Sunday, 7 November 2010

Just a thought

A real woman is man's best friend.
She will never stand him up and never let him down.  She will reassure him when he feels insecure and comfort him after a bad day.
She will inspire him to do things he never thought he could achieve.  She will enable him to express his deepest emotions and give in to his most intimate desires.
She will make him feel confident and sexy, seductive and invincible.

No, wait a minute...

I'm thinking of beer.

It's beer that does that.


Beer, the nectar of gods.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

At last! A cure for gout... Just let me know if it works

My beautiful foot sans the gout
Last week was not good. I woke up in the early hours of Monday morning and knew that it had come back to bite me on the ass. Or to be more anatomically correct - on the joint of my big toe. It felt like my left foot was giving birth to PAIN!!!!
It was 02:37am. In another two hours I would have to get up, shower and get ready for work. The joys of being a postman. My discomfort meant there would be no more sleep. My foot was on fire, but I knew where to find a quick fix. Hidden in the kitchen cupboard were some industrial strength little pills with the ability to sedate stags during the rutting season.

Painkillers to my gout is what make-up and foundation is to a homely woman. Sure, you can mask your suffering somewhat, but when it all wears off, you're still ugly and I'm still sore. What I really needed was Diclofenac, an anti inflammatory drug. I can only get this elixir on prescription, but I was loathe to phone my doctor's practice. The receptionists don't think gout qualifies as a life-threatening disease.

 About eight months ago I once again suffered an acute attack. Foolishly I rang the surgery. The conversation went something like this:

Evil Receptionist: So-and-so surgery, good morning. How can I help?

Me: Hi. I'd like to make an appointment to see a doctor please.

Evil Receptionist: Can I have your postcode?

Me: KY15 7XXYY

(I could hear her banging away on the computer keyboard.)

Evil Receptionist: And your date of birth?

Me: 2 July 1973

Evil Receptionist: Yes Mr Murray. What seems to be the problem?

Me:  It's McMurray. I think my gout is flaring up.  My foot is killing me.

Evil receptionist:  Are you taking painkillers?

Me:  Um, yes.  What I really need is some kind of anti inflammatory.

Evil receptionist:  It looks like we are fully booked today...

(Why bother taking my details then?)

Me:  I understand that you guys are very busy and all, but can't you squeeze me in?  I won't take more than five minutes.  I just need a prescription.

Evil receptionist:  There are three or four slots available, but they really are for emergencies only Mr Murray.

Me:  Oh. Um, the thing is...I can hardly walk and...

Evil receptionist:  Are you taking painkillers?

Me:  Uh-huh.

Evil receptionist: For a prescription I think you should put your request in writing and pop it into the surgery.  We could probably have it ready for you in a day or two.

A day or two?
I wanted to tell this unsympathetic harlot that I could quite easily live with gout if my job involved sitting on my fat arse all day booking appointments, doing the odd bit of filing here and there and drinking endless cups of tea. I wanted this halfwit to know that my gout was an emergency. A postman on his round walks the equivalent of at least 63 city blocks a day. My livelihood depended on my feet.

Of course I didn't say any of this. Words, although not quite as painful as gout, can be hurtful.  I know what it feels like to be slandered.
I've been called a self-righteous prick. I've been called selfish in bed. I've been called South African.

The one thing I'm not, however, is rude and discourteous. So I thanked the battle axe for her time and wished her a very good day. I hadn't even finished expressing my gratitude for her disinterestedness when the phone went dead.

My foot 20 minutes after the gout has kicked in
 It was now 04:20am. Work was going to be a bitch. In my crippled condition I couldn't chase down the pavement after windswept letters. Even trying to manoeuvre the throbbing foot into my sock was a harrowing experience. I needed the tranquilizers to kick in pronto.
A smart man would have taken the day off, but I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. I'm like the Moron of Martyrdom or something.
Before leaving I woke my wife and asked her to make me an appointment with the quack. Tara has a knack for cajoling the receptionists into giving her precious consultation time with the doctor.

