What you learn at the pub – all about the Richies!

There was a party down the other end of the pub last night… someone had a special birthday and whoever it was had an extended family in the modern sense, marriages, remarriages, ex-partners, step-sisters/brothers, half-brothers/sisters, ex and current parents-in-law… They were having a grand time. In what we call the cross-benches, the bar between the two ends, there was a group of youngish people who left at about 10:45 all together no doubt to go into town and find a club. At ‘our’ end were three friends at the bar who as usual were talking about sport.

We sat down with our drinks and after a little while the landlord came over to chat, and told us about  a recent trip to Australia. He is a great cricket fan and part of the reason for his trip was to go to Adelaide to see the Test Match. He and his wife had a marvellous time, and he told us what a lovely city Adelaide is – definitely a place I would like to visit!

He was telling us about the cricket – well, not so much the cricket, more about the fans. The English team have a huge group of fans who travel the world to watch them play – and they are known as the Barmy Army… which I think I must write about in detail another time. There is always a huge group of these fans who are characterised by good but eccentric behaviour and their devotion to the English team which, it has been said, are expert in ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’.

After a decade or so of Australian fans seeing the Barmy Army on tour, several of them began to respond by creating their own version – the Richies. To explain about the Richies I need to mention the famous and much-loved and respected cricketer, Richie Benaud. Richie was an outstanding cricketer but in later years became renowned and respected as a cricket commentator. He was popular across the world, but particularly Britain, as well as his home country. With the advent of television he began to wear a distinctive beige jacket and white trousers, and was always immaculate with a shirt and tie – he was easily recognisable with his thatch of silver hair and usually carrying a microphone.

So, going back to the Richies, it started with about ten cricket fans dressing up as Richie Benaud, complete with silver wig and microphone to support the Australian team in Test Matches, and now there are literally thousands! They don’t all turn up to all the matches, some probably can only afford to go to their nearest ground, but having this huge army of well-behaved but fun-loving fans, cheering the team on, supporting them in victory and in defeat is fantastic. They only want to enjoy themselves and honour Richie, having a great time but abiding by the rules of the grounds, with no anti-social behaviour, and following the dress code – as their web-site says:

Do I have to wear a suit? – Absolutely! Being a Richie is a commitment to uphold the good character & fine dress standards of the great man himself. You’ll also have to wear a shirt, tie, pants, wig and of course… your Microphone! If you want to wear a singlet & strap a watermelon to your head go for it. We’ll be in the bay next door high-fiving every time Warner hits a six.

If you want to know more, here is a link:

http://www.therichies.com.au/

The things you learn with a night out at the pub!!

3 T’s and B

We went to the Dolphin tonight in the hope of seeing our friend Terry. It’s his birthday today and e hoped to buy him a pint of Otter or a pink gin, whichever of his favourites appealed. We arrived and sat with the two T’s, Trev and Tim, and after a little while Terry arrived. We sang happy birthday and bought him a beer. He had had a lovely day, a party with his children and grandchildren, a lunch (at the Dolphin) and now he had wandered down in the hope of seeing friends.

Tomorrow it’s my husband Bari’s birthday, he’s a year older than Terry. … and the two T’s, well, Trev’s birthday is on Wednesday, Tim’s is next Saturday – according to astrology, my husband, Terry and Tim are Sagittarius, Trev is Capricorn (like me!)

This got me thinking… these four men are all great friends and have been for a number of years, mostly in the pub but also Terry and Bari were in a band together, Trev is an adopted grandfather for our children, Tim has been a good friend for any, many years… and yet… Imagine they were at school.  Imagine Tim was five, Terry was ten, Bari was eleven and Trev was twenty-sixt… would they have been friends? Well maybe Tim and Bari would have been. Move on ten years, Tim fifteen, Terry twenty and Bari twenty-one, Trev thirty-six – they would have had nothing in common, nothing at all.

Now, now they are all friends, and chat and talk about all sorts of things – the years have vanished!! Happy birthday Terry, happy birthday for tomorrow Bari, and good wishes fr next eek, Tim and Trev!

 

Rolling in the road

Here’s an extract from a novel I started writing a while ago… It will be finished one day!

