Chapter flippin’ Five.
And welcome back to all you grunt and grapple fans to the Town Hall here in Pudsey for an afternoon of high quality wrestling. Whoops, that’s not quite right, is it? Just a little touch of the old Kent Walton’s there. I’m a martyr to it, honestly I am. Every once in a while I just get the urge to don a tweed jacket and a pair of Farah slacks whilst describing the questionably athletic throws, jumps, presses and forearm smashes of any number of unquestionably unathletic big blokes courtesy of quaint Northern villages such as Halifax, Rochdale, Doncaster, Keighley and Oldham very unathletic.
The front bar of the _Paul_And_Land_Arms_ had grown quieter, Mavis and Hermione had gone home for a special Tuesday Weld tea (as is customary on Tuesday Weld), all the bank staff (except ‘Moley’) had likewise gone home for a likewise special Tuesday Weld tea (well it is Tuesday Weld after all), the men who enjoy fisticuffs (you will not be surprised to hear) had gone home for special Tuesday Weld teas (being as it is Tuesday Weld) and the various fourth and fifth formers from the Big School (who had been joined by some former fifth formers) had gone for a Chinese Takeaway. ‘Snarl’ had had his special Tuesday Weld tea and still had his snout stuck in the empty Cheesy Wotsits packet (Family sized) whilst Big Helga was contemplating as to whether Mr Singh would stock Family sized indigestion remedy because as sure as eggs is eggs (or is it eggs are eggs? Well there you go Poindexter, another sally down the somewhat confusing country lane of language but this particular bridleway is quite meaningless at this juncture so we will continue. From the top, three, two, one and we’re in in Big Helga’s head – indigestion remedy and ACTION!) ‘Snarl’ would have a gippy tummy after all those Cheesy Wotsits.
‘Blackheart’ was doing some drilling, ‘Moley’ was sweating, ‘Kid’ was thinking about the toilet. It’s not everyday that perspiration, drilling and toilets get mentioned in the same sentence and that is precisely why ‘Snarl’s’ ears pricked up. Big Helga noticed ‘Snarl’s’ pricked up ears (well actually she noticed the empty Cheesy Wotsits packet and the somewhat cheesy whiff emanating from ‘Snarl’s’ back-end and as a secondary spotted the pricked up ears and the part dog stare at the door marked ‘GENTS’) and put two and two together. Twenty two. Helga went into her office again to make another echoey phone call thankful for the escape from ‘Snarl’s’ somewhat overpowering rear.
BH (In a heavy Cheshire brogue): Hi, Arturo.
Voice at the other end of the phone who is clearly called Arturo: Now then Helga.
(Perhaps we should break off from this racy plot for a moment to introduce Arturo. Just for clarity, you realise. Arturo Moto, along with his brother, Ken Moto, own the bike shop in _Paul_And_Land_. Good honest toil of which the brothers were rightly proud. So proud that they’d had a photograph taken on their opening day with the two brothers standing outside the shop under the newly painted sign ‘Ken & Arturo Moto: Cycle Maintenance’.)
BH: Got a little problem in the _Paul_And_Land_Arms_ Arturo, can you and Ken pop over and bring a few bits?
AM: I’ve told you a million times Helga, we don’t stock parts for Panzer Tanks.
(Once again we shall break off for a short moment to discuss Arturo and his particular habit. Continuing the theme of television and Iceland, Arturo is, to date, the only _Paul_And_Land_er to have appeared on Mastermind. Having plonked himself in that there black leatherette chair, Magnus Magnusson started. “Your name?”, “Arturo Moto”, “Your occupation?”, “Cycle Engineer”, “Your specialist subject?”, ” Exaggeration”. “Arturo Moto, cycle engineer from _Paul_And_Land_ your two minutes on exaggeration starts now”.)
BH: No, Arturo, it’s not bits for Maurice (you may recall that Maurice is Helga’s name for her Panzer Tank. If you don’t recall it then you know now).
AM: So what’re you after then, Helga?
BH: If you and Ken could pop over with a few inner tubes, a set of cow-horn handlebars, one of them bags that hang off the back of the seat and a puncture repair kit I’d be well made up Arturo.
