I had a comment from Pud yesterday questioning why I liked Leeds so much.
Well, in a previous job I had the great pleasure of working for the Millennium Stadium. I regularly went to Leeds for meetings with the Rugby League regarding the Challenge Cup. The first two times I went there I stayed in the Hilton by the train station. The guy I was dealing with was a really good laugh and on the third occasion of going up there he suggested I stay in his house.
Now, even though I had a top job I wasn’t a snob so I gave up my room in the Hilton for his settee. I always arranged to go to meetings on a Thursday so I could stay overnight and have a few beers, work a few hours on the Friday and then head off home.
I drove up on Thursday and did whatever. Not sure if you know where the Rugby Leagues office is Pud but it’s a place called Red Brick Hall and is a stately home type place which I believe was left to the RL by some rich benefactor. They’ve converted it into offices but it is an impressive place.
My “go to guy” in the Rugby League, Steve and I left about fourish and headed to his gaffe near Headingley where I dropped my car and gear off and made our way to his local. We ended up in Leeds City Centre in a couple of clubs before getting a taxi home.
I woke up in the middle of the night with a sore throat so chucked a T shirt on and wandered into the kitchen to get a drink. One second I’m peering into the fridge for some squash the next I’m coming to on the floor with a searing pain in my head. The only thing I can really remember is trying to focus my vision on the skirting boards. I passed out again and when I regained consciousness the second time I was aware of voices although I couldn’t register any words, just sounds. After maybe twenty seconds or so my hearing adjusted and I could hear Steve saying “Rubbish, Rubbish are you okay”? I tried to get up onto my hands and knees but couldn’t so rolled onto my side. My vision was blurred but I could make Steve out and some other guy. Steve was crouched over me and I could hear him saying “There’s an ambulance on its way, just lie there”. He lifted my head to put a cushion underneath and a shooting pain went straight through my whole body and I passed out again.
The next thing I remember is being in an ambulance with a medic shining a torch in my eyes. I was aware that I was strapped into a harness and could hear voices. A couple of hours later I came to in a hospital bed. There’s a couple of Doctors standing around and I’m thinking, shit I’ve got a brain tumour. The one Doctor starts asking how I’m feeling and crap like that. I answer a few questions then blurt out “Am I dying Doc”? He looks at me reassuringly and says “no, you’ve got a fractured skull and you’ll need to stay here for a few days but other than that you’re fine”.
I lie there for a couple of minutes thinking about this and then ask him how it happened?
Turns out that Steve hadn’t mentioned to his to lodgers that there was someone staying the night. One of them hears me rummaging about in the kitchen, thinks I’m a burglar so sneaks up behind me and twats me as hard as he can with a cricket bat! Fucking fool.
About two months later I’m back up there again, this time with reinforcements. Two of the boys who work with me come up for a spin and we stay at Steve’s who this time informs his two lodgers not to try and decapitate anyone.
The four of us hit the City Centre on the Thursday night and come closing time we’re still up for a few more beers. Steve mentions that he’s heard of this club that’s open all night so we jump in a taxi and head off. When we get there we find that it’s a Snooker club. We pay a couple of quid each to get in which I found strange and then walk through a maze of corridors before we walk into the bar area. There’s a stunning girl behind the counter and maybe it was because she was so attractive that I didn’t take in what was going on around me.
I’m stood at the bar and this girl smiles and I look along the bar and there’s no pumps. Undeterred, I ask for four pints of Cider to which she sighs and points to a vending machine and says “£1 a can”. I walk over and this vending machine, the same type as you would use for cans of coke or mars bars, is full of booze. Strongbow, Carling, Guinness, you name it; there’s a can of it in there. I chuck £4 in and get four cans of Bow and we sit around this coffee table on these low slung leather chairs. The room we’re in is quite small with a bar along one wall and two vending machines along the other. There’s a door where we’ve come in and a staircase leading up to the next floor against the back wall and the other wall has an alcove leading into the Snooker room. There are a couple of other tables in this room, one occupied by a couple of guys deep in conversation the other empty.
Steve’s talking Rugby and we start chatting about an upcoming game when these two girls walk down the stairs, slink their way past us and into the hall. Not sure how attractive they were because the four of us just stop talking and are sitting there, mouths agape, staring. The two of them had the skimpiest dresses on and had bodies to die for. We all look at each other and peer around the alcove into the snooker hall. It was only then that we noticed that half the guys in there were playing snooker wearing nothing other than towels.
I sit back in my chair and am about to say something when I notice the two guys who are sitting buy us have stopped chatting and are both staring at us. One is counting a wad of cash, maybe £10k worth; the other is nonchantly cleaning an Uzi machine gun.
I guess it dawned on us all at more or less the same second that not only were we sitting in a brothel but we were all suited up and if any four people looked more shifty in this place other than us, then we hadn’t seen them as yet.
The guy with the Uzi stands up and strolls over to us. The four of us are sitting opposite each other and he places one hand on one of the boys shoulder and the hand with the gun in on the shoulder of the one sat next to him. The gun is menacingly pointing in my general direction. He leans into the middle of us and snarls in an accent I can’t quite place “I hope you four aren’t going to cause any trouble has I’d hate to fuck your evening up”. We all nod enthusiastically and agree that we’re not going to cause any trouble and we certainly wouldn’t want our evening fucked up by his good self.
Has he stands up to walk away, one of my mates says “got any dope here mate”? I groan. This guy shakes his head, walks over to the table he’s been sat at, picks something up and walks back to us. He casually tosses a couple of joints onto our table and growls “on the house”. Has he walks away Steve says “seems like a nice guy” to which he pauses mid stride and we all flinch. After about a second he carries on to his table and sits down but not without shooting us a look which would have had an SAS squaddie shitting his pants. The rest of the night comes under the “what goes on tour stays on tour” banner but needless to say, I’m still alive so things didn’t get too out of hand.
Thinking back to Puds question about why I liked Leeds so much, after recalling these two events, I’m not quite sure now.