Boxing Clever

Last week, I received a surprise phone call from my doctor.
“Mr Ormsby?”
“Yes.”
“Oh, good… so you’re not dead then. It’s Dr Shapiro here. We need to make you an appointment.”
“Club fees due?”
“Not ’til October.”
“Daughter getting married?”
“Chance would be a fine thing.”
“Class action going ahead?”
“It worked on macaques, didn’t it?”
“Okay, you got me,” I conceded defeat.
“I need to buy a roof box for the Porsche,” Dr Shapiro announced. “Mother was due to take the train back to Cornwall on Sunday but they’re going out on strike, so we’ll be going in the car now.”
“Will you get her in a roof box?”
“And herein lies the problem: it’s quite a long journey and I’m worried if she starts fidgeting with her artificial leg she may scratch the interior.”
“You’re unbelievable.”
“The cup holders are African Rosewood.”
“Drill her a few air holes to cover yourself legally.”
“When can you come in then?”
“First, can you tell me why it’s impossible to make an appointment any other time?” I was slightly annoyed.
“Mrs Hashimoto owes money to the Coffee Fund; now she’s too scared to answer the phone.”
“I get the whole ‘honour’ thing but isn’t that being a bit overdramatic?”
“She owes it £6000.”
“Since when?”
“Since a Diversity consultant recommended outsourcing it to the Yakuza.”
“What if something happens to her?”
“Then we’re all going to miss Teriyaki Tuesdays. Can you come in tomorrow at four?”
The next afternoon I found myself seated on what looked like a giant roll of toilet paper which ran the length of an examination table.
“I feel like a garden gnome.”
“That explains the pot belly.”
“I do not have a pot belly.”
“Lay off the beer,” Dr Shapiro admonished while peering into my right ear. “Did you know that earwax is genetic? Depending upon your parents, you’ll have either wet earwax or dry earwax.”
“Did you learn that in medical school?”
“No, on TikTok.”
“If I’ve put on weight then blame lockdown. We were cooped up for months.”
“Exactly which outdoor activities did it prevent you from doing?”
“I walk a lot.”
“It’s not exercise if everybody does it. What else?”
“I garden quite a bit.”
“So does Mrs Hashimoto and she’s a hundred and something,” Dr Shapiro moved on to my lymph nodes. “Any other physical pursuits?”
“How about going shopping?”
“If it’s online then it doesn’t count.”
He had me.
“Does this look like a wart to you?” he held up his index finger.
“Shouldn’t you know that?”
“It looks like one. When you get home have a shower. The last thing you want is a colony of these setting up camp on your todger.”
“You touched me down there knowing you had a wart on your finger?”
“I wasn’t sure before. Hold on, let me get some rubbing alcohol but I do need to warn you: this will really sting.”
“I’ll pay you whatever you want NOT to do that,” I pleaded.
“I’ll let Mother know we’re good to go,” he took out his phone. “Now then, will that be cash or card?”







Ante Establishment

Randomly flicking through the TV channels I happened upon a show called Child Genius, a programme whose aim is to discover which children in Britain have never been allowed to climb a tree, drink Fanta and make friends their own age. Contestants range in age from 8 – 12 in Earth years and from what I gather there are only two eligibility requirements: they must dress like Puritans and manage their own hedge fund. As for the parents, alas, there are no rules otherwise these same kids would be attending birthday parties and dancing to K-pop.

One distinctive family comprised Calliope (the child genius), Octavia (her overbearing mother), Peregrine (her hipster father) and 4 year-old twin brothers, as yet unnamed.

“We’re waiting for a Labour government first because then the whole ordeal will be less traumatic for them,” Peregrine explained.

“Watch out for the fat one – he’s a biter. He ate three of the gerbils in my control group,” Calliope warned. “Octavia, it’s 3 o’clock.”

Interviewer: What happens at 3 o’clock?

“I give Calliope her feed.”

Interviewer: Her what?

“She’s still on breast milk,” Octavia stated matter-of-factly, now fumbling underneath her burka. “Excuse me for a minute. I’m afraid these are more form over function.”

Interviewer: I was going to ask you about that, actually. Isn’t that a Peperami in your bag?

“Oh, I’m not Muslim,” she grimaced. “I don’t even believe in God. It’s more of a statement.”

Interviewer: Got it, but getting back to the feed: are you telling us that Calliope has lived on nothing but breast milk since she was born?