AM: What size inner tubes, Helga?
BH: Doesn’t really matter Arturo, bring a selection. And before you ask, no, I’m not really bothered about the colour of the bag.
AM: Inner tubes, bike bag, cow-horn handlebars and a puncture repair kit. Aye, we’ve got all those Helga. See you in a few minutes. Err, hope you don’t mind me asking but this line is a bit echoey, are you in the toilet?
BH: Arturo, what kind of question is that to ask a lady? But talking of toilets, could you pass those bits through the Gents toilet window…
Arturo didn’t question quite why Helga wanted these various bits of bicycle nor why she wanted them passed through the window of the Gents toilet in the _Paul_And_Land_Arms_. The last person who had questioned Big Helga had been the referee in the friendly game between the _Paul_And_Land_Arms_ XI and Association Sportive des Employés et Commerçants de Koudougou (yes, really) and he is believed to now be in a supporting role somewhere on the M40 near to the Cherwell Valley Services.
As yet, ‘Kid’ hadn’t been to the Gents, he was waiting for a lull in ‘Blackheart’s’ drilling to raise his hand and ask to be excused. Yes, we will get back to the drilling bit in a while, just in case you thought that I’d forgotten about it. It’s good to know that you’re following the plot and we do appreciate it. Honestly. Is that a new pair of slippers? They look really comfy and I bet they’re warm too. Just the job for colder evenings in winter. Where were we? Ken and Arturo delivering bike bits and ‘Kid’ wanting the toilet.
The door of the _Paul_And_Land_Arms_ swang open and an oriental fellow entered clad in overalls. The tattooed untattooed man looked up from his paper and said “Alright Ken?” to which the oriental fellow clad in overalls replied “Not so bad” and then seeing the Landlord continued “Na then, mine host”. The Landlord, who had been engrossed in he Kansas City Star Crossword of December 26 1987 (7 Down, He, in Tarantao), looked up, nodded and replied “You alright then, Ken?” Looking around the bar, the oriental man clad in overalls next said “Alright Helga?” “Not so bad Ken, how’s yourself?”, “Can’t complain love, hey up Snarl what you got stuck on your nose you daft sod?” At risk of stating the obvious, the oriental man clad in overalls was clearly called Ken. As if to confirm this, there was a badge stitched on to the overalls above the breast pocket which read ‘Ken’ so I reckon we’re on pretty safe ground in the assumption that Ken is, in reality, Ken.
“Fancy a pint Ken?” asked the tattooed untattooed man and the reply was in the affirmative “Aye, the usual please”. The tattooed untattooed man began pouring a pint of Snow Beer (China’s finest and most popular beer) for Ken before Ken added “Best stick one in forArturo as well. I’m just off to the khazi”. As he walked past Helga, Ken winked and then continued into the Gents. In the opposite corner of the bar, ‘Kid’ was reaching the point of no return but ‘Blackheart’s’ drilling was still ongoing. It was still ongoing when a second oriental man entered the _Paul_And_Land_Arms_. Strangely, he was also dressed in overalls however his badge read ‘Arturo’ so we won’t go through the introductions just accept it as a given.
Both Arturo and Ken picked up their pints of Snow Beer from the bar (in Ken’s case, after he’d returned from the khazi) and they took seats at the same table as Helga and ‘Snarl’. Helga was texting whereas ‘Snarl’ was trying to get the last of the dust from the Cheesy Wotsits packet which was still on his nose. As Helga put her phone down, both brothers’ breast pockets began vibrating (well no, not the pockets themselves but the content of the breast pockets if we’re being correct, which we are. Sometimes, at least) and Arturo and Ken checked their messages. In unison, together and at the same time, Ken and Arturo looked up from their phones and smiled at Helga simultaneously, collectively and in one combined movement.
