Charles enters the Village Pub.

He stomps up to the bar and mutters a greeting. This is unusual. Charles is an invariably polite and sunny chap, possibly the most well-spoken haulage contractor in Norfolk. He orders a pint of Stella abruptly.

“Are you OK, Charles?” asks Short Tony.

“I’ve had a shit day,” he replies. “Been up since five… problems… had to go here… had to go there…” We listen politely as he gets it off his chest. He is genuinely pissed off. There is tension in the air.

“Have you got a ciggie?” he demands. Nobody has. He wanders around the pub attempting to find a cigarette. There is no luck; he swears a bit.

“I’ll nip out the back,” offers the Chipper Barman. “Chef will do you a roll-up.” The Village Pub has a flexible menu. He soon reappears with a roll-up, which Charles disappears outside to consume after a cursory thank-you.

Minutes later he reappears at the door. His face expresses a cocktail of both thunder and incomprehension, as if he were Duncan Ferguson being beckoned off before half-time by his manager, only to discover that he was being substituted for a very small left-side specialist penguin.

He strides back up to the bar and downs his pint.

“There’s a smell of… burning hair?” I ask, obliviously. At this point I have no idea that his roll-up had contained not tobacco, but the heads from a dozen live matches, neatly and diligently snipped off by an under-employed kitchen hand with a sense of humour. He stares at me, steaming slightly.

Charles leaves the Village Pub.

22 Comments

  1. First! Woohoo! My dreams finally come true…

  2. Well, dang, second. But excited anyway to read of the fabulous adventures with burning hair and all there in the depths of the English countryside

  3. Serves him right for scrounging tabs!

  4. He’s lucky! – chefs usually pee into things if they don’t like you.

    PS – who’ll make the first ‘lucky strike’ joke?

  5. So Carlsberg now make Haulage Contractors.

  6. Here in Ontario, you can buy cheap, tax-free smokes at the Native Reserve.

    Once in a while, they amuse themselves by playing the same type of practical joke. Only instead of match-heads, they use smallpox.

    We all have a good laugh about it, after the swellings go down…

  7. chefs usually pee into things if they don’t like you

    Pee? You should be so lucky. Why do you think that Michael Winner can never find a decent clear soup?

    Mystery roll-ups were a staple of good pub humour back when I was a nipper. I remember my dad (a straight-up booze-only 1930s vintage Irishman) telling me about the joker who slipped him a joint instead of a rollie once. How they laughed after the merry prankster regained consciousness! My dad was also an accomplished amateur boxer, something our comedian had neglected to figure into his calculations…

  8. NAGA - Life Coach To The Stars

    ‘Charles leaves the Village Pub.’

    …and waits quietly, hair steaming, for chef to finish his shift. A dastardly evil plan lurking, within the deep shadows of his blackend shafts.

    I do hope he hauls him over the hot curls for this one.

  9. At least it wasn’t pepper in the ciggie.

  10. NAGA
    He didn’t have a black-end – it was his hair.

  11. Call me finicky but I wouldn’t eat there. When did you have your last tummy upset?

  12. NAGA - Life Coach To The Stars

    Brian: I stand corrected. His end, may or may not, have been black. Brown is possible.

    I suppose it might well come down to the exact location of the roll-up, at the time of the incident.

  13. Charles leaves the Village Pub … he didn’t nip round the back did he? Any murders reported that evening?

  14. …And the rest of his day was a bit of a drag…

  15. So presumably the kitchen staff are doing their bit to discourage smoking – unless it’s hair.

  16. I’ve always wanted to do that, except I’ve be too scared th recipients intake of sulfur could be toxic. Never really considered the potential hair burning. Interesting.

  17. I had that trick played on me once, i laughed a lot…. 3 years later.

  18. “PS – who’ll make the first ‘lucky strike’ joke?”
    haha, well played, Bob! Can anyone match that?

  19. NAGA - Life Coach To The Stars

    AndyB: ‘Can anyone match that?’.. Bryant May.

  20. The phrase “a very small left-side specialist penguin” is quite delightful and will continue to make me giggle inappropriately throughout the day!

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