The unnamed narrator, a woman in her late forties, had an unexpected romantic encounter with a Danish singer who was performing in the pub where she worked part-time. She hadn’t expected to see him again…

She didn’t think she had been in the Lark before, or maybe not for a very long time, but she slipped in and pushed through the crowd to get to the bar. There was some sort of announcement being made which meant she had to mouth ‘white wine’ at the girl serving her, and dammit she would have a large one and she indicated large with finger and thumb.
The announcement finished and there was a spatter of applause and then the strum of a guitar. It sounded like Theo! And seconds later, she could hear his deep voice; he sounded nervous but she couldn’t see where he was, she was hemmed in by a group of friends, husbands and wives a similar age to herself but all very tall and the men quite stout.
Coming in from the street, she had noticed an open room to the left and a long area in front with an L-shaped bar to serve both;  she couldn’t at first see where he was, as there was a speaker above her head so she could hear him singing a song she remembered which had the word ‘apocalypse’ in it.
She thought he must be at the back of the pub at the end of the long bar, but when she struggled through the crowd of football fans, she realised they were watching a match on the large TV, so she turned and struggled back as Theo finished his song. There was a vague token patter of applause, and after a mumble he sang a second song which was a bit faster and less gloomy. She came back to the front of the pub and by squeezing past a group of very loud women, she was able to find a place at the end of the short bar, by the fruit machine, where she could see him.
He was singing with his eyes shut which didn’t help him connect with the people sitting round with drinks and bar snacks chatting away to each other. He finished and she applauded enthusiastically, which got a few other people clapping. He went onto another faster song, and she thought how much better it would be here in this noisy pub if he at least had a bass player to give a bit more depth. It was a song she didn’t remember, and when she heard the line ‘and there you were, working in the bar,’ she wondered for a little moment if he had written it about her, but she guessed he probably picked up lots of women in bars… he’d told her he worked in a bar but he hadn’t mentioned where.
He finished with a bit more of a flourish and to a little warmer applause. She put two fingers to her mouth and gave a piercing whistle which encouraged more clapping; he glanced round but didn’t see her. He said something but he spoke so indistinctly that no-one would have the least clue what he had said. Something about ‘dancing’ she thought. It was a country-style song, a waltz, and again, the lyrics she caught reminded her of her brief connection with him, ‘walking home in the rain… in my arms dancing again…
People seemed to like this one and there were a few shouts and whistles, and she whistled again and this time he did see her, and his face split into a delighted grin, and she flushed and clapped more.
“Is he your boyfriend, then, love?” said one of the loud women. “He’s a bit of alright, but his music’s crap.”  It was said it in such a friendly way that it was difficult to know how to reply.
Theo sang a few more songs and then finished. He put his guitar in his case and came over to her.
“You came to hear me?” he kissed her cheek.
“A lucky chance, I just came in for a drink and here you were! Let me buy you a drink,” and she bought him a beer.
“You really like my songs?” he asked, and it mattered to him that she did.
“Yes, I really do! I think you are so amazingly talented!”
“Not everyone thinks so like you.”
They stayed squashed together at the bar, having a rather awkward conversation, because really they knew nothing about each other, a one night stand… is that the way people talk about it now? He was the first person who’d made love to her since she split with Gerry… it seemed rather remarkable somehow, she had always enjoyed, and almost needed the intimate side of their life together, but somehow when she was on her own she had gone off the idea. She had dated a couple of not very interesting men and sex really hadn’t been an option… so quite how she had ended up in bed with Theo was still a mystery… but it had been totally fabulous, and she found herself smiling at him as they spoke, smiling at the memory.
The landlord whose name apparently was Bob came and asked Theo if he would do another set, and as he went to sort the mics and unpack his guitar again, Bob confided in her that he’d only asked him to do one set originally in case he wasn’t any good. But folks had liked him, so he could do another forty minutes. Bob hoped he wouldn’t sing too many of the gloomy songs though, it wouldn’t make people drink more, or at least, not in the Lark!
Theo, however looked more confident and definitely more cheerful, and he looked around as he introduced his next song, and spoke more clearly. He tuned his guitar and then with a glance and a wink at her, he launched into a song about rolling in the road… maybe he meant rolling along the road, his English wasn’t always quite right.
The pub was actually packed now, hardly room to move and people had come in front of her and she was trapped by the bar, perched on her stool, hemmed in by the shrieking women. The noise was phenomenal and she couldn’t properly hear him. She waved at the girl behind the bar who brought her a pint and another wine.
“Blimey!” the girl shouted. “Never known it so packed!” and she took the money and hurried away to serve someone else.
The juke-box began to play again, so Theo must have finished but there was no sign of him. She got off the stool by pushing the woman and she forced herself through the crowd towards the end of the bar by the big fireplace where Theo had been… he was gone…
She was stunned. Gone! But of course, why should he not have done? She stood, buffeted by people, and she felt a crushing disappointment. Stupid, what did she expect?
She would finish her wine and go home, and try and think of how she had enjoyed herself… she had left her bag and phone on the bar which was also stupid, anyone could nick her things. She pushed through the crowd as she heard the bell ring for last orders… she wouldn’t bother, she’d had more than enough, she would be staggering home at this rate. The big woman who had been leaning against her was now sitting on the stool, and when she managed to squeeze round her she saw to her horror that her bag and phone had gone and so had her wine and the pint of lager she had bought him.
Damn, damn bloody damn!
She tried to ask the woman on the stool if she had seen anyone take her things… her bag! Her phone! How could she be so stupid! She stared in disbelief at the place on the bar where her things had been, beside the Lifeboat charity box. The girl behind the bar was trying to shout something at her as she pulled a pint. Maybe she had put her bag and phone safely behind the bar.
“Over there!” The girl nodded  down the long bar. “Gave them to your boyfriend!”
And suddenly she heard Theo’s huh-huh-huh of a deep laugh, and looking along the bar she could see his big shoulders and the blond hair tied back hanging down his back. She squeezed through the press of people pushing to get to the bar for a last drink – where had they all come from? – and  she almost fought her way round to the other bar.

