On Friday, we inadvertently had A Big Night Out, and found ourselves, after midnight, almost alone in a large pub with only a barman and a very drunk man for company. We’d seen him in another pub earlier where he polished off a bottle of rosé on his own, and he’d now moved on to spirits. Then he startled us: he started to sing.
We’ve always been aware of members of the Church of Elvis. There was a man in Bailey’s hometown who used to walk around all day, every day, dressed in a homemade white, flared, big-collared jumpsuit, blasting out Elvis songs from a portable cassette player. What was his nickname? Oh, yes, that’s right — ‘Elvis’. In Walthamstow, where Boak grew up, the market seemed to do a booming trade in Elvis memorabilia — engraved mirrors, laminated posters and blankets printed with scenes from his life and career. (Oh, and these blokes.)
Well, the Penzance wine-and-whisky victim was obviously of the same faith, though perhaps lapsed. Slurring his words, he launched into ‘Lonesome Tonight’, apparently serenading his own reflection in the mirror behind the optics and the pork scratching display cards. It was a good performance — the slurring helped — and, sadly, seemed to be full of genuine feeling. He had the blues, and bad.
It put paid to our conversation and made us think that perhaps it was time to go home and commence the serious business of pre-empting our hangovers.