An Extract From The Book: Mr Clops & Mr Balls – Silverstone By Kelvin Rush.
The taxi pulled up outside the house at nine on the dot, and sounded the horn twice. Mr Clops opened the front door and gave the thumbs up to the driver. ‘Two minutes pal!’ he shouted, before pushing the door closed. He picked up his house keys and black leather man-bag from the small oak table in the hallway, and stood at the foot of the stairs. ‘The taxi’s here Mr Balls.’ The toilet flushed and seconds later Mr Balls appeared, wearing white baggy trousers, brown loafer shoes, a multicoloured Hawaiian shirt, a panama hat and black sunglasses. He strutted downstairs like Tom Selleck from Magnum P.I. Mr Clops was a little shocked.
‘We’re going to Silverstone Mr Balls, not a beach party for the eccentrics.’ ‘Yav got to look smart on ya fiftieth birthday Mr Clops. Do ya think I look like a big fat Tom Selleck?’ ‘More like a big fat Tom Jones with those glasses,’ quipped Mr Clops. Mr Balls then burst into his rendition of Delilah:
‘Why oh why Delilah
I’m so high Delilah
So before….. you come
To brick up my door
Forgive me Delilah
I’m not there anymore’
The singing was ended abruptly, by another blast on the horn from the taxi driver. ‘Right Mr Balls, come on let’s get going.’ ‘Av ya got the tickets Mr Clops?’ Mr Clops held up his man-bag. ‘Yes I’ve got the tickets and the driving licences, now come on or we’ll miss the train.’
Ten minutes later, the taxi dropped them off outside the train station. They walked through the gates and made their way to platform 15. The train was stationary and passengers were already boarding. ‘This is ours,’ said Mr Clops, as he began walking towards the front of the train, where the first class seats were. As he stepped onto the train, Mr Balls looked slightly bemused. ‘This is first class Mr Clops, I don’t think we should be in first class.’
Mr Clops stopped and turned to face Mr Balls. He stood proudly in the doorway, before putting his right hand into the slit of his shirt, pretending to be Napoleon Bonaparte. ‘We are first class Mr Balls! First class seats! For first class people!’ His French Yorkshire accent wasn’t brilliant, but it certainly seemed to tickle Mr Balls. ‘I don’t believe it Mr Clops! Are we really first class…..?! Whatever next?! Yav pulled it off once again!’
Mr Balls got on the train, while Mr Clops began looking for their reserved seat numbers: C24 and C25. He found them shortly after. ‘Here they are Mr Balls,’ he said, as he removed the reserved cards from the top of the seats, and handed them to Mr Balls to keep as a souvenir. The two single seats faced each other, with a shiny polished wooden table in the middle. The large stylish reclining seats were in royal blue, with white cloth hung over the top, and “FIRST CLASS” printed on the front in fancy blue letters. Blue swish curtains hung from the windows, and the train carriage was fully air-conditioned. There was also power sockets for mobile phones and laptops, and Wi-Fi for internet connection.
Mr Clops sat down, placing his bag on the floor between his legs. Mr Balls on the other hand was struggling. Despite the seats being extra large with plenty of leg room, he only just about managed to squeeze in. ‘Oh dear,’ he said. ‘I’m getting a right big fat bugger, I’m gonna have to go on a diet.’ ‘Another one?’ laughed Mr Clops. On the table were blue paper napkins, two white mugs, a selection of cutlery, and a large white dish. The dish was filled with sachets of milk, brown and white sugar, salt, vinegar, and a range of sauces. There was also two blue menus with: “First Class All-Day Menu” written on the front in white letters. The menus instantly grabbed the attention of Mr Balls. He picked them both up with intrigue, handing one to Mr Clops. ‘So much for the diet,’ said a smiling Mr Clops. Inside the menu was a list of gourmet treats:
Premium Roast Beef Sandwich
With sliced onions and melted cheese, on soft white bread.
Scottish Smoked Salmon Sandwich
With cream cheese, red onions, capers and black pepper, on soft malted bread.
