English people are weird.
There, I said it. It’s true, you’re all mental. You watch birds and trains for no reason, you say things like “whereby” and burn stuff in celebration of a guy who torched parliament. You shout and swear and fight and piss in the street. You beat people up while your buddy films it on his cell phone and you perform dental surgery on yourselves before you’ll go to a dentist. You take salsa lessons when the chances of actually using your salsa dancing skills in England are somewhere between slim and fucking never.
I thought the term “English Eccentric” was an oxymoron because, quite frankly, you’re all nuts.
That was until I met Tony Napleton. A couple weeks ago, the valve on our hot water tank leaked onto the pump and shorted it out. Why the valve is located directly above the pump is beyond me, but I’ve been in England for over two years now, the days of my questioning “why” are well and truly behind me. The answer is always “It’s England, they’re nuts”. I am well past Denial, Bargaining and Depression and have reached Acceptance. Why did the builders bury human turds in my front lawn? It’s England. Why did the former owner of my house take out the shower? It’s England. Why is the guy walking up my driveway to fix my hot water tank wearing a black shirt, black Wranglers, have dyed-black hair, five black earrings in one ear and a hole I can see through in the other? It’s Eng... no wait, this is something else.
I open my door to let Tony in to see that he’s (I’m guessing) in his early forties. Do goths come in early forties variety, I think to myself. “Are you Rob?”, he asks me. “Uh, yeah, are you the antichrist?”
He wasn’t, he was in fact my new plumber.
If there is one thing I know about goths is that they don’t say much, at least not to other non-goths like myself. Which is great, there is nothing I hate more than a chatty builder. I’m not paying you for the yak yak, fella, fix the ruddy whatever-it-is-called-thingie-that-isn’t-working and get the eff out. It’s difficult enough to make conversation with people I like, I sure as hell don’t have the energy or the interest to do it with some dude who is probably elbows deep in other people’s shit 12 hours a day.
Tony went up to the tank, identified the problem right away, grabbed the parts out of his truck because his hearse was in the shop (no, really) and fixed it. He didn’t even have time to finish his tea (Goths take milk and one sugar in their tea, who knew?).
After he was done, we asked him who to make the cheque out to. “Gothic Plumbing”, he says... well, obviously. We hand over the cheque, he hands us his business card. "Gothic Plumbing", sure enough, complete with bat and gargoyle.
You don’t believe me?
That weekend, my buddy Nigel and his wife Naomi (her voice is the one heard in the video below) invited Kate and I to go see the Matlock Illuminations where I got my second lesson in English Eccentricity.
I don't think words can do it justice:
Keep an eye out for the psychotic spongebob and an ear out for the Peter Kay bingo caller type announcer in the background.