I am waiting for Mark Evans outside The French House in Soho. While waiting I get to thinking about when I spent Christmastime with him and his folks, a couple of years ago, down in Whitstable. On the day, we dined on roast goose and when I complimented his mother on her cooking skills she told me not to be such a grovelling little turd. I’m sure she did this as a subtle way of making me feel at home. And it worked. Later on we all settled down together to watch The Football Factory, an everyday story of casual and extreme violence. Between us we identified half a dozen actors as friends of ours.
“Blimey! I know him.”
“There’s Danny Spaghetti.” Etc…
Come Boxing Day, we’d grown a bit stir crazy and ventured into town. There, under the influence of copious amounts of real ale and a couple of chunks of mushroom chocolate – imported from Amsterdam: £10 a bar – I ended up losing Mark and getting chased around town and down back alleys by a gang of bored youths. To whom, I may or may not have said something. Despite my heavy brogues, intoxicated state and lack of local knowledge, I managed to lose them. The morning after, this all became somewhat academic, when, after running through the events in my mind and making certain enquiries it turned out that I might have, in fact, dreamt it. That aside, it remains as a vivid memory. But so does meeting the little people, visiting an Aztec city and being Jesus. So, who knows?
At the end of my reverie, Mark, or Nobby, as he is better known, heaves into view. He is a large man, with a large suit, head and face, and a Henry VIII-style beard. He doffs his battered bowler hat and turns round to reveal the word “NO” razor-cut into his hair. He is wearing Crocs.
I’ve ordered us a large bottle of Breton cider and two glasses. I top up mine and pour one for him. We chink. He’s just walked up from a Russian festival in Trafalgar Square. He is full of tales of hard-faced, angular beauties coupled up with geezers of a similar build to his own, and the promise that this may hold. He is also full of vodka. He is as full of vodka as his mouth is empty of teeth. He proudly shows them to me opening his gaping maw and pointing them out.
“There’s one, there’s that one….”…as if I couldn’t count up to seven.
“I can’t go home until I’ve got ‘em fixed. Me mum’ll right go on about it,” he says, giving me a Bambi look. I respond accordingly by screwing my face into a sympathetic half-smile.
Later, inside the crowded pub, we have monopolised a corner of the bar. As usual the place is packed with good-looking women and magnificently grumpy, Soho die-hards. A group of people squeeze their way out of the throng in order to leave. One of them, an attractive blonde, breaks off and says, “I’ve changed my mind, I’m gonna stick around,” and linking her arm with mine, adds ”with him.” A ripple of concern runs through her friends but I smile and reassure them.
“She’ll be alright with me, I’ll look after her.” I say, through a haze of cocaine, pot and cider.
Straight away, I offer the woman some drugs but she declines. Telling me that she is the editor of a major (un-named) publication and that sort of thing is verboten.
We move on to Trisha’s, a late night dive on Greek Street. A band is playing in the corner of the room. One of those rock ‘n’ roll, rock-a-billy, psychobilly, vaudeville, Balkan, gypsy show bands that we see nowadays. Nobby cajoles the lead singer into handing over the mic so that he can do his party piece, ‘Mac The Knife’. He gives a very passable performance, incorporating the fat bloke dance. On a table.
A note on ‘The Fat Bloke Dance’:
The only way to get laid, if you’re fat and not rich or famous, is ‘The Fat Bloke Dance’. Whereby you spread your arms wide, throw your head back and wobble majestically. Luring drunken women into your ample bosom.
It serves the same purpose and is directly related to ‘Fat Bird Clothes’. That is the Gothy/punky/glam or the fifties horn-rimmed glasses look that large women often adopt in order to divert your attention away from their size, and towards their personalities.
All is going well. At 3am we repair to The Slightly Shady Lounge, a shebeen situated beneath an Italian restaurant on Frith Street. It is run by some of the fun-loving crowd (including the studiedly seedy Jake Power) behind the ‘Lady Luck Club’. Nobby and I once turned up there in Euston, in a rickshaw, high on Ketamine.
Soon after we arrive Nobby reaches his capacity, makes his excuses and leaves. No doubt to go home and urinate on his soft furnishings. This leaves me alone with the delightful Editor and we settle in. Things are looking good. I can feel it in my blood.
A diminutive, middle-aged Teddy Boy and his ugly girlfriend enter the room. I casually observe (whispering loudly) to my companion, “Aye, aye, Gene Vincent’s here.”
Having overheard this, the reduced rocker immediately punches me in the side of the head. It doesn’t hurt at all, so I just give him a big smile. This only riles him further and the next punch sends me sprawling onto the deck along with a table load of glasses. As I go down, my brand new thick-framed spectacles bounce off of my face. Whereupon, his harpy stamps on them, scrunching up her hideous face up as she does so.
“You fuckin’ cunt!” she gargles.
This all happens in slow motion, giving me time to reflect on how much of a cunt I am - all things, at that precise moment in time, considered.
Nobody feels obliged to dive in and break up the attack but somehow the Editor manages to scoop up my (still wearable) glasses and get me out of the door. She suggests that I might want to go to the hospital. I assure her that I am fine, but she can walk me home to Westminster if she likes. She agrees and after a little while asks me again if I’m okay. Again, I tell her that I’m alright then change my mind when I put my finger in the hole in my left buttock. It is like inserting my finger into a tight, hot, menstruating vagina.
“Maybe I should pop into A & E.”
Back at my place, I try on different jackets and coats to wear to the hospital whilst she looks at me with a mixture of pity, fear and, what I take to be admiration.
“How about this?” I say. Donning a full-length cashmere coat.
“Shall we just go and get your arse looked at?” She says.
It being Saturday night/Sunday morning, we are fully expecting a very long wait in the A & E department. Instead we walk into an empty room. A male nurse enters.
“Dave! You alright? What happened?”
It is Neil, part-time sales assistant at Hope and Glory and full-time nurse at St Thomas’s Hospital. I explain and am ushered into a treatment room. The Editor and I canoodle before I remove my jeans and lie face down on the gurney, ready for stitching.
It takes five stitches to sew up my arse. During the procedure I can sense, more than hear, the stifled giggles of nurses viewing the repair of my punctured bottom through the porthole windows in the swing doors. Once the work is complete, Lee offers me a box of DF118s he has swiped from the medicine cabinet. I gladly accept them and leave, holding hands with the Editor. He calls after me, “Don’t try sitting on that for at least a week.” I contemplate the notion of sitting on one buttock for the next seven days.
Outside, we hail a black cab and take it to mine. As it pulls up in Old Pye Street, I say with some enthusiasm, “So, shall we swap numbers?”
She looks at me and shakes her head, “No.”
Around a week later I hear the Brixton rumour mill has set it in stone that: Dave The Hat got stabbed in the arse. By a dwarf.