Chicken Tikka Masala With Spiced Rice
Tandoori baked boneless chicken, cooked in oriental spices and tomatoes.
Caramelized Onions, Smoked Gouda and Pecan Rice Tart
Served with green mixed salad.
Black Forest Gateau
Banana Caramel Cream Cake
French Ice Cream With Glace Fruits
Tea, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice are served throughout your journey, with a selection of sweet and savoury snacks.
Mr Balls was like a kid in a sweet shop, as he pondered over the menu. ‘I’ll tell ya what Mr Clops, this is top nosh this ya know, none of ya processed rubbish here.’ — Mr Balls’s normal culinary experience, consisted of endless takeaways, anything out of a tin, and regular large multipack crisps, (4 cheese and onion, 4 salt and vinegar and 4 plain), all consumed in one sitting. ‘Yeah, apparently it’s all freshly made too,’ said Mr Clops who was also impressed. Mr Balls scrunched up his face and scratched his head, looking a little puzzled. ‘Well that’s funny Mr Clops….. there aren’t any prices on the menu.’ ‘It’s all free Mr Balls, it’s all part of the first class experience.’ Mr Balls couldn’t believe it as he smiled with sheer delight, (flashing his crooked yellow teeth, top and bottom). ‘It’s all free? Does that mean I can order anything?’
‘Well you can’t order the whole menu Mr Balls. You can choose one item from the main section, and one from dessert.’ Mr Balls spent the next five minutes with his face buried in the menu, but couldn’t make up his mind on what to order. ‘It’s not an easy choice to make Mr Clops. I mean, yav got to av a bit of smoked salmon on ya birthday. But what about the roast beef? And ya know I could never resist Chicken Tikka Masala, especially when it’s cooked in oriental spices. Ya can’t turn ya nose up at Chicken Tikka Masala, when it’s been cooked in oriental spices. Do ya think I could order more than one item from the main section Mr Clops?’
Mr Clops wasn’t paying much attention and didn’t respond. He was busy on his smartphone checking out the weather forecast, wondering what it would be like driving around Silverstone in wet conditions, should it rain later on. Mr Balls tried again. ‘I’m just asking Mr Clops, do ya think I could order more than one item from the main section?’ Mr Clops finally put down his phone. ‘I’m not sure Mr Balls, I don’t see why not, after all, you are celebrating your fiftieth birthday. Tell that to the waiter when he comes to take the orders.’
‘Yeah, I’ll do that Mr Clops, I’ll do that.’
‘I bet you aren’t that hungry anyway, after the belly-buster breakfast, are you?’
‘Well I am a bit peckish Mr Clops, ya know I’ve got a big appetite.’
— Mr Balls certainly did have a big appetite. Ever since his divorce from his wife Brenda two years ago, he’d piled on the pounds. He must have put on at least seven or eight stone, and he seemed to be getting fatter by the day. His face and neck had quadrupled in size, and with his silver hair and greying beard, he had an uncanny resemblance to Kenny Rodgers, the country music singer, (albeit a larger version). Ironically, his favourite karaoke song was The Gambler by Kenny Rodgers. He may have looked like Kenny Rodgers but he certainly didn’t sound like him.
Ten minutes later the waiter arrived pushing a trolley. He was serving fresh ground coffee, tea, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a selection of biscuits, cakes, crisps and savoury snacks. He was smartly dressed in black trousers, a black waistcoat, a white shirt with a black bow tie, and black shoes. He was a small chubby man in his early forties, with a wet dour look on his face, (as if he didn’t really want to be there). He also had a really funny looking ginger comb-over, which failed to hide the large bald patch on the top of his head. He looked like a cross between Friar Tuck and Bobby Charlton.
‘Would you like anything sir?’ he asked Mr Balls. Mr Balls began to order from the menu, before being interrupted by the waiter. ‘I’ll be taking menu orders in thirty minutes sir, this is the free refreshment trolley.’ Mr Balls raised both eyebrows and twitched his nose repeatedly, (which he often did after receiving a nice surprise). ‘Free refreshment trolley and the menu!? Wow! this gets better by the minute.’ He picked up one of the white mugs from the table, and held it out to the waiter. ‘I’ll have a coffee please.’
