05 Dec CLAIRE
Every now and then a new face would walk in to the Pub and become a regular. Such a case was Pasty, a Cornishman with a very strong accent about thirty years old who had come up to Cheltenham for work. Keen to be part of the pub life his favourite phrase was “Put me down for that” whether it was darts, skittles, the pub quiz, karaoke or shove halfpenny he did it all. His nickname stuck so well that nobody remembered his real name again. He had a small flat close to the pub he seemed to fit in well and was popular.
There were a variety of girlfriends sometimes a different one every week but never anyone permanent, until he met Claire. She was much younger than him and something special. They soon found a larger flat and moved in together obviously very much in love. She was bubbly and full of life.
The couple soon became jointly involved in all the activities that Pasty was doing, always together supporting each other and so it was for the next two years.
One night Pasty turned up for darts on his own, with the news that Claire was unwell. He played his games and went home without waiting for the end of the match. After a few days she came into the pub with information that she was going into hospital for some tests.
When the results came through that she had cancer and was to undergo chemo therapy – they threw a party in the pub for ‘Claude the Cancer’ everybody was invited and it was a brilliant night, she was determined that a little thing like that wasn’t going to stop her love for life.
With the treatment came hair loss and a national health wig was issued, much humour from that, on windy days she would put it askew as she came through the door commenting on the “bloody windy night out there”. Sometimes on returning from the toilets she would put it on backwards declaring that she didn’t know whether she was coming or going.
At one of the many discos we had in the skittle alley, she went up to talk to the DJ in some depth and at the end of the evening, all went quiet and he announced that Claire was going to sing something special.
The music for ‘Crazy’ by Patsy Cline started and before a silent and tearful audience she sang perfectly to the love of her life, Pasty. As the music finished, taking her wig in one hand, because it would have fallen off anyway, she took the biggest sweeping bow. Pasty took her in his arms and gave her one of the biggest, longest kisses ever to tumultuous applause. When he finally let her go she picked up the microphone and breathlessly said “Cor blimey I might do that again”.
Her health was fading fast and a few weeks later Claire went into the Sue Ryder Hospice and very sadly died aged just twenty three years – much too young. So Claude won that one.
Pasty never came into the pub again and eventually moved away nobody knew where to.
537 words Michael White 2019