Only in America…

Just a quickie to help pass the time on this rather windy and wet Sunday afternoon, thank you very much Storm Gareth, but it’s amazing what you can find out whilst trolling innocently through the internet, although, if you are one of our American cousins, perhaps you may wish to look away for the next few moments…

Now that they’ve gone, did the rest of you know the following?

1. That there are currently, according to the F.B.I., approximately – I love their use of the word “approximately” – 12 serial killers currently “working” in the state of New York – I wonder what the pension plan’s like? – with 2 known to be competing with one another around Gilgo Beach on Long Island.
2. That there are, on average, 3 daily reported sightings of Elvis, and none of them in a fish shop.
3. That there are, again on average, 27 weekly reports from people who claim to have been abducted by aliens, although only 3 of them claim to have been anally probed… I may have made that last bit up.
4. That, contrary to reports, only 20% of Americans believe that the moon landings were faked.
5. That there is now a technical name for the, “fear of long words”, and the condition is called… Wait for it… “Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia”. That scared the hell out of me!
6. That it is legal to hunt unicorns in the state of Michigan.
7. That according to a study in 2014, 1 in 9 Americans—exactly 11% of the population—think that HTML is actually a disease… Although, they may have a point there.
8. That there is a town in the U.S. with a population of 1. She is 80 years-old and she is the town of Monowi’s Mayor, Librarian and Bartender.
9. That President Coolidge thought it was hilarious to push the emergency button under his desk and then hide when the Secret Service came running in. A politician with a sense of humour! Whatever next?

And finally…
10. That the U.S. is currently more prepped for a Zombie invasion than you would probably ever guess. The centre for Disease Control and Prevention has a real website specifically devoted to what they call, “Zombie preparedness”.

Okay my American chums, you can come back now, because we have one especially for you two:
Did you know that China has censored the word for, “censorship”?

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Superstitious? Moi?

Of course I’m not superstitious! The mere idea, it’s enough to make me laugh.
Okay, okay, I’ll admit that whenever I see a lone magpie I shout out, somewhat uncontrollably, “Hello, mister Magpie” and wave, but hey, everyone does that. Huh, I scoff, that means nothing.
So what, if I refuse to walk under a ladder? What does that prove? I mean anything can happen if you do, right? That’s not superstition, that’s just common sense!
And as for that black cat that lives down the road, at number 28, forever jumping out at me and trying its darnest to cross my path, well I just avoid him due to the nasty glint he has in his eyes and the way he licks he lips: like he thinks that I am just a rather large and funny-looking mouse, and that if he can pull it off – pounce on me whilst unawares, pull me down and drag me off to somewhere quiet – he can live like a millionaire. He’s seen his bigger cousin do it on the telly just the other night, and it didn’t look all that hard! He’s going to have to work on his roar though.
Of course I am not superstitions? Huh, the mere idea.
Everyone knows that if you break a mirror it’s bad luck, but only because the shards can go everywhere and that you could cut yourself really badly, if you dare to walk around barefoot… And maybe you can lose a bit of your soul, but that’s not superstition, that’s just the truth, me old china…. And it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Otherwise, you’d be an idiot – oh, God bless you!
Me? Superstitious? The mere idea of it.

A thousand apologies!

I promise you all, especially the lovely Jane from Manchester who is currently half way through exhausting night shifts at work, that this is definitely not the way I fully intended to start a brand new year, believe me, and that it totally breaks with my solemnly sworn resolution that I would abide to your every need a damn sight better than I managed in 2018. But the problem is, and I’m sure you’ll totally understand when you hear this – apart from my loyal but picky follower from downunder with the adorable but psychopathic koala in her garden – that I received a PlayStation 4 this Christmas – other gaming consoles are readily available, but they’re mostly crap! – from my beloved family, and am now totally immersed in various and ernestly important activities, such as winning the Champions League and storming the beaches on the 5th June 1944: yes, I am well aware that D-Day started on the 6th of June 1944, but I thought that I’d get a head start!

As we speak I am currently attempting to break Ronaldo’s leg at a wholly realistic Loftus Road, whilst slaughtering nasty Nazis in a small town in northern France, somewhere just outside Caen. It’s not that it’s in any way addictive you understand, it’s just that I can’t leave the bloody thing alone.

Anyway, give me a couple of days – a week at most… or maybe 2, just to be on the safe side – and I promise you all, even my poor mother who’s worried that I haven’t been downstairs now for 12 days, that something new and wonderfully witty will adorn these pages very shortly…

Just as soon as I can work out how to dispatch this bloody pesky sniper! I bet the real thing wasn’t this hard.

