Random mutterings, sighing and gasping, finger jabbing, brow dabbing and general bleatings about everyday bollocks. Brought to you by Angie Annetts, author of the highly-acclaimed short story collection, 'Tales From Around The Bend'. http://www.talesfrom.co.uk/

Friday, 5 November 2010

Kunty Kinty, Ascot and illegal drinking dens

Like Kunty Kinty, I went back to my roots yesterday, and plunged into London for a hectic few hours. The main reason for my flying visit was to scatter some early (and mildly bolloxed-up) copies of my book about the gaff in the a) vague hope it might generate some interest and b) knowledge that a tree has not snuffed it in vain.

The plan was simples: shovel my book onto the shelves of Foyles, Waterstones etc etc and to offload the remainder to any fucker who a) looked like they might like a snot and guffaw, but b) didn’t look up their arse too much.

And in a nutshell – that’s what happened. But that’s not what this blog is really about.

You see, as I was crashing around deepest Soho, I happened to find myself lurking without intent in Archer Street – which was once home to an illegal drinking den I used to frequent many years ago – back in the days (and moreover, nights) of namby pamby drinking hours.

I first went in there about ten years ago, the day after the managers’ Jolly Boys (and Girls) outing to Ascot.

I was in the pub trade at the time.

Now it must be known, that pub managers let out for the day tend to go a bit berserk (I blame it on the natural conditions – sunlight and all that) and this had been no exception. So it all got very messy. Very messy indeed.

The next day I was green.

I had overdone things.

And the only thing that was going to save me from dying a long and painful death on my couch was to limp out for a hair of the dog.

Upshot is, me and the old man found ourselves in Soho, forcing down slurps in various favoured establishments – including the fabulous Intrepid Fox (R.I.P). But I was struggling. I was still feeling on the verge of croaking and fighting to get my bevy down my Gregory. But like a real pro, I kept at it.

And then – just as I felt the first pangs of feeling human again – the last bell rang. But I needed more.

We spilled into the street with the rest of the punters and shuffled around. Other bars were also closing too. And some foody/wine bar places wouldn’t let us in. Bastardios.

But I had got the taste for it.

Then, as we found ourselves in a side street, a shady figure stepped forward from a crumbling doorway and asked if we were looking for a place to drink. Yes indeedy, we answered. He stood aside and we piled in.

It was dark, it was smoky (of all varieties), it was seedy and it was suspect. It was over two floors, with a pool table in the basement and ‘going ons’ going on in the basement. So we went back upstairs and happily paid £3 for tins of lager and got on with drinking duties.

                  This lot don't know Jack...they passed Archer Street twenty minutes ago...

But after a while, I got hot in there. It was summer; the place had (no apparent) ventilation – and my earlier beer sweat had returned with a vengeance. I had to get some air. Urgently. So we took our drinks outside, walked a few yards down the road and stood against a wall as we carried on with our supping while I cooled down. 

Then a strange thing…literally, after about one minute, there was a police raid. All Sweeney style; hurry-up vans – the lot. We watched with open mouths as the old bill bundled in. And bundled resisting bodies out. And as the bloke who’d invited us in got dragged out, he chucked us a thunderous look, it suddenly dawned on me – he thinks we’re plod.

It was time to have it on our toes. And besides all that, if I got caught up in any of this – I might lose my licence – and my job.

We ran off with our tins, half-pissed – snotting and guffawing.

We only got as far as Charing Cross Road before we got invited to another drinking gaff above a cab office. The bloke inviting us in looked iffier than the last one and had many gold teeth. He explained the rules, you went up a few flights of stairs, paid a fiver each to some other bloke and that got you into the ‘bar’.

We went in of course. And it wasn’t too bad.

Months later,and feeling a bit bolshy (pissed) we went back to our original den. Someone else was lurking in doorway giving us the ‘come hither’. So we went in. Had a few good nights in there, as it happens. Met all sorts. And all sorts make the world go round.

So yesterday, it was sad to see that, like The Intrepid Fox, my old illegal drinking den had also gone. It’s now a poncy sandwich/frothy coffee bar. What’s the world coming to? Dear oh dear. I don’t know, I really don’t…

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Happy slapping, the hokey-cokey and strawberry jam

In many ways I’m not suited to living in the country – what with being a townie and all that. The main problem is that I’m just about the most impatient fucker I know on this planet. Yet, here I am, slap-bang, in the land of ditherers, dawdlers, delayers, dunno-ers; shufflers who aimlessly wander one pace in front of you no matter which way you turn, yakkers and chatters who shamelessly hold-up growing queues as they regale their bollocks to the hired help, fussers, cluck-cluckers and (moreover)…knobs in caravans*.

