If you have a tardy friend, like Deserter chum, Half-life, the worst thing you can do is suggest they turn up on time because you’ve got to get off early. So I only had myself to blame that he was conspicuously absent when I arrived at the last classic car shindig of the year at Greenwich Market, the Halloween Park It In The Market.
I’m not quite sure why Park It works. The Mean Old Timers, as they’re known, ride their vintage cars, motorbikes and scooters into the market, on the last Thursday of the month (April-October) and locals have a drink around the old motors, often to live music. I think it’s what’s known as an ‘excuse’.
‘I fancy having a pint near an old car, my love.’
Half-life always moans about Halloween. It’s the only day of the year he’s not overdressed. He also moans about Greenwich Market. ‘It’s all cooked food and fucking puppets and mushrooms carved out of toadstools. There’s nothing to nick,’ he once told me, whilst tucking a dozen Louisiana sausages into his grundies.
After mooching around shiny chrome reminders of how uninspired most modern car design is, I got another call from Half-life, who had been further delayed at the Houses of Parliament, where he failed security clearance.
‘I’m not going in unarmed with those bastards. How many people have they killed? Ten of thousands! How many have I killed? Two.’ Why he was visiting Parliament remained a mystery.
Half-life was supposed to meet me to pay back some money before I flew off to Philadelphia (long story) and had sworn ‘As God is my judge’, that I’d get it before I left. Then I remembered he’s a devout atheist.
Again my phone went off: ‘Is there a bus from Westminster?’
I often get texts like this because Half-life refuses to buy a smart phone after he dropped the first one he had into some cement. I knew better than to ask what he was doing mixing cement, but as a result of this incident he thinks all smart phones are rubbish.
When I called him back there was no answer. This was ridiculous. I decided to give up on the money. After all, I could live off airline peanuts and shit chips for a week, couldn’t I? Looking on the bright side, I still had time for a three-minute pint at the best of the market’s pubs, The Coach, where I had spotted a couple of characters from The Pelton earlier.
So you can imagine my surprise at running into Half-life leaning on the bar, dressed as Willy Wonka, growling at a bar maid.
‘Hello, mate. Here, you got any money?’ he asked, full of sunny bonhomie. ‘I want to get this one a drink and I’ve just spunked all me cash on a Lambretta. I thought you might want to go halves with me anyways, so you owe me £200.’
Thank fuck I’m leaving the country.
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