as many of you will know, my brother Ames has been here since May 21, allegedly ‘looking after me’ (he has so far, nearly 3 weeks on, made 4 cups of tea, two helpings of mashed potato and drilled a couple of holes) 🙂 Despite his ‘care,’ I am making steady, if painfully slow, progress. I am beginning to understand that the surgeon was not exaggerating when he informed me that I ‘should’ get back 90% of my strength within a year (!!) Morale remains good and I am really enjoying seeing people again, so if you fancy a visit please let me know. June is quite busy but the month of July is pretty free.
To while away his long hours of paid holiday, and ever-emulous of his younger brother’s talents, Ames has decided to turn his hand to ‘creative writing’ of a humorous kind. I have to say that his first effort below made me laugh out loud – and not always just at him. It is good to have someone taking the piss from time to time, especially now that it is no longer excruciating to laugh.
A brief warning: the following story, based on a true incident during the Bournemouth honeymoon, may not appeal to those who don’t like the scatological (toilet) humour sometimes characteristic of those imprisoned for a term in British public schools. It is for this reason that I didn’t write about the incident in the blog. But since Ames is clearly desperately seeking an audience, I’ve agree to post his first effort. Hope you enjoy it
The Turd that Turned, and other stories: by Ames Gilbert
Foreword and Introduction
One recent bright and sunshiny afternoon, so rare but so welcome and appreciated in Britain, a friend of Bart’s called Melanie, temporarily overcome by her better nature, came to visit him and encourage his recovery. During the banter that inevitably followed the initial greetings and how-are-you?s, some amusing tales were exchanged. Ames commented that they deserved to be written down, and maybe even compiled into a book. Anyway, here is one of them, told with admirable attention to the strict truth and a sensitivity to the audience notably lacking in the original. I should add that Bart was surprisingly reticent concerning the details of the aftermath of his coup, so I have taken the liberty of extrapolating from what is historically known; alert readers who know much of Bart will agree that this is a highly probable conclusion to how those events would probably have transpired, and will attest to their likelihood. But I digress. The watchword henceforth must be, “On, on, on!”
Bart was honeymooning with his new bride Anna in Bournemouth, and, being acutely and preternaturally aware of how much of his vast wealth was needlessly trickling through his fingers at his (to him, surprisingly) marvelous and luxurious hotel, decided to turn an amusing accident that occurred there to his advantage.
The scenario: he had been consuming large quantities of a vile-tasting wheatgrass concoction on the advice of a supposed friend, purportedly to build up his strength before his operation, and the resulting output was precisely what an intelligent observer might have predicted from just a brief survey and educated analysis of the input. Though it is troubling to relate such a tale involving a close relative, and one who is as sensitive to his social standing as I naturally shies away from acknowledging the connection, it is my duty to make clear that Bart insisted on telling every detail to his reluctant audience, exactly as follows. Despite cries of anguish from his audience (mostly along the lines of, “too much information!”—though there was a strong representation in a minor key objecting on grounds of general lack of taste), he overruled us in his usual imperious fashion (those who know him will understand all too well what I mean by that!) and insisted on minutely describing every detail, regardless of his listeners’ constitution, age, or sex. And I should warn gentle readers that the following tale does require one to be in good physical and mental condition; you should steel yourself, and if you have any doubts, or have not taken your full course of vitamins today, you should refrain—by all means, set this missive aside, and wait until you are stronger. And certainly this story is hardly suitable for young children or those of a timid or frail disposition.
Anyway, it transpired that, after a lifetime of indulgence and habitual over–stuffing, his digestive system rebelled against this latest insult, and, after each dose of wheatgrass, showed its disdain by producing a series of gassy, frothy turds with what trained scientists term, a very low specific density. That is, they floated on, and to hear him tell it (with the relish to we have become accustomed but not yet inured), almost hovered above the water in the toilet bowl. According to Bart—and who could blame anyone who knows him if they were to suspect him of some exaggeration—after numerous flushes accompanied by stern lectures and vigorous encouragement, he managed to be rid of most of them. However, and now we come to the crux, after each episode, a small, particularly lightweight specimen would somehow separate itself from its fellows, hold back, and then emerge from around the bend, float upwards, and bob there quietly on the surface.
