Bill, The Ex-Guardsman With a Weak Bladder

For some inexplicable reason there appears on my Facebook page, every time, without ever being prompted by me, an advertisement for “Discreet Catheter For Men”, what on earth it has to do with me I don’t know, I mean, I’ve never bought anything from those people or even clicked their web page, or nothing, no really, I haven’t.

Not that the thought has not crossed my mind from time to time, like everyone there has been times when you think, “Hmmm, if only I had a tube…” what do you mean the thought has never crossed your mind, are you saying its just me ?

On those long car journeys, on motorways when you pass those signs that state “Next Services 1 mile and 20 miles” and you decide you can’t be arsed to stop just yet but you might stop at the next one and just three yards past the exit slip you suddenly want to take a leak – very badly.

Like that time when I was driving to North Wales and decided that I’d keep going to the next service area, only there wasn’t one and by the time I arrived at my destination I couldn’t walk with the pain and thought my kidneys would never work again.

Times like those are when you think, “Hmmm, if only I had a tube of the right diameter that would stretch from here to a hole in the floor…” if only, if only that were so then a man would never have to leave his car, at all.

There’s a market for retro fitting piss tubes in cars I tell you.

So Old Bill was a fellow programme seller at Headingley, home of the Leeds Rugby League Football Club and it was there that I’d report for duty every matchday, me at fourteen years old, to sell programmes and wangle free entry into the ground, Old Bill had been selling programmes there since before there had even been a rugby club, he was older than the stands, seriously, he remembered the stands being built and that was a long time ago.

Tall, way, way over six and a half feet, and ramrod straight he must have been in his eighties at least, always had a little dew drop at the end of his nose, always wore a long black Crombie coat and a flat cap, added a paisley muffler to that ensemble as a concession to winter but otherwise appeared in the Crombie and flat cap on even the warmest of summer days.

He’d been in one of The Guards Regiments during the war and when he proudly told you that you believed him for he looked like a guardsman even into his eighties, you could see him standing erect and unmoving outside Buckingham Palace in his showpiece red uniform and busby helmet guarding his King during the war, didn’t talk much about his military service but was never slow to tell you that his initials were “WD”, which apparently was stamped all over everything during the war as belonging to the “War Department”, he’d bag up his change from selling programmes and initial the bag “WD”, “War Department” he’d say and then wink at you as if you knew all along.

And then one day I was let into the secret of why he always wore the long Crombie coat, I was paired up with him selling programmes at a game when he handed his stack to me and asked me to look after our pitch for a minute “While I go and empty me bag”.

I looked puzzled, the sort of look a fourteen year old will give an eighty year old when he’s just said something uncomprehending to him, “Me bag” he repeated and pointed down the inside of one leg, “its full” and when I still looked blankly at him, “ME BAG” he emphasised, “Oh never mind, I’ll tell you later…”

And when he came back from the toilet he explained about “his bag” and how he had this tube that ran down his leg to a rubber bag strapped to the inside of one thigh, and he pissed down it, or at his age, dribbled constantly down it. It all sounded a bit dodgy to me but he assured me that he’d always used a bag even when he was younger, indeed it was being in The Guards that first introduced him to the wonders of “the bag”  for how on earth did I think that those guardsmen stood to attention for so many long hours outside royal residences without having to take a leak every hour or so.

I’ve never really been able to look at a guardsman since without wondering if there is a faint smell of rubber and urine emanating from that smart uniform, its really taken the gloss off all the pageantry I can tell you.

And does the Queen know ?

I think she should be told.


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