June 5th 2006
â€œYou see not everybody is on the internet,â€ said Atkins Down he Road. â€œIn fact according to my figures less than half the population are on the internet. And many of those who are on the internet are kids, who donâ€™t enter into the equation as they donâ€™t have cars. And of the few left who are on the internet who arenâ€™t kids, less than a quarter regularly shop on e-Bay.â€
â€œAll very interesting,â€ I said, not bothering to stifle a yawn. â€œBut what has all that got to do with the price of eggs?â€
â€œNothing. But what it does mean is that our scheme to sell inflatable rubber women as artificial car passengers is not only off the back burner but very firmly onto the front burner again and cooking with gas.â€
I was guarded, as I always am with anything to do with Atkins. â€œWell if your figures are correctâ€¦.â€
â€œThey are,â€ he enthused. â€œCome with me.â€
Atkinsâ€™ car was parked outside. As I followed him down the drive I noticed there was an inflatable rubber woman seated in the passenger seat. He stopped at the car and said: â€œThe plan is while I drive her round the town you see if we get any funny looks.â€
â€œFunny looks is the very least weâ€™ll be getting, riding about the town with an inflatable rubber woman,â€œ I said tartly, not much caring for the way the situation was developing.
â€œNot a bit of it,â€ Atkins assured me. â€œMy theory is that people will only recognise it as some sort of vague womanly figure.â€
â€œWell theyâ€™ll certainly recognise that as a womanly figure; look at the tits on her. Couldnâ€™t you get one with smaller tits?â€
â€œThey donâ€™t make inflatable rubber women with small tits. Lulu they arenâ€™t. Apparently thereâ€™s no demand for them. I tried letting it down a bit to make them smaller but the rest of her went down as well and by the time Iâ€™d got her tits down to something like normal proportions she was only about two feet high and had more wrinkles than a prune. Anyway itâ€™s not as though her tits are bare, is it, theyâ€™re covered up by that rather tasteful Age Concern Arran sweater. And lots of women have big tits.â€ He opened the rear door of the car for me. â€œGet in then.â€
Against my better judgement I did as he bade me. All manner of things that might go wrong went through my head. We could be involved in an accident. We could break down and have to send for the AA. We could have a puncture. â€œWhat if we have a puncture?â€ I said.
â€œWell weâ€™ll have to repair her and blow her up again,â€ said Atkins, starting the car.
â€œNot to the rubber woman, to one of the bloody car tyres!â€
â€œWell just drive carefully, thatâ€™s all. We donâ€™t want any accidents. I donâ€™t want to end up in Casualty having to explain what I was doing in a car with an inflatable rubber woman.â€
â€œIâ€™m not a fool,â€ said Atkins, checking the inflatable rubber womanâ€™s seat belt and primly pulling her skirt down over her knees.
We set off. Atkins was right. Hardly anyone looked into the car as we drove around and those who did didnâ€™t seem to notice anything untoward. Even when we pulled up at traffic lights and the man who drew up beside us looked directly at the inflatable rubber woman from a distance of a few feet he didnâ€™t register surprise, although it has to be admitted he was wearing very thick glasses and looked a bit dopey.
Atkins drove around for half-an-hour. When we got back he was jubilant. â€œWhat did I tell you,â€ he crowed. â€œWeâ€™re onto a winner here Razza my lad.â€Â
I was non committal, but we arranged to meet tomorrow to discuss plans for the way ahead. When I got in The Trouble asked where Iâ€™d been.
â€œOh, just driving round the town with Atkins Down The Road and an inflatable rubber woman,â€ I said, matter of fact.
â€œIf you donâ€™t want to tell me, just donâ€™t tell me,â€ she snapped. â€œThereâ€™s no need to make up ridiculous excuses.â€
You just canâ€™t win with women, can you.