Quite by accident Ethel had made a stunning discovery. She discovered that the very, very final phrase a person thought before death (in their native language of course) was “If the nozzle fits on the squiggly-dig then that’s okay”. There were no exceptions. Clearly it was a code devised by God to equivalently say “Open the gates of Heaven for me”. One could negate the request and not die if one immediately said “ZINDABAD” after the final phrase.

“If the nozzle fits on the squiggly-dig then that’s okay. ZINDABAD” was not a fatal phrase but without the ZINDABAD it certainly was.

Ethel was one to play with fire. She would say the phrase with the salvific ZINDABAD all over the place. You’d think she was about to die when WHAM! – ZINDABAD was added.

All of a sudden people all over the world began dropping dead here, there, and everywhere.  Ethel had announced her discovery on Facebook and Twitter but she never mentioned the rescuing ZINDABAD bit. In quite a short space of time all Facebook and Twitter users had perished, except of course for Ethel.

How silly! Who would believe such a thing?  If the nozzle fits on the squiggly-dig then that’s okay. BABUSHKA!


2732. Airport ordeal

It was a terrible ordeal. There are somethings in life that wring you out like you were a wet dishcloth. I was due to pick up my wife at the airport. She was on a flight from Gabrielville where she had had a business meeting. A news flash had come over the radio; the plane was in trouble and limping towards its airport destination.

I rushed to the airport. Relatives and friends were herded into a large room that was private. Up to date reports and television were available. I have never been so stressed in all my life. The plane was so damaged they doubted that even if it made the journey it was next to impossible that it would land safely.

The plane came into view. It got lower and lower as it approached the runway. It touched down. I can still hear the screech of the tyres on the tarmac. The plane stopped. Almost immediately the emergency exits were in operation. People were sliding down the emergency chutes. I strained my eyes to get a glimpse of my wife. I didn’t see her. I was in a panic.

My wife never came into the emergency room. All the passengers were accounted for. I was in a state of utter bewilderment. I left the emergency room and wandered the airport building helplessly. There was a tap on my shoulder.

“There you are, darling. I’ve been looking for you all over. I caught an earlier flight.”

2731. No pets

Mr Claude Appleton was the teacher at a single teacher school way in the country. There were about twenty students – all daughters and sons of local farmers.

Mary was one such pupil. Like most of the pupils – in fact all of them – she didn’t greatly dislike Mr Appleton but she hated the way he made rules about everything. There were rules for playing outside, there were rules for when it rained, there were rules about every possible thing under the sun…

One of Mr Appleton’s pet hates – strange for a rural teacher – was his dislike of pets. He disliked the way the children often talked about their pets. In fact he made yet another rule about it: No talking about pets. Robin had a pet calf that was always the topic when he spoke. Angela had a pet canary. Wilfred kept ducks, which he said weren’t pets but egg-laying farm animals for his mother. Mary had a little lamb.

2730. Vegetables

When I was small I had a friend. We lived way, way out of town and there was hardly anyone about other than my parents. My parents worked in the garden, and also in the greenhouse. It wasn’t an ordinary greenhouse. It was fancy. It had electric lights. Occasionally a car would pull up to our house – I think to buy vegetables – and Dad would take them into the greenhouse. And after a few minutes they would drive off.

Anyway, I had a friend as I said. It wasn’t a real friend; it was a pretend friend. Her name was Samantha and she was always there to play when I wanted to play. She didn’t help me with school because I didn’t go to school, but she was always there for everything else.

One day an old car pulled up to our house to buy vegetables. A man got out and shot my parents dead with a gun. I hid under the wheelbarrow and then the car went away. My friend didn’t come with me under the wheelbarrow. I never saw her again.

2729. What’s in a name?

I hate it when people give their first name but not their family name.

“Hi. I’m Jenny.” Jenny who?

“Hi. I’m Nathaniel.” Nathaniel who?

There are thousands of people in the world call Jenny, and thousands called Nathaniel. Their first names don’t say much about who they are. But Jenny Dijkstra! Not THE Jenny Dijkstra surely? From Broadson Avenue? Not the Nathaniel Eavestaff from the Wallingham suburb?

That’s why I always introduce myself using my full name. Not my middle name; I don’t mean that. I mean I use my first name and my last name. Just the other day I was introduced to someone very, very important. I held out my hand by way of introduction and said “Hi. I’m Anastasios Studt.” And the very, very important person said, “Never heard of ya” and walked off.

2728. Beyond the garden shed

Aren’t you sick of stories where the kid goes through the back of a wardrobe, or walks through a mirror, and suddenly everything is transformed into some sort of magical place? You’d think these writers could come up with something more original. Of course, the first time it was done was original, but not anymore.

I wanted to shy away from such a common clichéd motif but it suddenly happened to me in real life. I am not one to shun the facts of a truth, nor will I dolly things up to make them more palatable, but it’s a fact that I was walking to the garden shed to get a trowel to weed my garden and I opened the door and walked into the most spectacular garden I have ever seen.

There were four people picnicking on the lawn in the shade of a tree. I approached and asked them where I was. They turned and stared at me like I was from outer space and then one of them said “What?”

I walked away, but I heard one of them say as I left, “That idiot can suck eggs for all I care.”

