A look back at an old favourite.
It was January 2nd, and the Blose had been at home the day before. The result had never really been in doubt as soon as the opposition team coach had turned up but the Blosers had keptriron all through the match and it was only at the final whistle that their ‘earts ‘ad finally broken. Because it had been New Year’s Day the Blosers were unusually quiet due to hangovers incurred in the line of duty during the Handcuff’n’ Handgrenade New Year’s Eve Disco Nite ‘n’ Karaoke Party (All Proceeds to Charity) so the police casualty list was light and most of the injured were back on duty a couple of weeks later.
A new Superintendent in charge of matchday policing had once asked why there were so many injuries and was told that it was a side-effect of having the Dog Unit policing the ground. He’d asked if extra ambulance men should be on duty and been told that ambulances were fine, but there was an urgent need for more vets.
But a new day dawned, and as was so often the case, the regulars of the Handcuff’n’ Handgrenade were in reflective mood. Sometimes they reflected about how they got home the previous night. Sometimes they reflected about prison officers, or solicitors, or policemen. Today they reflected about former Blose owners.
They talked about the door to door salesman who had owned them and how he had invented buying season tickets on the weekly. “I’ll have paid for mine by the end of March,” said Barry’s uncle Bert, proudly. Brains had asked which season would be paid for in three months, time. “1975-76,” was the reply.
Then they talked about the scrap man who had bought the Blose off the door to door salesman. “He was a character and no mistake,” reminisced Barry’s cousin Brian. “Do you remember when he turned the electricity off in the Blose offices?”
All the Lose family had liked the scrap man. When he’d turned the electricity off in the offices he’d asked Great Uncle Benjamin to give the staff lessons on walking round commercial premises in the dark. Great Uncle Benjamin had been honoured to give a lecture in the subject he knew best, having been an expert on walking round commercial premises in the dark for thirty years, apart from the time he was unable to walk around anywhere except the exercise yard at Winson Green.
Then they’d moved on to talk about the brothers who’d run the market stalls when they weren’t owning the Blose. Barry had liked the brothers who ran the market stalls. When they sold the Bose they’d been described in the paper as “unremitted, unashamed, unrepentant borderline crooks and charlatans”. Barry had liked this because it was almost word for word what the last but three judge to sentence him had said. The only word missing had been ‘borderline’.
“What about the porn barons?” asked Barry’s brother-in-law Brian, and they all went red and looked at the floor. They’d liked the porn barons but none of them ever wanted to admit why. And every time the subject of the woman porn baron was brought up they were very quiet indeed. The last time someone hadn’t been quiet when the subject of the woman porn baron had been brought up was when one of Barry’s extended family had asked if his restraining order had expired now she was working in That London only to find himself being extended out of a fourteenth floor window.
“Then there was First Blessed Leader,” said Barry’s nephew Bill. They sat for a moment reflecting on First Blessed Leader. He had been their favourite owner of all. Not only had he been in charge when the first Pilgrimage to Bruges had taken place, but he spoke the same language as the Blosers. He had, Barry said, gone through the ordeal of ‘eartbreak and truly knew what it was like to be a Bloser. Adolf, who was overhearing just in case he found out something he could tell the police in return for keeping his licence, thought that he would know exactly what it was like to be a Bloser for six years less time off for good behaviour but as always, he kept quiet.
“They was good times,” said Barry, and they all agreed. Nobody dared remind him about how he’d gone round the door to door salesman’s house after he’d sold the Blose and entered into an arrangement with regards to how the salesman’s goods were less likely to catch fire, or when he’d gone round the scrap man’s house and said that scrap could easily sink to the bottom of the canal, or when he’d written to Blessed Leader when the porn barons had gone, telling him that they were counter-revolutionaries and subversives fit only for a rehabilitation camp and he knew where they could be found.
And they certainly didn’t tell him that Radio Bloser had only that morning said that Blessed Leader Two and the rest of their staff were breakin’ the ’earts of every Bloser and should go back to China if they knew what was good for them. Barry got very confused with this. The other week, someone had said bad stuff about Blessed Leader Two and one of his Chosen Men had offered to have it out with the critical Bloser in the car park.
In Barry’s world the only people who would threaten a Bloser would be a Dirty Villa Bastard and then not for long, but the man doing the threatening was one of the Chosen Men of Blessed Leader Two, and he was definitely a Bloser so the man he was threatening must be a Dirty Villa Bastard after all and in that case he must be hunted down and disposed of. But if Radio Bloser was also saying the same thing then the same things would happen to them with retribution carried out on the man who said such things who was Tom, who was definitely mot a Dirty Villa Bastard so the man who was threatening Tom must be a Dirty Villa Bastards and so….
“Is that why the team’s so shite?” said Barry’s great-nephew Bobby.
The Blosers looked at Bobby with horror. To say that the Blose were shite was the Bloser equivalent of breaking the Fourth Wall. You know it’s there but you can’t admit its existence. Luckily for Bobby, he was one of Barry’s favourite junior Loses. Bobby was the son of Brains’s sister Brainetta, so Barry liked him as he hoped that one day Bobby would be a solicitor and so save the Blose family a lot of money.
Bobby went on to say that if a football team and its supporters are in a constant state of antipathy, then they won’t be as successful as a club who are united. He gave the example of how the Villa managed to get promotion in part because everyone was pulling together and Blose should learn from them. Then he ducked; Barry’s family loyalty only went so far.
Barry thought about this and decided that it might make sense. Someone was pretending to be a Bloser in order to spread dissention and ferment problems within the club, and he had a fair idea who it was. He thought a bit more and decided that Blessed Leader Two had to be told that he was employing in his Chosen Men a Dirty Villa Bastard spy, and that hanging was too good for such a creature. Then he thought for a third time and told the Blosers what the money raised the night before was to be spent on. Barry was off to meet Blessed Leader Two. But first he had to make a few arrangements,
First of all, Barry had to ask Barryetta if she minded him going to China. She danced round the room singing Oh Happy Day, then made him sign a sworn statement promising not to change his mind.
Then he went to the dole office to ask if he could sign on in advance as he was going to China. The man at the front desk got him to sign the Going to China (If It’s Barry He Can Go Anywhere He Wants) forms, then took them into the manager’s office, making sure that his own holiday form covering the period Barry was away was ripped up. Barry signed them and the man skipped back to his desk singing Oh Happy Day.
On his way home a police car pulled over for a word. “Off to China then?” the policeman said. Barry said he was. “Pity,” replied the policeman. “We’re having our danger money levels assessed while you’re away.”
When he got back, the phone was ringing. “This is the Prime Minister here” said the voice on the other end. “I’ve heard you’re off to China. Jolly good, spiffing, top hole. Don’t worry about all those silly laws banning you and your family from leaving the country, I’ve got rid of all of them.”
So Barry was off to China. He knew it was a long way away and that he would have to get on a plane, but he wasn’t exactly sure where China was. Then a car arrived outside. The driver got out and said that the Prime Minister had given orders that he was to drive Barry to the airport, where he could get a plane to China.
Barry was off to China. What he didn’t know was that the Prime Minister had asked China about a special trade deal, and that in return they had asked for someone they could use to help deal with the Hong Kong protestors. Something had got lost in translation and the phrase ‘best revolutionary’ had become ‘most revolting’. They had asked for the most revolting man in Britain to be sent to Peking.
Next issue: Barry arrives in Peking