I would not be in the least surprised if Bart surmised that these turds were psychologically torn between hoping not to be noticed on the one hand, and on the other, hoping to be admired for their adroitness, stealth and foamy qualities. Assuredly, having a lifetime affinity for turds and known for his intense admiration of their almost infinite variety, he would have had great empathy for their dilemma. My point is, these lone turds would have remained un-noticed by most folk. However Bart, as all who have ever met him will avow, has a genetic anomaly that presents itself as a uncontrollable predisposition to explore, both physically and mentally, areas that are of interest only to average children between one and three years old. I am forced to borrow from the pop-psychology that is all the current rage, and state in the strongest terms that I have always suspected that he never actually outgrew that stage; hence the unfortunate result of not graduating and moving on like normal children to, say, the more mature interest in the curious mating rituals of Peruvian Banana slugs, means that to this day he is almost pathologically interested in the nature, function and production of turds, snot (of any form and consistency), vomit (especially projectile), and almost any other mammalian body secretions, whether solid, liquid or gaseous (those same highly–trained scientists in this case use a very specialized and erudite term, ‘yuck’)—the more disgusting and loathsome, the better.
So, both malevolent fate and his lower nature decreed that he would, against all odds, in fact be present to observe the return of the first of these talented but unusually shy turds; gazing into the toilet bowl for several minutes after his efforts had borne fruit (so to speak), as was his usual custom, his interest was, shall we say, titillated and engaged, and he took due note.
When the same sequence of events repeated itself on his next visit to the bog, and then again and yet again, specialized neurons in his fertile brain cogitated for a while, gears meshed, and then there suddenly flashed up a solution to his financial worries. He could both do his notoriously abstemious wallet a favour, and perhaps at the same time hopefully both impress and entertain Anna (with her sweet and trusting nature, pliable and rendered impressionable until this moment by the romance of the circumstances and surroundings), by playing a neat trick. Accordingly, in the deepest and darkest chasms and recesses of his mind, at the very rotting, pustulous and coruscating core where nameless forces and hideous djinns no doubt dwell, he fomented his plans and laid his dastardly plot.
This is how he acted to accomplish those nefarious aims. He waited until a very nice but naïve Eastern European clerk, new to her job and with perhaps an incomplete command of English, was on duty at the front desk and started ragging her. He described at her in excruciating detail how the toilet failed to flush properly, catalogued the sordid results in tones of woe, and loudly demanded immediate satisfaction. But this was not all, dear reader, the worst was yet to come. Though it be against your nature: picture him sullying the pure image of his new bride of just a few days before strangers by misusing Anna’s name, claiming that she was in a sharp decline due to the shock of encountering the turds so unexpectedly, and spent her nights in fear! O unworthy brother, deficient not only in morality but even in common decency, a shameless distorter of the truth! To drag the fair name of a young bride through this mire of delinquency, to associate her forever in the minds of others with this noxious scheme! Dear reader, is this not indeed outside the Pale?
Then, if you can, bring yourself to imagine the consternation that a probably highly–strung and well brought up Czech, Slovakian, Romanian or even Bulgarian girl would experience in this situation! So now the clerk, naturally rendered anxious both by training and her own innocent desire to somehow—anyhow!—placate this strangest of customers, most probably deeply unsure about the weird customs and rituals of the barbarian English, and desperate to avoid more lurid details about Bart’s misadventures with the hotel plumbing, offered to exchange his rooms, and not only that, upgrade to the superlative luxury suite—I imagine usually reserved for visiting minor members of European royalty, poor relations of maharajas, trainers of seals, and wholesalers of Italian olives.
Cleaving strictly to the essence of his plan, rejecting any impulses of decency or mercy, Bart proudly relates how he disdainfully refused this magnificent offer with brusque words and concurrent passionate waving of hands, making his refusal to meet these very generous terms clear beyond any possible misunderstanding. Finally, after reducing the no doubt terrified clerk to near tears, he demanded a fifty percent discount (the greedy dog!) of the rate of his present room. Dear and gentle reader, note the absolutely amoral quality of his deceit, the ignoble depravity of his demands! Observe how he counted on the fact that the receptionist would be too distraught and overcome at this stage to point out the obvious discrepancy and logical fallacy so presented; to wit, that he had been complaining about the inadequacy of the hotel plumbing, and this supposed solution he proposed would do absolutely nothing to reduce or eliminate the problem of recalcitrant turds, regardless of whether or not they were seeking fame and fortune. No, he counted on haranguing and harassing the unfortunate woman into agreeing to his proposal by applying intolerable mental pressures, accompanied with wild gesture and protruding eye. Who could withstand this simulacrum of insanity, played to minute perfection and so completely believable?
And so evil came to Bournemouth, and thus this most unfortunate of incidents came to an unconscionable but inevitable conclusion.
