Night out for Bootsie and Snudge

The terrible twosome go out to the NAAFI club

When Alfie Bass and Bill Fraser, stars of Bootsie and Snudge, are invited out for the evening, there is always the question — do they go as Bass and Fraser or Bootsie and Snudge? But when an invitation to the principal inhabitants of television’s Imperial Club came from a real-life Imperial Club, there was no doubt about it — the night out was for Bootsie and Snudge. And it went something like this …

TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 18 December 1960

THE major-domo of the Imperial Club, resplendent in his uniform, was looking through the post piled on the reception desk. “‘Ullo, ‘ullo, what’s this then?” exclaimed Snudge. “A letter addressed to not nobody else but me.” Then he added, with a look of deep disgust at his assistant in the corner: “And that one over there.”

As Bootsie came up, Snudge tore the envelope open. Inside was a piece of notepaper headed “The Imperial Club.”

“And what for would the Imperial Club be of writing to us ‘ere in this Imperial Club?” he asked, aggressively.

Two men outside the Imperial Club

“Look,” said Bootsie, peering under his shoulder “It’s got a different address. It’s another Imperial Club, in South London.”

And, taking the piece of paper from Snudge’s hands, he read slowly: “As your club has the same name as our club, we are inviting you both to be our guests.”

Snudge fixed his beady eye on Bootsie and inquired in his most indignant tones: “And ‘ow do you think your name ‘appened to get writ on to this smart piece of hembossed stationery?”

Cried Bootsie: “I’m as good as you.”

“Not,” declared the major-domo firmly, “when it’s an hinvitation to a swurry.”

On the journey, there was a mood of ill-suppressed excitement about the pair. “I’ve got no doubt,” confided Snudge in a hoarse whisper, “but what there’ll be a lot of financiers and company directors at this ’ere club we’re going to.”

“Yes,” burst in Bootsie, “and famous surgeons with lovely hands and all that.”

Walking down Kennington-lane, however. the mood began to change. “You know,” remarked Snudge. “this is a strange district for the hoi polloi.”

However, they reached the club building. and were quickly greeted by Jim Pringle, the steward. “Tell me,” said Snudge, looking round the clubroom with an air of gracious authority, “which one is Charles Clore? I know ’im. of course, but is face ’as slipped me memory.” Jim looked puzzled. Meanwhile Bootsie was glancing round anxiously. “I bet that one’s a surgeon,” he announced, pointing to a man in the corner. “Look at the way he’s holding his beer in his lovely long fingers.”

“I think,” the steward interposed, “you must be under some misapprehension. Do you know what this club is?”

“Why,” cried Snudge, an anxious tone creeping in, “it’s one of the famous abodes of the hupper crust, isn’t it not?” “No,” Jim replied, roaring with laughter. ‘This is the club for the NAAFI workers in London.”

Snudge was a sight to be seen. Drawing himself up to his full height he exploded: “Even when I was in the Army I didn’t not go near the NAAFI.”

Bootsie took the blow more calmly “Well, never mind, eh?” he remarked. And moving over to the bar he added: “If you don’t have any surgeons, have you got any winkles or shrimps? Or…” and here his eyes lit up, “any jelly babies?”

“I’m afraid not,” chuckled Jim. “Would girls do instead? This is a mixed club.”

Snudge began to mellow. “Now you come to mention it,” he recalled, “I do remember a NAAFI girl what used to be at No 3 Disposal Camp…”

Someone put a disc on the record player and a tall blonde approached Bootsie. “Well, all right,” he said, “but if I have a dance wiv you, mind me feet.” And he limped on to the floor.

Snudge twirled his moustache. “Yes, my dear.” he said in reply to a question from a tiny brunette. “I was the pride of the sergeants’ mess at Poona. When it came to glide round the old floor there wasn’t no one who couldn’t touch me, not nohow.”

As his partner rocked her way through the number, however, doubt began to flit through his mind. “Are you quite sure,” he demanded, “that this is the Lancers?”

Two men at a sink
“I’ll be leavin’ you now”

In search of a little rest after the strain of the dance, Bootsie and Snudge joined a whist party in an adjoining room.

But the peace and quiet was short-lived. Snudge’s beady eyes swivelled too firmly in the direction of Bootsie’s cards. “’Ere,” exclaimed Bootsie indignantly. “No lookin’ – and no splashin’.”

Snudge refused to be put out. “Haven’t you got the double six?” he asked blandly.

As he played his next card a cry came from Bootsie: “You’ve revoked!”

Flashing a look of reproach. Snudge rejoined: “If you hadn’t spoken, nobody wouldn’t never not know I’d revoked.”

They were at the snooker table when Steward Pringle approached them once “We were wondering,” he asked diffidently, “if you would both be so good as to give us the benefit of your professional experience?”

Snudge smirked. “Well,” he said con condescendingly, “when it comes to knowing about serving delicacies to the hot polloi, I’m your man. Camel curry, with goat’s brains on the side-plate, Mafeking pudding… no, not that,” he added hurriedly.

“And,” put in Bootsie, “I know all about the delicate jobs. All the ones that need fine handling and cartful fingers. Beds, for example … sleeping on ‘em and that.”

“Actually,” replied Jim, “we were thinking more of such things as washing up and cleaning the place out.”

As the last member of the NAAFI Imperial Club slipped away, Bootsie was busy on a sink-full of dirty crocks.

Snudge, who had confined himself to expert advice on how much washing-up liquid to put in the water, looked at his watch.

“Well,” he said to Bootsie, “I’ll be leavin’ you now.”

Pulling his NAAFI overall closer around him, Bootsie plunged his hands into the suds with an air of hatred. “You rotten droopy drawers,” he hissed at the spruce figure rapidly vanishing through the doorway.

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