The worst part of being a postman is the tedious indoor work.  We start our day by sorting thousands of mail items - letters, magazines, catalogues, packets and parcels - into the correct walks.  Our office has 33 deliveries so it takes a couple of hours.  After this mind-numbingly boring little exercise you clear down the mail for your own round and start prepping it into your frame. Most of my colleagues had bagged up and were out of the door by 08:45am.  I only left the office at 10:36am.  I was handicapped remember.

I was gingerly making my way down Seaforth Avenue.  It was going to be a loooooong day. 
Over the years I have built up relationships with the masses on my walk. My public - stay at home mums, pensioners and benefit scroungers - love to stop and shoot the breeze.
Today I was in no mood to make small talk or catch up on local gossip.  I just wanted to get home and hopefully see a doctor. 
It wasn't going to happen. 
Men and women left their homes in droves to offer me support and encouragement when they saw me shuffling down the road.   
It seemed everyone I bumped into was a self-styled gout guru.
Some half-jokingly said my disease was the result of "too much good living" while others warned me about the dangers of drinking too much port.
All tales thought up by a fishwife methinks. Port is not my cup of tea. As for the too much good living malarkey...I don't even know what that means. I'm a postman, not some globetrotting playboy.
Nonetheless, I was thankful to the citizens of Seaforth Avenue this day.  They restored my faith in humanity.   Their concern was genuine.  Not like my brethren at Royal Mail who mercilessly tease my condition and tell me to remove the pebble from my shoe.

The full effects of gout on my foot
 It had gone past midday when I reached Mrs H's house at number 2069.  Mrs H is a hoot. She's always coming up with new and imaginative ways to flirt with dustbin men, census takers and even passing Jehovah's Witnesses. 
She was pottering away in her garden when I arrived.
"Hello luv," she said.  "You're late today."
I told Mrs H about my condition.
"That's terrible," she said.  "I get gout. Are you taking anything for it?"
"Just painkillers.  I'm hoping my wife gets an appointment with the doctor today," I replied. "I really need some Diclofenac."
Mrs H thought about it for a second, looked around to see if anyone was listening, and whispered, "Forget the pills. I know what really works."
She leaned in closer.  "Pee" was all she said under her breath.
"Sorry?" I whispered back.
Mrs H told me that during the Napoleonic Wars sailors were prone to gout attacks on account of all the rum they drank.  She said these sea dogs eased their pain by bathing their feet in urine.
I was gobsmacked. Mrs H may have been a kindred spirit and something of a history buff, but she was also old enough to be my mother.  Was she really advocating that I give my left foot a golden shower?
"Come again?" I asked.
"I've done it and it works a treat," she said. 
I was skeptical.
"I'm not joking luv.  Soak your foot in a bucket of urine for a couple of hours."
A couple of hours?  Clearly Mrs H was taking the piss.
"And preferably your own wee."
I'm glad she cleared that last bit up. It's not like I was planning on bribing 12 Catholic choir boys for their specimen or anything.  It was just good to know.  I thanked Mrs H for the advice and told her I would give it a whizz sometime. 

It was 2pm by the time I finally finished Seaforth Avenue and I was more irritable than bowel syndrome. Tara still hadn't phoned to confirm an appointment. It grated on me that my colleagues were most probably done for the day while I still had to deliver to the 700 or so houses down Claremont Avenue.  I was physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. It felt like my toes were going to drop off.  I would gladly have popped Rohypnol in a jail cell jam packed with horny, halitosis-suffering Hispanic hombres if it meant the foot ache would go away. Heck, I would even have manned up to a ballet of swans to ease the stabbing twinge.
I would have done anything. I would even...

Sigh.  Let's get this ugliness out of the way. Yes, I would even have marinated my foot in a keg of pee.