The waiter carefully filled the mug with piping hot black coffee. ‘There’s the milk and sugar sir,’ he said, pointing to the white dish on the table. ‘Would you like anything else sir?’ The eyes of Mr Balls were feasting over the tempting treats on the trolley, (especially the selection of small mini cakes).
‘What are those?’ he asked pointing with his right forefinger.
‘Mini cream slices sir with apple, pear and blueberry.’
‘Mmm….. I’ll have two please….. and what are those?’
‘Mini cheesecakes sir with black pepper.’
‘Great, I’ll have two of those as well please, and what are those?’
‘Mini orange meringue tarts sir.’
‘Go on I’ll have two of those. Can I also have two bags of salt and vinegar crisps, and err….. err….. I’ll have two packs of those chocolate biscuits, and two packs of jammie dodgers please. Yav got to av a jammie dodger on ya birthday haven’t ya?’ The waiter gave Mr Balls a little wry look. ‘I suppose so sir,’ he said, before addressing Mr Clops.
‘Would you like anything sir?’ ‘Just a tea please,’ replied Mr Clops. By the time the waiter left, the table looked just like a school tuck shop raid. Mr Balls demolished the lot in ten minutes flat, and looked rather disappointed. ‘They’re not very big those mini cakes are they Mr Clops?’ Mr Clops took a sip of his tea. ‘Well, they’re certainly not big enough for you.’ Mr Balls wiped his mouth and then his face with a napkin. ‘When do we order from the menu?’ Mr Clops looked amused. ‘Are you still hungry?’ ‘Am I still hungry!? I could eat a horse! Those mini cakes weren’t big enough to feed a mouse!’
Mr Clops burst out laughing. ‘And what about the crisps? The chocolate biscuits? The jammie dodgers? And the full English belly-buster?’ Now Mr Balls burst out laughing. ‘Blumin eck Mr Clops, am I a gannet or what?’ Mr Balls had an unmistakable, very loud and hearty belly laugh, that seemed to be contagious. Whenever it surfaced, it sparked a domino effect, as anyone nearby couldn’t help but join in. That’s just what happened on this occasion, as a few people from the other tables also began to laugh. Before you knew it the whole carriage was laughing. ‘Now they’re all at it Mr Clops! Whatever next!?’ shouted Mr Balls.
Thirty minutes later the waiter arrived to take the menu orders. It was the same waiter from the refreshment trolley. ‘Would you like anything sir?’ he asked Mr Balls, who was looking through the menu. Mr Balls looked up at the waiter and smiled generously, to try and get on his good side. ‘I’ll have the premium roast beef sandwich please.’ ‘Premium roast beef sir,’ said the waiter, as he scribbled down the order on his note pad. ‘Would you like anything else sir?’ ‘Oh….. erm….. erm….. Would it be ok if I ordered the smoked salmon sandwich as well please?’ The waiter shook his head. ‘I’m afraid not sir. It’s only one item from main and one from dessert.’
Mr Balls wasn’t deterred. ‘Oh go on be a sport, I’m celebrating my fiftieth birthday today. Yav got to av a bit of smoked salmon on ya fiftieth birthday,’ he said cheekily. The waiter looked a little flustered, he’d never been put on the spot like this before. ‘Well….. the thing is sir….. Well….. Normally you would choose one item from the main section, and one from dessert….. I’ll go and ask my manager sir.’ He then walked down the aisle and disappeared out of the carriage.
He returned a few minutes later…..
‘I’ve had a word with my manager sir, and you can order anything from the menu. After all, it is your fiftieth sir.’ ‘I can order anything?’ asked an excitable Mr Balls, as he looked eagerly over the menu. (He wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass him by.) ‘Right then….. I’ll have the premium roast beef sandwich….. The Scottish smoked salmon sandwich….. Erm….. let me see….. The chicken tikka masala….. The black forest gateau….. and the French ice cream with glace fruits please.’
