Monday, August 23

Mellow Nello
Ask almost any former student of Keele University from the past twenty years about Neil Baldwin and the odds are they will know who he is, but not exactly what he did. Neil was a former Stoke City FC kitman and also was Nello The Clown. He ran a football team on campus and always claimed to know Kevin Keegan (at the time when he was England Manager), though nothing was ever proven. I played for Neil Baldwin FC for a while and have a few stories about him, but for the moment here's a cracking story from the Keele Alumni Website found by Donna

Neil was keen to introduce me to the new crop of players who had joined since I left so he took me on his usual rounds around all the halls being introduced to the new students. How I mused at the familiar lines such as "That's a nice looking jar of curry sauce on your shelf, that would be lovely with a few chips!" and the disbelieving look on the student's face that was once my own! Anyway we were about half way round when we called at a room in The Oaks (where the botanical garden used to be). In his normal manner Neil hammered on the door and then tried to open it without waiting for a reply. The door didn't open so Neil knocked again, again no reply. We were about to walk away when Neil said that he thought he'd heard something and there was someone in the room after all. It had already occurred to me that there were going to be people who, for whatever reason didn't want to be disturbed as it was at least 10pm, so I tried to encourage Neil to forget it and go on to the next place. But alas he was determined. There then followed a conversation, something like this:-(bear in mind it was after 10, and every word Neil said was bellowed at the top of his voice!)

Neil: Rob, Rob, are you there (I think it was Rob, I may be wrong)
From the room: No reply
Me: Come on Neil, let's go. Even if he is there he doesn't want to be disturbed
Neil: Are you there Rob (hammers on door again)
From the room: Ummmmm, what is it Neil? (very feeble voice, guilty and awkward sounding)
Neil: I knew you were there. Open up, I've got one of my old players to meet you.
Rob: Could it wait till tomorrow Neil, it's a bit awkward now
Neil: No, he'll be gone tomorrow, open up we won't keep you long
Me (realising what is going on): No Neil, I'll meet him next time I'm visiting, it's not convenient now
Neil (oblivious to my comments): Come on Rob (more hammering)
Rob (swearing under his breath - quick movements occurring in room): Well just to say hello then Neil. It's not convenient now
Me (to Rob): It's ok, I'll meet you next time. Come on Neil (I attempt to physically drag Neil away - no easy task!)
Neil: It's alright, he's said he doesn't mind

At this point we hear the lock open and the door open a fraction. A worried looking lad with a red face appears at the door dressed only with a towel around his waist.
Neil: Rob this is Jon, Jon this is Rob
Rob and Me: Pleased to meet you - we shake hands and rob nearly loses his towel in the process.
Neil: Right then Rob let's talk football tactics, you can cook us some of that lovely chilli-con-carne you did the other night, that was lovely. A worried look appears on Rob's face
Me (winking at Rob): It's ok Neil, I've got to get back now anyway. I've met Rob now we can go on.
Neil: Ok then

Neil turns away saying goodbye, relief starts to spread visibly over Rob's face. Then Neil remembers something and turns back.
Neil: Hey Rob, show Jon that Spurs shirt you've got signed by all the players
Rob: Ummm urrrr it's not here Neil.
Neil: Yes it is I saw it yesterday (tries to worm his way past rob who stands firm)
Rob: Well it's a bit awkward Neil, you see I've got company (red face returns)
Neil: That's alright, introduce us. Maybe he could sign up for NBFC
Rob: No Neil, ummmmm, it's female company (so embarrassed he can't even look us in the eye!)
Me (almost shouting): Come on Neil, time to go
Neil: Oh that's ok Rob, introduce us anyway. I promise not to talk about football too much (Neil shouts into the room) Alright Duck
Female voice from the room (very embarrassed and annoyed and Rob and probably me for being soft on Neil and not just shutting him out): Hello

By this stage 4 or 5 people, mainly in dressing gowns have gathered in the corridor due to all the noise. Most of them are smirking because they realise what's going on.
Neil: Get the kettle on then Rob and let's see that Spurs shirt

Without warning Neil makes an attempt to open the door and catches Rob off guard. He succeeds in fully opening the door where we (and the now 9-10 people in the corridor) see the poor girl desperately trying to cover every inch of herself in the duvet (whispers start in the corridor, it appears this isn't the girl who should have been there!) Rob makes a desperate and all too late lunge to close the door and in his efforts the towel falls off completely. He desperately lunges for the towel but trips up over Neil's leg and ends up in the corridor stark naked (by now about 20 people have gathered and the smirks have turned to riotous laughter.

Neil (still not quite realising what has happened): Well there's something you don't see every day, anyway Rob, we'll get off now then.

Rob crawls back into his room and locks the door. A big argument gets going in the room as we leave and all Rob's neighbours are falling about laughing in the corridor.

Neil (to me as we are leaving): He's a nice lad Rob, but I don't know what got into him tonight, he wasn't himself. Anyway I want you to meet Chris next.....

Back on the campus road, shrieks of hysterical laughter can still be heard and the silhouette of two people can be seen in one room throwing things at each other. Neil's eyesight isn't perfect and he thinks the people are waving.

Neil: That's Rob's room look he's waving at us. (Neil waves up at the room!) He's alright really I'll put him in the team for next week, see I look after all my players.