the state of things
by Douglas Lindsay - 17:56 on 04 January 2014
There is another lost Barney Thomson tale, of which only the ancients speak. To this day not even Blasted Heath, the evil corporate giant which controls the Barney Thomson publishing empire, know of it. Now, at last, details are beginning to emerge of this fabled lost masterpiece.
We speak, of course, of the infamous DAVID BECKHAM'S LEFT EAR, the true story of the time Barney Thomson was drafted in by the Football Association to be the personal barber to the England World Cup squad in Germany in 2006.
Well, it's available to be read on the interweb, and has been for the last seven and a half years, but there's so much STUFF on the interweb after all, that it's tantamount to being lost. Who can possibly imagine the last time anyone actually read it? From start to finish, at any rate.
Like many of the latter day Barney stories, it begins with two men in suits turning up to take him away from his shop in Millport. Unusually, however, this book is written in the first person. Yes, Barney talks.
I haven't read it since then. Don't think I particularly liked it at the time. Nevertheless, perhaps one day I'll gather it all together, polish it up a bit, change the title, hand it over to the evil corporate giant, then they can stick a cover on it and put it on Kindle for £16.99. Or thereabouts.
In the meantime, if anyone is interested, it is to be found on a Blogger site, here. You'll need to read from the bottom up. Here's the first instalment.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I was working in the barbershop this morning. A normal kind of a day. Bit of a wind coming in off the sea, sun shining, fifteen degrees or so. The west coast of Scotland in June, it can be chucking it down at any given moment, so you can’t complain. I’d just finished giving this old fella a Josh Lucas Stealth cut, when the door opened and these two young guys came in. Black suits, white shirts, black ties, Agent Cooper hair. It was obvious they weren’t there for a haircut. If I’d had to guess, and as it was I didn’t, I’d have said they were MI6, CIA, FBI or KPMG.
‘Football Association,’ said one of them. ‘Barney Thomson?’
‘Are you free for the next four weeks?’
That’s a hell of a question. I mean, really, can anybody say at two seconds’ notice, that they’re free for the next four weeks?
‘No,’ I said. ‘Whatever you’re going to ask, I can’t do it.’
‘We’ll give you one and a half million pounds, and fix up a peripatetic to run the shop for the time you’re away.’
‘Where am I going?’ I asked. One and a half million pounds? For that kind of money, can anyone say that they’re not free for the next four weeks?
‘Germany,’ said one of them.
‘We need you to cut the team’s hair,’ said the other. ‘The England football team.’
‘Can you do it?’ said the first one. Pinky & Perky I started calling them in my head, but kept that to myself. If nothing else, it shows my age. No one says Pinky & Perky anymore.
‘Probably,’ I said. ‘Who are you getting in to replace me.’
And then, and I’m not kidding you, one of the two Agent Coopers whisks off his mask, for all the world like he’s Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 3, loses the jacket, and he’s just a regular guy with a pair of scissors and a blow drier.
‘My name’s Malcolm,’ he said, like he meant it too. These people were slick.
I signed up.
Five hours later I was at the England football team hotel in Baden Baden. I might have seen a couple of the guys around when I arrived, but I’m not sure. I only know the really famous players. Beckham, Rooney, Owen, Bobby Charlton, although someone says that he’s retired now. Sure, I know the World Cup’s about to take place, but beyond that basic fact, I lost interest when Scotland got gubbed one-nil by Belarus. One man up front, for God’s sake.
I sat in a small room waiting for the team manager, who I was told wanted to speak to me. He arrived forty-five minutes late in a white towelling robe. You’d think maybe the tv pictures would lie, but he really does have that Gary Oldman Dracula cut in real life. He sat down in front of me, composed himself for several minutes and then finally spoke.
‘Mr Thomson,’ he said, ‘we have prepared meticulously. Rooney is almost fit, we intentionally lost the game to Northern Ireland last year so that everyone would think we are rubbish, Beckham is at the peak of ability, Owen is a God once more. There’s only one thing not quite right.’ He left a pause, but I got the feeling that he didn’t want me to fill it.
‘The hair,’ he said dramatically. ‘Sure, it might be good enough to see us through the qualifying rounds, maybe even the last 16, as long as we don’t get Germany. But after that, you need quality hair. No one wins the World Cup in this day and age without the hair. Look at Ronaldinho. The hair on the man, my God! It is beautiful. And have you seen Aziawonou from Togo? Jesus! And it’s just Togo! What are they going to win? Beautiful hair! None of our lads can match it. We need hair of the Gods. Mr Thomson, and that is why you are here.’
‘All right,’ I said.
And then he left.
A guy in a black suit came and showed me to my room. Apparently I’m allowed out, but I haven’t gone anywhere yet. It all seems a bit Wicker Man at this stage. I start at eight tomorrow morning after breakfast. Wayne Rooney wants a purple dye before flying back to England, but I suspect that management will exercise their veto.
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