Saturday, 12 March 2011

TV's, Scrotums and Scams

Some people have told me that they can’t make any sense of this blog.

Firstly, I can’t make much sense of it either. Secondly, in order to have any hope of knowing what’s going on, you need to start with the very first post.

The first post is called ‘Family’ and can be found in the month of February in the BLOG ARCHIVE section to the right. Read that and then read the next one above it. Continue doing this until you’ve either had enough or have reached the latest post.

A week after the Scrotum Celebration, as people now referred to the events of the notorious day, I mooched into the pub wondering which came first, the moth or the light bulb?

Gertie was serving an obviously drunk man. Another barmaid, with her back to me, was putting bottles on the shelf.

By the looks of things, Bhoppy had hired an additional barmaid.

“Gertie,” I whispered, “who’s that?”

“That’s Colleen from Ireland. What are you having today?”

“Not sure, Gertie, I’ve got a bit of an iffy stomach; I was on the Guinness last night.”

(Guinness makes me shit bales of straw and leaves me feeling as though I’ve had vermin nesting in my stomach.)

“How about a peppermint cordial?” she suggested.

“I can see where you’re coming from with the peppermint thing, but I’ll have a large port and brandy, please.”

She passed me the drink and asked for seven pounds and forty pence.

I told her to put it on Bhoppy’s list (you’ll recall from the last post, that Bhoppy and I had come to an arrangement regarding the payment of drinks).

“Sorry, eez, Colleen’s said that you’ve had your week of free drinks.”

What the fuck has it got to do with Collen? I thought to myself. I was not at all impressed with a new barmaid telling me what’s happening in the pub.

“Hey, you!” I called out to her.

Colleen turned round and looked at me.

After several seconds of trying to get things clear in my mind, I said, “Bhoppy, why are you wearing a dress? And, by the way, you’ve smudged your lipstick.”

“eez, I’m trying to find out for myself if the Lord would be happy with women being priests, now. For the next forty days and forty nights, or until his Mightiness sends me an answer, I will be known as Colleen.”

“Bhoppy, you are an Indian man who was born in Bombay, has apparently converted to Catholicism, speaks with a recently acquired Irish accent and is now, it would appear, also a transvestite. Do you not think that some people may consider a mental asylum to be an appropriate place for you?”

“Why would they think that? I’m not harming anyone.”

“Okay, Colleen,” I replied, “but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

I gave Gertie the money for my drink.

“Don’t give him a hard time, eez, he’s got the insurance assessor coming round in two days to have a look at the damage caused by the wives. He took eleven thousand pounds over the bar that day, but he’s got a big repair bill and after having paid you as well, he thinks he’s made a loss,” she said.

She walked out to get some crisps.

“Colleen, quick, come over here,” I said.

He walked up to me, “what do you want?”

“Are you really going to make a loss from last week?”

“Yeah, I think so, eez. The insurance policy doesn’t pay out on the first five thousand pounds of any claim.”

“Who’s representing you?” I asked.


“When the insurance guy turns up, who’s going to talk to him?” I asked.

“Well, me,” Colleen replied.

I looked at the dress, the make up and the wig. “You’re in no fit state to negotiate with an insurance assessor. You are too stressed at the moment. Let me talk to him.”

“Sorry, eez, but you always get the better of me. This is my future. I can’t afford to lose the pub. It’s all I have.”

I looked at Colleen. He had tears in his eyes.

“Colleen, your mascara’s running. I’ll be back in thirty minutes.”

Thirty minutes later I walked up to Colleen and gave him a bag.

“What’s in there?” he asked.

“Fifteen grand. It’s yours to keep if you let me talk to the insurance guy. When you get the claim cheque, I’ll have my fifteen thousand back. If the cheque is for any amount less than fifteen, then just give me the cheque and I’ll suffer the loss. We’ll split anything over fifteen thousand.”

Colleen thought about the proposal and then said, “eez, I can’t accept the offer. I should do, because you’ve been a complete arsehole at times, but I can’t. There is no way the claim will come to anything like fifteen thousand pounds. It wouldn’t be fair.”

“For fucks sake,” I said, ”stop being such a nice person and accept the bloody offer. I accept that I’m a bastard at times, but that’s just me. Maybe this is my way of putting things right. You’re as mad as a box of frogs on speed, but try and think sensibly and take the sodding money.”

Colleen nodded his head and walked off.

I looked around the pub. Considering a horde of axe-wielding women had rampaged through the place last week, it didn’t really look too bad. Apart from a few bloodstains on the carpet, some broken pieces of furniture and small amount of graffiti, it wasn’t a great deal different than before.

