Alf tapped the newspaper with his pencil.
“S’lot of people that is. A bloody lot.”
“Lot of people what?” asked Bert.
Alf was doodling on his copy of the Daily Express while considering putting 50 quid on the upcoming England/Pakistan cricket test. Apparently the only safe bet currently on offer was which pair of umpires would take the field. Being politically savvy, his money was on South African Darryl Hare and that West Indian bloke Steve Bucknor. Besides, he knew someone who worked for the sponsors, Black and White Whiskey and he told him it was a dead cert and for 10% of the winnings he’d make nearly 300 quid.
“All these murders,” replied Alf coming back to the moment.
“Murders? What murders?” Bert asked.
“Over in South Africa,” said Alf.
“Been there once,” Bert offered.
“You never did? When?” Alf asked.
“Oh, long time ago, it was. Was on holiday and went to see old Basil D’Oliveira. Only I didn’t.”
“Sorry, Bert. You’ve lost me,” said Alf.
“What I mean is, I was due to see him but I didn’t get to see him on account of the colour thing,” Bert explained.
“Oh, right. Apart…. Whatever it was.”
”What?” Bert said.
“The colour thingy they had over there,” Alf said.
“No. Not skin colour. Was on account of the colour of my ticket. I turned up at Wanderers Cricket Ground and I had the wrong ticket. And it was sold out. The ticket I had was green and had Zoo –admit one, on it.”
“Ah, I see. The Wrong Trouser story, yes?” Alf said.
“That’s the one,” Bert agreed. “So what was you saying about murder?”
”Over in South Africa. They’ve just released the figures. Says so in the paper. Seventeen million.”
Bert was incredulous.
“Seventeen million! You’re balmy, you are.”
“Well that’s what it says. Must be true I reckon, otherwise they wouldn’t print it, would they?” Alf replied indignantly.
“Yes, but seventeen million, that’s like …like, all of Wales that is. You sure?”
“Have a look for yourself then if you don’t believe me,” said Alf sliding the paper across the bar to his friend.
Bert quickly read the article in question then breathed a sigh of relief and shook his head.
“You daft old fool. You been doodling on the paper, you have. See these extra zeros? They’re in pencil. You wrote them. Put you bloody glasses on next time. It says 17,000.”
“Oh. I thought it sounded a lot. So only 17,000 you say?”
“Yes!” Bert said.
“Well, that’s all right then, I suppose. Er…how many murders have we had in Wiggleswood then?”
“Seventeen and a half,” said Bert.
“Oh. That’s still a fair amount for such….”
“Since World War I,” Bert added.
“Oh,” Alf said.