Monday, 24 March 2014

Insomnia (from the archive)

This morning at 3am there was a knock on the front door. It was the man from The Insomnia Association, recruiting new members.

“We’re changing our approach,” he explained, wearily.  “Up until now everyone’s thought of insomnia as a sort of ailment.  But we’ve had the marketing people in and we’re repositioning it as a lifestyle choice.”

He pressed a brochure into my hands.  It had a picture of a sleepwalker going into a disco on the cover. The slogan said ‘Insomnia: Live the Dream!

“Our members have eight hours a day more leisure time that anyone else,” he continued.  “That’s 2,920 hours of free time a year.  Just think what you could achieve while everyone else wastes their lives snoring.  You could become a competent guitarist, get a degree in organic chemistry or even learn how to fly a helicopter.  And because you don’t sleep, you’ll feel like you’ve lived a lot longer than other people, even if you die at 53!”

I said I’d sleep on it and closed the door.

(Then secretly I went back into the study to continue reading my Chemistry book).

Nuclear Power, Monks and Beer

Our local nuclear power station is run entirely by monks.  This is not because monks have a natural aptitude for nuclear physics, but because the station was built on the site of a Franciscan Priory and they refused to leave.

To be fair, they’ve made a good job it, fitting nuclear power station duties in around all the praying and brewing.  In ten years of operation there has only been one incident.  A tour group of Dominican Monks from America perished when they mistook a bowl of uranium for a sherbet dib dab.

Aside from larking about with nuclear fission, the monks have earned quite a reputation for their beer, which they produce on-site, to a secret recipe.  It’s potent stuff.  I once had a pint of their premium ale ‘Yellowcake Special’ and all my hair fell out.  

Dentists and Lollies (from the archive)

My dentist never gives me a lolly anymore.  I don’t think she’s completely forgiven me for biting off three of her fingers.  I reckon she got off lightly.  I don’t let just anyone stick their fist in my gob, you know (well, not on a first date).

There’s a shortage of NHS dentists, so I’m setting up my own emergency mobile practice.  For fifteen quid I’ll pop round on my motorcycle, wrench out all your teeth and stick putty in the holes.  It will hurt, and it won’t be pretty, but you’ll get a lolly.  Vain customers after a bit of cosmetic whitening will get to gargle a litre of Dulux Gloss for three minutes, plus a lolly.  That’ll be thirty quid (or twenty-five if you can spit the paint back into the tin).  For fifty quid I’ll supply you with three hundred lollies and wait for your teeth to fall out by themselves, then I'll fill the holes with putty, and give you a lolly.

If I can negotiate a good deal on the lollies I could make a fortune.

I Got The Blues (from the archive)

I treated myself to a new G-string yesterday. It’s good to have a back up just in case the one you’re using snaps.  As I went to leave the guitar shop I spied a Fender just like the one Hendrix used to play.  Foolishly I asked to try it out.

Hairy Music Dude asked me what style I play.  I should have said, “Oh I’m really only starting out.  I haven’t got the hang of it yet”.  But, flattered by the suggestion that I might actually be a guitarist, I fell into character, shrugging nonchalantly and claiming, “I just like to see where the music takes me, man”.

I knew I was doomed.  Hairy Music Dude now presumed I was some sort of blues legend.  The truth is that last week I nearly took my eye out when I flicked a plectrum into my own face and almost broke my wrist attempting to play an F.  I knew I’d be rumbled as soon as I started strumming.  There was only one thing for it: I had to go Total Blues.

“I play blindfold!”  I declared, tying a scarf round my face, “and take three of these strings off.  I play it pure.”  Then I started hammering away like a man possessed whilst belting out a stream of blues inspired lyrics covering all the obligatory themes: boozing, brawling, trains, women and figure skating.  My performance lasted six hours.

When finally I ran out of steam, I put the guitar down and untied the scarf to find that I was alone, the lights were off and the shop was closed.  Hairy Music Dude had stuck a post-it note to my forehead.  It said: ‘You’re shit’.  I wrote one back.  It said: ‘Your guitar is out of tune and you need a haircut’, and I left with my pride intact.

And Now The Weather (Again)

Britain has more weather forecasters than any other country in the world.  One quarter of the entire workforce is employed at the Met Office and they all take it in turns to present the forecast, which is shown after every programme on TV (apart from on the Weather Channel where it is the only programme).

Unfortunately for all the forecasters, there are only four types of weather in Britain: lovely and sunny (August), rainy (spring), snowy (every second February) and a bit chilly (all the rest of the time), so there is a lot of repetition.

Yet despite all the frantic arm waving, manic grinning, and pseudo-scientific waffle, the only certainty about the weather forecast is that it will be wrong.

The last time I trusted Michael Fish, I left home in shorts and a t-shirt and caught pneumonia before I could finish my Cornetto.


And now the latest weather report from the Met Office: It is currently a bit chilly, and it will remain that way until next April.

My Pet Hedgehog Tried To Murder Me (from the archive)

I’ve spent the last three weeks in hospital after our pet hedgehog, seeking warmth, crept into my bed and nearly stabbed me to death.

I awoke to find my bed sheets covered in blood.  It was disturbingly reminiscent of a scene out of the Godfather, except they didn’t have a grinning pet hedgehog in the Godfather.

Obviously Bertie (the hedgehog) didn’t mean to try and murder me; he’s such a nice-natured fellow.  But I decided to have him plucked as a precaution.

Sadly a bald, miserable hedgehog is not a particularly endearing pet, so he’s been banished to the shed.  I’ll have to think of other ways to serve the cheese and pineapple at the Christmas party now.

Rats (from the archive)

You are never more than three feet from a rat.  These are not invisible, imaginary rats, but real live flee infested vermin that scurry around under your floorboards and through your sewers.  At night-time, when we become blinded in darkness, they stride out boldly like thuggish squaddies to rifle through our larders and beat up our overfed lazy lap-cats.  Dirty rats. 

Once a rat navigated its way round Nan’s S bend and bit her arse while she was having a poo.  We were never quite sure about its motivation.  Both Nan and the rat were sped to hospital; she for tetanus, he for psychological assessment.  Neither ever recovered completely and we refused to let either of them into the house again.   

If I’m reincarnated as a rat I’m going park myself in the bins and gorge on discarded quarter-pounders until I’ve swollen to the size of a large, unfit boy.  Then I’ll march into MacDonalds’ Head Office and knock the CEO unconscious with a placard saying: I used to be human, now look at me.  He won’t expect that.