Saturday, December 15, 2007


The Case of the Christmas Bracelet (part one of four)

From Foot Eater's case files, a Yuletide yarn to shiver your cockles!


Christmas of 1951 started out a real son-of-a-bitch and just got worse. On December 24 Marylou left me, raging out the door in a hurricane of shattered hopes and broken crockery, her last words ringing in my ears: ‘You’re a b___d, I hate you, I never want to see you again.’ I faced a bleak and empty New Year. Receptionists like her are hard to come by.

Then, in the afternoon, the phone rang. I was sitting on the window sill at the time, so entranced by the beautiful snowy city landscape outside that I didn’t think I’d ever turn away from it. My sill is so narrow that I get wedged in there and have to exert a real effort to extract myself off of it. Lost as I was in romantic thoughts, when I heard the shrilling of the phone I thought for a crazy moment it was someone calling to say I’d won the lottery or something, and I got so excited I managed to pull myself off. It was my doctor.

‘Foot,’ he said, ‘I know it’s Christmas Eve and all, but you really need to think about booking that liver transplant.’

‘Liver transplant, schmiver transplant,’ I said, thinking of my bank balance. I hadn’t had a real case in months.

‘Mmm. Raspy,’ he said. ‘Let me schedule you for a trachea replacement while we’re at it.’

We made small talk for a while and I thanked him for the case of bourbon and carton of Luckies he’d sent me as a Christmas present, before hanging up. He was a good old doc, really; he’d done my appendix and haemorrhoid transplants and had fixed up my heart after that comic book business three years earlier. Rumor had it he occasionally mixed up his autopsies and his prostatectomies, but nobody’s perfect.

At six o’clock that evening I was sitting in my office in my favorite – heck, my only – armchair, a bottle of Jack Daniel plugged into my normally cheery but by now terminally morose face, and thinking about wandering down to the mean streets in search of something hot and dirty to stick in my mouth (I’d just run out of cigarettes) when Pussy the cat dropped in through the window I kept cranked open a few inches despite the winter freeze to let some air in. I don’t mean my cat dropped in to let some air in; I just have difficulties with clauses and commas and the like, G-d damn it. I stared at Pussy. She was sodden and had something in her mouth. And she stank. It was a long time since I’d been in the same room with a pussy that was dripping wet and smelling of fish. I reached down and tossed her a mouse corpse I’d been meaning to throw out since last week and she dove for it, dropping what she’d brought in. I leaned forward to look at it.

It was a bracelet, gold or at any rate gold-plated, and although it was dirty with some kind of seaweed or pond scum it was still in good shape. I picked it up and rubbed it clean on my sleeve. There was something engraved on the inner surface. I peered at it in the flinty light that angled between the slats of the blinds, and the p-s turned to ice in my bl-dder.

Flashback time. I was a runty nine-year-old, way back before you’d remember, before Prohibition, even, sitting on the banks of the Mississippi watching the steamers crawl by like mechanical cockroaches the size of elephants. Pappy had gone off to war in Europe and I was tasked with defending the freehold against the bandits and human varmints that threatened to come kill my momma and sister and do the uh-uh-uh thing with our hogs and carry me off to a life of white slavery in Huckleberry-Twainsville upriver. I was balanced in the crook of a tree with Pappy’s double-ought Winchester loaded and propped across my lap and a straw hat pulled low over my eyes to shield out the flies and the July sun. Except there were no flies and there weren’t no July sun neither.

Soon enough a fat guy came strolling over the river. He wasn’t Jesus, walking on water; he had a beard, I’ll allow that, but he was dressed kind of weird and his water-walking weren’t no miracle seeing how the ’Sippi was frozen over and all. ‘Hey there, you, boy,’ he hollered.

I pulled the triggers. The shot went way wild. When the noise had cleared and the blue smoke had dispersed a little, he cussed in a fashion I hadn’t never heard before and yelled, ‘Holy h-ll, boy. You some kind of a a—hole?’

‘What do you mean, sir?’ There was a queer smell in the air, like when someone makes poopy-kaka in his pants, and it wasn’t me.

‘I mean, you’re sittin out here dressed like it’s high summer.’

‘Ain’t it?’ I was getting edgy seeing how this stranger was looking at me all funny. Holding his gaze, I reloaded.

‘No. It’s late December.’ He stepped forward. He looked scared, but also astonished, sort of. He put a hand on his chest.

‘Don’t you know who I am?’

