Diary of a Loony (2): (2003-2004) Mike Brass

I lodged with the Brasses once, and the paterfamilias was Mike. He had only two, inexhaustible topics of conversation: where to find food and whores and the genius of his family. I saw few examples of genius, but I did hear a lot of flatulence, most of it from Mike himself, who was as prolific that end as the other.

One morning the Brass was enjoying his breakfast: 4 sausages, 2 duck eggs, six thick rashers of bacon, a chunk of foie gras, mushrooms, toast and coffee.

“I could have been a concert pianist as well as a mathematical genius, you know. I wonder what it is about my family.”

“What do you mean?” I said, sipping my coffee and avoiding looking at his hairy belly as it gurgled and shook.

“Well, genes like ours don’t come from nowhere. I’m sure before my grandfather came from Russia we must have been musicians, artists, scientists. What do you think?”

“I’m sure you’re right: symphonies from all the Mighty Handful must have accompanied your family’s exit from Mother Russia.”

Mike was so pleased he farted in appreciation.

I smiled graciously.

“Tell you what. Let’s go and get a couple of dirty tarts on the way home tonight. What do you say? My treat.”


***

Mo Brass, when I knew him, was the owner of a slot machine arcade in St. John's Wood, but he had once been an economics master at a minor public school; a fine example of putting theory into practice. This arcade was, however, but a façade: the real action took place in the rooms at the back, where illegal card and dice games of every description flourished under the Brass's beady eye.

Outside of Wormwood Scrubs you have never seen such a collection of ruined gamblers, grinning sharks, drunks, thugs, gangsters, conmen, card-sharps, desperados, drug addicts and criminals as you found at Mike's. I visited many times; I always felt at home there.

Why was I a regular visitor? Well, my luck as a punter had been erratic and I was deeply in hock to the Brass and his cronies. Given the stark choice of having no kneecaps or being a Brass slave for a year, I chose the latter. It was my job to help skim the mugs and hand over my winnings to the Brass, in return for a mattress in his spare room and all the streaky bacon I could eat. 


I should mention Nick the Fist, who had served four years for GBH, and acted as the club enforcer. Nick's charm was legendary: one day I was sitting at the computer totting up the day's takings and I heard someone say something behind me. Deeply engrossed as I was in the Brass finances, I paid no heed, until the voice repeated itself, much louder: "Oi, yer fucking little shit, I'm talkin' to yer."

I turned. It was Nick, with a grin on his face that would have scared a Great White. "Make us a tea, will yer? Four sugars."

***

Mike Brass had a daughter, Davida, who was the loudest, fattest slapper this side of the Caucasus. Almost as adept at breaking wind as her father, she would regularly engage with him in contests as to who could produce the loudest and smelliest, accompanied by great guffaws of brassy laughter.

Davida was, perhaps still is, one of Britain's top snap players, and Mike was very proud of her. A caring father, he practiced with her for hours and drove her to all the major tournaments throughout the British Isles and beyond, bending the ear of any who would listen about the genius of his flabby-titted offspring.

It is fair to say that Davida and I had little in common, and she became openly impertinent after I refused her drunken, cunty come-ons one Saturday evening while Mo was at the arcade and her mother was in bed. "Wot?" she bellowed. "Yer only the fuckin' lodger. 'Ow dare yer turn me down? All I want's a shag."

"I don't feel it would be right, Dav," I said. "I am a guest in your father's house, after all."

She belched. "Bollox to yer then. I'll go use me rabbit."

And off she hared.

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