A Day In The Life Of A Porter
JOE BATES takes a satirical look at a day in the life of a porter.
I know which one I am. I know, because I’m standing next to the tall, skinny one. Which makes me the short, fat one. It’s these bowler hats, they makes us all look like Laurel and fucking Hardy. And I’m Hardy. Why do I always have to be Hardy?
Being Hardy comes with responsibilities. The tall, skinny one can get away with ‘laconic’ or ‘sarcastic’, but the short, fat one has to be funny, which is a hell of a lot harder. Because I’m really not very funny. I sought out portering because of my fervent belief in the sanctity of grass, not because of my ability to dish out banter.
I’ve tried numerous strategies to compensate for my lack of natural humour. After my initial attempts at a surrealist take on contemporary French politics went down badly, I tried being ‘avuncular’. But my uncle was a twat, and my confused attempts to replicate his unique blend of threatening catcalls and inebriated narcolepsy was met with short shrift and a somewhat longer restraining order.
So I moved with reluctance towards what I now realise is the true humour of the short, fat one: a subtle mix of cheery mockney patter and Carry-On-Punting-style innuendo. My first attempt could have gone better. Asked by a prospective student for directions to the chapel, I responded: ‘Round the lawn, down the cloisters and in through the side door, no pun intended.’
‘What pun?’ he innocently replied.
‘Exactly, sir,’ I bluffed with a wink.
I’ve got better. No request for a package is now answered without a filthy chuckle; no formerly pissed student met without witless banter. Whilst my repartee may be repetitive, I can now get through the day without anyone detecting the poet’s soul within my short fat frame. So the next time I greet an attractive girl with a jovial ‘What can I do you for?’, know that my leery wink is blinking back tears. No pun intended.
Cartoon by Jon Bailey