Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Back On Top.

It all began in the early 90's.
Pubs began introducing quiz machines where you could win money by answering general knowledge questions.I was soon completely addicted to them because i found i could answer the questions quite easily and could have a free night down the pub whenever i liked. The local pub landlords grew to hate me as i went further and further afield in search of quiz machines.One night i started in the Phipps Arms at Westbury Leigh and went on to The Hollies,The Royal Oak, The Castle, The Angel, The Horse And Groom,The White Lion, The Ludlow and The Crown. When i emptied my pockets that night i found i had £78 in £ coins.It weighed a ton.Brilliant.I mean, what other way could you go out at night and come home 3 hours later, smelling of drink and have seventy quid in your pocket? Dont tell me.
                                          The Landlord of The Horse And Groom Rod Decided to use my talent to his advantage and asked me to be captain of the pub quiz team.In our first season we won the Trowbridge and District League and my fame grew in leaps and bounds.I felt really brainy. Then one night in the pub my mate Dave said i should go on Fifteen To One.This was a popular afternoon TV show which was a forerunner of The Weakest Link and at its peak had an audience of 4,000,000.It was very popular with pensioners, students and the unemployed.In a burst of egotism i sent off an application form and was invited to an audition in Bristol.Two weeks later i received a letter inviting me onto the show.I had been on the telly before,i was in the congregation on Songs Of Praise several years earlier( I'll tell you about that some other time) This was different though, this was going to make me famous! Everybody i met i told that i was going to be on the telly and to make sure they watched.
The big day arrived and i set off for London and my date with destiny.The studios were in Wandsworth and myself and the other contestants were put up in a nearby hotel as the programme was to be recorded the following morning at 10.00.I began to have my first niggling doubts because the others looked really well educated and posh and i found out that several of them almost made a career out of TV shows and had been on several other shows.I calmed my nerves by staying in the hotel bar till 1.00 in the morning. The others went to bed.
                  Next morning i was suffering with a really bad reality attack and all my bravado had gone out the window. I didn't feel brainy any more,i felt like a stupid scruffy lowlife.At the studio we drew lots and i was to be number 8.Then we were led into the place with the cameras and the genial host William G Stewart.I felt like i was about to be executed.The floor manager said,"One minute to recording" and i seemed to lose all control over my body, my right leg suddenly started shaking uncontrollably.William started asking the questions and everybody was coming up with the right answer.
Finally he got to me and he might as well have been talking Chinese.I was so nervous it sounded like this,
I stood there looking at him like a dumb moron,then i realised what he was asking and i thought "Thats parallel,surely he wouldn't ask a question that easy".The buzzer went before i could blurt it out and William said,"The answer is parallel".
                                               A couple of minutes later William returned and asked me who wrote the music for the film Brigadoon,i didn't know but i was in such a state i didn't care who wrote the music for fecking Brigadoon.I answered ,"Rogers and Hammerstein",in a sort of high pitched squeak, just to say something."The answer is Lerner and Loewe",said William smugly,and i was out. My entire TV appearance was about 14 seconds. I hoped against hope that nobody i knew would watch the bloody programme but of course they all did.For about a year afterwards i was known around town as Parallel Pat.People came up to me in the pub and said things like"Sorry i didn't see you on the telly,i blinked and missed, it" that sort of thing.Just when people were beginning to forget about it,the TV company went and repeated it the following summer and the piss-taking started all over again.I lost all interest in quizzes and licked my wounds for 5 long years.As they say though,revenge is a meal best eaten cold and i was to get my revenge in the sweetest possible way.

Five Years Later........

Five long years had past since my disasterous TV appearance.Then in 1999 they announced that if you hadn't appeared on the programme for 5 years you could apply again.
"I've gotta go back",I announced to Kim.
"London,i've got some unfinished business with William"
Once more i set off for London,
"Go get 'em Floyd",Said Kim,"Go kick some ass"
The stakes had never been higher,if i messed up this time i faced total humiliation but as they say 'Who Dares Wins'
This time i was number 5.As William came along the line asking the questions my leg started its familiar jig, but this time i was grimly determined.Finally William got to me,
"When Britain joined the EU in 1974 which two other countries joined at the same time?"
"Ireland and er um Denmark"
"Thank you god", i breathed a sigh of relief. Two minutes later William was back with my second question.
"Dancer Michael Flatley became famous in which musical show?"
Easy peasy "Riverdance".
Brilliant! i was into round 2 and had all my lives intact.In round 2 if you got your answer right you could nominate one of your opponents to answer the next question.This is where it got dirty. I soon got nominated.
"Such is life" is reputed to be the last words of which Australian outlaw?"
"Ned Kelly"
                      Then i went on a killing spree, one by one my opponents were going down like skittles,i was enjoying this.After a few minutes there were 12 down 3 to go and i suddenly found myself in the final.My two rivals in the final were a lady who worked at Tesco's and a lad from Galway called Brendan who had only entered so he could visit his brother in London for free.At the beginning of Part 2 you had to smile at the camera while they told the viewers all about you.'Pat lives in WestburyWiltshire,he enjoys reading and music particularly Van Morrison and he supports Peterborough United football club'.Then it was into battle.I got my first 2 questions wrong and only had one life left so the other two kept nominating me to try and kill me off.I held my nerve though and i answered 13 questions in a row correctly.The others started to get their answers wrong and i was fighting back.The Tesco lady was the first to crack and she was out.'Get your coat.' Then finally Brendan lost his last life and i had won. I scored 113 points and the 13th highest score in the series so far.
 I kept my composure until i left the studio.I was back on the street again,back on top again. I jumped up and punched the air YES! Then i floated on a cloud all the way back to Waterloo Station.I couldn't wait to get home and see those bastards up the pub."I'll give them parallel Pat" I thought.I had to wait an hour for my train so i walked over Westminster bridge and went in a pub near the houses of parliament.It was frequented by politicians, all knocking back the G and Ts .Look at them i thought, they think they are so bloody important,dont they realise i'm the 13th most brainy person in Britain".
We had a big party in the pub to watch my glorious win and i had a cake with 15 candles and i blew out 14 of them.
A lady came from the local paper and wrote a story with the headline'Getting The Answers Off Pat'.I went back on the show twice more as a previous winner.The last time i was on the show the voice-over person was PhiIip Lowrie who i remembered because he played Dennis Tanner in Coronation Street.It wasn't as exciting though.I didn't get the same buzz off it.When you get to the top theres no where else to go and that was the end of my TV career.

