This morning, I was walking to the Doctors when I bumped into my soon to be ex Sister-in-Law Helen. We greeted each other with a kiss before she asked me what it was like being back in the real world? I had been back from a six week World Series of Poker (WSOP) sojourn in Las Vegas for one week exactly.
“Helen, I am not sure what my definition of reality is anymore.”
She gave me a hug, quickly changed the subject and after a short while I was on my way. In the past twelve months I had quit the job I had loved for 19-years, quit the wife I had loved for 20+ years and left the home I had lived in and loved for the past ten years. It is safe to say that I have changed a few things in my life recently! So Helen’s question was an interesting one.
What is my real world?
I suppose my world changes every day. I have exchanged a life that was built for the security of the future for a life that exists in the here and now. So my real world changes, it evolves but it is interesting and never dull. Some people have a view that life in Ogmore Valley is a little slow and maybe a little boring and I can see that point of view. But the green, green grass of home is also secure, serene and sometimes blissful. One thing that I love about the Ogmore more than anything else is the stories that it throws up. Hilarious stories that emerge from absolutely bog-standard normal situations and here is one that happened just the other day.
I had been in the UK just a matter of hours when I managed to upset my soon to be ex wife. Saying I upset her doesn’t give the shit storm of fuss it produced the credence it deserved. I really broke her heart and it seemed that no matter how much you love each other, a relationship break-up is never going to be as amicable as you hope. So I didn’t start my little stint back in the unreal world very well, and it worsened when my Dad forgot to take his diabetes tablets, drank copious amounts of booze down the Con Club and then told me to get the fuck out of his house. So within two days of touching down in the UK (or back in the real world as Helen put it) I found myself walking around the Valley with the sound of the Littlest Hobo ringing in my ears.
There's a voice that keeps on calling me
Down the road, that's where I'll always be.
Every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can't stay for long, just turn around and I'm gone again
I decided to ring some of the Ogmore Poker Tours finest and invite them all to a restaurant for a fillet steak and a few beers. It was a good opportunity to tell them my Vegas stories and then talk one of them into letting me sleep on their couch for a few nights. In the real world that was Vegas, eating out in restaurants was all part of the norm for the lads on the poker circuit. Back in the Valley and Steve “The Rock” John, Andrew “Too Nice” Bayliss and Neil Farm thought the whole idea was a little bit gay.
“And on a school night as well, what the fuck, are you crazy?” Neil Farm questioned.
After promising them that their levels of testosterone would not be affected they humoured me and I booked the four of us into a Tapas restaurant. I wore a really gay looking flowery shirt just to wind them up and I was sure that the waitress liked it because she kept staring at me. Armed with my newfound Vegas penchant for gambling over absolutely anything, I managed to persuade the four gay guys eating lunch together, to each put £20 in the middle of the table, and I would ask her to choose one of us to have a phantom bit of slap and tickle with.
“Him!” She said pointing to Andrew “Too Nice” Bayliss.
“If you were going to pick someone in second place who would it be?” Asked the Rock.
“You,” she said.
“And third?” Asked Farm.
“You,” she said.
So I was voted the worst looking person at the table! I shrugged it off as some form of Chinese racism and asked for the bill. It was £178 and I asked the guys if they wanted to play credit card roulette to settle it (another Vegas habit). After explaining the rules to them all they reluctantly agreed to play and Too Nice got stuck with the bill for £178. What was even more hilarious was the fact that Too Nice had chosen his food from the £10 two-course lunch menu to save some money!
Neil Farm drew the short straw and kindly allowed me to sleep on his sofa, and despite going to bed and leaving me with no pillows or blanket, I managed to catch a few hours kip on a settee so small Verne Troyer wouldn’t fit on it. I got up around 05.00 in the morning and was busting for a dump. Farm has a tiny little toilet next to his front room so I squeezed in, locked the door and started to empty my bowels of £178 worth of free food and drink courtesy of Mr. Too Nice. I was chuckling to myself as I thought about Too Nice choosing his food from the £10 menu when I realised that there was no toilet paper. Chuckles turned to angst as I looked around for anything to wipe my bum with. I was sat on the bog wearing just a white pair of Calvin Klein underpants so I had two choices. I could use my hand, wash it and then head into the kitchen to look for some kitchen roll or I could use my pants and dump them somewhere.
“Neil?” I whispered.
“Neil!” I whispered louder.
It was no use, nobody was coming and I didn’t want to wake his wife or his two-year old son up at 05.00 in the morning to ask for bog roll. I slipped off my Calvin Klein underwear and did the best job I could of wiping my arse with them whilst leaving a little bit of unsoiled fabric to hold them in my hand - Christ they stunk. I decided I would throw them in a plastic bag, run outside and lob them in someone’s garden and no one would ever be the wiser. When you sleep in a strange house the householder usually gives you some information about said house. Things like don’t smoke in the house, this is how you turn the TV on and off and by the way the lock doesn’t work in the downstairs toilet!
The lock doesn’t work in the downstairs toilet?
I don’t remember him telling me that one! Sure enough I flushed the chain with the hand devoid of shit and then flicked the lock. It didn’t budge. I tried again, and again, and again but no matter how many times I tried to open the door it just would not budge. I remember Farm telling me that his son usually woke up at 07.00 and it was around 05.15, so I was stuck for at least 105 minutes, sitting naked on a toilet holding a pair of Calvin Klein underpants covered in smelly Tapas drenched shit.
I started whisper-shouting the words Neil but I knew he was never going to hear me. In a last desperate attempt I twisted the lock whilst simultaneously pulling the door close to me and it clicked open. I dived out of the door, bollock naked, with a pair of shitty underpants in my hand and there stood right in front of me was Neil Farm’s two-year-old kid Will. I stared at him, he stared at me and to be honest I am not sure who was the most scared. Then out of nowhere Will let out a scream so loud I thought it was going to smash every window in the house. I was stood there with my Chinese Tempura and Prawn Balls dangling in one hand and shitty underpants in the other, trying to calm him down, when his Mum and Dad bolted down the stairs quicker than a Scouse couple heading for the post office on giro day.
Now I have been in some pretty uncomfortable spots in my life but being naked, holding a screaming two-year old child in one hand and a pair of poo filled Calvin Klein underpants in the other is right up there!
Down this road that never seems to end,
Where new adventure lies just around the bend.
So if you want to drive me for a while,
Just grab your hat, come travel light, that's hobo style.