Thursday, 4 February 2016


Update: Bacchus passed away this afternoon.  

Because everyone deserves to pass over the Veil with a real name, his name was Bocko. That's the only name I ever knew him by and so that's real enough  for me. I changed it just in case he ever recovered/reformed/took the pledge. 

Sadly, he never recovered from the heart attack.

RIP Bocko. Rest well. Make sure you have a drink or two with my mum while you're up there, mate.
I heard today that "Bacchus," (not his real name) from bestselling faction novel Ultra Violence, has suffered a major heart attack and is in hospital. 

When the characters who play the Bully Brothers in the same novel met him for the first time, in 1989, in the buffet car on an Inter City, he had just been released from prison and was on his way to Darlington for the match.

After a ferocious, bloody, three against ten punch-up outside Darlington train station, the three became good friends and "Bacchus" became a regular on the Notts scene for most of the late eighties and early nineties, coming to most Wembley finals and being part of the many promotions and high points under Neil Warnock. 

These were the high points for many of us, before the current shocking fallow period, a spell which has seen two good seasons from the last twenty. 

A self-confessed recovering alcoholic and semi-professional shoplifter of some skill (see below), because of Notts, and the people he began to associate with, he tried to go straight on many occasions, once gaining a Warehouse Supervisor's job at Fine Fare in Arnold. 

Unfortunately, they discovered his past and sacked him (he was informed on by a Forest fan, with a grudge, according to him). Later, after seemingly  a lifetime of bad luck, crime and domestic problems, the demons of easy money, drink and eventually, Class A drugs proved too much and for many years, he has been living on Nottingham's streets and sporadically, in its hostels.

I've known him for years. Like many Notts, I gave him cash and cigarettes whenever we bumped into each other but increasingly, he grew distant and, sadly, the last time we met, at the bottom of Hockley as I was popping into the Nottingham Writer's Studio, he hardly recognised me and walked off with a can of something lethal in his hand. 

He looked about ninety and yet he's younger than me: Fifteen years of living on the streets does that to a man. It broke my heart to see him like that, but after a while, there was nothing anyone could do for him. He had lost himself in endless drink and in the dark heart of the city.

But, for me, he's Notts through and through. He always will be. 

And there's nothing finer in my book, irrespective of his many problems.

Below is a piece involving Bacchus, who was a key part of the vicious FA Cup encounter with Hartlepool in November 1989, which forms the core of Ultra Violence.  Many Notts fans , to this day, consider it to be the most violent episode they've ever been involved in and many reviewers find the level of violence in the chapter hard to believe. 

But it happened - Bacchus could tell you that. 

Over 7000 people read this little piece.

 "Bacchus". Best of luck, mate.

Bacchus sits quietly opposite you on the train, reading the sports pages of The Sun. He landed a major score yesterday, raiding Wardrobe and coming away with two Armani sweaters, a pair of two hundred quid loafers and five high-quality belts. 

He sold them for half price out of the bag last night in The Dog and Bear to a gang of Forest on a birthday crawl. 

Wardrobe is only small, compact and bijou, right next to The Fountain. Catering for the Park set. No prices displayed. If you have to ask the price of an item in Wardrobe, you can’t afford it.

Wardrobe and Limeys are the only suppliers of proper suits in the East Midlands and gentlemen with an inclination toward high-end fashion come from all over the Midlands to buy. 

Naturally, every Clifton shoplifter worth his salt targets the place despite heavy security. The shop has bouncers. You wouldn’t think it was possible to rob Wardrobe, a Fort Knox equivalent, but Bacchus swears he had it off. With a special carrier bag, apparently. He tells you that he and another lad from Cotgrave invented the carrier bag lined with metal foil to stop detectors from spotting stolen goods. 

You don’t believe him and neither do the Bullys, but he swears it is true. He opened his wallet earlier and he was carrying more than the rest of us combined. He has never worked a day in his life, being a professional front-of-house scam artist, robber of shops, and plastic card fraudsmith. That was all he ever wanted to be. You try to imagine the final fifth year interview with his careers teacher - until you remember that there aren’t any careers teachers in Clifton.

Most of the money he earns goes in slot machines, on drink, or following Notts, or some combination of the three. 

Earlier, he confessed to being an ex-alcoholic. During his last stretch in Lincoln, eighteen months for passing stolen cheques, he volunteered for an Antibuse plus a Counselling programme to help him kick the habit. 

Lincoln Prison at the time, he said, was straining at the seams with grog; slops, hooch and smuggled moonshine distilled in plastic bins. Yet he swears he didn’t touch a drop for his entire stay - but he soon recanted when he got out.

This time, he assured us, he was taking it steady.
Just a couple of pints before the match to liven things up a bit. 
Just the two.
A couple after the match back at The Fountain to be sociable.
Home early to the missus and kids.

He is the only Notts fan who sports a beard - he looks a little like a young David Bellamy. Two of his front teeth are missing. Like Older Bully, who gets on best with him, there is something odd about his eyes. They look in two directions  when he speaks to you.

Later...on the concourse.

Bacchus pays for five cans of cold and overpriced Stella. On the taxi rank, the five of you stand in a circle like musketeers, and salute each other and the mighty Magpies by clinking the cans together. 

You down the beer in one gulp and together, the five of you throw the cans into a bin with a loud clatter.

Older Bully negotiates with a taxi driver to carry five to the ground. The driver shakes his head - four only - but Bacchus pulls out a tenner, and that twists his arm. It’s a quiet afternoon in Hartlepool, and the driver can’t afford to turn down business. 

You get in the taxi with the leviathan Younger Bully in the front seat. It’s a squeeze, but having Asif with you, who is tiny, helps ameliorate the crush. You’re all laughing; the single can of beer enough to lift the tension. The driver pulls out into the traffic, and though you don't know it yet, you’re on your way into Hell.

No comments:

Post a Comment