Author Topic: The proposition

The proposition
« on: August 30, 2008 »
Theodore washed up on my doorstep last night, haggard from overstimulation. I know that look all too well. Now that he's retired, it turns out he's been bitten by a bug to cycle around the world. This is of course preposterous. He can't even cycle to Croydon without requiring medical intervention. The documentary on the young Scottish record holder, combined with recent Olympic fever, seems to have kindled his competitive spirit.

"I have had this bicycle specially built," were his first words after a perfunctory kiss on the cheek and 'affectionate' squeeze of my bosom, met with my usual fortitude. It looked remarkably like what my postman rides, complete with a sack of mail in the front basket, which upon closer inspection proved to be rejection letters from sponsors he'd approached. They were dismissed as fools. Financial assistance had finally been pried out of a Soho establishment he frequents, in exchange for plain brown parcels from certain districts he was to be passing through to recharge his batteries.

I have long been the preferred acoustical backsplash for my former husband, the erstwhile female companions he contracts proving not just deficient in masking their lack of interest beyond the task at hand, but occasionally hostile. More than once I have been hastily recruited to calm down their "personal trainers" arriving in their flashy cars, somewhat stretching the remit of a Samaritan.

"The Guinness people require extensive documentation," he informed me upon settling in the bathtub fully clothed. He sprinkled washing powder on his rumpled suit and looked pointedly at the shower head until I turned it on, then announced that I could be of service by donating my organisational skills to the cause.

I told him that this was impossible, though technically it wasn't: the Samaritans have a generous policy on sabbaticals. The thought of accompanying this man for month after month on an unlikely journey through countries with regimes even more oppressive than him filled me with a kind of fascinated horror.

He appeared not to have heard me and launched into a shopping list for the expedition, clearly expecting dictation. Humouring him is the path of least resistance. As he droned on, muffled by the sound of the shower and competing with the radio tuned to The Archers so he could veer off topic into his usual diatribe against the BBC for ignoring his monograph on spile troshing, I began to grudgingly warm to the idea of an adventure.

My conditions were nonnegotiable:

  • My job description was not to include stress relief. I would under no account provide massage or procure masseurs advertising in phone boxes or the local equivalent.
  • No cheating. I would not be party to hoodwinking the Guinness people, who despite the sad decline of publishing standards continue to be an inspiration.
  • I would not be handling any packages addressed to Soho.

He waved his hand in dismissive assent, not interested in the details, then promptly fell asleep in the tub. I turned off the tap. It was the least I could do. I had my water bill to think about.

joie de vivre
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2008 »
I have saved a significant amount of money over the years by not maintaining large white goods. So often women brag about their ability to multitask, yet they do not go the full distance.

This epic voyage will test me to my limits, particularly as regards dealing with incompetents. My meeting with the Guinness people was a case in point. After providing them with a detailed prospectus and itinerary, with supporting documentation of my character and achievements, I was given a 'So you want to break a world record?' pack by a flunky and shown the door.

The pack consists of a sheaf of legal documents washing the company's hands of any responsibility; a DVD of some of the more pointless records which have been broken; a signed photograph of the world's most talkative great aunt; and a Guinness pen which promptly dribbled ink in the pocket of my second best trousers.

I have picked a more challenging course than the current record holder, who I'm reliably informed chose the easiest 18,000 mile round-the-world bicycle route it's possible to make. It is to be hoped that the Guinness people see this and adjudicate accordingly should my days on the road be technically a greater number than his.

Gertrude will be driving* a support van on loan from Come again?, recently returned to my sponsors after having been impounded by the police as evidence in a sting operation, badly botched, concerning a beneficial device called the Joie de Vulva. HM Customs and Revenue were involved. The charges were finally dropped due to the witness having had a sex change operation then changing back without telling anybody.

The doctor has given me the all clear with particular compliments to my islets of Langerhans. Fortunately Gertrude shares the same blood type in the event of accident, though she has thus far refused to be bled in advance to provide an immediate supply to save time. The van contains a small refrigerator.

Several major publishers have expressed an interest in the expected fruit of my labour, the only stipulation being that I not call them because they will be pleased to call me. Given the anticipated travails ahead, I took the liberty of suggesting 'Mein Kampf' as a suitable title.

Following the lead of the great explorers I have had supplies sent ahead to strategic locations. The first cache awaits me in France, which I expect to be hostile territory.

* having recently attended a school of motoring run by one of her needy flock. Which is another story.