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Used to work for AVIVA offshoring IT to India.  Now retired through ill health, writing my life story as a series of blogs chronologically from birth to current time.  At www.jw-alifeofsurprises.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

She Slips, He Scores

August rolled into view and with it the stunning summer heat of the Balearic Islands.  Tony, a tennis pro and sometime playboy had been frequenting Confusion for the past month.  He owned a yacht and had sailed between the Islands and the Spanish mainland most of that summer.  Tall, blond, late thirties and he was confident that he had what it took to attract women and invariably wandered into Confusion with a new girl on his arm most evenings.  He liked me as I would take him along to Star and Es-Paradis nightclubs and gain free entry.   In return and as I had a few days off as Confusion was shut due to another licence infraction, we took a couple of girls onto his yacht and sailed around the headland past Calla Bassa and Port des Torrent, the two main beaches served by water taxi’s from San Antonio and out into the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.   As Tony guided the yacht around the headlands and smaller, uninhabited Islands near to Ibiza I lay on the deck and slept under the warm blanket of sunshine, a nubile body close to mine within stroking distance.

We anchored two hundred metres offshore, a small beach and Café at Cala Tarida serving lunch to the sun worshippers who were finding the heat too much during midday and the beach was as yet unspoilt by the developments of the future.  I grabbed flippers, goggles and a snorkel and slipped over the side into the warm waters and dived some 3-4 metres or so to the bottom of the sea and silently glided along looking around at the small fish darting out of my way, the sunlight catching on the waves above and slicing down through the blue, illuminating the depths around me. 
I dived again after taking in air and saw an old clay pipe about six inches in diameter and a metre long.  I picked up one end and peered into it only to disturb a large Octopus that slid out the opposite end and propelled itself away in a cloud of sand and ink.  I laid the pipe back down and looked up at the hull of the Yacht and swam up towards the stern and the ladder hanging down into the water.  Climbing out I slipped of the flippers and headgear and grabbed a beer from the cooler. 

Tony was lying on the deck with the girls and we sat talking and sharing ideas for the evening ahead.  I spent much of the afternoon below decks whilst Tony sailed the yacht back to San Antonio in time for dinner at the Chinese restaurant by the harbour.

My partner that day and for the week had been an English girl who worked as a dancer at a bar/club called The Wigan Pier; a stunning brunette, she was tall, graceful and pretty.  I’d thought I could attract beautiful women but I was frankly playing on the substitutes bench for a Premiership Team in terms of pulling power, given that I was 5’8’’ in my socks and walked with a slight limp by now.  I was a good-looking Roger “Verbal” Kint if you will.  He was Kevin Spaceys character in movie, The Usual Suspects, but I was definitely not any kind of “Keyser Soze”.  That said I regularly made first team appearances and played way out of my league and often out of position on most occasions, if you’ll forgive the Footballing analogy.  Needless to say I was very much apt to falling in lust with her and she was not shy in saying what she wanted me to do for her and to her.  In fact her confidence in all bedroom affairs left me open-mouthed to an extent and I rapidly assumed that our relationship was one that could / would last the remainder of the summer.  Wrong again!  After a week of some seriously debauched bedroom gymnastics I was substituted for a taller, smoother sucker who probably believed that he was onto a summer long good thing but who was also dropped for the next guy on the bench not long after.

“The Vern” was a Londoner friend of Dave Bennetts.  Easily 6’5” he had jet black hair slicked back Dracula style and a presence like a sleeping volcano.  The Vern always wore a long overcoat, no matter the weather and he turned up in San Antonio to stay with Dave for a few weeks.  The Vern was a character insofar as the meaning applies to someone who was definitely operating on the cusp of the law or appeared as if he did.  But The Vern was fun, often very funny, had stories to amaze and enthral and was a genuinely likeable man.  

I was booked for a George Michael appearance at The Playa Bella complex across San Antonio Bay and asked The Vern if he would accompany me and act as Body Guard.  He thought this would be a blast and readily agreed, so on the night he and I climbed into a Mercedes belonging to the Playa Bella Hotel complex’ owner and were driven around the bay to the hotel.  Most of the action was taking place by the pool area where there was a permanent stage and plenty of people crowded around to watch the band perform and more importantly watch very attractive young girls in their swimwear parade across it.  I stayed out of the way, changing into my outfit in a closed office in the near dark to avoid being seen.  I could hear shouts and cheers coming from the show and wondered how many people were there, such was the noise.  The Vern knocked on the door and said it was time to go and we climbed back into the car for a very short drive down to the pool area.  I climbed out and was greeted by a huge cheer from the massive crowd; there were easily two thousand people who had come from all over the bay to see the show and to see me as the band had been plugging my (Georges) appearance for some time and it helped that the real George was again on the Island staying at Pikes for a holiday.

