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?”







Knight Shift

silhouette photography of person

Take me to that fabled time

When destiny was more sublime

When noble quests were blessed by God Himself

Where crones intoned prophetic rhymes

While wizards read the stars for signs

And deep within each hollow hid an elf.

Take me to a time before

When magic could unlock a door

And conjurers cried out Abracadabra!

Where every frog tried to convince

Young maidens he might be a prince

And sonnets were composed by candelabra.

To play a brazen game with Death

One leap beyond the dragon’s breath

Dispatching ogres twice the height of men

And then, to lay beneath a tree

While my sweet Lady sings to me

For as she does, my soul’s restored again.

Take me to that fabled time

The course now clear

No more to roam

Astraeus, chart the stars for home

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?”

Model Behaviour

The Gods Must Be Crazy: Movie Classics

“I’m being sued by the Catholic Church again,” Laverne announced in the midst of reorganising her purse.
“I have no words for that.”
“How unlike you,” she mused.
“Hold on, I thought you were working on a piece about the East African Lion,” I suddenly remembered.
“Turns out all they do is sleep. My son can do that.”
“Have you ever been to Africa? I haven’t.”
“Yeah, with my sister for her fortieth. We went on safari in Malawi.”
“So is that where …“
“… my people come from?” Laverne zipped her purse and placed it on the chair next to her. “Couldn’t tell you; the furthest back I’ve been able to trace our roots is to The Shirelles.”
“Ha, ha. Very funny. I was actually going to ask if that’s where your sister went with the Peace Corps.”
“Oops, sorry,” she giggled. “No, that was Mozambique.”
“I’d like to ask you another question though: when you were there, did you feel any connection to it?”

“Funny you should ask that,” she became more pensive. “I expected to feel ‘African’ from the moment I arrived but the whole time we were there I felt like just another tourist. People are people wherever you go so we had that in common. Culturally, however, I struggled to make a connection and that bothered me. I think maybe we’ve been gone too long.”
“I felt the same when I met my Scottish relatives for the first time,” I concurred. “We shared the same name, same sense of humour and some even looked like me but culturally we were raised in two very different worlds.”
“Not even close!” Laverne screamed with laughter. “Honestly, are you kidding me with that? Your parents emigrated using their Air Miles!”

“But their journey to The New World was horrific. First, they ran out of headphones and then they gave my mum’s gluten-free meal to someone else,” I explained. “Anyway, cut me some slack – you’re my only ethnic friend.”
“Hey, I’m your only friend. I’ve got more in common with those lions than I do with you.”
“How so?”
“They don’t like to cook either.”
“And we have our connection!”
“Okay, but back to this business with the Church,” Laverne lowered her voice. “It’s over a certain someone I told you about at Christmas.”
“Is this the same someone with the thing?”
“Yup.”
“And are you telling me they’ve now found the thing?”
“Oh yeah, they found it alright,” she confirmed.
“Was it on him?”
“No, up him.”
“Whoa!” I leaned back in my chair. “And the monkey?”
“Still missing,” she arched an eyebrow.

I love secrets and Laverne knows plenty. A freelance journalist, she moved to the UK from Seattle over thirty years ago after meeting and marrying Elliot, a sound engineer at the BBC. The three of us first met at The Pu Pu Pot, our local Chinese restaurant, after she’d overheard my accent.
“I need some human conversation during our stay on this island! I need someone who doesn’t talk about Bobby Charlton in his sleep!” she blubbered into her chop suey.
“Who’s Robby Carlson?” I asked.
“Exactly!” she cried. “And do you know where I can score some Fruit Loops because the last people to eat porridge were the Vikings.”
That was twenty years ago.

