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This is a question Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics

My current toilet book is Brewer's classic encyclopedia of the same name, listing some of the great British nutters down the ages. Let's create a B3TA version based on the dodgy people you've met

(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 13:43)
Pages: Popular, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

My grandfather
Villan? No. Rogue? Depends on who you ask. Eccentric? Probably.

Married to my grandmother, he begat my mother (yes, begat) 10 years before deciding to add more to the clan. Three more. Being the Swinging Sixties, he then decided it would be proper to have another family, begetting another three offspring by another lady. Which means that I have uncles and an aunt my age (or younger). Then let's add another (allegedly) by the au-pair. Off we go.

I got to know about this all around my grandmother died. After this (married to his second wife), he would then make various visits, normally by boat as he had lost his driving licence due to inebriation, and had worked out that most of his family lived near the river. The phone would ring, and a gruff but friendly voice would say "Friend" (all grandchildren were addressed as friend, either as a friendly term or because he had lost count) "I am here, will you come aboard?" A trip down to the river would then be organised, probably involving wine, more wine, and possibly something French cooked on the boat's single gas ring.

Trips to the boat resulted in cracked ribs (pissed, failing to negotiate turn on bike on way back), river police charging up on a RIB (after an occupant of the boat had mooned at the riverside crowd laughing at attempts to get the boat going after running aground after a trip for beer) or a fine for being over the limit in charge of the boat (the fine was 70p; he asked for time to pay, and was granted it).

I have two lasting memories of him, one of helming a sailing boat he had somehow got his hands on over to the Isle of Wight and being passed endless glasses of wine and lit fags, the other of a little voice which asked "Friend, will you help me?" only to see my seventy-year-old grandfather in his kecks, up to his waist in the Thames, trying to shove the boat off another low-lying pile of gravel, broken pint glasses and shopping trolleys. What do you do? Jump in- there was always a glass of wine to reward you afterwards.

At his funeral wake, not a dry affair, I was invited upstairs by my uncles and aunts for a smoke. The joint was smooth and strong. In my innocence, I asked where it had come from. "Oh, this is the last of your grandfather's stuff" was the answer.

A, you were a legend. The best grandfather out.
(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 22:24, 4 replies)
The real James Bond
On November 16th 1914 Edward Arnold Chapman was born in County Durham. Deciding that a future in heavy industry was not for him he enlisted in the Coldstream Guards and was posted to London.

Discovering a taste for the bright lights and misbehavior that the delights of the 1930's in Soho could offer a young man he deserted the Army and became a bank robber and safe cracker.

After being caught breaking a safe he was arrested but was granted bail. He absconded to Jersey so as to evade British Justice. He was arrested but as he had broken the law in Jersey he was sentenced to prison on the island upon completion of his sentence he would be returned to Britain to face trial for bank robbery.

It was about this time the Germans invaded the Channel Islands and Chapman (ever the quick thinker) wrote a letter to the German officials volunteering to spy for the Germans if they released him. They agreed and he spent 6 months being trained. He was parachuted into Norfolk. He landed and immediately phoned the Police from a callbox and telling the officer he was a German Spy and wished to speak to someone from British Intelligence. The officer responded by telling him to go home and sleep it off.

After convincing the officer he was collected by British Intelligence and thoroughly debriefed. He then offered to return to Germany and spy for the British as a Double Agent.

He returned and continued to accept spying missions from the Germans while continuing to fool them into believing he had carried out his mission. He was such a trusted member of the German Intelligence service that they awarded him the Iron Cross.

All the time he was working as a Triple Agent.

The codename assigned to him by British Intelligence?

Agent Zigzag (on account no one ever really new which side he was on.)

Rogue? Yup. Villain? Yup. Eccentric? Yup. Brave as fuck? Yup.


That's a great documentary about him. When you watch the video you cannot help but be utterly charmed by him. Glass of champagne in one hand and sitting on his boat in Monaco.

He to me is the very epitome of the real James Bond. He went onto become a great friend of Terence Young who directed several Bond films.

Apologies for the very tenuous link to rogues and villains but i thought it rather good.
(, Sat 29 Sep 2012, 20:00, Reply)
The Tale of Jonno
Nutters can be funny, but sometimes it can be all to easy to forget the all-too-real human tragedy behind their stories.

Enter Jonno. A pretty common story. Fight with the girlfriend; she does a runner, stiffing him on the rent. Argument with the landlord about it; he gets evicted. Jonno was always a bit odd, honestly. Far too open and trusting, he'd been knocked down one too many times, and had a slightly loopy vision of the world. But this sent him right over the edge and into a tent out in the woods, or wandering around town in a greatcoat he'd fashioned out of heavy duty binbags and gaffer tape. You could strike up a perfectly normal conversation with him, but then he'd suddenly bust out grinning and wander off singing Elton John songs.

Life really hit rock bottom for him when he got chased by some local violent twats and ended up tumbling down a railway siding. Out in the tent, in that freezing winter, his broken leg never really set properly, leaving him with a limp and an even more twisted mind. But things did get better after a while; he got himself a bit of cash, which he used to buy a caravan, and started doing odd jobs around my local. A very friendly guy, if a little difficult to talk to.

