The Lung Brothers

Hanging out at the extreme end of the long tail ...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Xtreme Friendship

There is a type of friend that every man should have. That being said, he should only have one because having two would be a living Hell.

When my Dad was in college in the late fifties, he was a tall, stringy, shy guy whose social circle could be described more in terms of quality than quantity. I picture him as a sort of young James Stewart wearing Buddy Holly glasses who didn’t make a whole lot of eye contact with his peers.

One of his few friends was Noel who, although he resembled my father in physique, was very much his antithesis in personality. Noel was a country boy with no qualms about getting in your face and according to my old man, he could be as blunt as a sledgehammer with it. When it came to getting drunk, loosening up and getting into trouble Noel was a kind of Yoda to my dad’s Skywalker.

One time they were getting nicely oiled in a city centre establishment when some working class guy who decided he didn’t care much for the student class, followed Dad into the jacks and tried to pick a fight with him. Well Pop was no brawler and this guy was built like a stevedore, so he backed off and escaped back to his barstool flustered, full-bladdered and shaken. He warned Noel to avoid this guy at all costs to which Noel calmly asked ‘Which guy?

No sooner had dad pointed him out then Noel was off his stool and striding towards the thug. Dad said that he’ll never forget the expression on the bully’s face when he suddenly found a bony fist stuck under his nose and a level Tipperary voice telling him that if he had a fucking problem, they could fucking settle it right fucking here and right fucking now. It was like watching a Rottweiler being taken off guard by a Doberman and to everyone’s amazement, it was the hulk in the overalls who backed down.

When Noel got back to his place at the bar, flushed with adrenaline, he took a long swig from his stout, slapped my father on the back and said something that my dad will never forget:

‘You know, when you see trouble coming it’s usually best to meet it half way.”

As I’ve said, everyone should have one Noel as a friend. A friend who would embarrass the Hell out of you at a garden party but would probably take a bullet for you on a battle field. A friend who is as likely to save your life as he is to get you both killed. A friend who will call you an arsehole and slap you upside the head, but only when you’re being an arsehole and your head deserves a good upside-slapping. A friend who won’t hesitate to tell you the ugly truth when all your other friends are walking on eggshells.

Curiously, when I’ve talked to others about their versions of Noel, we’ve often found a common thread. The Noels in Ireland usually drink too much, are nearly always a lot more intelligent then they let on, they often have very anti-social political opinions and very politically incorrect ways of expressing them, they usually make your other friends nervous, on at least one occasion you’ll have seen them tell an authority figure to fuck off and they are nearly always disliked by your girlfriend or wife. (but barely tolerated by her if you're lucky)

But whether it be a Begby from Trainspotting, a Randal from Clerks or a Kent from King Lear, you should always hang on to these friends because you never know when someone’s going to plant drugs in your luggage before your holiday to Thailand. And while back home all your other friends are wringing their hands during the lead up to your execution, who will be the loyal lunatic drunkenly abseiling down the inner wall of the Bangkok prison with a map of the local sewers between his teeth (in case you manage to escape together) and a hooker strapped to his back (in case you don’t)?

I have my own version of Noel of course and I chatted over the phone with him a few days ago. We’ll be seeing each other fairly soon, for the first time years and I must confess that I'm really looking forward to it. Because although this guy has gotten me into more scrapes than I can remember, the time spent in his company was never ever dull.


Blogger Twenty Major said...

Once it's not Noel Edmonds I'd be quite happy to have a Noel.

12:04 pm  
Blogger Mateu said...


That was incredible, and I can only add, merits a follow-up post about what happened that night of meeting up with Noel so many years later.


6:36 am  
Anonymous gregor samsa said...

Great post!

You can check out the results of my most recent brush with alcohol abuse here:

Tell Young the Elder I said Hola!

8:51 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home