Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Suburb of the dead

You know the feeling you get when you’re ten years old and you come home from school only to find that your family’s gone away on holiday for a fortnight? That’s the feeling I had when my dear departed dog came loping in through the front door one evening last week, dripping bits of earth and dog flesh on the carpet: annoyance and disappointment in equal measure. After I’d been persuaded that Fritz wasn’t coming back, I’d got round to burying him in the woods with no small effort, and I’d gone through the normal painful stages of grief and achieved closure. Now he had come back.

He tried to lick me but bits of his decaying tongue kept sticking to my hands and face, so I led him out the back and bashed his head off with a shovel. You might think that sounds callous but he wasn’t the Fritz I’d known and loved. After chopping and bagging him up and getting a good bonfire going, I phoned the council. Tracey, the chirpy young lady who took my call, didn’t know why my dog had returned from the dead but promised to look into it for me.

A few days later she rang back in a state of some excitement. A Professor Bertram of the Department of Dark Age History at Essex University had done some research and discovered that the woods where I had laid Fritz to rest had been the burial ground of the Saxon king Thicric and his family in the sixth century. Legend had it that Thicric had fallen foul of a witch’s curse that specified that if a dog should ever be buried in the hallowed ground, it and all beings previously interred there would walk the earth again. Why the curse took this particular form I didn’t find out, because I was too busy writing letters of complaint to the previous owner of my house and to the surveyors about their failure to disclose this information to me before I moved in.

Since then, it’s been non-stop. You can’t step out your front door around these parts without encountering one of the bloody living dead. The older ones, the Saxon lot, aren’t so bad because they’re mostly just skeletons and are quite clean, though they don’t half scratch the paintwork on your car. It’s the more recent burials that are the problem, the East End gangster victims who have only partially decomposed. They leave a trail of skin and other bits wherever they go – I found a large intestine draped over my garden fence yesterday morning – and they’re always trying to bite you as though they watched too many zombie films when they were alive and think they can turn you into one of them by giving you a nip. (They can’t.) Plus, they make that awful undead noise, halfway between a moan and a shriek, which is guaranteed to keep the neighbourhood awake at night. This morning I was upstairs in the bath and one of the buggers appeared at the window. Turns out he used to be a small-time cat burglar called Billy the Finger, who upset one of the Hackney drug barons.

Vampirella is all soft-hearted and keeps trying to strike up conversations with these creatures and invite them in for a cup of tea and suchlike. Me, I’ve decided enough’s enough. So, if any of you are in the Brentwood area this Friday and would like to join me and some of the lads on a cull, you’re most welcome. Bring a spade, a machete if you’ve got one, and plenty of binliner bags.

I find myself with little sympathy for you, Mr. Eater. You brought the curse of Thicric on yourself. Why in heaven's name didn't you call Tony Robinson? Everyone knows if you're going to dig up bits of England you need him and that stripey jumpered bloke to tell you if it's OK.

A modern rendering of Thicric's name would give you Stupid Richard which should have convinced anyone that his curse, should he turn out to have one - and they all do in the Richard family - would be a very silly one indeed.

You suburbanites! Phthoo! With your plastic bags and your Toyota Corrollas and your dead dogs. Worse than bloody Howard Carter, you lot. What about the dead, eh? How do you think THEY feel?
I am curious about a technical matter though. With all the bits falling off everywhere how can you tell when the last bit's fallen off? I mean if you just have a bit of head left and that crumbles into two, which bit wriggles away? The biggest bit?

Might it not be possible, with your scientific training and knowledge of anatomy, to collect up the bodies in your back garden and conduct an experiment to find the very seat of the human soul...? (If elipses could speak that one would just have said "DUHN DUHN DUUUHN!")

It would all have to be done under cover of darkness of course, but think of the headlines! "Wild-Mannered Doctor Finds Seat Of Soul - Says He's Not Telling, Except For His Blog Chums".

Could be a money-maker Footles. Just remember who gave you the idea when the checks come in, right?
You know the feeling you get when you’re ten years old and you come home from school only to find that your family’s gone away on holiday for a fortnight? ... annoyance and disappointment in equal measure.

Any healthy ten-year-old would feel profound relief followed by assorted criminal urges. What kind of fucked-up family do you come from?
NB My previous query should in no way be construed as a request for intimate autobiographical detail, family anecdotes or views of the photo album featuring such infantine milestones as the First Smile, the First Steps and the First Tentative Podo-Mastication. The question was purely rhetorical and motivated entirely by a habitual impulse to wound and to cast vicious aspersions on people's mothers in the absence of anything gleetier.
Dearest Foot Eater --

My husband has become quite enamored with you, after me reading out various bits from your blog (poor bugger's from NI, what can I say?), and after finding out that you handle dead bodies (he would like to poke them and look at their private parts) and that you admire Heckler & Kochs, he would like to know if he could become your apprentice.

He will happily take the name of "Toe Sucker," to denote his junior status.

He says he drank quite a lot, and dropped acid in the early '90's (ruined a perfectly good pair of shoes), and as far as he can tell, that's as good as a Uni degree, judging by the people that have them.

He says he will work for free, and even hunch and slouch around and call you "Master."

