Sunday, September 28, 2008


Ham Returns from the Dead!

Ham Shanks Returns

A door clicks open and a man steps into an austere white room. It’s completely bare apart from a single iron bedstead in the corner. Weak summer sunshine is attempting to sneak in through a high barred window near the ceiling. Once inside it has a quick look around and scurries back out again. This is not a place for natural light or indeed anything natural. Footsteps carefully approach the bed. A sleeping figure is draped in crisp white bed sheets, crisp doesn’t quite do them justice; any stiffer and they would make good plasterboard. Three thick leather straps evenly spaced across the bed ensure that the incumbent doesn’t ‘fall’ out and hurt themselves.

A large hairy hand reaches out towards the prone figure. It’s covered with scar tissue and faded tattoos, the hand that is; not the figure. It’s not a pianist’s hand it’s safe to say, more the kind of hand that’s used to performing free dentistry and bone realignment should you accidentally knock the pint that’s clutched in it’s sausage like fingers. The kind of hand where the owner has significantly more fingers than brain cells, particularly distressing considering at least one and a half of said digits are now missing after last weeks minor ‘disagreement’ with mad Ronnie.

Still the ability to discuss the merits or otherwise of Descartes ‘meditation on first philosophy’ are not particularly relevant when your trying to restrain a crazy at the local nuthouse. I believe the correct job description is actually ‘medical orderly assisting in the restraint of combative patients’ Although quite how combative I was likely to be after 10 mg of morphine and an hour and a half of electrotherapy was a point for debate.

Not with big Dave obviously; dialogue was usually limited to him gasping for breath as his badly broken nose prevented adequate oxygen intake to fuel his pineapple sized biceps for the preferred number of blows required to ‘persuade’ me to behave. This inability to clear lactate generally spared me another dozen skelps so I refrained from suggesting a rhinoplasty operation by way of cure. Anyway my ‘half’ of the conversation was mainly restricted to whimpering or ‘back chat’ as Davey saw it.

Still I can’t complain I’ve more than had my moneys worth out of my national insurance stamps now. I would have preferred an intensive physiotherapy course for my dodgy back rather than being sectioned; but fate is a cruel mistress. Not that I’d ever slept with fate, or indeed cheated on her, but clearly I had angered some deity or other to end up in the soothing fists of the honey monster.

As he tightened the straps and checked my gag was still in place Davey gave me five or six quick punches in the happy sack before departing to spread more joy and happiness around the wards. Clearly my ‘bleeding’ on him earlier in the day had not been well received. Groaning and slipping from consciousness once more I tried to recall the sequence of events that had led me to be imprisoned in the house of fun (cue wavy special effects and that music you always get in old movies and cheap soap operas) ……..

It’s August 2008 and we’re in the midst of the hottest summer since records began, Gordon the Gopher is Prime Minister and petrol prices have been cut so far they are now paying you to take the stuff away …… no hold on that’s the morphine talking. It’s August 2008 and it’s wetter than Fern Brittons scants in a pie shop. The sun is missing, presumed dead. Heroine is cheaper than petrol and Gordon Brown is jumping on the Olympic bandwagon despite being as sporty as a can of spam.

Ham is sitting at home brooding. The European touch championships have been and gone but the pain of losing the final to our Welsh cousins (The fecking Taffs as they shall henceforth be known) has yet to subside. ‘Six, four’, ‘Six fecking four; the baaaastards’ he mumbles whilst hurling another dart at the picture of Tom Jones taped to the wall. It shudders and vibrates as it hits home ‘Absolutely faaaabluuuus right in his leathery Welsh gub!’ shouts our baldy hero …..

Devoid of further ammo I amble through to the kitchen to make a brew. Glancing out the window I can’t help but notice I’ve let the garden go whilst wallowing in self pity. The grass is at least head high and the top ten feet of hedge is losing its fight against gravity. Now leaning precariously over itself forming a gloomy green tunnel. On closer inspection it appears that an Impala is grazing inside; it’s being stalked by a lion? The herbivores survival strategy of standing motionless seems only marginally more effective than covering itself with best back bacon. As the lion pounces I mutter ‘I’m gonna have to phone those f*ckers at the safari park again’

But it wasn’t this impromptu wildlife show that tipped me over the edge; it was something far more mundane. Whilst double checking that the cat flap was closed I noticed there was a large blue plastic box on the back doorstep; it was filled with decaying vegetables. Not something generally perceived as the trigger for psychosis but for me it was a very red rag indeed.

