After all the fun and excitement, the long train journey back home was quite boring. Mr Clops and Mr Balls talked a little, had sandwiches and coffee, and slept a lot. They finally arrived back in Leeds at 10.20pm. As they got into the taxi outside the train station to go home, Mr Clops suggested they stop off at The Old Peacock pub for a drink. Mr Balls agreed. He still didn’t know what his final surprise was, and thought it must be something to do with football, possibly the latest Leeds United shirt, which he’d been talking about buying for the past few weeks. However, that was soon dismissed, as they walked through the doors at The Old Peacock. ‘SURPRISE…..!! SURPRISE…..!!’ The place erupted, as loud voices screamed out from all directions.
‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR BALLS!’
‘HAPPY 50th BARRY!’
‘CONGRATULATIONS BIRTHDAY BOY!’
‘MANY HAPPY RETURNS BAZ!’
Mr Balls stood there frozen to the spot in disbelief. As he looked around the room, he noticed a number of familiar faces, including a few family members, some of which he hadn’t seen in ages. He couldn’t control his emotions and burst into tears. Seconds later he was blubbering like a big baby. Mr Clops took hold of his arm and walked him to the bar. ‘Come on Mr Balls let’s get you a drink.’ Ralf the landlord was there to greet him, with an ice cold bottle of Moet champagne. ‘Now you wipe away those tears Mr Balls!’ he said. ‘We’ve got some serious celebrating to do! Happy 50th Birthday mi owd mucker!’ He then shook the bottle, and popped the cork, before spraying it all over the unlucky people stood around the bar. He poured champagne into at least eight glasses, before handing one to Mr Balls and Mr Clops, and then dishing out the rest willy-nilly. He then banged the empty champagne bottle on the side of the bar a few times, to gain attention. ‘Right…..! Can I have a bit of hush please!? As you all know we’re here tonight to celebrate the 50th birthday of Mr Barry Bernard Balls.’ (Mr Balls, who was sat on a stool at the bar, cringed with embarrassment. No one ever called him Barry, and certainly not Bernard, and Barry Bernard was as bad as it gets.) Ralf continued…..
‘Now we’ve all known Barry, I mean Mr Balls, for quite some time, and speaking from personal experience, he’s always been a real good friend. And it just shows the genuine affection people have for him, that so many of you have turned up tonight. Or maybe it was the free bar and buffet….. No just kidding….. Anyway, whatever the reason, can you all please raise your glasses, to the one, the only, Mr Balls.’ Most of the glasses were raised, but a few had strayed over to the buffet area, to get first dibs on the sweet and savouries. ‘Oh….. and one other thing,’ said Ralf. ‘This surprise birthday party was all arranged, and paid for I might add, by Mr Clops. So many thanks for your kindness and generosity Mr Clops.’ And on that note the party began. Mr Balls had a good look around the room, and couldn’t believe how many people were there. There was his younger sister Jill with her husband Pete, and their three children Emma, Liam and Holly. His brother Patrick with his wife Hazel, and their four children James, Thomas, Rachael and Jake. There was Trevor the window cleaner and his partner Samantha. Old school friends Tim, Geoffrey, Richard, Jenny and Veronica. Members of the darts team including Sid, Johnny and Fred. His neighbours Janice and Malcolm, and their two children Joe and Nicola. A few members of the football crew, including Michael Potter, known as Mental Mickey, due to his hooligan reputation. Tommy Marsden, known as Tick Tack Tommy, due to his gambling addiction. And Daniel Seddens, known as Desperate Dan due to his constant toilet visits, on account of his very weak bladder.
It was a very impressive turnout, and even more so, when Mr Balls noticed the faces sat around the two tables in the corner. He was shocked to see old Mr Benrose, who must have made a big effort to be there, as he was in his nineties and struggled to walk. Sat next to him, was the blonde beehive herself Babs Whitaker, looking as glamorous as ever. Next to her was Mrs Bradshaw from number 46, then Mrs Lansley from number 80. Mrs Lansley was sat with her coat on, and was about to leave, even though the party had only just started. She’d done a big shop at Asda that morning, spent the afternoon at Mecca Bingo, and finished off at Costa Coffee with a latte and a chocolate muffin. She was no party animal, and wanted to get home to bed. Sat next to her was Billy Jason (Numbnuts) with his mate Ronnie Beetle. Mr Balls then noticed movement from underneath the table, and nearly had a heart attack, when he realised it was Mad Dog Lucifer. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Thankfully he was wearing a muzzle.
The colourful buffet was soon swarming with hungry grown-ups and over excited kids, filling their paper plates with mountains of food. It was a good selection with all the usual suspects, including chicken drumsticks, mini pizzas, a selection of sandwiches, a large bowl of assorted crisps, a large bowl of monster munch (Mr Balls’s favourite), small pickled onions on sticks, baked potatoes, sausage rolls, slices of quiche, and a very large tin of Fox’s biscuits. Right in the centre of the table was a large chocolate birthday cake with: “Happy 50th Birthday Mr Balls” written on the top in yellow icing. Mr Clops had hired the resident DJ, Steve (Soul Boy) Cummings. Like Mr Balls, Steve loved Soul and Motown music, and had an impressive record collection, including all the Northern Soul classics. He was one of the old school, and only ever played vinyl records. He DJ’d at The Old Peacock pub every Saturday night, and Mr Balls was often seen on the small dance floor strutting his stuff. Steve removed his first record from the sleeve, and carefully placed it on the turntable. It was the Tamla Motown classic, There’s A Ghost In My House, by R. Dean Taylor. He knew it was Mr Balls’s all time favorite record. As the intro blasted out of the speakers, Steve jumped on the mic.
‘RIGHT THEN YOU LOT…..! LET’S GET THIS PARTY ROCKING…..! THIS FIRST RECORD IS ESPECIALLY FOR THE BIRTHDAY BOY HIMSELF…..! SO COME ON BAZ! LET’S SEE YOU ON THE DANCE FLOOR!’
Mr Balls, who was milling around meeting as many of the guests as possible, stopped dead in his tracks, and gave two confident thumbs up to Steve. Moments later he glided onto the dance floor like a gazelle, to rapturous cheers and applause. — Back in the day, Mr Balls who everyone knew as Baz, was well-known around town, for being a top Northern Soul dancer. He’d often be a regular at the famous venues like the Blackpool Mecca and Wigan Casino. That may have been a lifetime ago, but he still hadn’t lost his touch. Although he couldn’t do the spins, backdrops or high kicks anymore, he still had all the other moves, and could hold his own with the best of them. Throughout the first record, Mr Balls was the only one on the dance floor. Everyone was clapping and cheering as he moved around the floor, like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. He was in his element and loving all the attention. Then he got a bit carried away. Nostalgia or the champagne must have kicked in, as he tried to recreate the Wigan Casino days. He attempted to do a few 360 spins followed by a backdrop. The spins weren’t too bad, (admittedly more 60 than 360), however, the backdrop was a disaster. It wasn’t so much a backdrop as a backflop, as he went crashing to the floor like a sack of King Edwards. He tried to disguise his fall, by rolling around on the floor in a circular motion, as if it was part of the routine. But in all honesty, he looked ridiculous. To add insult to injury, his two underarm sweat bombs had returned, and were desperate for a blast of Lynx Excite. As he clumsily stumbled back to his feet, DJ Steve came to the rescue. ‘I SEE YOU HAVEN’T LOST YA TOUCH BAZ…..! STILL AS NIMBLE AS EVER…..! GO ON MY SON!’
