Are you wotsit?

John Ward
John Ward

WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

I was in town with not a care – I had parked the car in the two hour limit car park – and I was molested by one of those wonderful people who I don’t really know and they likewise in real terms but this small minor point is overlooked as the conversation goes along like this – now are you ready?

New-found friend/time-killer/deluded Grade One: “You’re him ain’t you?! – wotsisneck, you know – that bloke who, oh I dunno but if my missis was here, she would know who you are.” Reassuring, I thought, as I replied that I didn’t think I was (bearing in mind he could be mistaking me with some idiot or other and so you have to watch out for these things) as he could be confusing me with, say, Brad Pitt or a possible relation, Cess.

I have never really considered I looked like anybody as such but that is open to interpretation as I was once told I looked like a well-known famous singer person but I respectfully pointed out the person they thought I looked like was a female singer and the response was one of: “Yes, but who’s to say the operation was successful?” and after hearing that I decided I was not getting out as much as I should be.

Some years go a friend of mine did look a bit like a well known villain or criminal that had his face in just about every major national newspaper from the dailies to perhaps the Rug Weaver’s Monthly over a period of weeks and into months etc while his trial was ongoing and, after it, was then sent away by arrangement with a High Court Judge on ‘holiday’ so to speak that did not figure on any Trip Advisor review listing as: ‘Easy access to rope ladder’ or ‘Windows a tad draughty with only three bars on them’ or ‘Tunnel cramped but adequate’ etc.

So friend Trev looked a bit like said ‘criminal mastermind’ on a foggy night maybe, but even more so when we were in a pub in London while attending a trade exhibition show and having a swift drink and sausage roll snack after leaving it – the exhibition catering prices were high even then, so no change there even today.

After a few minutes somebody sidled up to us, or rather Trev in particular and spoke out the corner of his mouth, as they do it seems in real life as in films, and inquired: “How long you been art den? – all legit? – tunnel job or over the wall?” and the frightening bit then was, after Trev nearly choked on his half a lager, that we slowly realised this new-found acquaintance was deadly serious judging by the look on his face.

It did get a bit ‘heavy going’ to coin a phase as the conversation which was sort of one sided and sounded like an episode of BBC TV’s ‘Eastenders’ as in: “So – wot’s it all abart den?” to Trev followed by: “Wot’s going on den?” Once again to Trev who stood quite statue-like as all this is for real as we slowly realise that another one or two folk in this pub are staring at us, or Trev, who maybe are also under the (wrong) impression that Trev was indeed Dangerous Dan whom they thought had just broken out of his holiday camp arrangements and at worse could lose part of his deposit on said holiday accommodation – you don’t know, do you?

Only our nerves saved us as we both made our excuses and left pronto before it got a little bit too heavy going and that must have been the quickest we moved that day and our only thoughts were to catch the next train back, although Trev said the sausage rolls were okay.

On the train back Trev asked my honest opinion if he did really look like ‘Dangerous Dan’ as our side of the mouth talking new found friend had suggested and I pointed out that the real test had been just a few miles back, turn left outside the station, then right and sharp left again, in a delightful pub that seemed to be the headquarters or possibly a branch office of Dangerous Dan’s fan club.

Another ‘lookalike’ moment some year earlier unfolded in the kitchen of my mum, she of the people for the people, when her friend Joyce was having a cup of tea and explaining her younger brother Ronnie, then in his thirties, was ‘hoping to disappear’(?!), for what reason was lost on me but he wanted to ‘get away’ as Joyce was telling mum and he was ‘going to join the Foreign Legion’.

Mum looked at her and said she was surprised to hear that as she thought he might be better off joining the British Legion as she was not aware that her Ronnie could speak, well, foreign and this could be a handicap once there and joined up.

Joyce looked puzzled – not difficult, believe me – and then asked mum what the difference was and mum said that the foreign lot wore a sort of peaked cap with their handkerchiefs hanging down at the back of them as perhaps they sweat more or have runny noses, so need to dry them this way if the films she had seen were anything to go by, but seeing the British Legion on parade at times knew they wore berets and Ray up the road carried their flag.

Joyce then pointed out that perhaps he might be better off staying put to her mind as he looked like George Formby and over here people would know, or remember George Formby who played the ukulele, as he might struggle to explain the resemblance to those over in foreign parts in case anybody might say he looked like ‘somebody famous’ assuming Ronnie could understand them speaking in foreign that is.

Mum said she did not realise that her Ronnie could play the ukulele and Joyce replied he couldn’t, he just looked like George but he could sing a bit like him if pushed.

Then mum asked what sort of pushing would it take for him to sing as the local old folks club often wanted people to go along of an evening and get everybody joining in for a sing-song after the bingo session, otherwise riots would break out.

Joyce by now had finished slooping her tea and had one of those ‘far off looks’ as they say and asked mum if she would mind Ronnie popping round and having a word with my dad and maybe see the possible error of his ways and mum, as ever the helpful soul, suggested it wasn’t a problem as dad had past military experience what with being in the army, the British one, and he might be a better person to speak to about the various legions to join – or not.

I never knew the outcome of that meeting but I heard that Ronnie ended up as a handyman plus calling bingo at a holiday camp ‘somewhere in England’, headgear unknown.