And then one night it all went wrong. We were having our ever-popular curry & quiz night at my local and Jonno was helping collect up glasses and such. He was having a good night, singing loudly in between questions. One of the patrons, Trevor, was getting increasingly riled at this. To be honest, he was a few scotch eggs short of a picnic himself. After a particularly rousing chorus of Rocket Man, Trevor exploded, unloading right in Jonno's face. Jonno fled, tears in his eyes.

Two helpings, and god knows how many pints later, I stumbled home. I found Jonno on the village green, face down. My stomach sank. Next to him, an empty bottle of methylated spirits. Oh god. I called an ambulance and tried to revive him.

"Oh god, come on Jonno mate, wake up. Oh jesus, come on mate," I mumbled, leaning over him. Jonno moaned.

"Yeah mate that's it, please, wake up mate, it'll be HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAARRRRGHHH JIMMY JESUS HELP ME," I screeched as I violently fouled myself, filling my trousers with a monster blast of badly altered jalfrezi. I guess that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach was actually a warning alarm for my impending digestive distruction. Jonno, who had been putting it all on for the attention, took this as his cue to leg it, the bastard, as I collapsed onto the green, moaning and tooting. And that's how an ambulance crew mistook me for a shit-soaked nutter and hauled me off for a night in A&E.

Later on, I saw Trevor bumming a badger.
(, Wed 3 Oct 2012, 19:34, 2 replies)
I used to work in a camping shop in town, very dull and quiet little place where nothing of worth ever really happened. I'd been there a few weeks and was chatting with a co-worker one afternoon when this little old chap with a gargantuan cider nose shuffled in. He walked up to me at the counter, stood looking at me and just stared and smiled.

"Hello, can I help?" I smiled back.


"I....are you ok?" I asked, a bit perturbed. At this point I hear the other girl I was working giggling a bit. "He wants you to give him something", she said. "Like what?" "A leaflet, anything" she explained.

Mildly confused, I gave him one of our sale leaflets, he grinned like a kid at Christmas, nodded, and walked out the shop. I asked my co-worker what the fuck just happened, and she simply said "that's Jimmy".

Jimmy is an old alcoholic who wanders around Kidderminster collecting bits of crap from shops. He's mute, but thoroughly cheerful, and would come into the shop almost weekly to collect a bit of paper, an elastic band, whatever. One day we gave him some size cubes and he was over the moon. Sometimes he'd show us what he'd got from the other places, I'll never forget the day he showed us a Guinness t-shirt he'd been given from one of the pubs, he just looked so proud of it. Christ knows what the inside of his house must have looked like. He was utterly harmless and always really happy and friendly and everyone who worked in the town knew and loved him.

One day he disappeared, and we read in the paper that a bunch of kids had beaten him up while he was wandering around town and landed him in hospital. It was heartbreaking and we were really worried about him for ages. Then one day I was walking past the local Wetherspoons and I saw him in there, with what I assume was his carer, pint in hand looking as happy as ever. He never did come back in the shop but I can only assume that hospitalisation led to some proper care for the chap.
(, Sat 29 Sep 2012, 13:33, 6 replies)
The Fucking Kennedy Lady
I live in the suburbs of Boston, MA in the US. From 1984 to 1997 I took the subway to and from work, and 2-3 times a week on my trip home I would encounter the woman I called "The Fucking Kennedy Lady".

She was a thin, elderly, woman always dressed in once-elegant, but now worn and mended, clothes. Clean. No smell, even on a hot summer day when the air conditioning had broken down. She did have one little quirk.

As the train left the station, she would start a little diatribe in a conversational tone of voice:

"I told that fucking Bobby Kennedy. I told him. Don't you touch me fucking Bobby Kennedy. Get away from me fucking Bobby Kennedy."

After a few minutes of this, her false teeth would start to emerge from her mouth and she would begin wrestling them back into place with both hands. It was a mighty struggle for her, but she always managed to subdue them and return to her rant. As the train approached the next station, she would fall silent, starting up again when the train left the station. She didn't flail. She didn't yell. She just ranted about Bobby Kennedy and wrestled with her teeth while remaining inside the space where she was seated.

No matter how crowded the train was, people would move away from her when she started up and the person sitting next to her would vacate their seat. Result!

I would take the free seat and enjoy the comfort of open space in front of me, reading a book while my personal commuter repellant worked to maintain the vacant area for me in the crowded train.
(, Fri 28 Sep 2012, 19:49, 3 replies)
I'm glad not to have met him
Last weekend at one of Glasgow's many nightclubs an unfortunate chap was coming up on some crazy chemical cocktail and somewhat enthusiastically 'sharted' whilst up on the dancefloor . His fellow clubbers brought him to the bouncers attention and he was escorted out the venue with his girlfriend . Now if I had suffered this indignity I would have left of my own (honda)accord but the reports I've heard suggest he spent at least half an hour trying to get back into the club , and was last seen walking disconsolately up the road with his girlfriend shouting at him , ' Why did I get thrown out ? I haven't shat myself '

We were the city of Culture once .
(, Wed 3 Oct 2012, 11:02, 3 replies)
My mate's Dad was a villain, a rogue and a character who was partial to the odd drink or nine
His eldest son was a bit of a villain too, and used to stash his ill-gotten gains with the old man to fence or keep safe pending disposal. So one afternoon after a morning on the lash, my mate's Dad awoke on the settee to discover a monstrously large, obviously brand new and illicitly obtained colour TV (from the days when they were furniture) sitting across the room from him. My mate's Dad had the right arsehole about this, having previously told his oldest and boldest to stop dumping his loot back at the old homestead because plod had been taking a bit of an interest in my mate's Dad's various illicit activities.