“Oh, no. I add my own juices to it as well.”

[viewers stopped eating at this point]

Interviewer: Please, God, tell me we’re talking about lemon grass.

“I have a juicer for vegetables and fruit,” Octavia confirmed, “but I also have all their placentas in the freez-“”

It was a shame really because Calliope seemed like a nice kid who wasn’t bothered whether or not she won Child Genius. Octavia, however, was on a mission. After years of subjecting her first born to stem cell shakes and hyperbaric chambers, this TV programme would vindicate her once and for all. After all, it wasn’t about the children; she was the true genius and, by her own calculations, Calliope only needed to make it to Week 4 before TV producers and the viewing public realized this. After that it would be book deals, speaking tours and Oprah.

Interviewer: Calliope, do you have any regrets about coming onto the progreamme? Did you ask to come on it?

“To be honest, I’d rather be doing something else,” she wrinkled her nose.

Interviewer: Playing with your gerbils?

“Gambling online. Every minute I’m in this stupid studio I’m losing money.”

Interviewer: I beg your pardon?

“My game’s Poker. Last night I was about to beat the bubble until my Aces got cracked. I ended up folding faster than Superman on wash day. I looked like a total fish,” she rolled her eyes.

Interviewer: Uh, okay. So you won’t be going to Oxford then?

“Oh, I’ll be going to Oxford,” she arched an eyebrow, “but it won’t be Flash Cards I’ll be playing with, if you catch my drift.”

Interviewer: How will you balance gambling with your studies? And is it even legal? You’re too young to gamble, aren’t you?

Calliope discreetly opened her Frozen II pencil case to reveal a wad of crisp one-hundred dollar bills. Drawing one out, she folded it expertly with one hand until she’d fashioned a small fish, which she handed to me.

“Why don’t you go buy yourself something pretty and leave the legal stuff to me? After all, who’s the genius here?” she asked, morphing from Girl Guide to Al Capone before my eyes.

Interviewer: What about your mother’s plans for you?

“Octavia’s seeking validation but it can’t come through me. Her insecurities stem from a lifetime’s inability to rise above her own mediocrity. The whole breastfeeding thing’s a manifestation of it: she believes she’s passing on matriarchal wisdom when she pumps that junk which, for the record, I pour straight down the drain. I prefer a single malt – it keeps me clear-headed.”

Interviewer: Won’t she be disappointed though?

“When isn’t she? Look, do you want me to wrap this up nice and neatly for your viewers at home? Give them my take on life?”

Interviewer: Please, do.

“Okay, here we go… in life, you need to play the hand you’re dealt. If you don’t like the dealer, switch tables and if you don’t like the odds, switch games. Then again…” she said coyly, throwing a piece of popcorn into the air and catching it in her mouth, “I’m just a kid, so what do I know?”

Decimulled

AOL You've Got Mail Voice Man Is an Uber Driver

I have a friend, Mr Dearden

Statistics say he’s one in ten

Who lives at Number 2-2-3

Look for the house that has a tree.

His job is fixing old machines

Throughout the night, by any means

Days off, he reconditions cars

And meets his mates in select bars.

Devoted uncle, brother, son

He always calls before I’ve rung

To wish me all the very best

Before my family’s even dressed.

We’ve different circles, different pasts

And yet this quaint connection lasts

For out of nowhere he’ll appear

If only once or twice a year.

As for this figure: one in ten

I’ll need to look at it again

For should I know one million men

I could not meet as dear a friend

Stone Pillow

Song written by sister of Normal People star Paul Mescal playing in Brown  Thomas Christmas window - Independent.ie

On her rounds every night

She’s a curious sight

With her trolley and crushed velvet hat

As she shuffles in shoes

Lined with yesterday’s news

Through the town like a wayfaring cat

Where are you from, Crazy Annie?

What have you done, Crazy Annie?

Now and then she will stop

To peer into a shop

At a world where it never grows cold

Where the ladies dress up

And take tea in a cup

Framed in windows of crimson and gold

What don’t they know, Crazy Annie?

How is it so, Crazy Annie?

They shared kids, a nice home

Worked themselves to the bone

‘Til he left without saying a word

As she started to sink

So she started to drink

After that everything becomes blurred

Have you no friends, Crazy Annie?

Where does it end, Crazy Annie?

