“Ten sixty six.”
“erm… wait a minute… Charlotte Brontë?”
“I haven’t got a fucking clue.”
“It’s Coronation Street, you thick cunt, Lucifer!”
I like quizzes.
Quizzes are a rather sad way for people without qualifications to prove they’re not stupid.
I’ve known some great quizzers who are unemployed, are fork lift drivers, are mill workers, are on parole.
They might be on a lot less than ten pounds an hour, but they know what the capital of Somalia is called.
Mogadishu, of course.
It’s your round, and get some crisps in.
I used to do quizzes at a local pub.
Me and Mrs Lucifer teamed up with a lovely couple in their eighties.
The four of us would sometimes thrash teams of six, eight or even ten (cheating bastards).
One night the quiz-master asked who performed the first non stop transatlantic flight.
The old gent starts pissing himself laughing, and mutters, ‘Sammy Davis jr.’
“Sammy Davis Jr? I don’t think he was renowned as a great aviator!”
The old guy shakes his head, still laughing.
“No, it’s how I remember the answer – Alcock and Brown.”
“Isle of Wight.”
“Skip that one, Jock. You know I’m shit at sport.”
Jock did the quiz at his local club on a Thursday.
He’d test the questions out on us lads in the week.
“If you lads can’t get the answers, then those thick fucks at the club won’t have a cat in Hell’s!”
The locker room has a good radiator.
Nice and toasty in there, even if it does smell of printer’s feet.
Pot of tea, a biscuit and a few questions.
“Golden Gate bridge.”
“What were the last words of Admiral Nelson? Now that’s controversial, Jock. It’s not what you think. His last words were in fact…”
The door to the locker room was kicked open.
It crashed against the wall, shuddering and shedding flecks of paint.
“TWO DUCK DOWN PILLOWS AND A KING-SIZE EGYPTIAN COTTON QUILT, KID! SORTED!”
Cyclops strode in, huge and lumbering.
“Nice try Cyclops, but that’s the wrong answer.”
“YEAH, YEAH, SIX PILLOW SLIPS AND FOUR SHEETS, SINGLE BED.”
“No, not that either.”
Cyclops was on the phone.
‘Doing some business’, as he put it.
Cyclops was a printer, but he had a lucrative sideline going in selling bedding.
Nothing stood in the way of him and deal.
Not even printing.
I could see the list of questions in Jock’s hand being slowly crushed.
He glowered at Cyclops.
“Here, big fella, we were just in the middle of something…”
Cyclops snapped his fingers at Jock and drew his fingers across his lips.
Jock turned scarlet, and started to growl.
Cyclops ignored him.
“CREAM COTTON VALANCE, FOUR KING SIZE FITTED SHEETS…”
We didn’t wait to hear the rest of it.
The quiz was over.
“I really hate that big, fat, slobbering, boss-eyed cunt,” rumbled Jock as we walked to his machine.
“Yep. He’s one ignorant bastard.”
“Did you see how he kicked that door, Lucifer? I wouldn’t mind, but it’s me that has to do all the re-painting when the doors are fucked. Not him – me.”
The door was kicked open again.
Cyclops lumbered out of the locker room, snapping his phone shut.
“JOCK! YOU’VE GOT TO WASH THE MACHINE UP ON YOUR OWN! I’VE GOT AN ORDER FOR BEDDING SO I’M LEAVING EARLY!”
“Go steady on the fucking doors, Cyclops. I only glossed them last month.”
“HA! I’M DOING YOU A FAVOUR THEN! YOU CAN GLOSS THEM AGAIN NEXT MONTH, ON OVERTIME! THINK OF IT AS A BONUS!”
Cyclops grabbed himself by the balls, his lazy eye swimming all over the place.
“TALKING OF BONUSES, I’VE GOT TO GIVE MY CLEANING LADY HER LITTLE TREAT FOR DOING A GOOD JOB. IF I DROP THIS GEAR OFF QUICK, I’LL BE HOME IN TIME TO CATCH HER PUTTING MY NEW HEAVY GRADE COTTON DUVET COVERS ON THE BED. WE CAN TRY ‘EM OUT, SEE IF THEY’RE COMFY! THAT GIRL CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF MY LOVE HAMMER!”
He left, kicking the door open as he went.
“It’s what he calls his cock, Lucifer. His love hammer.”
“He is a fucking love hammer. Look at the state of the machine.”
Cyclops had left the print press in a shitty state. Rags, ink tins and paper were strewn everywhere.
Jock looked tired. I didn’t like to see a cunt like Cyclops taking the piss out of a decent bloke like Jock.
It wasn’t right.
Jock didn’t say anything.
He folded the crumpled page of quiz questions into his trouser pocket, and slowly started cleaning up.
It wasn’t right.
Next day I went looking for Jock.
Couldn’t find him.
I was walking back to the studio when I glanced into the maintenance department through a grimy window.
Cyclops was there, sitting on a tatty, oil stained chair.
His face was a mess, covered in blood and bruises.
His neck looked like a dog had savaged him.
A flock of first aiders dabbed at him, and Bear was talking on the phone.
The door opened and Jock staggered out, tears streaming down his face.
“Oh fuck, Jock! What’s happened? What have you done?”
Jock turned round.
He was pissing himself laughing.
I had to help him into the locker room.
Soon he calmed own enough to speak.
“What goes around comes around, Lucifer me old mate!”
“Come on then! What’s savaged cyclops?”
“He dropped off all that shit he sells and went home to fuck his cleaner, only she wasn’t there. He couldn’t understand it. Well, this morning her car turns up, but it wasn’t her. It was her husband.”
“Exactly! This husband, he had a baseball bat. Cyclops’s love hammer was no match for that! The door was locked, so this bloke smashes every window in the house, and climbs into the front room. He twats Cyclops, and drags him around the room by that big stupid gold chain he wears, tore his neck to shreads! Then he only goes and drives his big stupid head through the partition wall.”
“Yeah! His big stupid head stuck out of his dining room wall like a big game trophy! This bloke gives Cyclops a few more twats with the bat for good measure, then fucks off, leaving him hanging there!”
“I guess he found out about the bonus system Cyclops was running with his cleaning staff. So is that when Cyclops came here?”
“It gets better! The big slobbering cunt staggers out to his car and drives off, but he’s out of petrol. He pulls into the petrol station and starts to fill it up, but the husband suddenly pops up and brays him all over the forecourt!”
“They’ve got everything at petrol stations these days, Jock. Charcoal, flowers, groceries…”
“….prolonged aggravated assault. This bloke drives off, leaving Cyclops in a pool of blood and petrol. Cyclops realises that he’s got to get some back up, so he picks himself up and drives to his local boozer, where all his shady mates hang out. They all rally round him and get him a beer in, and just as he starts telling the tale, someone shouts ‘Look out!’ Cyclops didn’t even manage to get a gobful of beer before the husband wrapped a fucking barstool around the back of his head! He’d seen Cyclops’s car in the car park, and thought he’d pop in to say hello. Cyclops’s big hard mates didn’t lift a fucking finger to help.”
“I suppose you get the mates you deserve. What happened then?”
“He legged it here, to work. He knew the security locks would keep the psycho out. Coppers and an ambulance are on there way.”
“Fucking hell! He’s lucky he wasn’t killed. There’ll be no printing on that machine today, Jock. What are you going to do?”
“No worries there, Lucifer. Click down the button on the kettle, and you’ll find some biscuits in that locker… that’s the one. Now then.”
He pulled a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket.
“What is the capital city of Somalia?”
“That’s easy. It’s…”