'The Italian Lob' Part I by Philip Evans
By: Ceri Shaw
Posted in: Humor
It is 5.30 pm ...it is already dark...it is a cold late February night in Glebeland Street, Merthyr Tydfil.
The French baguette shop owner is closing up his cafe for the night.
Perrier is dressed in a fake blue French beret , striped tee-shirt and red neckerchief with black trousers- he takes in his metal advertising sign Cafe De Glebeland written in Welsh, English, Polish and French.
He greets his work neighbour
Perrier: ’Bon Soir Des Res, everything organised for our Tour De France yet?'.
He startles the Estate Agent who is dressed in fake designer gear, who soon recovers and winds him up in response.
DES RES : ‘ 'Ello, Ello....I will say zis only once...11am Tomorrow Viazzani Station Cafe and don't be late!"
After he has locked the door of his shop and shuttered it- he strolls up the street to check that his business neighbours are all still planning on going to Italy with him tomorrow on a weekend killer trip to Rome for the Wooden Spoon decider rugby match.
The offices of Des Res are already closed, so he peers into the Merthyr Depress Newspaper Office to seek out his friend Pat O'Lee.
He is supposed to be working but he is hiding his 'Racing Post' selections from the Editor in a current edition of the Newspaper.
He is holding the phone in his double chin , whilst trying to sell advertising space by cold calling some old dear at teatime interrupting her Meals on Wheels visit.
Perrier taps the window and mouths the words- "11am in the Station Cafe." for a big breakfast before setting off on their journey.
Confident that Pat has already got the message , he continues on to the Italian fish shop of Mario whose chip shop window is steamed up with condensation but he has written a message in the steam...11am at my cousins cafe TMZ and signed it with a flourish ...the Codfather.
The Viazzani Station Cafe
It is 11am on a Thursday Morning and four of the businessmen are sat in the cafe- eating a full English breakfast of pasta, spaghetti and meatballs.
All around the cafe are photographs of Merthyr's finest boxing legends.
Howard Winstone, Eddie Thomas and other local celebrities like Owen Money.
His photograph has a stuck used chewing gum on the glass where his nose should be...under the words BBC Radio Wales( Free Plug).
Luigi, the cafe owner (played by Michael Bubbins) is unintentionally dressed like Mario the plumber from the Nintendo series. All around him are memorabilia of happier times.
The four characters, Pat, Perrier, Des & Mario look at their watches nervously awaiting the arrival of their transport for the weekend.
Pat O'Lee moans that the missing tourist is late.
Pat O’Lee: ‘'We should be under starter's orders by now !'’
He always speaks in betting parlance.
Mario replies...'Don't worry ..he is always late...I micro de wave his cheeps all the time in my shop!'
They are shocked when the fifth member of the posse turns up in a Union Jack clad mini car doing a handbrake turn in the 'unloading goods only ' space.
They expect to see Jeremy Clarkson driving it but instead it is a Midge Ure lookalike still wearing his Hoovers overalls- he says in a Michael Caine voice- Titch Hatchey here- and not a lot of people know that and the Des-ignated driver (looking at the Estate Agent) for the English stage of the Tour!'
All four are expecting a much larger vehicle- given the size of the men in the Tour party.
The taller characters Pat (Greg Davies) and Des Res are horrified at the thought of spending five days cooped up in the coupe.
The only way Pat can fit in it given his height is to have his head out of the sunroof in the front.
Titch has bought him a mini umbrella mortar board hat ( Greg was an ex-teacher in real life and the In-betweeners) for him to wear in the event of rain on the journey.
Pat : ‘ '20-1 that we don't make it to Rome in that tin can!' he says opening his black book and marking it with a mini blue free bookie pen.
Titch rips off his overalls in Superman style to reveal his cheap imported red rugby shirt from Rheola Market.
All five characters are now dressed identically with Red Cotton traders, Welsh rugby jerseys and obligation 'Wheres Wally (Wales) ' red and white scarf and bobble hats .
Mario:’ Where are we gonna put these giant yellow inflatable daffodil and leeks?' opening the boot.
The mini boot is crammed full of prototype Brains Beer called 'Valleys Gold' not yet tested on humans.
The minis boot is the ultimate ‘mini-bar’.
Luigi:’ ' Finally, someone you bother with that has real brains!' to his cousin Mario , as he closes the boot and begins to tie the inflatable vegetables to the roof rack.
Perrier :’' A mini-cooper -pour cinque home- incredible!' (gasps in fake French).