Although I have no definite proof, it is easy to posit that so relieved would Bart have been to save these few quid that he would almost certainly have spontaneously burst into song and run around the lobby, carelessly knocking over random chairs long settled by old ladies, together with assorted tea tables and the Victorian knick-knacks so essential from time immemorial to the smooth functioning of seaside hotels from Great Yarmouth to Bognor Regis, deep in the ecstasy that only a confirmed miser who has devoted a lifetime to saving his or her pennies can truly understand and appreciate. And I bet that anyone who knows him as I do would readily agree. In fact, probably so alarmed would have been both the receptionist and manager (who would undoubtedly by this time have arrived to investigate the unseemly fracas) at this new and unexpected turn of events that only a kindly and timely intervention by Anna could have persuaded them to desist from calling the specialists from Colney Hatch to come and remove what would have been promising to be at the very least an important and lucrative long–term client, and quite possibly a permanent addition to their nationally renowned collection.
And, frankly, I suspect that were that so, it would have taken quite a largish sum of money, and far more than Bart had ‘saved’, to persuade the manager not to call the authorities and collect his cut. Though Bart would probably stoutly claim otherwise, I nevertheless stand by my conjecture, based as it is on a lifetime of personal and often sad and disappointing experience with the protagonist in this drama. One only has to observe his jerky movements, rapid breath, and rolling eye as he so thoroughly enjoys the telling this sordid tale to all within hearing distance, to admit the possibility that perhaps the mental strain of acquiring two PhDs (three more than strictly necessary) has left him, shall we say, a trifle unbalanced, rendering him somewhat dangerous to himself and others.
Gentle readers, you will notice from the style of writing heretofore presented that I have departed from those usual strict standards of clarity and brevity that were instilled into my very psyche by my learned and experienced teachers as they tried to instill in me the an appreciation for the pure and refined essentials of the precious language we share in common. “Short, declarative sentences” was their battle cry, and it sums up the very essence of what they went through frightful efforts to impart, and I to absorb and actualize throughout my writing career. Though I fear I have departed far, very far, from this noble tradition in this work, I do however have a ready explanation. This digression, exploring as I do the most remote and arcane reaches of the language, and employing an almost–Victorian superabundance of words, sentences sometimes a lengthy paragraph in extent, suffused with florid descriptions of every hue, using ten or twenty words where one would suffice—this work, dear reader, is in fact a marked tribute to my brother Bart’s prose.
Allow me to explain.
I have carefully studied the various tomes he has produced and thrust upon an unsuspecting world through lo! these many years, and, using a technique known only to a few, have often fallen asleep while reading those works. Hence, as I have slipped peacefully on those occasions from consciousness to the realms of Lethe, his words and more importantly, the style of those more than abundant words, have accompanied me on my journeys. Dear reader, I know you are astute (or you would not have read so far), I know you have a manifest breadth of vision (ditto), I know you are educated and well–read (ditto), experienced in the ways of the world (ditto), and so I know intuitively that you have come to an appreciation of what the sub-conscious does; Freud himself informs us that the ensuing dreams we remember reflect and memorialize the work done by the sub-conscious to bring meaning to the events of one’s daily life, to re-order those events and accumulated adventures of the day, to catalogue and process them, to fit and integrate them into one’s total experience.
And so it is with the works of my brother Bartholomew. His writing style has impinged itself into my unconscious, and is holographically therein stored, exquisitely adapted and individualized so as to be ready to be applied to my own writing, whenever fancy, impulse, whim, circumstances or external directive require—as in the present case. The end result of all this is, I can now by an act of pure will direct myself at any time to be more or (rarely) less obtuse, to bring obscurity to the plainest facts, to obfuscate where the call is for clarity, to darken that which was lit, hide what was formerly plain, quench any desire for informed instruction or learning, in short to write as if I also had a PhD—or two, or had entered (heaven forefend!) the sphere of politics. Now, no matter what the subject, I can choose to befuddle audiences, apply discrete and impermeable layers of ignorance, misapprehension, or confusion to any writing. And above all, I have gained the inestimable ability to misuse and abuse long words for the sake of it, just because I can. O Bartholomew, behold your literary as well as literal brother! What majestic, overweening and pompous power I have gained!
And so, dear reader, I invite you to judge the results for yourself. If my telling of this tale has brought you pleasure and understanding, share your enlightenment and joy with all you know—they doubtless will be eternally grateful; if not, kindly hold your peace, for surely you are mistaken and will inevitably come to realize your error in the fullness of time.