It was a working mens club, CIU affiliated, what more can I say, entrance hall with ubiquitous little old man sitting in a kiosk to check everyone’s membership cards, the club’s loner he sits there for seven nights of the week and occasionally they buy his beer as long as he sits in his little kiosk and asks for everyone’s membership card when they come in.
You turn to the right and you go into the concert room, a large room, seats a couple of hundred members every Saturday and Sunday night when they bring the wife out to watch “a turn” and play bingo.
You turn to the left and you’re in the bar, a room dedicated to the pleasures and past times of drinking men, cheap beer, a couple of snooker tables, a dart board and several tables dedicated to dominoes and cribbage, its always full is this room, most nights of the week.
And thats where we went every Friday night, we had the same table, the same crowd, the same half gallon of beer each and a chaser to go home with, the same shouts and curses as we lost and won at “fives and threes”, the same tales of woe at the life of a teacher from Steve, the same tales of woe at being a policeman from Charlie, the same tales of going out and getting so drunk that one night they lay down in the middle of Kirkstall Road and fell asleep from Pete and Jack.
Pete and Jack, Richard and Steve’s dad and uncle, hale and hearty, never without a joke or a tall tale to tell, sitting at the table shuffling the doms, cursing at the bad hand they’d just been dealt, whistling and clicking their fingers when they got a good hand.
The Queenswood Club, every Friday night.
And then one Friday night the Queenswood Club committee decided that what was needed was some entertainment for the women in the concert room and so they paid for an organist and drummer to attend and the women had a dance in the concert room while the men continued with their doms, darts and snooker.
Then it was time to leave, a good skinful of ale consumed, we were stood in the entrance hall pulling on our coats when Pete and Jack heard the call for the last song in the concert room and before we knew what was happening they’d gone through the double swinging doors and were advancing to the stage, Jack in his camel hair coat and trilby and smart black leather gloves, they mounted the stage as a pair, grabbed a microphone and started strolling back and forth across the stage with their party piece “Me and My Shadow” in Flanagan and Allen style.
Until the music stopped that is, the organist, a bit miffed at having his centre stage billing stolen by these two old drunks who’d just wandered in from the bar he refused to play any more, announced the end of the night and good evening everyone.
“Hang on a minute” Jack shouted him down, “we haven’t finished yet”
Sensing that they weren’t going to climb down off the stage until they’d sung a song the organist wearily asked them what they wanted to sing.
“Wise men say” replied Jack
“I’ve never heard of it” said the organist
Jack and Pete stared at each other in disbelief.
“Course you’ve heard of it” exclaimed Pete, “Jack, sing it to him…”
“Wise men say” sang Jack while Pete clicked along with his fingers, “only fools rush in…”
There was silence from the organ
“…ha-but eeyyy carn’t…come on keep up”
“I’ve never heard of wise men say” replied the organist
“Never heard of wise men say ?” replied Pete in amazement, “what sort of organist are you” he turned to Jack, “He’s never heard of wise men say…”
“What sort of an organist is he ?” exclaimed Jack, “Wise men say, you must have heard of it man, what sort of organist are you ?”
“Sing it to him again our Jack”
“Two, three, four, Wise men say, h-only fools…”
All of this was being carried out live on stage broadcast to a cheering crowd, and it was at this point that the club secretary decided to get involved and bring proceedings to a halt, he walked on stage and tried to take the microphone off Jack, but Jack was in full flow by this time…
“Come on Gents, have you no homes to go to…” he said as he tried to wrestle the mic from Jacks hands
“…but eyyye car-nt help, fowwling in lurv with… gerrof, wait your turn, I haven’t finished yet”
“Gentlemen come on now, we’ve heard enough”
“I haven’t sung the first verse yet”
“We all want to go home and he doesn’t know the tune anyway now give me the mic”
“Gerroff, what sort of bloody organist do you call that anyway, fancy not knowing wise men say”
“Aye its bloody ridiculous” joined in Pete as he now took the mic from his brother Jack, “…two, three, four, wise men say, only fools rush in…”
The curtains were drawn across the stage but we could still see their feet in the gap at the bottom and of course the microphone was still switched on and so the “discussion” continued…
“You should be ashamed of yourself not knowing how wise men say goes”
“Bloody ridiculous, what sort of organist are you anyway ?”
“Just join in when you get the tune, wise men say, only fools rush h-in…”
“I always said he was a rubbish organist”
“I always said he was a rubbish organist too, h-ah wise men sa-aaay, h-only fools…”
We were in tears of laughter in the audience when eventually Jack and Pete made their way down the stairs at the corner of the stage to rapturous applause still complaining about how rubbish the organist was and how could he not know the tune to wise men say ?
We sang it all the way home in the car.