I left my things on the table, went up to the bar, then returned with my pint and sat down. A chap nearby turned to me. "I wouldn't leave your phone lying about round 'ere," he said. "Don't worry, " I replied, "I was keeping an eye on it from the bar. And besides, I thought you looked pretty trustworthy."
This was a lie. Probably in his late 60s, by his appearance it was clear he was a perpetual adolescent. Tracksuit bottoms, rugby top stretched over his belly, a JD sports bag - the sign of the Chav. Shoulder-length grey hair held back with a pair of shades. In front of him sat a pack of B&H and a pint of Carling.
He winked, pulled out a cigarette, and used it to point across the room at a rowdy bunch of low-lives. "It's not me you should be worrying about, it's that bunch over there." He started for the door, then turned back. He wasn't finished. "I own the barber shop next door, know everyone in this town. I HATE this town. People always bothering me. 'Can I have a fag?', 'Could you lend me a quid?', and worst of all are the charity collectors. Every damn Thursday they plague the streets."
I agreed with him. The town where I work is without a doubt the most miserable place in England. Surrounded by estates, filled to the brim with drunks, chavs and charity collectors. I glanced out of the window. One of the local fruitcakes walked by. An old man wearing red trousers, a long fur coat and a black fedora with a yellow ribbon. A Gandalf-like staff completed the look. I have seen him before, always wearing a hat of some form. Sometimes a bandanna, sometimes a fedora, once in forester's hat with a large red feather. The barber rolled his eyes. "Don't get me started," he said.
Turns out the barber (like me) supported Spurs. Best start to the season since '61. We had plenty to talk about. Football unites like nothing else. We couldn't remember all of last week's goal-scorers. "Oi Phil!" yelled the barber, "who scored Spurs' goals last week?" Phil only drinks Newcastle Brown Ale, a cheap and pikey drink if there ever was one. Phil only wears one shirt, blue-checked. A man of routine. This town may be a dive but it certainly has character. He grabbed a copy of The Mirror and gave it to the barber. "It's all in there," he said.
The barber was looking out the window. He whistled softly. Two girls walked past. Short skirts, tanned legs, high heels. Three Harleys whizzed by. Three Harleys, three horns sounded. If there had been three girls the scene would have been perfect. I took my leave, already late back to the office.
On my way back a drunk approached me. "Do ya have a spare fag?""
As I have quite a few new readers since I became a "Jelly Biter" I've put this up here again. To understand the context you must read this post!