Although Mr Balls was very embarrassed, most people thought it was hilarious, and it only added to the fun and entertainment. The first song was quickly followed up with, Out On The Floor, by Dobie Gray. As the alcohol began to flow, the dance floor was soon heaving. Even Babs Whitaker was bopping away. She must have had at least two cans of hairspray on her beehive, cos it never moved an inch. Old Mr Benrose was also getting into the swing. He was too unsteady on his feet to dance, so instead he waved his two walking sticks in the air from a sedentary position. There was definitely no Grant Santino’s on the dance floor, but everyone was having a great time nonetheless. Mr Balls was determined to thank everyone personally for coming to his party. He moved around the room, flitting from one person to the next, like a political diplomat on a PR mission. He spent time reminiscing with his old school friends, that he’d not seen for years. He caught up with all the latest gossip and family issues, with his sister Jill and brother Patrick. He had a few games of 501 with several members of the darts team. He chatted and played silly games with his nieces and nephews, and gave them a pound coin each as a treat. And he talked endlessly about football, Formula One and politics, to anyone who was brave enough to listen.
As the party was drawing to a close, he was escorted by Mr Clops to the buffet table, to cut the birthday cake. Mr Clops lit all fifty candles as everyone gathered round. Mr Balls blew out the last candle after three attempts, before DJ Steve then started the inevitable rendition of Happy Birthday. Loud cries of ‘SPEECH…..! SPEECH…..! SPEECH…..!’ followed, and Mr Balls duly obliged…..
‘Can I just say to you all, a big thank you for coming tonight. You’ve really made this a very special occasion, and I can’t thank you enough. Can I also thank my dear friend Mr Clops once again, for making it all happen. Now who’s for a slice of birthday cake?’ Mr Balls then cut the cake into thin slices, placing each slice on a paper plate. Mr Clops handed them out, mainly to the kids, as most of the adult bellies were overflowing with food and alcohol. As the party was ending and people began leaving after saying their goodbyes, Mr Balls and Mr Clops were sat at the bar in quiet contemplation. ‘What a day Mr Clops, I don’t think I’ll ever have another day like this one, as long as I live. I can’t believe what we’ve done today. It’s been absolutely brilliant.’ ‘Glad you enjoyed it Mr Balls. I think you’re right, I don’t think this day will ever be repeated.’ Ralf the landlord was stood behind the bar eating birthday cake. ‘Mmm nice cake I must say. Oh by the way Mr Balls, I almost forgot, I’ve bought you a little birthday present.’ He bent down and fiddled around underneath the bar, before producing a small square box, neatly wrapped in blue birthday paper. He handed it to Mr Balls. ‘It’s nothing much, just a bit of something for you to open. Many happy returns mi owd pal.’
‘Ah, you shouldn’t have Ralf, thank you for the nice thought,’ said Mr Balls ripping off the paper. Seconds later both he and Mr Clops were in stitches. It was a Lynx Excite gift set, consisting of shower gel and deodorant. ‘Funnily enough Ralf, Lynx Excite has surfaced at least four times today,’ said Mr Balls. He then removed the deodorant, and sprayed a large amount under both his armpits. It was a cool welcome relief for his two sweat bombs. ‘Thanks Ralf, that’s just what I needed.’ ‘Anytime Mr Balls. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved the smell of Lynx Excite. My sister always gets me a can at Christmas.’
‘By the way I forgot to ask, how did your drive around Silverstone go?’ Mr Balls almost fell off his seat. ‘Don’t ask Ralf…..! I was that fat I wasn’t even allowed to drive a car. I got driven around the circuit by Philip the driving instructor instead.’ Ralf thought that was hilarious. ‘Too fat to drive a car…..!? Well I’ve heard everything now!’ Mr Clops and Mr Balls thanked Ralf for a fantastic party, and headed towards the door to go home. Sat near the door were Numbnuts, Mad Dog Lucifer, and Ronnie Beetle. They were the only ones left in the pub. Numbnuts staggered to his feet, he could hardly stand up. He was wasted after consuming gallons of free booze. He got right in Mr Balls’s face, slurring his words, trying to string a sentence together. ‘Right then Mr Balls….. I wanna thank ya for….. For….. Now what do I wanna thank ya for…..? Erm….. Oh yeah, I wanna thank ya for not dobbing me in to the cops, when mi dog bit ya bum. And….. Erm….. Erm….. Many happy returns. Hey….. I’ll tell ya what, ya smell nice, what ya wearing? Don’t tell mi….. Now shut up, don’t tell mi, I know that smell anywhere. It’s Brut int it Balls…..?’ Then Ronnie Beetle piped up. ‘It’s not Brut, it’s Lynx Excite int it Balls? It is….. It’s Lynx Excite….. int it Balls?’
