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Mr Harry’s, The Hoe
By Ironteeth Rum Spigot (UK)
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Mr Harry’s, the Hoe. Favoured nightclub of the Theatre Royal chaps and chapesses, Diamond Lil’s turns, in their evening frocks, and others of unusual predilections in even more unusual attire. It was always toppers with Matelots, Marines and Gunner commandos, attracted, not by the dodgy gentlemens, but by the diverse damsels that crowd in there. Harry’s also puts on entertainment.
Mr Harry welcomed the military with open arms, not for the reasons that the obtuse, torpid would elicit - men in uniform, rough, beefcake fantasises, ad nausea. It was more
businesslike than any fancies they could conjure.
Plymouth has it share of Queer- bashing thugs roaming in packs, “Crews” or “Posses” being their self ordained appellations. They have learned, through unpleasant encounters with Harry’s clientele, to give the club and its environs a wide berth. Mr Harry’s doormen were unusually cheerful and friendly and Larry never saw any fuss at all on the door. These Pretoria were a cheerful pack, they all had day jobs. In the various Barracks.
Larry, running ashore with Jack and Mel, passably squiffy, was delighting in the whole carouse that is Harry’s. Everyone was frolicking and just whooping it up. The Troupe in full feather on the little stage, usually enlivened their devotees at DL’s but tonight were entertaining more urbane patrons with equal risqué. The atmosphere was cracking fun.
Jools had tracked him down and was resolutely stuck to him, but he was happy with that.
Larry calls her Jools because she is a ringer for Julie Andrews. All his mates keep asking why she is going out with an ugly git like him. He just tells them he gives good humour. Sod ‘em, jealousy will get me everywhere, he thought.
Last time they were in Harry’s, Larry entered one of the dodgy contests that carry on here and won, yes, won, a prize. For some reason his drink addled brain chose a Rod Hull Emu glove puppet thingy and he started using it on everybody. He only reason he wasn’t biffed to death was because he let everyone else have a go with Emu. The anatomical recesses that Dromiceius novaehollandiae’s (why an Antipodean bird has a Cloggy name often gave Larry room for thought) beak braved that night would offend the morals of the most bestial. But these were servicemen, and women, and enormous merriment was enjoyed by all. Emu’s lustful concupiscence was used to deadly effect. And Jools ended up with him, Emu that is.
If one turns left on leaving Mr Harry’s and walks uphill for one minute one will discover oneself on the grassy, wonderful Hoe. Many, many a happy mise en scène has been endured by couples at that locale. During daylight hours Larry would wander up here and sit with his drawing kit and sketch away happily. He, somehow, beguiles and allures the interested and always sketches thing for them, he will draw them, their children, the odd shite hawk, ships in the Sound, anything they wanted. They were, usually, on holiday after all, and he saw his efforts as one of Plymouth’s little delights, fanciful, but kept Larry happy. Larry constantly refused any payment, but he would stretch to an ice cream, or a tinny. It is one of life’s pleasures that he keeps to himself, not least because quite often some of his interested are of the female variety and they always want a drawing of themselves. Enough said. Jools and Larry usually venture up here after Harry’s.
The night was cracking along marvellously. The great mixed with the good, mixed with the rough, mixed with the dodgy, mixed their drinks and everyone was getting steadily shitfaced.
Tonight’s diversion on the rickety stage was “The Penny Fartings” crooning “Sailor” to a sardined dance floor. Larry clocked Lionel Blair and had to resist the desire to thank him for lending his name to a chap’s breeches.
He once saw Danny La Rue during an open day on his Cruiser in Fido Faecal city. He certainly stood out from the crowd, outfitted in a diaphanous pink silk shirt with deluxe ruff front and wrist ruffs, his lower half squeezed into the tightest purple satin trousers that clasped his buttocks so firmly that both buttock indentations were accentuated.
He was absolutely relishing the day and was luxuriating in the company he had arm in arm.
The young, very young, Sub Lieutenant in full uniform, however, was obviously not. He had been detailed off by the Commander to be Mr La Rue’s escort for the day and all the crew, and the ship’s cat, were trying to work out what he had done to deserve such inhumane treatment, but not a smidge of sympathy was forthcoming. There but for the grace of God…………..
Mr La Rue, however, disappointed his hosts. He turned out to be a tres bon oeuf. He mixed with everybody, performed some impromptus, doled out largesse as if it was going out of fashion and, to the matelots’ delight, discomposed the Officers.