I like Mrs H, I really do, but I have a theory about her and her bedroom antics.  I'd hazard a guess that Mrs H led quite the hedonistic lifestyle during the salad days.  She has tattoos and everything.  As for the piercings on rather intimate places?  I'm not sure why she felt the need to volunteer this information.
 No, I believe Mrs H uses gout as an excuse.  I think she intentionally pees on herself and others.  It's foreplay for her and her ilk.
Yes, you read it here first folks.  There are "people" out there who get their sexual kicks by losing control over all their bodily functions behind closed bedroom doors. 
I'm no prude.  After a couple of beers I can come up with stuff that would make Caligula and his orgies look like a tea party at The Waltons.  Just give me a toilet brush and some pork chops and I'll show you kinky. But deriving any sort of gratification by defecating or whatnot on a loved one is wrong on so many different levels.  (Some wise guy out there will argue that you shouldn't knock it till you've tried it.  Well, I've had a pigeon shit on me before.  And nope.  It did nothing for me.)
My point is that I am no pervert.  I was only going to do what I was going to do because I was in such dire straits. This despite the fact that I didn't have a bucket with me.  Or even a few hours to kill.

Political correctness gone mad 

It was 2:35pm and I was leaning against a wall down an alley behind Claremont Avenue willing my urinary tract to open the floodgates. There was always the off chance that Mrs H was right.  Maybe a splash of piddle would alleviate the pain.
 I knew I was flouting the laws of the land.  You can't just discharge willy-nilly wherever you like.  Something about public indecency or something.  
Unlike George Michael, however, I had an iron clad defense. My gout is a medical emergency.  If people with glaucoma can get away with smoking weed for their ailment (wink, wink), then surely I can pass water in public. 

I wasn't passing anything though.  It's kind of like when you're stood at a urinal in a crowded public toilet and you sense that the well groomed middle-aged patron squashed next to you is trying to to sneak a peek at your goods.  Your bladder shuts down.  Or is that only me?
In a bid to micturate (Look it up.  I had to) I closed my eyes and thought of waterfalls, leaking taps and running water.  Lo and behold it actually worked.  Although it probably would have worked even better had I remembered to remove my shoe and sock first.

I collapsed in the corner. Nothing was going my way.  I was a mental breakdown just waiting to happen.  Self-pity was bleeding from every orifice.
I was still contemplating hara kiri when my mobile phone went off.  It was the wife.
"Hi Mike.  It's Tara."
"I know it's you woman," I snapped. "I have caller ID on my phone."
"What's your problem?"
"I'm sorry. I've peed on my shoe."
There was a pregnant pause while my wife considered this.
"Yes, well, anyway I've managed to get you an appointment with Dr Kildaire at 5:45pm."
I looked at my watch.  I had exactly three hours to finish my delivery.
This good news pepped me up no end.  I was going to see a medical professional.
The pain was unbearable but like mummy's brave little soldier, I soldiered on and made it to the consultation with only minutes to spare.
It was hard graft. By the time I got to the practice I was sweating so profusely that it took two triage nurses armed with mops to wipe my brow. It was worth it though.  I left the surgery clutching a prescription for the little sodium enteric coated miracle tablets.  In a couple of hours I would once again be walking like a regular homo erectus.

I ran into Mrs H a day or two after my ordeal.  Naturally she enquired about the you-know-what.
"Hello luv.  How are you?  How is the foot?"
"I'm peachy Mrs H.  And my foot's dandy too."
"So, did you follow through on our home remedy?"
Our?  Why was it now suddenly our home remedy?  It was her suggestion. 
Weirdo or not, Mrs H obviously felt passionate about urine as a healing agent and I didn't want to hurt her feelings. 
I gave her a slight nod.  And then I winked at her.
"I understand luv.  It's our little secret," she said winking right back at me.

I don't think I'm going to be getting much in the way of Christmas tips down Seaforth Avenue this year.  I think Mrs H, being the piss artist that she is, shared "our little secret" with some of the neighbours.
The always chatty, sweet little spinster at 2067, for example, can no longer bring herself to look me in the eye.  And when mothers now see me coming they cross the road. 
I may be gout free but I'm still something of a pariah down these parts.  Thanks Mrs H.

