It occurs to me more and more often these days, some things in my life happened really quite a long time ago now.
I mean, cultural references are bad enough, that stuff can start to make you feel old. Here’s one; West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys was released over thirty years ago,
That’s crazy, I can’t be that old.
The last thing that made me think this, was trying to remember the year a friend of mine got married.
I’m still not sure, I’m pretty certain it was in the late ’80s. Although considering how the weekend of the wedding turned out, maybe I’ve mentally blocked the memory, for my own good.
I had been at school with Rich, and he had since moved to Wales, almost as far North as you could get, on Colwyn Bay. He was marrying a local girl, and I was getting a lift up there with the best man and his girlfriend, two more old school friends.
It should be remarked upon at this point that Rich has an older brother, who I shall call Bob.
He was, to say the least, a crazy bastard.
And not in a good way.
Rich lived in a small cottage at the top of a very long, winding hill road, and after the long drive from Sussex, we were looking forward to a relaxing, fun weekend with an old friend and his family.
As we rounded the final corner to the house, we saw Bob on the drive.
He was standing next to what I assumed was his car, talking to Rich, which was a bit of a surprise as we were under the impression that he wasn’t going be attending the wedding.
Seeing our old friend after all that time helped to soften the blow however, and we said our hellos, lugged all our gear into the house, and met Rich’s bride-to-be for the first time. She told us that she was about to leave for her Mum’s house so we could prepare for the evening’s entertainment – not the full stag do, just a few drinks at the local pub, as the wedding was the next day.
After she left, thoughts turned to the subject of alcohol, as they do at times like these. We were also starving hungry after our long drive.
Bob suggested that he go into town for some fish and chips, and to call in at the off license on the way back.
He asked me to go with him, and I reluctantly agreed.
A bad idea, just waiting to happen.
We set off in his car – time has robbed my memory of the specifics, but I think it was an Escort – and Bob was chumminess itself, chatting away as if we were long lost mates.
His driving had got no saner than I remembered it, and on the narrow winding road there were plenty of white knuckle moments, but fortunately we made it into town alive.
Having purchased a huge mound of battered cod and chips, and loaded up on booze, we began the journey home.
As soon as we got on the main road, I could tell that Bob was now in full-on showing off mode. He was overtaking anything that came up in front of him, accelerating up behind his victims from some way back.
In the middle of one of these maneuvers, half way through overtaking some poor unfortunate motorist, that Bob realised he was about to miss our left hand turn up the hill to Rich’s house. Stamping on the accelerator to get past, he yanked the wheel hard over and just made it past the front grill as the terrified driver of the other car stood on his brakes.
We shot up the side turning with Bob whooping like a lunatic, and me shouting something along the lines of “You fucking maniac, are you trying to kill us!”
Bob thought it was all highly amusing.
The road we were now travelling back up was, as previously mentioned, very winding and steep, zig-zagging up the hill in a series of hairpin turns, the last of which turned back on itself right into Rich’s drive.
As a final flourish, Bob spun round the final bend, put his foot down,
…and shot straight over the two foot drop at the end of the drive.
Into the brand new rockery Rich – a professional gardener – had been working on when we arrived that afternoon.
Amazingly, Bob still found this to be deeply hilarious.
Rich, not so much.
There followed, not surprisingly, a lot of shouting and swearing from Rich, myself, and the best man, Neil, while Bob made light of the whole thing and said he’d go and get a farmer to tow the car out with a tractor.
After we had calmed Rich down, had something to eat, and got a couple of beers down us, Bob still hadn’t returned so we decided to go out to the pub and hope that he’d gone when we got back.
(I shan’t go into details of our evening out drinking, except to say that if you’ve seen An American Werewolf in London, then you’ll know what I mean by the scene in the Slaughtered Lamb. This was the Welsh version of that pub)
We wandered home, and arrived to find the car, and Bob, gone.
Much delight and popping open of more cans.
Now Lorna, Neil’s girlfriend, was already a bit unnerved by all the aggro earlier in the evening, so when Bob’s car came screeching to a halt outside, she started to looked very alarmed.
The situation wasn’t improved by a loud pounding on the door, accompanied by Bob yelling to be let in, as he’d left some CDs and his beers behind.
Rich went to the door, as Lorna rushed into the kitchen to grab the cans out of the fridge.
Just as he got to the front door, it exploded inwards, propelled by Bob’s foot. It was chaos – Lorna screaming, Bob and Rich shouting at each other and fighting, and me and Neil trying to calm everyone down while simultaneously getting Bob back out the front door.
He went outside just as Lorna came out of the kitchen with his fourpack of beer, screaming for him to take it and leave. He took it off her as I reached the door, and flung it straight at my head.
I’m here to tell you that a fourpack of Budweiser in the face is not the best way to end a stag night.
It’s a bit of a blur for a while after that. I remember circling Bob’s car, clutching his CDs, saying “If I give you these back you are going to leave aren’t you?” with him circling around from the other side, glaring at me. Eventually, I just dumped them through the window of the car and marched back into the house.
Finally, his car roared back down the drive and we heard it racing away.
The front door was completely knackered. In kicking it open, Bob had torn a fair chunk of the doorjamb off, along with the half of the lock.
We cobbled it back together with about twenty nails, hammered in with the back of a hand axe. Then Rich decided to call the police.
So he and Neil took a walk down the road to the phone box (remember, this was the ’80s) and I was left with a panicking Lorna.
As soon as the other two left, she started throwing clothes into a suitcase and threatening to leave. I almost had to physically restrain her from leaving the house.
I just about calmed her down by the time Neil and Rich got back.
About twenty minutes later, two local policemen turned up and listened to the tale of the night’s events with the soon-to-be-unhelpful expressions of people hearing about something that almost certainly isn’t their problem at midnight on a Friday.
And upon learning that Bob was a deranged relative, and not some marauding Welsh psycho, they lost interest altogether, claiming they could do nothing as it was a “domestic”.
We thanked them for their outstanding diligence (that may be an exaggeration) and they went on their way.
Having secured the house as best we could, we settled down to an uneasy, short, but mercifully uneventful night’s sleep.