A One Act Play By Ian Broadhead (Bosun)
Bosun at the helm
It is 12 noon on the 28th.of June 2003 in “Ye Olde Pissed Off Boater” at Sawley Marina. A fidgety Trevor Kenworthy is sat at the bar, his sweaty palm nervously clutching a pint of lager. He looks at his watch for the hundredth time that day and casts a furtive glance around the room. At various tables sit hunched figures, all with bleeding lacerations on their scalps from banging their heads on boaty beams and gormless looks on their faces..They stare at each other furtively, not knowing if they should make the first move. Suddenly a chap with ‘Rosie & Jim’ tattooed on his forearm rises and awkwardly makes his way to the bar. He stands very close to our hero and whispers in his ear in the manner of MI5.
Man:- ‘ I’ve got a 24 foot Norman.’
Trevor ( his face suddenly beaming ) :- So have I, so have I.
They shake hands like long lost friends as this sudden breaking of the ice precipitates a sudden rush to the bar by the hunched men all frantically slapping each other on the back and shaking each others hands like a 1960’s high school reunion.
The general melee and hubbub is interspersed with audible discussions about impellers, chemical toilets, stripped threads, condensation and Coverit canopies. Our hero, by now the centre of attention and loving every minute of it, is suddenly pulled to one side by a large swarthy gent with ‘Tyson’ tattooed on his forehead.
Swarthy Gent :- I’ve got a bone to pick with you young feller me lad.
Swarthy Gent :- Yes you ! Where the fuck is Bosun!
All goes quiet as the assembled crowd digest the implication s of this statement. Our hero shifts nervously from one foot to the other as the Swarthy Gent stares at him.
Trevor :- Bbbosun, well he couldn’t make it but I will tell him all about it when I get home.
Swarthy Gent :- It seems to me from reading your web site that this fine upstanding member of your crew ,nay the only member, has put you where you are today in the boating community. Where would you be without him ? All you do is imply he is tree-hugging lentil shitter who rides a bike.
Trevor:- Precisely, he rides a bike. What more can you expect. Rides a bike, pah”
Swarthy Gent:- I RIDE A BIKE !!
Trevor :-Gulp. Well when I said he rides a bike I meant he rides a bike very well.
Murmurs of dissension can be heard arising from within the group as onerous glances are thrown in the direction of our hero who suddenly remembers he needs to go to the Gents rather urgently and starts to sidle in their general direction. Suddenly a hand clasps his shoulder as a man with ‘Captain Beeky ‘ embroidered on his sweatshirt roars in his ear.
Captain Beeky:-WE WANT BOSUN !!
Trevor ( Now starting to sweat profusely ) :- Bosuns not here, he’s not here I tell you.
The group begin to grow restless and mutterings of ‘Bosun’ ,‘we need him here’ and ‘not even a marquee’ can be heard above the general din. They encircle our hero and a chant of ‘Bosun, Bosun’ grows louder and louder. A knot of drinkers from the tap room drifts in to enlarge the baying crowd. Our hero is now white with fear as he realizes his subterfuge has been rumbled and that Bosun has been revealed as the power behind the Norman throne.
Trevor:- OK,OK I admit it.Yes, yes it’s Bosun I owe everything to. He even fell onto the bank lacerating his arm and all I did was laugh. Oh I’m so sorry .If only I could go back and change things. How different it would be. I promise I wouldn’t hog the heater on chill winter nights or take the piss when he overestimates pasta. Oh woe is me!!
Tears begin to roll down our hero’s cheeks as his dirty dealings to his trusty and loyal crew well to the surface crippling him in emotional turmoil and distress. He falls to his knees in a blubbering heap as the crowd look upon him disdainfully and begin to drift away. The Swarthy Gent can be heard to mutter ‘Bastard’ to which there are murmurings of agreement.
And there we take our leave of the “Ye Olde Pissed Off Boater” with our “hero” weeping on the bar room floor. His dream of becoming “Mr. Norman” shattered. He vows to make amends to Bosun and fete him with piles of top quality caramel slice, for yes, it is he who has put Trevor where he is today.