By the look on the waiter’s face, he obviously thought Mr Balls was taking advantage, big time. Nevertheless, he quickly scribbled down the order on his pad without saying anything, before turning to Mr Clops. ‘Would you like anything sir? I assume it’s not your fiftieth as well is it sir?’ he asked sarcastically. Mr Clops looked up from the menu. ‘I’ll have the Scottish smoked salmon sandwich please, no dessert thank you.’ The waiter smiled before moving to the next table.
The food arrived fifteen minutes later. It was the same waiter once again. By the time he’d put the last dish on the table, Mr Balls had already scoffed half of the beef sandwich. There was melted cheese all down his shirt. ‘I’m a right messy sod,’ he said, cleaning himself up with several napkins. He spent the next twenty minutes indulging himself in his favourite pastime.
— Mr Balls absolutely loved food and couldn’t get enough of it. He’d eat anything and everything, and was always at his happiest when he was eating. He was also a noisy eater, and had a bad habit of talking with his mouth full, and spitting food all over the place, (something Mr Clops had learned to ignore). Mr Balls would also regurgitate his food, which he started doing as a young boy to annoy his little sister. He would half swallow his food, and then bring it back up to his mouth. He repeated this several times, before finally swallowing the food properly. At times he looked like a deranged frog swallowing a golf ball.
‘Mmm….. mmm….. mmm….. This chicken tikka is absolutely delicious,’ said Mr Balls, while making his usual chomping noises with his teeth, and spitting particles of food in the direction of Mr Clops. ‘Glad you’re enjoying it,’ smiled Mr Clops, as he tried to dodge the spit and food coming towards him. Fifteen minutes later, every last morsel of food on the table had been eaten. All except for a small piece of smoked salmon sandwich, on Mr Clops’s plate. Mr Balls was hovering over the plate like a vulture. ‘Aren’t you going to eat that last bit Mr Clops?’ ‘No I’ve had enough.’ ‘Waste not, want not,’ said Mr Balls, as he picked up the remains of the sandwich and shovelled it into his mouth.
‘I hope you’ve left enough room for a slice of birthday cake,’ said Mr Clops. Mr Balls looked stunned. ‘Birthday Cake…..?! Who’s Having Birthday Cake…..?!’ Just then, an announcement came over the tannoy: ‘We have a very special guest on the train today. The one and only Mr Balls, who’s celebrating his 50th birthday. Congratulations Mr Balls and all the very best from Mr Clops, Tipsy and Kojak the cats, and all the lads from The Old Peacock pub. And best wishes from everyone here at MidRail Trains.’
Just as the announcement finished, the waiter appeared once again. This time he was holding a large double chocolate birthday cake, with fifty lit candles. He presented it on the table in front of Mr Balls. ‘Happy birthday sir,’ he said. Mr Balls looked genuinely shocked, and was quite emotional. ‘Oh thank you, I don’t know what to say,’ he said, as he leant over and took in a fair amount of air, before blowing frantically as if his life depended on it. He blew out all the candles at the first attempt. Mr Clops then started a rendition of happy birthday. Most of the people in the carriage sportingly joined in.
After the singing had finished, Mr Balls tried to stand up to say a few words, but he got trapped in his seat. He was squashed between the seat and the table, (just like a fat sausage dog stuck down a rabbit hole). ‘I can’t get up Mr Clops, can you help me please?’ Mr Clops came to the rescue. He got hold of Mr Balls around the waist, and tried to pull him out of the seat. Considering Mr Clops was a slight man, and didn’t have much in the way of strength, it was a thankless task. He was pulling and pulling and getting nowhere fast. Mr Balls didn’t move a single inch.
