Monday, February 27, 2006

Football at Sir Benny's

My friend Benny lives in one of the neighbouring villages and he generously invites me around whenever there’s a big game on SKY Sports. Benny lives in a terrace house with a fine view over the Tyne Valley. The best advice I can give to visitors is to keep their eyes fixed on the view or on the television – as the eye can catch some scary sights around Benny’s interior.

Firstly, Benny has a vast array of DIY materials, tools and manuals (Maude and I bought him a large toolkit last Christmas). However, he seems to lack the will or initiative to do anything with them. His toilet seat is perched – not attached – to his lime green convenience. His fireback and fireplace both lean against the wall in the vicinity of the chimney-breast and a telephone wire trails right through the house from the main phone to the extension. The bare, unvarnished floorboards upstairs give the place the look of a safe house for fugitives and the curtains hang as in the aftermath of a bomb blast.

Another, more jarring, assault on the eyes is frequently provided by Benny himself. Benny is in need of a belt. The slightest bend – to throw a teabag into the pedal bin or to turn up the thermostat on the Calorgas heater which keeps him alive – reveals enough hairy cleft in which to park a bicycle. In his defence, he has now been living in a cold house for a long time and doesn’t seem to feel the cold – at least not around the rump.

We sat and enjoyed an emphatic win in the Carling Cup final for Manchester United – or rather I enjoyed it. Benny was magnanimous – being as he is a Manchester City fan. We then discussed who we might knight if given control of the honours list. I suggested Sir Mark Hughes and Sir Stephen Patrick Morrissey. Benny looked crestfallen.

‘Would you not knight me?’ he asked.

‘Of course I would’, I reassured him, ‘… for services to DIY.’

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