Outside a fog had gathered. Fekenham Green looked remarkably like the site for a ghost story, unfortunately, all spectres had either gathered inside the Frog and Radiator or gone south for the summer. The yellow-tinged haze hung over the cricket field making it nigh on impossible to cross without fear of falling into a ditch. Inside the evening flowed in a flicker of flames fanned by the fire with the slow supping of warm beer.
As anyone, be they visitor or regular, could tell you, Widows Whiskers is the favoured beer drunk my male and female alike. However, it isn’t the only beer. There is another, a rival perhaps, yet from the same brewery as the number one brew. That ale is called Jolly Green Finger. Two friends sat with elbows supporting chins in the snug. One drank a pint of Widows Whiskers the other one of Jolly Green Finger.
The snug in The Frog and Radiator was the preferred hidey-hole of John Tuck and his long-standing friend Tom Coppernob. They sat this night, each nursing their warm pints content as two pigs in muck each huddled close across the aged and scarred table. The firelight threw dancing shadows that flitted across their faces like a Japanese puppet play. John scratched his arse, again. John felt awful. As a child, he had suffered from virtually all the childhood ailments including measles, chicken pox and mumps. Now he had haemorrhoids, and bugger did it itch. John shuffled uncomfortably on the stool upon which he sat. In front of him his best pal, Tom. Tom and John, John and Tom, old mates.
‘What’s up?’ asked Tom of John.
‘Nuffin,’ replied John as he wriggled his backside back and forth across the stool.
‘What, nuffin’ much or nuffin’ nuffin’?’
‘What’s the difference?’
‘Nuffin’ much indicates a certain degree of sumfin, not much of a nuffin’ but a little bit o’ nuffin’. Whereas nuffin’ nuffin’ means nuffin’ whatsoever. See?’
‘Nuffin’ much then.’
‘Hmmm’, responded Tom to John, ‘That makes sense. Let me asks you, how come you are shifting about like a gerbil on grease?’
‘Promise you won’t tell?’
The firelight glowed dark crimson, a sinful and secretive colour a colour where promises made very little difference in the cold shaft of morning light. ‘On me honour, mate, on me honour. Not a dicky bird,’ replied Tom to John.
‘Yus, Piles. Emmaroids, Itches like bleedin’ hell. Terrible it is. Terrible.’
Tom scratched his chin then took a sup of ale, burped once then raised his forefinger.’Hmmm. Women stick yoghurt on their fannies when they get thrush.’
‘Is you suggestin’ I got some rancid little bird up my harris?’
’Not a bit o’ it, no. Thrush is a woman thing. They stick yoghurt up their crutches, as it stops them itching.’
‘Are you sayin’ I’m like a bleedin’ woman then? I don’t have no funny turns once a month.’
‘No, mate, no. Not a bit o’ it. Men get thrush too. Normally at Easter of just after Yuletide when they been nibblin’ all manner of bad food likes chocolate and crisps.’
‘I see,’ said John scratching both his head and his backside not being able to see much further than either. ‘So, should I shove yoghurt up me arse then?’
‘I wouldn’t advise that,’ said Tom, ‘not unless you want a host of creepy crawlies climbing up there for a feast.’
‘What, like on me cod ‘n chips?’
‘Yus, but leave out the fish and the chips as they might cause more grief if you go shoving them up your infected arse.’
’Yus, vinegar. It dries up piles like a good ‘un. It’s what doctors advise.’
When the lights go out in the Frog and Radiator so too the lights in John Tuck’s brain. He is, as already mentioned, just a poor, simple, very simple indeed, farm labourer. A simple farm worker whose brain faculties begin with eating followed by occasional fornication before concluding with sleep, a farm labourer who does not have the aptitude to drive nails into wood without first asking what a hammer is. He drives a tractor, a talent not often thought to require a degree in science or mathematics, though one should not be disparaging about farm workers, as most of them are upright and intelligent people. John is neither upright, having had one too many beers during the course of the evening, nor intelligent, being one sandwich short of a picnic, one crumb less a cookie. That night John poured a solution of vinegar onto his sore and itching anus, and the inhabitants of Mildew Terrace could have sworn that something demonic, like a banshee or a werewolf, had let loose a howl to Satan himself, so loud were poor John’s screams