Tuesday 14th June
Me and Mrs Muck were down on the beach by ourselves this morning, soaking up the sun, which is getting progressively hotter as our holiday goes on. The climate here is perfect- during the day it’s risen to a lovely 28 degrees, and there is a constant breeze that ensures you never feel uncomfortable. At night the temperature falls to a very pleasant 16 degrees or so, meaning you can sleep without any problems, yet it’s still warm enough to wear just a t-shirt when going out. There are no mosquitos, which for me is a godsend after last year’s nasty bout of mosquito psychosis that very nearly saw me sectioned in Barbados. So far we’re very impressed with Portugal, and Lagos is lovely, if a little quiet.
Last night was the nightmare I feared it would be, and more. Handy, Sandy and Jamal got progressively more drunk and wired on crack as the evening went on, and tempers started getting frayed as the banter started to become injected with malicious overtones. Handy and Jamal, who have a strained relationship at the best of times, started goading each other, culminating in Jamal calling Handy a “batty bwoy” to which Handy replied “I’d rather have anal sex than banal sex.” (pronouncing banal so it rhymed with anal) You’ve probably heard the rumours about the girl who fell asleep during sex with Jamal, and he’s never lived it down since- Handy makes sure of that.
For the rest of the evening Handy called Jamal “Uncle Janal” so it too rhymed with anal, and blew kisses at him whenever he caught his eye. Jamal sulked, kissing his teeth and muttering in some unknown dialect, although I’m sure I made out a “bludclart” once or twice too.
Sandy chipped in at various intervals with comments solely designed to stir things up, and waved the gun around recklessly while the rest of us looked on with nervous expressions. I really started worrying when he broke into his impression of the Vietcong in the Russian roulette scene from The Deerhunter, and just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse Handy made a quip about Jamal’s mum looking like Colonel Gadaffi in drag.
It was delivered with such venom, precision and comic timing that the rest of us couldn’t stop ourselves erupting with laughter. I was in the middle of a big gulp of wine which I choked on and snorted back out through my nose. I sat there spluttering with red wine dripping out of nose and trickling onto my chin looking like I had just been punched in the face, and fearing I was about to be.
There was a terrible silence as Jamal stared at me, and the air was pregnant with the threat of imminent violence. The sniggers from the others which had been completely masked by my choking sounds had died away quickly and had focussed Jamal’s attention solely on me, with Handy’s catalystic and incendiary comment somehow forgotten and overtaken by the fact I’d dared to laugh at it.
Jamal stared at me for a few moments then said simply “do you think that’s funny Elephant Man?”
Handy, who had been sat there with a smug expression on his face at the chaos he had caused sniggered and said “well Dumbo… do you?”
Handy’s audacity at berating me for laughing at his own joke coupled with the cruel jibes from both of them about my plastic surgery left me confused and exposed, fearful that if I defended myself and retorted in any way it would make things worse still. I needn’t have worried, because Handy was in full swing, and didn’t need any prompting. Fuelled by drugs and cheap liquor he launched into a tirade towards me that was as poisonous as anything that has ever come out of his mouth. Well, apart from that awful story he likes to tell about having to have his stomach pumped after that night at Michael Barrymore’s.
He started by telling me that he was surprised that my plastic face hadn’t already melted in the sun, and made some very unpleasant references to melted candles and plasterers’ radios. He went on to tell me that no amount of running can ever disguise the heavy bones I inherited from my mother, and that I could start a soap factory with the amount of excess blubber I’m carrying on my thighs. He finished by telling me that I should feel at home playing to an empty club on Friday because that’s still more people than listen to me on Muck FM. He made sure he held his gaze on me for a few seconds, his lips pouting, daring me to respond, then turned to Jamal and said “be a dear and do another pipe Jammy darling” and with that the issue was closed. Jamal said “innit” and started loading up the pipe and didn’t say another word to me for the rest of the night, seemingly content with Handy having dished out my deserved punishment.
I sat in stunned silence wondering if I’d just imagined the whole thing, but one glance at the girls’ horrified faces told me that most definitely wasn’t the case. The boys continued as if nothing had happened and were laughing together again, the whiskey and crack party back in full swing.
I had been theIr way out of the stalemate as the cussing spiralled out of control. Turning on me had been their way of saving face. These boys are feral- wild and untamed, used to running together despite their differences. The phrase “thick as thieves” has never rung truer, their trade taught in the foothills of the Hindu Kush and the backstreets of Croydon. Neither of them had needed to back down, and they had quickly joined together against me in a classic pincer movement. It’s a tactic that I’ve seen them use before, and knowing this Handy mocked me for the rest of the night, every time I looked over making lobster movements with his thumbs and fingers with a smirk on his face.
Bored of baiting me, and in an increasingly agitated state, the three boys started playing poker with a packet of obscene playing cards that Jamal had brought with him. We spent the rest of the night listening to their sniggers at the images on the cards and euphemisms about turns, flops and rivers (of spunk according to Handy) each time more cards were dealt out.
Luckily the sheer amount of whiskey they’d all drunk slowly took over after the crack ran out and their game ended with each one barrying in turn. Sandy was curled up on the sofa, the gun tucked inside his arms like a silver teddy bear and Jamal was slumped where he’d been sat all night, snoring and a damp patch spreading down his trousers where he’d lost control of his bladder. Handy was the last of them to barry, and was last seen sprawled on the sofa with his sarong hitched up to his waist exposing a pink thong at the top of waxed legs. He had his eyes closed and was muttering something about cucumbers.
We woke up this morning to find them all in the same places and same positions that we’d left them last night. Mandy and Fifi were still asleep in the boudoir so me and Mrs Muck gathered our beach stuff quickly, and stepping over prostrate bodies, and a puddle of yellow liquid at Jamal’s feet made our escape for the day.
We were interested to see last night that they’ve put a new sign up at the Palace at last. Mrs Muck actually believes my conspiracy theory and is fearful about me playing down there on Friday. She swears we’re being followed and that everyone in Lagos is in on it. She told me to trust no one and has started peering over her shoulder in the street to try and catch out our pursuers. In her mind the whole of Lagos is one big crime syndicate, and we are indeed playing out a dance that will inevitably and inexorably lead to us getting whacked. She’s unnerving me a bit and I found myself checking the door was double locked before going to bed last night, and nervously peering out of the window onto the terrace and down the street looking for hidden faces. I’m actually quite glad that Jamal’s gun is here after all. I actually held Gunny in my hand recently and felt the surge of adrenalin run through me as I weighed her in my hand and fingered the trigger. I ran through the various stances while holding her, from 1950s Raffles refinement with the gun held near to my chest perfectly upright and rigid, to downtown L.A. where it’s arm outstretched and swivelled so that the weapon is turned 90 degrees onto it’s side. Give it the Ice Cube head tilt and the effect is complete. It takes me back to my days on the mean streets of south London. and hood life. There were some really nasty types that lived near us and you couldn’t let your guard down even for a moment. I remember the time old Mrs Thorburn caught us scrumping from her orchard and wrote to the Daily Mail. The feeling that the chase is on again has left me breathless for more. It’s been over a decade since I left the hood, but you know what they say- you can take the boy out of Croydon…