Liam Ratcatcher! 1983
What could go wrong? Well, that is a line that should perhaps appear somewhere in my eulogy at my funeral, for the amount of times l have actually said it. There l was sitting in the taxi super excited that l was going to Romania on a Dracula Tour, starting to read my well thumbed copy of Bram Stoker’s famous book – Dracula – l figured l needed to be in the spirit of things. We didn’t have the Internet back then, so it wasn’t like l could just Google up Romania and get a feel for it. A horror buff doesn’t need to do things like that ..
The journey up to Heathrow was quite uneventful apart from the fact that it was actually pissing down in huge torrents. Once l arrived it didn’t take me that long before l gone through the terminal and was sitting in my departure lounge awaiting my flight.
Back then, l was more gregarious about life than l am today, l was definitely more social and l was always smiling. People liked me, l am not saying that people don’t like me now as l am still an affable fella, but l just don’t mix with a lot of people.
However, l am none too sure why but l have always been a magnet to some people, they see me and think ‘Oh yeah!! I am going to sit next to him!!” Which is exactly how l met The Squealer aka Liam Ratcatcher. You couldn’t miss him, he was dressed in a vibrant pink trouser suit and he seemed to shimmer as he walked through the terminal, and you could hear him approaching from a fair distance away. In fact it was his ‘squeal’ that l heard first before actually seeing him. I heard this strange laugh – well that’s an understatement, however the clip below is similiar but imagine it slightly higher pitched!
He was one of those people that you saw and instantly cringed at and looked the other way, and prayed that they didn’t sit next to you! But l have never been lucky like that!
You’re ahead of me, the squealer sat down right next to me. It was obviously irrelevant to him that there must have been twenty other seats he could have picked, but somehow he picked the seat next to me! I quickly brought my copy of Dracula up closer to my nose and prayed some more that he didn’t talk to me!
“Oooh hello, what’re you reading then??” he asked.[Think Kenneth Williams – NO really!!]
“Dracula.” I answered apprehensively.
“Oooh vampires, l say, nothing beats a good suck eh? Wink wink, nudge nudge.”
I looked at him incredulously, and realised that he was deadly serious in his humour, he kept winking at me and smiling. He had the most remarkable white teeth l had ever seen and his eyes actually glinted like some toothpaste commercial, l could almost see myself in the reflection. Well l didn’t know how to answer that and so simply smiled back and said with a slight giggle, “He he, well that ‘s what vampires do.”
Suddenly his hand was on my knee, and l most assuredly DID NOT know what to do with that.
“My name’s Liam, Liam Ratcatcher! What’s yours?”
“Really, your name is Ratcatcher, and spelled like it sounds?”
“Oh yes, except l spell my first name L.I.A.M, do you get what l have done there?”
“As in, ‘I Am Ratcatcher?’ I asked.
“Yes!” he squealed in delight. “Do you know why it’s so clever?”
“No, why is it so clever?”
“Because l am in pest control, l changed it so that it would read like that. I am 28 and gay by the way, how about you?”
“How about me what? As in, am l gay?”
“Oh no silly, l know you aren’t gay, unless you’re not out of the proverbial closet yet. No, what’s your name and what do you do?”
So l told him who l was and what l did for a living.
“And where are you going then, anywhere exciting?”
“Yeah, l am going on a Dracula tour in Romania.”
It was the squeal l somehow knew l was going to hear, that gave it all away. Once he had finished squealing loud enough for everyone in every terminal to hear us he said “Oh is that why you are reading the book then, what a strange coincidence!!”
“What? Coincidence, what do you mean coincidence?” I asked, l might actually be wong.
“So am l, 13 days away in Romania! Who knew that fate would throw us together like this?”
But l wasn’t wrong. “Wow, that is, is, is just so brilliant, we are going to be holiday buddies!”
“Oooh l know, are you excited about it?”
“Yeah, l am over the moon. Do you think you might remove your hand from my thigh Liam, it was on my knee originally?”
“Oh sorry, people say l have wandering hands, it must have just slipped up with all the excitement! Liam smiled at me grinning and laughing and squealing at the same time!
During our conversation, two girls had sat down next to Liam, one of them had a copy of Dracula in her hands, and l just knew they were also on the tour, they were called Sally and Molly and were best friends, who worked in a library in Epsom, and this was their first holiday together as best buddies. They were 22 and 24 respectively, and had known each other since they were 12, and their families had always gone away on holidays together but this would be their first adventure!
Liam couldn’t help squealing his glee, “And now we are four!” He grew on you as a person, and l actually liked Liam a lot, he was good fun if you could ignore the squeal and after a while it was just kind of infectous and whilst l wasn’t squealing, l was laughing at his antics and so too were Sally and Molly who were also really funny, considering that they were librarians and at their own concession said they were funniest two in the library in comparison to the others who were dull!
Before we boarded our flight five other people joined us, there was Mitchell and his wife Gloria and their Daughter Hannah, and John and his girlfriend Tina. The nine of us were going to Romania on the Dracula tour, that we knew about so far and when we boarded and sat in our seats we discovered we were all clumped together. Another two ladies joined us in their 70’s, keen and astute horror buffs and ghost hunters alike and believe it or not twin Sisters and spinsters to boot – Dana and Dolly! We were now eleven! That was the tour group! I was lucky enough to be sitting next to the window with Liam to my immediate right and Molly next to him.
When l had arrived at Heathrow, it had still been raining hard. It was like that when we boarded the plane and it was like that when we were taxing down the runway preparing to take off and the only time it wasn’t grey and dismal was when we went through the clouds and l suddenly shouted out …
“Oh look it’s blue up here above the clouds??!” With a huge broad smile across my face, and suddenly all of our group was quiet, and some of the plane too and they just hard looked me and then Liam said “Oh Rory, you are so funny, who doesn’t know that? “
I laughed and joked and said l was kidding and we set off towards Romania and the Dracula tour!
You know l am supposed to be an intelligent guy, but l never let on that l DIDN’T know that!!