Last Friday evening, as is our habit, Mrs Quimbly and I strayed from Hove and esconced ourselves in a Kemp Town pub to partake of a quiet drink. I had my usual half-pint of a fine local ale, while Mrs Quimbly refreshed herself with three large bottles of Kopparberg Mixed Fruit Cider, a glass of port, a Bacardi Breezer and several tequila slammers, or, as she calls it, 'the usual'.
Having slaked our respective thirsts and been politely asked to leave and not return, we ambled homeward through the streets of Kemp Town, while Mrs Quimbly sucked on her customary pipe.
This particular evening, being the beginning of the annual Gay Pride weekend, the streets were a little more crowded than usual with young men dressed in colourful shirts and smelling powerfully of L'eau D'Issey Pour Homme.
Not wishing to hear the tiresome and all-too-familiar torrent of near-the-knuckle sexual innuendo and foul language, nor witness the graphic miming of various forms of unsavoury fellatio and back door shenanigans, I steered Mrs Quimbly up a side street, where she was unable to inflict said horrors upon those poor, innocent young fellows.
As we walked I noticed an elderly gentleman standing in a shop doorway, with a walking stick in one hand and a bemused look on his face. At first I thought that I'd caught sight of my own reflection, until I noticed his brown leatherette shopping trolly. I remarked amusingly that, as it was 10.30pm, it was a little late for a man of his age to be shopping and walked on, chuckling.
We had gone no further than a couple of yards when we heard a loud crash. Instinctively, Mrs Quimbly pulled me towards her for protection, but I struggled free, unwilling to be used as a human shield yet again.
As she reached into her bag for a weapon, I scanned the area for hoodies and gangs of feral youths looting the hairdressers, novelty item emporiums and delicatessens of Kemp Town.
In my mind's eye, I saw the headlines: 'HAVE-A-GO HERO QUELLS RIOT', 'QUIMBLY TO THE RESCUE' or, perhaps more realistically, 'LOCAL MAN KILLED IN STREET ATTACK'.
To my surprise, however, the street was deserted, save for a pair of corduroy-clad legs sticking out horizontally from a shop doorway.
I walked back to see the old gentleman prostrate upon the pavement, blood pouring from a cut on his bald head, a broken window next to him and his shopping trolly lying flat beside him. He had clearly fallen with some force and the bemused look upon his face had now changed to pained incomprehension as the blood ran down his face and soaked into his raincoat.
Instinct once again took over and I told him to lie still as I reached into my pocket for my phone and dialled 999 for an ambulance.
Mrs Quimbly's instincts also took over. Seeing a man helpless and bleeding on the ground, she went in to finish him off with a good kicking and steal his wallet.
I pulled her roughly away and told her to go into a nearby pub for something to staunch the bleeding. Looking somewhat abashed, she merely righted his shopping trolley and left muttering obscenities to herself.
As we waited for the ambulance to arrive, I asked the old chap his name and age. For the purposes of privacy I shall call him Lionel, although it was actually Henry. He was 69 and had just been to the Co-op to buy a couple of bottles of something for the week ahead, when he lost his balance and fell.
After another five minutes Mrs Quimbly returned with some paper towels, a pint of Guinness and a young man called Brian who was dressed as a sailor.
"I don't think he should have any alcohol after a blow to the head" I said.
"This is for me, you dozy c***." She replied.
As I turned from her and looked down the road I saw the ambulance approaching. I flagged it down and after briefly telling them what had happened, I handed Lionel over to the professionals.
As we walked home and Hoveward in the moonlight, we discussed the evening's events.
"I hope he'll be all right".
"He'll be fine" said Mrs Quimbly. "Not a bad evening, all things considered. How about another little drinky?"
I didn't reply, lost as I was in my own thoughts, and we walked on in silence.
The streets were now deserted and the quiet of the the night was broken only by the distant wail of an ambulance siren, the faint and muffled 'chink chink' of glass and the rumble and squeak of the unoiled wheels of a brown leatherette shopping trolley.