Pig Sick

June 8th 2006

Mentioning Atkins Down The Road’s arsenal of weapons the other day reminded me that my friend is a dab hand at shooting rabbits, his skill with the twelve bore shotgun having provided dinner for The Trouble and I on numerous occasions, and that he spends quite a good deal of his leisure hours engaged in making the local population of rabbits a bit less abundant in the heather and gorse–strewn countryside that surrounds the little town in which we live.

Unfortunately some of the surrounding countryside, as well as the heather and gorse and rabbits, also contains farms, and it was at one of these farms that Atkins once, in addition to bagging a rabbit, also bagged a large pig that happened to be careless enough to be directly behind the rabbit when he let rip with his shotgun. It was a complete accident of course, but conscious of the fact that the farmer might not take too kindly to the premature slaying of one of his porkers Atkins hopped it from the scene of the crime without further ado.That might have been the end of the matter but apparently someone had seen the dastardly deed and reported it to the farmer. Subsequently the farmer, seeking compensation for his loss, had challenged Atkins about it. Naturally Atkins had denied all knowledge of the matter, telling the farmer that at the time of the alleged incident he was with me, some ten miles away, on a fishing trip. He knew that the farmer would waste no time in calling on me to confirm his alibi, so once the farmer had departed Atkins called me, told me of the escapade, and asked me to support his story. I agreed of course.
I am not a great fan of farmers, I don’t much care for the way they are always pleading poverty whilst availing themselves of the very latest in 4 X 4 off road gas guzzlers – as Atkins himself succinctly once put it, ‘You don’t see many farmers riding around on a bike’ – so there was never any question that I wouldn’t back up his deceit, and in doing so get him off the hook.Until the time the farmer came knocking on my door, at about ten-o-clock in the morning a couple of days later later, I had scarcely stopped thinking about poor old Atkins shooting the pig. I just couldn’t get it out of my head and had several times burst out laughing at the image it conjured up. When I tried to read my book the words just disappeared to be replaced by a picture of Atkins shooting the pig. I even tried watching a play on TV, Martin Clunes in some nonsense or other, but even then I kept getting this vision of a pig on the screen every few minutes, a situation not helped by Martin Clunes I might add, an actor who has taken on an increasingly porcine-like appearance of late. That morning at breakfast I was still chuckling about it. The Trouble asked me what it was I found so funny and when I told her she couldn’t stop chuckling about it either, and set me off chuckling again. Consequently when the farmer called, in an 06 plate Range Rover of course, I could barely keep my face straight. The farmer’s face was very straight, but then he’d just lost a pig. He came straight to the point. “Do you know a Richard Atkins?”“Ah,” I replied immediately, “You mean Atkins the pig shooter.”Why I said it I will never know. I certainly didn’t want to get Atkins into any more trouble than he was in already. The only thing I can put it down to is that over the last couple of days I’d thought so much about Atkins shooting the pig that when his name was mentioned I immediately associated it with his pig shooting exploits. Anyway the upshot of it was that I had to tell Atkins that I’d accidentally shopped him. He was quite livid as could be well understood. However after I offered to go halves with him on the compensation demanded by the farmer he came round a little, but our friendship remained a bit fragile for some time after that and I had to work hard to get it back to its former solidity. There are times – such as when I have to ride around in a car accompanied by an inflatable rubber woman – when I’m not at all sure I should have bothered .

Barking Again

June 7th 2006

The Pollitt’s dog You Twat has started barking again. Not very often it must be admitted, and only for short spells and in a very muted manner, and it still hasn’t started howling again, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it will be going at it again with both barrels. And both barrels is what it could very well be getting, from Atkins Down The Road’s twelve bore shotgun if its not careful.

The Trouble said: “You know what’s wrong with that dog, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I replied. “What’s wrong with it is that I only gave it a dozen sleeping pills instead of two dozen and a drop or two of cyanide for good measure.”

“What’s wrong with it,” she went on, ignoring my opinion in favour of her own, as per usual, “is that no one ever takes it out for a walk. Barking is its way of drawing attention to itself, in the hope that someone will get the message and take it out for a walk.”

I chewed on this. The Trouble could well be right. A daily walk might indeed quieten the brute down a little if not silence it altogether. A bullet would achieve the same object and with more certainly but……

The Trouble interrupted my thoughts. “Why don’t you offer to take it a walk?”


“Well it’s you who’s doing all the complaining. And none of the Pollitts are showing signs that they’re ever going to take it out.”

I gave the matter some thought. I live in the Peak District and am surrounded by ideal walking country – Kinder Scout, the highest point of the southern end of the Pennine Chain at just over two thousand feet and set in rugged moor land, is only four miles distant. It is ideal walking country. It is also ideal country in which to accidentally lose a dog if you happened to get a bit careless.

 I’m still thinking about it but it seems it could well be the way to go.

Swimming Lessons

June 6th 2006

I’ve never learned how to swim and when I saw an advert in the local freebie newspaper the other week to the effect that the local leisure centre would be holding free swimming lessons specially designed for Oldies I decided to take advantage of the offer. Well it’s something to do, and although for the last sixty eight years I’ve somehow managed to avoid falling into the canal and drowning you never know, especially if I start having the dizzy spells that older people are often prone to. I therefore presented myself at the swimming pool at the appointed hour, which was 9 a.m. this morning.

