"Lies are the foundation of a strong relationship."
Jeremy just raising a pint of Abbots to his lips splutters then lowers it to safety at chest level.
We're in 'Spoons, Wetherspoons, Union Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight. And it's Friday night.
"Matt, is this another one of your crazy theories? If there's one thing that's guaranteed to split couples up it's deceit, lies, mistrust-"
"If you think about it's not the lies that destroy a relationship, it's the finding out of the lies that finishes it off, or maybe redefines it. For instance: if a bloke has an affair it's only when his wife discovers he's been shagging someone else that it falls apart. Of course, she could become suspicious beforehand because perhaps he doesn't make love to her as often or as passionately as he once did. Or he starts working late at the office et cetera. Being a woman, she would say nothing but would mentally file those things away till the appropriate time to bring them out... like during a blazing row..."
Jeremy chuckles but I can see I've captured his interest.
I continue. "But what would happen if that fellow was a perfect actor: never behaved in such a way to arouse suspicion; carried on making love to his wife as he always had; was always where he said he was; had a mistress who was in total complicity-"
"But that wouldn't happen in real life, there would always be holes: a crisis with the kids; phoning during the dinner hour when he was the other woman; his mobile would be off - all things that would start to sow the seeds of doubt in her mind," Jeremy points out.
"Well, nobody is immune to risks but it's quite conceivable that none of these things happen and provided he can maintain the charade then he is going to get away with it, maybe for life, think of all those unsolved crimes for example."
I take a sip of my lager shandy - real ale drinkers cringe now.
Another thought slips into my mind. "What if he does get caught out but is such a convincing liar that his wife totally believes him."
"Aw, come on Matt, no woman is going to be that naïve!"
"But it's not just in the domain of fidelity that lies are an issue - let me widen the field. I said just now that lies and deceit are paramount to maintaining a successful relationship..."
Jeremy effects a quizzical expression before raising his glass to his lips and just behind Jeremy, a little along the bar, I observe a fellow shoot me a look that I can only interpret as slightly hostile - I notice little else about him apart from the fact that he is the same height as me, maybe a tad shorter, and in possession of piercing blue eyes. I notice little else about him because suddenly I feel threatened - imagined or not!
"You were saying," Jeremy prompts me.
"Look, imagine the consequences if you were to tell the whole truth, what you actually thought, what you really felt towards a person in a relationship. Can you see yourself saying for instance: 'I only married you because the buxom blonde wasn't interested and I was worried about being left on the shelf, furthermore when we make love, I have fantasies about other women-' "
"... she says to you: 'I don't really fancy you Jeremy but you've got a well-paying job and without you I would be working long hours in a shop and living in a dingy bed-sit, however if someone better looking comes along with even more money, I'll be off like a shot!' - get my point?"
"You're getting a bit close to the mark, Matt."
"Sorry Jeremy but I think you'll have to agree it's the kind of way things are, but take the 'lying option', if you and your partner give each other credible lies. 'You're not the best-looking bloke in the world Jeremy but I've never met a man so kind and considerate, and that's what is so important to me besides which you are the only man to really satisfy me in bed...' And after something like that you'll be straight down the retail park to order that kitchen she's always wanted!"
"You really are a cynical bastard, Matt, no wonder you can't get women-"
"Which is exactly the point I've been making: I'm far too honest! You see what you've got to do is the hone the lies to perfection such that both parties totally accept them, in fact I would say that there are couples out there who have practised their lies so well that they actually believe their own fictions, which make sense: in order for others to believe your lies, first you must believe them yourself. In fact, that could also apply to politicians and religious leaders. But I digress-"
"What you having?" Jeremy interjects.
I can see he wants to change the subject - few people can stomach the truth. But I throw in just one more thought: "My observation is that there is only one more thing that a woman hates more than a man that lies... and that's one that tells the truth!"
"I'm sure they'll be falling at your feet!" Jeremy smiles.
I pause and then reply, "For a moment there my best friend I thought I detected just a smidgeon of sarcasm. Oh and I'll have a lager shandy please, Jeremy."
I get a 'daggers' look from the bloke with the blue eyes - I feel decidedly uncomfortable.
"I'm going to stand over there by the entrance," I say to Jeremy, and then thumb the direction to him who has just turned to the bar. "It's a bit crowded here."
"Right you are."
I plonk my empty glass down on a wooden shelf running around a support column and casually stroll the five or six yards nearer the glass doors which are hooked open being as it's June. I leave Jeremy at the bar and scan round for a free table, but all are taken.
