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Pubs and the characters within are the focus for this story. Particularly a must read for those who played for pub pool and darts teams! This story follows one such team who decide to go on a rideout with calamitous and hilarious consequences. A good laugh and a trip down memory lane is guaranteed!

Chapter 1

The Committee

“Time gentlemen please”–the age old cry from publicans which indicated it was time to sup up and leave, or perhaps “Last orders at the bar”are synonymous with “Chucking out time”for pubs everywhere. Back in the day, long before the smoking ban and the ability to buy cheap beer from supermarkets sounded the death knell for many pubs, pubs weren’t just “Watering holes”they were in essence community centres, places where people met,, the place where husbands used to slope off to for an hour before Sunday lunch and where the atmosphere was filled with laughter, conversation and smoke, which hung in the air like a thick blanket, just waiting to descend to smother those below. Like so many of it’s counterparts, The Black Dog was very much in this mould, of course, pubs used to have their regulars as well as those just passing by and those who came in angrily with a frying pan in their hands looking for their husbands! The Black Dog’s “Hardcore”was made up of twelve characters, who made up their darts team, there they are, stood at the bar, let’s take a closer look at them. Well, to start with, talking to the landlord and at the end of the bar close to the cigarette machine is: Two Pint Jack, a man who when ordering his drink always ordered two pints, and would quite often have drained both glasses before your average Joe has taken the top off his pint, the topic of conversation is about the impending “Committee meeting”to decide what to do with the kitty that the team had built up over the previous season, moving right from Jack is: Quiet Billy, the team’s treasurer who was often found perched at the bar with his head in a book, next to Quiet Billy and taking up the room of two people is: Big Ben, who was the committee’s chairman (a role he only achieved in getting by threatening to sit on the other members) who was currently devouring his third packet of pork scratchings, stood next to Ben was: Dead Eye Dave, not to imply he was a good shot, not by a long way, it’s more to indicate he could only see out of one eye, who was protesting with Ben about taking up his elbow room, Next to Dave stood: “Rubber”Johnny, a man who, well lets just say he had a very agile and flexible body, which came in handy when having to squeeze out of a narrow window to avoid being collared by angry husbands who were certain he was “having it away”with their wives, next to Johnny was: Loomer Thompson, a man who would often be seen nursing a small drop of ale in the bottom of his glass and would go and “loom”over his mates till they bought him a drink, next to him was: “Buttyman”Dan who was always hungry and on many times had devoured the sandwiches put out for both teams before anyone else could get a look in, next to Dan was: Mad Mick, who once threw someone through a window because they had beaten him, not very sporting behaviour considering Mick is the team captain. It didn’t pay to mess with Mick when he was frowning, this meant his fuse was very short, next to Mick is: Ciggy Steve who was hardly ever seen without a cigarette in his mouth, next to Steve is: “Coffin”Tez (called so for two reasons, one, he was an undertaker and two he had a very bad mucus cough which was obviously exacerbated whenever he was stood next to ciggy) next to Tez was stood: “Atomic arse”Brian, who once caused the entire pub to evacuate onto the street outside because he’d dropped “One of his specials”it was half an hour before anyone dare go back into the pub. Next to Brian and last but no means least is: Pudding Stuart, a man who bore more resemblance to a beer barrel than a person on account of his eating and drinking habits, not to mention his love of Steak & Kidney Puddings. The committee were waiting for the barmaid Rosie to come on duty so that the landlord, “Jovial”John could join the meeting, John’s role on the committee was as secretary, largely because he wanted in on what the committee were planning and the fact that by his very nature, he was a very inquisitive person. Fortunately for the team, Alice, John’s wife came downstairs so the meeting could now go ahead, the committee filed into the back snug which was rarely occupied and served as their meeting room. Alice had kindly made them all sausage sandwiches, the trouble was Alice was not a good cook and as testament, the sandwiches were awful, one or two new punters tried to enter into the room but were quickly shunted out of it, the gentlemen took their places after pulling several of the smaller tables together to make a bigger table, “Now then, this meeting is open, not a good season lads, we need to do better next year”“Should be a doddle if we give ‘em these bloody sausages”interjected Coffin Tez, “Thank you for that”sneered Big Ben, “Now, where was I?”“Sat there with the cheeks of your arse hanging off the stool!”Laughed Mad Mick, who was in an unusually jovial mood tonight, “Shut your gob, you!”snapped Ben, “Oh get on with it Ben, how much have we got”asked Johnny, “Billy will tell us that….. BILLY! PUT THAT BLOODY BOOK DOWN –MEETING IN PROGRESS!”“Oh, sorry lads”smiled Billy, who then looked around the room to see all the expectant faces, “Come on then, how much have we got?”