Disaster fell! I awoke with the impression that my left knee cap had been kicked by a horse and when I arose I was hobbling and unable to bend it and I was no use to anyone.
Suddenly it occurred to me that I was suffering an acute attack of gout. If any of my blog readers have ever suffered gout they will know how disabling and painful it can be. And it was my fault! Simply, I hadn’t drunk enough water. Gout happens when crystals form around a joint and they have to be washed away; so I drank copious pints of water and took some simple painkillers and the pain receded as fast as it had occurred. What a relief.
So up and down the hills we we tottered, clambering over tiny styles apparently built for athletic pygmies. We walked all day in a drizzle so I spent the time dreaming up a list of the best movies I have ever seen: “Blow up” (David Hemmings), “A Man for all Seasons” ( Paul Scofield), “The Third Man” ( Orson Welles), “Cinema Paradiso”, “Manon De Source and Jean De Fleurette”, “Il Postino” “Leaving Las Vegas”, ” Apocalypto”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Night Porter” (Dirk Bogarde), “Gladiator”, “The Graduate”, “Schindler’s List”, “Casino”, “The Scent of a Woman” (Al Pacino), “Marathon Man”, “The Pianist”, “Fargo” and “Ladies in Lavender” for starters.
A rather dingy pub and I have never seen the man with the sad, porpoise face lounging at the bar before. I can tell he’s straining to listen as my friend – whom I admit has a rather braying voice – and I discuss the futility of the hunting ban and how the hunts are thriving anyway.
Suddenly the porpoise leans towards us and through a whiff of tobacco and stale beer, hisses, “F*** off the pair of you, you pigs are a total disgrace.”
Just like that. Then he gives us the finger and shuffles off. We had done nothing to provoke him, and were just sitting there talking.
Toffs and Tattoos
What’s this all about? I suppose he thinks we’re Tory bastards – you know, Bullingdon boys and all that rubbish. There seems no point in trying to change his tiny mind that he’s just plumb wrong.
What’s his problem? Let me guess. Oh yes, we are middle-class, Tory-voting scum. He thinks to himself, “I just don’t want to have to look at you bastards anymore, but I know what you are. You’re filth and I hate the very idea of you!
Each time I look at you I am reminded of my limitations. Your friend looks like a rich toff and you’re clearly a fit old sod! You’re probably doing useful things – a member of that tribe of productive people who make me feel wholly inadequate. I just hate looking at your smooth, polished faces because you remind me of my failures and shortcomings.
You’re raising money for a charity walking round bloody Britain. Why don’t you sit on your sodding backside, smoking, drinking and watching daytime porn like me, eh? Why don’t you join Labour and do away with wealth creation, good management and hard-won profit?
Why don’t you devote your time to what you can screw out of the system, join a few “Stop the War” rallies, litter the streets with McDonald’s cartons, get drunk on Saturdays and snarl at everyone like a joyless left-wing, tattooed piss artist like me? I hate you! Do you get it?
Years ago, I went to Cuba on a charitable mission. I arrived in Havana on a Sunday and as I am a churchy sort of person, I went to a service in a jumbo church in the middle of the city.
I am sure that many of my blog readers are churchgoers, and I’ll bet that many of you find it hard going following the order of service. Usually there are at least four pieces of paper to navigate! But the really important question is when to stand up and sit down? How can you get through any Anglican service without making a pluperfect fool of yourself?
Imagine then trying to do all this when the proceedings are conducted in Spanish! The Havana church was crammed with about 800 worshippers and I was jammed smack in the middle. I decided just to follow what the man sitting in front of me was doing: when he got up, so would I, and if he sat down, I would follow suit.
All went smoothly enough until around halfway through the service: I stood up when he did before realising that we were the only two people on our feet. What had gone wrong? The entire congregation began to laugh: they didn’t just snigger, the laughter rolled round the church and gathered momentum until the tears were literally pouring down people’s faces.
I had no idea what they all found so funny, and so I stood like a fool until thankfully my man sat down and so did I.
When at the end of the service I shuffled out, people were still grinning and pointing at me. I asked the pastor, “Please tell me why they were all laughing?”
“My poor man, he said, “I put in a baptism notice halfway through the service and I asked the father of the child to stand up – and you both did!”
Why is it that I spy Jeremy Corbyn look-alikes everywhere, all beetling along on bikes, all sporting straggly, little white beards?
Havana, hilarious. You couldn’t make it up!