‘I’ve just had a thought,’ commented Daft Barry in the pub the other evening.

 

In any social gathering there is usually one arch wit who sacrifices good taste on the altar of cheap humour — and our hostelry is no exception.

 

The wag in our group reacted immediately to Daft Barry’s innocent and sincere remark by yelling to Fag Ash Bill who, as usual, was outside chain-smoking on the pavement: ‘Best keep those pub doors closed, Bill! Daft Barry has had a thought and we don’t want it to escape!’

 

An immediate hush descended on the inn as the entire clientele went into shared shock at the indelicate statement made by the coarse jokester.

 

‘You should be ashamed of yourself!’ snapped our group leader Andromeda Arkwright as the perpetrator hung his head in guilt. ‘Barry might not be the most deep-thinking member of our group but that is no reason to insult the poor lad.’

 

‘I am so sorry,’ I whimpered in grovelling misery. ‘I just didn’t think it through before I made that stupid remark. I meant no harm, honestly. I love Daft Barry to bits. It’s just that I cannot help uttering childish comments in any situation.

 

‘For instance, my first proper job when I left school was as a bank cashier. A customer approached my window and asked for a personal statement. I told him: “My name is David and I work in a bank.”

 

‘I’m afraid silliness is in my nature. But I beg you all to do what the bank manager didn’t do and grant me forgiveness.’

 

My pubster peers put their heads together to discuss my plea for clemency and then announced their decision: ‘No forgiveness. We are sending you into exile forthwith.’ And everybody applauded.

 

There was, however, one dissenter. Andromeda Arkwright, using her hand as a gavel, banged twice on the bar top.

 

‘Order! Order!’ she called out to the still-cheering throng.

 

‘I’ll second that,’ said Dave the barman. ‘I’m losing money unless you lot order some drinks.’

 

Andromeda Arkwright went on: ‘As a student of psychology I am intrigued by what Dave Silver said in his defence. What exactly did you mean, Dave, by stating that making silly statements was in your nature?’

 

‘Before I say anything further,’ I said, my voice raspy with nervousness, ‘Would it be possible to have a glass of water?’

 

‘Certainly,’ said Dave the barman, hovering over the beer pumps. ‘Would you like mild or bitter water? Er, only joking, of course. I never dilute my drinks.’

 

I gulped down the contents of the proffered glass, stepped over the comatose, spread-eagled form of our former leader Ol’ Red Eyes, and proceeded to speak. ‘When I was growing up in the cobbled streets of working-class Manchester . . .’

 

‘Cut the nostalgic drivel and just get on with it!’ yelled Indoor Lou. ‘We all came from humble beginnings.’

 

‘But YOU didn’t!’ snapped Fearful Phil, pointing an accusing finger at Indoor Lou. ‘Your family was as rich as Croesus.’

 

‘Who’s Croesus?’ asked Daft Barry.

 

‘Please keep out of this, Barry,’ said Fearful Phil. ‘I’m having an argument with Indoor Lou. But for your information, Croesus was this old king who had only to touch something for it to turn into gold.’

 

‘That wasn’t Croesus!’ countered Indoor Lou. ‘That was Midas!’

 

‘Who’s Midas?’ asked Daft Barry.

 

‘And don’t shout at Barry!’ snapped Indoor Lou at Fearful Phil. ‘The boy Barry is the innocent party in all of this. It’s that pathetically inadequate Dave Silver who’s to blame for making a wholly inappropriate remark to Fag Ash Bill.’

 

‘Hey, keep me out of it!’ yelled Fag Ash Bill from outside. ‘I’m not responsible for what that saddo Dave Silver said. ‘Just throw him out of the pub — if only for me to have someone to talk to.’

 

‘Who’s Dave Silver?’ asked a confused Daft Barry. ‘No, forget it. I remember who he is now.’

 

Something on the floor stirred and opened one eye. ‘I’m trying to get to sleep here. So let me settle the argument once and for all.’

 

Ol’ Red Eyes propped his head onto one raised elbow and began: ‘Croesus was the king of Lydia from 560 to 547BC until his defeat by the Persians. Croesus was indeed renowned for his wealth.

 

‘Midas was also a king. A member of the royal house of Phrygia, he was believed to have lived sometime in the 2nd millennium BC. But his ability to turn everything he touched into gold is merely a popular Greek myth.

 

‘Dave Silver is the only one of the three who is not a king. A commoner, he was born in the last century and was fifth in the family line of succession after his elder brother, the dog, the cat and the budgie.

 

‘To conclude,’ Ol’ Red Eyes concluded his conclusion, ‘The reason Dave Silver utters stupid remarks is that it is the only way he knows to get noticed.’

 

The entire pub clientele rose as one and applauded me in recognition of my brave and constant struggle for recognition.

 

‘Thank you, my friends,’ I responded. ‘But I feel we should now ask our good pal Barry the nature of his original unexpressed thought which kicked-off this whole ugly situation.’

 

‘Oh, that,’ shrugged Daft Barry. ‘I was only going to say that I thought it was quiet in the pub tonight.’

 

‘There never is much doing early on,’ said Dave the barman who glanced at his watch. ‘But wait a second. It’s now nearly closing time and we’ve still had nobody enter since Barry first thought his thought.’

 

At which point there came a shout from the street. ‘Any chance of someone bringing me out a drink?’ yelled Fag Ash Bill. ‘Dave Silver told me to keep the doors closed but it’s thirsty work having to constantly turn customers away.’