“You try some!”

“No – you try some.”

There is a billowing eruption of peer pressure. Alan finally cracks, and places the very tip of his little finger in the glob of chili sauce left on the lid of the bottle, before tentatively dabbing it on his tongue.

“AWAWAWWWWAAAAARAWWWW!!!” he screams, clutching his face. Odd looks traverse the bar.

Norfolk is full of well-to-do people here for the horse things. We always try to welcome visitors to the Village Pub nicely, as it is good to make people feel at home. The Well-Spoken Barman is struggling on his own tonight, trying to juggle the efficient pouring of things with tonic water with attempting to get us to try the specialist chili sauce that he has got off the Internet as revenge on a customer who criticised his Bloody Mary recipe.

“Thank you sir – on the bill for room six?” he asks politely.

“You try,” I ask Big A. For an enormous man, he is a big softie – the sort of man who would take his chicken to the vet.

“He won’t do it – this is the man who took his chicken to the vet,” scoffs John Twonil. “Go on – I’ll have a go.”

“Too right I won’t.”

“It’s only like having a really hot vindaloo – only a bit hotter.”

“But I only ever order a korma.”

John Twonil tries the chili sauce. He is too urbane to start screaming and swearing, but gives the impression that he may scream and swear understatedly a bit later on, perhaps via his Blackberry. His eyes buggle nevertheless, like in cartoons.

Two visitors sit with a black labrador in the corner. The man approaches us nervously.

“Excuse me,” he says. “Do you live here? We’re looking to visit the heritage railway that runs in…”

“Haveabitofthisgoongoontryit,” we insist, waving the bottle at him.

“I don’t think…” he begins, but the eyes of his wife and his dog are upon him.

“Fuck, fuck! Shit!” he cries, as I tell him useful information about the heritage railway. Following this, I have a go. It is hot, a heat that starts as a fierce spot on the tongue and, just as you are getting used to that, spreads round to every corner of the mouth and throat, clinging like napalm chewing gum. But I grew up in Essex, so I ask for some more.

“I am not trying it. I’m seriously not trying it,” says Big A.

More visitors. The Well-Spoken Barman is away changing a barrel, and there is a flurry of received pronunciation tuts at the three-minute delay. Mrs John Twonil gives barmaidship a go, filling two pint glasses, a wine glass and several drip trays.

Big A tries the chili sauce.

In addition to an interesting heritage railway, it is well-known that one of the traditional sights of Norfolk in Easter is a man with his face exploding. The visitors regard this with wary interest. He downs his cooking lager in two gulps and looks wildly around for more.

“I always find,” says Eddie, “that smoking a cigarette helps if you’ve eaten something hot.”

Big A shoots through the doors to light a cigarette. He is back two minutes later, features contorted in misery.

“My eyes! I’ve got it in my eye!”

He stomps round the bar in the pits of his distress. Heritage Railway Man is still coughing. Big A disappears off once more, this time for the toilets, the emergency cooking lager having worked its way through.

A well-dressed party enter, destined for the restaurant. They look at us, askance. I give them a nice smile, and have a bit more chili sauce, as I grew up in Essex.

Big A reappears at the door, staggering, crying, casting an enormous shadow across the room.

“THE END OF MY COCK’S ON FIRE!!!” he bellows through tears of distress.

“Table for four, sir?” asks the Well-Spoken Barman.

33 Comments

  1. Been there, done that. Except the cock bit obviously, being of the female persuasion.

  2. *sigh* Milk, you retards. Wash the affected area in milk, and all will be well. Didn’t your mothers teach you anything? Or (in your case, Jonny, seeing as you grew up in Essex) your case workers?

  3. Occasionally indulge in a sushi pack for lunch, and I am charmed by the pretty presentation – what with the pink ginger and tiny soy sauce bottle and all. Just should resist the fresh spring green of the wasabi, but usually give in to it, seeing as how it balances the colour spectrum of condiments somehow. Not so much a mouth and stomach burner, as the total sinus clearing tonic!

  4. Next time, you might want to suggest a spot of figging too.

  5. Best post in ages Jonny. thank you for the tears of laughter.

  6. Tears are streaming down my face from laughter as I read this. Haven’t we all had this sort of experience at one time or another?

    Jonny, I don’t comment much, but have followed you for years – love your writing!

  7. I don’t understand… is Essex famous for it’s Very Hot Sauce Manufacturing Plants? 🙂

  8. Ivan is spot on (note to self: please stop agreeing with Ivan. Is very disturbing). I was raised as a rather pathetic gringa (look it up) in an area where the ability to happily chew up chiles complete with seeds was considered one of the more important marital skills (also: create home-made tortillas that didn’t look like an orangutan’s version of a terrain map; make red chile enchiladas on Fridays; manage to listen to an entire set by the local middle-school mariachi band without a) getting up and leaving or b) pointing and laughing cruelly). Milk, or if unavailable, cheese will cool most chile heat.

