30th January 2007
Today Atkins Down The Road and I played a new game suggested by fellow blogger Scaryduck.
The game is for either Atkins or me to pretend we are someone who is mentally ill and has been released into the community, while the other of us acts the part of his carer. Ever since Scaryduck suggested the game I have been on the lookout for the chance to try it out and such an opportunity presented itself this morning when I passed a shop that sold cameras and telescopes. There was a large SALE sign in the window that drew my attention and I had stopped to see what they had in their window as Iâ€™m on the lookout for a some zoom lens binoculars. There werenâ€™t any binoculars in the sale but there was something far more desirable. Gold. In the form of a small camera, on offer at Â£10.99, which was claimed, according to the sale sticker on it, to be idiotproof.
Before anyone else could buy it I immediately called in on Atkins, and thirty minutes later we were in the camera shop asking to see the idiotproof camera. The sales assistant got the camera out of the window and placed it on the counter for our consideration. â€œThere you go.â€
â€œIt is idiotproof, is it?â€ I said, looking at it doubtfully.
Atkins looked at the camera in big-eyed awe then turned to the assistant and said, like a little boy in a pet shop asking if he could hold a puppy, â€œCan I hold it please?â€Â
â€œJimmy is on day release from the mental hospital,â€ I explained to the assistant, in hushed tones.
â€œAh,â€ the assistant nodded knowingly. He didnâ€™t know anything, poor bugger. â€œOf course you can pick it up, Jimmy,â€ he said to Atkins, with a condescending smile.
Atkins picked up the camera, examined it as though it could just as well have been a piece of moon rock as much as a camera, as far as he knew, then smashed it down viciously on the counter top. The first time he did this it probably rendered the camera beyond repair but just in case it hadnâ€™t Atkins repeated the treatment two more times then dropped it on the counter. It sat there looking like something that had just emerged from a car crusher.
Atkins looked at me. â€œIt broke, Arthur,â€ he said. â€œCamera broke.â€
â€œYes Jimmy,â€ I said. I turned to the assistant and said: â€œI thought you said it was idiotproof?â€
The assistant was in shock. He just stood with his mouth open, looking at Atkins.
â€œI thought you said the camera was idiotproof,â€ I repeated, this time a little testily.
â€œButâ€¦but he smashed it,â€ the assistant said, still not quite able to believe what he had witnessed. â€œHe smashed it to bits.â€
â€œWell of course he did,â€ I said. â€œHeâ€™s an idiot. Thatâ€™s what idiots do.â€
Atkins picked up a piece of the camera and examined it. â€œCamera no good now Arthur,â€ he pronounced, wisely.
â€œNot much good in the first place if you ask me, Jimmy,â€ I said, with a meaningful look at the assistant. â€œAnd certainly not idiotproof. Come along, weâ€™ll try Boots, I believe they do a good throw away camera.â€
â€œCan Jimmy throw it away?â€ said Atkins. â€œJimmy like throwing things.â€
We left the shop without looking back. Five yards down the road I thought I heard a shout of â€˜Hey, come back here!â€™ from the shop but I probably imagined it.
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Terry Ravenscroft, 19 Ventura Court, Ollersett Avenue, New Mills, High Peak, SK22 4LL