Something Silly for Sunday
A few years ago, my partner Andy and I were indulging in one of our favourite pastimes: a London pub crawl. After an increasingly merry exploration of the London Bridge area, we ended up in The Old Kings Head off Borough High Street.
The pub was rammed. Tottenham Hotspur were playing in a European competition that night (probably not the Champions’ League), and the football was being shown on big screens. Andy and I eased ourselves into a vantage point to watch the match – and acquired some company.
Or rather, I acquired some company!
‘Do you often drink here?’ said my new companion, wide eyed and unblinking.
‘What are you here for?’
For God’s sake mate, blink!
‘A beer, and to watch the Tottenham match…’
‘You Tottenham are you? I’m a bank robber.’
By this time a suspicious looking line of powder was sliding from my companion’s nose, and he still hadn’t blinked.
Humour him, Alison!
‘Yes, I have a soft spot for Tottenham.’ Please don’t let him be an avid Arsenal fan…
‘Me too. Me too.’ Sniff.
‘Shall we watch the game then…’
‘I’m a bank robber. I’ve been inside eight times. Seven kids. I’ve got seven kids.’ Dribbly nose. Sniff.
‘Eight times? Seven kids? No need to ask what you get up to when you’re not in prison!’
‘Yeah. I rob banks.’
‘And make babies by the sounds of it.’
‘Seven.’ Sniff. Stare.
By this time Andy was giggling like a schoolgirl. I ignored him. Resisting the temptation to whip out a tissue and encourage my companion to blow his nose (which may have fallen off had he tried), I did my best to look interested.
Ask him if he robbed banks to feed his coke habit!
Ask him if he’s got a hankie!
Ask him if he’ll flipping well blink!
Realising I couldn’t ignore Andy, the frivolous voices in my head, or the huge bubble of laughter that was threatening to burst out of me for much longer, I excused myself and headed for the Ladies’. By the time I returned, the bank robber had moved on to a couple of visitors with his tales of robbery and his wide staring eyes. I re-joined Andy, moaned at him for being no help whatsoever, and started watching the football.
‘’Ere!’ said a friendly looking bloke, nodding towards my former companion. ‘I bet he told you he’s a bank robber, didn’t he?’
‘Yes, as a matter of fact he did,’ I replied. The bloke laughed and nodded sagely.
‘He tells everyone that,’ the bloke said, his facial expression hinting that my bank robber companion was notorious for being the local joker. ‘Yeah, we’ve heard it all before. Been inside six times?’
‘Oh, eight is it now? Don’t you worry about him, love. He’s harmless. Just a bit of a Jackanory.’
Laughing along with the bloke, I assured him that I’d got that impression. How nice, I thought, to have someone sensible to talk to after the bank robber…
‘Now,’ announced the ‘sensible’ bloke, ‘I really am a bank robber!’
There could only be one song to accompany this tale: ‘Daddy Was a Bank Robber’ by The Clash. Enjoy!