To judge from the courtesy and charm that Mr Gruber is lavishing on her, I think the latter. Black Tony, Trevor the Fish and Mr Gruber are business associates of Little-Eyed Dave's. When I ask him what line they're in, Trevor the Fish looks at me a bit funny and says, "The District Line."
We've all just come back from a boxing dinner in Marbella. Because of the numerous south and east Londoners who have retired here for one reason or another, fight promoters occasionally come down and put on a boxing dinner - black tie only, tickets pounds 100.
As usual the front-row tables were occupied by a Who's Who of the London underworld of the 1960s. There was hardly a nose among them that hadn't been broken at least twice and, from where we were sitting, the backs of some of the necks were wider than the heads they were supporting.
Mingling in the gents' between the bouts, everyone was minding their Ps and Qs as if it were a Royal Garden party or something. "After you, colonel," a notorious villain with Mars Bars all over his face said to me as we both went for the hand dryer at the same time.
We had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with spotted dick and custard for afters. Then over coffee, a succession of skinny lads in baggy shorts clambered into the ring and clubbed the living daylights out of each other while we sat back and blew smoke at them.
Veronica, Dad's Spanish girlfriend, had never been to a boxing match, but I think she was pleasantly surprised by the violence, and she was soon loudly advising suitable courses of action in beautiful Spanish to those whom she wanted to succeed. Seeing Veronica getting het up and shouting like that, Dad surreptitiously nudged me with his elbow and rolled his eyes as if to say, "You can't take her anywhere." Of course, what he really meant was, "I'm so proud of her."
I enjoy going to boxing matches with my old man. Sid used to box a bit himself in his younger days and he is a knowledgeable companion. He says that at his old boxing club he used to be known as "The Laundryman" because he kept draping his opponents over the ropes. (Little-Eyed Dave, however, says they called him "The Laundryman" because he was, in fact, the club's laundryman.)
When Frank Bruno fought Mike Tyson in Vegas, Sid managed to get tickets and paid for me to fly over there with him. It was a fantastic experience being in Las Vegas with thousands of other Londoners, all drunk out of our minds. On the morning of the fight, Sid was in the hotel lobby chatting to this crowd of black dudes from New York trying to get the low down on Tyson.
"What do you mink of Tyson, then?" he asked them. "Tyson?" says this exquisitely dressed, laid-back black guy, "He's my brother."
"'Ere, son! Come over 'ere!" yells Dad. "I'm talking to Tyson's brother."
Back at Little-Eyed's flat, we're drinking this cocktail of Little-Eyed's devising that makes the side of your face go numb after one tentative sip.
As his wife, Maureen, has gone out for the evening, Little-Eyed gets her diary from her secret drawer so he can give us a public reading. He always does this when Maureen's out and he's a bit lit up. It's his party piece. He puts on one of her hats, stands on a chair and reads her diary aloud in a whining, high-pitched voice.
And then Maureen herself suddenly appears in the room. She is standing behind Little-Eyed Dave with her coat on, listening to him. Dave is giving the performance of his life; he looks up, and sees that we're all sitting there with our mouths wide open.
The moment he turns round, Maureen catches him on the side of the jaw with a haymaker. It's a beauty. Talking about it on the way home, we were all agreed it was the best punch we'd seen all night.Reuse content