Before winning fame â€“ or perhaps notoriety â€“ as the coach of fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol, the chain-smoking miseryguts we know and love as Old Halob led a purposeless and indigent existence. The familiar image of him, in that raincoat, grim and windswept and coughing up catarrh, standing at the side of a running track spurring his fictional protÃ©gÃ© on to ever greater sprinting triumphs, had not yet been beamed through television screens across the globe back in the days when only a cluster of hovels stood on the site that would one day become the Old Halob Stadium Of Sporting Triumph And Prowess.
In his bestselling paperback Old Halob And Petula Clark : Are They The Same Person?, Pebblehead posits the theory that the (possibly) East European coach and the English songstress are the same person. He points to the well-documented fact that both, as children, sang in the entrance hall of Bentalls Department Store in Kingston-upon-Thames in exchange for a tin of toffee and a gold wristwatch. In addition, like Petula Clark, Old Halob released a CD entitled L’essentiel – 20 SuccÃ¨s Inoubliables. This is where his argument fails to convince, for where the aged pop divaâ€™s album contained songs, and was a chart hit in Belgium, Old Halobâ€™s CD consisted of a recording of him eating his breakfast and grumbling about his moth-eaten raincoat, and was an international, rather than merely a local, success.
Pebbleheadâ€™s twaddle is thoroughly demolished, of course, if we consider that for the first fifty two years of his life, Old Halob did little except refill bird feeders in the grounds of a Home for the Deranged, a job for which he was paid with a daily bowl of gruel and slops. His parents were fabulously wealthy, and lived the life of Riley in a big forbidding castle, but their son lacked ambition, and they disowned him when, at the age of nine, he rejected their birthday gifts of a booster pack, the elixir of life, a modelling contract with L’Oreal, and a populated planet in a far distant galaxy to treat as his plaything.
No one, not even Pebblehead, knows what happened to transform the dull-witted bird feeder maintenance man into an athletics coach of legend. Perhaps a clue lies in his change of diet. Shortly after Old Halobâ€™s fiftieth birthday, the management of the Derangement Home was restructured following a report from consultants Pricewatergatecoopersfreemanhardywillis. As part of their recommendations, Old Halob stopped eating gruel and slops and was instead fed on whelks and barnacles. The evidence is not conclusive, but future biographers would be stupid to ignore it.
And that is all I have to say about Old Halob today.