Then, a very large lady from one of the other tables offered to help. ‘Would you like me to have a go?’ she asked in a deep voice, as she stood in the aisle towering over Mr Clops. ‘By all means love,’ replied Mr Clops, who was breathless from all the pulling. The lady was at least eighteen stone and over six feet tall. She looked like she could have been a Russian shot putter, or a hammer thrower, or maybe a Russian spy. One thing’s for sure, she definitely wasn’t a Russian ballet dancer. She had a face like a dog’s dinner and dragon’s breath to go with it. You certainly wouldn’t want to meet her on a dark night, or any night for that matter. She grabbed Mr Balls by his shoulders. ‘Right young man,’ she said. ‘Let’s get you out of there.’ She began to pull him forcefully. Mr Balls wasn’t at all impressed. ‘Take it easy love!’ he said abruptly. ‘You’ll pull mi head off if ya not careful!’
After several twists and tugs, she managed to move him just a few inches, before losing her balance and falling on top of him in a heap. The ladies pink baggy bloomers were on show for everyone to savour. The carriage was in stitches. ‘It looks like you’ve really fallen for him this time!’ a voice shouted. ‘Nice knickers!’ someone else screamed. The lady got back to her feet with an extremely flushed face, but was determined to finish the job. After several more twists and tugs, she finally managed to free Mr Balls, to rapturous cheers. Mr Balls stood up and was now ready to address the passengers.
‘Thank you so much for making this a very special birthday, and a big thank you to my dear friend Mr Clops for arranging it. I hope you’ll all have a bit of birthday cake with me.’ Mr Balls then cut the cake into slices, placing each slice on a napkin. He cut two extra large slices handing one to the waiter, and the other to the large lady. ‘Oh thank you sir,’ said the waiter. ‘I’ll eat it later when I’m off duty if you don’t mind.’ ‘Thank you,’ said the large lady. ‘I’ve always been partial to a bit of chocolate cake.’
Mr Balls spent the next ten minutes handing out slices of double chocolate birthday cake, to the twelve or so passengers in the carriage. He then sat back down in his seat with his legs hanging over the side, so he wouldn’t get stuck again. There was one slice of cake left on the table, as the inspector arrived to check the tickets. ‘Tickets please,’ he said. Mr Clops removed two tickets from his trouser pocket, and handed them to the inspector. The inspector checked and then clipped the tickets, before handing them back. ‘Would you like a slice of my birthday cake?’ asked Mr Balls, holding up the cake to the inspector. ‘Oh that’s very kind of you sir. I don’t mind if I do, and many happy returns.’ The inspector was still eating the cake, as he clipped the final passenger ticket, before moving to the next carriage.
The train pulled into Manchester Piccadilly at 11.40am, only six minutes later than the scheduled time. Mr Clops was extremely embarrassed as he looked down at the table. ‘Look at the state of this table Mr Balls, you’d think a family of five had been sitting here.’ The table looked like the end of a children’s party. There were empty mugs, biscuit wrappers, crisp packets, bits of chocolate cake, dinner plates, dessert bowls, sugar and milk sachets, spoons, knives, forks, and dirty napkins. Mr Balls wasn’t concerned in the slightest. ‘Don’t worry about it Mr Clops, the staff will clean it up, that’s what they get paid for.’
‘Yeah, you’re right Mr Balls, we certainly wouldn’t want to deprive anyone of their work.’ Mr Balls was sat in his seat as the passengers walked passed him to get off the train. Most of them shook his hand and wished him all the best. As the last passenger left the train, Mr Balls raised his right leg and let rip. He let out the most enormous fart that seemed to ricochet off the seats, and reverberate right around the carriage. Mr Balls and Mr Clops exploded into laughter simultaneously, just like a pair of silly school kids. ‘Guess what Mr Clops? I’ve been waiting to do that for the past twenty five minutes.’ The smell was disgusting. It was like a thousand sweaty feet, stale cheese and rotten eggs all rolled into one.
‘Whooo…..! Smell that Mr Clops!’ Mr Clops (who was now laughing hysterically), put an empty crisp packet over his nose to try and block out the smell. ‘It’ll take a lot more than a bag of salt and vinegar to stop that smell!’ shouted a jubilant Mr Balls, who began to waft the stale air with both his hands, in the direction of Mr Clops. Mr Balls then raised his right leg once again, and this time let out his full armoury. It was a loud prolonged fart, followed by several silent-but-deadly mini farts. ‘I’ll tell ya what Mr Clops, I’m definitely on form today.’
