Returning from the George and Dragon quiz night, Hubby was troubled, very troubled. Pete brought Hubby home. “No I won’t come in. You probably want to talk about this evening”, Pete says. “Oh by the way. I think you may have spilled some of your drink when, you know, things kicked off,” he adds, pointing at a wet patch near Hubby’s zip.

He looks like Jean Valjean in 'Les Miserables', battling against all the odds and unseen demons. Instead of the giddy effects of “only a couple of pints,” he is quiet and subdued. This could take a while. I’ve been through the “Is everything okay?” stage, until his mental torment and swirling thoughts escape. He’s ready to talk...

“If I said to you Daughter, Bloc Party, John Grant and...bloody hell, what was it? Half Man and Half of something else…” "Biscuit?” I said. “What?” says Hubby. ”I think Biscuit is the word you're looking for, as in Half Man Half Biscuit. They are all bands of one description or another, the list you’ve just gone through,” I tell him. It was probably no more than three seconds but it felt as if his world had stopped, possibly never to restart as he stood in silent shock, mouth slightly open, shoulders hunched forward. “How...how did you know?" At which point he looks around our living room as though someone has just prompted me from behind the curtains with an answer.

I didn’t know the script, I didn’t know the evening's events, I didn’t know my role was to say “No, darling, please enlighten me, oh great master, who has just returned from a forum with the senate's philosophers. Pray, tell me, what is the issue which concerns you so deeply? Maybe in my humble, wifey way I can assist?”

Instead with a slight touch of heady sarcasm, I said, “I listen to music, you know.” He wasn’t happy. “When do you listen to music?” he replied, his question, nay accusation verging on don’t be ridiculous and liar. I pointed to my phone with the earpieces attached. “See that modern contraption! I listen to music via downloads and podcasts.” “Since when?” Which was delivered as if he’d caught me having a threesome. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe two years.” “Why didn’t you tell me?” he pleaded. “What do you think I’m doing when I have my earpieces in?" I wondered. “Listening to mus… .” I interrupted, “Yes, listening to music and plays and comedy and debates and more music.” Thinking but not saying it means I don’t have to speak with you.

He continued that he didn’t think I was listening to music like “that”. He assumed it was still ABBA, or the Carpenters, or Steely Dan. “You liked the Police. We went to see them in Birmingham.” I had to break the news to Hubby very gently… ”That was a fucking lifetime ago!” Its 1.45 a.m and we are still talking. Rewind, I’m still listening.

The G+D music quiz was titled '2003 - 2013'. Peter Marshall, one of Hubby’s long time friends, someone who could look a man in the eye, and a woman in the tits had brought along Jez, a collegue from the I.T. department at work. Along with regular team members Jimmy and Carl, the team were ready to have some Thursday night fun. As the quiz was about to start, Peter’s friend Jez, who has bought a bottle of wine clearly for his own consumption, decided a teamtalk was required. “Listen, let’s make sure we win this fucking quiz. What are we up against? Cardigans, corduroys and 'Daily Mail' readers.” Everyone laughed. Except Hubby, feeling he had just been stripped naked in public.

Jez was the font of all musical knowledge (according to Peter). He had indoctrinated and intoxicated himself with bands from Aztec Camera to ZZ Top. He would be an excellent short term, mid season signing. The quiz questions came in paper format, allowing group discussions to take place amongst the various quiz teams. For the benefit of those not taking part, quizmaster Reg would read out all the questions. It allows those not in a team loitering around the bar to say they know all the answers.

Question one: “Can you name Mumford and Sons' first studio album?” “They are shite, just evil shite. Set of banjo wankers,” said Jez, sipping his red wine. Everyone nodded. Hubby was trying to claw the name from his past. Mumford and Sons? That rings a bell. Where have I heard that name before?
“Anyone disagree with 'Sigh No More' being the answer?” asked Jez. “Got it!” exclaimed Hubby.

“Got what?” said Jez, just about to write down the answer. “Mumford and Sons. They were funeral directors in the village where my parents used to live." “Mate, what the fuck has that got to do with the answer?" asked a frustrated Jez. He wrote down the answer, but couldn’t resist repeating, in his opinion, that this band masurbated whilst playing outdated stringed instruments.