At the end of her walk

Near a derelict block

Out of sight, she beds down on the floor

And should anyone ask

It’s hot soup in the flask

Which she’d share if she only had more

Try not to cry, Crazy Annie

It’ll pass by, Dearest Annie

Maximum Overload

Stay-at-home moms and working mothers equally stressed out at home ...

My mother was a medical professional who worked long hours. When she came home in the evenings her day didn’t end there because she would then make supper, help us with our homework, do laundry, iron, wait up for my father to return home from work, etc. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised just how tired and rushed she must have felt every time she walked through our front door.

One evening in particular when my twin brother and I were still quite young, my mother put us to bed and then changed out of her hospital whites into a pair of navy blue slacks and an old, floppy blouse. She next washed her hair and wrapped it in a towel before heading back downstairs to see to our older siblings and a waiting pile of dirty dishes. Paul and I, however, had no plans to go to sleep as we whooped and hollered while swinging from our bunk beds like a pair of baby chimps. My mother, up to her elbows in suds, issued a few verbal warnings from the kitchen but we took no notice.

This proved a fatal error on our part.

Tired, hungry and now angry, Mum had had enough. Storming upstairs she banged open the door to our bedroom and let us have it with both barrels, issuing threat after threat until the blood drained from our faces. Convinced the message had finally gotten through, she turned to leave and as she did she overheard a small voice tentatively ask, “Who was that?”

Carmen Miranda and Her Incredible Tropical Hats | Ellie & Co

Unaware our mother had transformed herself from Florence Nightingale to Carmen Miranda since putting us to bed, my brother and I thought a mad woman had broken into our home and killed everyone before coming upstairs to wrap up any loose ends. Now realising the situation, Mum wasn’t struggling to contain her anger but her laughter. After a couple of deep breaths to stop the giggles she re-entered our bedroom, flicked on the light and removed the towel to reveal her true identity.

I still smile every time I picture her sitting on the bottom bunk, unravelling the sequence of events to two traumatised toddlers.

And I have to admire her for that.

Because I would have kept walking, then explained over breakfast that the mad intruder actually lived in our cellar and only came upstairs when wakened…

Party Bigwig

The Rich Heritage of Mardi Gras in New Orleans

After work I thought I’d venture into Manchester to check out the city’s annual Mardi Gras shenanigans. Caught up in the spirit of goodwill, I ditched the 4×4 and opted instead for public transport to help save the Himalayan Poop Bat which, I’ve been reliably informed by my 16 year old niece, is hunted to make Poop Soup. This led to my boarding a bus only recently decommissioned by the Pyong Yang Transit Authority and shipped to Britain by sampan in the dead of night. Now glancing down the aisle at the human roadkill sprawled across each seat, I decided to remain standing and endeavoured to engage the driver in lively banter. This, however, proved a non-starter because life had kicked him in the nuts not once, but several times that shift, reducing him to a series of unintelligible expletives and questionable hand gestures. Backing away slowly, I retreated upstairs where I was immediately overwhelmed by an aroma you won’t find in any Laura Ashley candle.

Unexpectedly offloaded at the corner of Kidnap and Tetanus, I happened upon an old timer in a doorway balancing a few coins in his outstretched hand. Well, behind every face there’s a story so I asked him to start from the beginning. What unravelled was a sorry yarn indeed and at its end my raconteur summed up his lot, “I have a wooden crate for a seat, I have to beg to use the toilet, people brush past me as if I’m invisible, I can’t afford to buy myself a hot drink because a brew around here costs £5 and, worst of all, I have no idea where I’ll end up tomorrow. Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

“Yes,” I commiserated, “I’ve flown Ryanair.”

25 Funny And Clever Homeless Signs

I then cut through the Gay Village where I had a deep and meaningful conversation with a 7ft woman. Thelma Mahogany Jr initially stopped me to ask for a light and yes, I will admit that for a brief moment I was outside of my comfort zone, however I would like to state for the record that it had nothing to do with her station in life and everything to do with the knife down each leg-warmer. I’ll talk to anyone and, as luck would have it, it turned out Thelma just happened to be going wherever I was.

As we strolled through The Village I marvelled at the outrageously extravagant decor adorning every building and asked her to pass on my compliments to the Mardi Gras Committee.

“Oh, those aren’t Mardi Gras decorations,” Thelma corrected me.

“They’re not?” I queried, taking a closer look. “Then what are they?”

“Isn’t your neighbourhood decorated all year round?”

“Nope.”

