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If You Bump Into Ozzy, Don’t Tell Him Where I Am … (Feature by David Evans)

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 Written by David Evans
If You Bump Into Ozzy, Don’t Tell Him Where I Am … (Ozzy Osbourne Feature)

I’m not being boastful on her behalf, but my grandma was a great cook. Even my fuddy-duddy cousin, who seemed to live on mashed up boiled eggs with salad cream and pineapple yoghurt without the bits, never turned her nose up at any of gran’s puddings and pies.

And yet, amongst those who hadn’t spent their childhood being fed and fattened on her jam roly-poly and plum duff, she is probably best remembered for her preoccupation with proverbs … and it didn’t matter if you were dishing the dirt, voicing an opinion or simply sharing some news, she would always round off the story with one of those old-fashioned, smarty-pants sayings.

A lot of them went over my head and some were just plain double-Dutch, and when she came out with ‘many a mickle makes a muckle’ I was sure she had just made it up. I didn’t dare say as much; short trousers left a lot of flesh exposed and the back of my leg was still stinging from the slap I got for answering back.

But judging by the number of times she used it, ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show came the muck cart’ was one of her favourites, and yet I only figured out where it came from when I was trying to get jiggy with this posh girl who used to sell her horse manure to the local rose gardeners. She was older than me and really, really good looking, and all my mates said I was stupid when I ditched her … they didn’t think I was such a jackass when I told them that her idea of getting down-an’-dirty meant me mucking out her stables.

Now I can’t be sure what my gran would have said about me taking up with that girl from the council estate who wore stilettos and smoked in the street, but one thing’s for certain, in the light of a recent flurry of internet gossip, she would have found plenty of opportunity to sound off about Lord Mayors and muck carts….

First came the news that Katy Perry was treating her husband to a ride on the Virgin Galactic space flight. Now I’m no fan of her music, and considering she dropped out of school in the ninth grade, it’s no surprise that she has since become the pin-up girl for those hard-of-learning teenagers who still mouth the words when they read.

Not that this makes her a bad person, and given that I’ve no way of knowing what possessed her to marry Russell Brand, I can only assume that if she had spent more time at school she would have learned about the pitfalls of lying with snakes … or as far as Russell Brand is concerned, am I wrongly maligning the black mambas and horned vipers of this world?

But getting back to this space trip: I’ve never written sci-fi, but even though I’m no more than a speck on Ray Bradbury’s lapel, I managed to come up with a couple of extra-terrestrial storylines.

It was a toss-up between the idea of the mother ship being contaminated by a flesh-eating virus which targets narcissistic and cowardly bully-boys, or something along the lines of Ridley Scott’s Alien, but instead of a terrifying, avaricious mini-monster bursting out of Russell Brand’s chest, I came up with the equally scary spectre of a tiny Jonathan Ross emerging from his shattered rib cage only to spend the rest of the journey boring the passengers to death.

Okay, neither scenario is overly original, but even so, I was still disappointed to learn that the duration of this space flight was only half-a-day! Half-a-bloody-day, that’s right. Stone me, when you think about all the rigmarole of take-off and landing, you might as well take a trip to somewhere like Alton Towers and jump a few rides on Nemesis. It will still make you feel as if your eyeballs are popping out, but you can settle your stomach with a stiff drink when you’re done, and you’d be sure to avoid Jonathan Ross.

ImageAnyway, I wasn’t downhearted for long. It was if Andrew Sach’s Lord and Protector was spreading his benevolence far and wide when Brand’s portrayal of Arthur was savaged on both sides of the Atlantic. With several critics suggesting his performance would signal the end of his Hollywood career, only the thought of him crawling back to these shores took the edge off my mirth.

 And yes, I’m well aware that I shouldn’t be taking pleasure from other people’s misfortune, but just so as you know that it’s out of character, schadenfreude was the furthest thing from my mind when I read about the recent ups and downs in Ozzy Osbourne’s life.

On the sunny side came the announcement that the aging rocker is set to become the second recipient of Kerang’s ‘Legend’ award … and believe you me, when I heard the news, I was happier than a bat escaping from captivity.

But my joy was short-lived, and when I got wind of his $1.7 million debt to the taxman and the possibility of him losing his Los Angeles home, not only could I hear my gran trotting out her old favourite, but a teensy-weensy chill ran down my spine.

Now before I go any further, let me say that my apprehension is far and away removed from my feelings towards Russell Brand’s possible upheaval. What I mean is that before the Black Sabbath front man remarried and set up home in California, we were actually quite friendly.

Although it would come across a lot better if I said we were schoolboy buddies and our long standing friendship was cemented by a shared love of heavy-metal, none of it would be true. You see, when it came to music, I was big into bands like The Caledonia Soul Orchestra and Little Feat. In fact – and I know this will sound strange – I’ve never been to any of his gigs, and the only Black Sabbath record I’ve ever owned is the gold disc of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

And as regards us getting to know one another, that only came about because we happened to live within a mile of each other … not what you’d call spitting distance, I’d agree, but when this town-sized chunk of rural England was home to a mere half-a-dozen houses and tractors outnumbered cars four-to-one, it meant that we were nigh-on next door neighbours.