Current Playa Bella
The Vern came around the car and led me through the crowd towards the stage.  A pathway appeared in front of him as people moved back to allow us through and keeping my head down we walked briskly towards the stage where I found what looked like a moat in front of it.  A plank was laid over it and I danced across as it wobbled beneath my feet.  In front of me the bands singer who was acting as the evenings compere’ was stood alongside a row of stunning and some not so stunning women wearing swimsuits, (not bikini’s) and high heels.  The girls looked at me and I could feel their excitement; it was if they believed that George Michael was there in person to present the winner with her sash, bouquet, prize money and crown.  I stepped forward and the compere’ shook my hand and started interviewing me!  

I had no idea this was going to happen and we had not rehearsed in any way as I had been told I simply needed to sing two songs and present the prizes.  Asking me questions such as: - What is your next album called George?  What about these girls George, do any take your fancy? was ok but I needed to think on my feet in order to carry off the deception and he wasn’t helping.  To make matters worse they had forgotten my backing tape and we saved ourselves from a nightmare only due to the fact that I carried a copy in my leather jacket, but this had the original tracks on the reverse.  The sound engineer or “knob head” put the tape in the wrong way around and pressed play, only for George to start singing “Faith”.  The crowd went silent and I quickly said into my microphone, “You can hear the real thing when this guy shuts up!” to nervous laughter from the Band and I gave the engineer a look that could kill.

The tape was quickly changed around whilst I told the crowd that I’d be singing two songs, one either side of the prize giving.  “Faiths” strumming guitar intro began and I performed well, dancing around the stage in between the women, the lyrics relevant in their references: - “If I could touch your body, I know not everybody has got a body like you” etc. and it went down well.   Applause and cheers came as I finished the song and I stood next to the compere’ who said he now had the final decision from the Judges, who had been using the time it took me to sing the song to choose the winner.  He announced the result in the time-honoured fashion; reverse order and I presented a sash and bouquet to the third and second place girls.  The drummer started a drum-roll and with a smash of the cymbals the winners name was announced and she stepped forward only to wobble on her high heel and she slipped arse over tit straight into the moat.  The moat was empty so she fell a few feet to the bottom but stood up almost immediately, hair slightly askew and a look on her face that dared anyone to laugh, just once. 

The Vern leant over to lift her out and led her towards and across the plank to get back on stage.  The compere’ asked the crowd not to laugh, (which was a bit impossible) but instead to cheer her back on stage as she walked awkwardly across the plank and took her place at my side.  I leaned in and planted a nice big kiss on her cheek and as I placed the sash over her head said, “Well done, are you ok?”  Despite glowing with embarrassment she said she was fine and this was her first ever win in a beauty contest.  “This is a first for me as well,” I replied and gave her another kiss for good measure as I placed the crown on her head.  In fact she did well not to cry as she’d taken quite a fall and then had to stand there whilst I sang “Father Figure” to her, the poor sod.  

As soon as I finished I wished everyone goodnight and for them to, “Join me at Amnesia later and I’ll buy you a drink if you ask me nicely,” figuring that if they were going anywhere, they may as well go see the real George at his favourite club on the island and pester him to get the beers in.  I walked off stage towards The Vern who led me through the crowd and by this time some had decided that I was not George, ‘a damned imposter!’  The Vern was having none of that, so anyone stepping forward to offer such an insult found one of The Vern’s large hands in their face for daring to suggest such an untruth and shoved back into the crowd. 

Meanwhile at Bar Confusion Dave was up against it.   He’d steadfastly refused to hire any cover during my absence and was becoming overwhelmed with customers.  He could open a bottle and slosh a spirit and mixer into a glass perfectly well enough, but my forte’ was cocktails and slammers and he didn’t have the time nor the patience to mess about perfecting those skills and was telling punters, “Only got beer and spirits.  Nothing special tonight, whaddya want”?  In the main our customers stood for it as the music was the draw but even that required Dave to mess about loading cassettes and he was going from one end of the bar to the other and losing patience with customers who couldn’t decide what they wanted!  He was quite annoyed when I wandered back into Confusion with The Vern, and it was near total confusion as I said, “Beer please Dave and one for The Vern,” as we reached the bar.  “Fucking cheeky twat, get it yourself,” replied Dave.  “You’ve got a fucking cheek you have, I give you the fucking night off to go do your singing and you drop in as if you own the place, fucking big time Charlie, fuck off.”  Dave was obviously annoyed, but sod him, I could have been back in England on TV for all I knew and that opportunity was long gone.  He probably wanted me to get to work behind the bar there and then, but I felt it was worthwhile to let him work alone and realise how lucky he was to have me.  So I walked back out and wandered through town, still in all my George Michael finery towards the Star and Es-Paradis Clubs.