© Lois Elsden 2017

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Splinters and dead ringers

Having just written about beer we tootled off to the pub… sadly I am not drinking beer or any alcohol at the moment, but the great thing about great pubs is that that doesn’t matter! You can still have a very pleasant and enjoyable time!

We met up with two of the three girls first of all – girl three is in Canada at the moment (the ‘girls’ are all seniors, by the way!).  Harley the English bulldog came over for a visit, he is gorgeous, and just wanted a bit of a scratch under his receding chin and a rub of the ears and then he wandered off again. Then the two T’s came in, Tim and Trev and we caught up with each other’s news.

Tim told us the story of his injured finger (finger and hammer… the end) and how his wife who was a nurse nearly fainted at the sight of it.  Daughter showed her war wound – a bizarre injury which came from a bit of the protective screen of her mobile phone splintering off and going under her finger nail… yes, nasty, makes me shiver to remember it! Tim then told us of a similar injury he received except this was with a piece of wood. He’d been at work and had a young work-experience student with him (school children have to go into places of work for two weeks to learn what the real world is like) This young person wasn’t that interested in the area in which Tiim worked because he wanted to train to be a nurse when he left school. Tim was using a plane on a plank when something came adrift and a long splinter of wood went up under his fingernail. A few naughty words and Tim grabbed some pliers and pulled the offending piece of wood out… at which point the boy fainted!

We talked about many things, the last bowls match of the season for Trev, plaid after it was dark with candles in jam jars to light the direction in which to bowl – like a flight path which was apt as Trev had been in the RAF. Somehow we got onto the subject of wakes, and suddenly Tim said ‘Dead ringers!’  and everyone nodded and laughed… Well, I was a bit confused… ‘Dead Ringers’ is a popular radio programme… but no, Tim however, was talking about the practice of having a bell rope dangling into a coffin so that if someone was not really dead, they could tug on it and alert someone once they had been buried… I had heard of that – but never associated with the term dead ringers! Surprising what you learn in the pub!

The cars in the city go rushing by

Pub quiz tonight… and a music question we got the answer to! I forget the question but the answer was Kim Wilde! One of the most successful British recording artists, she was born in 1960 and went on to have countless hits, thirteen studio and many other albums, multiple awards and as well as her music career is a landscape gardener!!

An imagined location… or a real setting?

I’ve been sharing some writing about a character I have called Gus. I first wrote about him four or five years ago… I’m not sure because I don’t remember actually doing it – I came across  part of a story about a man wandering over the salt marshes, lonely and alone and I couldn’t remember witting it at all, nor what I intended to happen to him or what his story was or might be.  He obviously was quite vivid in my mind because I found another piece I’d written, he was still wandering by the sea, but this time across some water meadows leading down to an estuary. Intrigued by him now, I wrote some more pieces, not filling in his back story, although mentioning an ex-wife, and although he began to get to know a few people in the pub in the village where he lived, the ‘chapters’ – or episodes maybe, were all along the same lines… wandering, watching other people walking their dogs, noticing the wild life, identifying plants and shrubs and trees he walked past…

I have been sharing these pieces, and they are beginning to come together in my mind now, and last week I wrote another episode – the first new piece of writing about Gus for about a year. In this piece, he was out walking, slipped, and slithered down the river bank to become stuck in the mud with an incoming tide. We live in a similar area to Gus, and the estuary mud, and the muddy beach is a real and constant danger – especially to silly holiday makers who don’t read all the huge warning signs. Last weekend we passed a situation – there was an ambulance, a fire engine, the coast guards’ hovercraft, a triage van and the coastguards Land Rover altogether, attending an incident; the firemen were hosing down a small child who was covered in mud from head to toe, and his father was in the ambulance having been in the mud up to his shoulders… they could so easily have lost their lives.

