Earlier in the week, while mingling with attendees at a friend’s funeral in Gateshead, an old mate commented he’d noticed I’d not been as prolific with my blog writing lately. I responded the situation a consequence of taking up of a part-time job role; meaning opportunities to pen my unreliable prose had diminished markedly. 

The fella making these observations was one Godfrey Keefe, or Godza as he is known by people who call him Godza. A straight-talking 6ft 4in Geordie lad, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly; well, that is unless they offer to buy him a pint of lager.

As I’d no idea he read my blogs, I was surprised to hear him comment about my recent literary hiatus. To be honest, I had no idea the lanky streak of piss could read!

I have known this intimidating figure for 45 years, since meeting him as a 14-year-old schoolboy while playing for Gateshead Fell cricket club junior team. His role within the team that of belligerent opening batsman and collector of protection money from opposition captains.

Even at that age he was 6ft 4in, towering above our diminutive adult coach Tony Tait. The latter our 2nd team captain who I have written about in an earlier narrative. A journal in which I disclosed Tony’s ground-breaking 1985 achievement when becoming the first Durham Senior League cricketer to score 50 runs while undergoing an out of body experience.

Thankfully, Tony fully recovered from his frightening ethereal experience. Seeing how big his bald patch was during the episode later leading to his accolade of becoming the first Durham Senior League cricketer to score 50 runs while wearing a toupe.

A staunch Roman Catholic, Godza is renowned for spending Sunday mornings at the church on Kells Lane, Low Fell. Not leaving until he has had his fill of communion wine, undertaken a lengthy confessional and heard the front door bolt on the adjacent Black Horse pub open.

Once inside the Black Horse, before socialising with friends, he spends the first half hour repeating the scores of “Hail Mary’s” his Catholic Priest had earlier demanded he recant to absolve his sins. 

After completing his redemption seeking chant, old long-legs sits on his favourite barstool at the bar, shovelling beef crisps into his gob and quaffing Birra Moretti as though it’s going out of fashion. Most of the latter cadged from cohorts with a promise to next week clean their upstairs windows, saving them from jeopardy inherent when scaling ladders.

A keen Newcastle United football fan, Godza’s ambition is to see his beloved Magpies win a domestic trophy (which isn’t the Watneys Cup) in his lifetime. He is also hoping the game securing the accolade will be an early afternoon match so he’ll be sober enough to remember the long-awaited achievement.

As well as being a cricketing teammate of this gargantuan fella, in my late teens I used to socialise with him on Friday and Saturdays in the hostelries of Low Fell or Newcastle. Both of us part of a dubious group looking like we’d gone out adorning Addams Family fancy dress costumes. Godza’s towering height, deep voice, and habit of appearing from nowhere to utter “You rang?” making him our Lurch.

A man with a ferocious thirst for both lager and eating kebabs without decorum, our nights out with fellow cohorts were usually messy affairs. I lost count of the number of occasions I would get home after a night on Newcastle’s Bigg Market and my bedroom would spin… I knew kipping on a giant roulette wheel instead of a conventional bed was a flawed decision.

Although the circumstances were sad, it was good to catch up with my old friend and drinking partner who I have only met fleetingly since I left Gateshead in 1987… That being said, I am not so sure my liver felt the same!

1 Comment

  1. Amazing it is who reads our work… especially when we think nobody does or that the rest of the world is certainly illiterate. in the very wee hours of this morning, I started to”pen something” which wil be titled ” Unanswered letters”. it will be a compendium of all the lengthy letters I have written to folks.. very serious stuff.. to which I have never received an answer. Thank you Gary for introducing me to the discipline of just writing mostly every day no matter what

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