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16.5.16

The Naked Man


Taking a corner at high speed, we are surprised to see a pub sign advertising The Naked Man. Fatty says that, as we are here and, as civilized gentlemen, it is our cultural imperative to find out more about this unique pub with its startling name, award winning fish and world renowned chips, a higher intellectual calling, Fatty expounds, rubbing his belly and belching, that we are duty bound not to ignore. I remind everyone that there is no greater imperative or any calling higher than our mission, we are ruchishly behind schedule and to stop for any reason would be disastrous, nonetheless, Fatty is right, The Naked Man is a historic pub with great local significance and we would regret it if we failed to learn more about this ancient temple of community spirit and alcohol fuelled entertainment and its very unusual sign.

In the bar, the proprietor, Molly Malone, says that, actually, she is very embarrassed about the sign, she says that the sign and it’s symbolism does not reflect the sort of image she wants for her pub. If a pub is called The Naked Man, she says, the least customers should expect is a naked man, which she can’t guarantee, so they are often disappointed, and having disappointed customers is embarrassing for any publican. I tell Molly that, if anyone bothered to look, they would see that the picture on the sign is of man wearing some clothes, he isn’t naked, so observant people won’t be disappointed, and illiterate people who can’t read the name of the pub won’t be disappointed and blind people who can’t see the sign or the pub won’t be disappointed either, so she shouldn’t be embarrassed.  

Fatty orders twenty nine plates of fish and chips and Juan orders a dozen bottles of vintage Edradour Private Reserve. Molly asks us about the unconscious man we dragged in off the street, I tell Molly that his name is Rory and we are teaching him to fall and to be pulled behind a horse, and I kick him awake. When he asks where he is and Molly tells him the name of the pub, Rory looks embarrassed.  I tell Molly that Rory is a modest, shy sort of person, and very immature, like all Englishmen, he isn’t comfortable with nudity or references to nudity, which is why he didn’t think it was funny when we gave him a hairless cat for his birthday, and he didn’t think it was hilarious that we insisted on calling the cat ‘Fluffy’ and regularly gave Rory combs and cat grooming accoutrement. Juan says that, to be fair, we did give anti-baldness ointment to the cat. I remind Juan that we didn’t, we meant to, but we couldn’t be bothered and didn’t want to waste money on the stuff, but we did use a natural anti-baldness urine remedy which was easy and free, but although we sprayed the cat thoroughly, it didn’t work, the cat didn’t like it, it still doesn’t have hair and, for months, it stank like a dirty urinal.

Molly tells Rory that, as I had pointed out, the naked man on the sign is not actually naked, so he shouldn’t blush when she says ‘naked man’, although, she adds, if there was one, then the whole problem would be resolved.  I tell Molly that Fatty often takes his clothes off before eating, to allow for expansion, but customers would not enjoy the sight, on the other hand, I observe, when Rory joins the hunt and falls from the horse and, helplessly entangled in the reins, is being dragged behind the horse over stony ground, the sharp rocks will rip all his clothes off and, when the ladies from the hunt catch up with him, he will be too badly injured and too tangled up in the reins to cover himself adequately and he will be the object of malicious hilarity and merciless ridicule.

When Rory shouts that nothing like that will happen because he isn’t going to ride a horse or fall off a horse or have his clothes torn off or anything and we must be mad to think that he would do such a stupid thing, it is obvious that he needs more preparation and he will be grateful for another lesson, that is why, as we explain to Rory later, when he isn’t as appreciative as he should have been, we tied him up, tore his clothes off and threw him onto the street. It doesn’t, I admit, explain why we spent a long time peering out of the pub window, giggling like stupid children. But, in our defence, it was tremendous fun to see the reaction of the group of nuns, who are interested, and the Woman’s Institute tour group who stop and start selling tea and cakes to onlookers, the West Indian family who point and laugh in astonishment and derision and make signs to each other indicating something impossibly small, the savage feral cat, the peculiar old woman with shaky hands and a cup of scalding coffee, the three school-girls with a cruel sense of humour and some honey, the strange old man with a camera, a drunken tattooist, swarms of blood-sucking stinging insects and lots of bees, a gang of football supporters, a man with a bucket of pink paint, several policemen and a police dog who, it turns out, really likes pink paint, blood and honey.

After the police beat the sticky, bloody, pink coloured dog into unconsciousness and take Rory away, screaming, we all agree that, although Rory did not handle himself very well, we think he may improve with practice and, overall, that this has been a very valuable character building lesson in public humiliation for Rory, for which we congratulate ourselves. As a bonus, Rory’s lesson acts as an authentic advertisement for the pub and attracts a lot of customers. To celebrate, Juan orders crates of Vintage Knockdhu Founder’s Reserve and beer for everyone who needs it then, drinking toast after toast to Molly and her fabulous pub with its fascinating name, which we can’t quite remember, we fall out into the street and, singing crude songs at the top of our voices and tearing our clothes off in excitement, we stagger around in naked bewilderment, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary