If Carlsberg Played Practical Jokes…
I haven’t done a whole lot of practical jokery in my life, but when I decided to, they were doozies, as you are about to hear.
My first victim was my older sister, Shirley. My Dad summed up my relationship with Shirley as, “you two are always fighting like cat and dog.” This was true, but I was the innocent in all of it because Shirley was both a bully and a snitch.
In fact, Shirley bullied me when I was too small to fight back, but when I grew big enough to get her in a headlock and rub dirty socks in her face, she switched to the tactic of getting me into trouble with my mum at every possible opportunity – which wasn’t difficult with mum delighting in slagging me off and nagging me senseless every moment I was in her company. That’s what being raised a Catholic did for her.
I remember, when I was around seven and she was thirteen, my dear sister folding a thin mattress in half like a sandwich, turning me into the filling, and then jumping up and down on it. She was a lump, my sister, and soon developed into a young woman with a forty-two inch bust, with a barrel body to match. Five feet two and at least fourteen stone if she was an ounce, meant her using me as a trampoline was no joke.
Then there was the time she knelt on me and repeatedly rubbed her knuckles spitefully on my wishbone, not even desisting after she had managed to make me cry. Or the time she pinned me down and roughly tickled me until I was screaming for mercy. There was nothing playful about it, just tickling way too hard and with nothing but malice. Bitch that she was.
Anyway, a few years on, I took my revenge on her in a most creative way. At the time, we lived in an old Victorian house that had provided a few creepy and inexplicable events already, which made my prank all the more effective (and terrifying).
The family were all sitting watching TV one Sunday night and luckily for me, the first to need a toilet break was Shirley. As she headed off into the hall and down the stairs to the bathroom on the landing below, I could barely contain my glee.
You see, what I had figured out was that the toilet chain to the overhead cistern just about reached the door jamb. Thus, I had pulled the toilet chain and then backed from the room, pinning the chain handle in place with the door. Shirley duly arrived outside the loo – in a hallway lit only by the light filtering down from the kitchen – pushed open the door to the unlit bathroom and then let out a blood-curdling shriek as the toilet mysteriously flushed itself and the chain swung violently back and forth clanging against the cistern pipe.
She was a big lass was our Shirley, but she proved she could move at some speed when necessary, and she came hurtling back up the stairs, screaming all the way, bursting back into the living room howling and crying, face gone so red it was almost purple. A gibbering wreck, she managed to explain what had just frightened the living crap out of her, only to have my dad dismiss the whole thing as nonsense. A toilet didn’t just flush itself, so she must have imagined the whole thing.
How I kept a straight face through all this and not give away my own involvement in this “supernatural” event, I will never know. Thereafter, for several weeks, Shirley refused to go to the toilet at night unless someone accompanied her and I never did own up, leaving her convinced a toilet flushing ghost resided in our bathroom.
After a good bit of time had passed, Shirley finally calmed down and began braving toilet visits on her own once more. Well, that is, until I did it to her again!
Bruhahaha and other evil noises. Teach her to mess with me.
My next victims were two of my friends. At the time, I was living with a mate and his family, my loving mother having kicked me out at age sixteen. Again, this was a somewhat spooky old house, which lent itself very well to the prank I had lined up.
I was the only one at home at the time, but expecting my mate and his younger brother to turn up at any moment. In preparation, I dressed myself up, switched all the lights off and lay in wait. On my head I had a fright wig, in my mouth a set of plastic fangs. I then put a black crombie overcoat on back to front and slipped a torch into the neckline so it would shine its light up across my face, casting all sorts of eerie shadows.
I didn’t have long to wait and a few minutes later, I heard a key go into the front door and peering through the banisters at the top of the stairs, watched as the two lads came into the front hall. They were no sooner in than I made my scary appearance at the top of the stairs, torch shining across my face and glinting off my fake fangs, arms outstretched in front of me zombie-like.