‘Naw.’ I tried to think what my Pappy would of done, even though he was over in France killing Kaisers. This guy weren’t no obvious varmint nor no prevert neither but nonetheless he was mighty weird. He started to reach inside his jacket and I decided my Pappy would of shot him so I gave him both barrels, right in the face. His head done come clean off and it was all red inside, like his clothes. He landed on his large a-s on the frozen ground. I went over to him, the blast of the shotgun still whining high in my ears, and poked the barrels at his hand till it uncurled. I saw a lollipop in his open fist. Probably a prevert after all. Round his wrist something glittered, gold. I stooped to look at it. It was a bracelet, like what medicals and asthmatics and epileptics wear. On the reverse side it said (I read good, even as a boy): Santa Claus.

'S--t,' I said. The echo of the word skittered across the iced river surface like a series of skimmed hyphens. I lit a cigarette.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


The horror, the horror

As you might imagine, a prolonged absence such as mine has resulted in a bulging womb of incipient mail-progeny. What I mean is, you fans have been sending in your letters, texts and emails of concern, devotion and, yes, love, with a freneticism that warms my cockles and at the same time makes me question your collective mental health.

I've decided to use this blog to wage war on slovenly, pig-ignorant perversions of English grammar, spelling and punctuation in the new year, and as a taster I thought I'd hold some of your missives up to ridicule. Feel free to hoist me by my own petard if you can, you ignorami.

Kicking off, emails:

You're brilliant in every way. Tell me, please, do you only write comedy?

No, 'sycophant'. I watch it on television and in live settings, read it, laugh at it, deride it, appreciate it, and have nightmares about it, too.

Sir Ian McKellen writes:

Dear Foot,

Having read your blog, you seem to be obsessed with sex and death.

[lots of fascinating inside information about the theatre snipped]

Dear Sir Ian: by your sentence structure you seem to associate my having read my own blog with my preoccupation with the progenital and terminal events in life's history. Why is this? (You should know better, by the way. And Patrick Stewart's current Macbeth kicks your Lear into touch, frankly.)

Greg Dyke ( emailed me:

Way to go, Foot Eater! Your campaign for proper English is just what we need, and a famous blogger like yourself could be just the person to permeate the national consciousness with his message of hope. Call my agent Pete.

All right: your agent's Pete.

Andrew 'Bowel' Motion, the Poet Laureate, sent me a text message that ran thus:

Parse this sentence if you will, you pretentious arsehole:

Joan is the person I am sitting between the window and.

It ends with a conjunction, yet it is entirely correct, grammatically speaking. Can't pick the bones out of that one, can you, you wanker?

No, I can't, Mr Motion; but there's a subtle distinction between incorrect and merely tedious English which you seem to have blurred in the interests of scoring a linguistic point, and for that I sentence you to a rimjob in hell. You are to give rather than receive: isn't that better?

Sunday, December 02, 2007



Well, I’m back.

It would take too long to explain why I’ve been away. HM Customs and Excise, Lucky Gregor’s Laundrette in Maidstone, wholly trumped-up charges, golden moles, the RSPCA and a Birmingham prison were all involved, and let’s leave it at that.

Sorry about that last post, by the way. As several people suggested, I wasn’t the author. The benighted soul responsible has been locked in a study with a bottle of whisky and a revolver and is trusted to do the decent thing.

Missed me, have you? I certainly haven’t missed you lot. What an assortment of cranks, oddballs and social lepers you are. I’m glad I never got so hooked on blogging that I felt the need to get up early in the morning to log on, or that I cried for a week once when my internet connection went down. I suppose I oughtn’t to insult you, because I’d like to ask for your help. Do any of you know how to get an electronic tag off an ankle? It was one of the conditions of my early release that I wear one of the bloody things – to tell you the truth I think they just wanted to be rid of me because I never obeyed any of the warders’ orders, but then that was because I didn’t understand their ridiculous Brummie accents ('Coom ere, Foot Ayter, yo payce oov sheet') – but it’s the very devil of a job to stalk people quietly when you’ve got a bit of rattling, beeping machinery fastened round your leg. It might be useful if you were a postman, though – dogs would have difficulty sinking their teeth into your ankle. Come to think of it, it would be handy to have if you were a terrorist trying to board a plane. The security people would be so distracted by the metal around your leg that they’d probably fail to spot the arsenal in your coat pockets. This is a bit of a naff line of humour, is it? I'm trying too hard, am I? Well, in that case, go and read the Anti-Barney's blog or El Barbudo's or somebody's, you f-
I'm sorry, I'm out of sorts: post-traumatic stress and all that. It's just that I CANNOT HANDLE ALL THESE
put the gun down. it's all right. they're only shadows. they're not going to punish you or laugh at you. have some tea

Anyway, what’s been happening out there in the world? I haven’t had time to follow the news because I spent the last couple of weeks of my captivity frantically finishing off my magnum opus, a children’s multicultural adventure book about a teddy bear named Mohammed which I hope will go a long way towards promoting harmony and understanding between the peoples of this earth.

As the great Judge Dredd has been known to say: catch you later, creeps.

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