How gorgeous are we? The Idiot Bastard Sons and one of their daughters swept obtrusively into the old port of Saint-Tropez in the most delectable spring-morning sunshine. Maurin leading the way on the Harley Davidson Fat Boy, dressed in the full 17th century, red white and blue Frog army uniform he normally sported once a year for this town’s annual sneer at the Spanish parade. He really was brightly feathered, definitely stoned, and it grieves me to say it, immaculate. Steve in his dreadful dressing gown thing was hanging on to the sissy bar bravely with one hand, gesticulating back at the finger pointing crowds that as ever lined the streets. As if all this was not enough, there was Taz to the right of them and me to the left, one looking mean in her prescription biker gear, the other, Leisure suit Larry himself, the undisputed king of the dickheads, both on crudely hand painted, psychedelic, vintage Mobylettes. How sexy we are but we just don’t know it.
We were welcomed aboard the Turpitude by Lister, an over-assuming nouveau riche from – I’m guessing – somewhere near Bradford. West Yorkshire that is, not Pennsylvania, and a slutty Loz in a very short skirt and a long leather jacket. “Darlings” she giggled, ” come on in, and up to the poop deck for drinkies.” She giggled some more. It was immediately obvious that this was going to be a greasy salty snacky affair with anything you like to drink as long as it was gin and tonic. Knowing that parties of this nature inevitably lead to unseemly behaviour, quarrelling, vomiting and sometimes hospitalisation, it was not to my liking. I turned and left the shrinking ship without a word. This of course was only for effect, as once I am finally ready to party, I’m good and ready.
I headed off to my good friend Marcel’s épicerie fine just across the street. There I slapped on his gleaming counter a couple of sickly sausage rolls that I had pocketed before leaving and said: “Marcel my bon ami, could you please recommend a wine as a suitable complement to these things? A perfect match, a marriage made in heaven?” Marcel was decent enough to examine them closely, picked one up and sniffed it attentively and after having identified it correctly as chair à saucisse alla puttanesca, produced a knife and cut them into twelve bite sized morsels, wandered over to a refrigerated display for six bottles of rosé that covered the entire pinky spectrum from the palest salmon to a much deeper grenadine, then two pristine glasses before he asked me if I was ready for one of his famous organaleptique experiences.
“Ready Marcel” I replied nervously, fearing for my organs as the gobbling began. We nibbled at the truly disgusting mouthfuls of Britain and sniffed swirled and gargled through these explosively nosed bottles of blush, before finally deciding on a cantankerous Château Carrubier from a nearby and much maligned vineyard, agreeing also that it would be a short lived romance, divorced before the clock struck twelve. No matter, Marcel quickly chilled out a dozen bottles and I could hardly wait to find out how they would get along with the pork pies, roasted peanuts and extruded polystyrene crunchy crispies that were lying in wait for me back on the Turpitude.
The party could not really be described as being in full swing when I leapt back on board as if I was walking on to a yacht, sans the apricot neck-wear of course, but carrying a big box of wine. Lister had made an effort by playing a not so easy listening eighties disco mix tape on his multi-knobbed and loudly functional music-centre and was bobbing up and down, twitching unconventionally to the beat. Maurin and Steve were motionless, freeze-framed waiting for my return.
Lozzi and Taz were idly reminiscing about “schooldays”. They were not so much friends, more like partners in bad behaviour and their paths had crossed many many times at stupidly expensive private schools in various parts of England and less fortunately, Wales. The competition to see who could be expelled the most often had never been made official, as far as I know anyway, but between Taz with her legendary and inexplicable rudeness and Lozzi’s “habit” of not drinking anything but gin after ten in the morning .Well, if it had been a competition, I would probably have declared it a draw. eight all. If a party can be described as a handful of fancily dressed persons in varying states of mind alteration, with a few drinks, nibblies and a certain quantity of yowser, yowser, yowsers thrown in for good measure, then this was a party, but no more. Not really a get together, just a gathering, a happening! But sadly no kazoos, tin-whistles or jaw’s harps. Bum steer. This was no party at all until Maurin finally decided to become its life and soul.