“What are you on about?”“The kitty, you pillowcase!”“Oh right, hang on, got it here, ah we have £ 240”“Hmmm, not as much as last year, any ideas?”“We could go to Langley hall again”volunteered Buttyman, who was attacking the sausage sandwiches with gusto, “I should say not!”said Pudding Stuart, “Food there was terrible”“What was that place up in the lakes called that we went to a few years ago? That was good”Chipped in Jack, “Stainley Manor? aye it were a nice place, trouble is they didn’t have a good cabaret”“You could always organise something here”volunteered John, “Not bloody likely! Not with your wife putting the food on!”droned Loomer, “Well, wherever we go I hope we get a better coach this time, the seats in the one last year must have been made for bloody midgets, I couldn’t get half my arse on one!”boomed Ben “You can’t get more than half your arse on anything!”sneered Brian, “Oh yeah? I’ll get all my arse on you if you don’t shut it!”“I’ve told you before Ben, you should sit on the back seat where you can sort of…. spread out, if you know what I mean”added Ciggy, “you’re joking aren’t you? we’d be going down the road on the back wheels only”said Dave, Ben was starting to get really peeved with all this character assassination going on “Now now chaps, can I suggest we adjourn for 10 minutes for the committee drinks?”“Good idea Jack, come on lads, let’s go and get our glasses filled, we’re bound to come up with a decent idea when we have a beer to help us”15 minutes or so later, the meeting was reconvened, “Can I suggest something?”added Billy, “Go on then?”“Well, my auntie and her fella have recently opened a lovely big guest house on the coast, we can book it for a decent price, organise our own cabaret and have a bit of time on the beach”“Sounds like a plan, is the food any good?”asked Buttyman, “her fella’s a highly acclaimed chef so it should be”“Does anyone have any better suggestions?”asked Ben as he glanced round the room, “Right, Billy, get on the blower and find out how much it will cost”phhhaaarrrrrrppppp “Who was that? Need I ask, Brian, you dirty git!”“Well you said to get on the blower”smirked Brian, “You don’t have to worry chaps, I’m only boring holes”“you don’t bore holes you, you blast ‘em!”added ciggy making a surreptitious attempt to move his lit cigarette well away from Brian who was laughing “I tell you, if the Germans had had his arse in the second world war they’d have won!”“Nah, they’d have obliterated us all!”“DON’T MOVE BRIAN, NOT EVEN TO SHUFFLE ON THE STOOL, if that escapes, it’ll empty the place again”“Who needs nuclear weapons when we have Brian”sneered Billy as he left the room “Aye I know, he’s turning th’ale green!”muttered Jack. 20 minutes or so later, there was a knock at the door, “Is it safe to come in?”asked Billy, “Aye, just about”Billy re-entered the room with a broad grin on his face, “Right lads, it’ll cost us £ 150 to pay for bed and board for the weekend and on Saturday night there’s a crooner on, very good I’m led to believe, which leaves us £ 90 to pay for the coach and if we get the same firm as last year, we’ll have £ 20 left!”“WE’RE NOT GETTING THE SAME COACH AS LAST YEAR!”“oh come on Ben, it was only you that was uncomfortable, and if you do like Ciggy suggested, you’ll be fine”“I suppose so”said Ben, grudgingly, “Are we all in agreement then?”“hang on, what about the ale and what if we don’t like the cabaret?”volunteered Pudding, “Well, a block or so lower down from the guest house is a pub that sometimes puts strippers on, might be worth a visit?”“Aye…. possibly, but what about the ale?”“Well, if we book the guest house, we will still have £ 20 left and besides, we’ll have our own money, I’m sure John can sort us some crates of ale out eh John?”“Aye, could do, but what about those of us who want to take their partners, I know the size of the coach isn’t a problem and I know my Alice would like a trip out to the coast”“Now John, we’ve been through this several times, we’ve always just stuck to the lads so there’s no arguing over what we do….. or how much we sup”“Aye I know that but we need to accommodate our womenfolk, besides, a few of them are joining the team next year”The argument rumbled on for a further 20 minutes before Ciggy said “What about if we book one lot of rooms for the lads and another block of rooms for the ladies, that way we can do what we want to do and they can do what they want to do!”“Don’t be a pillock all your life Steve, take a day off eh?”snapped John, “My Alice would never stop in a room on her own!”“Neither would my Pat”chipped in Jack “Nor my Val, now I come to think of it”volunteered Ciggy, “You see? We’re stumped! If we take the womenfolk, it won’t be a proper rideout”“Look lads, there’s a simple way out of this, what if we say that those of us who want to take our partners can do but the partners have to pay their own way, we’ll also need to know how many double rooms we need so we can get them booked”added Tez, “That’s a point, right, are we settled on that then?”“Aye”they chorused, “Right, who’s taking their partner then? Jack? You taking your Pat?”“Not bloody likely! I’d be on orange squash all the time!”“Well, I’m taking my Alice”added John, “What about you Ciggy, you taking your Val?”“No, I don’t think so,

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David Jackson

Darwen, united_kingdom

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