As soon as they spotted me, I began to shamble down the stairs, emitting a low growling from my throat. For a long moment, they froze where they were, eyes wide, mouths dropping open, then the pair of them took off at a lick even a scalded hare couldn’t have competed with. Getting the door open only delayed them for half a second and then they were off down the path and through the garden gate, with me in hot pursuit in a loping side-to-side run that would have made Igor proud.
Passers by looked on with expressions of either bewilderment or amusement depending on whether they realised they were witnessing some silly youthful shenanigans and not anything more sinister. We hadn’t gone more than a few yards before my two mates regained their senses and realised it was me chasing them and not the horrific apparition they’d first thought me to be, but by then they were so spooked, they kept right on running.
Truth be told, my hair was standing on end as well, so though I knew it was me under that fright wig, I had somehow managed to even frighten myself. Finally, the three of us came to a breathless halt, me gasping for air and laughing, them gasping for air, calling me rude names and vowing they would pay me back. They did try, bless them, but they never did get me as good as I got them that night.
Then comes victim number three. I was in my mid twenties by now and working as a tube driver on the Bakerloo line. One day, one of my colleagues was riding up front with me on his way to pick up his own train further up the line. Peter, his name was. He was slim, blond and quite a handsome chap. That aside, he was also a dirty sod. He collected porn films and I mean seriously collected, to the point where he would travel to Holland armed with a list of titles he couldn’t buy in Britain and smuggle them back home. Had a whole wardrobe full of them, apparently. This was at a time before the porn explosion went off in the UK and aside from girlie mags, there was little else on offer for the smut aficionado and not even any internet filth to drool over.
Now, in the old 1938 rolling stock, the driver’s door invariably had a small hole where some screw had fallen out over the years and when bored (which was all of the time) the drivers would have a peer through the hole at the passengers, generally in the hope of spotting some good looking woman or other.
Well, a cunning plan struck me. Pure devilment. While Peter chatted away to me, I leaned down and began peeping through the hole in the door and after a moment or two, I said “wow” followed by a low whistle. Breaking off in mid sentence, Peter looked down at me. “What?” he said. “There’s this bird sitting just outside,” I said, “and I can see right up her skirt.”
“Let’s have a look,” he said, interest instantly peeked.
“Hang on a second,” I said. “Blimey, she’s got suspenders on and everything. Cor!”
“Come on. Let me have a look,” Peter repeated, tugging at my shoulder.
Pretending to be reluctant, I sat up and made way for him, whereupon he dropped to one knee and with his hands either side of his face to steady himself against the door, put his eye to the hole. The second he was in this position, I reached up, turned the handle and swung the door open.
What a tableau! Peter on his knees peering through a hole in a door that was no longer in front of him and a packed carriage full of passengers all swivelling their heads to stare in his direction, wondering what on earth he was doing. For a painfully embarrassing second, Peter remained kneeling in front of his confused audience, but when the penny dropped, he leapt up and backwards to dodge from sight.
That’s when my joke went a bit wrong, because Peter jumped back with such force, he crunched his head against a piece of overhead equipment and blood started to pour down the side of his face. Actually, it went more than just a bit wrong, because Pete had to book off duty and go to the hospital for stitches.
Peter was not best pleased with me, to say the least. I lost count of the times I offered up grovelling apologies, but all to no avail. He never forgave me, rarely spoke to me again, even after years had passed, and on the odd occasion that he did, it was in a clipped staccato that let me know offering me even the smallest communication was painful to him.
I couldn’t have foreseen what was going to happen, of course, and it was so damned funny, I didn’t feel as badly about it as I perhaps should. All my other mates on the job thought it was bloody hilarious when I told them what I’d done and knowing them, I dare say they ribbed him about it mercilessly. Might be that was what stopped him from forgiving and forgetting, in fact, rather than the initial incident.
Obviously I’m sorry he cut his scalp open, but I wouldn’t have missed seeing him kneeling there, hands pushing against an invisible door, one eye shut and the other peering through a small hole that had suddenly turned into an open doorway. If only there had been camera phones at the time…
If Carlsberg played practical jokes, they’d be the best practical jokes in the world.