He startled us all by slamming his clenched fist hard on the coffee table with his thumb rigidly upright. Bang! “Osco Manosco!” he boomed,”Have I got a good one for you?” With a little cleverly disguised difficulty he managed to a salvage a tiny and curiously irregular object from his, well I would have called it a sporren but there is almost certainly another word for it in French, sac a main? No, not this boy.
“I got a brand new game I wanna lay down to you! This is a heptahedron,”
He told us straight,
“a seven sided die, and we are about to play a game I learned from the Italian kids back in Marseilles when I was a boy, a game of forfeits, a ridiculous game par excellence. It is really very simple but very dependant on mood and inebriation. The first player to throw a seven has to dream up some kind of prank or trick to play, I hardly need to add that the more reckless, absurd or down right idiotic this thing may be, the better….The next one to throw a seven will decide who will execute this crass and hopefully self-destructive deed, and the lucky third seven will be obliged to pay for all the resulting expenses incurred. Got it everybody?”
We got it, however ridiculous it might have sounded, the play began and we tossed the die idly without much enthusiasm, there wasn’t much else to do; intelligent conversation and gay repartee were definitely not in the offing. I of course threw the first seven. “Well then” I mumbled gravely, “someone will have to go to Marcel’s cheese and wine shop and present him with a freshly scraped dog turd, then ask deadpan to suggest a suitable wine to go with it.” Not exactly comedy central I know, but the others seemed to find it mildly entertaining, and it would do as an appetizer at least.
It was a hapless Lister that chucked the next seven and immediately insisted that it should be his beautiful new bride that did the deed. “Cum on luv, you know you like takin’t piss outta them froggies.” She did, she loved it. Steve threw the next seven and had to foot the bill. He instantly produced a large wad of notes from a secret inside stash deep inside the raglans and handed Loz a couple of large denomination, and in a fatherly tone, said “run along dear take those two little fellas for a ride.”
Lozzi returned about half an hour later, crestfallen. Marcel, “the impudent creature” had just smirked at her and handed over a case of Château Chunder for “Monsieur Rodney, with my compliments”.
I gotta get drunk and I sure do dread it ’cause I know just what I’m gonna do…Back to the coffee table; first round to me, but this time Lister was first up with a seven. I was not entirely sure if this gross little Yorkshire dimwit had fully understood the niceties of this game that I had suddenly realised was so brilliant, or would be capable of inventing a decent prank if given the opportunity. He surprised me on both scores.
“Go swipe summat from’t nearest Lidl!” He blurted without hesitation. “And if I ‘ave my way t’ll be t’prince of self pity o’er there that does it.” Looking rather creepily at Steve. Sure enough, complicit wifey threw the next seven and looked over coyly at the shivering yellow jacket. Steve of course had but little understanding of anything the unlikely Lister had said and remained motionless and oddly distracted, singing softly, naturally and very annoyingly, “if you’re really dumb then show me you’re thumb, if you’re really….I can’t believe it’s not Beefheart!”
A plainly delighted Lister threw the final seven, he of the – eat all, drink all, pay nowt – mentality laughed derisively, ” ‘Ow am I supposed to pay ‘owt if’t silly bugger’s to steal summat? Great daft wazzocks the lot o’ yer.”
After my painstaking translation of Lister’s malicious intent Steve set off Lidl bound, hell bent on thievery, with a little unnecessary encouragement from Taz:
“Chin up Stevie, you can do it tiger, you’re a man now!”
Now what the hell did she mean by that?
Steve was gone some time, during which, Maurin broke out the Nucky balls and lit up a whopper. The British invasion were at first reluctant, preferring G and T’s over donkey shit, but soon caved in beneath the hashish aroma that could, as they say, level Tacoma. Great daft wazzocks indeed.
