Before I knew it the afternoon had gone and it was almost time to meet the lads in the Tree of Life. I decided to walk to give me time to mull over things in my head and as I made my way up Hermitage Lane it felt like my brain was gonna explode.

It wasn't just trying to get the ideas clear in my head but also how I was gonna sell it to my mates.

To tell the truth I wasn't even sure if I had things that clear but had convinced myself that there was light at the end of the tunnel after listening to Jimmy's story. See, I figured if I could use the place he'd been with the whips and chains in New York as a theme only a tad softer we could make the club stand out. Clutching at straws maybe but that's all I could come up with!

I turned into West Heath Lane which is about five minutes from the Tree of Life and could feel the butterflies flapping in my stomach so I started to do my breathing exercises. You know the ones you do to calm yourself down although I wasn't calming down.

When I arrived at the front door of the pub I stopped and took a few even deeper breaths and straightened myself out hoping to convey an air of confidence. I pushed open the door and walked in just as the pressure of the gas lights dropped making them flicker and dim. Not a sign of things to come I hoped.

Luckily for me the first person I saw was Aria who was behind the bar pulling a pint of Benskins. She looked over and smiled and as she placed the pint on the bar she moved her eyes in the direction of the snug as if to say “they’re waiting for you.”

As I looked over there they were Finbar, George and Vinny sitting at a table near the fireplace chatting.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see one of the locals we called Karl Marx on account of the fact that, well, he looked like Karl Marx brooding, stroking his beard. Yeah, something had given him the hump and if I was a betting man would've said it was coz the lads were sitting in his place. You know how locals start to regard a table, chair or a lean as their own after fifty years of drinking in the same spot!

Vinny jumped up and said “hello Jack, what you having?”

“I'll have two bottles of Lowenbrau and a half pint glass please.”

“Just the two then?” said Vinny smiling.

“Always has two to everyone else's one” said Finbar.

I sat down next to Finbar and said “well, you drink pints and I drink halves. Full of ideas I hope?”

George who was sat on the other side of Finbar gave me a George look which was sort of a stare with one eyebrow lifted as in “what?” and started peeling off the label from his bottle of lager like he always did.

“Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't you the one who needs the ideas Jack” said Finbar.

Vinny placed my drinks down just as I was saying “you know me Finbar, I've got more ideas than someone who's got loads of ideas” at which point he looked up to heaven and dug into his pork scratching.

“OK shall we get started” I said.

To make sure we all knew the score I recounted my meeting with Mr. Maton and when I'd finished Vinny said “that's all very interesting but how do I fit in?”

I wasn't sure if that meant he didn´t fancy it or just that he wanted to know what was likely coming his way so decided to treat his question as the latter.

“Well Vinny, when we did clubs in Sheffield we had a team of four…”

At which point Finbar jumped in with ”the Fantastic Four!” to which George added his thrupence worth “maybe the ordinary four with a bit more practice.”

I attempted to get back on track by interjecting double quick before all was lost.

“As I was saying a team of four each having responsibility for doing different bits.”

“Bits?” said Vinny.

“Yeah bits. Not getting too technical am I?” I said.

“No think I can keep up at the moment” said Vinny.

“Well, I'm fooking lost” said Finbar.

Don’t know if they were taking the piss to help me relax but it was doing the trick. Didn't feel as bad as when I walked in.

“Yeah, we all did bits” I said “like my bits were to negotiate the terms with the club we'd indentified as being ripe for an earner, George's bits were music and DJing, Finbar'´s not very big bits were organizing sponsorships like drinks and the like and a guy you don't know called Zach did marketing and promotion. Wouldn´t believe it was possible but he did a good job but now he's gone off to Lentil Land so we'd like you to take his place.”

“Why?” said Vinny.

“Why?” I said “coz you've got a camera...”

“That's what swung it for me” said George.

“I meant to say you know how to take photos” I said looking at George and anyway, being a pearly king you're familiar with the lay of the land and are on first name terms with plenty of faces in London. Oh and being a babe magnet thought you might get some stunning looking girls to come?”