I feel slightly conspicuous stood there on my own but I don't suppose anyone notices.
Periodically people wander in and past me.
Jeremy returns with my lager shandy and he's got real ale for himself - Old Badger Shit, or something like that!
I decide to change the subject.
"How's the new position at work going, Jeremy?"
Jeremy is answering me but I'm not hearing - matey who was eyeballing me earlier has wandered over with his pal.
"You're a bit full of yourself, mate," he sneers, and then adds, "I was listening to you at the bar spouting off your opinions about women and lies and you kind of reminded me of the geezer who shagged my missus behind my back who was full of fancy talk too, till I beat the shit out of him and had the cunt pleading for mercy-"
"Yeah, well, I'm very sorry that's happened, but..."
I study him and though still a little apprehensive realise that he's not as physically intimidating as I at first thought. Sure, he's modelled himself on a Cockney hard man like Grant Mitchell, but appearances don't mean a thing, and he's not that big either - I reckon he's no more than ten and a half stone and about five seven - three inches shorter than me, and two and a half stone lighter. His features are quite neat and as I noted earlier his eyes are blue and quite penetrating. His complexion is fair, but his skin seems quite raw, due in all probability to working outside - I wouldn't mind wagering that he's a labourer or a brickie. Also, he's probably not half as hard as he makes out. On the other hand, I'm taller and my weight advantage is muscle - I swim four miles a week - fast - and do a fair amount of cycling. I also possess a very quick right hand which I have utilised effectively in past similar such situations. My reactions are pretty sharp normally, and I've only had one lager shandy. 'Mini Grant' has more than likely been here since lunch and his reflexes seriously under par. I'm very confident that if it comes to a scrap I will prevail and hopefully in the process I will impress a few female onlookers. Another consideration is the law - I will let him launch the first blow so that I can claim that I acted in self-defence, should it come to that. In addition, 'Spoons is covered by CCTV. I know that he will initiate the fracas by attempting to punch me in the face with his right fist - I'd read that ninety nine percent of assaults start that way - and I will block it then demolish him with a lightning quick counter from my right hand then follow up by overwhelming him with fast repeated blows till I have knocked the stuffing out of him. Game over. But, let's have a bit of fun for starters. Let's be Kid Curry prior to outdrawing the baddie - I really want to impress the audience, and especially the tottie, not just with my physical prowess but with my wit as well!
"... and you also don't have a pond I'm guessing?" I finish off my response and notice that I'm intoning my voice in a superior manner.
"No, I don't have a fucking pond. What the fuck has that got to do with it?" he counters in an antagonistic manner.
His accent is definitely North Portsmouth.
His mate suddenly looks a bit awkward - he doesn't want to be there.
Jeremy, I don't know how Jeremy will react, but he'll probably do the right thing. If there is violence.
"I'm going to tell you about Fred and Bert who hail from the West Country."
Mini Grant does nothing, so I continue.
"Well, Fred and Bert are in the pub after a hard day working on the farm supping Scrumpy when this young man in an expensive suit breezes in, marches up to the bar and orders himself a gin and tonic.
Fred says, 'Look at the young pup with a suit - bet he's got a high-powered job in the city with loads of money?' "
I affect, as best I can, a Somerset twang for Fred and Bert.
"Bert says, 'Go on ask what he do for a living, Fred.'
'Roight, I'll do just that,' Fred says and goes up to the young fellow and politely asks him what brings a smart looking chap down this neck of the woods, 'If you don't mind me being so nosey,' Fred adds.
'That's okay, I'm a logicologist,' the young man replies in a posh voice.
'What be one of them?' Fred queries.
'Well, I'm paid to deduce a whole wealth of facts from the minimum of information and save companies and individuals the trouble and cost of expensive surveys - for that I am well rewarded!'
'Give me an example.'
'Have you got a garden pond...?'
'Fred is my name... and yes I do happen to have a pond in my garden.'
'Well, from that simple fact, Fred, one can then deduce that you have a large garden-'
'Yeah... that be roight.'
'And further that you must have a big house with lots of bedrooms...'
'Because you have lots of children...'
'Four boys and three girls.'
'Which means that you must have plenty of sex with your good lady wife...'
Fred smiles. 'That I do.'
'And that leads me to conclude that you have absolutely no need to masturbate.'
'No need whatsoever, young man.'
'So, you see, Fred, we have deduced all these facts from just one question... and that's what a logicologist does.'
'I'm well impressed, so I am. I bid you good noight.'