Es Paradis
Star and Es-Paradis were located in a side street a hundred metres from the road running around the bay and as I stood outside deciding which club to go into, the winner and faller from earlier in the evening came wandering up the side street, still wearing her sash, swimsuit and crown, carrying her flowers.  She’d obviously shaken off her embarrassment and walked unsteadily towards the clubs no doubt having taken on a few shots of Dutch courage along the way.  I walked towards her and as soon as her eyes focused in on me she shouted, “I saw the real George tonight, he gave me this (she tugged the Sash) these (and waved the Flowers under my nose) and a kiss,” as evidence of her meeting George.  I smiled and said that was nice, “You look like him though,” she carried on, “he kissed me twice.”  I asked whether she wanted to come to Es-Paradis or Star as I could get us in free.  “I’ll get in free anyway, I won these,” she whooped and continued thrusting her winnings at me.  I let my “bad” self get the better of me as I leant into her ear and said, “It was me tonight, not George and I can prove it, I said that this was the first time I had done this, as I gave you your sash, as you’d told me this was your first ever win.”

She stopped dead, looked at me and slowly the realisation dawned that it was me who'd crowned her.  “It was you?” she asked.  “Yea, me, sorry to let you down,” I said suddenly consumed by guilt, and afraid I’d ruined any chance of a shag, which had been my ulterior motive all the time.  “Great,” she roared, “Great.”  This threw me for a moment but only until she grabbed me and kissed me with far more enthusiasm than I had when I kissed her earlier.  “Es-Paradis?” I asked slipping my arm around her waist, “Lead the way,” she said.  

After a nights drinking and dancing we stopped by a bakers as the sun was rising and bought ham rolls, (Ah, the romance of it all). I let us into my room and we crashed for a few hours where upon we consummated our relationship and soon afterwards went our separate ways.  I went to work and she went back to her hotel with a story to tell about a win, a loss, a fall and a fuck.  

Friday, 12 April 2013

I failed to save Jesus (Hey Zeus!)

The summer of 1989 on Ibiza quickly became notorious for the Ecstasy drug, with Acid House Music as its musical accompaniment.  The Island was suddenly bulging with people; the bars and clubs were packed, the hotels full and the beaches hadn’t a foot of sand to drop a towel onto.  What had been predicted as a weak summer for the island with business owners all preparing for a slow, torpid summer had morphed into probably the best summer of their lives in terms of numbers of people suddenly arriving and the profits to be made by those ingenious bar owners who could differentiate their offering from the mainstream. If the high-end bars and clubs in and on the road to Ibiza town were packed, by comparison the cheaper clubs in San Antonio were full to bursting.  

Drug Pills Generic Image 450
The presumption that these revellers drank only water was dispelled, as the clubbers were getting hammered prior to going to the clubs.  I believe the clubs themselves intentionally ran out of “Agua” in order to make more money selling alcohol.  The street outside our bar had become a main drag from hotels on the outer-reaches of town to the bars in the “West End” of San Antonio and we were ideally placed to capture trade wandering into town and out to Café’ Del Mar. 

One July evening around 11pm Dave and I were serving customers as normal.   Groups of young guys and girls were heading past the bar toward Kings and Tropicana’s, two of the most popular bars on the main street and we were picking off the occasional reveller and diverting them into Bar Confusion.  Football Club shirts, the mainstay of any working class holiday wardrobe, were highly visible as groups wearing the shirts of Leeds, Manchester United, QPR, Liverpool and various other clubs ambled by, bottles of beer in hand.  We attempted to minimise the number of football-shirt wearing holidaymakers entering the bar through the strategic placement of posters by the front doors that read; No Football Shirts, No Football Shorts, No Disco Music!  Written in bold black lettering, it was a warning, as we couldn’t be arsed constantly trying to break up fights and having to listen to football chants over the volume of the music we’d so lovingly organised.

I’d just knocked up a couple of “Twats and a Bastard” when I noticed that everyone had congregated at the door or just outside and no one was left to serve and even Dave was stood by the door.  I walked over to see what the distraction was and saw a young guy under 20 years old, stretched out in the middle of the street.  I asked what had happened and someone said he’d fallen off the back of a moped.  No one was with him and nobody was going to see if he was ok.  I told Dave, “Keep and eye on the till,” (as if he needed telling), “I’m going to see if he’s ok.”  I walked over and knelt down beside him expecting him to come round or start moving as I presumed he was drunk and had knocked himself unconscious when he fell.  My first aid knowledge was good as we had been taught how to deal with basic injuries and the 4 B’s (Breathing, Bleeding, Breaks and Burns) in the Army and I’d taken a First Aid course in Civvy Street.  