Final Thought (with apologies to Jerry Springer):  Does pee work for gout?  I don't know, but my shoes have never been shinier.  If you suffer gout and have actually peed on yourself out of desperation and it actually worked, please send a postcard with all the details to the usual address.  Or better yet, just leave a comment.  I am only interested in hearing from bona fide gout sufferers.  The degenerate hoi polloi  need not apply


Saturday, 1 August 2009

Taken for a ride

Welcome to South Africa. A place of sunny skies, boerewors and braais.
A proud sporting nation. Current holders of the Webb Ellis Trophy and hosts of next year's eagerly anticipated FIFA World Cup Soccer tournament.
A "rainbow" nation sporting many diverse cultures and 11 official languages.
And if certain Internet news reports are to be believed, "the world's murder capital."
The last one is a bit worrying I will admit. My wife and daughter in the country at the moment visiting relatives. Hello Attila.

I have not been back to the land of my birth in seven years. I am not really qualified to comment on the situation over there, but I do know one or two people who have been affected by crime.
Let me introduce you. There's dear mom. She was once held up at knifepoint. My brother John has had a gun stuck in his face two, maybe three times now. And my dad's car has been broken into more times than Lindsay Lohan has worn underwear on the red carpet.
About a week ago I learned that two of my Facebook "buddies" had been the victims of a car hijacking. Fortunately they're still alive to tell the tale.

Even I have a story to tell. There's a slight twist though.
Shortly before packing my bags for good in 2002 to come to the United Kingdom, I found myself on the wrong side of the "law." It was criminal.


I'm not what you would call technically and mechanically minded.
Sure, I can replace a light bulb every now and again. I once even managed to wire a plug in under three hours.
Trying to change the tyre on my Ford Sierra at some ungodly hour in the pouring rain was proving to be slightly more problematic. Especially in my inebriated state.
I had been perched on the side of the Ben Schoeman Highway for about ten minutes trying to make head or tail of the jack when I was blinded by approaching headlights.
The yellow van pulled up behind me on the verge and stopped.
Two police officers, a sergeant and a constable, got out.
Could this get any worse?

"Having some trouble?" the constable asked.
"," I lied rather unconvincingly.
What I should have done was kept schtum. But that's not my style. I'm always one for breaking the ice.
"I think I have a flat tyre," I said, hoping and praying that I wasn't slurring my words.
"Have you been drinking?" the constable asked.
"Um... One, two," I slurred.

While the constable busied himself undoing the lugnuts, the sergeant, a heavyset man in his forties took down my particulars.
Maybe they would let me off with a caution. And maybe Tim Henman would win Wimbledon this year (2002 - Ed).
Little did I know that the cops were going to take me for a ride.
"When your vehicle is ready we'll drive you down to the station," the sergeant said matter-of-factly.
Alarm Bells. Really loud alarm bells.
I tried to look casually unconcerned but there was genuine panic in my voice.
"You've been drinking and driving," the policeman said. "I can smell you a mile away."
"I can do the breathalyzer test right now if you don't believe me," he said flashing me a toothy grin. "Or we can go to the hospital to get a blood sample. That's all we need to use as DUI evidence when you appear in court."
Blood test? Court appearance? WTF!!!
The alarm bells were now replaced by an air raid siren.
"Or we can go down to the station," he said.

I was going to try and appeal to the sergeant's sense of compassion. I would plead my heart out.
I told him that I was on my way home after dropping my wife and daughter off at OR Tambo International.
I explained that my family were flying to England and that I would only be able to join them once my visa application had been approved by the British High Commission in Pretoria. I told him this could take weeks, months even.
I admitted that I had had one too many. I told him I was an idiot. I told him that I was a dickhead and a moron. I told him all these things and more but he was having none of it.
Drink driving is inexcusable. I don't even for a second condone my callous recklessness. But you have to remember that I was young and stupid back then. (As opposed to old and stupid now? - Ed)
I was willing to do anything short of providing sexual favours to get myself out of this mess. The last thing I wanted was to spend the rest of the night in an overcrowded police cell in Jo'burg somewhere.
But I was starting to fear the worst. I could see my sob story was not tugging at the sergeant's heartstrings. He basically blanked me and started talking to his partner.
Zulu is not my native tongue so I couldn't quite understand the gist of what was being said. All I knew was that I was in big trouble.

