Last night, I got an email on facebook. No, not the one offering me C1AL15 cheap, but one from my mate Andy.
Andy was my best mate when I lived in Southend. A few years younger then me, we had a lot in common. Mainly, we were both perverts. We'd chat up women by the bucket load. Well, I say that, but in reality I'd do the chatting, he'd sit there gibbering and a nervous wreck. They'd then want to go off with him (he was a lot better looking then me), but when he didn't show interest I'd end up going home alone as well. He didn't drink, perfectly happy to permanently be the designated driver. He also didn't smoke, and was a very clean living guy. He'd switch from being 100% honest and respectable to being 100% crooked. His life's ambition was to either be a copper, or a violent bank robber. In reality, he did things sort of halfway in between. One night he decided he'd try cannabis. Buying a stock cube sized chunk of the stuff, he took it home. Now, remember, he didn't smoke, and to be honest he didn't cook a lot either. Stood in his bedroom, he looked at the unmenacing block of brown blow, and nibbled it. Nothing happened, so in the whole thing went. An hour later, and he's sat in his lounge with his parents watching TV. Things had started to happen, and he was well on the way to puking. Realising he'd taken too much, he decided the best thing to do was to get out of sight of his parents at least.
"I don't feel very well," he said, "I think I'm going to go to bed." He said this was particularly difficult to tell his father, because he had the head of a giraffe.
Work wise, Andy had a very cool job. He'd worked his way up through HM Customs head office, and was now an officer with the rank to carry a warrant card and the right to search anything (within reason). He would spend his daytime working at the huge ParcelForce International arrivals depot, where all international arrivals would be checked and scanned by customs. This job would include checking porn which apparently had a list of 25 acceptable things, but as long as no more then 5 were included in any one time. This meant he had to watch it. Something that was, in his words, very hard. He'd also check for drugs, and I remember the tale of him getting a cricket bat in from India. The bat was signed by the entire England team and the entire Indian team, following a big success. He X-rayed the bat, only to find the middle of the bat had a dark shadow running down the middle. Out came the Black & Decker, and a few choice holes later, he'd found that the bat only had a darker wood running through the middle. The owner would be compensated. An expenses form was released to cover the cost of a new cricket bat, and a marker, so that he could get the autographs again.
The warrant card was a very treasured item. This little slip of card, held with high esteem in it's own little wallet, was more powerful then any other law and order slip of stationary. It had given him the power to arrest a Policemen if he had the desire. It also meant that we could get away with a lot more then we should. One day, we'd gone up to London for a day out. As we sauntered into Victoria's vast tube station, Japanese and American tourists milled around getting in our way. A glint in his eye, he asked "do you have your bus pass wallet on you?" I replied in the affirmative, and at the top of his voice he shouted
"CUSTOMS AND EXCISE, COMING THROUGH!" whilst flashing his warrant card. The poor pleb on the barriers panicked, opening up all the barriers at the same time so we could pelt it through and down the escalators. Reaching the platform, we just stopped, slightly out of breath, and stood there whistling. Everyone wondered why we were stood there, trying to look innocent. Another time, again in London, we'd driven up. It was early evening, on a Friday, and we were driving along a road near Leicester Square. Again, tourists were everywhere. Sat at a red traffic light in front of us was a foreign car. Tourists were crossing the road directly in front of the foreign car, and even when the light turned green, they continued. This frustratingly happened 3 times, meaning we'd been sat there a considerable time without moving, before I jokingly said "oh, just push her."
He did. Gently, and slowly, he crept forward. Pressing his battered old Talbot Samba's bumper against her pride and joy, he let the clutch out slowly. Suddenly the silhouette of the driver could be seen jumping up and down. The tall gangly woman leapt out of her car, and walked up to his window.
"Did you push my car?" she asked, with a very thick Germanic accent.
"No," he replied, completely deadpan. I, meanwhile, was completely crippled in the passenger's seat with hysterics. She just looked at me, growled, got back in her car and revved it like crazy. In a scene resembling the parting of the Red Sea, the constant river of tourists split and she raced off up the road. Andy and I just sat there, laughing like the mad things we were.
The thing about Andy most interesting was his prowess with women. He was obsessed with bumping ugly, with anyone that would have him. And the thing was, most women would. BLS will even admit to having a crush on him. He was well built, he had a great sense of humour, and he had a respectable job. The trail of women finding him 'buff' in his wake was long and distinguished. But not one of them got his attentions. He wasn't frigid, but he'd almost be off puking if a woman showed him interest. He'd take all sorts of prompting from me (no Lothario, I know) before he'd even talk to someone of the opposite sex. When I left in 1995, and we'd been mates for about 4 years, he'd still not had a steady girlfriend.
I get an email from him last night. He's been a taxi driver (something dodgy enough to start with!) and now works in a BMW dealership. He's been married for 7 years, and you can be damn sure his wife is stunning. I bet he's still got the sense of humour from hell, and I also bet he's still got a streak inside him meaning that one day he'll be locked up for 'doing over Rayleigh Sub Office.' I'm so glad he's got in touch though.
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