Question ten: "What strap would you relate to Belle and Sebastian?" “Do me a fucking favour1” said Jez a tad too loudly, taking another slug of red wine whilst throwing down the pen. “Yep, that’s a hard one,” said Carl scratching his chin. “I’ve no idea,” confirmed Peter. Hubby thought that it couldn’t be anything to do with funeral directors again. “You guys are joking, right? asked Jez. “I mean you do REALLY not know the answer, because it is just so fucking easy, right?" Silence reigned. “It’s Arab”, said Jez as if telling a group of infants 2+2=4. Hubby took hold of the question paper. “So Belle and Sebastian are Arabs, I didn’t know that. Mind you, I didn’t know about Belle and Sebastian before tonight,” he said with a slight chuckle. No one else chuckled. Undeterred, Hubby pushed on. “Two arabs with a strap. Is that the answer?”. Everyone looked at Jez. Slowly and calmly, he said, “It’s a song title from their album, 'The Boy with the Arab Strap'. Now Carl joined in the confused fun. “'Two Arabs with a Strap'? I will probably play that on Spotify when I get in. Sounds good." Jez was rubbing his temples in a circular motion with a great deal of force.

“Right, just once more,” said a very frustrated Jez, snatching back the paper. “Belle and Sebastian are Scottish. The album is called 'The Boy with the Arab Strap', and the answer is Arab. The answer is Arab,. Okay?” Hubby thought about the two Scottish Arabs, wondering where they lived whilst letting off his third private fart of the evening.

Hubby was out of his musical depth, nodding in all the right and wrong places as Jez and his neatly trimmed goaty beard, tattoo of a mermaid on his neck and ear rings, one gold one silver took over the thinking, writing and swearing.

Five minutes or so after the quiz papers were handed in quiz master Reg was on the microphone. “Right,the scores are in and we have a tie between 'Nora Batty is a Virgin' - there was a slight cheer from near the Ladies' toilets - and 'Young Talent Dies Young'. "What a stupid name for a quiz team," said Hubby. “That’s us,” said Jez with a severe fist pump, complemented with a self-congratulatory “Come on you fuckers”, whilst pouring himself another glass of wine.

“We are going to break for five minutes. Replenish your drinks, water your horses. The quiz starts again in five minutes. The final is the decider,” Reg said, trying to bring tension and drama to a Thursday night quiz. Hubby watered his horse whilst more drinks were ordered.

“Okay, thanks, quiet please in the cheap seats,” humoured Reg. “Everything's cheap in here except the beer, Reg,” retorted a rather large gent from the bar area. Most people liked the banter. Jez wasn’t amused. “Can’t we just get started instead of all this pissing around,” he said, taking yet another glug of his personal bottle of Shiraz.

“Okay, this is how we will play the decider,” Reg continued with more voice drama and accompanying ooooooo’s from the pub's ensemble. ”Each team will have one member to answer three questions.” A theatrical pause… ”Here on the stage!” The pub warmed to the theme with clapping and clinking of glasses. Jez nodded, running a finger over his manicured eyebrows. “That seems fair enough.” He was just in the middle of asking if anyone had a problem with him taking up the musical baton when Reg added his own set of orchestral rulings. “Okay, the spokesperson from each team must be someone drinking tonight's promotional beer, Maggie's Brew.”

Hubby hadn’t been listening. He was concentrating on the wet patch around the bottom of his zip. Probably within the past eighteen months, he thought. That’s when he’d started leaving a little reminder of his trip to the toilet on his trousers. Not even the tissue paper in his Y-fronts seemed to help. He would finish his urinal duties, makes sure his “little horse” was finished and dry, pop it back in, zip it up and then by independent means the flow began again. Very strange.

“What you drinking?” asked Pete. “No, thanks,” said Hubby.” I’m fine. This must be my fifth already. Can’t turn down the cheap beer, can you?” he added, taking a long swig from his £1.99 pint of Maggie's Brew. “Have you been listening?” continued Pete.

It was explained to Hubby he would be answering questions on behalf of 'Young Talent Die Young' due to his miserly selection of ales. Jez had decided, in between drinks, that this was just so fucking unfair. Pete’s interjection of “It’s only a bit of fun” was met with stony silence from a fuming, slightly inebriated Jez.

The team misunderstood Hubby’s protestations. He didn’t really want to lead 'Young Talent Die Young' to victory. This was secondary to his major concern that everyone would be aware of his bladder control problems. Urine on corduroy takes an age to dry. He had previous experience in the matter.

Thankfully once on stage the contestants were allowed to sit around a table. He was joined by Mary Tyldesley from the 'Nora Batty is a Virgin' team, both bringing along their pints of Maggie's Brew to the table. Jez wasn’t convinced or happy. “It’s a fix. She looks like a wine drinker to me. I bet she’s swapped it with another ugly fucker on her table,” he mumbled.