Image result for beautiful spring china

Tonight we were out for our weekly meal at The Pu Pu Pot but without Elliot, who begged off to attend a Bolton Wanderers match.
“What’s the viral load of the Szechuan Chicken today?” Laverne asked.
“Slightly elevated I’m afraid, so I’d be happy to pee on it for you. We Chinese believe that urine possesses magical properties,” our waitress took her on.
“Is that like chlorinated chicken?” I asked.
“Well, if you’d prefer you can bring in a pet and we’ll cook that for you,” she smiled, sweetly.
“We’re gonna need a few more minutes,” Laverne smiled right back at her.
Just then, the kitchen doors swung open to reveal a tiny, sinewy man lifting the lid off a huge cauldron. As he did so, he stepped back to avoid the rush of steam.
“What’s that for?” I asked.
“We’ll be cooking shrimp in it once we take the shirts out,” our waitress stated matter-of-factly. “Would you excuse me for just one moment? I need to inform on my neighbours.”
“She’s good,” Laverne nodded her approval, as she watched the diminutive figure disappear behind the bar. “Is she still in med school?”
“Fourth year.”
“She’ll have them in stitches.”

At one point during the evening Laverne made a visit to the Ladies’. While she was gone, a young woman breezed into the restaurant and joined a waiting friend at a table nearby. Tall, elegant and stylishly attired, she quickly attracted the attention of other diners.
“I’m back,” Laverne announced, resuming her seat. “They have the nicest hand lotion here.”
“Uh huh,” I replied, looking past her at the young woman.
“What’s up with you?” she shot me a quizzical look.
“It’s what’s behind you.”
“What’s behind me?”
“A girl walked in while you were gone and she’s got to be a model. She’s absolutely stunning. Definitely a model.”
“On a scale of 1 to 10?” Laverne asked.
“Ten.”
“Hair?”
“Lustrous.”
“Make-up?”
“None.”
“Height?”
“NBA.”
“She’s got to have a flaw, everyone has a flaw.”
“If she does, I can’t see it.”
“Maybe it’s hidden,” she chewed on her bottom lip. “Slug feet?”
“Killer farts.”
“Fifty bucks says she uses disconnect as a noun.”
“Another fifty says she has plans to name her first daughter Chandelier.”
“Hmm… not even a split end?” Laverne wasn’t having it.
“Turn around and see for yourself if you don’t believe me.”
“Have I taught you nothing?” she reached for her purse. “Watch and learn, my friend… okay, which shoulder?”
“Left.”
She took out her compact and opened it, angling the mirror until she caught sight of her quarry over her left shoulder. At that same moment, the young woman put on her reading glasses and picked up a menu. Closing the compact with a snap, Laverne chuckled to herself, then leaned across the table and whispered, “Four-Eyes.”

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

Stalk Options

“My stalker’s released more nude photos of me.”

“How’s your hair in them?”

“Fabulous. I’d just had it done.”

“Let’s have a look.”

Laverne slid her phone across the table.

“You owe him one,” I agreed, swiping through a considerable collection of images. “Maybe you should get him something.”

“Like what?”

“Halloween’s coming up.”

“What makes you think he’s into Halloween?”

“Call it a hunch.”

“But I wouldn’t know what to get him.”

“Does he have someone special in his life?”

“Not since he killed all the members of his church group, no.”

“Any hobbies?”

“Skulking among the shadows.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.jpeg

“I mean, besides that.”

“Photography, I suppose.”

“Then why not get him some lens wipes?”

“I’m sure we can do better than lens wipes,” Laverne frowned.

“Alright, let’s keep going then… would it be fair to describe him as outdoorsy?

“Yes! And now that I think of it, he could do with a decent winter coat,” she suddenly brightened.

“My neighbours are in a cult if you’re looking for something with a hood.”

“I’ll get back to you on that.”

“Did I mention it’s detachable?”

“It’s just… I don’t want to cause offence.”

“To someone who’s photographing you through your fence,” I felt obliged to remind her.

“I see where you’re coming from.”

“Didn’t he once write that on a CookieGram?”

“Right before I reversed over him in the driveway.”

“Putting all that to one side, what were you doing running naked through the forest at 3am?”

“The dog let the cat out again,” Laverne chuckled. “They’re worse than kids, those two. I should have gotten a fish tank instead. Anyway, enough about me; what’s new with you?”

“I’ve decided I want to give back to society.”

