“Well-ll… I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” And Baz snorted with gusto before downing another lusty slurp of his beer; a fortunate coincidence, as he thus failed to see the eye-rolling exchange between his mate Joe, and George, their trusty bartender. Words were unnecessary. The almost imperceptible head nods spoke volumes about their agreement with their swaying mate’s self-description.
Peering out from under his shaggy, Churchill-ish eyebrows and stretching his eyes as if this could focus his vision more accurately, his resemblance to an ageing chimpanzee was uncanny, now he came to mention it. His low hairline and longish jaw certainly added much to the overall apish impression, George mused, as he reached for another glass to polish, wisely holding his counsel. Years of experience with this lugubrious fellow had taught him well.
Joe held no such compunction. After all, he thought, through thick and thin Baz and I have been each other’s best and oldest mates, haven’t we? Close as a couple of twin joeys lurking in the great belly cave under their mother’s apron, hey?
In a sudden surge of matey-ness Joe slung his arm around his old buddy’s shoulders. Usually these were sagging somewhat by this time of their session, but this night Baz shook off his gesture of friendship with thinly veiled impatience. That was the thing about old soaks – predicting their next move of body OR mindset. Joe sighed. Such is Life in the drinkers’ lane!
“Look! Down the other end of the bar. Right down. Just lean forward a bit more and you’ll cop a gander of the old bugger.” Baz leaned his grizzly old head so far forward himself, he brushed the bar with the five-o’clock shadow of beard already darkening his chin.
“It’s Alf. Good ol’ Alf Angus. Haven’t seen him for forever. He must’ve been in icy-lation all this time, like the rest of us poor desert-throats. Man felt like Life as ‘e knew it was all but over, hey?” A sly grin slid across his face as he chortled, “Been ‘covered’ in 19 layers of Annie’s septic spray, ‘dja reckon? Jes’ tryin’ to keep higher-drayted or sumpin’ like that.” Abruptly his smile dropped; his forehead and mouth tightened.
“Aarrgh, dammit! Can’t think of his other name. That Sir name one,” and mumbled to himself, dunno wot yer last name’s got to do with nighties and hoodlums and all that kinda palaver. And sniffed loudly, obviously disgusted.
“It’s called a surname, you silly old bugger. Nothing to do with knighthoods and the like!” Joe shook his head, blowing an exasperated roll of lip bubbles.
Ignoring him completely, Baz continued, “It’s uhmm… uhmm… gotta think about sumthin’ ter do with uhrr… WORDS, that’s it. Or spelling— ” Like a great ray of sunshine hit it, his face lit up with the joy of inspiration breaking through the darkness of his memory.
“It’s Alf A. BETS! Told ya. Spelling! THAT’s what I had to think of!”