Larry smiled at that thought. You can guarantee the existence of a bacon butty in a synagogue that you’ll never find an Officer in Harry’s or DLs. Not identifiably anyway, if they get caught it is most definitely curtains for them. Bad enough mixing with ratings, but mixing with that other type. As well!
“Flog that man, Mr Christian!”
“But he’s dead Sir.”
“Then flog his kitbag!”
Mel was in full fettle. In the middle of a bunch of admirers, mostly female, some dubious, he had his kecks down and was hauling on his boxers his glutei maximi to display. Mel was an avid Scooby Doo and at every available opportunity he would expose flesh to the public.
On each rump he had had branded a big blue propeller, both of which he was inordinately proud. He would disclose to any beholder that they made him go faster underwater.
“You should see me screw, matey. I can screw and screw and screw.”
The lubbers usually had to be informed that propellers are known in the nautical world as “Screws”. Mel’s big play on words usually worked. Illegitimate! Thought Larry.
“There’s that nurse I told you about, Hello darling!”
Larry looked around and saw a familiar figure.
“Ah, Officer Flea, I presume?”
He extended his free left hand and the policeman took it and shook him violently with it.
Mr Harry, not one to miss out on any angle, also extends his welcome to the Constabulary.
A very acute notion. Not only was Harry’s bulwarked by the Services, he had the long arm to call upon, if required. Harry was nothing if not astute.
“Go on Larry, say it. Say it!” Officer Flea gestured his companions to attend to Larry’s next articulation.
“I am not a nurse.”
“I am not a nurse.”
“I am not a frigging nurse!”
Flea and his buddies, crowded around them by now, howled. Obviously Larry was part of an in-joke at the nick. Understanding why came effortlessly to him.
It was busy in Casualty, hot summer afternoons are just as bad as cold, freezing ones for accidents. People were all over the place. The usual groans and some pitiful moaning but, on the whole the Naval Hospital, Stonehouse, Casualty is much more civilised turf than Freedom Fields and the other Plymouth Hospitals. The professional whingers, troublemakers and complainers very rarely darken its doors. There is no messing about in this Casualty. Misbehave and there will be some not very nursey, nursey types to deal with. And that’s just the Doctors and Medics, and Sister Thumper too. And, if things get bad enough, there is a whole hospital full of characters just begging for an altercation.
The patients know this and invariably bypass other Accident and Emergency units demanding to be taken here. They always say they feel safer in the Naval than any other hospital. The Staff appreciate this and do not go out of their way to disabuse them of the idea.
Part and parcel of the hospital routine is that Casualty is on “Take” for the Plymouth area every Tuesday. Tuesdays it becomes the primary A and E for the Guzz area and everything is brought here. With Union Street a stone’s throw away from the gate, it is usually busy anyway, but on Tuesdays they get everything, everything. All happenstances descend Cas’s way on Tuesdays.
As a result of this conglomeration of the good, the bad and the not so nice, the Police usually have a presence in the building, sometimes officially, sometimes not so officially.
Understandably, they are welcome in the Staff Office where tea, biscuits and Dorises are always available. Sometimes their intentions are so obvious it makes Larry laugh out loud. But they give good banter and everyone is in the same Zeppelin, so happy days.
Larry was washing up after having had just stitched some outward bounders into a stroppy drunk’s head when the big, black rubber swing doors crashed open and two Bizzies crashed in, slamming the doors behind their backs. A pair of Lizzies then ran to the counter and one of them spoke to the Staff Doris animatedly.
Staff, looking perplexed, pointed down the waiting area to the toilets. One of the Lizzies ran to the door, put her fingers to her mouth and let out a brammer of a whistle and then joined her oppo in clearing a way through the patients across the Casualty.
Then another copper came dashing through with one more about ten feet behind him. Between them was a man in a state of undress holding his copper’s jacket over his head and running where he was told.
Staff caught Larry and Mad Mac’s eyes and gesticulated in Nursaphore to get stuck in.
They were both ahead of her and joined the scurry. The lead copper didn’t know which door to take and Mad Mac, with amazing perspicacity, pulled open the door to the bathroom and shower room.
Adroitly, all four of them stood aside, with Mad Mac holding the door open, and the
stricken rushed past them into the shower area. As he flew by both Mac and Larry
knew what to do. Seen it before, but never, never, this bad. Mad Mac practically dislocated a fire hose and Larry went in after the impaired to get things started.
