The Long and Winding Road
This story was written for Issue 22 of ‘4,000 Holes’ and was inspired by a works do from Glisten’s Confectionery. I was having a pint in the Trades Club during the Walker Revolution at Blackburn Rovers in 1993. Albert Turner, one of my fellow committee members from this club, came in with a bunch of his Glisten workmates on a booze-up. They were all keen Rovers fans and talked to me about my stories in 4,000 Holes. They asked me how I did it and I said ideas came when something caught my attention and I saw the funny side of it. I challenged them to pick a subject for a story which got them going and they said they hated queueing for tickets.
Last season was one of Rovers most memorable in living memory. But all silver linings have clouds. The worst of these was the dreaded ticket queue. Here are some of the characters you might meet.
Keen Kevin: He’s been queuing all night and tells everybody so. You can tell he’s telling the truth because he’s stubbly and dirty. His stomach does his talking for him. Luckily being first in the queue, he isn’t around for long.
The Reminiscer: “Da remember ‘t’ day when there were 60,000 on here. We ne’er queued for tickets in them days. Football were better then, and beer. Tha could go out with four pennorth, get blind drunk, eat black pudding and tripe and still catch tram home. But tha can’t tell young ‘uns, they don’t believe you.”
Dozy Derek: The type who queued up for an hour and a half, never says a word. Eventually he reaches the ticket seller then finds he’s forgotten his season ticket. He goes red and sneaks away quietly, depending how wet he is.
The Cruncher: There always seems to be a fat kid in front of you who never stops eating crisps. For an hour and a half you hear this crunch-crunch-crunch. On and on it goes until you’re doing it too. Then he wipes his hands on his tracksuit, reaches into his bag and pulls out another bag of crisps. Away he goes again.
Angry Andy: “Why are we always having to queue for tickets. We never had this problem when Don McKay was manager. It’s Dalglish’s fault. He wants sacking!”
The Jokers: Sometimes there’s a bit of light relief from queue comedians. But these come in two kinds. The older supporter who tells jokes we’ve all heard before. You cringe and laugh politely. Then there’s the Bernard Manning type who tells the dirtiest jokes you’ve ever heard. He doesn’t care who’s listening either. You try to avoid the stare of the little old lady in front who keeps turning around. Luckily she bursts out laughing, and everybody is saved.
It’s usually about this time when the jokes are flying and everybody is getting on with each other. Suddenly you’re in the ticket office. This is where your problems really start. You realise you haven’t filled in your voucher. Neither has anybody else with the rustling going on. So you borrow the pen being passed round, whilst its owner never takes his eye off it. He knows he’ll never see it again.
At last you reach the ticket window. Here the girl looks at you like a dog that’s been pissed on by a lamppost. She takes off her glasses and asks:
“What do you want?”
But we all manage to control ourselves, she’s only doing her job after all – the sadist! So we pay up, hold our ticket to our breast then leave.
Deliberately you walk down Nuttall Street, smiling at the long faces. The queue has hardly moved.