05 Dec THE TIP OF HOBSIES’ FINGER
A pub is only as good as the landlord, good landlord – good pub. Many of the old ‘back street pubs’ have now been forced out of business by greedy breweries demanding too much from their tenants. In the days before television, people would listen to the news on the radio, have their ‘tea’ and then go down the pub. Almost every street had one and they were social centres where you could have a sing song to the piano, exchange gossip and generally have a good time.
The best landlord I ever came across was John Hobbs, ‘Hobsy’ to locals and friends of which he had plenty. He ran the Red Lion in the centre of a Cotswold village, kept a good pint, and was one of the lads himself captain of the darts and skittles teams and always in the middle of all of the pub’s many activities. They had their own Sunday league football team who were doing very well in the local competitions. His second in command was the chef, Andy, who lived in and doubled as barman when things were busy or Hobsy was on his own.
One night things were very slow and Hobsy’s wife was away when it got to ten o’clock, Hobsy told Andy to hold the fort, because he was going to see George at ‘The Bell’ for a couple of beers and a chinwag.
“Lock up and go to bed, but leave the fire exit door on the latch for me to get in”.
Off he went to the Bell, a couple of hundred yards up the road.
George had had a very quiet night as well and was glad of the company.
Soon there was just Hobsy, George and Mabel his wife, having a ‘lock in’ swapping stories and of course enjoying a drink. About two in the morning Hobsy set off back home slightly the worse for wear. He let himself in through the fire exit door which Andy had left open as requested. In order to shut the exit door, it had to be slammed shut engaging the lock, Slamming the door hard, Hobsy was aware of a sharp pain, and looking down was somewhat concerned to see that the tip of his index finger on his left hand was missing.
“Blimey! That looks serious” he thought, “I’ll go back to George and Mabel for help”.
Tottering back up to the Bell, he was relieved to see that they were still up and he tapped on the door. The door opened about six inches
“Who is it?” said George warily.
“It’s me Hobsy, let me in mate”
When he got in, he showed them what he’d done.
“Blimey that looks serious” said George and Mabel agreed. “You’d better have a drink while we decide what to do”. So they did. After a few more drinks, they decided to put Hobsy in a taxi and send him to the hospital.
At the A & E department, they cleaned and dressed his finger and admitted him until the surgeon came in the next day.
The next morning, Hobsy confused and hung-over woke up in a hospital bed in the ladies ward.
“What happened nurse?” he asked.
“Don’t worry, you had a little accident and we’re waiting for the doctor to come and see you. The only bed available was in this ward, but you will be sent home this morning”.
“Where’s the toilet?” he asked.
“Down at the far end of the ward” was the reply.
Hobsy got out of bed and headed for the door at the end of the ward.
“Good morning Ladies” he said as he passed down the beds. When he reached the toilet, he suddenly realised that he was dressed in one of those green gowns which tie up at the back – only his was not tied up! He had walked the length of the ward greeting all the ladies and flashing his bum as he went.
The doctor came and he had to have minor surgery to seal the wound.
“If you had brought in the tip of your finger, there might have been a chance of re-attaching it, but after all that time I’m afraid that is no longer an option.” The doctor informed him.
Hobsy suddenly realised that Andy would have no idea where he was, so he phoned him. Andy thought that Hobsy was having a lie-in after the excesses of the night before and was surprised to hear what had happened.
“I’ll be back in about half an hour” he said, then rang for a taxi back to the pub.
Arriving back at the pub with one finger heavily bandaged he was met by a concerned Andy.
“You all right mate? Here come and sit down, you must be hungry. I’ll get you a cup of tea and something to eat”
Hobsy was ushered to a seat and a cup of tea was put in front of him.
“Two sugars for shock” said Andy “Sit there, I’ll bring it through”
The table was laid ready, salt, pepper and Hobsy’s favourite ‘Daddies’ sauce so he sat back in anticipation, suddenly realising how hungry he was.
The kitchen door swung open and Andy came through with a plate covered with a shiny steel dome setting it down in front of his boss.
“Bon Appetite” he said removing the dome with a flourish to reveal an empty plate. Empty that was except that right in the middle was……… the tip of Hobsy’s finger!!!
895 WORDS MICHAEL WHITE 2020