I was just heading out last night when the very sad news appeared on Twitter that fellow blogger and friend Captain Ranty has passed away.
I'd known him for a couple of years when he started his blog in April 2009 and was in no doubt it would be a success due to the quality of his writing, as I described during his early days.
He writes superb stuff, and (shhh, secret) I knew this before he started blogging. In fact, I knew it before I started this blog, which is why the moment he began writing in earnest, he was instantly added to my blogroll. I didn't need to know what he would be writing about as I didn't care. His pedigree was unquestionable, his prose a dream, and boy has he delivered in spades.As a result of this, the Cap'n's comments sections were always lively and he rattled up large visitor numbers and some 2,800 Twitter followers in very short order.
His overall content was starkly different from here but always opinionated (as a blog should be), blunt, brutally honest, and often very personal, especially recently. However, being a staunch libertarian and a smoker, there were regular posts which would chime with those of you who read my tabloid stuff. So, in memory of the Captain, below I've reproduced one of his from 2010 which I think you'll enjoy revisiting.
File this tale under "Random". It doesn't fit anywhere else.
Those with excellent visualisation skills should go no further than this. Really.
About six years ago I was returning to the UK from somewhere in the US. I forget exactly which airport I was at but I have narrowed it down to two: Charlotte in North Carolina, or Dulles in Washington D.C. It isn't important.
Anyway, I had a few hours to kill as the flight had been delayed. I wandered around until I found a bar that allowed smoking. The one I found was situated like a high street pub, with pavement seats & tables, only indoors. You could sit at a table but watch the passengers go by on the main concourse.
I was chugging away, and chuffing away, when I saw the three largest humans in the history of humans thundering slowly towards me. Daddy Bear was a good 35 stone, Baby Bear in the middle was perhaps 20 stone, and Mummy Bear was the biggest of all. God alone knows how much she weighed but she was massive. All that fat in motion was vaguely hypnotic. And I don't mind admitting that as I smoked and drank, I watched them lumbering my way.
Daddy was wearing some sort of mou-mou, Baby was wearing a track suit, and Mummy had on some beige crimpolene pants with those sewn in creases, and a ginormous tee-shirt. For some reason that escapes me, all were advertising the manufacturer of the clothing they wore. I couldn't see Dads, but Baby's apparel was made by Adidas, and Mums was made by Omar the Tentmaker.
On they came. In step. Flat-footed. In no hurry.
As they draw near, they all swivel giant heads above many, many chins, to glower at me. I take a drag of my smoke, exhale, and chase it with a swig of my beer.
As they draw level, Mummy Bear sneers at me, pure hatred in her piggy eyes, waves a hand in front of her piggy nose, and says, "Disssgusssting!".
I was a little surprised. Shocked even.
They passed me and it was my turn to swivel and stare. I wish I hadn't. I am now the permanent owner of a sight that I cannot cleanse my mind, or my memory banks of.
As I turned, my eyes were drawn, immediately, to the seat of Mummy Bears beige pants.
She had shit herself. At some point during the day she had shit herself. And was unaware. The stain was the size of a dinner plate, but it had also tracked down her left leg and stained the pants there as well.
I have seen some sights in my time. Deaths, disfigurement and deformities that defy reason or any godly compassion.
But I have rarely seen anything as foul as a ridiculously fat woman who had shit herself and didn't know it, or didn't care. But was narrow-minded enough to call a complete stranger disgusting. For smoking a cigarette.
Some nights, what worries me even more is that Daddy or Baby knew but didn't tell her. But still opted to wobble alongside her. In a public place.
I haven't told anyone else on the face of the earth that story. I was half-hoping it would just go away. It didn't. I hope that by sharing we can now all collectively delete the image from our minds.
A problem shared is a problem halved, right?
Thank you, friends. This unburdening has helped me.
It helped me a lot.RIP Colin, you're already missed.