It’s been a long time coming, but thanks to a couple of decent orders, I have managed to gather enough cash together to take the Incumbent and myself away for a while. Very soon the beaches of southern Italy will be awash with bits of me. It’s been a few years and several stone since I Swarfega‘d my way into a pair of swimming trunks. It’s the kind of thing that could bring down the EU.
So with just a day to go before we jet off, and thanks to the guvnor, most of our stuff has been packed away and we’re busy clearing the fridge of perishables. Today I anticipate having three fried egg sandwiches and two omelets as someone seems to have over-ordered on the egg front. With all of our nicer clothes and accessories neatly put away in suitcases, we’re wandering around the house in old or inappropriate garb. Yesterday, for example, I spent the day in a dinner jacket (which was handy because I was hungry). The Incumbent wore a morning suit so she could have the afternoon off.
Last night, while the other half took herself down to Bluewater, I took the opportunity to steal myself away down to the local for a last pint before I was pushed on to an aircraft. For the occasion I dug out from the bottom of the chest of drawers a pair of rather ill-fitting shorts (for brevity’s sake, let’s just agree that all my clothes are ill-fitting) and an early example of my ever-popular JFK T-shirt. (50 years On — available at all good stockists).
Taking a seat on a bar stool, I ordered from Glenda the usual pint of sludge and began the usual banter with the assembled old boys propping up the jump.
“Aye , Aye”, “Evening All” etc
“Working on one for you, John” I hollered at one of the gathered drinkers. He was sat on the next stool to me but I needed to shout as he was a tad mutton. John had asked if I could make a Laurel & Hardy tee for him and I was on the case. The 70 year old plasterer is rapidly becoming one of my more regular customers, him having a penchant for often wearing one my shirts while both plastering and getting plastered. I think he’s ordered four to date. And he’s paid for all of them, something of a record round here.
“Is it you that makes the T-shirts, then?” asked Colin, sat beside the aforementioned John.
“Yes, that’s me” quoth I.
Colin took a long squint at what I was wearing. JFK stared back at him through the folds in my shirt and the creases underneath my moobs. You can always tell how long Colin’s ben in the the pub by the degree at which his eyes are pointing at each other. Colin is the Ben Turpin of Dartford — especially after half a dozen pints.
“Oooh I like that one” he continued. “that one of yours ?”
“Yup. In all of the colours, in all of the sizes !” I chanted happily. But answer came there none. And this was scarcely odd because it was Colin and he was on a roll.
“That’s the….the…the American President fella, aint it ?”. I’d forgotten to mention that Colin was a bit of a political animal.
“Yes, John Kennedy”, I concurred. “It’s fifty years this year that he died. You can have it in…”
I’d failed to notice that Colin hadn’t finished.
“You ought to do one with him on it, and Martin Luther King here, John Lennon here…” he was pointing to various part of his torso “…and Lady Diana there…” which apparently was somewhere around his navel.
“Diana ..?” I repeated, but it was still Colin’s turn.
“Then write ‘Assassinated’ above ’em” he announced, scrawling the imaginary headline across the top of his chest. “I’d buy one of them“
“Diana..?” I repeated.
“Yeah, well, everyone knows she was killed by them.” Behind him, I noticed John roll his eyes, snort and bury is face into his pint.
“Them..?” I asked — desperately trying not to give the impression I was doubting him (a sale is, after all, a sale).
“The Government ! She slagged off the Tories on TV and I says to me mum ‘she’ll be dead in a fortnight’ and the following weekend me mum rings me up and says ‘she’s dead’ and I says ‘who’s dead’ and she says ‘Diana’s dead’ and I says ‘well fuck me I was right all along’ “.
Colin was no David Frost, but he knew a good yarn when he told one. I was loath to point out that Tony Blair was in government when Diana
died was murdered.
“That’s a good point” I replied.(I’ll say anything to sell a shirt.) “I’ll have a good go at that when I get back from my holiday” I lied.
As if to confirm it to himself, Colin repeated his design to himself (and to me) several times, occasionally adding “you can put their dates below each face” and suggesting colours for the shirt.
And then he started free-forming.
“You know who they’ll get next, don’t you ?” he bellowed.
“Er….” I dreaded to think who was next in line for Colin’s assassin’s bullet.
“Jamie Oliver !”
Two jets of Light & Bitter shot out of John’s nostrils. I bit a lump out of my tongue. In the nick of time The Incumbent arrived to rescue me. She picked me up off the floor and we made ready to leave. Colin was still in full flight, detailing what Jamie had done to incite the wrath of MI5, though my head was spinning and I couldn’t hear what his reasoning was. I should have asked why Jamie was for the chop, not Delia Smith, but we’d gone before I’d thought of it.
As we left Glenda was administering the last rights to John who had laughed himself to within an inch of an early death.
It seems I’ll have no need to finish that Stan & Ollie shirt.
To Terry and June, enjoy the break.
To all of Southern Italy, no sympathy, remember the adage “You pet it you bought it” …
and to all a good night.