Tuesday 21st July 2014
I really should be starting afresh with events happening at this very moment in time, as it is a big year for me, and our trip to UK is so 2014. Last year, I must say, was kind to Pamela and I, with getting engaged and residency. 2015 will include weddings and moving into a new house. Pamela says that she promises not to be Bridezilla. I had never heard of this strange noun. The etymology of this word is obviously a blend of Bride and Godzilla; not a very positive image, is it! Blends like this are what the Hondurans call “naco” – naff, or cheesy, or crap taste. I remember in the British press that the Tories were all about chillaxing, and I remember Charlie Brooks saying on Have I Got News for You that people who use blends like this to appear cool are Funts; the best blend of any I’ve heard. I don’t think that Pamela is Bridezilla or a Funt, by the way, but I have called her the former, just to wind her up. I’m not sure she understands the Funt concept just yet, but she would understand the etymology of the blend and, like the sometimes polite young lady she is, she would not be impressed. In a drunken discourse, I did teach her and my in laws the concept of “C U Next Tuesday.” I’m afraid that I have unleashed a very dangerous animal, one that my own family back home will be dropping their heads to, as well a rude V hand signal. What have I done?!
Anyway, on this day, back in July, I remember going into Birmingham City Centre, via the Jewellery Quarter, as my mother was eager to show Pamela some of the jewellery craft shops by local artists. Pamela was also after a present for her sister Dennisse. I saw the Red Lion, a pub that I organised a poetry night to raise money to come to Honduras back on a cold October night in 2010, featuring Chris Morgan, Mary Sheard, Shirley Cooper, Phillip Sawyer and myself. A nice trip down memory lane. We then passed by the pen museum, which I never knew existed. Mum bought us some traditional pens, with the old nibs. Funnily enough, Pamela met a curator in Honduras (I’m not sure which museum) and she donated the pen, to help show Honduran children and future generations how scribes were written in the past. So there, a good old Birmingham pen sits in a museum in Tegucigalpa, somewhere.
We then stopped by St Paul’s Cathedral, where I sometimes used to go during my extremely busy days at the Refugee Council. Sometimes for a bit of quiet time, sometimes to eat lunch on the lawns outside. It is one of my favourite churches for its refineness and private detail.
We left mum there and went to get presents. First stop, the Oasis market, which is kind of like a department store fpr those with alternative tastes, like rock, piercings, tattoos, s and m fetishes, Warhammer etc. For someone a bit wet behind the ears, it’s a real eye opener, especially for me when I started going in my teenage years. It’s where I once picked up bootlegged Oasis cds of very rare songs. They are treasured items of mine and in my will I demand that they are buried with me. The place also gives me memories of when I was a perverted little spotted teenager desperate to get a girlfriend. Because I was absolutely hopeless at chatting up girls, I resorted to looking at bikini clad models on giant posters. This is how I got my earliest kicks, long before the internet came along and I looked too young and was too shy to go into a shop to buy porn. Preteens and teenage years are an uncomfortable age for many. My cheeks are turning violet just thinking of it. I remember how spoilt for choice I was, gawping like an idiot at Pamela Anderson and the other fine actresses of Baywatch. I used all my pocket money to coat my walls with very nearly naked women, and when I ran out of room, they would go up on the ceiling (the one above my bed was weirdly Noel Gallagher (not in a bikini). I did it because I thought it was hippy, but of course, no one believed me), which would freak out/humour family and friends. I remember that one poster used formal vernacular to describe the wondrous curves of the female form, with this particular blond haired lady having her rump called “superior posterior”. These two words have lasted with me ever since, and no doubt, forever more. One Christmas, when my Scottish family came to stay, I took my cousin Sam (he is two years younger and yes, I should have known better) on one of these alternative tours of Birmingham (poster shops in the city centre I.e. Athena at the bottom of floor of the Pavilions was another popular haunt of mine). His face was full of cheerful perverted smiles, just like mine, although we would get disdainful looks from middle aged shoppers wanting to buy posters of cute puppies and bears for their innocent children. On on particular trip, Sam wanted a picture of Cindy Crawford. We picked out the number of the poster, bought it in the shrink wrapped polythene wrapper and went home happy, only to open it up and find out we got the numbers mixed up and it was actually a poster of The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. We chuckled hysterically, but we had neither time or the balls to describe the mix up to the shop assistant. It’s a funny perverted family memory, one that our siblings do not allow us to forget. I had to laugh to myself when I was there with Pamela, looking for a poster of One Direction for her cousin Andrea. How times have changed.
In the evening, we went to meet my best mate Stuart Harborne in a pub which is now called the Hungry Horse, but it is still known to many by its original name The Baldwin. I felt it was essential for Pamela to experience this pub. I don’t know why, mind, but it seemed like a good education about what British working class life is all about, even though I’m not working class, neither really is Stuart. Pamela was comparing everything to Honduras, so I felt I had to show her something that she wouldn’t be able to compare to Honduras, and that most definitely is the Baldwin pub. I’ve no doubt in my mind that she is the first and last Honduran to set foot in that pub. Stuart was already there when we arrived with his wife Susan and his daughter. It reminded me of a promise that we made to each other on one of our many-a-drunken evenings (long after my poster perversion era), which was that we would share a flat together and pull loads of girls. That never happened, and neither really would it have happened. We were both happy with our better halves. We used to go there after long shifts at Toys R Us. It still makes me shudder to think that I wore that stripey fucking jacket. I hated that job. It was a stop between other jobs, but I don’t think I have ever worked with a bigger amount of lunatics in my life. The sounds of those toys turned people insane, as did parents trying desperately to get tgat one important toy for their kid at Christmas. It was idiotically impassioned mania. Ironically, Stuart and I would end up in the Baldwin which would also be full of lunatics, although we would be moaning about our faulty relationships or laughing disgracefully about things that would not be able to be repeated on this blog. One of the things we would laugh about was a friend of his who would relate everything in life to Bon Jovi lyrics. It’s okay when you’re 15. He was 20 at the time, and Stuart thinks he still does. I purposely lost contact with him, just for that reason. Two interesting nights come to mind; one of which two in toxicated young women started hurling glasses and insults at each other across the pub about some guy who I think was hiding under our table telling us to stay hush. The other night was on one particular bingo night. Bingo nights always seemed a bit corrupt at the Baldwin, as it was always the bingo caller’s best mate who would win. The bingo caller was a rude fat man with glasses and a small white beard. Not an attractive sort. Both Stuart and I couldn’t believe it once, when we saw him lick a young baby. The baby really shouldn’t have been there, as it was before the smoking ban in pubs; the poor soul might well have a lung defect now (irresponsable parenting). When we recounted this story to Pamela, she was didn’t believe us. She looked around the place, which is now more of a middle class suburban bar for families than a rough and ready working class pub that it was. Hungry Horse would claim the food is better. I don’t. It’s just more expensive. It wasn’t a nice pub before, but it did have some character. Now it’s a bit pretence. I promised Stuart I would take him to Tito Aguacates when he came to this neck of the woods, try a calambre. In the Hungry Horse, Pamela was quite impressed how many pints we could knock back in an hour, but I think Stuart was equally impressed how she could all three of us knocking back tequila shots on a Tuesday night.
Stu and I said our drunken goodbyes and made our way back to our respective homes. Luckily for Stuart, he lives quite close to the pub. Unluckily for Pamela, we went on a sobering walk home. Pamela was not impressed, but neither was I when I saw KFC was closed at Robin Hood Island. I paid for it with a hangover the next day.