Sir Pantagruel MacFarlane had changed from his habitually immaculate attire into a greenish suit, with a loud pattern which he matched with a cream shirt, now laundered to within an inch of itself and a garish “Old Fogies” tie which – when he looked at himself in the mirror, would not have disgraced George Melly – my God, he muttered to himself, I look more like him with every passing year, or week even, but as he had always been a great fan of George, ever since seeing him fall of the stage of St Pancras Town Hall in the middle of Frankie and Johnny and, having learned that was an integral part of every performance, wondered how long it would be before he really did hurt himself and end up in A&E; in any event, the two men had met in a pub just across the road, after the show, and after a few pints had become firm friends: meeting up regularly between Melly's singing engagements and when their diaries permitted – George had even taught Pants how to sing three or four classic Bessie Smith numbers to a level which enabled him to perform them to an audience without fearing too much embarrassment, and now the DJ was calling his name and to a smatter of applause he stepped up onto the small stage: Karaoke Night at Burke and Hare's, where self-proclaimed singers were accompanied not only by the relevant music, with the words displayed on a large screen to the right of them, but also by one or other of the Pub's wannabe strippers – for this also Amateur Night and girld from the audience from the audience, coaxed up by friends (enemies?) and the DJ who boasted he could talk any woman out of her knickers: “even Maggie Thatcher?” yelled a punter; “aye, so long as Dennis was deep in a Mine, or preferably Yours!” came back the reply to a roar of approval; and Pantagruel took his place in front of the mic – he was wearing a fedora George had given him years ago, and used it to wave on the girl, who had just told the DJ that she was a bank clerk, a teller actually, “what'll ah tell'er?” asked the DJ and his audience roared back as one voice, “gettum aff!” and he started the CD and passed on the instruction to the girl, “ok, Sandy, you heard them, gettum aff, but don't forget the 'tease' in striptease, ok hen, aff ye go!” and as MacFarlane swung into Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, with no need to keep an eye on the lyrics, he was able to watch the girl gyrate in time with the music, slowly peeling off her clothes as she did so: and when he swung into the last verse, the controversial 'lost' verse, the one that hadn't been sung on any of Bessie's recordings, nor printed in any of the published versions, but which George claimed to have found in pencil on the proverbial 'back of an envelope' and written in Bessie's scribbled hand, which had been among the few possessions given to her sister after her tragically avoidable death:
“If I ever get my gonzo on a Boreas,
I will be just as invincible as
The veracious man who never tells you no lie,
As he walks right past and doesn't see you die , , , , ,”
the Jazz fans roared approval of Pants' raspy singing, while the more carnal punters roared in approval as Sandy deftly removed her last garment, her knickers, which she kicked into a forest of reaching hands, and were caught by a pimply youth near the back – who pushed his way through to the Gents Toilet, for reasons which no-one cared to think about and missed Pants' well rehearsed but seemingly accidental fall off the stage in the middle of the last chorus, to be helped up by a number of the punters, helped by Sandy, to whom he murmured his gratitude and invited to meet him for a coffee at the café just down the road: an invitation which she was in no position to refuse – even if she'd wanted to, which she didn't!