“Oh, God…”

“Now, I know what you’re thinking but this time I’m serious. I’m going to make these next twelve months my My Year of Philanthropy.”

“Well, you’re on your own then because no one’s getting any of my money,” Laverne sniffed.

“I don’t need money; what I need is a project.”

“Why not just join a gym like everyone else?”

“Because until just now I wasn’t aware that I needed to.”

“I’m just thinking back to the incident in the park.”

“That dog should have been leashed.”

“John, you wrestled it for a Tootsie Roll.”

“Which I’d bought.”

“Which you’d dropped.”

“In case you’ve forgotten, there’s a recession on,” I pointed out, dignity still intact.

“Okay. Forget I even mentioned it.”

“Easier said than done.”

“It doesn’t even matter because you’re nice on the inside and that’s what counts. When I was growing up there was a fat family on our street and they were really nice too.”

“Name them. All of them.”

“The dog was called Cupcake, I remember that much.”

“Keep going.”

“My point is, they were just like everyone else.”

“Just not worth knowing,” I addressed the elephant in the room.

“You have the rear molars of a hyena. I’ve watched you crush femurs like they were toothpicks.”

“That’s an exaggeration.”

“No, it isn’t. I’ve seen cleaner kills on Animal Planet.”

“Speaking of which, did you catch it on Monday? It was about these sharks that sleep. I think they were in Mexico. I have never, ever heard of sharks sleeping before.”

“That’s because they don’t,” I was informed.

“Sharks don’t sleep?”

“Nope.”

“Then what were these ones doing?”

MOUMOUHOME Shark Bedding Double Kids 3D Shark Jumping from Ocean Big Open  Mouth Printed Blue Duvet Cover Set for Boys,Girls and Teens,3 Pieces with 2  Pillow Sham,No Comforter : Amazon.co.uk: Home &

“During ratings week they whack a few in the head to make them appear cute and cuddly.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“I’m afraid not,” Laverne shook her head in dismay.

“But that’s barbaric.”

“So is seeing a camera-woman being bitten in half during a live feed. The only thing those sharks were sleeping off was a Grade 3 concussion.”

“Is that what happens on Love Island?”

“Totally different.”

“How so?”

“They’re all brain-damaged to begin with.”

“How do you know so much about concussed sharks?” I was curious.

“I was going to be a marine biologist but back then they didn’t allow women in the Marines.”

“Right…”

Comet me, Bro!

The Physics of the Death Star. How to destroy an Alderaan-sized… | by Ethan  Siegel | Starts With A Bang! | Medium

“Trump’s building a Death Star,” Laverne announced whilst reloading. “Good for him.”
“For building a Death Star?”
“For keeping busy during lockdown.”
“Is it a family affair?”
“He’ll fly it and Melania’s going to serve the drinks.
“I imagine there’ll be a launch…”
“By invitation only in the Space Force Lounge at Mar-A-Lago Int’l Airport.”
“Tickets won’t be cheap.”
“You could just buy a hat.”
“There’s a Space Force hat?”
“And a ring.”
“How do you know all this?” I was amazed.
“Forewarned is forearmed,” Laverne replied coolly, smelling the air. “They’re coming for us, so you and me need a plan.”
“Two tickets?”
“One-way.”
“I just have one question.”
“Shoot.”
“Why are you firing anchovies into that tree with a catapult?”
“Because the squirrel currently residing in it ripped open our garbage bags during the night and left a putrid mess for me to clean up this morning.”
“And?”
“Two can play that game, my friend. Now get me Mar-a-Lago on the blower because he’s going to need a Rear Gunner.”

Bad Hare Day

This guy chillin with his dog in London : funny

Every evening after dinner my dogs, Gizmo and Spark, take me for a walk. On our way to the park the pair regularly drops in on our elderly neighbours who, in most cases, once had dogs of their own. One in particular, Old Ed, is especially fond of Gizmo who himself is knocking on 17 years. The two have a bond and Ed discusses everything with his loyal friend, from his time in the National Service to the state of the NHS.