Hubby was given three questions. He didn’t get any wrong. He didn’t try to answer any of them. “They may as well of asked me about quantum physics,” he tells me still explaining the events depressed and unhappy as the clock ticked past 2.15 a.m.

Mary went on to win 2-0, securing the trophy and £50.00 The pub cheered as she held the plastic trophy aloft, its clientele building up a football chant of “Mary, Mary, Mary.”

Hubby went back to the team table, met with hands shakes, well dones and hard lucks from those having a happy, relaxed Thursday at the G+D. Not Jez. Hubby’s arse and wet patch had hardly hit his seat when Jez attacked.

“How could you not know Gorillaz was the brainchild of Damon Albarn?" He wasn’t interested in an answer. “And that easy one? Holy shit!” In the most child like voice he could muster Jez replayed the question. “Name the band which reformed in 2008 and headlined at Glastonbury? He even gave you a clue. Don’t colour up if you get it wrong. Pink, Pink Fucking Floyd." Jez was shaking his head. Hubby knew he’d let the team down. In fact the team didn’t care one bit. They other team members had left the table to chat with friends and neighbours. Another great night at the G+D was the general consensus. The quiz night was a pub favourite.

When Pete looked back from the bar, he saw Jez leaning into Hubby. That’s good, looks like they’ve found something to talk about. I’ll leave them to get on with it.

In between wine breaks, Jez continued. “Tell, me where have you been for the last ten years? What have you been doing with your life? Have you ever been to Glastonbury, or any festival? Have you ever been to a gig in the last ten years?"

Hubby was trying work out if there was a difference between a concert and a gig. If so, would Barbara Dickson at the Beck Theatre in Hayes count? He’d been to beer festivals if they counted. Jez wasn’t finished. "You know those bands like... "his hand raised as if trying to pluck names out of the air…”Fleetwood Mac, Take That”.He was now laughing. “Rick Astley...Bay City Rollers, they’ve been, they’ve gone. Have you moved on? No. You're locked in a time warp." He looked over Hubby’s cardigan and cords.

Jez poured himself another glass of red when inspiration struck. “That’s who you remind me of, Jackson Browne. All that fucking hippy shit.” He reintroduced his mimic of a child's voice…”The world is going to be alright someday and my music is the journey to take you there.” Jez takes not just a song from the Jackson Browne catalogue but unleashes a couple of lines from a particular song, which according to a fired up Jez are “laced with poison and vile.” He shoots straight for Hubby’s heart.

“'And when the morning light comes streaming in. I’ll get up and it again. Amen'. I’m sure you’ve no idea it’s called the 'The Pretender',” proffers Jez with a prod to Hubby's chest. “That’s you mate, The Pretender. Yes, very apt, I would say, you pretending to have lived the past ten years,” Jez closes off with a self congratulatory chortle, emptying his glass and and the bottle.

For that split second Jez thought he’d slipped, or may have over indulged on the wine. Maybe a line too many of pre-pub snorting. Maybe the doctor was right. Two/three bottles of wine is too much. It will eventually affect your health. Jez was thinking that maybe it had affected his balance. His evening lights had been turned out.

When Jez finally got to his feet, aided by Pete and Carl, he said he didn’t want the police or ambulance. He didn’t want any fuss he just wanted to go home. Wasn’t sure what had happened.

When Hubby told me the story, I was smiling. “What is it?" asks Hubby. “I’m just thinking of all the songs he could have picked he had to go for 'The Pretender'."

Strange as it seems now when we first met Hubby was my musical education. Playing new songs, buying albums, writing out lyrics to me, trying to squeeze them into our developing relationship. Jackson Browne’s 'The Pretender' became his anthem, our bond, our mantra, for a while, a dream to be followed. It’s fact he did quote lines, telling me we should never 'Just be 'happy idiots' and 'struggle for the legal tender'. Let’s do more with our lives." He said, “'he had found himself a girl who could show him what laughter means'”.

Jez was still on his stool when Hubby thumped him. Jez flew backwards, hitting his head on the oak bar rail, greeted by the G+D concrete floor. Hubby told me he looked at Jez’s lying still in an ever increasing pool of blood with his nose broken, and gashed head. “I didn’t plan it. It was just an instinct, a reaction to what he said about our song,” Hubby explains. I understood.

So, he was “kickin’ and a gougin’ in the blood and the mud and the beer,” I said. Hubby smiled. Johnny Cash 'A Boy Named Sue'. I know that one. It’s my era.

“The stuff he was saying did make me think just what I had been doing for all those past years. But when he touched on that song, well it wasn’t just about me it was about us. Our dreams,” he says giving me a rare hug. It’s a long time since I’ve been so proud of Hubby.








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