“Stu. Laurent is coming.”
“Good for him. Who’s the lucky girl/boy/goat?”
“No. Muppet. He is coming on camino.”
I dropped the telephone.
I had last seen Laurent in Bayonne, during the Rugby World Cup. As is a hooker’s wont, the Black Duck had gone slightly off on a tangent. Completely on track, Basque hookers can be a handful, off on a tangent, nobody else was going to go near him.
The Front Row code was invoked and the two props were sent to see if a course adjustment might be possible.
“Here’s the plan Stu. We have a few beers, then over dinner we tell him to get a job, stop smoking and drink less.”
“Brilliant. So, pint in hand we tell a Basque nutcase to stop drinking?”
“Got it in one!”
Smith is nothing, if not the eternal optimist.
I am nothing, if not easily led.
The Basque having been severely admonished by Drunk and Drunker, all retired to bed, promising to meet to watch France – Ireland the next day.
Ireland rather put the sword to the French, and we felt that this, combined with the eloquence and persuasive oratory of the previous night explained a rather muted hooker. As he slunk off, Stu and I ordered a celebratory carafe of almost undrinkable Cote de Rhone. (Almost, I said.)
Several hours later Stu’s phone beeped. And beeped. And beeped.
“He’s had a heart attack.” Stu intoned.
“No, I’m fine.” I responded.
“No, the Duck is in hospital.”
Not exactly the outcome we were looking for.
He assures us that he is feeling much better now.
How bad could it be?