Yesterday was a strange old day.
I left work early owing to the joys of flexi and spent the afternoon paying an extortionate amount for Carling lager while watching New Zealand's 49-run victory over South Africa in the ICC Cricket World Cup quarter final. I was alone, but also surrounded by a Georide girls night out. Day out, actually. Weekend, probably. At first I thought it was a hen party but their t-shirts revealed that they were celebrating the 30th birthday of someone called Sara. They were loud and their shoes even more so. Particularly Sara. I know which one was Sara because the t-shirts also helpfully carried the name of each individual in the group. My God, you should have seen the state of Dawn......... And it was only 3.30pm.....
The plan was to meet Emma at my local at some point. She was out for a meal with her work colleagues in Liverpool, and said she'd be at the pub some time after 9. Wigan were playing Warrington in Super League at 8, but as it turned out I wouldn't get to see it. What I saw instead was far more memorable.
I left the extortionate bar in favour of some equally over-priced fast food, then headed for my occasional battle with the railway station. I don't know if it was the couple of pints I'd had but I was feeling rather moody. I get like that. Sometimes for no reason at all. Like a girl. It's a terrible affliction. I'd hesitate to call it depression but there are certainly a large number of days when I wish the world would go fuck itself. There have been more of these in recent weeks I have noticed, but then there has been more beer.
So I arrive at the Springfield pub at about 7.30 with my mood. To my surprise my cousin and his brother-in-law (my other cousin's husband, can you keep up with that?) are sat at a table in the corner. My cousin doesn't live in St.Helens and though his brother-in-law does it is still rare to see him in that particular pub. It was a pleasant surprise anyway, so I start to relax and the Budweiser flows. And it's a good deal cheaper than the Carling in Liverpool. I don't mind missing the rugby now. We're having fun catching up, talking mostly tittle-tattle but then deep conversations aren't good for my mood. Can't let that back in at this point.
There's a small raised area which passes for a stage in the Springfield. On it is a microphone on a stand, behind which sits a man on the back bench. We used to own that bench, back in the day. When the Springy was a very busy place and I knew everyone in there. Now it's rarely occupied, much like the rest of the pub itself except for night's like this when there's entertainment provided. The man is middle-aged, greying hair cut in a sort of semi-mullet, uncomfortably reminiscent of Rod Stewart's infamous barnet. If only I'd known......
Shortly after Emma arrives the man moves. He takes up a position at the end of the bar. Half an hour earlier there had been a spectacular cat-fight. One of the protagonists was a woman who has been part of the furniture for as long as I have been going in there. I couldn't see who it was she was shouting at and trying to run towards, but what I can tell you is that the language turned the air blue. This blog is biblical in it's lexicon by comparison;
"Honestly, you don't see that a lot in here." I said to my companions, only for a woman sitting at a table behind us to retort;
"You don't come in here all that often then, do you love? It's always like that in here."
I've been going in The Springfield for about 20 years. In all that time I have probably seen about five fights, the worst of which prompted the then landlords to call the police after a woman started throwing chairs at her partner. All hell broke loose. Even the karaoke was cancelled the week after. It is not always 'like that' in The Springfield, although I confess that my visits have been fewer in recent years since I found The Brown Edge karaoke. I'm a self-confessed karaoke whore, and I'll go wherever it is in the way that Stephen Fry will go wherever a television crew are.
Finally the pair were torn apart, leaving our man Rod with space to enjoy his pint and chat with a few locals. It was clear he wasn't from Thatto Heath. They just don't do mullets like that around here any more. Not since I ditched the gel and spikes and began the cruel descent into monthly head-shaving. It was a formidable effort though not, Emma and I agreed, as good as the Barnsley cab driver who once picked us up on night out in that beautiful Yorkshire town as students. His was the real deal. He wasn't playing games. His was a good six inches higher than this Rod's, and longer at the back. A top, top effort.
Soon the lights go out and he's introduced. Sure enough our worst fears are confirmed. He's a Rod Stewart tribute act and he's going to be entertaining us for the rest of the evening. What is more, and with the kind of irony that Alanis Morissette could learn a lot from, his name is Springfield. Dave Springfield. Dave, naturally. Everyone is called Dave aren't they? So it's Dave Springfield at The Springfield. Instead of Wigan v Warrington. In Thatto Heath? Christ.
Have you ever seen a tribute act that really buys into the idea that they are the person they are imitating? I once saw a Bon Jovi tribute act at the old Chicago Rock in town who, in between and sometimes during songs, would talk to the crowd in what he probably thought was a convincing Jon Bon Jovi accent. Unfortunately Rod was similarly inclined. In fact, he followed his idol's crisis of origin to the letter by announcing that we would be enjoying some Scottish music, but doing so in a hardly audible mockney accent. It was the sort of accent that would make Dick Van Dyke's seem suitable for a part in Eastenders.
In truth Rod, or Dave, wasn't bad as Rod Stewart tribute acts probably go. He strained a bit at times but he was whole hearted. I defy anyone to not enjoy Maggie May with eight lagers and three whiskey and cokes down their hatch. And remember this is me we're talking about. Not exactly Mr Excitable. And then there was my mood. Included in Dave's repertoire where several costume changes, some of which unfortunately took place on stage. Like the real Rod he liked his football shirts, changing back and forth from Celtic to Scotland while at one point misguidedly opting to go topless. It was by far the worst topless show I had ever seen but then to be fair he wasn't charging an extra fiver for it.
Evenutally Dave ran out of Rod Stewart material that this kind of audience would recognise, so we were treated to covers of tracks by Take That, Bon Jovi (without the accent this time), Queen and even The Script! A good night was, I'm sure, had by all.
And Wigan lost....................