He also would like to know if you can fix his hernia, as the health care system here in America is well fucked. He says he does not need anasthesia, as that is for pussies; just buy him a pint.
Sutton Who? If that helmet's saxon, thenm I'm a Dutchman. They just didn't have the metalworking technology. It's Celtic. They were the first to smelt iron, a gift they gave the Romans (everyone was copper up till then), but I digress, what were you doing? digging a swimming pool? I'm sorry about Fritz. You can get attached to them [sic] can't you?
I still dream about my dog.

F. Sparrow. I'm ex-cardiothorasic, but I'll give your old man's hernia a shot, he'll have to buy me the pint though.
Sam: for some reason they stop falling apart when they get down to the bone. Never thought to look for a soul, I was too busy staving their heads in.

Philip: my delinquent days came later. At that time I hadn't progressed beyond small animals. Oh, and I've put a CD of family snaps in the post.

Fat Sparrow: please tell your husband thanks for the offer, but Ulstermen make me nervous and I'm quite happy with two kneecaps, thank you. Oh shit, I've done it now, haven't I?

Doc Maroon: hey, don't blame me, I just found the fucking picture on Google Images and assumed it was accurate.
Awww, Foot Eater, don't worry about the hubby. He's prepared to be quite devoted to you. Your kneecaps should be fine, as long as you keep him supplied with dead bodies. Ooops, he says "fresh dead bodies." And don't ask him any questions.

You a Fenian, like me? Don't worry, he's Fenian friendly.

Dr. Maroon -- Thanks for the offer! He says he better buy you 2 pints, as it'll be quite a job.

Let me know if you sick fuckers (oops, I mean "medical-type people") want all the gruesome medical details; I'll be ever so happy to post about it over at my place. It's one of those medical anomalies that they Chief of Staff comes down to look at personally, and then calls in all the interns to have a look-see.

I would tell you on here, but some of Foot's readers have weak stomachs, I believe.
Don't worry about me Foot Eater, I just talk a good show. You should know that by now. It's obviously saxon. I'm sure it is.

Fat Sparrow, get him prepped. It's only a 20 minute procedure but you'll have to assist as Footy is is having his GMC hearing that day.
Dr. Maroon -- Not a problem, but I believe it will be a wee bit longer than 20 minutes. The hernia's the size of a 2-year-old's head, and I watched a doctor insert his hand all the way to his forearm in the hubby's abdominal wall opening. I believe we might need some surgical mesh, or at least some chicken wire. Don't schedule your tee time just yet.

Maybe we should wait for Foot to finish up with his GMC hearing. I'm sure he'll pass with flying colors.

Foot, just remember to answer all the questions with "Buy American cars! Detroit rules!" Never admit that you bought an import. Don't crack under the torture.
I look forward to listening to those family snaps. I trust they include actual soundbites, although the clatter of mouldering dentures will do in a pinch.
I've sharpened my spade and procured a six pack of diet cola.
I need additional specifics--time and place and whatnot--in order for me to attend your lynch-mobbing.
Its been ages, and I'm quite looking forward to it.
I just realised. It was YOU who said Brentwood. It's been rattling around.
Just when you thought the tone couldn't sink further yuo come away with 'Brentwood'.
You bastard.

i had almost forgotten how extremely entertaining i found you.


thanks for the thursday laugh, i read this a day late and i'm a few dollars short.
Fat Sparrow: me, a Fenian? No, thank God.

Doc: bollocks, you got me. Not for the first time.

Fat Sparrow and Doc: your rather unpleasant remarks about the medical profession have reminded me of a joke that was topical in January 2004:

Q: What's [stuttering Pop Idol runner-up] Gareth Gates got in common with Harold Shipman?

A: Neither of them can finish a sentence.

Philip: here's me posting what I think is a fairly deranged story and you lot go and outdo me in the comments.

SafeT: diet cola? You need 90 per cent proof stuff coursing through your veins when you go zombie-hunting, my metal friend.

Dr Maroon: sorry, I didn't understand any of that - at least, I know I mentioned Brentwood but I don't see why that makes me a bastard.

Sarah: I put the time setting forward on this blog so that I can kid myself that it's the weekend. Trouble is, Monday always comes round early too.
Foot -- Not a Fenian, and yet still a fear of Ulstermen? Did one bite you as a child? Let's hear it all, you'll feel better after you get it off your chest.

Apropos of nothing... I was re-reading your Blogasaurus; has anyone suggested "Cuntnoscenti" for us Emerald Bile addicts? Someone's probably used it before; any time I think I'm being original, I usually find out I'm not.
Unlike Bender, I don't partake. Teas and coffees, yes.
Fat Sparrow: well, I'm part Welsh, which is probably worse than having Fenian blood. Cuntnoscenti is terrific; if you don't mind, I'll incorporate it into the Blogosaurus when I get round to updating it (there are loads of more recent entries scattered throughout the comment sections of this and other blogs) and once I've figured out how to do a permalink.

SafeT: are you calling me a bender?
Foot -- I would be ever so proud to have "Cuntnoscenti" included.

I told the hubby about "Fucklestop," as he was a eminent practitioner of such back in the day (when eGroups was the hot new thing, sadly enough). He is happy to know that there is now a word for it.
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