Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Donkman and the phantom

Gareth and his mates have a relationship based on a tight cycle of piss take and mild violence. Whilst Tim slept off his sleepless night in Barcelona airport on Sunday, Gareth poured water over his crotch and plucked his leg hair. At one point in the weekend I watched Tim and Gareth take turns to kick each other. As with all banal repetition, it’s very funny.

Donkman is part of the gang, the one your parents want you to be, he’s polite, bright, successful and friendly. He sent his girlfriend flowers whilst he was away “just because”, and he took time from the drinking onslaught to pick a present for her. He’s often a target for the abuse, partly because he takes it so well but also because he’s so gullible, the story of Donkman and the Phantom may illustrate this.

Donkman worked on the fish counter in Waitrose whilst he was at school. One day the phone rang, he answered and at the other end someone was someone breathing heavily and then the line went dead. Then again, ring, ring, heavy breathing, and line went dead. Over and over again.

His intuition was right; he accused Gareth and Tim but they denied it and to put him off the scent set up a ruse whereby Gareth would talk to Donkman whilst Tim nicked off to the phone. Then vice versa. On this basis Donkman wrote them off his list of suspects.

The calls continued, for weeks, months, and years, the caller was nicknamed The Phantom. Donkman would shout down the phone “I’ll get you Phantom, I’ll find out who you are”.

On one occasion, the Phantom called and Donkman could hear Tim in the background talking. Instantly he rushed over to where Tim was working, but rather than accuse him again, he asked him who had been on the nearby phone, Tim said he hadn’t seen, and Donkman went off on another wild goose chase.

Donkman inexplicably accused a girl in his German class, who also worked at Waitrose. As his desperation set in, the accusation crossed the line into bullying. It got out of hand and he had to explain to the teachers the reason for his actions.

Eventually two and a half years later, over a few lagers on a lads holiday in Magaluf, Tim and Gareth came clean. They were the Phantom who for years had haunted his Fish Counter with their heavy breathing.

The only thing that hadn’t been cleared up was why Donkman exacted so much of his venom on the girl. Walking from the cable car in Barca he explained.

“She was the only person who wasn’t Gareth and Tim with the same shift pattern as me.”


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