Pat: 'But you have to admit it has a great boot...big enough for our beer storage and a spare pair of pants each too I will wager!' .
Mario: ’Why do I get the impression you had a hand in this somehow?' rubbing his Valleys essential moustache suspiciously.
Looking at Luigi and Mario side by side Pat replied mockingly:
Pat:’' It’s a lovely car- Super… Mario- it will get us to the Game Boy in plenty of time I'll bet you!'
Perrier butted in.
Perrier: ‘'Well I can't see us driving passed the Vatican in this O'Lee City vehicle man, we wouldn't even be able to pass the Pope Mobile in that!'
Titch : 'Merthyr Tydfil folk have great traditions of 'Roman runs' ...I am confident that in my mini, me, and even you shower, can pull the Italian girls that Hall & Oates sang about in this Austin powered Shaguar!'
They squeeze in with the seating arrangements as follows: Titch driving on right hand side, the massive Pat with his head stuck out of the sunroof with a daffodil tickling his ear.
Perrier, Mario and Des Res are squeezed like sardines in the back, taking it in turns to breathe.
The mini is shown driving down the A470 towards Cardiff, different signs are passed on the way suchas Pontypridd - beware as the Hills have Dai's , Taff's Well- I didn't know he was ill etc.
The conversation in the car is about beer, rugby and money.
Mario: Why are we taking these continental style bottles then?....surely cans would be better for the South of France?
Titch: 'See this isn't only a junket Mario...Perrier and I have a business plan worked out , my accountant assures me that we can write these bottles off as a business expense providing I get receipts from the hypermarkets - we drink them on the way down- stop off at Lourdes and refill them and sell the Holy Water to my customers - I will also buy some cheap French loaf stocks which I will tie to the roof- then I will flog them back home in the Farmers Market- and make some real bread from the deal!'
'Do you think I could get some fresh fish on the way back for my shop too over there?' Asked Mario
'Wot...loaves AND fishes at Lourdes on one tiny roof rack- now that really be a miracle!' Said Perrier thinking of his profit margins.
The conversation turned to rugby.
The match was billed as a 'wooden spoon decider between Italy & Wales' with the home team the bookies favourites this time.
'If Italy lose do they get the wooden pasta ladle?' Laughed Titch from his Pole Position behind the Union Jack steering wheel.
'Be a bit more patriotic like me!' Said Pat.
'Anyone mentions Wales losing will get a Clarkson off me!' Said Titch raising his fist threateningly in the rear view mirror.
'I don't know about Top Gear ....said Pat ...but I know we have a bottom gear...!' He said uncomfortably sitting on the gear stick with his huge arse.
'Is this bloody car a prop from Spice World the movie?' Moaned Des Res trying to shuffle some space as they start to cross the Severn Bridge.
'Why did Ginger Spice sit here?' Asked Pat sniffing the seat.
'Well I got Victoria Beckham's seat...coz I can't chuffing move!' Protested the Estate Agent.
'Steady on Posh Spice...just cos you're used to the posh space in that castle of yours in Merthyr!' Laughed Titch looking in the rear view mirror.
'Si...I have heard that an Eeenglishman's home is his castle..but did you have to buy Crawshay's Cyfarthfa Castle for yourself?' Asked Mario.
' Look it was all legitimate...when I opened the sealed bids...I was surprised as you to discover that I was the highest bidder...!'
The conversation was stopped as all five occupants booed the 'Welcome to England sign'.
It was the catalyst for the the song 'always shit on the English side of the Bridge" sung to the tune of Monty Python's 'always look on the bright side of life.'
By the time they had reached the outskirts of London they had decided to sing the National Anthem.
Des: ‘“ Enough talking about shop anyway boys….lets have some rugby songs…we are on tour after all!” changing the subject swiftly.
Des: “ How about the National Anthem?...Mae Hen Gwlad…!” he sang with gusto with the car occupants all joining in until they realised like Tory MP John Redwood they didn’t know the words – as it was in Welsh.
They all mumble it out to an embarrassing silence.
They finally settle on a rousing chorus of ‘We are the cheeky boys!” (by the cheeky girls) which lasts for two hours and three Counties and three crates of Brains beer later.
Each chorus is met by a buttock raising Mexican wave of flatulence from the spaghetti induced breakfast.
The arrival in Dover, Kent and the ferry to France.
The drunken trio that had been helping themselves to cans via the back seat opening are awoken from their slumber and Des announces to them where they are.
