(This was also published by the Huffington Post)
Last night, Charlie Chuck performed at Vivienne and Martin Soan’s monthly Pull The Other One comedy club in Herne Hill. Afterwards, he and his lady friend stayed at my friend’s flat in Greenwich.
This morning, I was chatting to him over tea and toast.
I was partly brought up in Aberdeen; my friend was brought up in various places including Lossiemouth in Scotland and in Germany.
A lot happened to Charlie Chuck when he was 19. He has memories of being in Aberdeen, Lossiemouth and Germany that year. This is what he told me over tea and toast:
I was performing at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen when I discovered I had the crabs.
I felt a tightness against my groin and I didn’t know what it was. I were on the beach and I had me trunks on.
I looked down and there were these little brown things and I counted 43. I didn’t know what they were. I thought Blimey! and I scraped one off, which drew blood. I put the thing on me fingernail and it started moving and then I realised it were a crab.
I scraped all 43 of them off me and cracked them all on me fingernail like you did with nits – well, I did – but also, at the same time, my dick were starting to grow… it were getting redder and redder and were swelling up and I remembered sleeping on a settee with a girl from Birmingham in a derelict house about a fortnight previous.
I was playing in a band at the time. When I went to the doctor’s, the first thing he said to me was: “Are you seeing anybody else?”
I had met somebody else called Violet from Elgin so he told me: “Stay well away from Violet from Elgin.”
He gave me an injection and some stuff to put on, but I had to shave everything down there. All me pubes. He gave me tablets and he said, “When you get back down to Leeds Infirmary, get straight to the VD Clinic.”
Well I shaved myself and got rid of everything – my pubic hair and underpants and the crabs, which I’d kept – and I put them all in a briefcase and, when I was driving along a country road near Lossiemouth, I threw the briefcase out of the window.
Two weeks later, me dad in Leeds got a letter from the Lossiemouth police to say they had found something belonging to me because, when I threw my briefcase away, I’d left my National Insurance stamping card in it.
The police asked me dad: “What do you want us to do with what we’ve found?”
I remember my dad asking me on the phone: “What do they mean? You’d better go claim your stuff, hadn’t you?”
I said, “No, it were just rubbish.”
He kept insisting: “Send for it. There might be something else in there.”
I said, “No, there’s nowt else in there.”
I eventually got my National Insurance card back.
A lot happened to me that year.
I got attacked in Germany.
I were with an Irish girl called Kate from Cloughmills, County Antrim. She used to like a drink and, this particular night, I were carrying her back from the pub because she used to like a pint of whisky and orange – it were a quarter full of whisky topped up with orange – and, every month or so she used to go off her head.
So I were carrying her like a fireman’s lift across me shoulder and these two black American GIs came towards me and one of them just swung at me – they were sending the GIs to Vietnam through Germany at that time. He swung at me and he hit me on my left shoulder. He just missed Kate. It hurt and I didn’t know what it were but blood were coming from my shoulder.
He’d stabbed me.
There were some Military Police on main gates about half a mile up the road and I told ‘em I’d been stabbed. It turned out the two GIs had already stabbed a sergeant and they got about four years for assaulting an Englishman on German soil, so they were put in a German jail, not an American jail. But at least they didn’t have to go to Vietnam.
About a year before that, I’d also got attacked. I’d just done an audition for someone and I were in Bramley, in Leeds, and I were stood at this bus stop in a really colourful outfit with a boater on me head and a man come round in a car – I were only 19; he were about 35 – and he pulled up and said: “Do you want a lift?”
I’d been stood there for about half an hour, so I got in and he shot off really quick and straight away round the corner came his friend in another car. They started taking me to Bramley Canal and I were getting dead worried. I had a suitcase and in that I had my ice blue jeans and my hobnail boots and a lock-knife because I were a dustbin man at the time and I’d just gone from work to do this audition. But I was wearing all this Flower Power stuff for the audition – furry slippers and all that kind of stuff – so I looked a bit feminine.
As we started to get near the Canal, it were dark – it were 11 o’clock at night – and, as the driver slowed down to go into the fields, I jumped out. We were doing about 25mph, but I knew these guys meant business.
I ran like mad and got to a graveyard wall. I threw my suitcase over and clambered up this wall – I were fit at that time – I were really fit – and I ran into this massive big cemetery and I got behind a gravestone.
The two guys – big blokes – came looking for me and my heart were pounding like chuff. I were scared stiff. But they didn’t see me, so they went away.
I then got changed into me ice blue jeans, me steel toe-capped hobnail boots and got my knife.
I stayed in the graveyard for an hour.
There were derelict houses all around and, when I got back on the road, I started to make my way back to my sister’s place – she was renting a dentist’s surgery at the time – but I heard the two cars coming again. They were looking for me; they were after me. So I lay down on an island in the middle of this little road among a load of daffodils.
I could hear the cars coming and they stopped. I heard one of the men say to the other: “He’s around here somewhere,” but they left it at that and got in their cars again.
When they both disappeared round a corner, I ran like mad but I heard the cars coming again so I got in a doorway in an alleyway and they went round the corner again and I decided to go for it again and I were running like mad.
But it turned out what they’d done was they’d gone round the corner and doubled back so they were coming towards me. I could hear my boots running on the road and I had me knife in me hand and the first guy pulled up in his car ahead of me and got out and I threw my suitcase at him with full force. It knocked him sideways and the other guy pulled up and were ready for me, but I were going at such speed and I’d got this knife and I shouted out, “I’ll stab you, ya bastard!” and he moved to one side.
But they still both gave chase.
I got to me sister’s door and, just as I did, there were a car that came and I started booting on the front door really loud with me hobnail boots and they ran off. They took my suitcase and off they went.
My sister let me in and the police were called, but I didn’t drive then, so I couldn’t tell them what type of cars the men had used.
They found my suitcase in the canal about a week later.
I was always streetwise anyway but, ever since then, I’ve always looked behind my back. I started doing karate to protect myself. Whenever I played any pubs or clubs after that, I was always aware. Still am.