Ken approached the Mighty Wurlitzer of juke-box (he didn’t put any money in, in the same way that he hadn’t paid for the the two Snow Beers which were sat on the table with Helga’s Cranberry Juice and a number of empty Cheesy Wotsits packet) and pressed some buttons (this is high quality writing at it’s highest quality, don’t you think?), the juke-box clunked and music began:
“Chimes sing Sunday morn
Today’s the day she’s sworn
To steal what she never could own
And race from this hole she calls home
Now you’re at the wheel
Tell me how, how does it feel?
So good to have equalised
To lift up the lids of your eyes
As the miles they disappear
See land begin to clear
Free from the filth and the scum
This American satellite’s won
She’ll carry on through it all
She’s a waterfall
She’ll carry on through it all
She’s a waterfall
See the steeple pine
The hills as old as time
Soon to be put to the test
To be whipped by the winds of the west
Stands on shifting sands
The scales held in her hands
The wind it just whips her and wails
And fills up her brigantine sails
She’ll carry on through it all
She’s a waterfall
She’ll carry on through it all
She’s a waterfall.”
It was too much for ‘Kid’, his bladder could take no more and without seeking permission of either of his fellow desperados, he leapt from his seat and almost ran to the gents facilities. ‘Blackheart’ and ‘Red’ were too engrossed in their ‘Moley’ drilling to notice his departure whilst Helga, Ken, Arturo and ‘Snarl’ on the other hand (given that they were not ‘Moley’ drilling) were not too engrossed to notice his departure. Both Ken and Arturo rose from their own chairs (another thing not noticed by ‘Blackheart’ and ‘Red’ as they were engrossed in ‘Moley’ drilling), unhooked ‘Snarl’s’ chain (you guessed it, still un-noticed by you know who and you know who because they were drilling you know who) and followed ‘Kid’ into the you know where.
Perhaps it would be wise not to go into the sordid details of precisely what went on in the toilets but the outcome was that ‘Kid’ found himself sat on a toilet, his mouth sealed by a large inner tube repair patch, a bike bag over his head, a set of cow-horn handlebars through the arms of his jacket and a number of inner tubes securing his legs together. Further inner tubes made it impossible for ‘Kid’ to move as they were wrapped tightly around ‘Kid’ and the cistern downpipe, toilet pedestal and wastepipe. ‘Kid’ actually didn’t have a clue what was binding him or why he couldn’t move given that his head was in a bike bag. Nor did he know that the toilet door was locked and that a sign was sellotaped to the outside of it which read “OUT OF ORDER”. Arturo and Ken knew all this however because they had been the perpertrators of ‘Kid’s’ predicament. ‘Snarl’ was also party to this knowledge as he had been in on the job and had, perhaps not inadvertantly, given the ruse greater credibility considering the smell coming from the toilet.
Although ‘Kid’ had originally run into the gents to empty his screaming bladder (thanks, in part to the Stone Roses), having being confronted by a large, snarly ‘Snarl’ with large, bitey gnashers, other orifices had loosened. Shall we say that ‘Snarl’s’ Cheesy Wotsit back-end was, without doubt, more fragrant than ‘Kid’s’ similar place, considerably more fragrant, and that fragrance was drifting out of the cubicle door into the gents. Ken had had a word with the Landlord and he, having stuck his nose around the door of the gents toilet, sellotaped yet another notice on the external door which read “OUT OF ORDER – USE THE DISABLED TOILET PLEASE”. Having done this, he walked over to the three men in the corner and without fibbing said “I’m sorry about this fellas, but there’s a problem in the gents. If you need to go, use the disabled one”. ‘Red’, ‘Blackheart’ and ‘Moley’ all looked up at the Landlord questioningly and he continued “I can tell you lads, there’s a right bleedin’ stink, gets you right in the back of the throat. Proper bad it is, smells like something is dying in there!”
The Landlord turned to walk back to the bar but then stopped, turned (a manoeuvre he’d perfected in Wigan. Or was it Stoke, Or Cleethorpes?) and exclaimed (nothing to do with Wigan, Stoke or Cleethorpes) “I thought I recognised you” before continuing “Vince, Vince Di Caprio, Wednesbury Golf Club? You must remember me, the former CI, Pat Klein, West Midlands Constabulary. Pat C. Klein”.