That’s how Big John started every sentence. He would wait for you to speak then with a roar that only Brian Blessed could match. He would say the magic words.
Then he would go on to completely demolish any theory you had on life or politics.
Okay, I hear you saying. The guy was a moron. A complete wanker.
But, that’s where you’re wrong. Big John was one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever met.
He seemed to know everything about every subject imaginable.
For example, we were in the pub one day and discussing the last time any of us “bought” music. Steve Roberts made an off the cuff remark about how no one buys Vinyl anymore.
That was it. Big John was off on one.
We waited for a second knowing that a stream of facts and figures would follow. We weren’t disappointed.
“Vinyl sales are now bigger that they were in the late eighties. They went up by 32% last year whilst CD sales went down by 17%. In 2015 over two million albums were sold and it’s estimated that in 2016 they’ll sell over three million.”
Then there was the time someone mentioned that Japanese cars were the best sellers. Big mistake.
Big John had to put them right.
“You…are…having…a…fucking…laugh. The best selling car in this country by a long way is the Ford Fiesta, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa, then the Ford focus. Nissan comes in at number five. Way down the list.”
People tried to catch him out. They’d pop into the toilets and Google something obscure and then mention it later in conversation. Big John always knew the answer.
He was in his mid forties, six foot two inches tall and about nineteen stone. Big John was a BIG man.
He walked with a limp and had to use a stick. Industrial accident he said from when he worked for a big factory on the other side of town. Apparently he was just twenty when it happened. Someone spilt some fluid on the floor and Big John took a tumble. His back was injured at the base of his spine which caused certain nerves to trap and made his left leg numb from the thigh down to his ankle.
He never worked again. His days were filled with having a few beers with his mates and absorbing as much information as was humanly possible.
Then one day, when it was just the two of us having our usual chat in the pub, he told me something that make me change my opinion of him.
I brought up the subject of his injury.
“Bloody shame about the leg John. Just think of what you might have achieved if it hadn’t have happened.”
He’d had a few beers by then and looked at me and began to laugh.
“You’re…having…a…fucking…laugh. It was the BEST thing that ever happened to me.”
I was a bit confused and had to ask the question.
“Why’s that John?”
He leaned in close and looked to both sides to see if anyone was listening. Then he began.
“Look, I left school at 18 with a handful of qualifications. I could have gone to University but I had other plans. I started at the Factory and after my probation period signed up for their Healthcare and Pension scheme. I also took out my own separate life cover and various insurance policies with an Independent Company. I waited two years. Then BANG, one day IT happened. I slipped up and hurt my back. The company were negligent because they had failed to clear up a spillage of cooking oil on the warehouse floor that had SOMEHOW leaked from one of the tins.”
The penny was beginning to drop.
“So you claimed?”
Once again Big John smiled.
“You…are…having…a…fucking…laugh. Too right I claimed! The company settled out of court for the big claim, but all the other policies kicked in and have been paying me ever since and will until the day I die. I’ve got more money coming in than I know what to do with. Why the fuck would I want to do a full day’s work when I can sit in the pub all day and get paid at the same time?”
When he left the pub that day a bit worse for wear. I could swear he was limping on his right leg and not his left.
I now think Big John is a complete wanker. But a very clever and intelligent wanker…