If you can keep your head when all around you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you happen to be in Greggs in Cheltenham, having purchased sufficient sandwiches and crisps for lunch for three adults, the best way of getting back to where you parked the car is to retrace your steps up the main shopping thoroughfare, turn left at the junction, pass Primark, go over a main road and you will find yourself back at the car parks. The one on the left is currently undergoing redevelopment and it is the one on the right which most people use.
This is the short journey undertaken by our three stalwarts, The Minister aka The Champ, Hamdan Almakstobbytoum and The Bookie Basher, on the first day of The Paddy Power meeting in November 2015. It is normally a hazardless journey, thanks in no small way to the local council lowering the centre of the pavements at all the road crossings, allowing easier access for the wheelchairs of the disabled. The edges on either side of the lowered section are of course normal height. It was at one of these crossings where it happened. Just at the entrance of the currently unused car park on the left. I, The Minister, led the way as usual, setting a cracking pace. The Bookie Basher, laden with Gregg’s sandwiches and crisps, was close behind. Hamdan, struggling with housemaids knee, was dragging his leg dramatically in last place. I’m not sure if he was auditioning for a part in the pantomime, Treasure Island, or trying to impersonate Richard the Third. On reflection I think he should limiit his thespian ambitions to the shakespearean role as he looked ‘nowt’ like Widow Twankey.
At the site of the incident I, sensibly, chose the lower central part of the pavement and my progress was unimpeded.However just as I cleared the obstacle I became aware of such a clatter behind me and my suspicion that something was amiss was exacerbated when a Gregg’s Ham Salad Sandwich, in thankfully robust packaging, came flying past me. I also became aware of a packet of Walker’s Cheese & Onion making its own way swiftly down the main highway. I just had time to pluck the crisps from under the wheels of a number 9 bus, Cleeve Hill via The Racecourse, before turning my attention to what had happened. I was confronted by the sight of The Bookie Basher spreadeagled face down on the ground surrounded by sandwiches, which had only this morning been lovingly prepared by representatives of Greggs & Co. He was doing a pretty good impersonation of a beached whale and I thought where’s Captain Ahab when you need him. By this time several onlookers were rushing to assist. Even Hamdan, produced a personal best dead heating with an octogenarian, to get there. And, I think he would have beat her if she didn’t have the advantage of a walking stick and he hadn’t been reciting “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”. I wouldn’t care but he doesn’t have a kingdom. Not even an allotment.
“What happened”, I queried and everybody started talking at once. Eventually things quietened down and The Bookie Basher related his version of events.
“I thought I could take the lead on your right hand side but did not allow for the increased height of the pavement, clipped the top and, to use a steeplechasing term, pecked on landing”, he explained.
“More like arse over tit”, observed one astute observer, neatly avoiding steeplechasing terms.
“The monsieur, he went down like, how you say Le bag de hammers?”, contributed one foreign gentleman, who may or may not have been using steeplechasing terms.
There was also an intervention by someone who professed to be a medical practitioner but was in reality a trainee vet. A fact that became abundantly clear when he started counting The Bookie Basher’s teeth. His diagnosis, “This horse will never work again” was greeted with hoots of derision by the increasing assemblage who took great delight in chasing him down the high street, threatening to thrust the aforementioned vet’s humane despatcher up his rectal passage, prior to pulling the trigger.
The Bookie Basher was by this time on his feet and looking slightly embarrassed but OK. He reported no head injuries but a slight grazing of the right knee, which produced an audible gasp of relief from the congregation with the realisation that mouth to mouth resuscitation would not be necessary and the need to draw straws was no longer required. The crowd consequently began to disperse with lots of back slapping and well wishing for the victim, who demonstrated his well being by making progress, albeit with a slight limp, back to the car.
The good news is that all the sandwiches and crisps, having been harvested, and put back in the Gregg’s carrier bag by the ever helpful congregation, were undamaged and an enjoyable lunch was had by all concerned. The drawback was that I, The Minister, was accompanied to the racecourse by “Limp Along Leslie” on one side and a “Richard the Third wannabee” on the other.
The Bookie Basher’s wretched day ended with no winners but he was able to console himself and ease the pain by taking whisky in the evening. Somethings, thankfully, never change.