This guy was out cold though and placing my head against his chest I couldn’t discern any breathing nor heart beat.  I tried to find a pulse on his neck but failed and began to get really concerned as to his injuries.  I pulled my t-shirt over my head and folded it into a pad, to place under his head.  I tipped his head back to open his airway and saw blood all over my hand coming from the back of his head and it was starting to soak into the white t-shirt, a vivid deep red patch spreading as I watched.  Fuck!

After checking his airway was clear and that he hadn’t swallowed his tongue I placed my mouth over his and began breathing for him, interchanging with compressions on his chest.  I was not getting a response from anyone else; bystanders stood silently watching as I me performed CPR and not a sound was coming from any of them.  After what must have been a few minutes of my performing CPR I was still not getting much back, in terms of a heartbeat except for faint pulses that appeared in his neck and disappeared as quickly as they arrived.  I needed help and I shouted out, “Does anyone here know CPR? For fucks sake someone call an ambulance and somebody please help me; Christ!” 

A woman pushed her way through the crowd, shouting at people to get out of her way. She knelt beside me and said in a Welsh accent, “I’m a nurse, what do you want me to do?”  Fantastic! At last someone was helping and I told her to manage the chest compressions synchronising herself to my breaths and she fortunately knew the pace to go at.  Performing CPR is not a nice thing to have to do; Ribs crack and pop as you do it, and modern thinking now recommends simply carrying out chest compressions at a rate of up to one hundred per minute.  Not necessarily to restart the heart, moreover, it’s to move blood around the body to the brain thereby stalling brain death until trained Paramedics with drugs and equipment arrive and take over.  As it was back in 1989, it was just she and I and we were trying like mad to get this kid breathing on his own and his heart working again.

I was aware of people around me and Dave said later that quite a crowd had gathered as we worked on the guy.  I was not overly concerned with the wound to his head as I had my padded T-shirt against it and applied pressure as I held his head and breathed for him.  After what seemed an age and was certainly long enough to get me very concerned indeed for the kid (for that was what he was and he looked more likely to be under than over 20 years old), I got a pulse!  I told the Welsh Nurse to stop compressions and put my ear to his chest.  I heard a faint heart beat and shallow warm breaths cooled against my lips as I held them over his; barely touching but close enough to feel the faint warm air blowing out of his mouth, evidence that these were his own attempts to breath for himself.  I heard someone call out that an ambulance was on its way and relaxed a little knowing that a team of fully equipped paramedics were coming to help.

Bartolo came out of Bar Cantiti and gave me a blanket to cover the guy up and I spoke to the nurse to say that we should lay him on his side, in the recovery position and allowing me to take a look at his head wound. We rolled him over moving his legs into position and placing an arm under his head as he lay on his side, my shirt under his head was now stained a deep crimson.  I parted his hair to reveal a deep slit in his scalp running across his head about 4cm long, with congealed blood at its edge and fresh blood, oozing out and onto my fingers.  I looked up and I saw an Estate car had parked at the end of the paved street some 50 metres away, a Red Cross sticker slapped on the rear door and walking towards me was a chubby middle-aged guy wearing slacks and a shirt; looking for the entire world like he was popping out for a drink in town.  

He walked towards us and when he was stood over the kid he looked down, obviously taking in the situation.  Instead of leaping into action he turned around and walked back to the car, where he collected a stretcher from the rear of the vehicle.  He wandered (seriously) back down the road to us, pulling the stretcher behind him.   He did not speak any English but Bartolo translated as I said what I had done and what I felt the patient now needed, all the time he was nodding his head, saying, “Si.”  I could not see anyone else with the driver so asked where his colleagues were.  “Only him,” said Bartolo, “he is alone, no one else is coming.” 

The driver did not have any medical equipment as far as I could see and he simply attempted to lift the guy up by the shoulders to put him on the stretcher.  I was incensed and shouted for him to stop, which he eventually did and the nurse and I along with the driver lifted the poor kid onto the stretcher together. There was no neck brace or body board and even a brief examination was not done.  “Bartolo,” said, “tell this guy I must go with him as the kid cannot breath for himself and will die if no one is looking after him.”  Bartolo repeated my concerns in Spanish to the driver, who immediately raised his hands and started shaking his head and said “No, nadie va a venir con nosotros.” (“No, nobody is going to come with us”).  Bartolo told me this and I was totally stunned and appealed with Bartolo and through him the driver, to let me tend to the kid in the car.  The Hospital was in Ibiza Town which was over 13Km away and any idiot could see this kid was not going to last the journey unattended. 

