Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Wigan, Aldershot 1982, beards and a tale for Remembrance Day

“Sorry lads, you can’t come in.”

“Er how come?

“It’s eleven, your door's open.”

“No beards.”

“Yer wot.”

“You heard.

“Your mate’s got a beard.

“He can’t come in.”

We look at the Big One and indeed he does have a beard. But we aren’t going in. And we’re laughing and Tone says: “Just run this by me again Mr Landlord.

“You’re not letting us in because our mate has a beard?”

“Yeah sorry lads but I can’t let you.

“It’s an army pub and they’ll know you’re not army as he has a beard.

“End of story.”

And Tone says: “But Robert E Lee had a beard and he was army.”

“Che Guevara,” shouts Guzzling.

“Fidel Castro,” I say.

“Karl Marx”

“David Bellamy”

“Kenny Everett”

Kenny fucking Everett, ha, ha, ha.

“Jim Morrison,” says Az

And we are all laughing at the thought of Jim Morrison being refused entry at a shithole of a pub.

The Big One is doubled up. Dribbling down his beard and Tone shouts again: “Jennifer Miller”

“Jennifer Miller, who the fuck is Jennifer Miller?”

“A bearded lady.”

So Guzzling says: “Would you let Jennifer Miller in?”

“Not if she’s got a beard!”

And it’s getting dafter and dafter and we are laughing and laughing. And it’s the first time I’ve laughed since I heard that Alan had gone down with the Sheffield. Laughing my head off in this army town of Aldershot on a sunny Spring day.

“Rolf Harris”

We all turn around and there are two Wigan kids in their Braemer golf jumpers, jumbo cords and adidas pumps. Right little Ronnie Corbetts. They have seen what’s going on and they’re loving it.

I’m rolling around, the Big One is stroking his beard like a mad fucking professor and Tone is trying his hardest to think of somebody else with a beard and I shout: “Captain Birdseye, he was military.”

Still he stands there and we turn into the bright morning sunshine. And I say to Tone: “How the fuck did you know about Jennifer Miller?”

“God knows…”

We shuffle on by and the brandy in my hipflask sinks into my soul as we turn the corner to see a gang of happy Wigan fans outside a pub.

“Alright lads, do they serve people with beards in here?” says the Big One.

And they look at this daft big cockney with a beard and one of them says: “Yer wot?”

So I reply: “Yer wot, yer wot, yer wot.”

And everybody joins in and they know that I’m Wigan and these cockneys with me today are Wigan and as we go to the bar Guzzling orders five Guinnesses as we hear the cry of “What shall we do with the Argentinians?” from the growing number of Wigan fans outside.

Guzzling’s still laughing when he says: “Rich, I’m going to grow a beard next week.

“Grow it for your Alan…"

This article originally appeared in The Mudhutter November 2008

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