So in walks son & heir to catch tongue lashing of epic proportions. All pleas of innocence brushed (or rather shouted) aside while he's berated at length for his lack of consideration for his Dad's desire to enjoy continued liberty free from interference from the local Constabulary.

This continued for some time until eventually my mate's Mum arrived home from the shops and enquired as to the reason for her dearest's displeasure. Being apprised of the facts she faced her beloved and explained to those present that in fact my mate's Dad had himself staggered across the threshold earlier that very morning, pissed as a fart, straining and swaying beneath the not inconsiderable weight of one of Curry's finest televisual receivers with no sign of a receipt for its' purchase about his person.

Turns out my mate's Dad had wandered into the shop on a whim on his way home from the pub and upon finding the showroom temporarily deserted had opportunistically selected the biggest fuck-off telly in the place and staggered off home with it in his arms. Then, no doubt exhausted from his endeavours and congratulating himself on this coup had proceeded to crash out on the sofa to wake several hours later completely oblivious to this heist.

Apologies for length of sentences, he was an habitual criminal who no doubt considered prison to be an ocupational hazard.
(, Mon 1 Oct 2012, 23:36, 3 replies)

My mum is a paranoid schizophrenic, which is a miserable disease, but not without its lighter moments.

Phone rings at 2am

Mum: “You’re at home!?”
Me: “Yes, it’s 2am, I was in bed asleep”
Mum: “And this is your landline isn’t it”
Me: “Yes…why are you phoning me at 2am to confirm I own a landline phone?”

After a bit of questioning I got to the bottom of it. She thought I was hiding in the tree spraying stuff (poison) into her bedroom, and phoned to check where I was. After about an hour I managed to convince her that the idea of me trying to poison her was delusional and she shouldn’t worry about it. The success of my impromptu therapy session was confirmed with her saying “Yes dear, I know you would never do anything to hurt me” somewhat ruined with “it must have been your brother.”

Or the time she was convinced Al Qaeda had flown over some top operatives from Iraq to rub her out.

Not to mention the private detectives from John Lewis following her due to her returning a faulty cooker.

It’s not all fun and games though. Answering the door to the police and social services because she’d reported that we were allowing our 8 year old to be abused by strangers wasn’t my favourite day.

Everyone I’ve ever met in my life has seemed pretty sane by comparison.
(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 17:42, 7 replies)
I almost forgot to mention
one of the better nutters of Richmond that I know.

One day on my way to work I stopped for coffee. On my way into the shop I passed by a battered old Schwinn that had been haphazardly splashed with odd paint. Hanging from the bar was a sign that said "Joke trader! Tell me one and I'll tell you one!"

I entered the shop to see an attenuated old wisp of a man standing there in loud mismatched plaids and a top hat with mismatched Keds and a daub of white paint on the end of his long thin crooked nose. He looked at me as I entered, so I approached him. "What do you call Batman and Robin after they've been run down by a steam roller? Flatman and Ribbon."

A grin split his face, and we spent the next five minutes exchanging old jokes and terrible puns. This became a daily ritual for a few weeks. Then one day I saw him driving around in this:

That is actually one of his more sedate vehicles. The one with the Christmas tree with functioning lights and long balloon-like things looking menacingly phallic was certainly memorable, as was the Vegetable Bus.

Turns out he's this guy: www.happytheartist.com/

The coffee shop closed down but I still saw him around town and exchanged jokes with him for a while until he started working more in another section of the city. When I encountered him after a lapse of a few weeks he exclaimed, "Hey man, where ya been? Did you just get out of jail?"

That became his usual greeting to me, to the shock and/or amusement of whoever happened to be with me at the time. But we immediately started swapping jokes again every time.

I intend to look him up when next I'm in Richmond. When he asks me if I just got out of jail I'll reply, "No, I just returned from hell" and show him pictures of the Arabian Desert...
(, Wed 3 Oct 2012, 5:58, 5 replies)
Taking it to the limit
I was once accosted by a neo-nazi, trying to sign me up for the cause. Two things set him apart from the usual tattooed fuckwit with a lower IQ than the animal at the other end of the lead: first, he seemed unusually articulate, and second, he was an albino.

Really, an albino White Supremacist. Now that's white - I guess he looked down on blue-eyed blonde Aryans as "just not trying hard enough".
(, Mon 1 Oct 2012, 11:49, 1 reply)
My father has a hareem.
He has a lady he goes to tea with.

He has a lady he has intellectual conversations with.

He has a lady he goes on holiday with.

He has a lady he sleeps with.

He's thoroughly enjoying his third batchelorhood, and having broken his arse last year drunkenly falling out of a bunkbed at a YMCA while travelling the country, or doing jumps on sledges with his grandchildren the previous Christmas - the docs couldn't establish which - at 75 is most definitely making up for the sobriety of his youth.
(, Sat 29 Sep 2012, 12:12, 4 replies)
is a guy I met while in engineering school. He has spent a lot of years welding and building things, and probably has more practical engineering knowledge than all of the professors there combined. Unfortunately he became frustrated with the classes and stopped, but I kept in contact with him.

He stands a few inches taller than I am and is built like Sean Connery in his prime. A former professional boxer, his nose is slightly crooked and he moves with amazing speed and grace and is perhaps the strongest man I've met. He's also one of the calmest, most easygoing people I know- I have never seen him get angry, and would not want to be there when he does.

He tells stories on himself in his lilting Irish accent of his days as a boxer when he used to go everywhere wearing nothing more than boxing shorts with his head shaved except for two small patches on his forehead which he varnished into a pair of horns.

One day he and a friend were in France and went to the Rodin museum. They had gotten a couple of bottles of cheap wine and taken them back into the garden where they necked them in the sunlight before going into the museum itself.

There in the museum he saw a life size marble statue of a nude woman lying down and was instantly captivated. Her curves were smooth and flowing in flawless white, and he lay down with her and began kissing her and caressing her. She was so beautiful that he couldn't resist making love to her right then and there.

The sight of a large muscular mostly naked man with horns getting intimate with a statue was enough to clear out the museum, including the guards.
(, Sat 29 Sep 2012, 7:54, 2 replies)
Crazy Charlie
is a friend of mine in Richmond. I met him through the Mad Artist/Foul Ole Ron.

Charlie is in his fifties now, a slightly built guy with a short grizzled pelt on his head and rectangular black framed glasses, numerous tattoos and missing most of his right index finger. He's a talented artist with metal, when he works in it.

He's also a convicted felon who spent eight years in prison for burglary when the house he entered wasn't as empty as he thought and the Army soldier there took exception to his presence and things got violent. Between having spent his childhood as the son of a highly decorated colonel who whipped his ass for any infraction, teenage and twenties years getting munted on a variety of illicit substances and spending a chunk of time behind bars, his world view is seriously out of kilter.

And yet he's not mean, he's a loyal friend who will help out in any way he can, and is pretty trustworthy overall. He has a large dog he adopted who has a sweet temperament, which says volumes about him as a person as mean people have mean dogs.

Still, he's about 37 degrees from sane.

One of his obsessive habits is to go bin diving, especially for brass or old tools. Over the years he has carted home enough stuff to completely fill a lorry, much of it actually of some value. He sorted through his tools one day and found that he had about 2000 metal files, a couple hundred pairs of pliers, an equal number of hammers, screwdrivers and other assorted tools, a couple of acetylene torches and various large power tools.

He told me that one night as he was walking home from somewhere down a back alley in Richmond he spotted an axe that someone had thrown out, so he picked it up to take home. He was dressed in his usual battered leather jacket, old black jeans with a couple of bandannas tied to the belt loops, a studded leather belt and heavy work boots as he slouched along with his iPod on.

He was walking along the street when a guy suddenly pointed behind him with an expression of dread. Charlie pulled out his earphones just in time to hear a cop screaming at him to drop the axe. He did so and turned to find two cops with guns drawn aiming at his chest.

They let him go with a warning, and as he told me this story he sounded hurt and bewildered that the cops harassed him. He genuinely didn't understand why they would have reacted this way.

I didn't have the heart to point him toward a mirror.
(, Sat 29 Sep 2012, 7:24, Reply)
There's a loony bin near me
Of course, they call lunatic asylums "care homes" now...

It's madness gone politically correct

(, Fri 28 Sep 2012, 17:06, Reply)
Leather Pants Man
In Bristol city center there used to be a guy who from May to September could be found striding purposefully around wearing a pair of leather pants (not in the American sense ...briefs), a stonking pair or 20+ eye biker boots, and an epic bushy beard.

My group of friends all took seeing him as the official arrival of summer like the first cuckoo of spring. One summer we hadn't seen him and where drunkenly discussing his absence whist at the fantastic Ashton Court Festival.

People near us over heard us and joined in agreeing that the Leather Pants Man had indeed been absent this summer. Then as if summoned, the Leather Pants Man came striding over the hill into view. We went wild cheering and clapping drunkenly shouting LEATHER PANTS MAAAAN!!!! Our numbers had swelled somewhat and it was a fair sized group. LPM stopped, smiled, bowed theatrically, and stomped off.

(, Tue 2 Oct 2012, 13:28, 7 replies)
Pearoast: The Mad Artist
had a girlfriend who was also something of an artist. I've never seen her work, but he used to tell me that she was quite the talented painter.

One day she had finished a painting and asked him to help her frame it. He immediately agreed and told her to go get some wood for him to build it out of. "But don't get crap wood like pine. You want this frame to be nice. Ask the guys there if they have morning wood."

She returned a half hour later and started beating him.
(, Sat 29 Sep 2012, 7:37, Reply)
The Mekon
I used to work with a guy that was so far out on the edge of the bell-curve that light took several minutes to reach him from normality.

Physically, something clearly had gone wrong in the womb: a strand of DNA had been hit by cosmic rays or somesuch. He was a borderline dwarf, certainly well under five feet tall, but to offset that he had a massive, domed head that was several sizes too large for his body.

He also had a laugh that could shatter quartz, and BO that could curdle milk at fifty feet. Another Foul Ole Ron analogue, which seems to be a theme here today.

Curiously, unlike many of those who mother nature has suckled on the freakazoid tit, he wasn't a socially inadequate shut-in. In fact he was hugely gregarious, loved people, crowds, parties and in social situations of all kinds. We who worked with him had got used to him, but it was always fun to watch people meet him for the first time - particularly women; as far as I could see he was asexual, completely unaware that there were two kinds of human animal.

And that huge, domed mekon-head wasn't just for show. As if to make up for earlier blunders, he had been gifted with a huge IQ; he had a PhD and in fact before joining our firm he had been a university professor. One of the smartest people I ever met, in fact.

Thankfully, World Domination never occurred to him; he would have made a great Twisted Evil Genius.
(, Fri 28 Sep 2012, 9:06, 1 reply)
A Bristol Legend
There was a great chap, now sadly departed. Anyone from Bristol will no doubt know of him.
His name was Colin and he had a difficult childhood and never really managed to fit into mainstream society.
He was heavily involved with Socialist politics and campaigned all his short life to try and make a change, even ending up with an obit in Socialist Worker, when he died at the young age of 53. But away from all that political bollocks, most people knew him as an obvious stand out character at Bristol Community festival up at Ashton Court.
He would be there, every year, a flagon of cheap cider in hand, a big pair of boots, and a leather thong....nothing else, but a leather waistcoat if it was bloody freezing.
He is forever known round these parts as leather thong man. He wasn't the fittest of men, so It was a sight to behold. Swinging his thong to whatever music was being played in front of him with a big grin on his face, no matter who was there, and he just didn't give a fuck.
Bristol remembers him, and just this last weekend as Brisfest returned to Ashton Court, we raised our cans of cheap cider to a legend.
I tried to find pics of him, but typing 'leather thong man' into google wasn't the best idea I have ever had.
(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 23:26, 3 replies)
My mate ‘Loopy Gustav’…
I’m not sure what country he originated from or how he got to Britain, but it was almost as if the bloke had no concept of anything in Western society. He had this annoying habit that everything seemed ‘new’ to him and he would ask me to describe and explain everything that he didn’t quite understand.

Normally, it wasn’t too much of a problem. But once when we took him on a lads’ holiday in Spain and he just went a bit far. To be fair, circumstances didn’t help our cause though. We were all sat outside a local bar and a donkey wandered past us. Gustav pointed directly at it in shock. “What’s that?” He enquired quizzically

“It’s just a donkey, mate. No bother.” I replied, and went back to my beer. A few more minutes passed and he practically jumped in the air, pointing wildly in two directions. “What’s that, and what’s that?” He yelped.

“For fuck’s sake mate" I replied, slightly annoyed. "‘That’ is just a market stall, and that’s just a bucket!”

Eventually we left the bar and were walking down the street when we passed an ‘English style’ fish & Chip shop. After explaining to him what it was (“It’s a chippy”), I stopped in and treated him to some chips and lovely cod eggs in breadcrumbs. As I handed it over to him, he picked up the lump of fishy goodness I knew what was going to happen next. However, before he got time to ask, a load of men wearing what looked like bits of Mongolian armour stormed towards us from the holiday homes across the road. They then launched into some sort of ‘street performing act’, and attempted to ‘magic away’ a dead female chicken by stuffing it up their jumpers and shouting ‘Revenge for Atilla!’

‘Oh Bugger’ I thought to myself as I could see my mate start to raise his arm. I could tell that he could stand no more. “What’s THAT, what’s THAT, and what’s THAT?” He screeched. “Calm down” I said despondently before pointing to each thing in turn and continuing: “It’s Roe, Gus...Villa Huns, and ex hen tricks”

I then decided that the best course of action was to abandon him in Spain and never speak of it again.
(, Thu 4 Oct 2012, 9:31, 3 replies)
I think I may have just met a new eccentric.
One of my neighbors in our apartment building is a woman from Kazakhstan who grew up under Soviet rule. She tells me that her father was an opera singer, so at the age of six he had her start learning piano. Being in the USSR this meant that her life was thereafter dedicated to music.

I met her at a housewarming party one of the other tenants was giving. She has classic Mongolian features and a default expression that is rather forbidding, but as soon as I began chatting at this party she tuned directly in on me and informed me that I have an unusual voice. Puzzled, I politely asked her what she meant.

"You have great resonance and timbre," she replied in a very Russian sounding accent. "You should be a singer and perform opera."