The driver hadn’t even examined the head wound let alone applied a dressing!  He turned his back to me picked up the stretcher handle and ambled back towards the car, where he slid the stretcher into the rear and closed the rear door.  I followed all the way to the car, pleading with him as he shook his head and I looked about me to see if I could spot anyone in authority, anyone who could help me convince this prick that I needed to go with the boy.  By the time he was climbing into his drivers seat, I was screaming and swearing at the idiot, Bartolo trying to hold me back. It was all to no avail as the driver drove down the hill towards the harbour and away in the direction of Ibiza Town.  I walked slowly back to the bar; Dave and everyone gathered there applauded as I walked past them into the bar.  I poured myself a large bourbon and lit a smoke as Dave started serving again and the bar filled up with customers, some coming up to shake my hand, buy me drinks and console me as I explained what I was certain would be the outcome.  I was gutted and knew in my heart that the kid would be dead on arrival at the hospital.

The following morning I walked down to the bar as usual to be met by Dave coming out of the door and locking up.  He walked over and put his arm around my shoulders, “The kid was dead by the time he got to Ibiza Town Jonny and I’m sorry mate.  You did your best.”  What a pointless and futile exercise it had been.  “That fucking ambulance driver,” I said.  “This place is going to be swarming with press any minute so I’m going to the OK Corral for a brew and some breakfast, come with me,” said Dave.  We ate in silence apart from the odd word from Reg or Souness as to the why’s and wherefores of Ibiza’s ambulance service, which received muted responses.  Late morning and a guy walked in and asked for Dave Bennett, the ex-footballer?  Reg looks at Dave through the corner of his eye and said, “I’ve not seen him today; does the guy want to leave a message?” “I’m a reporter with the Sun newspaper, my name is Nick Parker; Dave owns Bar Confusion doesn’t he?”  Reg looked around at the faces in the bar and confirmed that Dave did own the bar.  “Can I get you a drink?” asked Reg, always one to make a buck.  “Coffee please,” said Parker.  “Does Dave come in here a lot then?”  Reg said he did and gave him his coffee.  Parker continued to ask questions about Dave, the bar Confusion and eventually arrived at the main theme of his enquiries, “Did anyone see the hooligans who killed that Spanish kid last night?” The bar went dead and Dave stood up and walked over to Nick Parker.

“What do you mean hooligans killed him?  He wasn’t fucking killed by hooligans, he just fell off a scooter you twat.”  Parker turned to face Dave, “And you are?”  Dave looked at Reg and said, “Just a regular here and you have no idea what happened last night, that kid fell off and hit his head.”  I could see this going badly but they carried on talking.  “There were loads of football fans around and one of them punched him, that’s what I heard,” said Parker. “You were there then? Do you know any different?”  Dave sat on a stool and drew closer to the reporter. “The kid fell off the moped.  The lad who works next door went to help and saved that boys life.  He was already dead, lying in the street.  When the ambulance turns up a single medic gets out and takes the kid to hospital.  That’s you’re story.  Crap Spanish ambulances and shit medics.  But no one cares about that. Its not news.  Football fans?  They were holidaymakers in football shirts.”

The reporter continued to talk to Dave, unaware of whom Dave was.  I went outside and opened the bar doors and stocked up, noticing an increasing number of faces pressing against the windows and looking in.  Mid-afternoon and Sky and ITV News had turned up asking questions and searching for both Dave and I.  After a day trying to avoid the press; basically they believed the guys responsible for the death had been in our bar and had run off afterwards and actually ran reports in the UK saying this; Dave owned up to Nick Parker and he ran an exclusive story in The Sun Newspaper, saying what the truth was as far as Dave knew the truth to be.  The following day I was interviewed for Sky News and after that, local news reporters besieged my Mum’s home in Norwich.  They eventually went away after she provided a picture of me to them (a decent one thank god) and some background information.  Running alongside all of this was the fact that Bar Confusion was then closed by the local Police due to a Liquor Licence and Noise complaint (which was bollocks) and remained closed for 3 days!  The press ran the story that the bar was closed out of respect for the lad who died but we knew otherwise. 

Jesus Moreno was 19 years old and had been with a friend for a night out in San Antonio.  He lived near Ibiza Town with his parents and older brother, Raoul.  It transpired that the Moped driver and Jesus, neither wearing a helmet, were idling slowly behind a group of English tourists, (who were of course wearing a variety of English football shirts).  The moped driver was revving the engine behind them, zipping forward to almost hit the tourists before backing off.  The holidaymakers eventually responded by turning to face them and one feigned a punch.  At which point the driver opened the throttle and popped a wheelie.  Jesus fell backwards off the bike striking his head on the concrete.  Rather than stop to help his friend the driver sped away down the street and never returned to the scene.   I hope that over time, he came to reflect upon what had happened and his life changed for the positive because of it.

