In which The Author encounters a real-life Goon Show
Back in the 1950s, when Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine first erupted from the UK’s wireless sets and into the ears of an unsuspecting nation, the word ‘goon’ meant a stupid person. There’s a broader meaning as well these days: the sort of musclebound, brain-dead thug who spends his time intimidating people and generally causing trouble. Think of the ‘henchmen’ in old spy films and the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman series, or a fair number of bouncers, and you’ve got the right mental image.
When we were prefects in school, we used to call those same people ‘meatheads.’ However, when I first read Viz, back in the late 80s, they had a character named Terry Fuckwit. I’ve loved the word ‘fuckwit’ ever since. It’s got that delightful combination of hardcore swearing and childishness which makes it the perfect post-watershed synonym for ‘goon.’
There’s one sub-group of Fuckwits from the Aberdare Afternoon Piss-Artists Association, who come into the Prince of Wales every afternoon except Sundays. I know from talking to the barbints that they’re from down the Valley – Mountain Ash or that neck of the woods. They’ve never made eye contact with me or spoken to me. However, whenever I’m been in there with Martin H., showing him various tips and tricks on my Netbook, the Fuckwits fail miserably to hide their contempt for us. We both know why, of course: their small-minded fear of anyone exhibiting intelligence, creativity, a knowledge of the world outside the confines of our narrow little Valley, and/or a grasp of 21st Century technology. These characteristics, singly or in combination, absolutely define the Loteks around here.
About a fortnight ago, we were chatting as usual, aware that they’d been staring at us for ages. Eventually, the Fuckwits decided to move on to another pub. One of them came to our table and proffered his hand. I’d never spoken to him, had never had anything to do with him, and had no reason to reciprocate. I totally blanked him and we carried on our conversation.
A couple of weeks ago I was having a quiet pint with Jason C. when one of them made a great show of trying to attract my attention. I was wearing a dress that day, and I’d known as soon as the Fuckwits walked in that they’d have something to say on the topic. Fortunately, I was in the early stages of partial deafness (see Waxing Lyrical
), so I didn’t have to pretend to ignore him. A few minutes later he crossed over to our table and sat in the empty seat beside me. I asked Graham if I could squeeze past him, finished my drink, and headed to the bar. After that, I went to the Gents’, and Jason G. followed me in case any of them decided to make another move. I assured him that I wasn’t bothered by them, and we headed back to our table. They drank up and went to their next port of call, mouthing off as usual as they left.
On Saturday afternoon I was sitting with Big Ted, updating the links on my blog, when one of the Fuckwits came and sat beside me. He didn’t know my name, and I didn’t know his. We’d never spoken before, but he was convinced that we had. He asked me straight away whether I could help him write a book. I immediately told him, ‘No,’ and carried on with what I was doing. Then he decided that I’d already helped him to plan a holiday (the first I’d heard of it!), and that I could definitely help him. After all, I read books, don’t I? I used to sell books, didn’t I? (I volunteered that information.) But simply working in Blockbuster, or sitting in the box office of the Coliseum, doesn’t qualify you to go and make a film, does it? It might have worked for Quentin Tarantino, but by this argument, half the world would be film directors.
I suggested this analogy to him, and he told me that, on the contrary, he could make a film. I congratulated him, and told him that he was obviously far more intelligent than I’d given him credit for. Obviously, he’d never encountered someone speaking fluent sarcasm before, because he went on to insist that I was definitely the man to help him with his book. I was shocked, because until then I’d assumed that he and his mates had yet to learn to read and write.
He said, ‘You could help me, though.’
I said, ‘Yes, I probably could – but I won’t.’
‘Because I’m a busy man. And because I don’t want to.’
The Fuckwit grabbed my Netbook, jerked out the mains cable, and threw it about fifteen feet across the room. It narrowly missed one of the regulars as it crashed to the floor. Before I had had chance to swing for the Fuckwit, Nicola B., the manager, shot from behind the bar and confronted him. The rest of the Fuckwits started shouting, and Nicola threw them out. Ted bought me a pint to settle my nerves, and Nicola got on the radio to the police. It wasn’t long before two PCSOs walked into the building. A third was accompanying the Fuckwit to the police station. All the while, Nicola kept insisting that ‘Freddy wouldn’t do that.’
I said, ‘He just did – so don’t tell me he wouldn’t!’
For the first time, l knew his name. I’m going to put it on the record here: ‘Freddy’ Prosser. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t publish it. It’s not sub judice, as you’ll see.
I gave my details to Ben, one of the two attending PCSOs, and related the whole story while his colleague Bleddyn went to the office with Nicola to review the CCTV footage. I told Ben that I would be pressing charges for criminal damage. It was an open-and-shut case, after all. There were nearly twenty witnesses to the incident, and the cameras had captured the whole thing. There was a moment of light relief while Ben and I were talking – a bunch of scumbags started fighting directly outside the front door of the pub. Ben set a new world record for police response times – two seconds or so – and Bleddyn nearly matched it on his run downstairs. Once they’d broken it up, I finished my pint and we walked up to the police station to ‘crime it up.’ We sat in the conference room while Ben phoned through the details of the incident, and a few minutes later a female officer came into the room.
She explained that Prosser had admitted the charge of criminal damage, and now I had two options:
A. The quick option, whereby he’d receive a fixed penalty on the spot, together with a criminal record;
B. The long way round, where Prosser would be arrested and taken to the cells in Merthyr for processing. I’d have to give a statement (but not turn up for the hearing itself – the CCTV evidence was enough to convict him.) He’d appear in court in about three weeks’ time, where he’d be found guilty, fined, and receive a criminal record. The court would order him to pay compensation, which she admitted would probably be a fiver a week at best. At that rate, it would take him over a year to pay for a new Netbook, and nearly six months for a second-hand one.
I decided to go for the first course of action, not because I felt sorry for the cunt, but because it seemed an unnecessary use of scarce resources. Simply taking him to the cells would have meant taking two officers off the streets on the afternoon/evening of the FA Cup Final, when they’d need all hands to the pump. Then there’d be the cost of the CPS, the court time, and putting a Fuckwit in a police cell on a night where they’re bursting at the seams anyway.
I must admit that I liked the idea of his being stuck in Merthyr on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, when public transport is scarce at best. But I’m a man of science. I took the path of least resistance. The officer told me that she’d put the alternatives to him, and I chatted to Bleddyn and Ben until they decided they had all the information they needed.
We were on our way to the exit when the female officer called us back. Prosser was refusing the on-the-spot fine, apparently. That meant that Plan B was back on the table. The custody sergeant asked me if I’d follow him to give a statement. Prosser must have overheard our conversation, because he started shouting from inside the interview room.
I smiled at the sergeant and in a low voice said, ‘It’s a battle of wills, isn’t it?’ He smiled back and nodded.
A few moments later the female officer emerged again and said, ‘He’s going to take the ticket.’ Job done!
I went back to the Prince, where Rhian and Nicola were waiting to find out the outcome. Nicola thinks I might get some compensation anyway, through some sort of victim support scheme. One of Prosser’s Fuckwit pals was still in there, and apparently he’d told Neil G. that he was going to ‘get me.’ Rhian and I drank up, she stashed my stuff behind the bar, and we left by the back door.
The upshot is that my Netbook is officially fucked for the time being. It’s powering up okay, but the screen is damaged beyond repair. I could probably get a replacement, but it might not be a cost-effective solution. Sammy’s old Netbook still needs a new keyboard, and, after a momentary lapse when it played nicely, steadfastly refuses to connect to Wifi. I’d wondered briefly whether the keyboards and/or screens might be interchangeable, but needless to say they aren’t.
Considering that today was the first day of my placement working with Loteks, it’s ironic that I’ve found myself on the same level as them. Rhian’s going to lend me her laptop again, and I’m hoping that Paul P. can work his magic on one or both of the Netbooks. In the meantime, I’m not going to be online as often as I used to be. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible…