(In part one, our intrepid sailors had bravely battled their way out of the harbour, fighting gales, rain, huge waves, an unstable captain, a puking wreck, damp sandwiches and warm beer, before turning back to where we started from).
We dropped Steeley the Tinkers’ Friend off on the harbour before making our way back to the mooring area. The Sexton and I entertained ourselves with the last of the sandwiches and another beer, whilst Tony spent half an hour trying to arrange the ropes into perfect circles.
Tomorrow had to be better. We left the captain to do whatever captains do when they reach shore and went to the pub, waiting for Steeley to return from Boots the Chemist with his industrial strength anti-seasickness pills. He returned clutching a large box with a picture of a smiling sailor on the front of it. He’d started the day as a vibrant, aspiring sea farer. At this moment he looked like an empty vessel of skin, bone and hair.
Tony produced some notes from his briefcase with a flourish. The Sexton raised an eyebrow.
“Right, if we set off now, we should reach the bed and breakfast in time to freshen up and dress for dinner,” he explained.
“I think we’ll be alright Tony, they’ll be lots of curry houses open late,” offered Steeley, who was able to think about food again.
Tony fixed him with a level gaze.
“No, erm no, I’ve managed to carry out some extensive research of reasonably priced restaurants within walking distance of our accommodation. If we leave now, we have an hour to unpack and shower, leaving us just enough time for a glass of wine in this pub,” he said, pointing at the street map he’d placed on the table, “ before moving on to a restaurant around 8 to 8.30pm. However, if we leave it any later we may find it difficult to secure a table… where’s The Sexton?” he enquired, suddenly aware that our friend had gone missing.
“Right behind you,” I pointed out, as The Sexton made his way back to our table from the bar, carrying four foaming pints of bitter in his large hands. He plonked one of them down on the table in front of Tony.
“Get that down yer crop,” he ordered.
Tony’s shoulders slumped and forlornly he packed away his papers in an orderly manner.
The guest house was at the top of a hill, just an everyday seaside terraced house. We all gathered by the front door and Tony pushed the bell. A figure loomed behind the frosted glass and opened the door to greet us; a smiling woman with a mop of brown hair, wearing a light blue housecoat. She took a deep breath.
“Welcome to Shunny Villash!!” she exclaimed.
Oh no, I thought. That’s all we need. A landlady with a speech impediment. I tried not to make eye contact with The Sexton and could almost feel him making the same decision.
“It’sh shuper to have you boysh shtaying – come in, come in!”
We followed her down the hallway to the ‘reception area’ under the stairs.
“I’ll jusht take your namesh”, she said, licking the end of a pencil. The Sexton gave Steeley a gentle nudge forward as she looked up. Steeley looked at us all then back at her before uttering his name.
“Sssschhhteeele…” she muttered as she wrote it down.
The four of us all stood there biting our lips. The Sexton stepped forward.
“I’m The Sexton!” he announced loudly, “what’s your name? Is it Samantha?”
Our landlady looked up from the ledger and beamed, enlivened by The Sexton’s flirtatiousness.
“No, it’sh not Shamanfa, it’sh Shushan,” she replied, looking at him coyly.
By this time, Tony’s mouth had turned into a wavy line.
The Sexton leaned forward. Susan did the same.
“I’m the sexy one,” he said quietly, giving her a wink and a smile. She giggled.
“Ooo! Sheshxy Sheshton!”
There was a flurry of activity as Tony stumbled back up the hall, handkerchief stuffed in his mouth, tears streaming down his face.
Names duly noted in the ledger, Susan showed us into the hotel lounge, which was in fact a lounge. I scanned the photographs of children, and family groups that were proudly displayed on the mantelpiece.
“What lovely children,” I commented, “what are their names?”
“I don’t know,” said Susan.
I must have looked confused.
“I’m shitting,” she continued. My expression didn’t change that much and a small frown passed over Susan’s face.
“House shitting – The ownersh are away on holiday, sho they get me in to houseshit” she explained.
I nodded, smiling back.
“I think I’ll go to my room now. See you later.”
I was sharing a room with The Sexton, whilst Steeley and Tony took the room on the floor above. The Sexton showered first. The bathroom had a basin and bath with a flower pattern design. The Sexton described the wash basin as ‘looking like somebody who’d eaten a wedding bouquet had run in and puked up all over the bathroom’.
After I finished my shower, I watched The Sexton trying on a new pair of shorts Steeley had given to him.
“Look what you can do with these shorts,” he said, as he proceeded to lower them. The shorts had a net lining and as he pulled down his shorts, the netting started to cover his large thighs, creating the impression of fishnet stockings. This amused The Sexton no end. Actually, the phrase no end is an unfortunate one in that he wasn’t wearing any underpants, so there most definitely was an end. He stood there proudly, hands on hips, with a typical mischievous look on his face.
I laughed and nodded approvingly.
Then I noticed something else. The Sexton was standing in front of a window, looking out onto a courtyard belonging to the coffee bar next door. There were a handful of occupied tables. Conversation had stopped as they all tried to assimilate what they were seeing. A man with his back to them, hands on hips, naked except for a pair of fishnet tights; another man, facing him, naked, rubbing his body with a towel, smiling and nodding.
The Sexton turned, took in the scene, bowed and gently drew the curtains. Outside, you could hear a pin drop.
The rest of the evening passed without event, most of it being spent trying to think of as many words beginning with ‘s’ that we could use at breakfast the following morning. Politically correct we were not.
The next morning, we paid a visit to Tony and Steeley’s room to find Steeley sitting on the end of his bed, head in hands. Tony appeared to be sitting at the dressing table with a towel over his head.
“It’s me fooking sinuses,” he explained in his characteristic Mancunian accent, muffled under the towel. He’d borrowed a bowl from Susan, filled it with hot water and crystals he carried with him and was inhaling the soothing vapours.
Steeley continued to stare at the carpet.
“When I went to bed last night, I threw all my clothes in a pile on the floor,” he explained, “but when I woke up this morning they were folded in a neat pile. I’m sure my trainers have been cleaned as well.”
We all looked suspiciously towards the figure hunched under the towel.
“It’s good to have somebody tidying up for you, though,” I offered quietly. The Sexton and Steeley just stared at me.
Breakfast brought about more hilarity at the expense of the afflicted. The Sexton asked for his eggs to be fried “sunny side up, two super-sized sizzling sausages and a splash of sauce.” This time, Tony had no option but to slide off his chair and under the table, wheezing and choking on a piece of toast.
“Ooo me fooking sinuses,” said a small voice by my feet.
The day’s sailing passed without incident. Steeley was rattling with anti seasickness pills, so decided he was going to be skipper for the day. The Sexton was thirsty, so he decided he was going to drink beer and ignore Steeley all day. Once again, Tony’s knot skills ensured all the bumpers fell off and that the boat drifted out as it filled up with fuel in the harbour, the fuel pipe stretched to breaking point.
We climbed into Steeley’s car, tired but ready for one more trip to the pub and a nice meal. Yes, there were two occasions that weekend when I thought I was going to die. Yes, The Sexton and I had to walk past the coffee shop quickly to stop people pointing us out. But overall, it had been a great couple of days, with lots of laughs. We were safe and happy. Nothing could spoil it.
My mobile phone rang. It was Lady BSM.
“Hello, what time will you be home?” she asked tearfully. Ahh. Poor girl, she was missing me.
“Oh don’t worry, we should be back by early evening,” I said consolingly.
“Come back now,” she replied,
“We’ve been burgled…”