So I have my character (and some collateral characters in the pub) and I am beginning to have a few ideas for a narrative, and I also have my setting – or do I? Most of my books have been set in my imaginary small old-fashioned, seaside town of Easthope. It has a little bay with rocks on either side of a beach, a small river runs into the sea nearby; further along the coast in one direction are pretty little harbours and villages, and in the other direction a large town. The great thing about having an imaginary location is that if you need an extra church, or school, or village you can just invent one! I do take careful notes so my imaginary geography is always consistent. As well as writing about location like this being so flexible, it also means no-one can read it and think I am writing about real people with real lives and real events…

So Gus and location… his location is based on the village where I live. We have the beach, the water meadows, the marshes, the river running into the sea with a very muddy, dangerously muddy estuary, the little boatyard, the rhyne (drainage channel) the pub – above all the pub! But if I set Gus’s story here, will the people in the real pub, our pub start thinking they are the basis for my characters? Might there be some coincidental real life story which is the same as a plot line? Hmm… this is a conundrum I shall have to think about…

 

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Gus goes to the pub… again…

My hero without a novel, continues his wanderings by the sea, and begins to make very tentative plans…

The sea was out, far, far out, a mere silver sliver on the horizon beneath the clouds gathering round the setting sun. Gus surveyed it with a gloomy fatalism. He loved the sea, loved being beside the sea, but not this sea, this estuary flow of muddy salty water. He liked no he loved a clear sea, a bright sea, a moving sea, a sea which sang. He thought of the Antrim coast. The infinite variety of sea… blue, grey, black, soft, gentle, fierce angry, irate… he smiled. An irate sea, an amusing thought… but the humour died and he turned to plod across the damp sand.

The sea birds tonight had not settled, they were flying about, hither and thither, but silent apart from the odd squawk. Why did they not settle on the beach as they had the other night? A bee flew past, towards the sea and he called at it to come back, that it was going the wrong way.

He glanced around to see if anyone was near enough to hear his foolishness. The beach was deserted. he turned a full 360 degrees but there was no-one in sight and just as he was thinking how odd this was a couple with three dogs rounded the sea wall and a car moved into his line of vision.

Turning to trudge towards the yacht club he noticed another two couples walking across the sand. He sighed deeply and plodded on. Nothing was very interesting, the sky was a uniform grey, the clouds were just piles of fluff, the light was poor and the distant meadows fuzzy. It was not cold but there was mistiness in the air which was cold.

There were lights on in the yacht club tonight, and it had only been the other day that he had wondered whether anyone ever went there any more. He heard voices as he passed by, people chatting and laughing together.

He moved on and suddenly he was by the kissing gate. Somehow he had walked past the upturned dinghies, across the meadow, up the little bank, along the path by the river and here he was at the kissing gate. With no-one to kiss.

He stopped and looked across at the yachts in the boatyard. Some were on the bank of the river, ready to be launched, some were even moored in the river, and others were propped up in the yard. Would he like a boat? He didn’t think he could cope with all the ropes – sheets as they were properly called, and sails, and knots, and all the rest of the maritime gubbins.

To sit in a rowing boat and skull slowly somewhere, to paddle about in a canoe, to drift along in a put, yes how pleasant that would be… but a yacht… no, not for him.

A canal boat. Maybe he should sell up and buy a canal boat and live on that. It would be small, forcing him to sell or give away a lot of his junk. He would have to be neat, he would have to be tidy. He would live economically on baked beans and Worcestershire sauce. But he had met someone once who had lived on a canal boat. He had said it was cold and noisy…

Well, sometimes he was cold in his house by the rhyne, and quite often it was noisy. Maybe he would look up canal boats on the Internet and see how much they were… sell his house and become a water gypsy as his uncle called boat dwellers. He would have to pay mooring fees… and have to empty the toilet and buy water… but he did that already with rates, and refuse collection, and sewage and water rates… Yes, he would explore the possibilities.

He walked on with a more jaunty stride, knowing that really whatever investigation and research he did he would not do it… to sell his house would be making a decision, and the thought of trying to choose where, and how, and what… impossible.

In the pub, by chance one of the yachties, Jerry stood beside him at the bar and Gus asked him about the costs of a boat in the boatyard. Another Gerry joined in the conversation and the two men began to tell him about people who had lived on boats, it was not allowed apparently but they had some tales to tell, deviating off into other stories as they bought several rounds. Their girlfriends, partners as they were now called, Flip and Brenda joined them and they adjourned to a table and the talk turned to more general things and suddenly it was last orders.