The column that isn’t afraid to go shopping in pyjamas
READER: I want to be the new slogan czar.
MYSELF: You? What makes you think you would qualify?
READER: Come on, it can’t be that difficult. I mean Stay Alert?
MYSELF: Go on then, give me one. And please don’t take that as a cue for smuttiness.
READER: I won’t…. tee-hee. Let me see erm…Always….no,….Never….er…
MYSELF: Not so simple is it?
READER: Give me a chance! How about: Hugs and squeezes spread diseases?
MYSELF: I think you will find that phrase appeared as the subtitle to this column in issue 148, two months ago.
READER: You’re always stealing my ideas.
MYSELF: I know. Why do you think I invented you?
Speaking of invention, Hastings’ very own genius Professor Gordon Thinktank has been quite unable to prevent his febrile mind from gambolling through the meadows of scientific enquiry like an inquisitive lamb, whilst lesser minds fester in the intellectual bondage of lockdown. As we conversed in Lidl through a gap in the refrigeration system (he in the frozen fish aisle, me in the meat-free), he explained the thinking behind his new invention. “As I was strolling in the town centre, staying alert of course, I couldn’t help but notice that everyone’s concept of two metres appears to be different. To the average Briton, the Dewey-decimal system is still an impenetrable mystery and that’s how confusion sets in. To help rectify the situation I have patented an entirely new concept in clothing, the social distancing belt, which for the purposes of copyright I have called The Isolator. It consists of four two-metre poles, two of which extend from the left and right of the belt, with the other two covering front and rear. Any encroachment of the wearer’s 2-metre limit is thus prevented.” The eagerly awaited invention will have to conform to stringent government guidelines before it goes on sale however, and early testing has revealed certain disadvantages to the accessory, such as its unwieldy size and its tendency to put people’s eyes out or knock cyclists off their bikes. “Ok so it’s difficult to hang in the wardrobe,” the professor told me, “but the science is clear, once everyone is wearing The Isolator, we can reduce the size by half.”
SPOT THE FAKE
Did you know that the spider is not an insect, but a mammal, which can break a man’s arm with any one of its eight wings?
Did you know that the Montezuma Quail is witheringly sarcastic, and is not to be trusted with money?
Did you know that Ginger Baker, ex drummer of The Cream recently turned down the role of Dr Who?
Did you know that Nigel Farage, the black calypso singer has his own miniature one-man submarine?
READER: I have a feeling that one of those “facts” is not true.
MYSELF: Fair enough, which one do you think is false?
READER: Let me see…. I know Nigel Farage owns a miniature submarine and is definitely from Barbados, because I’ve seen pictures of him limbo dancing under a horse. As for number 2, I myself was once grossly insulted by a Montezuma Quail after I rashly lent it £10.
MYSELF: So, could it be Ginger Baker as potential Dr Who perhaps?
READER: Well, that definitely has the ring of truth about it, even though he is dead, which just leaves the limb-fracturing arachnid. Is it the spider?
MYSELF: You are going to kick yourself. The odd one out is the Montezuma Quail, a polite, charming and trustworthy bird with whom you would happily go into business. I can only suppose that the Quail you met was suffering from stress. Or perhaps it was another type of bird altogether, wearing a Quail costume?
READER: Ah…. Now you come to mention it, it may have been a peacock.
ASK DR GUANO
The usual pot-pourri of postal puerility appears to have piled up on my desk this past fortnight, so I got Wensleydale, my budgerigar, to peck out a letter at random:
Dear Dr Guano,
We have examined your column with a very strong magnifying glass, and can find no mention of conjuring tricks, illusions, or anything relating to the art of legerdemain. Why? Is there some shameful incident from your childhood we should know about? Were you sawn in half by a drunken uncle? Or perhaps persuaded to peer up the sleeves of a lascivious aunt, who then produced, out of thin air, a suggestively shaped vegetable? Sir, we sympathise, but surely deep psychological scars are no reason to ignore the fascinating world of magic?
Mr Sinistro & Maureen
I took a deep breath and replied thus:
Dear Mr Sinistro & Maureen,
I would refer you to Magic, Illusion and Bedwetting written by the Norwegian child psychologist Liv Ljernsennbjorg, a disciple of Jung. In it, she advances the highly plausible theory that the German invasion of Poland in 1939, which led to the declaration of war, was entirely attributable to Hitler being given a Harry Houdini Junior Magic Kit for his seventh birthday without the instructions. The Führer later went on to subjugate all of Europe after he failed to master that trick where it looks as though someone is suspended in thin air with a broomstick up their bottom.
Dr Guano & Brenda
READER: How do they do that trick anyway?
MYSELF: Sphincter control.
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