Saturday, 4 December 2010

Wrestling episodes: Promoter / bout

Perfectly coolly, with an almost lazy swing of the arm, Haystacks fists Benny to the ground, then, equally lazily, gets him in a sleeper hold before chopping him down again. All is in slow motion. Haystacks’ face remains entirely impassive, almost weary. While the referee is not looking he knees Benny in the face. The knee rises millimetre by millimetre.

That’s his cue. Jozsef protests loudly. The referee swims through the air to warn him, but as he does so, as the noise of the crowd winds down like a mangled tape, Big Daddy enters, one step, two steps, and now they do just as they threatened at the beginning, they sandwich Benny between their two iron bellies in a double body check. A clash of cymbals. The cannons go off for the Queen’s Birthday. Benny collapses. Haystacks lifts him in a crotch hold and body slams him.


I mean no girl is going to sit at home every night. It never ends. It’s summer and winter. Because the money isn’t big enough to say, we’ve got a nest egg of money, now we can pack up and we can concentrate. They haven’t got any trades or anything like that so you’re always in anticipation. So normally the wife subsidises the living by doing a bit of a job as well but there she’d be going to bed on her own and when in middle of night somebody creeps in beside her at three in the morning like. And when she were getting up to go to work - he’d be still in bed like there’d be - oh tough, tough! My wife, God, I mean, how she, she earned a medal. That’s why I said to you on the phone, Mickey, I... want to talk... I mean cause, I were never home. Never. I had an office in Leeds and office in London and in between that I went every night. But I loved what I did, Mickey. It was me life. You know.. I loved being on the road, the excitement of it, the ... to give the public value for money. Oh listen. Nobody who knows me - I never went in the bar, I never drank: when I work I work. I watched them. I knew the lads who were trying and them that weren’t. They knew me well, all of them. Some might speak a little disrespectfully but in the final analysis it was because I couldn’t be bought. There were no buying me a couple of drinks and all that.


The final cross check. Benny is pinned. There is nowhere left to go after this. Jozsef goes to complain as Jozsef must, as the role demands (what is there for Jozsef to do tonight but suffer and complain?) while the two big men parade about the ring like prize porkers. Ten and a half minutes. No one sets out to be a rabbit or a rag doll. These things just come to you.

The hall is small and airless. There is only room for four rows of chairs round the sides. The world is shrinking back into itself. On the way out they smile at him. An old man gives him thumbs up and a little group of children run after him to pat him on the back. Someone by the door asks him for his autograph. It’s not fair, the lad says. Into the van. It moves out, into his gilded youth and his seasoned middle age. Jozsef make these things up travelling backwards. His back hurts. ‘Back’ is the word that keeps coming


It keeps him going.

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