Barry McKenzie

See Music To Watch Girls By, page 74. Steve has just met Tina at a party. Steve is doing lights on the Maxie Vincent show, in which Tina is a dancer. They’re at a party given by one of the band on the show, The Sheriffs (from Nottingham.) They’re sitting on the stairs. Greg is Steve’s old friend, who has the habit of addressing all and sundry as Charles.

She had to shift closer to allow the guitarist from Derek’s band to heave himself up the stairs. He was about forty, with huge mutton chop sideburns, grey hair and a beer belly. He leaned down breathing beer fumes over them, ‘I like your jacket, darling. What’s it made of?’ He reached out to finger the transparent plastic.
‘Durex.’
‘Eh?’
‘It’s their new line. Durex jackets. They’re doing Durex trousers next year.’
He snorted and continued up the stairs. Steve became suddenly aware of the warmth of their legs and bottoms in close proximity. She shifted slightly away.
‘You’ve got a good line in put-downs, Tina.’
‘I need them in this job. It’s a complete fucking circus. The la-de-dahs think they have some kind of droit de seigneur over the dancers, or any women employed in the show for that matter.’
The words caught Steve unawares, ‘Droit de seigneur?’
‘You heard. Complete arseholes. Do you like watching crap every night?’
‘It’s a different sort of crap.’
‘It’s work. I want to do dance theatre. I’m going to the States at the end of the summer to do a course. This is just fucking money. Prancing around with a rictus grin, in CFM shoes …’
‘What are CFM shoes?’
‘Very funny. I’m not saying it. They all try that one.’
‘I seriously don’t know, Tina.’
‘CFM stands for and I quote … note, I quote, not say … Come Fuck Me. An appellation tied to stilettos of the glittery and extremely high-heeled variety,’ She paused, ‘Doesn’t Maxie make you want to vomit? Drooling into the mic every night?’
‘I can put up with Hold On, I’m Coming.’
‘That’s the band, not the vocal,’ she said sharply, ‘I hope you’re not a prat.’

Greg staggered along the hall to the stairs, ‘Hello, Charles. Time to point Percy at the porcelain.’
The Barry McKenzie cartoon strip in Private Eye had a lot to answer for. She bangs like a shithouse door. The One Eyed-Trouser Snake. Point Percy at the porcelain. Steve briefly saw a possible handout for Lesley Prince B.A.
‘Give us some matches, Greg.’
Greg fumbled in his pocket, ‘Didn’t know you smoked, old bean.’
‘I don’t. I just thought I’d do a bit of arson on the way home.’
‘Arsin’ around, you mean,’ chortled Greg at the impassive Steve and Tina, ‘Anyhow, think I’d better exercise the one-eyed trouser snake.’ He laughed heartily at his own witticism, took a step up the stairs and farted.

Once.

Involuntarily. Not loudly. But cheesily foul and lengthy. Soft. Creeping. Wet Stilton. Dead rat up the arse stuff.

He was mortified. His bottom was around their face level, which made it worse.
‘Fucking hell,’ gasped Tina in genuine disgust. She screwed up her face and scrambled to her feet.
A Private Eye cartoon by Steadman flashed into Steve’s mind as he scrambled up too. There was a Victorian dining table. A shocked looking man and woman stare accusingly at a fellow who is standing half-up from his chair, leg cocked to the side. Before he could consider, Steve said the cartoon line out loud, ‘I say, sir! You’ve just farted in front of my wife!’
He was about to give the response, when Tina beat him to it, speaking in a pompous fruity man’s voice, ‘I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t know it was her turn.’
They both started laughing, laughing much too much. Steve caught Greg’s hangdog expression of total incomprehension.
‘Er … sorry … dreadfully sorry,’ he muttered. Mortified as he was, farting, especially in front of a strange woman, was an unmentionable. He couldn’t conceive of his unexpected flatulence being mentioned, let alone turned into a joke. He fled up the stairs.

Tina started to sit down again, then thought better of it as her nose reached lower levels, ‘Christ, you can almost see it hanging in the air.’
‘Do you want to get a drink?’
‘Not beer. Not if that’s what it does. Come on, then, give me a light. It’ll take the smell away.’
He lit her cigarette inexpertly, burning his thumb. She blew smoke gently into his face, ‘See what I mean.’
‘It was all that Barry McKenzie stuff that started me off,’ he explained, ‘They all seem to be heavily into it.’
‘It’s going off though, isn’t it?’
Steve agreed. Private Eye was already beginning to repeat itself too often. It had moved from its cutting edge of satire status to a smutty, carping existence, and was fast being overtaken by underground newspapers like International Times, ‘Yeah. Have you seen IT?’
‘I prefer Oz.’

Steve explained about his job teaching English, and recited what he could remember of English for Zookeepers by Lesley Prince, B.A. They spent a happy ten minutes compiling ‘Lesley Prince’s Course in Australian English’:

To be as dry as a nun’s nasty
To bang like a shithouse door in a gale
To be built like a brick shithouse
To point Percy at the porcelain
To avoid pointing Percy at the public
To feel like a spare prick at a wedding
To have a technicolour yawn
To read a hygiene publication
To be better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick
To shake hands with the wife’s best friend

What they couldn’t remember they made up, arguing at length over the wording:

To aim Andy at the Armitage-Shanks
To separate the sweetcorn from the carrot and peas
To pull like a prossie in Perth on payday
To poke Percy into a pervert
To be in and out like a kangaroo cub on a cold day

That was Tina’s line.
‘It’s called a Joey.’
‘Not very funny. Try again.’
‘No, it’s not a kangaroo cub. It’s a Joey. I got that off a Leslie Prince B.A. handout too.’
‘I don’t reckon ‘aim Andy at the Armitage-Shanks’ is that hot. It’s a bit too male.’
‘Why’s it male?’
‘Women aren’t in the position to study the lettering on the back of the toilet pan.’
They hardly noticed as a shamefaced Greg sidled past them.

BARRY McKENZIE: A sample from Private Eye

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