by Patrick O’Connor

PULL you buggers!

That’s what I keep shouting but does it have any effect, does it buggery.

We’re not budging, either of us, not an inch on either side, which’s a  bit of a worry because this is the most important moment of my life.

The studs on my old football boots are providing a decent grip but it isn’t just down to me is it, it’s a team effort.

My muscles are aching away, pain twanging my nerve endings like The Shadows’ guitar player Hank Marvin.

All I can hear is the grunting and groaning of my mates, straining to the limit like galley slaves. The stench of man sweat is minging and I am beginning to regret those extra rashers at breakfast. Well, me mam’s a school dinner lady and a champion fryer.

Pull you buggers!

Now I’m a big lad, love my food, like nothing better than a steak, especially the T-bone and big pile of crinkly oven chips, and I down my fair share of pints, but I’m not the biggest in our team (we’re called The Dums by the way).

Arnold, third from the back, he’s a real beast, but has a heart of gold, bless him. Does his gran’s shopping and breeds hamsters, even offered to let me have one, little chirpy feller he calls Messi.  Come on Arnold, pull a bit harder, hey lad, just for me?

It must be telepathy because suddenly Arnold looks over his shoulder at me and grins like a Cheshire cat, exposing the gaps in his teeth, the result of a run-in with one of Ted Brown’s goats when they escaped last Easter.

By comparison, the other lot, The Dees, look a weedy bunch, especially the runt at the front Steve. So how come they aren’t giving way?

The Dums and Dees are fighting it out for the village tug-of-war trophy but Steve and I have our own personal battle going on. Cheeky bleeder even has the nerve to stick his tongue out at me, horrible little stringy thing it is as well. Just glare back at him I do, doing my best John Wayne stare, like in one of his westerns when he takes on the Apaches.

Pull you buggers!

You see both Steve and I fancy Gloria, the barmaid at the Rose and Crown, like mad. Both been courting her, on and off, for ages. Not only is she a bit of a looker, although a bit on the heavy side, she’s got a wicked sense of humour. We’ve had some great nights in, watching Benny Hill DVDs.  She’d get dressed up, sort of saucy like and I’d put on this black beret and chase her around the house. Knackering but what fun especially when I catch with her and she pats me on my bald patch and tells me I’ve been a good boy.

But she’s a crafty mare, bit like her mum Mavis who’s been wed and divorced four times, and is playing me and Steve off against each other. That’s women for you, ain’t it, never know if you’re coming or going.  Can’t see what she sees in him personally, I mean, he’s as thin as a whippet and I tell you what else, he don’t drink beer, can you believe that, he drinks wine, a bloke drinking wine, ain’t right.

Anyway last week, during a lock-in at the Rose and Crown, Gloria said that if I was really serious I would propose. Yeah, I know I was a bit plastered but I got myself down one knee and did the deed. Had to use a Hula Hoop as a pretend ring but it’s the thought that counts ain’t it.

But Steve was watching and blow me didn’t he go and do the same thing, only he didn’t have a ring because I’d eaten the pub out of Hula Hoops.

So that’s when Gloria said she’d marry whoever was in the winning tug-of-war team. So here we are in the middle of the village, just to the side of the duck pond with the trophy on a table in the garden of Mr Elliott’s thatched cottage.

It’s a sunny July morning and there’s a big crowd watching. There’s a pig roast on at the Rose and Crown later and Arnold tells me the landlord’s booked a Barry Manilow tribute act.  The crowd’s cheering and I can see Gloria but she’s not watching, she’s chatting to Eric, the postman and keeps pulling at her blonde pigtails and giggling.

Pull you buggers, PULL!!!

© Patrick O’Connor 2011