Early morning, and the road sweepers, litter pickers and seagulls are clearing up along the promenade. A mist hangs over the sea, like it’s still too early for landscape of any description.
A police officer, standing with a huge, nub-headed guy.
We’d been given the job – partial amputation of lower lip / 3 mugfuls of blood – as a high priority, but Barry is relaxed and smiling.
‘Oh hello’ he says. ‘Here they are, then.’
He’s like a pantomime dame without the make-up; stepping onto the ambulance I half expect to see him hitch up the hoops on a ludicrous ball gown, but this is a dress rehearsal, and he’s wearing jogging bottoms.
The police officer sighs and steps away to make a call.
Barry takes a seat, slaps the palms of his hands to his head, then laughs again.
‘What a night, mate,! Honestly, what a night!’
‘So tell us what’s been going on?’
He straightens in the chair.
‘Can’t I have a fag first? Only I know how long these things take n’I’m busting for a fag.’
‘Let’s hear why we’ve been called first, then we’ll see.’
‘Okay. Right. There were these two fat lesbos...’
‘No – come on, Barry. Just tell us how you got your fat lip and how you came to ring 999.’
‘I’m telling ya! So – two fat lesbos. I’ve seen them around before, they don’t scare me – them, and about ten others – and we had this massive fight . It were amazing. I was standing there like King fuckin’ Kong. I was shaking em off like planes. Fifteen of em, all piling in. It was mega. Massive. All these lesbos, all coming at me. But I stood me ground all mean and sturdy like, and we had this lovely big fight. But this particular one, the really mean one, the Big Boss, she had a red glove on, with studs – not real diamonds – you know – diamante. And she caught me a right good clatter fat in the mouth, and I reckon that’s what did the damage. Look – can I have a smoke now or what? Cos I have got to have some nicotine before I go to any hospital. Sorry n’all that. But I know how long I’ll be up there and I’m gonna need a little sommat to tide me over.’
The officer looks in again.
‘Are you going to be wanting to take this any further, Barry?’
‘No, mate. I’m no grass, me.’
‘Okay, fine. In which case, I’ll say goodbye.’
‘Here...’ Barry holds out his hand, grubby with blood.
‘No offence, Barry, but it’s a little grimy.’Barry laughs, bunches his hand, and holds it out. ‘Fist pump!’