Raoul came to find me a few days later and thanked me for trying to save his brother’s life.  I was particularly upset when meeting him and we sat together and cried; the brother for his loss and me?  I cried for the shame I felt at not insisting that I ride with Jesus to Hospital and for the waste of such a young and a promising life.  One would be right in questioning the quality of emergency services on the Island.  How could they possibly provide such a poor service to their own countrymen, let alone tourists?  The same year, 1989, had already seen several tourists die from drug overdoses and questions were being asked in the UK Parliament about these deaths.  A few years later the son of a senior member of the Islands government fell from his Motorbike whilst riding between beaches on an isolated Island road.  It was high summer and it took over 1½ hour’s for an ambulance to reach him, by which time he’d died from heat exposure and blood loss.  The same year, after an investigation into all of Ibiza’s Emergency Service provision, new rules and response times were put in place, Medics properly trained and now the Islands services are among the best in the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, I was back at work and the boys from the Live Band around the corner had been to see me, I was to award the prizes and sing (As George Michael), at the Miss Playa Bella Beauty Contest, across San Antonio bay at the Playa Bella hotel complex.  Me? Surrounded by women? What could possibly go wrong there?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

I coulda had class, I coulda been somebody!

Neil and Jocelyn Riley came out to stay with Dave and Becky at the villa which was great for Becky as she’d most certainly been getting bored.  Her devotion to Dave was stunning; she’d collect bottles and tidy up and when not needed, sat on a chair in the storeroom behind the bead curtain reading a magazine.  Rebecca did spend quite a lot of that year back home in England leaving Dave and I to it, so to speak.  It was great to have Neil and Jocelyn in town and we all hit the beach or walked down to Café’ del Mar.  The summer heat coupled with long working hours, all night clubbing and the need to be “up” for it and continually “on” the job, started to take it’s toll and began to change my behaviour.  Everyone who walked in through the doors of Bar Confusion had a right to expect not just great music, a great atmosphere, outstanding cocktails (!) and plenty of laughs, but for Dave and I to reflect the fact that the “Party Island lifestyle” was indeed one never-ending party for us both. In trying to live up to expectations, changes in my personality manifested themselves in a number of ways; my alcohol intake steadily increased to keep up not only with my peers but with the customers as well.  

Either the pace of life either needed a break in the form of sleep, (and that was highly unlikely to take place and of course didn’t), or I would have to resort to chemical support to get me through the summer.  There were very few days off or even lunch breaks let alone early nights once the season was in full swing.   My staple diet was a grilled chicken Bocadillo, (a small bread baton cut lengthways and crammed with meat) eaten on the run between changing VHS tapes and serving drinks.  What actually enabled me to dodge sleep and maintain the breakneck pace was easy access to drugs, and they allowed me to “cheat” both body and mind into performing way beyond normal limits.   I’m not going to preach and whine about drug taking, how I was taking them for good reasons; there are no ‘good’ reasons.  I don’t condone drug taking and after the 1989’s ‘Summer of Love’, I tried Cocaine once more and decided it was not for me.  I am not apologising nor seeking to explain away my behaviour.  I have never enjoyed smoking Marijuana or Hash/blow, it made me sick, dizzy, tired, very hungry and thirsty. More to the point, drugs are expensive and I didn’t have the money to buy them and wasn’t so into them that I need a fix to get me through the day.  The drugs I took were more of a crutch to lean on during the long nights and days that summer.  Honesty forces me to write about my drug taking and the months spent managing my life us drugs and alcohol, cigarettes and women all in abundance, all indulged if not too extremes, then certainly knocking on that door and to the point where I started to really dislike myself.

Cat (Mr Hash) and his acolytes were regularly popping into the bar and it was through this crowd that I gained knowledge of a new name in town. Billy, (Whizz, Speed, Amphetamine) presented himself one night as I went into the storeroom to grab bottles for the bar.  On a shelf laid out in neat lines 2 inches long was a white powder. I knew it was ‘gear’ but did not know what type.  I went back to the bar and asked Dave about it.  He served the customer in front and we nipped back followed by one of Cats mates Danny.  “Its Billy, Jonny Boy,” said Daniel, “Speed.  It’ll keep you going all night, just don’t go mad as its not cheap.”  Danny was obviously the provider and neither he nor Dave ever asked me to pay for any of these ‘performance enhancing’ drugs and to be fair I never offered as I was not exactly earning a mint. 