I had played the sympathy card and it had not come up trumps. Now I was being chauffeured to the station in my Ford Sierra while "Sarge" followed in his van.
I sat in stony faced silence having resigned myself to the fact that there was no way out.
Then it hit me suddenly like a shock. The money. The money!!!
I had forgotten about the wad of cash in my pocket. I can't tell you why I was walking around with R800 that day. It doesn't matter.
Was this my way out? I would soon find out, but first I would need to grow myself a pair.
"Um...officer," I began slowly. "Could I buy, would you...Are you hungry?" I finally managed to ask.
My voice was shaking so much.
"Maybe I you and the...uh... sergeant a bite to eat?" I offered.
The constable cottoned on to what I was attempting almost immediately.
"What kind of meal were you thinking?" he asked.
It was make or break time.
"Two hundred rand each? Enough for a juicy porterhouse steak with all the trimmings or..."
He pulled off the side of the road and stopped the car.
"Wait here. I need to talk to the sergeant."
I was biting my fingernails. In the rearview mirror I watched as the constable communicated my offer to his superior. Would the gamble pay-off?
"No," the constable said. "The sergeant says R200 is not enough."
Greedy fuckers.
They were playing poker with me. They wanted me to know that I needed to up the ante if I wanted that all-important "get out of jail" card.
Now even though R800 was a helluva chunk o' dough for me back then (about £62 in today's money), I thought it a small price to pay if it meant escaping the slammer. Fortunately the two crooked cops agreed and after handing over the cash, they drove off leaving me at the side of the road.

I can appreciate that not all South African policemen are corrupt and on the take. But the experience did leave a bitter taste in my mouth.
I like to think that my encounter with the sergeant and constable was a rare occurrence, a one-off. I certainly hope so.
If someone with the "street smarts" of an Amish carpenter could get away with bribing two of South Africa's boys in blue to evade prosecution, I wonder just how difficult it must be for a real hardened criminal to get away with murder.

PS I cleaned the bird cage out this morning. I don't know what Tara was chirping on about. Easy peasy.

Thursday, 30 July 2009


I received this email from my daughter today. (Carolyn and the wife are in South Africa at the moment visiting with "The Hun." It's a playful term of endearment for the mother-in-law)

dear dad

today i woke up and bella ran up to me and keept on jumping on me. after a few minutes i heard mona say "whadda doing ". and mona laughs sometimes. iam really enjoying it here. nothing much is going on right now so ill stop there. anyway i miss you alot. xxxx ps iam watching out for you that means iam awalys praying for you so dont wrorry. accutaly i should tell myself to stop wrorrying . love you so much love carolyn

Thanks for the message monkey-nut. Please keep 'em coming.

Lots of love


Ed's note: Bella is the name of the dog. No, not the mother-in-law. That's just nasty. Bella really is Attila's pet pooch. Mona is the African Grey parrot.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Post-it note to self

The plants. Don't forget to water the plants. Damn.

I don't have the cojones for chemical castration

Highway robbery is alive and well in good old Blighty I'm sorry to say.
Twenty five pounds for a cab to Heathrow?!? Extortionate is not the word. Or is it? Now I'm really confused.
I wanted to take the bus to the airport but Tara was having none of it.
So once again poor old Daddy Warbucks had to haul out the wallet. I decided not to kick up a fuss as I wouldn't see my wife and daughter for the next three weeks. They flew to South Africa for their holiday yesterday.
I know what you want to know. Did I cry? Should I be chemically castrated?
Yes. Sort of.
My eyes grew misty and I could feel that damn lump in my throat as I waved them goodbye.
To stem the onslaught of possible further waterworks I bit my lip so hard it actually spurted blood. All that did was aggravate the situation. Tears were shed alright. But they were painful, self-induced tears.
I don't think I shamed myself at all. As a man I can still keep my head up high.

