bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

Awkward Moment

Dear Rachel

I would not list the Duke of Wellington public house, Toynbee Street, London E1 alongside the Houses of Parliament or the Oxford Society as a white hot crucible of enlightened debate.   However, the fact remains that many decisions of vast importance in the lives and businesses of the people who drink there have taken place around the circular table by the dart board, the oblong table between the Gents’ and the Ladies’, and my personal favourite table beneath the portrait of the Iron Duke himself.

It was at this table, at about the time when a long evening has turned into an early morning which has in turn given way to the irrefutable truth that actual people with real jobs are on their way to work, and that very soon you’ll have to dawdle down to Liverpool Street station and take the Central Line to Soho to see your wholesaler, that I had to inform Lou that I knew nothing whatsoever about comic book art.   There are several reasons that the exact sequence of events surrounding my revelation can never be replicated, not least because Vinny the landlord has recently replaced the Duke of Wellington portrait with yet another telly, on the curious grounds that life is too short to look at anything more than eight feet away.

Most conversations at the Duke between those of us in the market trading sector of the economy revolve around a) What the fuck are we going to do? b) Why the fuck did we do this? and c) How the fuck can we stop anything like this happening again?    You don’t get any of that when talking to Lou, because Lou is an artist.   An actual artist, I should like to point out – not a cheerless drab trying to salvage a reason to carry on staying alive for day after day after day by selling horrid self indulgent nonsense at Broadway Market on Sundays.   Lou creates his art while living on discarded Pringles and rainwater that he channels into a milk bottle via a complex system of drinking straws at his unheated rented kennel off Brick Lane.   There is always someone among our number who is skint, due to the financially queasy nature of market trading life, and the fact that for the last couple of years it has always and only been Lou is quite reassuring, as it indicates an era of general prosperity for everyone else.   I, as stated earlier, know nothing about comic book art.   Lou knows a lot about comic book art, and was explaining the history of the genre in such detail that not only had I agreed to read From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (which is, as it turns out, brilliant) but had nodded to Watchmen, by the same writing pair, by way of pudding.   It’s on my shelf now, in fact.   Anyway.  It was about at this time I noticed that Gay Clive had sidled over to our table, sat next to me, put his hand on my bollocks, and fallen asleep.

I think I mentioned last week the exact moment when I realised that John the Boxes was gay.   Gay Clive’s sexual orientation is easier to figure out – his name is a bit of a giveaway – and although I vaguely noticed that his hand might be on my bollocks, it didn’t feel right to interrupt Lou in full flight to point out that I was currently the victim of a sustained, if unconscious, sexual assault.   In fact, it wasn’t until he said ‘Hang on – has Gay Clive got his hand on your bollocks?’ that I was forced to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.   ‘Now Clive, be reasonable’ I said ‘If I let you have a go, I have to let everyone have a go’, which was the best response I could come up with under the circumstances.   He was, however, very deeply asleep indeed – Gay Clive is almost as well known for drinking a great deal and then falling asleep a he is for being gay.  Vinny once told me that sometimes for a larf he will close the pub up around Clive so as not to disturb him as he dozes on the bar, on the grounds that he’s cheaper than a guard dog.   I can vouch for this, as on one of the occasions when I’ve slept in the glamourous surroundings of the cellar, I stumped up the stairs in the morning to find him gloriously a-slumber against the Goldfinger fruit machine.

Vinny had by this point appeared and was offering helpful advice, which was this:  ‘Whatever you do, don’t wake him suddenly.   He’s prone to panic attacks and he might strangle your Alberts*’    To dispel any lingering doubts, it’s probably worth mentioning that both Lou and I were drinking fully clothed – as familiar as we are with each other, a certain awkwardness would be inevitable if we were to conclude a weekends trading by getting drunk in the altogether, especially in an otherwise clothed environment.   It seemed, if anything, that Gay Clive’s hand, while maintaining sovereignty over my crotchal area, was doing so in a protective, almost benevolent way, like an inappropriate United Nations.   Also, while I had certainly been delivered into a happenstance that I wouldn’t have chosen, I didn’t feel that there was any need for Mace or counseling or poster campaigns all over the Northern Line.    The situation was in the end easily remedied by simply grabbing Clive’s wrist and moving it firmly back from whence it came, which rather amusingly caused him to slide off his chair, steady himself, and continue sleeping in a kneeling position with his head on the seat of a different chair, as if in ludicrous prayer to a broadminded deity.   The following week, I discussed the incident with Vinny, pointing out that although I am no judge of these things, I would’ve thought that Lou was a far more tempting target for unsolicited lecherousness, being that I am only something of a hottie if you like shambolic if well dressed men with murky pasts, uncertain futures and criminal families, in which case you really have hit the jackpot.   Vinny countered this by pointing out that it may have been something to do with an ill advised episode earlier in the year when, along with a few others who had forgotten to contribute to a whip round for Gay Clive’s birthday, I took the financially expedient but wrong-signal-sending-out option of showing him my cock.

*Cockney rhyming slang: Albert Halls (plural noun) = balls.



No photards this week as not only is our main computard still on the blink, but the back up one is looking a bit dodgy, too.   I’m writing this on an Apple MacBook.   It’s a lovely thing and I’d be entirely happy to use one all the time if I wanted to be one those people who use Apple products, but I’m afraid that I can’t allow that to happen, ever.

Leave a Comment