John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)




John Allard

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Britain is twenty-minutes away from being cast adrift in the North Atlantic. It’s been buggered by the banks and now even the Estonians are going home.

There’ll be fish in the canals again and the odd packet of twenty lying in the street with one, or even two left in.

But it’s a terrible price to pay, and Terry, Gareth and Reg are paying it. While the bankers have been left with lump sums bigger than the Isle of Wight, they’re struggling to keep a rundown pub afloat and proving that when it comes to it, when it really matters, it’s every man for himself.

We’ll learn from it. That’s what they’re all saying, all the world’s leaders. But they’re pissing in the wind. Even the Pope’s doing it, standing on the steps of the Vatican and pissing on the pilgrims.

It’s not a recession, it’s a robbery. It’s the biggest robbery in history, bigger than all the other robberies put together. The bankers have raised two fingers to the world and stolen our future.

The Prime Minister and Terry are in the same boat and it’s sinking fast. The PM decides to cheat her way out of trouble. The landlord of The Winning Post decides to diversify.

While the brewery are watering his beer to improve their profits, while the whole country is being served a short measure to save the economy, Terry turns night into Nite.

Wednesday night is Quiz Nite with bottles of Lithuanian brandy for the winners and a local round for his regulars.

Thursday night is Sixties Nite with Rockin’ Reg Roberts at the mic and about to see his life-savings disappear as a four-inch toad brings down a building society.

And Friday night is Music Nite, as Michael, the puking Pole sings songs of Solidarity from

the shipyards of Gdansk, and Terry takes the boy’s mother to bed.

How long will it be, says Gareth, The Winning Post’s barman, until every night becomes Nite – until night has been replaced completely by shite like Michael?

It’s working though, and Terry decides to reward his staff with a trip to Ireland, where they know all about survival. The country may have been going down but the pubs would be there to the end, like the head on a pint of Guinness.

Reg meets Eileen and wants to stay. Gareth learns about the Ministry of Shit and Shite in Dublin, the crowd who want to put nappies on horses. And Terry returns to The Winning Post with an idea.

Sunday night is Story Nite.

No one can tell a tale like the Irish though, and Ernie Evans proves it. He takes to Michael’s stage – four crates lashed together – and the pub is in tears. Worse – no one wants a drink.

It’s a setback. But a temporary one that’s all, because The Winning Post is in the news. A small pub in north Wales has been advertised to the nation.

No one waters Terry Hughes’s beer and gets away with it, unless it’s him. There’s a fiddle going on, and it’s not just the beer either. Someone somewhere has issued a licence to cheat.

Who could it be? Who would the government turn to when things got desperate, really desperate? Who would know how to squeeze every last penny out of a population afraid to spend?

The banks, it had to be. The banks that wanted to start charging just for having an account. The banks that were still insisting on their bonuses. The banks that had lost billions and were trying to shrug it off – like an undertaker who’d lost the body.

The Winning Post leads the protests. They kick up a stink. They write cheques on rancid kippers. They’re in the newspapers, they’re on the television, and they’re invited to Number 10.

The Prime Minister wants to show she’s in tune with the electorate but Terry confronts her about his beer. He may not know the truth but he knows enough, enough to be dangerous.

He won’t be bought off though, none of them will. He won’t be like the bankers, ready to grab at anything. Like the MPs, fiddling their expenses. Like the priests in Ireland – Jesus, have you seen what they’ve been doing?

It may be a darker bleaker world, but it’s the ordinary bloke who’ll set the standard from now on. Blokes like Terry, Gareth and Reg.

[~90,000 words]





Sample Chapter

Chapter Twenty

Gareth wanted to know why they called the Prime Minister...

‘The Taoiseach?’ said Declan.

Why they called him Biffo?

The barman said it stood for Big Ignorant Fella From Offaly. Fella, Fecker, Fucker. It depended on the company you were in.

They still hadn’t been properly introduced. Robert, Rob, Robbie – he didn’t mind which – had been working at The Vale for the best part of a year.

Reg reached across the table and shook his hand. Fucker would be fine, he was amongst friends.

Instead of tea they drank Jameson’s, the five of them around the kitchen table upstairs.

Declan announced that it had been a good night, The Vale had been full. There had been those who were there on the off-chance of winning a few quid, and even more who’d turned up hoping to see someone make a fool of themselves. To see someone fall flat on their face, which one man had managed to do, thanks to the combined effects of six pints of Guinness, one leg shorter – or longer - than the other, and five whiskies.

He’d told a good tale though, a rambling story about the state of the country. Declan would have given him the runner’s-up prize if they’d had one, and if he’d been conscious.

Everyone loved a dig at authority, a few laughs at the expense of someone else.

‘How many bankers does it take to change a light-bulb...?