There is nothing like a lesson learned.
Bosun not doing so well at Scrabble
THE OUSEY GATHERING (Bosun's view)
(A Diary of the Events of August Bank Holiday 2003)
The black Skodas indicator light flashed right as Trevor Kenworthy ( subsequently known as Our Hero ) pulled off the country lane and into the gravelled car park of ‘ The Bankside Cushion ‘.He glanced up at the faded sign displaying the words ‘ Fenland Pub of the Year ‘ and wondered exactly to what year they were referring as he surveyed the fading paintwork and downtrodden demeanour of the place. He pulled the car into a vacant parking space narrowly missing a group of shiny bicycles propped up against the pub wall. The sight of the bikes caused his brow to furrow. Bikes made him think of Bosun his trusty and loyal crewmember who had seen him through thick and thin and, by Our Hero's own secret admission, he treated appallingly. He cast his mind back to the first Meet at which the invisible presence of Bosun had robbed Our Hero of his moment of glory as a baying mob had demanded to know the whereabouts of Bosun. That wasn’t going to happen this time, no sirree. This was His day and no one was going to spoil it. He exited the Skoda, locked the door, and scrunched across the gravel to a flickering illuminated sign that said ‘ Tap Room ‘.He pushed open the door and immediately felt his world lurch a little. Instead of being welcomed into the heaving bosom of his boaty pals, the tap room was deserted save for the small group of cyclists in one corner looking tanned fit and disgustingly healthy in their Lance Armstrong shorts eating their Marmite and lentil sandwiches and drinking mineral water.
‘Pah, cyclists’, muttered Our Hero under his breath as he strode towards the bar.The barman idly glanced up from his copy of ‘ Cycling Plus ‘,eyed Our Hero up and down, came to the conclusion that he must be a boater and carried on reading.’ A pint of lager please’ said Our Hero ,disliking being ignored. The barman eased himself off his stool and with a look of disdain poured Our Hero’s drink. This was not as he had imagined. He had pictured being feted by his colleagues and peers as the founder of the Norman Boats Appreciation Society not stood in an empty bar with a group of bloody cyclists. His reverie was rudely interrupted by a shout of ‘Aye Up Trevor, we’re over here’. Our Hero looked up and across the bar into the Lounge ( or Best Room as the landlord optimistically called it ).He could see a swirling mass of figures. Some he recognized from the last Meet. most looked a bit gormless, but they were here all the same. He hurriedly slid off his bar stool, glared at the cyclists and headed for the lounge. As he hurriedly pushed open the door he felt his chest swell with pride. These were His people, he had made them what they are, they were here because of Him. As he entered the heaving throng he felt like Winston Churchill leading his brave Spitfire pilots to glory in the Battle of Britain. ’Land of Hope and Glory’ was playing softly at the back of his mind and he considered buying a cigar but thought better of it.
Our Hero immersed himself in the usual pointless banter about mooring fees, locks, Protektakote and the other ephemera that is boating. Eventually he found himself chatting to rather shapely young lady who, he had found out, went by the enigmatic name of Sue/Cutworks. Just as he felt he was getting somewhere and the conversation was turning from ‘ raw water cooling systems ‘ to something a little more earthy he felt a rumble in his lower abdomen.’ Damn. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten so much of that curry last night’ thought Our Hero. He chuckled inwardly to himself as he thought of the comely pleasures that had later been offered to him in the wee small hours by his boaty hosts twenty year old daughter. He had supped greedily at the trough of lust. Times had been hard these last few months.
He reluctantly excused himself from the delightful company of Ms.Cutworks and made his way to the Gents cursing at the timing of this gastrointestinal emergency. He had visions of her letting him explore topside before going below and demonstrating the flexibility of his torque wrench.
