Tuesday 8 July 2008

The rocket powered enema

14st 0lb; zero alcohol yesterday; 1,307; The Deep End.

I had always thought that there were no more depressing words to be heard on Radio 4 than “the BBC news is read by Kathy Clugston”. This means that one has to listen to the daily litany of economic woe, led today by Persimmon’s mass redundancies, conveyed in the sort of voice that really ought to be reading stories about fubsy wubsy bunny rabbits to a tea party for special needs three year olds in Belfast. However, there is now the added torture of endlessly repeated trails for their Book of the Week, “based on her hugely successful blog”. It’s strange how appealing even the dumbed down Radio 3 has suddenly become, with the voices of serious musicologists now replaced by nice girls called Sarah with neutral accents, playing readers’ requests for jolly tunes by brass bands. Most seem to be conducted by Elgar Howarth, whose career path was presumably set in stone when he was christened. I wonder what would have happened if his parents had called him Stalin?

Yesterday afternoon I conned someone into giving me a lift into Alnwick to pick up my old convertible, which had been in the garage for a week having various dents ironed out. I asked her if she’d mind awfully hanging around for a bit, just until I was sure that my car was actually ready and in an acceptable condition. She volunteered to come and give me a second opinion on this point, and immediately demoralized me by pointing out that it was absolutely fine, so long as I didn’t mind the new wing they had put onto it being a different colour from the rest of the car. She was not wrong, either: it depends on which angle one views it from, but the wing is definitely a markedly different shade of blue from the bonnet. But then so is the other wing, too. I asked the man in charge about it, but he just looked sad. In fact, even before I asked him about it, he was the saddest looking bloke I have seen since Clement Freud used to advertise dog food. In the circumstances, it seemed kindest just to pay the outrageously large bill and reflect that the car was, on the whole, less of a mess than it had been before I came up with the bright idea of having it mended.

As a reciprocal favour (least I could do and all that) I drove home via the chemist in Rothbury to pick up a prescription which my benefactor had originally been scheduled to collect. This proved to consist of two huge and very thin carrier bags, each containing box upon box labelled “ENEMA” in big green letters. Carrying them the admittedly short distance to the car was my most embarrassing experience since I asked to borrow a cool box from a vet friend to accommodate a picnic for Glyndebourne, and ended up striding across the lawns bearing a polystyrene box labelled stridently in red on all sides: “SEMEN: WITH CARE”.

Today I delivered the goods to the person for whom they were intended, trying to look sympathetic and interested, and not to smirk. I have tried to blot the detail from my mind, but I was treated to an explanation that each large box contained something like a gas powered rocket, and that the idea was to light the blue touch paper but then not to retire in the conventional way. Far from it. Instead you brace yourself and point the thing up your backside. At least I think that was the story. One thing is undoubtedly true: one half of the human race will never understand the pleasures of the other.

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