84. A comedy of errors

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Neither Shaun nor I can precisely remember who went to Stratford-upon-Avon in June 1977. The pair of us, plus Big Dad and John Noble, or Big Youth as we liked to call him. Did Simon tag along? Whichever noble kinsmen, we took the train from Moor Street one midweek morning, alighting in Stratford at the end of the 45-minute trip.

Culture wasn’t our priority in the bustling birthplace of William Shakespeare. Unless you count pub tourism. Many lunchtime ales were sunk. As you like it, measure for measure. The draining of the brew. As the afternoon peeked through the hostelry windows, it was suggested that we might take a look at the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre that backs onto the River Avon. The next thing I can remember is pretending to be in a Viking longboat as we traversed the High Street, using the paddles that had been lifted from a boat somewhere.

Then a Chinese meal. The usual story there, where the quantity of food met stomachs already full of ale. Much ado about nothing. Inevitably, back to a pub. Where I had the genius idea of phoning Keith back in Birmingham. Told him that we had all been arrested for riotous behaviour, and to pass this story onto our Maple Bank flatmates who might be worried about our absence. The true motive being to elevate the legend of the Four Pint Can Club. My intellect working at its peak.

X pints later, we returned to the railway station. Dad tarried awhile in the loos, maybe for a Richard the Third? Then the train departure back to Brum seemed to be delayed. Suddenly a tempest of police erupted swiftly onto the platform and straight to our carriage. Next stop Stratford police station, ferried there in the back of a van. We were all charged with (something like) the destruction of a toilet cistern and associated piping at the railway station. Nobody owned up. Upon our release, we faced a massive walk home.

The only option was to call Keith and tell him we had all been arrested for riotous behaviour!

And could he please come and get us. And so he did, God bless him. We walked along the A34 in some kind of midsummer night’s dream until he hove into view and relieved our tired legs.

All’s well that ends well? Nearer to tragedy. Dad took responsibility for the station damage, and later returned to Stratford to plead guilty and receive a fine.

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