He paused for what seemed an age which gave me the impression he was gonna say no but he looked at me and said

“if you hadn't noticed I've got a camera I'd have been gutted but yeah, count me in. Don't have to eat lentils do I?”

“I'd advise you not to eat anything Jack makes” said Finbar.

George nodded and sort of made a “yeah” sound.

“Thanks Vinny” I said “anyone got any questions?”

“Just the one” said George staring right at me. “Frank!”

I looked back as if to say “what about him?”

“You said Frank set up the meeting with this guy so I think it ain't stretching it too much to assume he's gonna wanna be involved” said George.

“He will be. Don't worry I'll talk to him” I said.

“Well good luck with that one” said George “I mean a four way split between four leaves zilch for number five doesn't it!”

Ignoring George's comment I turned to Vinny and said “yeah by the way Vinny, it's a four way split of anything we make. If we don't make anything I get split into four!"

I sat up straight, took a deep breath and said “OK, here's my idea” at which point everyone moved towards me in unison like it was a three down and ten with the clock running down which brought the butterflies back.

“OK, like I was saying here's the idea. We do the club out like a dungeon. You know really dark to give it a feeling of being seedy hedonistic.“

“Don't really see a dungeon being hedonistic” said Finbar.

“You need to get out more” said Vinny.

“We'll have a cloakroom where you can check your clothes in down to your kecks but not complete nudity.Female staff dress in Ghostbusters uniforms and black DMs, male bar staff wear kilts in dark green and navy tartan, navy shirts and dark green DMs, security staff wear deep red and deep purple tartan kilts, red shirts and deep purple DMs. Drinks are exotic so only foreign brands and the music bang on a la George. Well, that's it. What do you think?”

They just looked at me and then at each other and said nothing. Absolutely nothing!

“Well, what do you think then?” I repeated.

Finbar looked at George and Vinny as if he was looking for their permission before speaking and said “you've fooking surpassed yourself this time Jack” which I assumed meant he thought it was shite “but couldn't you go into more detail. I mean haven't you thought what colour bundies we'll wear!”

“Vinny?” I said hoping for a positive remark.

Vinny scratched his chin and said “hope you get discount with Doctor Martens Jack. Well, it's certainly different.”

“So is spotted dick with gravy!” said George.

“Gorra be stand out lads” I said hoping someone would back me up. Don't know if Vinny could see the confidence draining away from me but he said “yeah, I could go with that.”

“Really?” I said almost wanting to hug him.

“Yeah” said Vinny “half a London'll have their kit off if you give 'em the chance.”

“Mr. Maton?” said George in his typically minimalistic down to earth way.

“What about him?” I said.

“D'ya think he's gonna like the idea of semi naked people cavorting around his club, drinking Japanese lager with bouncers dressed in kilts?”

“Security George not bouncers! Mr. Maton told me I had cart blanch. In fact, the only guidelines he gave me were that it had to make money. I'm not planning on telling him what we're gonna do. We do things our way.”

George looked at me, paused to take a sip of his drink and said “If you say so” which sounded about as convincing as him saying he was gonna change his hair to a centre parting and get a season ticket at the Arsenal!

Mind you, I must say their reaction wasn't as bad as I'd expected and my stomach started to feel like the butterflies had gone for a few nectars which was welcome. In fact, you could say the wood was becoming visible from the trees for the first time although I didn't want to get carried away.

“What we gonna call the club?” said Finbar.

“Ahhh, I was coming to that Finbar.”

“You haven't got one then” said George.

“Thought we could brain storm while we drink as we usually come up with something original by the time we're legless.”

“Bound to end up ream then” said Vinny.

“I'll get the drinks in” said Finbar.

“I'll have five pints and six glasses as your up” said Vinny.

“Don't have any Welsh in you do you?” said Finbar and went to the bar where Aria was waiting.

I was just about to ask George if he thought Frank would get the hump when I heard.

“Hey lads?”