Dave thought the opportunity to ‘live the island clubber lifestyle’ more than made up for anything resembling a decent wage and he was not about to ‘up’ my wages just because I was performing beyond expectations. I sniffed a line up my nose and was told to rub anything left on the shelf into my gums, which I did.  I went back to work and I was soon more energetic, eager and active which was a positive I figured.  I didn’t take Speed every night; it wasn’t available every night, more likely twice a week on average.  It did have an effect though and alongside increasing my intake of water, I also increased my intake of Jack Daniels and Vodka.  Beer was for afternoons only or following an in-frequent day on the beach.  When Dave did fancy a day off we’d both have a day off and besides, you can’t keep nipping off to empty your bladder when running a bar and serving drinks all night, so shots of Jack and Tequila became the norm.

One of the more unsavoury characters to turn up was a big brute of a guy called Gary and his wife Caroline. She was cute, pretty and beaten almost to a pulp on a weekly sometimes, daily basis.  He and Caroline had turned up looking for work in early May.  Apparently he was a builder and did find work on the island and a couple running a small bar/club nearer the strip gave Caroline work clearing glasses and propping for them.  Any money she earned went into his pockets and he disappeared into the night returning in the early morning to their small flat to give her a smack and then go to his job.  Caroline became a regular in the bar and she and I became close but not too close, I was more an ear for her to talk to and besides, I think she feared that had she had an affair of any sort he’d kill her.  She’d tell me how he’d come home still smelling of other women, stinking of vomit and drink and try to rape her, (there is no way a woman consents to sex in those circumstances), although more often than not failing to perform.  He had no redeeming characteristics at all and after weeks of listening to this horror story I spoke to Dave and asked what could be done. 

Eventually a group of the English Bar/Club owners got together and bought her a plane ticket off the island.   I borrowed Dave’s car and dropped her at the airport one day whilst the beast was working. I parked up near my flat and walked down the small hill to the bar to go to work only to find him outside stamping up and down.  “Where’s my wife?” he shouted as I approached.  I told him I had no idea where she was and said “How would I know?”  “She is always in there with you,” her said, pointing towards Confusion, “You little shit.”  This was not going to end well unless I got some support and wondered where it was going to come from. This guy was at least 6’3” and I was 5’9” on my best day.  I said something along the lines of “why do you give a shit, you’re fucking all the pigs running around the island anyway!” This elicited the not unexpected response of a push in my chest and his face so close that his spittle was hitting my face as he shouted.  He moved me around so my back was against the doors of our Bar and my escape routes were restricted further, but I continued to smart mouth the ape.  Was I mad?  Probably.  But fuck him, he was a bully and a sick-making bully at that, so I wanted to make sure he was engaged here in town and not patrolling the island looking for Caroline and hitting on the idea of going to the airport.

The yelling finally (thank god) alerted Kaz in the OK Corral, (who had contributed a large amount to the air-ticket) and she came outside and saw what was happening.  She went back in and got Dave who was sat drinking a beer with Reg and Souness.  Dave came out and immediately stepped in between fuck-face and I and walked towards him giving me room to edge away from the doors.  From then on with Dave standing at 6’3” and eye-to-eye with him the bully barely said a word and simply moaned saying, as his meaty fists pointed in my direction, ”He’s always with my missus.”  Dave told him to grow up, that we were friends but nothing more and besides, he was shagging everything left by everyone else, so why did he care?  He slopped off, his knuckles dragging on the floor and wandered towards the main street of bars.  I looked at Dave, “That’s the last time I save you from a kicking.  Stay away from other blokes wives, especially the nutter’s!  Now open up the bar and get Who Framed Roger Rabbit on the TV!” 

I never saw or heard from Caroline again and the ‘Neanderthal’ left the island shortly afterwards, to where I do not know?  That was an example of Dave coming to the rescue but Dave was also a selfish, self-centred bugger who sought loyalty and devotion in others to his cause, but more often than not he failed to reciprocate and I found that immensely frustrating.  I trusted Dave and the shame of it was that his life, personality and opinion of others up to that point, had been greatly affected by people who had ripped him off, dropped him in it or had taken the piss.  So for Dave to trust anyone else was going to require a great deal of faith on his part and despite my best efforts I’ve always been of the mind that he was watching me, constantly.  As principled as I believe I am, and I live by a set of principles that are basic and simple tenets; (don’t steal from anyone, especially friends; be honest, try to be kind its easier than being an arse, and treat everyone as an equal), I could have been the risen Christ and still have been a suspect in Dave’s small world of intrigue and suspicion.  And that was a bloody shame and shame on him for what followed as well.

