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TRCH Robin Hood

Dinner With Springer

2 February 07 words: Cal Gibson
illustrations: Rob White

"If you're inviting Jerry Springer round for dinner," Cath said, "make sure you don't cook potatoes or rice."

'If you're inviting Jerry Springer round for dinner,' Cath said, 'make sure you don't cook potatoes or rice.'

I looked up from the breakfast table, somewhat bewildered.

'He only eats yoghurt and meat products, apparently,' she continued blithely, 'so I wouldn't bother with a salad either.' I wondered where Cath was getting her Springer info from, but I decided she was probably just making it up, as per usual. And how did she know I'd invited him round anyway? Had she been reading my journal again? Nosy cow.

'And don't let him near the spirits or he'll start up something rotten - he's always a demon on the spirits.'

I nodded sagely, as if her words held some semblance of meaning. Cath was a truck driver for the council that I'd met at an all night hammock-swinging contest a while back, and now she saw fit to park herself squarely in the middle of my life and make arcane suggestions and improbable hypotheses galore. She was tiresome and she had no manners, although I did admire the way her nose sometimes shone in the evenings.

'He likes playing Scrabble after dinner, but he can't manage any words longer than five letters so keep that in mind. At the end of the night he'll kiss you on the lips and ask you if you've ever been to Caracas. That's his code for sex, so don't say anything and bolt the door when he's gone. Got it?'

I nodded again: maybe she really did know more about Jerry Springer than I'd given her credit for.

'Two days after he's been round, he'll call you for a six minute chat, ostensibly about the legalisation of drugs. Whatever you do during this conversation, do not admit that you've never had any, he'll only hang up. He'll probably be somewhat foul-mouthed as well: ignore it, it’s a cry for help. If he tries out any Italian on you, go along with it. He doesn't know very much and he'll soon enough revert to English. If he makes any jokes start laughing immediately, then stop abruptly and whistle a show tune: he loves that.'

Cath's detailed rundown of Springer's modus operandi was making me slightly nervous, and I began to wonder if she was speaking from experience. Was that possible? Had she already had dinner with Springer? I was becoming intrigued that's for sure, but she hadn't finished yet.

'If that telephone conversation goes well, he'll probably ask you to come and meet his grandparents. They run a small church in East Leake that's often harboured jazz drummers on the run from the law. When you go you'll be blindfolded of course, and his grandparents will wear matching hooded tops with their names stitched on backwards. They'll give you a gift which is usually something by Chekhov: read it and memorise it, they'll test you on it before you leave.'

It all sounded plausible enough, I had to admit. Cath was enjoying herself now, her eyes danced with the joy of imparting such invaluable knowledge. I'd never seen her so radiant, and I smiled inwardly at her awkward enthusiasm as I slowly stood up from the table.

'Right,' I said, 'I'm off out to buy some new shoes for dancing in. I've been meaning to get some for ages. Red ones probably. Or maybe blue. I haven't really decided yet. What do you reckon Jerry would go for?'

'Oh definitely blue, without a doubt. He always used to say that blue shoes were indicative of a good heart and a strong constitution, and I think he's spot on. Blue shoes tell the world that here's someone who knows how to live properly, day by day, hour by hour, minute by ticking minute. Whereas if you turned up for dinner with Springer wearing red shoes, well, he'd more than likely whip out his flick knife and stab you right up. He can get a bit agitated that way.'

'Blue it is then I suppose, I wouldn't want to antagonise the man now, would I?' I wasn't at all convinced that Jerry Springer carried a flick knife but Cath seemed so sure of herself that I didn't fancy questioning her. 'Err, can I borrow a tenner from you please Cath, only I'm a bit short until payday?'

Cath sighed as she reached into her pocket: the council paid her generously enough but she hated giving me money for shoes due to an incident from her childhood, apparently. Either that or she was just tight, I could never decide which.

'Do you need anything while I'm out?' I asked out of politeness. Cath pondered a moment and rubbed an eyebrow slowly with her thumb.

'If you see any of those Tom Waits dolls I'll have one of those - try in Jessops, they're pretty good for Tom Waits stuff. If not there then Wilko's I reckon.'

'Gotcha. See you in a bit. Oh, and if Jerry calls, tell him I'm in the shower will you?' I waved my goodbyes and walked out of the door: today was turning out to be my kind of day.

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