The copper was beside himself and Larry was full of admiration for his relative calmness.
“I’d be going freaking bersequack, if I was you, mate.” Larry said, ogling the sight.
“I frigging well am, you bumpot!”
“Stand by to stand by wings. Incoming.”
Whilst he was talking Larry had picked up a fire bucket filled with water, and unceremoniously hurled it all over the parasite ridden sufferer. He reached into the shower and turned it on full blast, frig the temperature, the least of anyone’s worries right now.
The policeman started stripping his clothes off under the downpour, throwing them at Larry who threw them into the corner, out of the fraggling way; they were going to be burned.
“You got any valuables in your kit mate? That lot’ll definitely get torched.”
“Aw crap! Me wallet and all sorts are in there. Fraggle Rock!”
“Don’t worry constable. I’ll make sure no numpty burns them until I’ve gone through the pockets. Any love letters or anything like that I should know about?”
“Up yours, nurse!” laughed the copper.
Mad Mac arrived, fire hose in hand.
“Sorry I’m late. This wretched thing is so old the valves are made of papyrus. Took me seconds to turn the pressure down. Ready?”
“Freaking do it. Kill the buggers, kill the buggers!” shouted her Majesty’s Constable.
Mac adopted the position - Larry stayed where he was, he couldn’t get much wetter that he was now, or so he thought - and Mad Mac opened up.
Low pressure or no low pressure the water knocked the policeman backwards, but he regained his balance, threw his arms up into the air and started yelling at the top of his voice. Larry turned and Sister Thumper was there with a bucket of water.
“Soap and Pusser’s Blue, Vallely, that’ll murder those little illegitimates, and there’s more where that came from.”
Mad Mac and Larry looked behind her, a bucket chain was forming and resupply was in hand. As they hosed, hurled and soaked everything in the small cramped space the three of them began to enjoy themselves. Bad form.
Outside, a bijou gallery of spectators had clustered. The baby Sister, exasperation oozing from her every pore, straining for any reaction to her commands, was fast becoming irascible. After her three years of training, at Barts don’t you know, she had joined up immediately as an Officer. Any other avenue was beneath her contemplation. As a Sister she was a waste of rations, however, the Medical Officers had other ideas where she could be very useful. Here, she was getting nowhere.
Thumper, on the other hand, was a force to be reckoned with. A Super Sister with a forthright, pragmatic and inimitable manner, she kept the Dorises on their toes and all the men on their guard, literally. Her apportioned nom de guerre is a reflection of her praxis in a certain facility, nix apropos a furry, cuddly member of the Leporidae.
Off the ward, she wore whatever she felt like, mixed with whomever she felt like, could quaff a Yard of Ale in eight seconds and rode a Triumph Bonneville.
The Medics and Doctors loved her. She was no beauty, down the Geneva Club MAs could be seen doing their impressions of her by wrapping Sellotape round their heads and fighting each other. But never in front of Thumper, never, ever, ever.
Surgeon Commander Jones, the A and E Consultant appeared, taking in the excitement. Thumper filled him in with what little she knew as a Police Superintendent, in full fig, approached.
He introduced himself to Thumper, Doc Jones he nodded to, old acquaintances from Rugger. Apparently the policeman in the showers was answering a call to investigate unusual smells from a house, with no recent sightings of its occupant. He had to break down the door to get in and in the front room found the occupant. Dead, deceased, no more, apparently for some time. Without any medical training he surmised this fact thanks to a black cloud hovering around him. Before he could react, the cloud went on the offensive and overwhelmed him. His partner, wisely outside, called for immediate help and within moments a Black Maria materialised and the officer unceremoniously flung himself into it.
The cops sealed the van, tightly, and blue-lighted its passengers straight to the Naval.
“We had a choice, “the Inspector said, “but we knew that the Royal Naval would handle this sort of thing. Right up the Navy’s avenue, we thought.” A delighted beam splitting his face.
“Why thank you Inspector. Our lads are on it as we speak.” Jonesy nodded to Thumper.
“Two of our MAs are in with him hosing him down and cleaning the little beasts off of him.”
Thumper indicated the door to the shower, just opening to reveal Mac laughing and waving the hose around and Larry changing buckets, zealot written all over him. The door closed, moderating the Babel within, just. Brouhaha was in progress.