Horace Wimp’s Christmases of yore… Part II

Christmas at Uncle Arthur’s.

A quiet family Christmas in Pinner. The endless arguing between endless rounds of that new board game, Trivial Pursuit, after one too many drinks.Standing to attention during the Queen’s Christmas Speech, and then falling asleep after dinner: burping because of the turkey and farting due to the sprouts.
“God bless her,” Dad always said of his Queen, somewhat embarrassingly throwing up a crisp salute as the credits slowly rolled for another year, and as we settled down for Top Of The Pops, Ellie bopping to Hungry Like A Wolf.
This was still a few days away, but my dread was growing.
Aunt Ellie meticulously lined up the Christmas cards, spreading them around the living room on lengths of string, trailing them into the hall, through the open front door and across the street. Uncle Arthur prepared himself mentally, to do battle with the ostrich-sized turkey flatly refusing to sit into a lightly oiled baking tray. I thought it might actually help if he killed the bloody vicious thing first, but, as usual, I said nothing, keeping a diplomatic silence amongst the flapping of powerful wings and the loud continual squawking, the pecking at unshielded eyes.
“For some reason,” Arthur explained, “this turkey is allergic to having his head violently separated from his long neck… Come on you stupid bird. Just put your bloody neck on that bloody board… Believe me, this will hurt me far more than it hurts you.” But all to no avail, the bird still far from convinced. If he was going down, then he was determined to take someone with him. He made a desperate lunge for the cutlery draw.
“Haven’t you killed that bloody bird yet?” Ellie asked, needing yet more string. Lord, the pitfalls of being popular…
“Oi! You’re supposed to be holding the bird down.”
“Don’t let the devious bastard out of your sight,” Dad had ordered me before he left. For he knew all of my uncle’s little tricks, he had taught him well after all. “Guard that barrel of 6X with your life.” The success of this Christmas suddenly resting squarely upon my little shoulders.
Carefully, after much consideration and calculated planning, for Dad was sure to have booby-trapped it, the suspicious git, we bravely hurled the family cats against the barrel, closing our eyes as we ducked behind an old cardboard box.
There were no loud bangs. No flash of bright lights.
There were no alarms, or loud mechanical voices ordering us to “Step away”. Just two very pissed off cats hissing at us with backs arched and claws protracted.
Grinning devilishly, and practicing our secret handshake – twisting our fingers and clasping our wrists behind our backs, Ellie sighing sadly as we chicken danced through the hall – we closed the cupboard’s small door: the first part of our devious plan complete. We could go down the pub now, safe in the knowledge that the wooden cask of slightly horrid nectar lay fermenting and spitting in the cupboard below the stairs.
“Arthur,” we heard Ellie call out as we tiptoed along the garden path, shushing the gate’s rusting hinges that threatened to give away our escape.
“Arthur? Arthur!”
That strange and horrid liquid that left a lasting taste in my mouth and over my tongue, and that covered my teeth in what felt like fur, for I was soon to be 15 and so had to act like an adult. So I said nothing as we walked away briskly, pushing impatiently through small groups of persistent carol singers hurriedly congregating with some menace on street corners and getting their verses slightly mixed up.
“Away in a manger, while shepherds watched their flock by night…”
“Sod off!” And yet another door slammed shut before them.
“Any spare change, mister?” They turned their attention to Arthur, to me battling to keep up, little cherub faces now smiling up at us, collection tins held at arms length.
“Yes thanks,” my uncle quickly replied without batting an eyelid and without changing step.
“Arthur! Arthur!” I heard my Auntie Ellie hollering. “You better not have gone down the bloody pub, Arthur? Arthur!”

 

Taken, or rather stolen, from the upcoming novel Reluctant Country Boy

A Christmas Carol… of sorts

The now threadbare decorations, wanly flapping across the city streets awash with shoppers and carollers, had been gleefully garrotting the unsuspecting since early October. Signs merrily wishing everyone a joyful “Peace To All”, and seasonal discounts in seventeen different languages – including an ancient script of Hebrew – colourfully littered every shop window, alongside mannequins bedecked in sexy red attire.
A wonderful time of the year. When old men, disguised behind straggly off-white beards and bulging uniforms of faded red, dotted with the stains accumulated over time, could safely bounce young children up and down on swelling knees without fear of a quick lynching from the normally baying mob of over-protective vigilantes.
“Don’t talk to strangers,” a young mother reminded her little daughter in the middle of Debenhams, before quickly hurling her into a dingy little grotto and waving as she wandered away, hand in hand, behind a strange little man in sparkling green tights.
“Ho, ho, ho!”
“Have you been a good little boy?”
“I’m a girl.”
“Oh… Sorry.”
“Have you been a good little boy?” Santa asked me, with a breath smelling strongly of spirits and teeth strangely green through years of nicotine abuse.
“I have,” I promised him sweetly. Now where was my fucking bike? Mum and Dad were still pleading poverty, so he was my last chance.
At school, the festivities were gathering pace. Rows of paper chains pinned to walls and flimsy ceiling tiles. Fake snow sprayed into every window’s corner.
Despite a nipping December wind, and the constant threat from frostbite-inducing snow, girls wandered between classrooms without grey jumpers and with sleeves rolled right up; the effect of the cold had male eyes following their every move.
A true Christmas miracle.
Kathy, Teresa and the ever-blooming Tash Beattie, wore rolls of sparkling gold and silver tinsel, and dangling jovial earrings that flashed in time to Jingle Bells. They roamed the corridors, clutching their mistletoe tightly, lying in wait for the sexier teachers, or for the dashing Luke, now of the Sixth Form, and his newly groomed bum-fluff. We tutted at this disgusting, degrading behaviour, the tarts, as we tramped up and down, time and time again, in hope.
“Oh come on. One bloody kiss?” It was Christmas.
Our Form Room had an evil looking Santa Claus spinning from a ceiling light: an identikit image with psychotic eyes that followed us suspiciously; the school’s part-time cook come psychologist taking just that one look before running from the building, convinced that society was definitely in mortal peril.
“Repent,” she begged of us all. “And run, for damnation is here. The end of the world is nigh!”
“Merry Christmas, Horace.” Dan bloody Kerr greeted me with a playful but sharp punch in passing, doubling me up and laughing at my squeaked response.
“No sweat. Catch you later.”
In the depths of the school, Sturridge’s Nativity Play finally reached its promised biblical proportions. This year, it was even loosely based around the awe-inspiring birth of Christ.
“Who? They’ve forgotten the real meaning of Christmas,” a disgusted Malc complained. “Where’s the materialism?” he asked. “Where are the presents?” he demanded to know.
First and Second Year pupils strutted about the stage, bedecked in homemade costumes. A shepherd dragged a plastic sheep on a lopsided wooden trolley with a buckled wheel and patiently awaited his cue. And Tara, the feisty red head from 2E, smiled at the tired travellers peering in awe at His makeshift crib… and then told them to shut up, as they’d wake the baby. Gritty modern realism.
“How can she be the Virgin Mary?” the first row wondered collectively. “According to the gossip, she’s expecting twins.”
“Artistic licence?” was offered in way of explanation.

Happy Christmas

May I take this opportunity to wish my happy band of weary travellers, and Mrs Doris Inglethorpe, a very Merry Christmas.

I also hope that you and your families have a wonderful 2019, and that it brings you everything you ever wished for… Especially you, Jane from Manchester.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

XXXX

Memories, part 2.

More from the school nurse…

‘“Lice?”
Everything stopped immediately; pens in mid-sentence; chalk held in mid-equation against cluttered blackboards.
“No!” hundreds of voices exclaimed with a simultaneous gasp. Not now. Not now.
Klaxons sounded their panicked shrill. Red lights flashed and rotated. Shutters yanked down and bolted into position, covering all ground floor windows and every exit.
Pupils screamed, rushed through corridors, bashed into one another, pushed one another out of the way, scrambled up and over bodies of the fallen.
Now battering at doors, throwing chairs at windows in desperation, crying helplessly as the reinforced glass held firm: not so much as a chip. It was hopeless.
Breathing heavily through protective masks and steamed visors, the highly trained team of Hazmat experts arrived through the cloud of spray and white smoke, quickly taking control of the dire situation, the decontamination process in full swing, children pulled from hiding places and hosed down, held down as they were scrubbed, heads tugged from side to side, hair pulled, ears twisted, combs closely examined.
“Resistance is futile,” I was warned by Darth Vader.
“It was him! It was him!” Fingers pointing.
The guilty shamed, betrayed easily through ignorance and fear, dragged away yelling loudly of injustice, forced to stand naked beneath a cold shower, prodded into differing positions by stiff bristled yard-brooms, their skin now red raw. They whimpered. They cried. Oh the shame.
“Not again,” the school nurse vowed. “Not on my watch!”’