“Then what’s your street like?” she looked puzzled. “Is it just blank space everywhere?”

“Uh, I guess so,” I murmured, now giving it some thought.

“That’s a bit of a waste, don’t you think? Why not jazz it up? Honey, you gotta live a little!”

The lady had a point. And while I might not have gone in for the winged butt-plugs, I was starting to come around to the idea of a themed neighbourhood, in principle.

And our Thelma has dreams. She informed me that she is, among other things, an artiste who will soon be appearing at The Manhole in her one-woman show, a tribute to women of colour, past and present, entitled From Motown To Ho-Town. The production sounds very edgy because in the opening number she appears onstage as a black Elizabeth I, head-butting Pilgrims while twirling fire batons pre-soaked in poppers the night before. Other members of the cast include three Shih Tzus on hoverboards, an ABBA tribute act from Korea and Thelma’s own mother who will be throwing Bibles at the audience during the interval. As for the big finale, a final homage to those who went before her, Miss Mahogany Jr will lip-sync to her self-penned, glitch-hop track Ain’t No Hairdo High Enough.

You’re all invited.

Note From Management: All performances will be matinees only until Thelma’s tag comes off

Helluva Twist

To the Finder

Should you happen upon these pages, Dear Reader, you will acquaint yourself with the final remembrances of a life – my life – which is no longer of any consequence to those who mattered most to me. For the record, I was christened Anne, branding me with the same scarlet stain borne by my mother, who died in childbirth. My father’s name I know not, nor was it ever a matter of record, which resulted in my being spirited away under a veil of shame to an orphanage on the very day I first drew breath. I am told I have a sister three years my elder, but Providence has never guided her along the path I have travelled, which, I suppose, has spared her the shame of having to acknowledge our kinship. Yet, I should have liked to look upon her face just the once, if only to discern even the slightest resemblance to the beloved sibling who appears every night in my dreams. But dreams are not to be trusted, for they ease the torment of not knowing with trickery, filling in gaps where there ought to be knowledge, lending convenient falsehoods which soothe the conscience, unperturbed, until morning.


I am Anne, not yet twelve years of age; this is all I can confirm to you.


My life as an orphan could not have been more wretched, even if I had been sent to the colonies where men feed upon the flesh of other men and fail to know their Maker. It is not the lark which wakes us each morning, but the birch across our faces in cold darkness, accompanied by the dull ache of hunger. Our tormentors squeal with delight at our sufferings as they watch us wince and stumble with fatigue, a weariness which pushes downward with such force that some are unable to straighten and walk upright until mid-day.


Today – my final outing on this Earth – I was not permitted even to see the sun, let alone feel its radiance. When I climbed up to the only window within reach, I discovered that it had been smeared with grease, so as to blur the comings and goings of those on the other side. I cried, but without tears, for they too have abandoned me, reducing my anguish to a whisper and little else, as even my breath fails to serve.
For you see, I am these days, breathless, due to incessant coughing which knocks at my chest with the force of a blacksmith’s hammer. I know what it is that has come for me – I know. From the look of panic among those who cannot hide their horror, to the countenance of quiet resignation which stares back at me from the darkened window. Without mercy, a malady burrows deeper and deeper into the soft, delicious flesh of my lungs; its hunger insatiable, its progress relentless.


So now, Dear Reader, as my spent candle’s tiny light beckons me to follow it into darkness, I must to bed for the final sleep. I lay me down with a heavy heart for it is without friends, without family and without having told my sister how much I love her. I can see her now… Esther (for I have named her) is trying to find me as I write this, but the race is now over without the prize being claimed.


To my sister, I offer my heart.
To this life, I offer myself.
To My Maker, I offer my soul.
Remember me – I am Anne.


And now to dream.

Alcohol On You Later

My granny’s got two teapots
(this tends to make her wee lots)
Her good one goes out on display
The other she keeps tucked away
When visitors decide to call
The posh pot serves them, one and all
Dispensing cups of Earl of Grey
On her brushed-silver serving tray

A person shouldn’t trivialise
A ritual so civilised

When Elsie Burns, who lives next door
Comes calling ‘round each day at four
The Staffordshire is put away
For it’s too late for Earl of Grey
Gran reaches for her other pot
Whose contents never need be hot
And pours her canny friend a cup
Of mother’s homemade pick-me-up

A nip of whisky leaves them feeling
Life’s too short to drink Darjeeling