 Then I saw a group of about six people watching four people playing badminton on a lawn next to a duck pond. I went up to the group of onlookers and said “Excuse me. Where exactly am I?” They were a lot more polite than the previous group. They said I was watching the Penguins playing the Gazelles in a game of badminton, and they suspected that the team from Clotsville would win. I thanked them but was none the wiser. I moved on.

Very soon I came across a garden shed. I opened the door and entered. I picked up a trowel and went out to my garden. As I asked at the beginning, aren’t you sick of stories where the kid goes through the back of a wardrobe, or walks through a mirror, and suddenly everything is transformed into some sort of magical place? So I threw thoughts of my very real experience aside and got on with the business of weeding the garden.

2727. Autumn garden preparation

It was a sunny late autumn afternoon. I was trying to prepare the vegetable garden as much as possible for the long, cold winter ahead, and then prepare for the beginning of spring. If you don’t do that the amount of work required first thing in spring is mind boggling. Of course at my age I take things fairly quietly. During this autumn preparation I prepare a little patch of garden and the following day – provided the weather is nice – another little patch.

In my younger years I would have attacked the whole garden in a single day and got the job out of the way. But these days it is “Festina lente” as the Ancient Romans used to say – Make haste slowly. It’s amazing how a small patch cleared, and another small patch, and another, quickly builds up into a sizeable area.

But none of this is what I wanted to talk about. I was digging up the little patch the other day – I suppose it was about a square metre in all – when my spade hit something hard. I thought it was pretty amazing that such a large rock could still be in the garden after years of being dug over. So I unearthed it and it wasn’t a rock at all but a human leg bone.

You know how sometimes something happens in your life and it’s quite dramatic – in fact so dramatic – that you think nothing of it and let the idea rest awhile. So I tossed the bone to the side and continued digging.

I remember doing that once when my mother – year’s ago now – gave me my father’s wallet after he had passed away. I put it aside like it was nothing and didn’t even look inside, even though I presume my mother was waiting for me to open it. It’s funny how we do things like that sometimes. I regret it now, but that was years ago as I said. You have to forgive yourself and move on.

But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to tell you… I was going to… Actually, I’ve forgotten what I was going to say.

2726. Be careful who you date

I invited this woman on a date. Her name was Chantelle; except it wasn’t as I discovered later.

When I first met her – at a used car auction of all places – she had a wonderful glow about her. He face shone. “Radiant” would be the word. I was head over heels in an instant. We got talking and that’s when I invited her out on a date. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. She said “Yes”.

The meal was going perfectly – I thought – when I noticed she didn’t have a knife, She was eating politely just with a fork. So I called over the waiter and asked if they would be kind enough to give the lady a knife. One quickly arrived.

When it came time for dessert, again she had no cutlery. The waiter was called and promptly supplied a fork and a spoon. It was then I noticed something. She was eating the cutlery. The more cutlery she ate the more her face glowed. In the end I couldn’t help but ask.

“What’s the story here?” I said.

“I thought you knew,” she replied. “Why else would I have been at a used car auction?”

We never dated again, but I subsequently learned her real name was something sounding extra-terrestrial and she was happily married to a Structural Steel Engineer.

2725. Solid butter

What a relief! After forty-seven years of marriage Barry could at last leave the butter out of the fridge. The fridge had no butter conditioner and for all those years of married life his wife had insisted that the block of butter be kept in the refrigerator.

Just to butter a piece of toast Barry would scrap and chop and hack away. It was inevitably the cause of why he always ended up with far too much butter on his toast or on a sandwich.

After forty-seven years Thelma his wife had been buttering a slice of toast when the knife slipped and she cut her hand. Her hand became infected. Still, she would not admit to Barry that the butter should be in the cupboard and not the fridge.

Not being able to cope with a solid block of butter would be succumbing to old age, according to Thelma. But then oh victory! Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh butter! The butter was emancipated!

It was just a shame that his wife died from the hand infection.

(Note: Today – in real life – the power company is mysteriously fiddling with the electric wiring in the area so the electricity will be off here all day. Also no mobile phone coverage where I live. So I probably won’t be responding to comments).

2724.  Restacking shelves

Man: Hi. Excuse me, but I see you are stacking the shelves of the supermarket. So I guess you’re not a regular shop assistant, but a part-time worker employed simply to unpack boxes and stock shelves.

I wonder however if you could help me. I’m looking for the whipped-cream-filled lemon cheesecakes. I’ve looked in all the freezers and I can find them anywhere. Perhaps you might have come across them as you restock things.

It seems to me that you ought to know as you’re obese, the result I suspect of eating an unhealthy diet. In fact, you’re straight-out fat.  I like to call a spade a spade. You look disgusting.

Shelf Stacker: I don’t give a hoot where the whipped-cream-filled lemon cheese cakes are. And I wouldn’t show you if I knew, you ugly piece of crap. In fact, if I came across a whipped-cream-filled lemon cheese cake right now I’d squash the whole cheese cake into your ugly face. Frozen or not.

Man: I announced in a note to all the staff – to the administrative staff and all the workers – that the customer is always right. You don’t seem capable of it. You’re fired.

Ex-Shelf Stacker: In that case, you wizened-up little man, you might be interested in tasting this container of cayenne pepper instead.