“But we’d promised we’d go to shee them,” slurs Mrs. Short Tony, in the Village Pub.
I consider this through my beer. It is, indeed, true.
The Miniature Barman shrugs his shoulders good-naturedly. “You’d be very welcome,” he says. “If you can get tickets.”
“And it is the LTLP’s birthday,” insists Mrs. Short Tony. “It would be a great birthday surprise. She must know all the Johnny Cash songs, like ‘Ring of Fire,’ and… um…”
“‘Folsom Prison Blues?'” I add, warming to the idea of going to a Johnny Cash tribute evening. “And ‘The Mercy Seat.’ That is my favourite. It is a bloody brilliant song.”
“We don’t do that one,” says the Miniature Barman.
“And all the others are basically the same,” I continue, finishing my pint and waving the glass in the general direction of the pumps. “The ones that go:”
(4/4; allegro; adopt low mumbling voice)
[V] dumm dooo.”
Mrs Short Tony looks blank. “I don’t know that one,” she says.
“And ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky,'” I add, helpfully.
“It should be a good night,” prompts the Miniature Barman. “It was a sell-out last year.”
I take a deep swig of my refilled pint. “The thing is, that the LTLP is not that keen on Johnny Cash,” I reflect. “But then she is a bit down about her birthday, and me not really getting round to getting her a present and stuff, and in fact not getting any presents except from the Toddler, who chose some lipstick for her that is in the shade of red worn by prostitutes. So I reckon it might cheer her up.”
“Am I the only one that doesn’t think this a great idea?” interjects Short Tony. “And I am normally the one who…”
“The problem is going to be getting her there,” I continue, ignoring him. “It would have to be a surprise.”
“She would love it,” says Mrs Short Tony.
I have a brainwave. “She has always wanted to go to the Michelin-starred restaurant Morston Hall,” I say. “And I have always said I would take her there. So what we could do would be to book the tickets for the Johnny Cash tribute evening, but tell her that we are all going to the Michelin-starred restaurant Morston Hall for a special birthday dinner. And then, when we are in the cab, we would pretend that we have to pick somebody up at the theatre, or fetch something, or something like that, so she wouldn’t suspect. And then when we actually arrived at the theatre, we could all jump out of the cab and say ‘surprise!’ and it would be a special surprise Johnny Cash birthday treat instead.”
“That sounds like a really good plan,” says Short Tony.
“We’d be quite happy to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ at a break in the set,” offers the Miniature Barman. “That’s always good, as the rest of the theatre will join in.”
I am excited. “She would really like that,” I exclaim.