He made his way to a vacant cubicle, shut the door and availed himself of the wondrous pleasure of a good crap. He was leaning back against the cistern ,eyes closed wondering if Sue/Cutworks would be waiting for him dressed in stockings, suspenders ,thigh length boots and a thong when he faintly heard the outer door to the Gents squeak noisily open. There was a murmur of distant voices. His blood froze, sweat started pouring copiously from his forehead, his buttocks involuntarily clenched. He knew that voice. He knew that voice well.
It was……. The Swarthy Gent.
Our Hero glanced down as the toecaps of a pair of size 12 boots appeared under the cubicle door. ’I’ve been looking for you, young fella me lad’ said The Swarthy Gent menacingly. ’Where’s Bosun’.
‘Bbbosun’ stammered Our Hero. ’He’s not here’
‘I can see that ‘ retorted The Swarthy Gent.
‘Why isn’t he here, frightened he might steal your thunder eh ?’
Our Hero could feel himself shaking, not only from fear but also from the fact that the ever present ghost of Bosun was going to spoil his fifteen minutes of fame and, perhaps more importantly, jeopardize the chance of boaty frolics with Ms.Cutworks.
‘I’ll be waiting for you outside’ snarled The Swarthy Gent and Our Hero could hear the sound of a cudgel being repeatedly smashed into a leathery palm. By the noise it made it didn’t sound like a rolled up copy of the Daily Mirror.
Panic filled Our Hero. What was he to do ? If he left the Gents he would doubtless be crushed to a pulp by The Swarthy Gent who by now had probably informed the rest of the meet of the situation and who would also be baying for his blood. Damn Bosun !!
He couldn’t stay where he was for obvious reasons. The cubicle swirled around in his peripheral vision making him feel sick. As he bemoaned his plight he noticed a small window above the cistern, left ajar to provide some ventilation. His escape !!
In milliseconds he pulled up his trousers, forgetting about toilet paper, leapt onto the cistern and began squeezing himself through the window frame. It was a tight fit and he found himself hanging face first six feet above the car park. A short wriggle and a holding in of gut landed him on the gravel, banging his knee in the process. He dragged himself up and limped towards his waiting car. From the Gents he could hear a shout in a familiar voice he recognized only too well ‘He’s gone !’
Our Hero hurriedly fumbled in his pocket for the alarm fob, found it ,and heard the reassuring ‘clunk’ of the central locking releasing its grip. He heard the door of the Tap Room burst open and a throng of angry boaters burst out led by The Swarthy Gent. He noticed the cherubic features of Captain Beeky in the mob and made a mental note for further possible retribution. He was relieved to notice the absence of Ms Sue/Cutworks. At least she had been faithful.
Little did Our Hero know that Ms Cutworks, tired of waiting, was now on the second of a string of multiple orgasms with the barman. She had always preferred cyclists, runners and the occasional Open University graduate.. So lithe. So handsome. So sexual.
Our Hero yanked open the car door, jumped into the driving seat and started the engine. Frantically engaging first gear and slamming the door at the same time, the tyres scrabbled for purchase on the gravel, found grip and propelled him through the gates of the car park like a rejected suppository.
As the Skoda hit the lane he glanced in the rear view mirror. The mob had reached the gates and he could hear the collective chant of ‘Bosun’, ’Bosun’.He accelerated along the tarmac away from their clutches. As he put more distance between himself and ‘The Bankside Cushion’ he slowed a little and reflected on the days events. He had been on the brink of glory, and once again the chalice of success was snatched away at the last minute. Maybe Bosun had a point. The boaty life was perhaps not meant for him. He even wondered if he should sell the Norman and buy a bicycle. After all, those cyclists seemed like a bunch of wholesome chaps and he had often secretly fancied a pair of Lance Armstrong shorts.
How much Sainsburys Caramel Slice would it take to get the spectre of Bosun off his back ?
These and other thoughts churned through the mind of Our Hero as he sadly made his way homeward. How he wished he had remembered to use the toilet paper.
Copyright. Ian Broadhead 2003
PS: Webmasters informative note - Guess who cycles, runs, scoffs lentils, poses in Lance Armstrong shorts and spends hours debating shimano gears, the merits of a thick bum pad and spokes on the web???