Jonesy, Thumper and the Inspector tut-tutted at such unprofessional behaviour.
Thumper left the office as the door opened and spoke to Mac, his head poking out the narrow opening. She chatted with the Staff who legged it with purpose.
“Just getting some towels and some dry clothes for your man right now, Inspector.” Thumper was happy, happy, happy. Her kind of thing, man. Her kind of thing.
The constable, towelled down and in a pair of overalls, came out looking more relaxed and composed than previous. A Doris put her arm round his shoulder and gently led him to the waiting Medical Officer in the nearest booth. Looking over his shoulder at his Inspector he grinned and winked. A different man. The shower door closed behind him and the hose could be heard again.
A moment later the baby Sister barged into the office.
“Sister! Those two MAs are a disgrace and insubordinate. MacDonald very rudely told me to go away, apparently he’s “cleansing” and Vallely is rifling the patient’s pockets.”
Surgeon Commander Jones knew exactly what was going on and winked at Thumper,
whose baleful grimacing at the baby Sister began to recede.
“It’s a Naval thing Sister. They’ve turned the shower room into a “Cleansing Station” and once they’ve decontaminated it they’ll need to fumigate. Sister?”
“Understood, Sir!” Thumper disappeared, knowing what to do.
The baby Sister was most choleric at the indifferent dismissal of her charge and stalked off.
When they had finished Mac and Larry had to present themselves in the office. They were both soaked to the skin. Happy, but soaked to the skin.
“Beats bandaging up drunks any old day, eh, lads?” Jonesy said, Thumper by his side.
“Oh, no Sir. All patients are treated the same by us Sir.” Mad Mac, indignantly.
“So when we see you hosing down an old dear it will be all right, I am to take?” Jonesy.
Before they could further proclaim their unbiased impartiality, Jonesy interposed:
“Did you get the constable’s valuables, Larry?”
“Aye, he was worried. So I braved the beasties and rescued his chattels, Sir.”
“Bog off, Larry. And take Mad Mac with you.”
“Aye, aye, Sir”
And off they bogged. The Surgeon Commander had told them to, so they took the rest of the watch off and went to Staff Quarters to change. Via the NAAFI, the Gym, the Library, the tennis courts, the football field, the quadrangle, anywhere where they could be seen and they could recount their tale.
Back in Cas, Doc Jones was looking at the policeman’s medical notes, smiled, and in the space marked “Presenting Condition” he wrote, legibly:
“Ctenocephalides campester pes”
Now, in Harry’s, Officer Flea was joining in the party. He insisted on buying Larry a drink, which Larry felt he could not refuse, and blow by blow, bucket by bucket they regaled his company with their exploits.
Later, Jools had gone for a drink and a chat with some other Dorises at the bar when Larry felt Jack by his side.
Jack, from a Yorkshire seaside town favoured by Dracula, condescended to treat Larry as an honorary Yorkshireman. Larry had done some time at a Roman Catholic Grammar School for Boys in Tong, Bradford, so was entitled to the honour.
Larry was also in the club, an exclusive club, that Jack and a very few other Medics were in. They had been to Sea. Shocking.
Jack, his real first name, had the problem of being a doppelganger of a heart throb film
star. What a burden. He was also very fit and had a good body. Sometimes, upon seeing Jack, Larry’s pugly neuroses would almost everwhelm him, but he coped. Jack loved playing tennis and in the summer, in his tennis whites, he had to fend women off. The unutterable illegitimate.
It is a known fact that he keeps a toothbrush in Nurses Quarters, and some are sure that he’s got a permanent pit in there as well. Always in and out of relationships with gorgeous nurses, his life was just toooo stressful. Once, when he was splitting up with another drop dead gorgeous Staff nurse, Larry heard her giving him neat hassle and ending up by yelling at him that she was sick of seeing her clothes walking around on him! Illegitimate!
There was one time when Larry saw Jack getting himself ready to go ashore in front of a mirror. He did his hair, checked his teeth, smiled, ran his tongue around the inside of his cheek, straightened his clothes and looked carefully at himself.
He then looked up to heaven, did the sign of the cross, and gave his thanks.
Larry’s faith in human nature recovered and some of his animus dissipated.
But, then, Jack stood back from the mirror and did a full, out loud, Fonz!
Swine! Swine! Swine!
But, right now, Jack looked worried. Larry had never seen him like this before and as a consequence he too became worried.