Naturally, if happy-slapping weren’t a crime, I’d be at it hammer and tongs.

And that’s not even taking into account the dreaded trips to The Post Office. Jesus H. Christ. I wouldn’t mind so much, but they actually have the audacity to disguise the place to make it look like a business, with products like calendars and jigsaws in the window and stickers advertising a selection of services. There’s even a bright red letter box on the pavement outside, and to further deceive – a sign, boasting the words ‘Post Office’ above the painted wooden door. But when you get inside, it’s no more a Post Office than my garden shed is. It’s a fucking social club. And ain’t dat the truth.

And moreover, the level of cluck-clucking is permanently set at fever pitch.

As a helpless onlooker, matters are seemingly presided over (doubtless to arrange bingo, whist drives, the hokey-bleeding-cokey and the such) by someone housed behind a counter with a glass window. I imagine that this person may have some form of auctioneer’s gavel to keep the crowd in some form of order. Although I’ve never got close enough to see for sure.

Fifteen minutes at the back of what, some might call a queue, although I prefer to refer to it as a ‘gathering’ and I’ve had enough. At that point I wave the white flag. And bugger off out of it.

                       They don't fuck about in Spain. Hokey-cokey's are well known for spilling out
                                                             of  Post Offices and onto the streets.

Of course, in the words of Ziggy (Big Brother – year wotever), it’s not them – it’s me. Obviously, there’s something fundamentally wrong with my lack of ability to appreciate (and readily engage in) the warblings and twitterings of local gossip. You see – I just didn’t have to put up with any of that bollocks in London as a) no fucker cares b) no fucker speaks to anyone else. Post offices are gloomy halls with trailing queues, where automated voices instruct you to advance towards ‘Till Number Seven’ and so on. You might not get anyone’s life history whilst you’re waiting, but you’ll get you’re parcel sorted.

Lucky for me, my local Spar also sells stamps. Although it appears as though the same punter from two days ago is still clamped to the counter regaling a lengthy yarn about strawberry jam…

I swear…if it weren’t for the stonking scenery, I’d be on Crimewatch. And then some.

* Very obviously, the whole topic of the detested caravan warrants an entire blogfest to itself… and will follow in due course.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Cornflakes, Lauren Bacall and The Murderers Arms

I once* disgusted a very good friend of mine when I stayed at her house and she found me at the breakfast table alternating between mouthfuls of cornflakes and dragging heavily on a cigarette. She even said so at the time. ‘You’re disgusting’ she said to me. I didn’t know what she was on about. I was hung over and, in my world, I was just making good use of my time.

These days, I don’t smoke anymore. But when I did, I loved it. I was a real pro.

You name it – I’d spark up for it. Phone call to make? Let’s get one on the go. Listening to the best song ever made? Impossible not to. Gossip, random bollocks and ‘reveals’? Best get a fresh ashtray. Night out on the lash? Hope two packs will be enough.

You get my drift.

Of course smokers delude themselves that it makes them look glamorous. I certainly did. In my mind’s eye, I was Lauren Bacall – coat collar turned up against an autumn chill, inhaling seductively with an art-directed shadow falling favourably across my face. The reality? Looking like an out-of-work prozzie as I huddled in a shop doorway in the pissing rain, barnet plastered to my forehead, shivering my tits off and hacking my guts out (uncontrollably).

Not that any of that made me quit. In fact I didn’t even intend to quit. It was an accident (m’lord).  

Although I do concede (that like many smokers) I had begun to formulate vague and sporadic thoughts of packing in – due to the impending threat of making just about everywhere on the bloody planet non-bloody smoking. The fuckers. So seemingly, the writing was more or less on the wall.

And then there was my first holiday abroad in ten years. And all that stood between me and a (freebie) week in Madeira was a 3-hour flight when I wouldn’t be able to smoke. Bugger.

At the time, one of my work colleagues at the NHS was scoring free nicotine replacement patches all over the gaff and offered me some for the flight. Knowing it was shit or bust – I took them. And used them. There. And back. And by fucking jingo, the fuckers worked.

A couple of days after my holiday, I ruthlessly got the flu. And as any smoker worth their salt will tell you – flu or not – you just carry on smoking. But this time I felt shitty on a level of shittiness never before experienced. And as I flopped around my gaff like a dying swan, I suddenly remembered I had a couple of spare patches floating around. So I tracked them down and slapped one on.

