Saturday, September 01, 2007

You Can Call Me Al, in Benidorm

1986, Paul Simon, You an Call Me Al.

Chevy Chase makes the video work of course, its a good song but a brilliant video.

And it was all over MTV like a bad rash in the autumn of 1986.

MTV in Europe was in its fledgling years and, hard to believe I know, but music videos weren't exactly commonplace either, now every half crap, and most crap bands too can record a song and release their own home made video within hours of forming in a garage on your neighbourhood somewhere, but in the 1980's video still belonged to the movie and TV industry, and record companies chose their bands very carefully before splashing out mega-bucks on promotional vids.

Which meant the MTV, who only showed music video in those early days instead of the absolute shite that passes for entertainment on there now (it plays in our house 20 hours a day, the remaining 4 hours being devoted to soaps), would repeat the few vids that they had, over and over again, ad nauseum, but no-one seemed to mind.

1986 was also the year of Halleys Comet, stick with me all of this will come together succinctly very soon, a once in 76 year phenominum that shone like a bright star with a tail in the sky for a few weeks and then buggered off for another 75 years.

And 1986 was the year that all of Suzannes family decided to go on holiday to Benidorm.

When I say "all" of them I don't literally mean "all of them" of course, for that would be quite ridiculous, Benidorm doesn't have enough beds for all of her family to visit at the same time, but a representative sample of 20 or so went for two weeks at the Hotel Peublo, and yes, it really was as crap as it looks on that web site, in fact being 21 years ago, it was worse.

Still here ?

Good, for this is where the disparate elements of todays post all pull together.

So there we were halfway through our Benidorm torture, sorry, holiday, and Suzanne has a gastric problem for a few days, not to put too fine a point on it she was confined to our room with the shits - I had to entertain myself for a few days.

So I found myself wandering the streets of homage to concrete monoliths that is Benidorm and sometime around late afternoon I wandered, lonely as a cloud (again), into a new bar in a small shop unit that went under the name of "Halley's Bar".

The bar owner had really gone to town with the Halley's Comet theme by plastering the walls, ceiling, bar front and some of the floor with thick globs of plaster, concrete and artex, you daren't touch anything for fear of ripping flesh from your bones on the sharply protruding render - if there was such a thing as a bar on Halley's Comet then I'm prepared to believe that it would be as hostile as this place was.

I was the only one in there.

I took a stool at the bar and asked the spanish bartender (now theres a novelty, in 1986 the indigenous Spanish still worked the bars on the Costas), for a bottle of beer.

He brought two.
But he only asked me for the money for one.

I thought he was going to join me in a lonesome drink but he disappeared down the other end of the bar again and continued washing glasses.

I had been introduced to the concept of "Happy Hour", two-for-one drinks.

He then flicked a TV remote control and MTV appeared as if by magic from behind a stalactite on the ceiling, this was indeed a weird bar and I sat there on my stool clutching my two bottles of beer not daring to let my knees scrape against the sharpened points of artex on the barfront, a person could lose a serious amount of skin and blood in this place and I bet it sounded like such a good concept when they were sat in the bank managers office trying to borrow enough pesatas to buy most of Benidorms cement, artex and chicken wire.

Having finished off my beer and my freebie I ordered another one, two came, I was still the only customer in the bar and MTV was playing videos on a 30 minute loop, I sat there and watched repeated runs of "Call Me Al" and I had drunk more than a fair share of beer and freebies when a small boy appeared at the door of the bar.

I thought I recognised him but by now the vision wasn't too good, he stepped towards me and spoke something in a tongue that I barely recognised.

Ah yes, it was David, my eight year old brother-in-law, sent out from the hotel to find me by my wife, his older sister, their family is very trusting like that, I can't imagine sending an eight year old onto the streets of Benidorm to find a drunken in-law now, not unless your name is McCann or something, but still...

I invited him to sit on a stool at the bar with me, he accepted, I called the bartender over and ordered two beers, one for me, one for my small companion, he looked at David with suspicion and decided that he might possibly be a dwarf but more importantly another customer - and brought four beers over to us.

By this time I was well blathered and so gave my eight year old drinking buddy one bottle and kept three to myself, and there we sat until around ten pm when eventually, after ordering in rounds of four for several hours, I fell off my stool and we both rolled home back to the hotel where my mother-in-law was not overly impressed to see me and her eight year old son fall into the hotel reception area through the revolving door singing "You Can Call Me Al"

None of her family spoke to me again for the rest of the holiday including Suzanne who made me sleep on a chair on the balcony that night.

My drinking days were such fun...


DJ Kirkby said...

That hol sounds like my idea of hell. I take it from your final sentance that you no longer drink?

Gary said...

I can't keep the stuff down now, my brain put in a defence mechanism about ten years ago that brings on headaches if I have more then two pints, three pints and it starts coming back up again - so I don't bother, or bother only rarely.

teech said...

I remember my dad's introduction to Happy Hour. He is also a Yorkshireman.

Dad: 2 bottles of San Miguel and 2 cokes please.

4 bottles of beer and 4 cokes appear.

Dad: Woah, woah, woah, I'm not 'avin this. You've given me double what I asked for. I'm not payin for it. I int daft.

Barman: Eet is appy our. You buy one and get two.

Dad beams a smile that could rival Blackpool illuminations. He has finally found summat you can get for nowt.

Barman: See! You happy!

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