                                                                          THE END.
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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Market Days

One of my old school friends sent me this photo recently.It was taken in about 1969.It was taken the day we climbed up to the top of the school tower which was out of bounds.I suppose we took the photo to prove to the other kids that we had been up there.You can see the tower from the outside in the other picture.
My friends name is Darryl but at school he had the nickname Daz.I hadn't seen that photo for 43 years and it certainly brought some memories flooding back.I might write a story about school days later but what i remember most about Daz was us working together on Peterborough Market on Saturdays.We worked for Mr Holdich selling fruit and vegetables. Daz and i got there first and set up the trestle tables then Mr and Mrs Holdich turned up in the lorry with Peter who was this skinny little urchin.
"Morning Daz",said Peter
"Piss off".
"Morning Pat",
"Get stuffed".
Then we would grab hold of him and put some dirt off the carrots down his neck.
"Look,stop picking on Peter,he hasn't got a father and his mother is no good",explained Mr Holdich.One day Peter announced he was joining the army,when we asked why he said,"Well its a good life",then we asked what the money was like,"I'm not sure but its bound to be good".How long had he signed up for? "er,I'm not sure",It turned out to be nine years.About two weeks after he joined the army he phoned up Mr Holdich and he was crying,"Can you buy me out of the army please Mr Holdich? the other boys keep beating me up".Mr Holdich had to pay £400 to buy him out of the army and he came back to the market.
Once we had the lorry unloaded Daz and i ran along the front chucking the prices on everything, often the price tickets would land back to front.
"Look,we know the prices, its the customers who want to know the bloody prices",Said Mr Holdich.If a nice looking woman walked by Mr Holdich would say,"I bet she can perform".
.A very attractive lady used to come to the stall every Saturday morning and Mr Holdich would say,
"You see her over there,she was Miss Sawtry 1947,i could have married her, but look at what i had to go and bloody marry".Mrs Holdich was a funny woman with frizzy hair and a red face and some peculiar habits that i won't go into.
                       Mr Holdich grew all the vegetables himself on his farm and he kept pigs as well.One day i said i wouldn't mind being a farmer.
"No,to be a farmer you have to start off with about £30,000 so you can lose it all like i have", he explained.You couldn't help liking him,he had such an unfortunate life.Once he got burgled and the thieves even stole his wheelbarrow to take away his safe.Mr Holdich was quite proud of the fact that the story got in the national daily papers.
 The bloke on the opposite stall was a cockney called Ginger who attracted customers by shouting out all this lingo like,"Sixpence each yer peach,every one a ball of wine, one and six a pound yer boy scouts,yer brussell sprouts,don't forget your mother,you;ll never get another,get your runners and riders here" etc and all that kind of carry on.When he was advertising his spuds he would shout out,"Lincolnshires" and Daz and i would shout out "Pinking shears",just to annoy him.We said to Mr Holdich that he should give it a go and do a bit of barking.
"Cheap carrots, cheap carrots"he squeaked
halfheartedly. He was crap at it so we told him to shut up.The market cleaner was called Kingy,he was a funny little bugger, he wore a cloth cap and always kept a Jamaica cake in his pocket and cut of a slice with a penknife.one day he turned up at the stall without his sweeping brush.
"They've gorn and retired me Gordon, i don't know what i'm going to do",
"Don't worry Kingy, you can work with us",said Mr Holdich who was too kind for his own good.Before long Mrs Holdich had sacked him for stealing.
"Honest Gordon,i never nicked no ten bob".
"No, it was a pound note, i saw you put it in your pocket", said Mrs Holdich.
                                                                                                                     The market stall used to get really busy and Daz and i were brilliant at serving the customers at speed.One Christmas Mr Holdich put me in charge of selling Christmas trees and holly against a wall at the side of the market.The holly was really good,covered in berries and all these women just dived on it and were almost fighting over it.I lost all control and just let them get on with it.Another time i remember seeing two women fighting when one of them caught her husband out shopping with his fancy woman.That was really vicious..We used to be on the market from 6.00 in the morning until about 7.00 in the evening.Then I'd head home with a big bag of fruit and vegetables for my mum.
                 Saturday nights we used to go to the flicks and see films like Butch Cassady And The Sundance Kid or Midnight Cowboy.Sometimes there were parties and we would drink Watneys Party 7's and Woodpecker Cider.One night me and Daz and another friend Richard were walking home from a party and we met this skinhead who had just come out of a chip shop. He put his chips down on a wall and challenged all three to a fight.He kept persisting till in the end Daz got fed up and punched him on the nose.He realised he had bitten off more than he could chew and ran off but he tripped over on the road which had been newly surfaced and his face was covered in tar and bits of gravel.To add insult to injury we ate his chips.
              Two happy years went by working for Mr Holdich until finally it was the end of summer of 1970. I was off to college.It was a beautiful day as i got on the train bound for North Wales.As Peterborough  disappeared into the distance little did i realise what lay ahead.A new chapter in my brilliant career was about to begin.