John liked his pint of Guinness. Refusing to drink halves, he always insisted on pints. Today with the laws against drink driving, he relied on me to take him out. It became a habit each Friday to venture to some unknown pub in the area where we were not recognised.After spreading our search ten miles, we still had a task to remain anonymous. It was always one or the other of us that was recognised.
It became a sort of game to us to find that elusive pub. After his pint and my cup of coffee, we always left and I got the impression that even though no one had spoken to us, they knew who we were. John and I had many arguments after leaving the pub and in the end I decided to settle the score once and for all. In my collection of writing tools, I own a Dictaphone that records sound. The little silver looking item resembles a mobile phone and so one night I took it on our jaunts. The pub we first visited that night was twenty miles away from home. With his pint of Guinness and my cup of coffee on the table I placed the recorder in the middle and switched it on to ‘record conference.’ This mode only recorded when a noise activated the machine so saving the batteries and tape. Having drunk our drinks we strode out, leaving the recorder in view from the outside window. John and I sat in the car for five minutes or until someone picked it up. Then I returned to claim it saying, “Sorry, nearly forgot!” Outside we rewound the tape to eavesdrop on what had been said in the interval of us leaving. Playing the tape was interesting and of the first six pubs, all said the same thing.
“Who were they? I have seen them somewhere before.” Not one of the lads got our names right though many recognised me from the TV, but could not remember who I was. Names of famous people were mentioned and each time the one speaking was corrected.
“No, it’s not him, it’ so and so.”
John and I were enjoying ourselves until one night a couple of miles to the north of Tenterden, when we visited a rather crowded pub. Again we played the trick on the customers, leaving the tape recorder standing on the table. This time John elected to recover it and on returning to the car said,
“The whole pub went quiet as I entered.”
“Let’s hear what they had to say.” A few faces peered from the windows as I drove away and John rewound the tape.
Up until now John had been mentioned in all the names the drinkers had mistaken him and me for. Tonight he was in for a surprise and demanded I stopped to listen again to the recorded words.
The first person to speak was a woman and she ‘knew categorically who we were.’ She recognised John from his picture in the papers a few weeks ago. He was the biggest crook going and I was the ugly, nasty sidekick of his! We had supposedly beaten up a woman for her money, tying her to a chair and torturing her in her own home late one night until she told us the whereabouts of the safe!
Her story was immediately confirmed by a man, and from there it was all bad news. Others collaborated with the woman’s story and pretty soon we were a desperate duo. It was John who had returned to gather the recorder and he was none too pleased to think of what they all thought of us. He was all for returning and clearing our names but I reminded him that some of the lads had looked rather handy and would possibly take exception to our little game. The Dictaphone now rests on a shelf in my office and John no longer goes out on a Friday with me. We used to visit five or six pubs every time, he drank pints and I swigged coffee, despite this he still blamed me on Saturday for getting him drunk!