Mr Balls had heard enough. The last thing he wanted to do, was have a meaningless conversation with two drunken dimwits. He tried to remain calm and diplomatic. ‘Oh thanks Billy, thanks Ronnie. Yeah no worries, thanks for coming. Anyway we’ve got to go, see ya.’ Numbnuts wasn’t quite finished. ‘Owd ya arses Balls…..! Thas not said thanks to mi dog yet!’ The last thing Mr Balls wanted to do, was go anywhere near Mad Dog Lucifer. He was already annoyed that a Pit Bull Terrier had been allowed in the pub in the first place. However, against his better judgment, and to avoid any confrontation with Numbnuts, he reluctantly bent down to thank the dog for coming to his party, (as daft as that sounds). He wasn’t in any immediate danger as Lucifer was wearing a muzzle, but even that looked intimidating. It was black with leather straps, that went around the dog’s face and head. There was also a thick studded collar tightly fitted around his neck. And the leather cup that covered his nose and mouth, had three rows of silver spikes sticking out. Hannibal Lecter would have looked more friendlier.
Lucifer was laid down on the floor half asleep. He’d earlier gobbled down a plate full of sausage rolls, monster munch, and salmon paste sandwiches, and was grabbing a bit of shut-eye. Mr Balls foolishly began to stroke him. ‘See ya pal, thanks for coming,’ he said.
Lucifer’s ears pricked up, followed by a raised eyebrow, then a low frequency growl. That should have been enough of a warning sign, for Mr Balls to exit stage right. Unfortunately, he stroked the dog one too many times and paid the price. Lucifer, (who still hadn’t forgiven Mr Balls for the Vespa scooter incident), went berserk. Despite being muzzled, he still had a ferocious growl, and was still vicious and terrifying as hell. Mr Balls shot up and legged it through the door, quickly followed by Mr Clops. Lucifer caught sight of Mr Clops and instantly calmed down. No doubt he didn’t want another finger up his back passage. Mr Balls and Mr Clops reached the front door of their house. ‘That was a bit silly Mr Balls. If that muzzle had come off, it would have been another trip to the hospital.’ ‘Yeah, ya right there Mr Clops and no doubt you’d have come to my rescue again, with ya finger at the ready.’
Mr Clops unlocked and then opened the front door. Mr Balls was absolutely shattered and went straight upstairs to bed, while Mr Clops went into the living room to close the curtains, and lock up for the night. Moments later he was stood at the bottom of the stairs, all excited. ‘Can you come down Mr Balls? You won’t believe who’s in the living room.’ Mr Balls came to the top of the stairs. ‘What’s that ya saying Mr Clops?’ ‘Come down Mr Balls, I’ve got something to show you.’ Mr Balls walked downstairs and into the living room, full of intrigue. He stood there shell-shocked. Laid in his armchair like two peas in a pod, were Tipsy and the long lost Harry Houdini himself Kojak. Mr Balls burst into tears. He sat down on the floor next to the two cats sobbing.
‘Kojak…..! Where did you come from!? Yav been gone for over a year! We thought you’d been run over, or stolen, or summat! This is Tipsy by the way, he’s from the cat shelter Feline Friends, just like you were. Tipsy….. this is Kojak. He lived here long before you did, so just you remember that. Now both of you look after each other.
Go on Mr Clops you go to bed, I’ll lock up. I’ll stay down here with the cats tonight, get em something to eat, make sure they’re ok.’
‘Yeah no worries Mr Balls. Do you know what? That just tops the day off nicely.’ Mr Balls slept on the sofa, while the two cats got to know each other. As this incredible day came to an end, one thing was certain:
MR BALLS DIDN’T MIND BIRTHDAYS