Steve was back, agitated, almost ecstatic and in sharp contrast to the euphoric indolence of those who were still alert enough to greet him.
“Steve honey! What kept you?” I asked as he staggered aboard, beaming.
“A little Irish fuck kept me, kept me for over an hour, that’s what kept me. Vindictive little bastogne!”
“Then why so happy then Steve?” I asked genuinely puzzled, “What’s with the grin?”
The grin turned into an obviously forced yet highly offensive snicker. Then he surprised me with a little unprecedented insight: did you know? There is only one thing worse than being sober when everyone else is drunk? That’s right, being drunk when everybody else is fucking stoned.
The poor misfortunate had believed, not unreasonably I suppose, that the aim of the game was to make the loser, the thrower of the last fatal seven, spend a huge and bothersome amount of money. If this were in fact to be true, then he had definitely come up trumps.
“There I was, handcuffed and offering to pay fifty Euros cash for that one tube of Vaseline in my pocket, but no, not good enough for the potato guy ‘We always prosecute thieving scumbags, no remorse, no compunction’ and so we had to wait for the police to show up. The Gendarmes of course did not respond to yet another call from Lidl, bemoaning their pesky pilferers – “Did you know? There is no proper word for shoplifting in French. Not that the cops had better things to do of course, just more interesting things like crossword puzzles, picking their noses or patrolling nudist beaches and the like. So there I was, stumped, waiting for an imaginary policeman to come and arrest me, when I finally realised who the fat chump in sunglasses actually was, I upped my offer to a twenty-five thousand Euro donation to help hungry and thirsty little persons with diseases in Africa and Voila! Here I am.
“You lose my friend”.
Staring ghoulishly now at a fraught and furious Lister.
“Done deal. I guess we’d better have another round?”
“Well that must be something of a set back to you Steve, particularly with the mountain stages coming up tomorrow?”
“Absolutely Brian, a bit of a setback indeed with the gargantuan Alpe de Huez looming on my distant horizon.”
Maurin could not help himself from laughing, but dutifully informed Steve that he had in fact been eliminated, as according to his rules, the loser was the one that failed to accomplish his forfeit, nothing to do with the cash.
“You’re out mate” he said, languidly passing him the joint.
“What do you mean out?” Steve was indignant, outraged,
“I did ‘swipe summat’,
he said, and yes, it did sound fairly odd, coming from the lips of a son of Sacramento.
“Take a look at this!” From a pocket he produced a slim but dense volume, entitled “The Lidl Black Book”, sub-titled “The Absolute Bastards Guide To Fast Moving Consumer Goods And I Ain’t Talking Ferraris.”
Game on! Taz it would seem had known all along just how loaded was Maurin’s little die and deftly conjured up the first seven. ” Someone”, she said mysteriously,
“will have to moped along, buck naked to the famous local police station, the Gendarmerie de Saint Tropez, march straight in and declare that they find blue to be a particularly ugly colour.
” “High five Taz” That’s my girl, this really was a haymaker, a Saturday night special, God let it be Lister. And so it was; Lister to play and Rodney to pay. Pay what? The bail money I suppose. Let’s wait and see.
Fired up on Nucky balls, Lister showed little fear or apprehension of the task in hand, but insisted before setting off, that his teeth must be white and his breath fresh. After an hour or so in the ship’s bathroom he was finally ready for some action. He arrived back on deck and proceeded to strip down; off with his crimple cut sta-prest pants and matching blazer, off with his mauve and subtly embroidered polo shirt, obviously stolen from an Italian guy, off with his string vest and cock-sock… There he stood, appallingly plump and almost naked imploring us to allow him to keep his little white socks and pink deck shoes…All right, all right, in this kind of situation there is little difference between buck naked and bare assed, we were indulgent and bent the rules. Maurin started the bike and nimbly hoisted the boy into the saddle and he was off, yodelling happily, off on the greatest and stupidest adventure of his life.
