'The Bear in a Pink Sandal' and Archie 'The Blizzard' Jones.


The walls of 'The Bear in a Pink Sandal' - or simply 'The Pink' to the locals - were decorated with pictures taken from magazines which fulfilled the dreams and lies of the pub landlord, Archie "The Blizzard" Jones. He had long told everybody that after the Great War, he had been left in France where he had then become some sort of racing driver. The pictures on the wall, of a man in a leather cap behind the wheel of a racing car, were supposed to be him. If any one ever questioned Archie about it he would threaten to remove a finger or to spit in their ploughman's lunch.

In build, Archie was like a barrel with legs. His arms swung around his barrel chest on a parallel line with the floor and he often took the odd one or two things off the bar. When he bent down you were guaranteed a view of male hygiene that scientists at a University in Arizona would be very interested in. To say that he had a hairy back was like saying that water was a bit wet. One year - it may have been the year that the pub won the darts league with Peter 'One Arm' Yates as captain - Archie had his back shaved and dyed in the design of the pub sign. By all accounts it took three days to control the hair on his back. For all that hair, there is one problem with it: he has nightmarish dandruff. It's not just a problem on his head, but his back hair is covered in a flurry of the white stuff. "The Blizzard" was given his name after one of the regular punters noticed Archie trying to close the snug door against a gale force wind. According to Duncan Duncan, there was a ghostly whisp of dried flakes whistling around his barrel like body. Perhaps what followed is more of a statement about the youth of today: a young man was found selling small foil packages of Archie's flakes and a young girl was found snorting a line of it in the toilet.

I had once heard a man ask Archie, in French, if he could have a pint of best, a packet of crisps and some darts for a game on the oche. Archie, who had long boasted about his lost years in France, turned to Alein De La Roche and told him that he didn't serve Germans in his pub. When it was explained to Archie that Alein was, in fact, French he grabbed a jar of French soil that he kept by the bar and shouted, "Ziz iz Frenchie land. Zat iz no Frenchman". Alein then produced his French Passport. Everyone in the bar was convinced that this was a man of France. Everyone was convinced except for Archie. He then dipped behind the bar and rose slowly carrying an original World War One rifle and bayonet. He shouted, teeth slightly yellow and showing. There were no words exactly, but he certainly shouted.

It was obvious to everyone in the snug that Alein was not just a man of France, but also a man of great verbal dexterity of France. He managed to conjure from somewhere an accent that had its base in the Black Country. Alein said, "Blimey Archie Squire... what's a joke with friends?" Archie, fingers sweating on the barrel of the rifle, sniffed, winked an eye over the trigger and cracked a smirk. In his mind he had gone over the top, dodged the biggest bullet that the enemy could launch and had dropped back into the trenches. It was obvious from the two fingers he had slung in front of Alein that he was satisfied with the man of France's retreat. Perhaps what cleared any doubts - if any fool in the bar had one - that Archie was perhaps one battalion short of an army he then said, "Now, if you had have said that you were Welsh... you could have had any drink in the bar, what can I get you Jock?"

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This page contains a single entry by Bobby Beamer published on March 9, 2004 10:08 PM.

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