Not that we lived in each other’s pockets. In fact, we could go months without meeting up. But when we did get together we had a whale of a time … I think.

We seldom planned anything in advance. Okay, there were a few party invites, but in the main, our get-togethers were impromptu affairs … and in John’s case, more often than not impulsive.

Although the memories are clouded in an alcoholic haze, I can just about remember when he turned up at my place at 2 o’clock in the morning, clutching his latest hi-tech plaything: Electronic Battleships. In fairness, I should point out that having just returned from the States, his head was in a different time zone … but mine wasn’t, and more importantly neither was my boss’.

Even so, we played until sunrise, but not because of the thrill of competition or some macho tactical horn-locking. No siree. We played uninterrupted only because John thought the sound effects were mind-blowing,

As farcical as it sounds, he was happy to forfeit a battleship or an aircraft carrier simply because it would kick-start a noise that makes me think that the guy who wrote that annoying hit record, Flat Beat, played a lot of Electronic Battleships as a kid.

And talking about competition: there was this time when I was enjoying a beer in a local pub. It was a Thursday lunchtime, the place was quiet, and I was confident of setting a career best on the Galactic Invader.

Although I didn’t find out until later, John and his wife du jour were driving past en route to the home of some family friends, and a long lunch. As soon as he saw my battered Cortina estate in the car park, he did a U-turn.

He said they were only staying for a quick one, but when he started jumping up and down and making pinging noises in tandem with my triple-laser cyber shots, his partner looked as if she knew exactly what was coming. And no doubt she was used to his chopping and changing, but even so, when John told her to go on alone – and I hid my embarrassment behind a hyper-speed loop-the-loop and a well-aimed mega-bomb which scored me a whopping 15000 points – it was a tribute to her patience that she left without a fuss.

Observing the archaic licensing laws, the landlord turfed us out shortly after three. He obviously thought John was joking when he offered to buy the pub so that we could carry on defending the galaxy … on the journey back to his place he assured me that he would have written out the cheque there and then.

Not that we went short of booze; taking into account some of the weird and wonderful concoctions he had bought back from his travels, John’s bar was probably better stocked than the pub’s.

Around that time I was enjoying a good deal of success buying and selling greyhounds and so, once John had half-filled two tumblers – which could have doubled as fire buckets – with Hennessy XO, I wasn’t overly surprised when he asked me if I could get him a lurcher. I didn’t ask why; I was trying to sell him a greyhound, but he wasn’t having it. For whatever reason, he seemed set on one of those cross-breeds.

‘Yeah, okay,’ I said trying to sound upbeat. ‘I can get you a lurcher. I know this guy who has just bred a litter of—‘

‘No, no. Forget about a lurcher. Can you get me a lion?’ Despite a skinful of liquor, there was a serious tone to his voice; serious enough to prevent me bursting out laughing.

‘Well come on then. Don’t just sit there looking gawky. Can you get me a lion?’

For want of something better to say, I asked him what he wanted a lion for.

‘I’m gonna train it so I can put it on a chain and take it into that pub. Scare the shit out of that landlord. So what d’you reckon? Can you get me a lion?’

I was really struggling to keep a straight face. ‘John, I’ll have to be honest, I wouldn’t know where to start.’

‘Of course you would. You’re always buying greyhounds. Lions are just a bit fiercer.’

As far as alcohol-induced logic goes, he didn’t realise he had just made the all-time top-ten.

‘I’ll tell you what …’ he said as he slid off his stool, ‘… you get me a lion and I’ll give you a gold disc.’

As he teetered towards the door, he was singing Born Free at the top of his voice. It didn’t sound quite right.

Even if I had been stone-cold sober I probably wouldn’t have thought of Faustian pacts. As it was, sitting in John’s kitchen, a poster boy for any aspiring newts, I could see no further than the gilt frame and the gold-plated copy of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

Gingerly taking hold of the bribe, I said I’d ask around … actually, I went further than that: I said I’d do my best. 
And now, even after all this time, it shames me to admit that my idea of asking around meant telling all my mates about it so that we could have a good laugh, and doing my best amounted to doing didley-squat. In fact, had I not woke up the following morning nursing both the gold-plated disc and a gold-plated hangover, I might have dismissed it all as a surreal dream.

But now that my old buddy might be heading back to Blighty, is it any wonder that I’m twitchy about him showing up at my place? I can picture it now: him with 500 pounds of snarling, slobbering king of the jungle on a chain, wanting to know where his gold disc was. Scary, eh?
So there you have it … and as regards what my gran might have said about it all: well, I can’t think of any of her crusty old proverbs that would fit the bill; but just to show that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, so to speak, here’s one of my own personal favourites: there’s many a risk ’twixt lion and disc … okay, okay, I just made it up, but even so, it sounds a damn sight more believable than ‘many a mickle makes a muckle’.

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