Fred wanders back to the table to re-join Bert who says, "Well Fred, what do he do?'
'He's a logicologist, Bert.'
'What's one of they?'
'Let's put it simply Bert, have you got a pond?'
'No, I haven't Fred.'
'Then you's a wanker then!' "
I study 'Grant's' visage as the punch line sinks in and watch for any twitching of his right hand.
"You fucking big nosed CUNT!"
Silence engulfs Spoons. Then somebody's mobile goes off - the ring tone is Eye of the Tiger.
I'm leaning against a wall and I've got a really bad throbbing headache and everything's at an angle, it appears there's been an earthquake and the building's been turned on its side. No. I'm lying on the floor and there are people standing over me...
Jeremy is speaking into his mobile.
I make out a voice say, "He's coming around."
I put my hand to my mouth because there is a warm and sticky substance clinging to it and my nose is really hurting.
It's all coming back: THE FUCKING BASTARD HAS DONE ME OVER!
Jeremy wanders over and leans over me in a concerned fashion.
"Try to keep calm, Matt, you may have concussion. The paramedics will be here in a minute... oh, here they are, that was quick I must say!"
After a few cursory checks, which I'm sure they're not, I'm placed on a stretcher. I'm picked up and carried out to the ambulance. I turn my head to one side and recognise the girls now watching me who only a short while ago I was attempting to impress...
With a dazed expression and an enlarged proboscis that would put Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in the shade, I appreciate that events haven't exactly turned out as I might have hoped.
As we exit out of the entrance, I feel a gust of the warm June air ruffle my hair - I'm reminded of the song Summer Breeze by the Isley Brothers and the words, 'Summer breeze makes me feel fine, blowing through the Jasmines in my mind...'
It doesn't make me feel fucking fine!
We're at the hospital now, Jeremy and I. I will be kept in overnight and X-rayed in the morning. The medical staff think I'll be okay, but you can sometimes get a delayed reaction from brain injuries: haemorrhages and the like.
I shall tell my parents after I have got out otherwise, they'll just worry themselves sick.
I'm being wheeled up to one of the wards and Jeremy is with me.
"What happened, Jeremy?"
"It was all very quick. After you had finished the joke, I knew I should have stopped you, he jabbed you on the nose with his left then chinned you with his right. He was fucking fast..."
The porter shoots Jeremy a disapproving frown for the bad language.
"... but almost immediately he grasped his left hand and said, 'I've effing broken my finger my finger on that C.U.N.T's massive great hooter!' and then him and his mate scarpered. He knocked you spark out!"
"That's one advantage of having a big nose, and it's only swollen and not broken. Thank God!"
"I shouldn't laugh Matt but you don't half sound like a Dalek!"
"Ex...terminate! Ex...terminate!" I shout out.
"Do you mind," the porter interjects, "my grandmother perished at Belsen!"
"Sorry!" We exclaim in unison.
"Jeremy, I've never seen him before, do you know if this thug is an Islander?"
"Whilst we were waiting for the paramedics, I had a brief chat with this fellow who came up to me and said he knew who he was and would be prepared to be a witness-"
"I don't want the police involved. So, who is he?"
"His name's Jamie Reed and he's just purchased a bungalow in Argyll Street. He's originally from Leigh Park and he's a builder. He buys run down properties for a song then does them up and makes a pretty penny. The bloke who spoke to me said he did some plastering for him but had trouble getting paid. Reckons he's a nasty bastard!"
"No kidding! I'm not getting involved with the police as it was half my fault, and apart from a sore nose there's no harm done."
"As you wish, Matt"
It's four weeks since the incident in Spoons and I have been interviewed by the police, but no action will be taken. Spoons have banned me till October and my assailant is also banned - permanently, so at least I will be able to drink there in peace in future.
I'm out on my bike as the weather is great - cloudless and sunny. It's the last week in July and I'm cycling down Argyll Street as it happens for the first time since the incident - you can't let your fears conquer you. I'm nearly at the end of the road and when I am I will turn left and head up to Haylands then over the Downs. To my right is a bungalow set back and in the front garden I spot Mr. Reed in just a pair of cut-off jeans. At the sight of him my testicles tingle as they involuntarily contract - a reflex action to danger. I refuse to show fear, however.
I must admit that he is well muscled for a small frame - I underestimated him.
He still doesn't see me as he is digging - and I can't actually discern whether any of his fingers on his left hand are damaged in any way, but what I do glimpse and realise ironically in this fleeting scene is that...
The. Cunt. Is. Digging. A. Fucking. Pond.