The rancid smell was more than Mr Clops could take. He sprang up from his seat and hurriedly ran towards the exit door, still laughing hysterically and still holding the empty crisp packet to his nose. Mr Balls was right behind him. ‘I would hurry up if I were you Mr Clops, I’ve got another one brewing.’ They got off the train still laughing loudly and set off to find platform 5. They arrived at platform 5 a few minutes later, by which time they’d both calmed down.
‘Our train is in Mr Balls.’
‘Is it first class again Mr Clops?’
‘First class it is Mr Balls.’
Once again Mr Balls couldn’t quite believe it. ‘I’ve never travelled anywhere first class before, and now I’ve done it twice in a day. I didn’t think I’d be saying that when I woke up this morning, I can tell ya.’ ‘Well you can double that Mr Balls cos don’t forget, once we get to Silverstone we’ve then got to come back. So that will make it four first class journeys in a single day. Now that will be something to tell the lads down at The Old Peacock.’
They got on the train and found their reserved seats. The train was similar to the one they’d just been on. It had cushy reclining seats, (this time green not blue), curtains on the windows, air conditioning, WiFi, and another all-day menu. ‘Would ya believe it? Another all-day menu,’ smiled Mr Balls, as he sat down wriggling about in his seat to get comfortable. He sat back and let out a mammoth yawn, that seemed to go on forever. His mouth was wide open, stretching his face to the limit, revealing several silver fillings. He looked like a very sleepy hippo about to crash out.
‘I don’t know about you Mr Clops but I’m knackered, all that laughing has taken its toll. I think I’ll have forty winks. Will you wake me up please when the waiter comes?’ Before Mr Clops could answer, Mr Balls was out like a light. Seconds later, he was fast asleep snoring away like a demented pig. His head was tilted backwards and his mouth was open wider than the Mersey tunnel. He could be heard all throughout the carriage, annoying some passengers and entertaining others.
Mr Clops was also feeling a little tired. He’d been up since seven that morning, preparing the belly-buster breakfast, and making sure the birthday celebrations ran smoothly. ‘I’ll just rest my eyes,’ he said quietly to himself, and before he knew it, he was also out like a light. For the next two hours they were both dead to the world. They slept through all the passengers getting on and off the train. They slept through all the tannoy announcements. And they missed the refreshment trolley and the waiter taking the menu orders.
Eventually, Mr Clops was woken up by the ticket inspector, who gently shook him on the shoulder. ‘Excuse me sir, can I see your tickets please?’ Mr Clops was at sixes and sevens, as he quickly rummaged through his pockets to find the tickets. He handed the tickets to the inspector, while looking out of the window. ‘Where are we?’ he asked, looking and sounding a little confused. ‘Wolverton sir,’ replied the inspector, as he handed back the tickets, and made his way down the aisle and out of the carriage.
Mr Clops hurriedly shook Mr Balls. ‘Wake up Mr Balls we’re here, wake up.’ Mr Balls began mumbling: ‘Who’s that? What do you want? You want what? Get away, go on get away. I’ll have the smoked salmon, the beef goulash and…..’ Mr Clops shook harder. ‘Wake up Mr Balls we’re here! Wake up!’ Mr Balls was finally raised from the dead and back to civilization. He woke up rubbing his face with both hands, before giving his head a good scratch. It took him a few moments to get the gist of the situation. ‘Where are we Mr Clops? I was having a lovely dream. Has the waiter been? Why didn’t you wake me?’ ‘I fell asleep Mr Balls, I’ve only just woken up myself. We’re at Wolverton, this is where we get off.’
Shortly after, they got off the train and headed out of the station to the taxi rank, to get a taxi to Silverstone.
An Extract From The Book: Mr Clops & Mr Balls – Silverstone By Kelvin Rush.