    Question: are you the types then who sit around the breakfast table and urge each other, in a loving, friendly way, to smell the spoilt milk?

  9. I guess I shouldn’t be reading your blog whilst at work – too much laughter! If I get fired, I’m coming to work for you !!!!

  10. I didn’t know hot chili made it that far.

  11. Thanks for the laugh.

    Now I’ve got a mental image of Big A barrelling through the restaurant’s kitchen door screaming for a glass of milk.
    For his cock.

  12. Look, I have a bad cold and the start of a chest infection. I do not need to be sitting at work asphixiating, after a laughing fit that used up oxygen my shrivelled lungs are finding hard-pressed to replace.

  13. Girlie onetrack: I got asked at the supermarket, a while ago, what I was planning to do with the ginger in my basket. I gave the assistant the benefit of the doubt, but I did think of you…

  14. I do remember in Texas that they have chili sauce stores like we have, for instance, Tie Racks. (Not in Norfolk, obv). I thought this was very civilised. I was particularly fond of ‘Dave’s’, which you could get in the UK for a while, although on closer examination it wasn’t real ‘Dave’s’, but something made under license. So cheating.

    Just saying, for any chili sauce fans out there.

  15. The internet is such a useful place. I learn lots. I never, ever, ever, not ever knew that people try chilli sauce alone…I used to think it goes with chips, fish, curry and rice / roti, etc. I also never, ever, ever, not ever knew that the ‘farewell’ can pass through that end of a man.

    P.S. My mother is making pepper sauce again. Want some?

  16. Hot stuff. I have just discovered your blog, thanks to a Curious Girl’s Gide to Life. When I blogged about testicles and groping the pope, my comments all but dried up.

  17. Hullo Maddie, and welcome!!!

    It was nice of her to mention me.

  18. I snorted a little bit. If I’d been drinking tea some of it would have come out of my nose.

  19. Reminds me of the time I bought some Dave’s insanity sauce for some friends. One woman said her husband had accused her of trying to poison him, and another tried it as a dip and had to rinse his tongue under the cold tap for half an hour. It said on the bottle it removed stains from driveways.

  20. Once again I am glad I don’t have a cock. It’s bad enough to get chilli in my REAL eye…

  21. You wait days for a good laugh, then several all come at once! Brilliant.

  22. Haha genius!

    On the downside I nearly burst out laughing 10 times over while sat at my desk, incedentally I will be going to Austin, Texas (All americans say place names like that) in a weeks tiem for a while, so I shall check out the chilli stores, and tehn pussy out, since I am from Selby not Essex, up norf we only have potatos and meat.

  23. are you sure the fact you could stand the heat should be attributed to your essexness, and not that there’s more space in your normal sized* head for the chilli to disperse, therefore being less concentrated?

    * extra large

  24. They allow fowl in the pub? Not very hygienic.

  25. I’ve just revisited this post after a few days just to see if it still worked. It was a mistake because I was busting for the lavatory, now I’m afraid to move. Quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever read on the interpipes in ten years. I do hope you hven’t peaked, Jonny.

  26. Would you like to, very privately and secretly, get involved with Blogging Norfolk 2009 in your internets on the Google machine?: http://alturl.com/cn62

    Go on, it’ll be fun: put your Norfolk on the private secret BBC map on April 23rd.

  27. Oli – for souvenirs, yes, Debster has hit the nail. I do remember it being called ‘insanity’ or ‘total insanity’ and being advertised as being able to remove driveway stains. You should get some for all your family.

    Richard – why thank you! I think.

  28. Blogging Norfolk – erm – oh – erm – hullo and welcome!!!

    Er ummm I’m a bit hazy as to what to do but I’ll read it again. Essentially I just write a normal blog post but tag it? I am a bit scared of the map thing.

  29. Don’t worry, Richard – Jonny’s only “peaked” once in the last few years. And seeing as that resulted in Servalan, I doubt that the LTLP will make that mistake again anytime soon…

  30. I read lately that some woman in India broke the world record for eating super-hot chilis and celebrated by rubbing the things on her eyeballs. Please don’t try this on Short Tony.

  31. The bar soda syphon was obviously needed to quell the fire. Now there’s a thought.

  32. I had a very stressful day at work, looking forward to capping it all off by doing my taxes this evening. I happen to have a bottle of hotsauce sitting on my desk at this very moment, home made by a Trinidadian mother who cures the peppers herself. I think I’ll go to a bar and offer it to people instead!

  33. “I read lately that some woman in India broke the world record for eating super-hot chilis and celebrated by rubbing the things on her eyeballs. Please don’t try this on Short Tony.”

    Yeah she was somehow immune to the stuff, really weird!

    She only stopped because they were worried she might kill herself without realizing it!

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