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Monday 7th June 2004

CNPS numbers spotted 0 (791).
Even on a Monday night Newcastle is a lively city with a party atmosphere. Everyone dresses up in their smartest or scantiest clothes and few people seem to have much concern for how they will feel at work in the morning.
After taking 43 for dinner, we met up with a mutual friend in a pub. Another of his mates arrived to say that there was something fairly spectacular going on outside. A drunk man had dropped his mobile phone down the drain and rather than deciding that was the last he would see of it, he was trying to rescue it. He had lifted out the grill and was now, apparently, disappearing head first into the hole, with his equally drunk mate hanging on to his ankles. Sensing impending death or disaster many patrons went out into the street to witness this foolhardiness.
I stupidly decided to stay inside and drink my beer (what if Samuel Pepys had done that during the Great Fire of London? It is my duty to observe unusual events for your delectation and I feel I have let you down. But then again, beer is nice), but messengers soon returned to say that he had been successful and the mobile phone had retrieved. And the man himself then came into the pub, looking for a sink to clean his filthy arms. He was walking like a gorilla, partly because he was drunk, partly because his arms were so dirty and he was trying to keep them away from himself and partly, I imagine, because he may have been the missing link between the simian and human worlds. For some reason he chose to come to our table and it was clear he was as drunk as I would be had I drunk all the alcohol I have consumed in the last 43 days in one night. I was completely unable to decipher what it was he was saying, but my best guess would have been, “Oh no, the pain! Please, kill me now!”
In fact he wanted the directions to the gents. He was scarcely able to comprehend the answer: the alcohol combined with the ten minutes of being upside down in a drain had completely disorientated him and had the same effects as a full-frontal lobotomy. But finally he lumbered off, stinking drunk and stinking of drains, but at least with his mobile phone safely festering in his pocket. I just hope he didn’t drop it down the toilet. Though that might have had the effect of decontaminating it slightly.
As we left the pub we saw the very drain he’d been down. Piles of black gunk were now surrounding the grill (which had been replaced upside down) and I had to wonder whether I would have been so dedicated as to have gone to these lengths to retrieve a phone. But I guess it is a marvellous story of the triumph of the human will over adversity.
This kind of thing could only happen in Newcastle. On a Monday night at least.

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