Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Strange Occurrence in the Lounge Bar

A funny thing happened last night.  I walked into my local pub and it was absolutely deserted.  Just me and the barman.  It was all very peculiar.  I know that I got there later than usual, (I'd become engrossed in recording a contribution to this week's Overnightscape Central podcast and lost track of time), but even late on a Monday night the place is usually livelier than that.  According to Tom the barman, it had been quiet all night.  Maybe it's because it is getting near the end of the month and everyone is skint, or perhaps it had something to do with the schools and colleges breaking up for the summer (that at least explained the absences of the usual teacher contingent), but for some reason, nobody was going out to the pub last night.  Even the resident pub bore, Ted (not his real name, but close enough) didn't bother turning out.  Anyway, I stayed for a couple of pints and as I was halfway through the second one and Tom the barman was about to start locking up as we figured no one else was going to turn up, we heard the side door open and this strange figure wandered into the lounge bar.

I say 'strange', because he was dressed in tweeds, was extremely pale and walking with the aid of a stick.  He informed us that he hadn't been in the pub for fifteen years and had decided to drop in  as he was passing (as you do, at close to closing time) and see if this fellow he'd used to drink with was in.  Not surprisingly, he wasn't.  It seemed that his former drinking companion hadn't waited for him.  To be brutally frank, judging by the state of the visitor, I'd be surprised if his friend is still alive, let alone drinking in the lounge bar.  He then asked after a member of staff he recalled and I had to tell him that they had died nearly eighteen months ago.  I was beginning to suspect that he was some kind of time traveler, who had stumbled into the present from fifteen years ago.  He then told us that he no longer lived in Crapchester and was only back in town 'for this!' At which point he briefly removed his cap to reveal a bald pate with some kind of surgical dressing at the centre.  Now, I'm still not sure what 'this' was - maybe he was a member of the local trepanning society and had just had a hole drilled in his skull by a fellow member.  (I must admit, I've never seen the point of trepanning.  If we are to believe the 1969 Mondo movie Naked England, it was very popular in swinging London, when it was apparently very fashionable to have a hole drilled in your skull.  At least, that's what I think the film was claiming, as I've only seen it in Italian, a language I'm not fluent in).  Before I had a chance to ask, he left, as mysteriously as he had arrived.  And without buying a drink.

Following that, Tom the barman locked up and I finished my pint and wandered home, mildly perplexed by what I'd experienced.  But not so perplexed that I didn't finish editing that audio.  My throat still hurts from recording it - for some reason I delivered my piece in the style of a hillbilly.  I say hillbilly, but it was actually more like a bad impression of Walter Brennan in one of his many 'crazy old coot' roles in post war westerns.  Perhaps the mysterious stranger will be back next time I'm in the pub and we'll get to the bottom of his head injury.  Maybe he'll talk if I subject him to my Walter Brennan impression.  Who knows.

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