‘None... They don’t bother. The feckers – they’re used to working in the dark.’

The man said they had introduced an intelligence test for the lads who were being groomed to takeover from the other crowd, the ones who should have been in prison where they belonged.

‘There’s a bath full of water, right...? You’ve got a teaspoon, an eggcup and a bucket, and

you want to empty it...’

Reg said he’d use the bucket.

The man said he’d pull the plug out.

‘Feckin’ bankers...’

That was all he had to say to get a laugh.

‘See, they’re a feckin’ joke.’

And they laughed again.

There was no question about it, he was good. But not a patch on the winner.

‘Eileen,’ said Reg, hiding his smile in his glass.

He’d taken a shine to Eileen; he couldn’t help but admit it. He’d sat with her and her sister until closing time. He’d helped her back into her coat. He’d shown her to the door.

He had a wife at home.

There always had to be something.

‘Anyway, you owe me,’ said Gareth. ‘Three glasses of lager.’

Eileen had invited him to call in.

‘And me,’ said Terry. ‘Two phone calls.’

She had a B & B. Anytime, Reg, she’d said. Bally somewhere or other. Ballymullen? Ballymac? Ballyfinane? Ballyseedy?

Eileen... He didn’t know her other name.

Ballydunlea? Ballyroe? Ballyvelly?

And he wasn’t sure if she was expecting him for bed, for breakfast or for both.

Terry was already wondering how Story Night – or Nite as it would become – would go down at The Winning Post, and wondering too why he hadn’t thought of it himself.

Between them though, they had the recession on the run on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Admittedly each of them only in their own beery domain, but the recovery had to start

somewhere – why not over a few pints?

‘You know what gets me...? said Gareth. ‘The people who got us into this mess are the same ones who are supposed to be getting us out of it. I mean... if there’s anyone cleverer out there, cleverer than the clever buggers who got us into....’


‘If there’s anyone cleverer than them, why weren’t they clever enough to do something about it before?’

Declan put the top back on the Jameson’s.

The Winning Post’s barman had arranged to meet Robbie for a guided tour of Tralee. He was looking out for a statue, a man with a pike, but was thrown off course by the sudden appearance of a range of mountains.

The pale moon was rising above the green mountain.

But black rather than green, a sweeping silhouette that framed the town, the mist retreating like a pair of net curtains pulled aside to let in the early-morning sun.

Earlyish anyway. Robbie was late and Gareth was in the wrong place, looking up at the imposing figure of a Dominican priest - two-tons of limestone and standing arms outstretched like a policeman directing the traffic.

‘It’s moved,’ said an old man with a Jack Russell to match.


‘The statue, it’s moved.’

Didn’t they all?

The man said his dog had cocked his leg on it every day for ten-years. Every day without fail, until one morning it wasn’t there and the dog fell over, a golden rainbow arching into the

air and onto the old man’s shoes.

The statue had been re-sited. It had been moved a few yards around the corner to make way for a new development.

‘Perhaps...’ said the man.

Perhaps, along with the moss, mould, spittle, vomit, semen, phlegm, blood and barbecue sauce, they didn’t want his dog pissing on it.

Fair enough, all they had to do was say. Anyway, he only pissed on the plinth.

Gareth looked at the priest and then walked the few yards to the new shops. They were empty, a victim of the recession maybe - one religion replaced by another and both in need of a flock.

By the time he’d found Robbie, he’d wandered into The Square, attracted by the music from the market, a song which drew comparisons between the English flag and the butcher’s apron.

He could have bought a T-shirt with the slogan, We still hate Thatcher. He could have sent a postcard home, reminding his mates it was time Britain left Ireland to the Irish. And he could have bought a Man United top.

Robbie said it was a dichotomy and time for a pint.

They sat outside The Grand; the same hopes, the same dreams, the same job – going nowhere. Bookends, with four-hundred years of history between them, united at last by a common enemy and Guinness.

‘Remember when they wanted to start charging us just for having an account?’ said Gareth. ‘It’d be like being mugged and then having to pay for it.

‘Off the agenda now though, isn’t it? And d’you know why...? Because it was just another

bloody con, that’s all. Like when you pay in a cheque and it disappears. When they send it to

the moon and back by carrier pigeon. When you give ’em a few extra quid and they open the

back door and launch it into the stratosphere with a catapult.’

Robbie said he’d read somewhere that ultimately the banking industry would be responsible for more deaths than Hitler. Millions of people would die before their time, killed by poverty and disease as the world went into reverse.

Even in Ireland.

Britain too, said Gareth.

Already hospitals were cutting back. There’d be fewer beds, and decisions to be made; hard choices about who should live and who should fall into the category of saving a few quid.