Perrier: “ How do you know it is Dover?” he asked with white cliffs on full view.
Mario :’“ That is Vera Lynn being pushed around in that bath chair over there!” teased the darked skinned Mario waving to the old dear- who wearing a UKIP badge flicks the ‘foreigner’ a V on their fingers which doesn’t represent a Churchillian Victory sign.
Des: “ It must be ….look at those Refugee Asylum Camps over there!” he suggested …oh that and of course the sign DOVER, KENT thereon…(sarcastically)- camera shot cuts to sign.
Titch : “Are we going over on the hovercraft then- its cheaper?” McTitch is rediscovering his Scottish roots.
Pat: “ Yes…I’ve got a coupon that I get to go for a £1.00 with four full paying passengers!”
DES : “ You tight git …I knew you had your hand in this somewhere!”
Tickets are shown and the car is waved onto the Ferry- and the boys are called out by the Customs & Excise and Border control.
Perrier began to sweat.
Perrier: “ See that one with the brown hat on?” he said pointing at the Officer with the long flowing Status Quo hair.
“ I am sure he was in school with me and is ‘batting for the other team’” he whispers to Mario.
Handy Andy : “ Please remove your French Hat Sir…anything to declare?” asked the Camp Customs Official.
Des Res: “ Only his genius!” slyly.
Perrier : “ No- Aren’t you Handy Andy from Penydre School?” enquired the nervous man trying to avoid direct eye-contact.
Handy Andy : “ Look boys…a pop star…better search him thoroughly!” he said gleefully tossing Perrier’s French hat he had stuffed in his trousers towards the X-Ray machine.
Titch : “ Chuck Beret!” laughing , as the ashen faced Perrier was led away by the professional shirt-lifter.
Pat: “He found HIS calling then!” laughing.
After half n hour hanging around waiting for the search to finish- Perrier returns to his Countrymen.
Handy Andy:” Do you want your mini-baguette back then?”
An embarrassed Perrier tries to explain the position.
Perrier: “It must have got lodged in the back of the car by those two when I was sleeping!”
“ Before or after your home video on Facebook?” laughed Des Res who had uploaded the image.
It is Perrier’s turn to change the subject.
Perrier: “Titch….how can you drink so much when you weigh less than Mahatma Gandi?”
Downing his fifth can of duty free Stella , Titch stands rock solid despite the pitch and roll of the Ferry.
Titch: “I will let you in on a little secret…I worked for the Japanese for years in Senior Management and they made it clear that if your own standards didn’t reach their own high standards …you were out-as a high profile executive (he said scratching his high forehead) , If you didn’t cut it in the Board Room and Directors Bar then you faced the sake…if you didnt want to Nip in the air then you conformed- I can now drink like ‘em, think like ‘em, even build bridges like ‘em till they were taken over by the Italians who closed my factory- and made me redundant- I have had to adapt and have become the equivalent of James Bond in Valleys circles- I have my own line now in industrial espionage – I’ve just pinched the blueprint for their new vacuum cleaner for children- some would die-son to get their hands on it…I am going to sell the idea to my contacts in Italy….It’s easy money like taking Baby from a Candi!”
Pat- “ How will you smuggle the blueprint out the UK?…microdot?….it is odds on you will be caught!”
Titch-“ This is the in-genius part…Perrier- you are an expert on tailpipes- (touching a raw nerve)- How many exhausts does your average Mini Cooper have?”
Perrier (wincing at his recent body invasion): “One”
Mario: “ So why does our car have two?” he questioned not putting one and two together.
Titch: Precisely Mario- when it comes to blueprints on vacuum design- there is a sucker born every minute!”
Arrival at a busy Calais Ferry Terminal and Port
The Mini passes through customs without any opposition, but Perrier is stopped again.
Perrier: 'It's no good being self-employed - you are a marked man!'
Mario : ' you are definately a marked man' ...we should call you the Lord of the Rings after today's performance!'
The five boys head towards their car which is being driven off the Ferry by Titch.
They stop at the beer hypermarket and refill the golden bottles with Stella Artois- they are served by Ruth Jones who can make a crack about everyone in Wales loving 'Stella' .
As they get back in the car, Titch resumes the driving and turns to the cramped trio in the back .
Titch : 'I'd offer to swap seats Pat but I've only just recovered from my vasectomy operation and it's taken two years for the swelling to go down'
Pat: I had a feeling you lot would be jockeying for position and that I would become the back marker before the Prix de arch de triumphe...shift up Mario!'