During one visit in particular we had time to spare and happily sat down to watch Crime Watch UK, one of Ed’s favourite TV programmes. Ed is 89 years old but not without his faculties and he considers it his civic duty to keep watch over the neighbourhood.

“It’s the old dears we need to look out for,” he said. “They’re soft targets.”

“And who’s looking out for you?” I asked.

“Gizmo.”

Elderly Farmer Standing Leaning On A Wooden Fence Surveying His ...

That evening’s episode included a re-enactment of a homicide which had taken place in the shires. Like all re-enactments, the viewers were first introduced to the characters and setting to make its treatment of the crime less clinical and more personal. The victim in question was an elderly farmer. His last day on earth portrayed him as a hard-working, decent sort who was fair in his dealings with others. The narrator set the scene:

John Brown began his day like any other, checking his crops in the fields. For him, as for every other farmer in the county, rabbits proved a perennial pest because he grew their favourite food: carrots. Every morning, shotgun slung over his shoulder, he’d shoot as many as twenty before breakfast.

“Vermin,” Ed told Gizmo, who hung on his every word although deaf as a post.

After a long day’s work, John Brown drove his tractor into an outbuilding and locked it shut. He then checked on his cows and hens a final time before heading into the farmhouse.

“Cows and chickens make okay intruder alarms but he should have had a few geese as well. They’re the best,” Ed informed me.

“Why’s that?”

“They’re skittish. Geese’ll wake the dead.”

“They haven’t mentioned his family so I’m guessing he might be a widower,” I ventured.

“They didn’t say. But where are the sons?”

“Maybe they didn’t choose that life.”

“It’s the best life for a person,” Ed was staring ahead at nothing in particular. “Fresh air, proper food, hard work…”

File:Age-worn door latch and lock on well-weathered planks ...

The narrator went on to describe what police believe happened next. Apparently, at some point during the night one or more intruders broke into the farmhouse. From what they could gather, the intruder(s) found John Brown’s shotgun by the door. Whether it was because he heard them or not, John Brown came downstairs and was confronted by the intruder(s) who killed him with his own shotgun.

Nothing of value was taken as far as police can tell. John Brown had no known enemies and it’s suspected it might have been a burglary which went horribly wrong.

“Poor bugger,” Ed stroked Gizmo behind the ears. “And by his own gun.”

“Maybe he screwed someone over,” I weighed the evidence. “Maybe he owed them money. Farmers are always juggling massive debts.”

“It wouldn’t be that.”

“Maybe developers wanted the land and he wouldn’t sell.”

“Nope, that’s not it. Keep going.”

“Okay, last one,” I racked my brain. “Maybe he does have a son but they’re estranged and the son came to claim what he believed to be his birthright: the farm or revenge!”

“Not even close,” Ed laughed. “Not even close. It’s obvious; think about it.”

Home - Grimmway Farms

I was flummoxed, but moreover, I was intrigued by his self-assuredness in the matter. I had apparently missed a vital clue which was the clincher. Now watching him savour the moment without any smugness whatsoever I was proud of Ed. He’d seen more in his lifetime than I ever would: The Great Depression, WW2, the draft, rationing, The Cold War and a man on the moon, yet I knew he now felt utterly discarded by those who had come after him. What he’d already forgotten I’d never know; I had gained knowledge whereas Ed’s generation had acquired wisdom.

“Give up?” he grinned, thumbing tobacco into his pipe.

“I’m all out of ideas,” I conceded, happy to be sharing in his big moment.

“It was the rabbits,” he winked. “It just takes a couple of crosshairs.”

Lockdown Knockdown

Easter shoppers stuck in 'insane' queues for 3 hours due to ...

“Why are you in school?”

“What do you mean?

“I mean, why are you in school? Shouldn’t you be distance learning like everyone else? I’m in school because my parents are key workers.”

“Then I guess mine must be as well.”

“My father’s a Member of Parliament and my mother’s a doctor. What do yours do?”

“My dad stacks supermarket shelves and my mom works in a toilet paper factory.”

“Awesome!”

“Yup.”

“Come and eat lunch at our table.”

“I’ll get back to you.”