Cause of death – an outbreak of greedy bastards in pinstripes.

They looked across the road towards the statue of the pikeman, his sleeves rolled up ready for action.

‘Those days are back,’ said Robbie on his way to the bar. ‘The days when history was something we had done to us rather than something we wrote ourselves. It used to be the Brits, now it’s the bankers.’

Gareth read the inscription.

We shall die

As many thousands

Have died

For the sake of their beloved


‘At least they’re your bankers,’ he said, returning to his seat and another pint.

‘The enemy within,’ said Robbie.

‘Oh my countrymen

Look up Look up’

He knew every line.

‘Look up because the feckers are still there, hiding in the boardroom and ready to shit on us


Terry was on the phone to Elveeda and wondering how it was going.

Brilliant, she said.

And suddenly he knew what it was like to feel redundant.

It had been so brilliant, she was about to mention something he’d rather she didn’t. Not until they were own their own. Not until they were face to face with the door locked. Not over the phone.

She wanted to know if she should take the money to the bank.

The bank for Christ’s sake.

That was what she used to do when she’d run a pub of her own.

The bank though.

Just to be on the safe side, Terry. It soon mounted up, she said.

That was what he liked, what he already missed. Watching it. Watching it accumulate like leaves in an autumn breeze, like dust on top of a wardrobe.

Anyway, the takings were upstairs in the kitchen drawer.

Good girl.

Under a tea-towel.


The Castles of Wales.

Was there anywhere safer?

Reg was at Terry’s elbow. He wanted to know about Sixties Nite.

‘I’ll put him on,’ said Elveeda.

Michael was cataloguing the records, all of them. He was working on an index system,

some way of knowing what was where.

‘He’s sorting out your music,’ said Terry.

What was crap and what was worth a spin.

‘He’s chucking out the rubbish.’

The ones that were scratched.


The ones that looked like they’d been scratched with a knife or a pair of scissors.

They weren’t that bad.

The ones that had been snapped in half.


In half. Bent. Snapped.

The Rolli

ng Stones.

The ones that had been broken into pieces. Smashed.





The ones that looked like they’d been under the grill.

T he A n i ma l s.

Reg grabbed the phone.

‘Don’t blame me,’ said Michael.

He didn’t, he just wanted to know.

There were ten.

‘No, hang on a minute.’

There were fifteen.

Fifteen records he’d looked after, he’d guarded, he’d treasured for most of his life. Fifteen priceless records...


Eighteen priceless records in bits. The sixties reduced to a jigsaw. Memories of a golden age twisted and warped.

Terry said it could have been worse. It could have been his penis.

Under the grill?

Cut off.

‘Like that bloke, remember?’

Reg let the phone fall from his grasp. He could hear Elveeda on the other end.

‘Reg... Terry...’

Eighteen records.


There wasn’t much else to report anyway. Sixties Nite and Music Nite had been a success.

Well done Michael.

The Winning Post was in good hands, and everyone had gone home sober.

‘Again?’ said Terry.

Tiddly but sober, said Elveeda. Merry but subdued.

Declan poured Reg a whiskey and Terry told him he could leave his records with him in future. He could leave them there as long as he liked.

‘Somewhere they’ll be safe.’

‘Away from her,’ said Reg.

They let him have a lie down before they went out. Three or four hours before they went up

the road for the quiz.

‘What d’you call a camel with one hump?’

‘Christy Costigan.’

The entire pub, everyone, they shouted the name together. Him at the front, him from the post office at the back.

‘Okay now?’ said Terry as they found a table near the door.

Yeah, he was feeling better, ready for a pint.

Gareth was at the bar and wondering about the camel, the star of every parade the town had ever known - bringing up the rear on St Patrick’s Day and dodging between the floats during the Rose of Tralee.

‘Arse-end not with you tonight then...?’ shouted a voice. ‘Sorry, didn’t see you there Mrs C.’

Even Reg managed a smile. Yeah, he was feeling much better, thanks. It was that sort of place.

Gareth said they were there to watch and learn that was all. To pick up a few tips and scribble down one or two questions that might have been of use at The Winning Post.

‘Who won the nineteen-ninety-eight camogie final?’

‘In what year did RTE screen its first episode of Fair City?’

By the time they’d reached round three, watch and learn had become a laugh and a few pints.

Terry said Britain and Ireland may have been in recession together. They may have been neighbours. They may have been linked by hundreds of years of history. They may have shared the same windswept corner of the globe. They may have shared a common language.

‘Feck,’ said Reg.

A similar language, a similar culture. The same love of sport.

‘Gaelic football,’ said Gareth.

Apart from Gaelic football.


Apart from hurling.

The same sort of sports. The same hopes and ambitions.

‘Feck. Shaggin’.’

