02 May 08

Hammy (Part 3)

Hammy - Best friend I grew up with in my hometown. Fond of alcohol, especially Stella Artois. Picture taken in Majorca, summer of 1984, me and Hammy, female unknown.

“I’m half cut,” Hammy said, walking to the Churchview on St. George’s Day.
“On what?” I asked.
“Pimm’s, the quintessential English drink, my friend. It’s only twenty-five percent alcohol.”
“We’ve drank two to three bottles between us,” said Longshanks, a local giant.
Sounding its horn furiously, an approaching van screeched up to a roundabout where we were about to cross the road. Leaning out of the driver’s window, a hooligan yelled, “Hammy, meet you in the Bells!”
Jumping around and shaking their fists in some kind of war dance, Hammy and Longshanks growled obscene greetings.
Being early afternoon, the Churchview was mostly empty. A sign behind the bar read:


“What’s this singalong with Eddie about?” Hammy asked a barmaid.
“It’s a bit of a joke. ’E’s one of our regulars see, and ’e’s got one of these accordian things and everyone joins in.”
We took two pints of Stella Artois, and half a cider outside. Below the parasol next to ours, sat a man in a Jesus T-shirt – Jesus depicted as a goalie in front of football nets and wearing a little Saint George’s Cross.
Admiring the T-shirt, Hammy said, “St. George’s Day makes you think about your home country.”
“What’s this St. George about anyway?” I asked.
“He was a Turk,” Hammy said. “We stole him.”
“It’s to do with Joseph of Arimathea,” Longshanks said, “who paid for Jesus’s funeral. Jesus rose on the third day and Joseph of Arimathea whisked him off to England and brought him to Glastonbury.”
“They landed at a place called Saint Tintagel, down in Cornwall way,” Hammy said. “King Arthur sent his knights far and wide to search for the Holy Grail. It was a bit of a blag ’cause he knew where it was all along –”
“I’m lost,” I said. “What’s St. George got to do with all this?”
“Nothing,” Longshanks said. “But you think about the pride of being English on St. George’s Day.”
“The Saint George’s Cross is a red cross on a white background,” Hammy said, patriotism oozing from his eyes. “The Union Jack. It’s a national disgrace why the English don’t even celebrate St. George’s Day.”
“And what did this St. George – a Turk as you described him – ever do for the English?”
“He didn’t do anything,” Longshanks said. “The original patron saint of England was St. Edmund the Confessor, a former king who confessed too much so we buggered him off. Then in the Thirteen Hundreds we adopted St. George as we’d just overcome the dragon of Wales, and St. George was famous for slaying the dragon and saving the princess.”
“It’s about getting pissed,” Hammy said. “Very pissed. Extremely pissed.”
“What is it on the Hammy alcohol-consumption scale?” I asked.
“It’ll be ten out of ten on the Richter scale,” Hammy said.
“Hammy’s legs’ll definitely be wobbly later.”
“There’s always a fight at my place,” Hammy said. “We drank from 8am last year, and the fight developed at 2am the next morning. The tele got smashed and there was general mayhem. There was only three fighting. It was like a triangle punch – Curly, Larry and Mo shit. We thought it had calmed down, but it kicked off again in the hall of the apartments.”
Hammy was interrupted by a text message: a woman had texted a picture of her breasts and asked Hammy a lewd question.
“The stew we had this morning,” Longshanks said, “was delicious. The finest English beef stewed to perfection with veg and gravy.”
“It wasn’t gravy!” Hammy said. “It was Newcastle Brown Ale, different bits of veg, plenee of Worcestershire sauce, and a big crusty cob. We sat there groaning for half an hour, with the top buttons on our kex open, listening to 'Pomp and Circumstance' –”
“To what?” I asked.
“A CD of different things all English. And 'Jerusalem' by Vaughan Williams sung twice, two versions, one the classical music by William Blake and the second by William Blake as sung by football hooligans on the terraces of Europe where you can still get stands where they piss in each others pockets ’cause it’s that packed. It’s easier to piss in a pocket than get to the bogs. You’ll feel warm piss all down the back of your leg. St. George’s Day makes you think of good things coming up like the sound of leather on willow, you know, cricket, lying in a hammock watching the cricket match, drinking Pimms, and you can smell the honeysuckle in the air –”
“And wild roses,” Longshanks said.
“And in the local pub, you can smell spilt ale on the floor which is itself just as sweet as honeysuckle, and it’s onwards and upwards and let the drinking begin.”
“Drinking continue,” Longshanks said.
“Yes, drinking continue, and mayhem. Although it’s looking forward, it’s also remembering, summers past and summers to come.”
“He says this all now,” Longshanks said, “but come 8 o’clock tonight he’ll be all pirate man again.”

Hammy telephoned from his flat around midnight. He stayed on the phone for half an hour in full pirate voice. All I could understand was that Longshanks had passed out on the sofa, and Hammy was about to exchange blows with another friend who wouldn’t shut up about Miami Vice.

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Copyright © 2007-2008 Shaun P. Attwood


Anonymous said...

Holy crap, its Duran Duran!! ;-)


Noelle said...

Now we need a current picture of Hammy!

Anonymous said...

It's not Duran Duran. It's Wham!

Anonymous said...

Hammy looks like "Budnick" from the early 90's Nickelodeon television series "Salute Your Shorts".

Sue O. (aka Joannie, SS) said...

Uh, no wonder you shaved your head...I think we need an 80's band picture comparison contest here.

sparrow said...

LOL! You guys would have been eaten alive at my high school! (In a good way. Ahem).

Sue O. (aka Joannie, SS) said...

I think Hammy looks like the older brother on "Wonder Years" (a cuter version).

Anonymous said...

A Haa me harties !

PMSL - Full pirate voice