With his full beard, wild hair and blue button eyes, Taz looks like a loveable toy lion, a little ragged at the ears maybe, nicked and battered by life, but a lion that’s learned to take care of himself at the tougher end of the jungle.
‘Don’t worry about me ‘ed mate. I’ve had worse.’
His dog, something massive and furious, appears to have given up trying to ram its head through the kitchen door, and has started trying to pick the lock instead.
‘We don’t mind if you let him through,’ I say, putting my bag down.
‘Nah mate. He’ll roll you on the ground and have your cards cloned before you’re up again.’
‘Fair enough. Let’s have a look at this wound, then.’
‘If you can find it in all that hair,’ says Chelsea, Taz’ girlfriend, tucking her legs up on the sofa and wrapping herself more tightly in her dressing gown. ‘If you find any brains, let me know.’
Rae holds a torch on the wound as I prod around.
‘It’s not too bad,’ I tell him. ‘A couple of stitches, that’s all. We could get one of our colleagues to come out and take care of that for you.’
‘Would ya? Thanks, mate. I’m dead allergic to hospitals.’
‘I’ve just got to ask – have you had any alcohol tonight?’
‘Don’t drink. Not anymore. Not since the illness. I’m sober as a judge, me.’
‘And just as bent,’ says Chelsea.
I shine a torch in his eyes. Take his blood pressure.
‘You’ve passed your MOT’ I tell him, as Rae writes the figures down.
‘Have I? That’s good then.’
‘Are you going to wrap his head in bandages?’ says Chelsea. ‘One under the chin. One round his mouth.’
Rae makes a bandana out of a triangular bandage and covers the top of his head. She steps back to admire her work.
‘There you go, Taz. Axl Rose.’
‘Wow! I’m never gonna take this off.’
‘Oh my God,’ says Chelsea. ‘We’ll never hear the end of it.’
‘So tell me again what happened?’
‘I was coming down the stairs and I missed my footing. I’ve been doing that quite a bit since I got sick. I fell over and whacked my head on the door, but I weren’t knocked out or nothing. I’m good really. It bled a lot but they do that, don’t they? I’ve had a fair few cut heads in my time. I know about this shit.’
‘When was the last one?’
‘A couple of months ago.’
‘Did you trip that time as well?’
‘No, mate. A friend of mine smashed my head on a urinal.’
‘Blimey! Why’d he do that?’‘I’ve no idea. I was fucking his girlfriend at the time, but that’s probably just a coincidence.’