Outside, the front windows were shuttered up, the new pub sign had disappeared and the doorframe was split on one side where, presumably, an axe had been used.

Things weren’t looking good. A genuine estimate for repairs would be about £6,000.00. I needed a figure of more than £20,000.00.

I went back inside and asked colleen what the insurers knew about the damage so far. He’d told them the complete truth. There was very little room for manoeuvre.

I had another drink and said, “Colleen, I think we should go for a figure in the region of £30,000.00.”

Colleen forgot that he was supposed to be an Irish believer of God and told me that I was fucking mad.

Gertie, standing next to him, shouted, “I knew it! You’re a fraud! You’re not Irish and you couldn’t give a stuff about the Lord. I want a pay rise or I’ll tell everyone.”

“Don’t ask for too much, Gertie,” I said, “I found out last Friday and screwed him for a week’s worth of free drinks.”

It was the day of the assessor’s visit. With Colleen’s approval, the boys and I had let ourselves into the pub at eight o’clock.

We replaced the pub’s furniture with the furniture I’d bought at auction for fity pounds after telling all the buyers that it was infested with woodworm. We threw a gallon of pig’s blood on the carpet and then set to work with several spray cans of Magic Paint that completely disappears within twelve hours.

At ten o’clock, Colleen stepped in and looked in horror at the scene before him:

The pub was crammed full of smashed up furniture, there was graffiti of the most revolting nature on every inch of the walls (I’d let the boys have a free hand with the graffiti) and industrial driers were blowing hot air on the carpet.

Colleen was about to come in. “Don’t step on the carpet!” I shouted. “It’s not dry yet. And keep the door open, it’s like a fucking sauna in here”

Colleen looked at us suspiciously, and asked, “why are you all behind the bar?”

“I’ve just told you, the carpet’s wet. Now, piss off and leave us to get on with our work and don’t come back until the assessor’s gone.”

He left.

We put our drinks back on the bar.

On the stroke of midday, the assessor walked in: “Bloody hell!”

“I know, who’d have thought a group of axe-wielding women could cause so much damage,” I said, introducing myself and explaining that the landlord was in hospital with a ruptured spleen.

“Shall we start with the carpet?” I asked.

He nodded.

I showed him the blood stained carpet and two estimates of £6000.00 to replace it.

“My God, “ he said, “I’ve never seen so much blood.”

I gave him the estimates of £12,000.00 to replace the thirty tables and 120 chairs that had been destroyed.

“Jesus! What were these women like?”

I looked at him with fear in my eyes. “I was here that night. I can’t describe it. I reckon they’d been on drugs or something. They were crazed. I’ve fought for Queen and country in the hell holes of this world and some of the older customers have fought on the beaches of Normandy, but none of us have seen such carnage.”

He shook his head and said, “my father was at Normandy.”

“Then he might have heard of this pub,” I said, “because it was within these very walls that the very first plans for the Normandy landings were drawn up by Churchill and the allies. That’s why the building’s listed and a site of historic interest. Now look at those famous walls. What a mess.”

I gave him the estimate of £500.00 to have the graffiti removed.

We went outside.

He looked at the shattered doorframe and looked at a recent photo showing where the pub sign used to hang. To replace the doorframe and have a new hand-painted sign would cost another £1000.00.

At this point, Biffy, my mate the doctor, pulled up in a car. He got out, put a high-visibility vest over his suit and stuck a safety helmet on his head. He started to walk about, scribbling notes on a clipboard.

I looked at the assessor and shrugged my shoulders.

I walked up to Biffy. “Can I help, you?”

He shook my hand and announced that he was the Council’s Chief Planner and Architect.

“You can’t just put any old windows in, you know. This building’s protected. The windows will have to be made to order. You’re going to be looking at anything from four to five thousand per window, I’d have thought, but that’s the owner's problem, not mine. Churchill drew up the plans for the Normandy landings here.”

I showed the architect the estimate I’d received.

“£16,000.00 seems fair. I know this joinery firm. You’ll be okay with them; they’re approved by English Heritage.”

I handed the estimate to the assessor.

Two weeks later Colleen ran into the pub, looked around to make sure it was only Gertie and myself in there and said, “Holy shit, eez!”

“What is it now, you screwed-up individual?”

“It’s a final settlement cheque from the insurer’s!” He shouted. He didn’t look happy.

“They’ve taken off the first five thousand and given me this.”

He passed it over. It was a cheque for the amount of £30,500.00.

I got another week of free drinks, Colleen bought a new wig and Barty charged £4000.00 for the repairs.

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