Magazine article The Spectator

Head Case

Magazine article The Spectator

Head Case

Article excerpt

I

finally found Trev playing darts in the Volunteer. Usually you can tell which pub Trev's in because you can hear him whooping and roaring, or even crowing like a cockerel, from halfway down the high street. But tonight he was planting his arrows calmly, modestly and considerately, without all the usual alarums and excursions.

I hadn't seen him for several months and I wondered whether, at 48 years old, he was finally beginning to feel his age.

I bought a pint and took it over to the dartboard. Trev saw me coming and bowed low, as though I were a visiting dignitary. With his face to the floor he pointed a forefinger at the top of his head. 'See that!' he said.

Through thinning short hair I could make out a scab the size and shape of a 10-pence piece. 'Go on, ' I said. 'What happened?'

His story, interrupted by turns at the dartboard, went like this. Last weekend, around closing time at the Nelson, he'd made a rude comment about another customer's dancing style. The customer was a six-foot-six 19-yearold rugby player. (Trev rolled his eyes - a comic parody of eye-rolling - at this costly error of judgment. ) Taking offence, this chap had supposedly picked Trev up and flung him backwards against a stone partition wall, knocking him unconscious. And as Trev lay unconscious against the wall, this chap had allegedly taken a run-up and toe-punted him in the side of the head.

When he came to, police and an ambulance were in attendance. The rugby player was arrested and Trev was carried to hospital to have his head examined. After several hours in casualty, he was discharged and went on to a party, bandaged and bloody, where he carried on enjoying himself.

But when he sobered up the next day and considered the known facts, he was unable, on several counts, to dismiss lightly this unexceptional outcome to his Saturday night. One, it was the first time in his life that he had been knocked out in a fight - 'And, Jerry, I must have had hundreds of fights. Hundreds!' Two, kicking a man in the head when he's down and unconscious outrageously contravened his old-school code of honour and would have to be avenged, tenfold, which was tiresome. And, three, he felt very peculiar, as though the blow had somehow fundamentally altered his consciousness. …

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