The same language.

‘Feck. Shaggin’. Cop yerself on.’

They both spoke English.


More or less.

The same language, give or take a few words. Two countries, peas from the same pod, only different.

‘And d’you know why?’

Gareth shook his head.

Reg said he needed to go to the jacks.

‘Because no one gives a bugger – not once they’re through that door there.’

The three of them looked around the bar, searching for signs. He was right. No one was giving a bugger about anything. Or if they were, they were pretending not to. Or if they had, they weren’t any more.

‘So...?’ said Gareth.

‘The recession,’ said Terry.

The pub was like an oasis in the desert. A life-raft on a stormy sea. A bomb shelter in the


‘A couple of blankets on the settee,’ said Reg.

All thoughts of the recession were left at the door.

‘You mean they don’t come in to whinge?’ said Gareth.

They didn’t come in to moan like their lot.

‘They know how to have a good time, son. They know how to enjoy themselves.’

‘What’s the capital of Iceland?’

‘About five-quid,’ shouted a woman weaving her way back to her table.

‘They don’t need to be entertained. That’s the point, see?’

‘Either that or they’re pissed,’ said Reg.

That was different too. The only people who got drunk at The Winning Post – of late anyway – were the staff. Even Elveeda had noticed, they all had.

The recession, it had to be.

By the time they got back to The Vale, Declan was scooping the takings out of the till and Terry was working on his theory.

‘What d’you think...?’ he said, hauling himself onto a stool. ‘The state of the economy, it’s put a dampener on things.’

Declan looked at the bundle of notes and nodded.

‘Mind you, there’s always money for a pint,’ he said.

‘A pint and a laugh. Whereas at home, son...’

‘For ever picking holes,’ said Gareth. ‘Every one of ’em.’

It hadn’t always been that way though. There were nights when they’d fall out of the door, when they’d dance their way onto the street.

When they were there for the craic, said Reg.

When they were determined to have a good time whatever. When no one wanted to go


‘When the craic was mighty.’

Reg O’Roberts - a tin whistle and a book on how to speak like a local.

‘Anyway, the point is,’ said Terry, ‘there’s a time and a place.’

‘Home to their scratcher.’

‘There’s a time and a place, Reg. A time to worry about the recession...’

‘And a time to get scuttered.’

Gareth said it was a matter of ring-fencing.

Declan said it was about knowing how to prioritise.

Money in the tea-caddy for the insurance man, said Reg.

Money behind the clock for the electric, said Terry. And a few quid in your back pocket for a pint.

‘Unlike...’ said Gareth.

‘This bloody government for a start,’ said Declan.

‘The feckin’ bankers an’ all,’ said Reg.

They’d all done it. Lumped the lot on the same horse. Put all their eggs in one basket. Risked everything regardless of the consequences.

Declan wanted to know why them in Dublin were making cuts in the health service when for twenty-five years they’d been coining it. Why hadn’t they put money aside?

The same in Britain, said Terry. If a country couldn’t find money for health...

And education, said Gareth.

If a government couldn’t find money for the essentials...

If we had to take a step back, said Reg.

If people had to die, said Gareth. If people had to suffer. If people had to do without...

They’d cocked it up, said Terry. They’d made a right balls of it. They’d let us down, big


Feckin’ big time.

The biggest, said Gareth. As cock-ups went, it didn’t get any bigger.

A monumental feckin’ cock-up, said Reg. Feckin’ massive.

And what were they doing while they were making a balls of it?

A right feckin’ balls.

Fiddling... Fiddling their expenses, that’s what. Claiming all sorts.

Greedy bastards.

Greedy, cheating feckers.

They’d let us down. And they were still there, ready to do it again. Ready to shit on us again.

To piss on us from a great height.

And telling us how to behave too. Them telling us... Can you believe it?

Fiddling and cheating. Not once. Not just the once. Over and over.

The feckers.

Over and over. Cheating like there’s no tomorrow.

Like they’d get away with it. Which they did, for years.

For feckin’ years.

For ever, for all we know. And d’you know why...? Because they make the rules. Because they decide.

Judge and feckin’ jury.

All the same... All of ’em.

Only the banks are worse.

Much worse.

Ten times.

At least.

A hundred times worse.

Risking everything. Risking the lot to make a few extra quid for themselves. Risking my


‘If you had any, son.’

Risking everyone’s money to line their own pockets.

And thick as two short planks. Thick as pig shit, they must have been.

Thick, greedy...

Arrogant, that’s the word.

Feckin’ arrogant.

Too arrogant to care. Too thick to know any better.

And ready to do it again.

Waiting, that’s all.


Scheming and waiting, the feckers.

‘By the way, Reg...’

The feckin’ feckers.

‘Eileen called.’