It took a while to convince me that she wasn't joking. I knew that she was a serious musician as I had seen the workmen carrying a baby grand up the stairs, but this? Really?

I have an appointment tomorrow to come to her flat so she can really get a feel for my voice. I'm actually a little nervous.

On the other hand, I have got to figure out a way to get her to say "moose and squirrel" at least once...

UPDATE: on having spent three hours with her, I conclude that she's not actually an eccentric, just a woman whose main passion in life seems to be music. But after three hours of voice training I do need a day or two to recover.
(, Tue 2 Oct 2012, 18:34, 7 replies)
Hanging with retired gangsters
I guess I can’t let this week go by without telling you about Dave Courtney.

Now let me just say, Mr Courtney is a lovely chap. I spent three months in his house in the East End helping to get his film off the ground and it was, to say the least, one hell of an adventure. I could tell you a number of stories from that time but I think I shall stick with the one that finally made me realise just how dangerous the people I was associating with were and how close I came to killing someone.

I did a lot of things on set: lighting, electrics, make up and general gophering. As part of my duties, I was the on-set ‘quartermaster’, which meant that I had the job of keeping tabs on the bag of prop guns, knives and other ‘deadly’ weapons that were part of the scenery in this ‘East End Gangster Caper’. Now, I really should have asked where all the guns came from but in my naivety, I just figured that Dave knew a few prop and special effects houses (yes, I was that stupid). It was only later in the shoot did someone tell me that they had been ‘rescued’ from being destroyed by the Old Bill and were actually real working guns. However, as there was no ammunition for them on set other than a few blanks (also under my care) I wasn’t too concerned.

And then one day after filming, I am putting the guns back into the bag and ‘unloading’ their magazines safe for use the next day. There’s been no blanks needed for today’s shoot so I know that all of the magazines are empty. As I am holding a particularly nice semi-automatic, I am approached by the director, also my best mate at the time, who jokes around with me a little about some of the tension we’d had on set that day. Relieved that all is well, I point the gun at him from my hip and joke that the next time he shouts at me, I will shoot him. Funny, it’s about this point I realise that the gun is a tad heavier in my hand than it should be... that’s odd.

We both laugh, director returns to the rest of the crew and I eject the magazine to put the gun away. Except this time, I notice that the magazine is not empty. It was loaded, and not with blanks.

I can still recall the cold shiver that ran down my spine and how close I had come to jokingly pulling the trigger, safe in the false knowledge that there was no way any of these guns could have been loaded. It turned out that one of the ‘actors’ handling the gun had decided that he wanted to be truly ‘authentic’ and had brought a few clips along with him just so the weight of the gun felt right in his hands, a fact that he masterfully neglected to tell me about.

So there we go. I almost shot my best mate while filming with Dave Courtney. Length? Long enough to leave a sizeable skidmark in my pants thank you.
(, Tue 2 Oct 2012, 17:52, 5 replies)
The bombs in my dreams
When I was in hospital many years ago now, I was on a men's ward, and it was horrible, especially as I was only a pale skinny lad of 17.

I'll spare the horror stories, and single out the weirdest bloke on the ward. He was a short guy with a huge pot belly, legs and arms covered in great big 50p sized red patches, a strange triangular head with bug eyes, and about as much connection with reality as Micheal Gove.

He'd take to wandering about the ward in the nude and pissing openly onto the floor. The nurses coped with him very well, I have the utmost admiration for nurses and when I hear or read of them being slagged off I want to punch the slagger offer in the face. And then send them to A and E to wait 16 hours for treatment.

Back on track... this man, whose name I cannot remember, didn't know the time of day, or even year. I once overheard a doctor asking him a series of questions, he thought it was 1978 at first, then 1980, and so on (it was 1986).

The freakiest moment was when he came up to me in the TV room and glared up at me with his bug eyes and whispered, "Is it true about the bombs in my dreams?"

I think I said "No", but I can't remember cos I legged it from the scary man. In retrospect I think he was probably an alien.
(, Sun 30 Sep 2012, 18:02, 4 replies)
Shameless shaman
Me and a couple of like-minded friends were stumbling about the woods after consuming a pile of Shrooms. We were sitting on some logs, chatting and probably giggling, when seemingly from nowhere a shaman appeared.

He talked to us for a while, leaning on his staff, telling us how great it was that we had come to commune with Father Oak, the Great Tree of Life. He said it would enrich our lives and calm our spirits, and so on. He was clearly a shaman of great power and spirituality. Eventually he bid us goodbye, and disappeared into the trees.

All very impressive, spoiled only by the naff and rather grubby shell suit he was wearing, and the can of Special Brew dangling from his hand. And the fact that there were no oaks in that wood.
(, Fri 28 Sep 2012, 15:00, Reply)
Once upon a time in the past- Electronics shop, rhymes with 'Craplin'
I worked - as I have oft mentioned - behind the counter of an electronics shop. For anyone who thesedays wonders into a branch of Maplin and views the gaudy displays of RC helicopters, garden LED lamps CCTV cameras, car subwoofer kits and shoddy Disco DJ Dave gear, I should point out that (in diminishing order these days) they also sell electronic components and circuit board prototyping kit for the hobbyist who likes to make their own projects, electricians and sound engineers after urgent connectors or tinkerers who repair old electrical consumer goods (including some classic analogue synths which are very much back en vogue these days).

