One of the most memorable nights out I ever had was in Jerez five years or so ago. I was there with Mr F and Lord Roper, killing time before making our way to the latter’s dilapidated estate in Vejer de la Frontera the next day. We were having a quiet night out in a largely deserted bar, enjoying some tapas and a glass or two of amontillado when in burst a large, loud posh Englishman holding forth to what appeared to be a local.
Having an instinctive aversion to loud posh types we looked for an escape route but found ourselves cornered. And it was just as well we did. This character, Chris, claimed to be a producer of documentary films who was in Jerez to do identify locations for a series he was developing on the history of the horse. The local was his half-English, half-Spanish gofer called Patrick. He insisted on buying us a drink, decided he enjoyed our company and insisted on buying us another one, and so it went on. We ended up decamping to his luxury suite in a posh hotel in the early hours, where we sat on the balcony drinking cava ordered on room service until he finally collapsed.
By this stage of the evening Chris was very confused. He was convinced that I used to play rugby with him in Gloucestershire and kept referring to incidents and individuals from that time. I found it simplest to agree with him – it was his cava we were drinking after all – so when I was asked what old Bodger Huffington was up to now I just said we had lost touch rather than pointing out I had never met Bodger or any of the Huffingtons. Even more bizarrely, he was convinced Lord Roper was a musician called Nick who he used to drink with in Charlotte Street in his television days. He decided Nick was the perfect man to write the incidental music for his horse documentary and was all for drawing up a contract on his laptop there and then until talked out of it by Patrick.
During the course of the evening Chris told some most extraordinary tall tales, including that he had been a tank commander in the Balkans (which prompted him to turn to me and say “What you and I have in common, Goggins, is that we have both had to give orders to kill, something these people will never understand” – I have no idea who he thought I was at that point). But the one that sticks in my mind most is his claim that he used to date one of the Coconuts. He flew her to a Greek island for a romantic weekend and took her out to a taverna. She insisted on going barefoot and, with sad inevitability, ended up getting a badly cut foot during the traditional crockery smashing ceremony. As a result she missed a few tour dates, making Kid Creole very angry indeed. He may even have taken a contract out on Chris. Coati Mundi looks like he could do the job.
In memory of that night, and as a tribute to Chris, Bodger Huffington and all the gang back in Gloucestershire, here are the Coconuts pleading to get into another entertainment venue.
“Darrio” – Kid Creole and the Coconuts (from “Off The Coast Of Me”, 1980)
And here they all are in action (Kid Creole and the Coconuts, that is, not Chris and Bodger):