No, by far and away the biggest surprise of the World Cup so far was the drunk I found sleeping off England's historic
I don't know how long he'd been there, but he wasn't tucked up in the land of Nod when I left for work. Now this was not just a run of the mill 'had a rake of drinks and dropped off while waiting for the last bus to Ballyfermot' kind of thing. We've all done that in our time. Nor was it even a 'flaked out in a shop doorway having missed said bus and it's too far to walk in my condition' fellah-me-lad. Not at all. This was more a 'what the fuck are you doing in my bedroom' class of animal at 2.45 in the afternoon. Bottle of Stella in hand, he was curled up on my decorative gravel and dead to the world and all its occupants.
Having established that he was just drunk, not dead or in a diabetic coma, getting him out of my front garden proved harder than I expected. I began by trying an approach I'd used many a time with pub-based drunken cat-nappers. A gentle but persistent coaxing 'come on lad you can't kip there, time to go home, etc., etc., etc.', After 5 minutes of this he turned over, grunted and gave me the kind of look that the 14 year old me used to give the auld one when she had to get me up for the paper round on a Sunday morning. He was going nowhere and something stronger was called for, clearly. I prodded him with the toe of me Dr Martin and went full-blown scouse on him. "Ey lah why don't you fucking do one before I call the bizzies/piss in yer ear/fetch the fuckin' hose from the garden". Nothing. Just the baby-like smile of a man at peace in the arms of Morpheus. I wondered what drugs he was taking and where I could get some.
I considered the options. I was tempted to leave him there. He might in time become a feature, like hermit in the rockery of an 18th Century aristocrat. Unfortunately, the residents association are already unhappy having a Scouser in the street lowering property values. A Scouser who gives dormitory rights to itinerant drunks is never going to get an invite onto the parish council or the WI sale of work. In these parts, such things matter. Running the garden hose up his trouser leg and administering a Rainham Spring enema was also an option to which I gave thought. And then rejected. He knew where I lived, after all.
After a few more futile attempts involving bad language, threats,and general bluster I was no nearer rid of sleeping beauty, so I left him there and wandered up to the local cop shop. Now it's a long time since I had anything to do with the peelers in England but I had heard there'd been changes since the days when a bobby's basic response to the likes of me was a clip around the ear or a kick up the arse to send me on me merry way. It was true. In fact today, English police officers are far too rare, too important and too busy shooting suspected terrorists and arresting speeding motorists and ASBO kids to have anything to do with ordinary members of the public such as meself.
Instead of a grumpy police sergeant counting down the days to retirement, the desk at the bridewell was staffed by a civilian, a woman who wouldn't have looked out place preventing sick people from annoying a GP. After I had confided my problem she looked at me as if having a drunk England supporter asleep in the front garden was akin to admitting a case of crabs or a weakness for gin first thing in the morning. She walked to the back of the station and emerged 5 minutes later with two 2 Police Community Support Officers. For those of you unfamiliar with the species, these were two nice young people a bit like this:
Armed only with notebooks and walkie-talkies and completely lacking any powers of arrest, they accompanied me to the garden and bearded the rascal in what was now less my garden and more his boudoir. It took 35 minutes, several radio conversations with HQ, and a lot of cajoling and pleading to get the bugger off my property. The PCSOs' approach was hampered by the fact that both parties knew that despite their uniforms they lacked the appropriate powers to arrest and dole out a good kicking back at the station. Flicking his ear with a finger was as close as they got to actual police brutality.He simply ignored them for the most part and just turned over and went back to sleep. His persistence in ignoring them was remarkable. He neither spoke nor acknowledged them at any point. And it was clear by the tone of the on-going burst of R/T that the lads back at the station weren't going to stir themselves while Italy were playing Slovakia on the Sky TV.
Eventually I guess it dawned on him that a mid-afternoon 40 winks in his present location had become out the question or maybe the pleasure in winding up the nice young people had just palled and it was time to start preparing for England's defeat on Sunday next. Whatever. His departure went in stages. First he ran into the corner of the garden and hid like a naughty seven year old. That took 10 minutes. Then he was persuaded gently onto the garden wall where he sat like a surly teenager,round-shouldered and sullen for another 10 minutes. After that, he just went. I suspect Chav honour had been satisfied and it was time to move on. I don't know. The strangest aspect of the whole episode was that he did not utter a word throughout the whole affair. It was as if the whole thing had been staged as an attention-seeking act of dumb insolence; a kind Chavvy performance art - street theatre for the underclass.