in fact, when you consider the stag night was a visit to Bath and an evening's supping of strong natch - natural dry cider. Having hired a coach for the trip it departed the following morning with only five of the original 20 strong party on board - the rest of us were in the cells at Bath police station trying to uncover who had smashed a window in the local supermarket. I pleaded complete innocence for this, having only turned up at the door of the cop shop to ask the way to the coach depot. After a number of interviews the culprit was finally uncovered: Dexter's best man.
When Karen found out he was promptly removed from the post...

The last time I saw Dex was on the night bus on the way back from Bristol at about 2 in the morning. We had a grand reunion before he went into hospital for another operation which amounted to a full blood transfusion. It was a great night, catching up after more than 25 years. He had lost a bit of hair and was the father of two lads, Jordan and Taylor, but apart from that he had changed very little. He still had the element of mischief, the cheeky grin and the love of fun. We ended up in some super club called Oceania which had a floor for 70s and 80s music. It was like old times. And I almost lost my shoes after kicking them off for a dance. I luckily caught a waiter as he walked off with them on a tray alongside all the glasses he had been collecting.

Thursday was a sad, wet day, but great to catch up with old school friends, some of whom I didn't recognise. There was a Labour MP, Dexter's life-long partner-in-crime, Danny Norris or Nogin as we knew him. There was also Martin Mogy Caine, Mike Salter, Haydn Vaulters, Rich Burden and Pete Brunt - to name just a few. Even Howard and Moira, who had run the coachhouse during those heady days in the late 70s and early 80s, were there. It reminded me of what great times those had been and of which Dex had been an integral part. He will be greatly missed.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Wedding cake

I can't hide the truth any longer. I have been having these terrible urges lately and I think I am going to have to come clean before I drive myself batty. And I apologise to those poor souls who know about it already but... I am going to marry Wren.
Not today, you understand. It is a bit late to arrange that now. Not even next week, I shouldn't think, because we are still financially struggling to get over that festival of ridiculous excess they call Christmas. In fact, I am not really sure when. The first job is to actually get an engagement ring.
But for me to take such a giant leap, particularly after my previous dire history of broken down relationships, is pretty monumental, earth-shattering, stuff. I guess, though, that the impact Wren has had on me is... well... the equivalent of the impact a concrete pavement might have on a set of the wonderful One's Gnashers. Anyway, that's enough soppiness...

Talking of the wonderful one, it was pointed out to me the other day by the mischievous Wathanovski that the wonderful Withers of WoS may have put his broadcasting career in jeopardy by his "fall from grace".
He is certainly struggling to speak at the moment and perhaps the best thing is that the docs have told him that due to the absurdly strong painkillers he is taking he won't be able to drink for THREE MONTHS - that should prevent any more serious pavement mishaps, at least.
Of course by then Boozeday Tuesday will officially be a thing of the past. The poor dab must have surgery and root canal work done, as well as a new set of crowns fitted to fill the gap he is currently lisping through.
It isn't funny so the heartless actions of my fellow colleagues have left me open mouthed (sorry about that).
There was the Voice of God the other day asking Withers, on his first day back at work, whether he could repeat that catchy phrase: "Red lorry, yellow lorry".
Picking up on this theme the Fab BB - who went above and beyond the call of duty to return to work and help out our desperately short-staffed crew even though he actually finished for good two weeks ago - inquired whether Withers might attempt: "Around the ragged rocks, the ragged rascal ran."
Cheap laughs all round. It does make me wonder, though, if we have a new Jonafon Woss in our midst. I have even found myself addressing him with the title he loves best: The whiter and bwordcathter Math Withhhus."

Talking of weddings Wren, Roberts, Shutts and I were honoured guests at the nuptials of our old friend Nickers last week. It was held at the lovely Miskin Manor just outside Cardiff.
We missed the actual ceremony because of work commitments and the party was in full swing by the time we arrived. But we still managed to catch up on the drinking, which is the joy of having a designated tee-total driver like Shutts around to ferry you back and forth.
Nickers looked radiant, and smashed to be fair, but had obviously had a wonderful time. A live band provided the music, the food was great and it was just a shame the bar shut early. By that time, though, and after a long Saturday in the office, it was probably just as well.
Best of luck Nickers and Gareth, I hope it all works out great. You're on my wedding list for 2012 (joking, Wren, honest!)

... And finally, for a recipe (shock, horror I hear you cry). I wanted something quick and easy and some Nigel Slater recipe cards free with the Observer mag provided the perfect answer.
The bean and bacon gratin I made certainly filled a hole.
1 large onion
2 tbsp olive oil
thyme sprigs
smoked bacon (six chopped rashers) or pancetta cubes
2 cans 400gms haricot beans
200g creme fraiche
3 tbsp parmesan cheese.