Therefore back in the early 90s this was not a store where the clientèle were the kind of young attractive happening sexy young things, but often as not more your trainspotting anoracky socially inept batchelor who may also have been in CAMRA.

But even though they weren't hot sexy page 3 models and may have had an annoying snorting nasal laugh, with a tweed-style fashion sense and a slight air of snotty condescension, they were at least intelligent and probably not one to offer to stab you in the face if you questioned their choice of NPN transistor.

But we had eccentrics and then there were ECCENTRICS. Top of the league for me was (he called himself) "Mr Tandy".

A stringy, gangly gentleman of (my guess) colonial African extraction, he spoke perfect English with that sing-song cadence (and occasional High C note when he wanted to emphasise a particular word) of Bishop Desmond Tutu.

But also he mixed this soundtrack with the impression of a distant haughtiness and an aloof gaze, as though he were a Field Marshall inspecting the privates at Trooping The Colour. He would walk, pause, spin around and ask a testing question about the stuff on sale, consider the answer as you could almost hear the wheels turning as his gaze turned inwards and he mulled it over, then would sniff with a 'HMMMmmmmm' and walk on around the shop in a slightly off-kilter gait as though a prototypical gangsta rapper.

This is not the sum total of his oddness. He always wore the same outfit when he visited. Old-style Adidas navy blue tracksuit (2 stripes in case you were wondering), trainers, woolly hat, black nylon gloves. So, you may think he was perhaps a keen jogger, maybe a Rocky-style boxer in training?

Well, that's not it really. He had plastic bags wrapped around his feet and hands and head, that peeked out from the edge of his sleeves and trouser legs and behatted brow. Ghod knows what was going on inside the tracksuit but the combined effect was...

Well, you may have heard of the Phil Spector concept called the 'Wall Of Sound'? Mr Tandy was the living embodiment of the Skipload of Stink. He REEKED of ammonia and effluent and dark notes that I don't want to think about. You could come into the shop floor from the backroom and after 2 seconds, ask 'So, Tandy been in just?' because the of stationary fug he left behind on his wanders about the aisles. It was so epic that even non-bloodhounds could detect what path he'd taken about the shop by the foul stench lingering in the air.

The incredible thing was, one day he turned up WITH ANOTHER WEIRD GUY IN TOW (maybe they met at a day centre or something) and it was jaw-dropping to see this social maladjusted stink bomb address another human being in such condescending tones, because 'I know all about science and you don't'.
(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 22:21, 1 reply)
An acquaintance of mine was at a party and became convinced people were planning to throw him out of the window.
So he decided to autodefenestrate, to spoil their fun.
Broke both his legs.
(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 19:23, 4 replies)
Royal Flush
When my dad was a student at some Midlands polytechnic many many years ago he used to frequent a pub with a rather eccentric ancient regular.

He claimed to have been part of the crew on the royal yacht when Queen Victoria was on the throne. He had a pretty unique souvenir he kept with him always in a wooden cigar box to remind him of one particular royal visit. He had been first into the cabin after her majesty departed and had kept the now dessicated floater she had left bobbing about in the bowl which he was very happy to show all who showed interest.

Probably worth a fortune these days. Probably.
(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 17:16, 5 replies)
I'm told regularly that I have a cast of characters in my life. I imagine I'll have a few tales to tell this week.

There's the Mad Artist, for instance. A high functioning schizophrenic, he's much like Will Hunting in that old Matt Damon movie- brilliant, well read, able to tell you about obscure mythology or recent scientific discoveries or where to get good weed, all in the same conversation. He talks at machine gun speed and looks like Jim Morrisson crossed with Kokopelli, and is nuttier than squirrel poo.

He makes his living laying brickwork, cutting down dead trees and other unskilled general labor. He very seldom bathes, and his stench is memorable enough that people can detect him from a block away if the wind is right. I swear that Pratchett modeled Foul Ole Ron after this guy. He lives on a diet of frozen pizza, Camel Light cigarettes and Diet Coke, and his apartments invariably become hovels lined with cigarette ashes and butts, wrappers from junk food and strange broken things.

One day he was sitting in his apartment and realized that his shoes had a lot of gunk on the insides of them because he never wears socks and the dirt gets down there and gets mashed with a combination of sweat, dead skin cells and god knows what else into a pungent brown layer. He took a table knife and scraped the worst of it out of his shoes and left it sitting on a table. He went off to do some work and was gone for the day.

That evening one of his roommates wandered into the room and said, "You've been holding out on me, man! You had hash and never told me!"

"What hash? I don't have any hash."

"You left it there on the table, so I smoked it!"

"Wait, did it look like this?" He took off a shoe and scraped more gunk out on the table.