The drinking in the car continues apace - with Mario becoming adept at reaching in through the built in easy access through the rear seats removing the golden beer bottles without disturbing the seats or their occupants.
Mario: It's a good job that I am an amateur gynaecologist!' He declares as his hand disappears between the two seats.
Des:'You missed your vocation in life, Codfather, you should have been a Customs Official!' Teased Des watching Perrier shudder once more.
Titch : 'It's good this Stella but it's not like your Welsh beer is it ....Brains is definitely best!'
Mario: 'Well you should know you have consumed more brains than the cast of the Walking Dead!'
The car starts to fill up with empty beer bottles and the bladders get stretched.
Perrier: 'Stop....there is a toilet over there!'
The camera pans to the side of the French motorway basic toilet stop. The smell of the place is awful- so much so that the boys decide to urinate on the wall outside. Inside there is a circular floor with a hole in the middle for solids to slide into.
Mario: 'Where's the toilet gone?'
Pat: 'It's my bet..it's closed for repairs...it's only a hole in the floor!'
Des: 'it's no wonder those French Rugby Players are so accurate with their drop outs...I'm going outside!'
Perrier and Des are standing side by side urinating on the wall..camera shot from the rear of them.
Perrier leaves to reveal has drawn a Welsh Rugby ball on the wall and written in urine 'Gilbert' on it.
Des: 'Rod Gilbert?'
Des is staring at it and as he leaves the camera can see he has added 'Mister' to it....( as a homage to the Inbetweeners character Mr Gilbert played by Greg Davies previously.)
Titch: 'that's the last stop we can have boys before we reach Paris....thanks to Perrier we are three hours behind schedule...!'
A committee decision was made as bladders were tested once more and the front of the car too became full of empties.
The Welsh 'pee-RS of the Realm- had to use the bottles to urinate in- and bottles were passed to Titch who drank whatever was passed to him- warm or cold.
Arrival in Paris.
The camera pans to a shot of the colourful mini containing the pride of Wales speeding through Montemarte looking up at the beautiful' City of Light' and the Eiffel Tower.
After the excitement of the landmarks there is a huge contrast when the Sat Nav with the voice of Rene from allo allo brings them to the front of 'Le Fleapit' hotel.
It is situated on the banks of the River Seine, but is strictly down market with tiles off the roof and in a state of general disrepair.
Titch : 'What's the French word for 'condemned'?'
Des: Look...I found it on Trivago...it has three stars...'
Pat : if you look up through the hole in the roof ...I bet you can see them too!...never mind I think I have a discount coupon for this place too!....
As he opens his wallet....moths fly skyward...there is an old green pound note in there...some green shield stamps and a long list of coupons which unfold and drop to the floor.
He finds the ticket.
The hotel rooms.
They are basic and very French .
Titch looks under the bed and finds some cockroaches.
Des: What are you looking for?,
Titch: Lenny Henry.
Perrier: It's not exactly a French version of a Premier Inn is it...?...I wonder who does their adverts?
Des: 'Thierry Henry probably!'
The lads unpack their bags and all change into the obligation second Welsh strip of sweater shop polo- neck sweaters, casual slacks and white Donnay socks.
As they put on their aftershave- Des admires himself in the mirror.
Des Res: 'Boys...I must say we Welsh are a good looking race!....we are like the equivalent of the Spice Girls....I wonder which one I would be?'
All remainder of the lads look at each other and say as one:
Des growls at the insult- as he is Narcissistic and considers himself to be younger looking than his real age.
The boys arrive in the seedier part of Paris- the West Bank - it contains lots of boarded up shops and dilapidated hotels making them homesick for Merthyr.
Titch : 'Look we are in our Twin Town area called Avenue De Clichy'
Des Res: 'but ours has more red lights!'
They look around to see an array of brothels but no traffic lights to control the kerb crawlers. As their accents South Wales echo into the evening mist- an ageing prostitute attempts to entice the party towards her establishment.
She is once again played by aged Ruth Jones.
'Excusez- moi mon cheri parle vous Francais?'
Titch being the most experienced linguist and all round master of the tongue- heads towards the Madame.
The Madame is 60 and has used a lot of make up.
Pat: If she was a horse I would have had money on it that they would have shot her by now...is that REAL Plaster of Paris?'
Titch reaches down the front of his trousers for his wallet- hidden there in case he was mugged so at least he would enjoy it.
He whispers something inaudible in the Madame's ear and she laughs.
Pat hands her a Leekes Department Store lighting discount coupon as he passes.