“Larry. What I’ve got to tell you is top secret, your ears only, ultra friggin’ ultra mega private. QT city. Okay?”
“Yo, anything you say, you can tell me and it goes no soddin’ where.”
“Sure? Scouts honour. Cross your heart and hope to get boned by a Rhinoceros?”
“Only if she’s good looking.”
“It’ll be a Monster Mandingo, Vallely, I’ll make sure of that!”
“I swear on my mothers sacred grave, god rest her soul.” Larry, doing a dib-dib.
“She ain’t dead Vallely!”
“Okay, my sweet departed Granny Mooney’s grave then, you philistine, you.”
“You’d better not tell a soddin’ soul, Vallely, not a soddin’ soul!”
The import of the covenant fully established Jack got down to business. He looked around, concerned about earwiggers, leant forward and shouted in Vallely’s ear:
“You know me and Mel are blackcatting each other?”
“I’ve got a brammer of a snag.”
“Do tell, do tell!”
And Jack launched into his epic tale of human distress and discomfort, unmatched, even, by War and Peace:
“Well, Larry. Last night I was in Boobs. Doing the rounds. At the bar on the third floor I started chatting up this bird. She weren’t bad looking and looked bloody fit so I gave her the full works. We were getting on like crazy and she was hurtling the old Bacardis down her neck like a three badge codfish. When I got her on the Leg Openers I knew I was in. Big time.”
“It was her who decided she wanted to go home and off we went. She was a bit unsteady getting off the stool, squiffy, I thought, so, being a gentleman I gave her a hand getting to the door. Anyroads, we gets back to her place and it’s no bloody messing. She goes straight to the bedroom. No coffee, no munchies, straight up for it. I thought, hello you’re in here Jack. She sits on the bed and I’ve got my back to her, getting my kit off, and I hears this skweek, skweek. Didn’t think nowt of it. Then, I hears a thud and another skweek, skweek. So I turns around and…………….For God’s sake, she’s got her leg on the chair!”
“What’s wrong with that, Jack. All sorts of people put their legs on chairs?” Larry, mystified at Jack’s whole countenance.
“Not just her leg. Her whole bleedin’ leg! Her bleedin’, whole, bleedin’, leg!”
“Oh, no. You don’t mean?” Something registered with Larry. He had done his time on that ward.
“And her other one as well. Both bleedin’ legs! Missing! Not there! Gone! Perdu!”
“Bloody hell, Jack, bloody hell!”
“Tell me about it Larry.”
“Well, what the flying fiddle-de-dee did you do then?”
“It’s not what I did. It was her! She grabbed me arm and snatched me into the pit. My God she was randy as hell. All over me she was. A raving hyper-nymph!”
“Aw, for God’s sake, you didn’t?”
“Hammer and tongs Larry, hammer and tongs. She carnalised me to death. Never had a night like it. Awesome, mate, frigging awesome!”
Larry was gobsmacked and looking at Jack’s feverish face he knew it was all true. No mick taking here. Jack had done the business with an amputee, no, wait a minute…………….
a double amputee!
“What the hell do I do Larry? What the hell do I do?”
“Well, you beat Mel hands down with that one, no worries!”
“Nah, sod that! She wants to see me again, tonight, in Boobs. I ain’t going. No way. I ain’t going.”
Larry was looking beyond Jack’s immediate predicament.
“Jack, you’ve got to go and see her. When Mel hears about this he’ll be all over her like the Hottentot Herpes. Double amputees up for a bonk are not exactly two a penny round here, and he’ll go ballistic, intercontinental!”
“The incontinent pig will, the Jockanese git.” Jack agreed.
“So, you’ve got to get round there and see her, shalleymoo her up, and dump all over Mel.”
“You mean tell her he’s an illegitimate and all that?”
“You’ll have to, otherwise youse two’ll be neck and neck again.”
“Stiff me. You’re right Larry. I’d best get over there right now and tell her that Mel used to be in the SS, strangles whippets, and likes kiddie fiddling.”
“Steady with the whippets, Jack.”
Jack apologised, after all they were one and a bit Yorkshiremen. He promptly signalled his goodbyes to Larry and headed for the door. All thoughts of mortification overwhelmed by the need to shaitan on Mel.
Larry shook his head soberly. He was not going to divulge anything to anyone, but, knowing the Boneyard Telegraph, this would be all over the hospital by morning.
And it was.