Philip – 26, Tyneside. An artist’s impression
“If they’d shaved off me eyebrows I could’ve handled that like.”
These were the words of soon-to-be-married Philip, who was chained naked to a lamppost.
To paint the picture and to bring us more up-to-date, I’d driven through Teesside and was just north of Newcastle. It was the night before I got attacked, but of course I wasn’t to know that at the time. Some while ago, one of Jayne’s neighbours and fellow-traveller said she’d done most of her driving at night while the roads were quiet. I’d taken a leaf out of her book because the Ottermobile was spluttering a bit more and I daren’t risk breaking down on a busy road again.
So that was how I came to be on a quiet B-road north of Newcastle, dark but occasionally lit by Lucozade-coloured street lamps. And it was how I came to see, up ahead, a ghost-like blob that turned out to be the pasty colour of naked human flesh. As I got nearer, my fears that all was not normal were confirmed, when I realised it was a man and he was tethered, his knob there for all the world to see.
Now of course my initial reaction was to wet myself laughing – I’m only human after all. This was obviously a prank of some sort, the embers of a stag night maybe? But then I was sure I detected a look of terror rather than embarrassment in the whites of the young man’s eyes and I began to wonder if this were more sinister. So I made a split-second decision and pulled over.
“Are you OK mate?” I asked.
“Do I look fuckin’ OK,” he said, not unreasonably.
“Stag night?” I asked.
“Aye,” he said, “Bastards.”
Now I must confess that while I felt sorry for this drunken young victim, I also felt relieved it were not so sinister, and still, deep down, I was pissing myself.
“I can see yer find it funny,” he said, “Our lass’ll go ape-shit when she hears about this! I don’t think she’ll marry us.”
“She will,” I said.
“I thought they’d come back after a few minutes like. I’ve been here for about three fuckin’ hours. I’ll be here when it’s daylight, I’ll be in the fuckin’ papers.”
“The papers are the last thing to worry about,” I reassured, “You must be freezing cold.”
“What you sayin’ like?” he said, looking down at his member.
“Just it’s a bit nippy tonight,” I said, “I’ll get you my coat.”
“Bastards,” I heard him mutter, as I returned to the van to find my coat and a pair of cutters.
I returned with my skiing coat and draped it over his shoulders, telling him I’d also brought my pliers and I’d do my best.
“Be careful with ’em for fuck’s sake!” he said, rather ungratefully I felt. So I told him I wouldn’t be going anywhere near his wedding tackle and anyway they’d shackled him with his hands behind his back so if anything I’d be working rather more closely to his arse than to my liking.
It was not an easy task; they’d used the kind of chain you see on bike locks and there were two padlocks to negotiate. All I could do was try and prise them open, but to say I was struggling was an understatement.
“I’m supposed to be gettin’ married in a week,” he kept saying, “If she’ll still have us after this.”
This was, and always will be, one of the funniest things I’d ever seen, and in a way I couldn’t believe my luck – it was like the Gods had sent this, to repay me with a rich anecdote for all the hardship and stress my journey entailed. I would dine out on this for months, I would have my friends and family in stitches.
“You have to admit it is funny in a way,” I said, unwisely.
“Not for fuckin’ me it isn’t!” he snapped, and added “Bastards,” not for the first or indeed last time.
They’d been drinking down the Toon, he said, after watching Newcastle get beat. Then after a bellyful his mates and brother told him they were getting a taxi to a club. The driver, in on the joke (“the bastard”) drove them here, where they stripped him bare and whipped out the chains.
Seeing he needed reassurance, I told him something similar once happened to me. Not on my stag night, but when I was leaving Crewe Railway Works way back in 1984. It had been a long tradition to grease someone’s balls if they were a beginner, or brave enough to get married or brave enough to leave. “The piss-pot” as it was known, was chained to the hook of a crane and the victim had to release it, while being pelted with grease. On my leaving do they went a stage further, stripping me, tying my hands, greasing my balls and hoisting me up on the crane, upside down. I still have a Polaroid of this somewhere on the van.
“They didn’t, like?” he said, incredulous.
“Oh they did,” I said.
“Bastards,” he said, chuckling.
“I see you find it funny now,” I said.
“Aye. I suppose it is when it’s somebody else,” he said, “You’ve cheered me up. But I’ll tell you one thing.”
“For an engineer you’re fuckin’ useless with the pliers.”
To be honest I knew I was getting nowhere – this needed proper heavy-duty cutters and a lump hammer. But just as I was giving up the ghost and about to confess my failure, we saw headlights in the distance.
“I hope it’s them bastards,” Philip said, “Knowin’ my luck it’ll be the fuckin’ police.”
But luckily he was right the first time and as the taxi pulled up, out jumped his laughing mates and brother.
“Alright mate?” one of them said to me.
“I was just trying to get him free,” I said, hoping they wouldn’t attack me for being an interfering party-pooper.
“It’s alright, we’ve got the key.”
“Good,” said Phil, “Ya bastards.”
Within seconds he was free and ditheringly getting into his clothes while laughing and muttering obscenities. “Lucky this bloke stopped or I’da frozen to fuckin’ death!” he said.
“Thanks, mate,” said the brother to me, “We were always coming back ya knar?”
“Aye,” said the taxi driver, “We’d never have left him till morning.”
“You’re still bastards,” concluded Phil.
Soon after, they were on their merry way, leaving me holding my pliers and my skiing coat. Then a few miles down the road I found a track where I could stealth-camp. But to be honest I didn’t sleep that much, too busy recapping one of the most bizarre things I’d ever witnessed. And of course I was still pissing myself laughing. I only wished I’d been brave enough to ask him for a selfie.