There were eight would-be swimmers in total, all male, the powers that be having decided that any prospective women swimmers would be accommodated in another session, obviously deciding that the swimming lessons would go more swimmingly if there wasn’t any scope for hanky panky.

Of the eight of us one man had only one leg, one must have tipped the scales at thirty stones at the very least, one was a dwarf, and one had a humpback. The other four of us could be classified as normal, although one man had a glass eye, which strictly speaking is not completely normal, but a lot more normal than the rest of the motley crew. Lined up we must have looked like we were auditioning for Star Wars 7, The Return Of The Grotesques.

I had grave doubts that once the fat one entered the pool he would displace so much water that we’d all be swimming in the rafters but I kept my thoughts to myself, at least for the time being.

The lesson began. First we had to lie on our bellies and do the breast stroke, as demonstrated by the lady instructor. This involved moving our arms and legs, or in the case of the one-legged man his arms and leg, in a sort of frog like motion. After a minute or so the one-legged man asked, not unreasonably I thought, if his being minus a leg would cause him to go round in circles rather than in a straight line, once in the pool. The instructor said she hadn’t come across this potential problem before but that they would ‘cross that bridge when they came to it’.

A bridge that needed to be crossed immediately, as we’d already come to it, was that the fat man, balancing somewhat precariously on his belly, kept falling over every time he made more than the smallest frog-like motion with his arms and legs, and on a couple of occasions would have squashed the man with the glass eye and maybe caused his glass eye to pop out if he hadn’t had the good sense to fling himself out of the fat man’s way. The instructor solved this by moving the fat man over against a wall, which stopped him falling over on that side, and by shoring up his other side with two medicine balls from the gym.

The hump backed man, obviously a man with a sense of humour, said he was thankful we weren’t doing the back stroke or he’d be in the same boat and would require shoring up himself. His mention of boats got me thinking that if you wished to propel yourself through water then a boat would be a far easier and safer way of achieving this rather than by swimming, certainly a less tiring way, as after about five minutes of lying on my belly moving my arms and legs in frog-like motions I was absolutely knackered. I mentioned this to the instructor who said that when we were in the pool it wouldn’t be so tiring due to the buoyancy of the water. Fortunately we were then asked to get in the water to test out this theory.

At this point the fat man excused himself as he ‘needed the toilet’. I hazarded a guess that it would be doubtful if the toilet would feel the same way about him once he’s deposited his thirty stones on it.

There were steps down into the pool, which is four feet deep at the shallow end. The dwarf, at about three feet I would guess, disappeared completely before bobbing to the surface again and splashing for dear life in a furious dog paddle. The instructor told him to get out while she had a think about it, obviously never having had to instruct a three feet inch dwarf trying to stand up in a four feet deep pool before.

The fat fuck returned from the gents (you will see why I have relegated him from a fat man to a fat fuck in a moment). Eschewing use of the steps, and quite without warning, he jumped into the pool. A wave of tsunami proportions headed for me at about two hundred miles-an-hour, completely engulfing me, and filling my eyes with the heavily-chlorinated water. Minutes later my eyes were red raw from a combination of the effects of the chlorine and from rubbing them, and several hours later I still looked like the something out of a Hammer horror film. The Trouble couldn’t look at me without screwing up her eyes.

I’m in two minds as to whether I’ll be going to lesson two next week. If it wasn’t free I wouldn’t even be considering it.

A Recce

June 5th 2006

“You see not everybody is on the internet,” said Atkins Down he Road. “In 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 don’t enter into the equation as they don’t have cars. And of the few left who are on the internet who aren’t kids, less than a quarter regularly shop on e-Bay.”

“All very interesting,” I said, not bothering to stifle a yawn. “But what has all that got to do with the price of eggs?”

“Nothing. 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.”

I was guarded, as I always am with anything to do with Atkins. “Well if your figures are correct….”

“They are,” he enthused. “Come with me.”

Atkins’ 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: “The plan is while I drive her round the town you see if we get any funny looks.”

“Funny looks is the very least we’ll be getting, riding about the town with an inflatable rubber woman,“ I said tartly, not much caring for the way the situation was developing.

“Not a bit of it,” Atkins assured me. “My theory is that people will only recognise it as some sort of vague womanly figure.”

“Well they’ll certainly recognise that as a womanly figure; look at the tits on her. Couldn’t you get one with smaller tits?”

“They don’t make inflatable rubber women with small tits. Lulu they aren’t. Apparently there’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 I’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 it’s not as though her tits are bare, is it, they’re covered up by that rather tasteful Age Concern Arran sweater. And lots of women have big tits.” He opened the rear door of the car for me. “Get in then.”

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. “What if we have a puncture?” I said.

“Well we’ll have to repair her and blow her up again,” said Atkins, starting the car.

“Not to the rubber woman, to one of the bloody car tyres!”

“We won’t.”

“Well just drive carefully, that’s all. We don’t want any accidents. I don’t want to end up in Casualty having to explain what I was doing in a car with an inflatable rubber woman.”

“I’m not a fool,” said Atkins, checking the inflatable rubber woman’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 didn’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 didn’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. “What did I tell you,” he crowed. “We’re onto a winner here Razza my lad.” 

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 I’d been.

“Oh, just driving round the town with Atkins Down The Road and an inflatable rubber woman,” I said, matter of fact.

“If you don’t want to tell me, just don’t tell me,” she snapped. “There’s no need to make up ridiculous excuses.”

You just can’t win with women, can you.