Turning around I could see Parvis bounding over towards us like Maxwell Max Dillon after sucking on a pylon. As he got to Finbar he said “get me a Special Brew vill you” and then turning towards us said “I don't know vhy they call it the Tree of Life. I mean ver's the heavy vimens?” and then looking at me hastily added “apart from Aria of course.”

“Got outta jail there” said Vinny.

Parvis pulled up a stool and sat next to George.

“How's the job George?”

“Seems like I've got a new one” said George glancing over at me.”

“But you've only just started on the journalism haven't you?” said Parvis.

“Yeah, well journalism seems to consist of photocopying, archiving and getting coffee at the moment none of which exactly gets me rejoicing when the alarm goes off so reckon this gig can't be as disappointing especially seeing as Jack's likely to get shot on Monday morning. Never seen anyone get shot before.”

Parvis looked around the table for enlightenment but none was forthcoming.

“Hey Parvis, here's your special brew, pass George's lager over to him will ya!” shouted Finbar who was struggling getting from the bar with the drinks.

Vinny got up to help him bring the rest of the drinks over to the table and when we were all sat down I said “OK, who's first with a name then?”

“A name for vot?” said Parvis.

“We're doing a new club a la Sheffield in the West End and we need a name. Come on Parvis you start us off.”

He looked like he was thinking in that way you do when you're a kid in school and the teacher's asked you to do a mental arithmetic calculation. You know, like you're doing the calculation doing hand movements like three down, carry one over, take away the number you first thought of and the like but it's obvious to all and sundry and especially the teacher that really you ain't got the faintest idea and then he broke his silence with “I've got it!”

We looked at him waiting for a humdinger but he just smiled taking his time to look at each one of us with a glint in his eye. Please be a humdinger I thought!

“Don't keep us all in suspense” said Finbar “spit it out!”

“The Guardian of the Funk Lovers!”

“Sorry?” said Vinny to which Parvis repeated it only much slower emphasizing every word.

“The Guardian ….of…. the Funk Lovers!”

“Ehh….yeah Parvis. Great suggestion. Let's hold onto that one just in case one of us has got a better name shall we! Anyone else got any?” I said more in despair than in hope thinking it was gonna be a long night.

Looking around the table it looked like we were all doing a cross between mental arithmetic and trying not to laugh.

“D'ya think we need more light ale?” said Vinny.

“I think we'll need something stronger than ale!” said George.

Meanwhile Parvis was repeating The Guardian of the Funk Lovers to himself whilst holding up his hand like he was reading a neon sign.

“OK. I'll get some pepper vodkas” said Vinny and was up and on his way to the bar before anyone could say what's pepper vodka!

We had round after round of pepper vodkas and not a single intelligent suggestion followed.

Every silence was interrupted by Parvis saying “I think The Guardian of the Funk Lovers is outstanding” to which I would say “yeah, we've got that in the bank Parvis. We're now just seeing if we can improve on it.”

To say I was more desperate than a person who was really desperate was to say……well, that I was really desperate.

We were starting to go green from the pepper vodkas and looked spent of all ideas and then Aria clanged the bell and shouted “lost orders”!

George looked over to me and said “d'ya think she means last orders?”

“I hope so” I said “coz my brain and my liver can't take much more of this. Shall we leave it for another night?”

“This is gonna be a right fooking flop” said Finbar as he downed his pepper vodka and drank some beer to help it on its way.

“That's it!” I shouted waving my arms in the air like a drunken Archimedes.

“Flop, we'll call it Flop!”

“Yeaaah” said Vinny raising his glass like he was making a toast. Think he was at the point of toasting anything.

“How about we put a Le in front as in Le Flop? Sounds a bit more exotic don't you think?” said George.

“Yeah!” everyone almost shouted in unison. Wasn't only me then who felt like a huge weight had been lifted off the shoulders.

“I think The Guardian of the Funk Lovers is better” said Parvis.

“Maybe we could use that for our next venture” I said and asked for a vote.

“All in favour of Le Flop say aye” I said.

Everyone bar Parvis said aye so the ayes had it.

Le Flop it was gonna be!