Set the oven to 200/gas mark 6
Peel onion, halve it then cut into thick slices.
pour olive oil into frying pan.
Cook onions till golden and soft then add leaves from the thyme sprigs and stir in.
Put the bacon or pancetta into the pan and stir occasionally until fragrant but NOT browned.
Drain beans, rinse in a sieve under cold tap.
Tip into onions and bacon, then add the creme and stir till it bubbles.
Check seasoning, and add salt and pepper if required. It will probably need some.
Put in a baking dish, grate cheese over the top, then bake for 30 minutes till top crisps and bubbles around the edges.
Serve with whatever you fancy. How about a nice French baton with butter or a stick of garlic bread? Yummy!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hospital food (through a straw)

LIKE a persistent FBI investigator, this blog is trying to piece together the events of the early hours of New Year's Day in the hope of discovering the whereabouts of a set of missing front teeth.
Not mine, you understand. You may recall I broke one of mine on exactly the same day last year in Sydney when a particularly tough piece of pork crackling was to blame.
No, the latest incident happened after a fab New Year's Eve party in the City Arms, with music provided courtesy of my own personal DJ Jase. The great and the good of the Meeja Wales formation-boozing ensemble gathered at this favourite haunt in Cardiff to ring in 2008 in style.
The Prince of Darkness and the Wonderful Withers of WoS had got the jump on the rest of us, however, having begun to celebrate the end of another fondly forgettable 12 months with some early supping in the Romilly in Canton.
By the time I arrived at 7. 30 the Prince was already tucking into the vodkas with merry glee while WWW was complaining in typical fashion. This time his exact phrase was "It doesn't matter what I drink, I just can't get a buzz on".
Soon the gathered clan was joined by the Fab BB - making yet another great departing gesture before his move to the Smoke - Mad Liz, Smashy, Nicey and Tucker. There was talk at this stage of perhaps moving on, but then DJ Jase roared into action. First he played some Stones and Bowie songs which brought an excited response from the Fab BB, dressed in a jacket which had obviously been filched from an inattentive Royal Navy employee. Upon it was displayed an old war medal and what appeared to be a Metropolitan police badge. "I got it off the internet," he announced, proudly. What he got the war medal for is another matter - battling against the hordes to reach the front of the stage on Men dressed as Ladies night, perhaps.
As I prepared to retire for a ciggie outside my DJ played his mastercard, forcing Withers and I to move into the bar and dance floor area. XTC's "Senses working overtime", my signature tune and one of only two songs by the band our DJ actually possesses, blasted out through the speakers. "1, 2, 3, 4, 5!" we sang with hand gestures indicating that, at this stage of the evening at least, we could still count.
Soon the night was in full swing. There was Rock N Roll by Led Zepp, followed by an excellent set of Ska songs featuring Bad Manners and the Specials. The dancing became more and more frenzied as the beers passed effortlessly down our throats.
The Wonderful One then came up with a masterstroke, and soon Jilted John by Jilted John was blaring out of the speakers. Time for an impromptu pogo. Anyone of my age knows the words off by heart and can roar them at the top of their voices, which I proceeded to do.
As midnight approached the kind bar staff began to give out paper hats and party streamers to help us see in the new year in the appropriate manner. I was delighted to take possession of a paper pirate hat, which went nicely with the magic pirate fingerless gloves that Wren bought me for Christmas. To the uninitiated the Pirate is the symbol for my wonderfully ordinary football team Bristol Rovers - the Gas, as we like to call ourselves.
So 2007 passed out of sight and in came 2008. And with it an early mystery that would tax the combined brains of Poirot, Colombo, Ironside and Sherlock Holmes.
By 1.30 I was safely tucked up in bed with my "The Gas Are Going Up" DVD. And next day past pretty uneventfully as I lazed about, watched more DVDs and made myself a pretty enjoyable supper of Bacon and Beans gratin, a recipe for which I shall post on this site at a later date. There are far more interesting things to impart.
At around 6 I had a phone call from the Wonderful One. "How are you, mate?" I inquired of my colleague.
"Pretty bad, actually," he replied. Hmm. Not an unusual response from the most miserable man in the world. On this occasion, though, he had good reason.
"On the way home I tripped over somehow, landed on my face, knocked out my front teeth again and ended up in A and E," he explained matter-of-factly. Apparently Withers who, as usual, had been carrying the bare minimum amount of money, somehow came across a taxi driver infused with season goodwill who took him to the hospital.
The next day he looked like he had gone six rounds with Mike Tyson. Apparently, even the hospital staff found it hard to believe he had simply tripped and landed on his face. Anyway, the upshot was he was off work, having to visit another doctor the next day. The nerves in his face were damaged, among other things. Terrible.
Details of the fall are, however, very sketchy. And because of that the mystery has been growing. It was fuelled by the appearance of Mad Liz at work on Wednesday, having used strategically placed make up to hide a black eye. "I don't remember how it happened... I must have fallen over," came the excuse. Sound familiar?
Now certain things come back to me, like the way the wonderful One, resembling one of those zombie characters in Shaun of the Dead, was reaching out towards our scatterbrained photographer and pursuing her around the City Arms in the later stages of the evening. I also understand they were the last two of our gang to leave the pub in the early hours.
Could the two injuries be intrinsically linked? Or is it just an incredible coincidence? Who knows? All I can tell you is that ze leetle grey cells are trying to get to the bottom of it.