My recollections of the day, augmented by what Mrs Claw* can also remember – her memories are a little hazy, too, it would appear, possibly something to do with a gallon of wine and a bottle of Prosecco kindly donated by ROS – are hazy.
[* Editor’s note: Approached for comment, Mrs Claw denied all knowledge of the day, insisting she was at home listening to BBC Radio 3 while crocheting doilies for her hope chest]
We travelled by bus to meet Dr Killer – who was sporting a fine Hull top – at King’s Cross at midday before journeying together to Colliers Wood on what might or might not have been the Northern Line.
Arriving at the Charles Holden pub just before one, we noticed two shifty-looking northern types lunching at the bar.
We took a chance that these flat-capped chappies may be the renowned ROS and Mr Meades and were right. Introductions and some mild WCB™ later, ROS was presented with a beautiful Austria Rugby top, complete with brown print-on lederhosen including a mountain goat wearing a natty pointed hat. He was chuffed. Northerners are easily chuffed.
We had a jaunt around the bar where, much to general delight, the good Dr Killer and Mrs Claw found the bar cat.
We also had a look around for the tables booked for us all by multi-titled BTLer Don Chuffo aka Christian Harris. We couldn’t find them, despite checking for tables reserved for a J Haskell and Dave from Swindon.
It was at this stage that Karl shuffled nervously into the bar, announcing himself by standing awkwardly and mutely in front of us. We took a chance and lo!, we had a fifth BTL member. Karl’s outstanding detective skills lead us to realise that we may have missed three large tables reserved for “Christian”. It was clear at this stage that the drink was yet to have any effect.
Christian and the lovely Mrs Harris aka Don and Mrs Chuffo showed up shortly after – as did my brother and another friend – and I may have received some mild WCB™ and joshing as Italy put Ireland to the sword. While I “ahemed” and shuffled a bit as BOD carried out a Riverdance on a prone Italian player.
Remarkably, despite the tankerloads consumed, the drink was still yet to impact. It was our God-given wit – reminiscent of Woody Allen at his peak – that had us applauding the ginger Paddy Jackson as “Saaaag!”. Along with Gli Azzurri‘s Garcia and anyone and anything else remotely ginger. At the same time, any vaguely Hask-BTL-looking spod who passed by our tables was treated to a bout of collective “Tim? Tim? Tim?”. Possibly at levels louder than we thought. In Manhattan, Woody Allen was eating his heart out.
Moving onto – from memory – the England debacle, Don Chuffo was very much in his element. Wales shellacked England, and the now legendary Sunbeamtim showed up, having lurked brilliantly at the bar for a couple of hours. There were handshakes and hugs all round for Christian, and much commiseration for Dr Killer, ROS and Mr Meades, who, at this stage, may or may not have been slumped unconscious at his table. If so, it was patently obviously grief-induced.
It was at this stage that recollection, inexplicably, gets a little hazy. There might have been much BTL dancing, swaying – not to mention some spectacular hip-grinding from ROS – to Queen’s Greatest Hits on the bar’s sound system. France might even have played and beaten Scotland in Paris.
Mr Meades might have raised the white flag and shuffled the long walk to the Holiday Inn next door.
The balance of the party might have pointed out the pub’s sash window features to mystified fellow patrons.
Don Chuffo might have realised that he and Mrs Chuffo had had quite enough of us and promptly legged it.
Karl might have exited with lots of hugs.
Dr Killer might have questioned The First Law of Robotics when assessing the England performance.
I might have bought chips on the way home and fallen over.
Then fallen asleep on the Tube beside an inexplicably comatose Dr Killer.
Then woken up on said Tube with a spectacular nosebleed.
Then talked at some poor posh boy on the bus, telling him he looked like “that wanker off Twilight”.
Then … I know not what.
All in all, it was an absolutely fantastic day. And night. Each and every BTLer in the flesh was an utter pleasure and there was no awkward weirdness at any stage during the day.
What’s more, despite all BTL Methodist predictions, despite the wholesale opportunity, none of us got even remotely rat-arsed.