Once inside the hallowed barracks, Lister found himself confronted with a rosy, very black moustachioed and rather toothsome young sergeant and immediately let rip with his set piece: ” Blue is an ‘orrible colour.” He announced decisively. “Couldn’t agree more sir” said the soldier, without looking up, “brown is one of my own personal favourites, yes brown sir, everything comes out brown in the end, if you know what I’m saying sir?” If Lister had been able to give a thought as to the possible consequences of boldly going naked into a police station and being rather rude, then this would have been beyond his wildest imaginings, so he tried it again, trying to remember Taz’s exact words. “I find blue to be a particularly shitty colour matey.” He said at last. “Now listen to me Sir,” said the Gendarme patiently, “If you have any crimes to report, lost cats, parking offences, noisy neighbours. A stolen bicycle perhaps or” with a pregnant pause, “nudity, please fill in this form or I shall have to bid you goodnight for I am a busy man.”
Then “Nudity” once more: he stammered, “There has been a deplorable recrudescence of nakedness in this pleasant and well intentioned town. Not at all nice, not one bit.”.
Lister was nonplussed and turned on his ass to leave. Looking up finally, the handsome Gendarme stopped him in his tracks; “One moment Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, what exactly have you been smoking to come in here undressed like that?”
Undressed, nonplussed but stoned out of his tiny, Lister turned again. “Why, Nucky Balls sir, or to be more precise… Nuckminster Listerine!”
“Well if you could see your way sharing some of it with me and my boys in displeasing uniforms, there would be no little advantage to your good self in the matter of being arrested and left to rot, bruised and battered in jail…if you grasp my trend of my observation sir?” Lister grasped it all right, but exalted by his spectacular exploit of nomenclature, he invited the good fellow to call on him the very next morning, then turned again and ran. Nuckmister Listerine. Eureka! “Me dad allers said ‘where there’s muck there’s money’ and ‘ he were bloody right.
When he finally found his way back to the old port , the docks and eventually his own berth, in a frenzy of self loathing and fear, the unclad Yorkshireman clambered back aboard only to find his house guests drowsily queuing at the gates of delirium. He toyed briefly with the idea of heaving too, then kinda, sorta, the enormity of the day’s events struck him, hit him hard and he flew into a mindless, distraught, no. Beserk fit of northern English pique. “Twenty-five grand outta pocket, baring me bum in front of tcoppers, what a bloody day, this ends now! Bugger off! All of yer Just bugger off now!” He grabbed a roll of notes from a drawer of his bureau and went in search of Steve, finding him easily, snoring peacefully in a lifeboat and luckily for him with his mouth wide open, the most convenient orifice in which to stuff the cash before his dumb lifeless body was thrown mercilessly overboard.
“Noow bugger off all of yer, off me boat if yer know what’s good for yer.” He was on the rampage, screaming, insane. He began running up and down the decks shaking his fists and dongling his dongler. “Fuck off, all o’ yer, just fuck offff! Lozzi! up t’anchor, we’re off ‘ome!”
We did finally fish Steve out of the water, choking on banknotes and took the trembling wreck across to the nearest bistrot. Someone ordered coffee and brandy for four, while I quietly slipped away to a little side-street boutique and spent most of the cash on a brand spanking new outfit worthy of lonesome cowboy Bertrand, in the leaders vest. This is Steve Milliband crossing the line, winning the race to pay off the fine.
When I got back with some neatly ribboned parcels, they were at it again, that little die, seven-up. They really don’t give a crap about anything those three, how proud I was. It had been decided that we were to retire to a little karaoke bar that Maurin knew of and sing daft French tearjerkers and what was left of Lister’s money should more or less cover the drinks.
“But what about Lidl and those poor starving children?” Taz enquired sweetly. Steve broke into an engaging textbook laugh that I would never have dreamed his was capable of Lidl? Lidl? Still laughing, “what makes you think I actually went to Lidl? I found that piece of filth right here, left on a table while I was drinking all afternoon and now it’s at the bottom of the sea where it belongs.You didnt really think that I went to Dillmart. Did you?”