I don't know what happened after that, but I bet it wasn't pretty.
(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 16:17, 9 replies)
Glen the Chemist is a local legend
The story is that in the late 1970s / early 1980s, he was a rising star in the Chemistry department of Sussex University. However, he was also a fan of teh recreational pharmaceuticals, and decided to cook up his own LSD.

Unfortunately, he got something wrong, with the result that the effect was essentially permanent. For many years he could be found stumbling about local pubs, friendly and harmless but also on a completely different plane of reality. You could have a conversation with him, but you'd soon realise that communication was not occurring in the usual manner.

In recent years he seems to have returned somewhat closer to Planet Earth, thankfully. Anyone else up for a 30-year trip?
(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 15:33, 5 replies)
Northern Scrawny Cheapskate Nasty People
A few years ago, the company I was working for went into administration, they seemed to think it was ok for us to work for free, (we hadn't been paid properly for 18 months) so I found myself walking out one Monday morning.

The sector I specialise in doesn't have much presence where I geographically live. I had a few choices. Move back to London, move up north, Europe or the far east etc. I did have some savings I had been putting towards a flat deposit, but it was only a few grand. And I had become settled where I was living. I didn't want to move again (I've moved a lot over the last 10 years) so realistic options were move sector, or set up on my own.

This was just prior to the recession, things were tough but quite rapidly was turning a small profit, with a handful of customers, even recieved a bit of press attention etc. Then things started to go wrong. Suppliers (very specialised) started to ask for more and more money, they started lying to me. I had to supply all of the component parts for the things I was having made, some of them making up the majority of the cost of the unit. These component parts I had to order in bulk, I knew exactly what I had, and they were very expensive, and I had to buy proforma, so at anyone time my cash flow was really bad as it was tied up in stock.

This lying and cheating went on for a while, but the biscuit hit the flan when I placed a production order with the factory for a new customer of mine, for me the order was worth about 1500 quid, but it was worth more than that as the shop was a new shop they would place repeat orders every 6 to 8 weeks. I wanted to impress them and build a regular trade with them.

The order was placed and instructions sent to the factory. A delivery date was agreed and signed off. The delivery date loomed. I was on the phone to the owner of the factory every few hours, him giving me false promises. 10 days later I agree to a part shipment of the goods. I received the delivery, and all I can say is my heart nearly stopped there and then.

When I placed the orders for these particular goods I also provided a production plan, or production run order. Some items were loss leaders, they were to be the last items to be produced as, although my customers liked them and they were happy to make a profit from them I would only be cutting even. So my more expensive items were the first to be produced, the items that made me the profit.

That delivery comprised boxes and boxes of the easy to make, simple loss leader items. I felt sick to the stomach, for some reason I knew something like this would happen. Straight away I compose myself call up the factory. 'Oh yes the girls wanted to get the easy items out the way first as they earn money per piece and they can make these faster, and you know, what with it being nearly christmas and all they wanted to make as much as possible' I was blinking furious, he was allowing his staff to make money out of me so they could shovel over cooked turkey down their fat gobs and swig lambrini.

He carries on, 'Mr Feedingtime, we've run out of (major component) so we can't complete the rest of the order we have only x amount of component to complete 3 units (order was for 150 units) can you send me more component.

I had no cash, (proforma payment) to buy more, the shops wouldn't take and pay (they were all on proforma payments too) for part orders of the cheapy items. I was fecked.

To put the last nail in the coffin of this northern spacktard egg beating gimp, he said, I've just emailed you the part invoice for that shipment.

Needless to say, him allowing his 'girls' to earn a bit of easy extra money for the run up to Christmas practically killed my business. I never was able to supply the shops again that a failed to deliver to. To this day sat next to me, reminding me of his evil stupid scrawny face, are 10 or so of these shitty poorly made loss leader units. bollocking bollocks!

I never did pay him, so his 'girls' never got that extra large turkey. But I lost alot of confidence in people, but did learn a very big lesson in how to be shrewd and defensive in business.
(, Thu 27 Sep 2012, 15:03, 14 replies)
Absolute zero
Have a pea...

I used to work as a Saturday boy in a fruit and veg shop.

The local population were an eclectic mix of the well off, alcoholics, the old and infirm and the inhabitants of a local nut house.

We had many regulars all with their own particular quirks. Such as the crazy cat lady who would smoke a whole cigarette in about 10 seconds and who once dropped her knickers and did a massive crap in the middle of the shopping arcade.

There was also the old couple who reeked of piss and who both had beards and the man who put every individual item in separate bags – pretty time consuming when these are sprouts or grapes.

There are too many to recall, but there’s one often springs to memory.

It was Halloween and the shop had pumpkins on display around the till area. I was standing there serving with my boss’s daughter when one of the regulars turned up. He was about six foot eight, always wore shades and was never seen in anything but shorts and sandals.

He came up to the till with his goods and was about to pay when he went quiet for about ten seconds and then said this to the both of us:

“You see that (pointing at a pumpkin).

“I’ll freeze that to near absolute zero and then batter the bitch with it.”

He then left without saying a word and we never saw him again.
(, Tue 2 Oct 2012, 10:02, 3 replies)

This question is now closed.

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