Today I'm having lunch with my father-in-law… He was introduced as 'Meat' over 20 years ago. I laboured under the illusion that he was a butcher for months, my father's Welsh you see and the moniker 'Meat' could only have one explanation; (Barry the Beef, 'Chops' Hughes, Ivor the Engine…you get my drift?) so 'Meat', speaks for itself really. However, I was entering the world of the Cockney and so new rules applied:
1. All woman are called birds…irrespective of age, creed or colour
2. Bingo is an Olympic sport
3. Being posh, a little squiffy and attempting to impersonate a Pearly Queen whilst doing a very poor Lambeth Walk is not how you win over the patrons of a dire pub in The Mile End…Oi!
4. Rhyming slang is not a Dick van Dyke concoction…it's real.
Ergo…Meat = Meat and two veg = Reg = my Father in law, the concrete salesman…Duh!
I love Reg, we share tales of how easy it is to embarrass oneself in the public arena.
Sorry.... you'd like an example.... no problem. So, are we all sitting comfortably… then I'll begin,
Regimental Reg has never been a big believer in the passive style of complaint making, so when his toaster broke for the second time in as many weeks his patience wore thin and he decided the only course of action left open to him was to return said toaster to the manager of the department store from whence it came.
Now this being the 1970's Reggie donned his Trilby, sunglasses and slightly moldy old sheepskin, threw the offending kitchen appliance into his trusty Adidas sports bag and set off into town, his handlebar moustache trembling with consumer outrage.
The Saturday morning crush was no deterrent for this man of action, although it didn't help his mood. He arrived in-store red, sweaty, glowering and demanding to speak with the manager IMMEDIATELY! This is where it all gets a little surreal…
Nothing could have prepared our hero for what happened next. With the fire alarm ringing in his ears he was manhandled into a lift and trapped there whilst the store was evacuated and the bomb squad summoned.
Dressed as he was you could understand Reggie being mistaken for the Manager of Liverpool FC, an extra from the Sweeney or even, at a stretch, an overwrought concrete salesman… alas, the staff at Allders were rather a paranoid bunch and, you've got it, they thought our Reg was a terrorist…
I KID YOU NOT!
He was eventually let out of the lift, his bag was searched and the toaster deemed to be fairly harmless and he was given a warning from the Fashion Police about the dangers of matching a Trilby with a moustache and sheepskin…
For lunch we're having Fattoush….yum!