‘…orrow morning, you scum-sucking, vilely useless piece of infected, foul-smelling discharge!’
Gilbert Egg-Hound was not a patient man. Having slammed the phone down with the sort of force normally employed by officers of the West Yorkshire Police Force during ‘extended questioning of coloured gentlemen’ during the 1970s, he less-than-calmly walked to his chair. On reclining and gazing out of the window, Gilbert’s mood began to lift. From his office by the canal, Gilbert had one of the best views in the city – to the right rose the Corn Exchange (which couldn’t help but to remind him of a majestic single breast nestled amongst the largely phallic skyline) while the building sites, shops and alehouses of Briggate and beyond disappeared straight ahead. Over to the left, in the distance was the Town Hall, mercifully obscured by the offices and suits of Park Row.
The Town Hall occupied a very particular place in Gilbert’s heart. Fully to understand this, first requires you to accept the fact that, despite appearances, hearsay and reams of evidence to the contrary, Gilbert Egg-Hound is a man of heart. A well-hidden heart, yes. A dysfunctional heart, almost certainly, but a heart nonetheless. Alongside the hate for his former wife, an obsession with pastry products and the unlikely, unrequited love for She Who Must Never Be Named, sat in Gilbert’s heart a fear and distaste for the Town Hall and its staff, rivalled only by the fear and distaste displayed by the citizens of Lincolnshire when presented with evidence of electricity.
As you may have surmised (correctly, I might add) by this point, Gilbert Egg-Hound is not the sort of man to fear anyone; he was much more the sort of man to be feared.
The Town Hall however, put the shits up Gilbert like nothing else.
It was 1986 and the World Cup was being hosted by Mexico. England was in the grip of its usual deluded, fervent hope that they were going to win, just like twenty years before. While he wouldn’t call himself a football fan – and while he’d never willingly admit to getting carried away with the ecstasy of an assembled partisan throng – Gilbert was as susceptible as anyone to World Cup fever. Having followed the matches at arm’s length so as not to appear interested, Gilbert’s reserve finally broke during the Argentina game.
He locked up his office and headed to the pub. The landlord had managed to appropriate, from somewhere, a television the size of a fridge, and had, with faith alone, hoisted it high up the wall with a length of rope. Literally dozens of people sat and stood beneath it, peering at the action. No-one had seen a television of this size before, nor have they done so since, a fact that is merely a matter of background.
Gilbert arrived in time to see a slo-mo Peter Reid being thoroughly embarrassed by a dwarf with a perm, so set to drinking. Heavily. Unable to get comfortable and watching England get, for want of a better phrase, done over by the Argies, Gilbert began to feel unbalanced. After a few more tetchy minutes, it happened: The Hand of God.
At this point, nobody was one hundred percent sure what had happened. That is to say, nobody was prepared to say what exactly had happened – a key distinction. What is known for certain is that on the evening of 22 June 1986, four men were admitted to Leeds General Infirmary with wounds that seemed consistent with ‘being beaten by a large, blunt instrument wielded by someone with the strength of a bear’, according to melodramatic neurosurgeon Dr Noray Parmalat. The other definite in this murky expanse of half-truths and fabrications was that on the morning of 23 June 1986, Gilbert Egg-Hound was released from the Central Police Station without charge, without his possessions, and with a hangover that would wake the dead then immediately kill them again.
An uncharacteristically chastened Egg-Hound shuffled towards his home, under the non-existent cover of dawn, the streets pulsating with the rhythm of his pounding head. Luckily for Gilbert, the streets were as good as empty at this time of the morning, so he was able to theatrically vomit into a drain with relative anonymity. Having walked what seemed like the the thousand miles to his house, Gilbert entered, locked the door and went to bed to sleep the sleep of traitors, whores and criminals.