My brief meeting with John Fashanu when in passed him my demo tape in Ricks Place in Norwich had long been forgotten, as I was hard at work serving tourists.  “Fash” was so far from my mind that when Kaz came into Bar Confusion one early June afternoon from the OK Corral and said, “I’ve got John Fashanu on the phone,” Dave immediately assumed it was for him.  The OK Corral had a phone in the kitchen and we’d provided the number to friends and family in case of emergencies.  “He’s not ringing for you Dave, its for Jonathan,” said Kaz pointing towards me.  Dave stopped in his tracks and I inwardly smiled as I walked around the bar to go with Kaz.  In the OK Corral kitchen I picked up the gravy stained receiver and said “Hello?”  “Jonny Boy,” said Fash, “Found you at last mate.  Look, you know you handed me your George tape, well I’ve got something for you,” he said.  My stomach flipped, “Great, what is it?” I asked, half expecting a wedding do or nightclub show at best. “It’s a Pilot for a TV show mate, using lookalikes to impersonate pop-stars and they get votes to see who is the best one,” said Fash. “Fucking yes please,” I said, but I knew Dave needed me here and was already worrying as to how he’d manage without me.

“I was hoping you’d say that mate.  You need to get on a plane sharpish mate!”  John Fashanus use of the word “mate” was a constant when he spoke; almost becoming a form of punctuation in each sentence.  It later turned out that the show in question was the Pilot for “Stars In Their Eyes”, the show becoming a Prime time Saturday Evening staple that first aired in the UK the following year (July 1990) after being commissioned by ITV, with Leslie Crowther as host.  “I’d better go and tell Dave then, back in a minute, hang on!” I shouted.  I ran off to find Dave  almost bumping into him as he stood at the door of the OK Corral.  Confusion was empty and he was wondering what was going on.  I told Dave all that Fash had said about the Pilot and that I had to go to the UK, and watched Dave’s face slowly change, as the realisation dawned on him that I was going away.  “I can’t let you go, you won’t come back Jonny,” said Dave.  “What? You have to let me go, it’s my chance! Fash has done what he said he’d do, I have to go and do this Dave.” I was pissed off at his attitude, but still certain that I was going.  “Nah, you’ll get involved and then you’ll ring me and say you can’t come back as you have other stuff to do.  So I can’t let you go.”  Let me go?  What the fuck?  What right had he got to decide whether I went or not.  I told him this and that I was really fucked off that he was being so stubborn. 

“Look, you’ve got no money.  How are you gonna pay for the flight back home, I’m not giving it to you.”  I knew Fash was hanging on the phone waiting for me to come back and confirm the details.  “I’ll call my mum, she’ll pay for the flight,” I said pathetically.   I was more or less pleading with him to let me go, it was my dream break.  “Look, I’ll go and talk to Fash and explain that you’re needed here and he’ll understand.  There’ll be another chance anyway knowing Fash.  This is not a one off, he’s always got things happening so don’t worry, it will still be there when you get back.”  I didn’t believe that for a second and said, “I want to go Dave, its only fair”.  And Dave?  He turned to me and said, “Fair?  You cheeky little fucker!  You wouldn’t fucking know Fash if it weren’t for me!  You ungrateful little shit, you’re here working for me working in a dream job and I gave you this chance.  I could just say to Fash that you’re not worth it, that you’re a wanker and he’ll forget you, but I wont.”  His voice calmed a little from its rising volume. “I’ll just tell him not now and after the summer you can fucking go and do what you want with my blessing, but not now.”

With that he went into the OK Corral and I was left in the street like a swinging dick, with fuck-all to do but slope off back into the bar.  I’d capitulated and given up my chance of possibly being someone, of having ‘something’.  It could have been the thing that changed my life from dead end job to dead end job.  I don’t know where it might have led me but it might have been something better.  In my darker moments before I learned to stop having regrets, (Regrets poison you slowly but surely, until you lose everything and have nothing but regret and sod all else), I used to look back at that episode and contemplate Marlon Brando’s character Terry in the movie ‘On The Waterfront’ and his speech to his brother Charley (Rod Steiger).  He said and I quote, “You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum!"  

Dave walked back into the bar some 5 minutes later and put and end to that chance with the words, “Fash said he understands.  He said it’ll be there for you when you get home at the end of the season.”  He no more believed that than I did and I sulked about for more than a week until Dave told me to cheer the fuck up!  I did cheer up when Dave, perhaps feeling bad, pitched up with Billy and Charlie the twin brothers of delight and despair who corrupted body and soul.  We worked like buggers and closed early and went to KU Club to celebrate nothing much in particular and so the circle continued to turn and the screws, (drugs, drink, women and exhaustion) tightened a little more.  Did I have a failing?  Was I wrong to decide to devote myself to the success of the bar that summer?  I was loyal, honest, and committed to the business notwithstanding what had happened. I put it behind me after a while and got on with the work at hand.  Dave meanwhile had simply chipped away at the pedestal I’d put him with a large chunk of masonry falling away and he’d started to wobble.    

In recalling those events recently with Dave he apologised and said he could not remember that happening.  It was erased from his memory but he continued to apologise and as I've written; there are no, (I have no) regrets.