When my partner came home from work that night, I said, “We’re going up the pub”.
“You’re not well”, he said. Then I told him. I told him how I hadn’t smoked all day, because of the patch. And that the only way I’d know for sure that I could really, really stop smoking, would be if I went out on the lash – that night – to see if I could get pissed without smoking. So off we went to The Murderers Arms, at the top of the road, for a gargle. And I got rotten. I speed drank to give my hands something to do. But I didn’t smoke.

The next day, I scored my own patches. And took it from there. And I haven’t smoked since.

I think if I’d done some of the bollocks you’re advised to do when you want to stop smoking, like; circling some date on a calendar as your ‘quitting’ date and force feeding your last packet of fags to a resisting toddler (or similar) – then I wouldn’t have quit. All the dramatic cobblers of announcing ‘this is my last cigarette’ just puts too much pressure on you. I wasn’t expecting to stop. Yet unbelievingly, for a hardcore smoker – I did.

My partner decided to try the similar tactics (although I would never have whined at him to stop). Four days later, we were back in the Murderers Arms, and this time it was him speed drinking. For a mildly spoken geezer, it was quite strange seeing him get a bit lairy and lezbehavinyer with the bolt necks as he drank decidely more than his quota. And frankly, it all could have got a bit messy and gone a bit tits up. But it didn’t.

And five years later we’re still off ‘em.

Sometimes (but only sometimes) I miss them. Maybe if I’m on the juice and hear a top tune. Or sometimes when I see someone glamorous on the box – like my old mate, Lauren Bacall.

                                   Going to work without a good clear out is no laughing matter for any film star worth their salt

I found this picture of her. Unnervingly, it appears that she’s at the breakfast table (guessing the cereal bowl's just out of shot) and having a snout with her morning cuppa (doubtless to induce a pre-work poo). So there you have it. I can go to my grave, knowing – with no shred of uncertainty – that I have lived my life, and at times looked just like Lauren Bacall. 
Honest governor.

*This is, in fact, a lie. I have disgusted this particular friend on far too many occasions to mention (or even remember). I can only hope that one day, she will find it in her heart to forgive me…

Monday, 6 September 2010

Poo, The Dam Busters And A Written Warning

This is my very first blog. I wasn't quite sure how to kick off, so I thought I'd show you a picture of my book.

It’s a very nice book. You’ll like it. If you’re my kind of person.

Let me enlighten.

When I was little I did a poo in the bathtub. After a while my mum came into the bathroom and caught me playing battleships with the logs. And told me off.

Since that day, a lot of people have told me off. Sometimes they told me that I ‘take things too far’.

Example: I once got a written warning for being drunk in my workplace*. That was a bad thing to do.

And because I was drunk, I had to go to the toilet and say ‘Bye-Bye’ to my lunch. And when I did this, my false tooth fell into the pan. That was a bad thing to happen.

Then I thought it would be a good idea to repeatedly run past reception impersonating an airplane. And to ‘dah-dah dah dah dah-dah dah’ to the Dam Busters theme at the same time. That was a fun thing to do.

But after a while, I had engine failure and crash-landed into a wall and slumped to the canvas. This was very funny and I guffawed loudly and lengthily. Such japes.

They sent me home in a taxi.

The next day I was welcomed into work like the returning hero. So I gave my colleagues a royal wave.

But soon after, I got invited into the big office. A serious director with a crumpled frown told me off. He told me I had ‘gone too far’. And that what I had done was a ‘very bad thing’.

He also let me know that a client had been in reception, when I’d been flying by. And moreover, when I crash-landed. The client thought this was a very bad thing. And had said so.

The serious director gave me an envelope. The envelope contained my written warning.

“Why do you do it?” he asked me as I was on my way out.

“Like I know,” I replied through my hangover. “It just had to be done.”

I managed to get my sorry ass out of that company before they could fire me. Which was a very good thing to do.

They just weren’t my kind of people.

These days I don’t get told off so much. Perhaps my engine is beginning to splutter a bit.

Although (doubtless) the spirit will always be there.

So if you’re the kind of person who’s had a few crash landings in your time, rattled a few cages and taken the occasional thing ‘too far’, then maybe you’re my kind of person. And maybe you'll like my book.

You'll find it on http://www.talesfrom.co.uk/

And maybe you'll like to follow my blog. After all, it's bound to be pants.

*Brunnings Advertising circa 1986