Left cheek twitching and giggling to myself I quickly retrieved the box and headed out to my car ‘Morning Ham’ shouted my neighbour cheerily. I blanked him and continued my purposeful march to the vehicle. Placing the box on the passenger seat I fastened my seatbelt and started the motor. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre then full throttle and lots of black smoke.

With hindsight placing the object of my anger next to me wasn’t the brightest move in the world. The aroma of decomposing vegetable matter is not pleasant at the best of times; all the pungent odour did was stoke the fire of retribution within me. My nose wrinkled in disgust as I pressed on taking corners and junctions at faster and more dangerous speeds. Oil pressure and blood pressure rising in a dangerous synchrony.

Screeching to a halt outside the warehouse I grabbed the box and strode up to the front door; it was open so I entered. A middle aged gent in a boiler suit looked up from a piece of paper ‘Good afternoon sir, how can I help?’, ‘Help?’ I giggled ‘Help?’ my face turning puce ‘yes sir?’ he replied with a puzzled expression ‘Do you sell marrows?’, ‘yes sir we do’, ‘giant marrows’, ‘yes sir’, ‘Excellent! Could I have the largest marrow you stock please’, ‘eeer why?’ he replied nervously, sensing the danger in my voice ‘Why? Because I’m going to shove it up your f*cking @rse that’s why!’

A schoolboy error, I shouldn’t have mentioned what I really wanted it for until he’d got the beast. But I was so enraged at finding yet another unwanted box on my doorstep I couldn’t contain myself any longer. However we continued the discussion through the letterbox of his office door. Quite a turn of pace he’d shown for an older gent and he’d managed to duck out of my strangling hands and hole up inside before you could say ‘yerfuuckinggdeidpal’. The office was a basic wooden clad rectangle in the corner of the warehouse complete with a door and a window, not Fort Knox, and certainly not beyond the capabilities of my Swiss army knife.

‘I’ve called the Police you know’ he wailed over the sound of my rhythmic sawing ‘yes well I called you five times to tell you to stop delivering vegetables and you didn’t listen to me did you’, ‘it was a mistake Mr Shanks, a genuine mistake!’, ‘you said that the first time’, ‘it’s our computer system’ he whimpered as I posted another rotten carrot through the letterbox ‘you said that the second time’ I replied calmly ‘I’ll give you a refund!’, ‘bit difficult that seeing as I never paid in the first place’ my first cut was high enough now and I started on the lateral incision ‘anything I’ll do anything!’ he screamed over the sound of my cheery whistling.

‘No I think you’ll only learn when you’ve had a vegetable delivered somewhere you didn’t want either’ He glanced out at the large fat marrow I’d propped against the door ‘Nooooo sweetjeeesus noooooo!’, ‘shhh shhh shhh it’ll all be over soon’ I whispered softly whilst commencing the final downward cut. He was weeping uncontrollably now.

‘This is the Police!’ came a staccato metallic shout from outside ‘Come out with your hands up’ The weeping stopped and a relieved voice shouted ‘Hear that Mr Shanks it’s all over; ha ha you’ll get yours now you f*cking psycho’, ‘I don’t think so’ I replied calmly ‘They wont rush in; they never do’, ‘Only another couple of inches to cut and I’ll be able to complete my delivery anyway’ the sobbing recommenced ‘will you be wanting a receipt?’ with that there was a sharp splitting noise and the wooden panel tumbled slowly to the floor ‘tiiiiiimber’ I chuckled gleefully before picking up the marrow and stepping inside.

He was backed against the wall, hands clasped together in prayer ‘’ he whimpered ‘Now just relax and it wont hurt as much’ I was interuppted by a fast whistling sound and then sharp pain ‘ooyaafuuuckr’ I reached up and pulled a metal object from my neck, it had a bushy scarlet tail and a sharp metal point, the room started spinning and the marrow fell from my limp hands ‘whattheooommmTHUMP!’ Turns out not only were the Police less patient than I thought but the Safari Park was doing a two for one on tranquilisers. One escaped Lion and one deranged psycho on the same day.

That was twelve weeks ago and I’d been on free board and beatings ever since. But today was a special day; today was parole day. A second figure entered the room, a kindly looking gent with greying temples and gold rimmed glasses ‘alright Ham?’, ‘Yes Doctor’, ‘do you know what’s happening today?’, ‘I get to go home’ I whispered hopefully ‘that’s riiight and what are you not going to do anymore’, ‘try and shove vegetables into people’ I mumbled sheepishly ‘excellent, and?’, ‘keep taking my pills’, ‘good boy’

The good thing about crisp white sheets is you can’t see shapes underneath. Crossed fingers are all but invisible…….. Aubergine anyone? …….

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