Sunday Night Stories
By John Hargan
Location: The Three Arrows Inn, Middleton Road, Middleton
‘I’ll see you later’
Mike slammed the front door behind him and stepped out into the sharp night air. He smiled to himself in anticipation of his Sunday night trip to the Three Arrows to meet the lads. It was a chance to escape the pressures of family life for a couple of hours and enjoy some male company.
And just being in that pub made him feel better. It was the pub he had first drunk in, over 25 years ago, and it was the pub where he had first met his wife. The Three Arrows was the one constant in an ever-changing world, sat there at the end of Middleton Road, perched on the edge of the northern boundary of the city, the protective wall of Heaton Park at the back of it.
The pub was busy when he got there. Mike found his friends in a corner by the bar. He was met with the usual coarse greetings and Mickey-taking but he took it all in good part before getting his round in.
One member of the group was missing: Jimmy. Mike loved Jimmy, as they all did. He was their resident comedian – a hail fellow well met type who was popular with everyone.
They met Jimmy one night while discussing the possibility of getting the landlord to find them a set of darts, so they could have a game of 501 on the dartboard that hung in the area of the bar that nominally passed as the vault. The darts game had been a regular feature of their nights in the Three Arrows, before the new manager had decided he wanted to make the place a watered-down gastropub.
The manager had politely told them that they didn’t have a set of darts behind the bar any more.
‘Imagine that, a pub called the Three Arrows and it doesn’t have any darts!’
That remark had been Jimmy’s introduction to the group. He’d been a regular since then, though no-one saw him outside of the pub or on any other night than a Sunday.
Mike particularly loved Jimmy’s stories about his exploits with women. Jimmy was a salesman of some kind, though no-one was quite sure what he sold and no=one much cared. What mattered were that his tales of meeting women were always amusing, sometimes downright hilarious, as these sometimes naïve and always frustrated housewives fell for Jimmy’s feeble chat-up lines every time.
The boys carried on chatting in their usual way but there was a sense that the night wouldn’t really start until Jimmy arrived. Paul, who like Mike was a great fan of Jimmy’s, texted him to see where he was.
‘Apparently, he’s with one of his girlfriends now,’ Paul reported with some glee.
‘That’s Jimmy,’ Mike said, raising his glass in toast to his hero.
The conversation returned to the usual topics of day-to-day frustrations with their wives and children, or with their bosses at work. Mike made his own contribution, telling everyone about his failure to lure his wife, Christine, into a night of passion after they’d watched a raunchy late-night movie on TV.
‘You should get her to have a word with me.’
Jimmy was here. The boys cheered in a sarcastic manner.
‘We thought you’d never get here,’ said Paul.
‘Nearly didn’t,’ Jimmy replied. ‘This one was all over me.’
‘How come you’re seeing her on a Sunday night?’
‘Her husband goes out and she was so desperate to get more of me, I had to fit her in, so to speak.’ The lads all laughed. This was Jimmy in fine form.
‘So while some poor mug is out there getting bladdered, you’re sorting out his old lady?’ Mike asked.
‘Too right. He’s busy with his mates, I’m busy with her. Lovely house they’ve got too, on Heaton Park Road, big semi. He must have to work his you-know-whats off to afford that place.’
‘What’s her name?’ Paul asked.
‘Chris, short for Christine.’
‘Crazy Christine!’ Paul said, all the boys laughing with him.
‘Yeah, Crazy Christine,’ Jimmy laughed.
Sunday night out with his mates? A semi on Heaton Park Road? Christine? Mike thought to himself.
Jimmy was still laughing when Mike’s right fist landed on his mouth.
Turns out Jimmy wasn’t that funny anymore.
John Hargan was born in Blackley in 1966, and now lives in Didsbury. He is possessed of an unhealthy fascination with Manchester City.Stats: