As lockdown protocols begin to ease in England, I suspect there’ll be individuals pondering how to diplomatically backtrack on their lockdown suggestions of “Let’s get together for a beer when this is all over.” In some cases, notions tendered to people disingenuously; foolish promises to acquaintances whose company they’d rather avoid.

A friend falling into that category is 6ft 5in ex-miner Greg Tugs who oft seeks confrontation following a few beers. Not to mention occasionally indulging in the unacceptable ‘party piece’ of ripping out table cloths from cutlery laden restaurant tables.

This half-assed trick, which leaves cutlery strewn across Indian restaurant floors, carried out under the misapprehension it’ll gain him a reputation as a ‘bit of a character’…… In reality, though, it only makes him a ‘bit of a’ something I’ll refrain from relaying prior to the watershed.

A man prone to outlandish exaggeration, during nights out, Tugsy endeavours to impress with claims such as he’s 8ft 3in tall. Another allegation is his possession of mobile phone numbers for Cheryl Crow, Art Garfunkel, rugby commentator Eddie Butler, TV chef Ainsley Harriet and George W Bush on speed dial…… My response to both gaslighting attempts are “He isn’t!….. And he hasn’t!”

Architect Tony Slutz is an individual who, when I must’ve been afflicted with muddled lockdown brain fog, I’d also mentioned meeting for a few beers when liberty from quarantine’d been restored.

This mind mist obviously wiping out embarrassing memories of socialising with a guy who during evenings out habitually drapes a tennis sweater around his neck. An appalling piece of de rigour which is made even more perplexing by a further inexplicable decision to accessorise the fashion faux pas with a tennis racquet. An exasperating custom which gains unwanted attention as we trawl from boozer to boozer.

Tony claims the tennis bat is lucky. However, as he loses most games and is a victim of the meagerest serendipity, it isn’t too hard to pick holes in those misguided sentiments. The sports equipment certainly brings little good fortune when we get thrown out of an Indian restaurant after Greg Tugs’ table cloth capers.

Another member of the ‘crew’ Derek Berger, who goes by the lazily uncreative nom de plume of Beef, is always a welcome drinking partner. A raconteur par excellence, his tales more than making up for attendance of the groups more eccentric members.

Beef’s yarn about a horse creosoting a fence so hilarious that, when told to a disconcerted fellow being antagonised by Greg Tugs, when pub in situ, it actually diffused what could’ve been a potentially fractious episode.

On reflection, I should embrace the social company all of these chaps. After all, Tugsy’s restaurant antics are generally undertaken after we’ve eaten. Also, who wants a night out with a group of people where at least one of the party hasn’t a tennis racquet nestled under their arm…… Incidentally, that’s rhetorical.

Anyhow, I’ve no right to be this judgemental, even in jest. After all, this group of friends, and any others who I’ve arranged to socialise with post lockdown, may opine “Bloody hell, how’m I gonna get out of an evening boozing with Gary Strachan….. He’s a right chuffing nutcase!!”

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