Written at a pace when I realised I’d nothing to take to my writer’s circle…
‘Hey, Danny, you going to see “The King’s Speech” at the weekend then, or what?
I look up and smile, ‘cos – well you have to don’t you – but I look into his grinning face and I just want to deck the ****. Greg Barratt; been the bane of my life since we were at school. If there’s a group of people taking the piss you can bet your life Greg Barratt will be in the middle of ‘em. It says more about him than it does about me, I know, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
I feel my hand knotted into a fist down by my side and I relax it, use it to massage the back of my neck as I debate whether I should try coming back with a smart reply. I decide against it, knowing if I fer-fer- fuckin’ stutter he’s going to be ready with his stock ‘that’s easy for you to say’ answer.
He’s a right comedian, our Greg, always ready to dig you in the ribs and tell you ‘we’re only having a laugh’. But he never seems to notice that the kids we went to school with mostly stopped laughing years ago, or that the ones who didn’t are not people you want to know these days if you’ve got any sense.
When we were at school he gave me the nickname ‘Arkwright’, after the Ronnie Barker character in Open all Hours. He fucking loved it when A Fish Called Wanda came out; threatening to stick ketchupy chips up my nose every lunchtime and asking if I wanted to buy a fish-tank. A few years later, he asked Ray, the barman in the feathers, to get My Generation put on the Jukebox so I wouldn’t feel left out in a sing-along.
Laugh a minute, our Greg.
Still, only a couple more days now and he’ll be on nights again. I can’t tell you how great it is to be off shifts; two weeks out of three I don’t have to put up with him, and all the time in the world to spend with Jenny. A bit nasty, I know, but I can’t help loving the irony of it. He’d be laughing on the other side of his face if he ever found out I’m fer-fer-fucking his missus.