Selena Dreamy’s return to blogging has prompted me into action. It’s with some shame that I’ve been silent for the last few days and I realise that this has led some to think that Selena and I share the same patch of time, space, and hair gel. Well, that’s not the case. I have much better legs that Selena, though it’s often been said that we’re identical around the bikini line. The truth be told: I’m really Nige in disguse and spend my weekends pretending to be Elberry as I chase tramps with a carving knife and a copy of Wittgenstein.
I’m also given to write tonight since it’s with greater shame that I’ve not responded to your kind comments from last week (thank you M-Alice -- you really did cheer me up when I was feeling down). It’s just that life has been so hectic and I’m still labouring from the effects of the recent flu outbreak, which a hospital doctor recently informed me was the worst he’s ever known since he made the trip from Zambia.
However, to catch up on recent events, I must really go back to the Friday night I spent at the local hospital. I was called there to retrieve my relative who, being much improved, was released to make way for the usual influx of drunks that fill the nation's wards over the weekend. A hospital is quite the interesting place to visit at 11 o’clock at night. I recommend it to any of you who happen to be connoisseurs of terror. I arrived and soon found myself walking alone down long empty corridors whose fluorescent lights periodically flickered and went out. It was like some cheap horror movie but without the usual guest appearance by Robert Englund. At every turn I was faced with a new sign indicating the way to the ‘Facial Reconstruction Unit’, 'The Elbow Attachment Department' or, even more sinister, ‘The Mortuary’. I then had to make the return journey pushing a heavily sedated relative in a cast iron wheelchair, with the words of the nurse still ringing in my ear: ‘pull it, don’t push. It can easily break your legs.’
After such drama, life settled down for the rest of the weekend and I almost enjoyed my Bank Holiday Monday which I spent reading ‘Blott on the Landscape’. Things were really looking up. Then the telephone rang this morning. It was a man from the local environmental health department who said that he wanted to come and see me.
‘I’ve got some good news,’ he said once we’d got him settled in the living room. ‘Your relative's tests have come back from the labs and everything is clear.’
‘That’s good news, isn’t it Richard?’ said Judy, from the arm of the sofa.
‘Indeed,’ I replied, not sure what any of this had to do with me. It was my relative who had been sick, not Madeley (Richard). ‘But if there’s no sign of the usual flesh eating viruses, why exactly are you here?’
He smiled in the impure way that only men charged with the cleanliness of our nation can smile.
‘Well, there were signs of a certain bacterial infection...’
‘Oh, there’s no need to worry. There’s no danger. These bacteria are found dormant within all of us. We just have to carry out our usual checks and make sure that they’ve not come from contaminated food.’
‘And that’s a relief too,’ smiled Judy. I wasn’t so sure that she understand half of what was being said.
‘Checks?’ I asked.
‘Have you eaten any meat in the last week?’ asked the officer.
‘I don’t touch the stuff,’ I replied. ‘Bill Oddie made me sign a pact.’
‘Have you drank any milk that might have come in contact with blue tits?’
‘None that I know of,’ I answered, being the sort of man who remembers the tits he’s contacted during his busy week. ‘Bill Oddie has warned me about tit related infections.’
The environmental health offer smiled again and wiped a tongue over his hygienically clean lips. ‘Well, that’s fine,’ he said. ‘All I need to do now is ask you to give me a sample.’
‘Ah ha!’ I cried. ‘So that’s your game!’
‘Not so much a game,’ he said. ‘It’s more of a test of your dexterity. I’ll leave you a jar.’
‘There’ll be no jars,’ I said, rising to the moment. ‘You won’t get me urinating into one of those damn things. What’s this country coming to when a man can be ordered to urinate into any old cocked hat?’
‘Urinate?’ he smiled. ‘Who asked you to urinate?’
And that, my dear reader, is how I have spent a Wednesday I had originally set aside for writing chapter 15 of my latest novel. This is probably a detail too far, even for an honest blogger such as myself, but have you ever faced the problem of filling a sample jar with your own waste material? It’s not an easy task, despite the small plastic spoon they provide. It might not have been so bad but the spoon was remarkably similar to those that came with Screwball ice creams of my youth. I didn’t know if I had it in me to dig into the stuff, and when I did, I found it very difficult not to start looking for the gobstopper at the bottom.
Needless to say: no gobstopper was found and I now feel that my very being has been violated. Wrapped up in a Tesco carrier bag and sitting on the kitchen table is a parcel beyond description. I’ve warned Judy to keep away from it but we’re all drawn to it as though it contains some strange magic.
‘I think I’ll go to bed early tonight,’ said Judy, staring at the bag over her cup of cocoa.
‘Can’t say I blame you, love,’ I replied, as I stared at the bag over my glass of brandy. ‘It’s been another of those days. I don’t know how many days like this I can take. I mean... It's not something you expect to be doing when you get up in the morning.'
She turned her eyes to me. 'Nothing surprises me when it comes to you, Richard.'