Jeremy Clarke Jeremy Clarke

Head case

Jeremy Clarke reports on his Low Life

I finally found Trev playing darts in the Volunteer. Usually you can tell which pub Trev’s in because you can hear him whooping and roaring, or even crowing like a cockerel, from halfway down the high street. But tonight he was planting his arrows calmly, modestly and considerately, without all the usual alarums and excursions. I hadn’t seen him for several months and I wondered whether, at 48 years old, he was finally beginning to feel his age.

I bought a pint and took it over to the dartboard. Trev saw me coming and bowed low, as though I were a visiting dignitary. With his face to the floor he pointed a forefinger at the top of his head. ‘See that!’ he said. Through thinning short hair I could make out a scab the size and shape of a 10-pence piece. ‘Go on,’ I said. ‘What happened?’

His story, interrupted by turns at the dartboard, went like this. Last weekend, around closing time at the Nelson, he’d made a rude comment about another customer’s dancing style. The customer was a six-foot-six 19-year-old rugby player. (Trev rolled his eyes — a comic parody of eye-rolling — at this costly error of judgment.) Taking offence, this chap had supposedly picked Trev up and flung him backwards against a stone partition wall, knocking him unconscious. And as Trev lay unconscious against the wall, this chap had allegedly taken a run-up and toe-punted him in the side of the head.

When he came to, police and an ambulance were in attendance. The rugby player was arrested and Trev was carried to hospital to have his head examined. After several hours in casualty, he was discharged and went on to a party, bandaged and bloody, where he carried on enjoying himself.

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