On the way back I made use of public transportation. And not just because I'm a tightarse. I don't think you've truly experienced London until you've taken in the sights and sounds of Feltham from the 285.
The bus trip took forever. I could also sense that some of the passengers were staring at me. Maybe it was because my lips had now swollen to four times their normal size.
By the time I finally got home I was bursting for a pee. I rushed upstairs and was about halfway through my, um, "piddle," when from the corner of my eye I noticed a post-it note stuck to the bathroom mirror.
After reading the gentle reminder from the wife urging me not to forget my "chores," I wiped the seat. I'm renowned for my toilet etiquette.

I found the little post-it note rather amusing. Endearing even. That is until I sauntered into the kitchen to check on the beer situation.
Yellow post-it notes plastered EVERYWHERE.
On the oven, the toaster, the overpriced stainless-steel thingamajig Tara uses when peeling and dicing potatoes. The microwave, the fridge-freezer, the washing machine, the George Foreman grill.
Do I need to go on? The kettle, the peppercorn grinder, the antibacterial dishwashing liquid. Even the ugly out-of-date clock on the wall.
@#%$! post-it notes everywhere.

I don't think I come across as such a simpleton. It hurts to think my wife might.
Tara, if you're reading this let me try and ease your mind.
Take care of our budgies. Check. Spend quality time with the cat. Check.
I don't have the attention span of a five-year-old.
The most difficult thing about it all is trying to figure out what I'm going to feed Tinkerbelle.
Do I throw caution to the wind and try the rabbit and lamb in jelly? Or should I stick with the tried and tested smoked turkey and salmon for her tea?
It's not rocket-science.
I can do this.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Home Alone

Some work colleagues think I am the luckiest man alive.
"Three weeks without the missus? No more nagging. Just rest and relaxation," is how they view the situation.
I don't quite see it that way. I will miss my wife and daughter. And not because I'm probably going to starve or end up ravaged by scurvy.
Tara and Carolyn are flying to South Africa today to visit "Attila", my pet name for the mother-in-law.
All the bags have been packed and now we're waiting for the taxi to take us to the airport.
My nine-year-old is very excited. She's also slightly apprehensive.
"The plane's not going to crash?" she asked just a few moments ago.
"No honey. Everything will be fine. Now stop worrying. Why don't you play your Wii?"
There's nothing quite like "an adventure of galactic proportions" to cure your child's aviophobia. Thanks Super Mario Galaxy.
Unfortunately it lasted all of only two seconds.
"But what if we do crash?"
"Carolyn. Stop thinking like that. Nothing is going to happen."
"If the plane crashes into the sea mom and I will be okay. We know how to swim."

Apart from one or two hiccups this morning, it's been a pretty stress-free day.
I was barely out of bed when Tara sprung a surprise on me. I was going to have to undertake additional work due to her leaving for the rainbow nation. She had a list and all. And she absolutely insisted on giving me a hands-on demonstration with all three tasks.
Who knew there was an exact science to feeding the cat? Or watering the plants?
And then there's our, er, I mean, her budgies, Blue II and Chimes.
My wife's sermon on budgerigar care was so epic in scope that I couldn't possibly commit all the many minutiae to memory.
"Clean out their cage at least once a week and remember to do it outside," my wife waffled on.
Then she repeated herself. Again.
"Don't clean the cage indoors. You DON'T want to make a mess in the house," she said.
I dunno, but I DO think that was a veiled threat of some sort.

We have about ten minutes before the cab is due to arrive. Carolyn's given up on the Nintendo and Tara's pacing up and down nervously. I'm frantically trying to finish this entry.
"I'm going to miss you daddy," my little cherub says before giving me a big hug.
"Awwww, I'm going to miss you too monkey-nut."
"Are you going to cry when you say goodbye to us at the airport?" she asks.
At last! A question even I can answer.
There are times when a dad, even one who has read all the Ian Fleming novels, just doesn't have all the answers.
Shrove Tuesday? I have no idea. I also can't explain to Carolyn why bananas are yellow or why her mother gets at angry at me. Kids ask the darndest things.

I do have an opinion about blokes who like to blubber though. That's easy.
Under no circumstances should a grown-man cry. Ever. Maybe it's my Neanderthal gene talking here, but crying is a sign of weakness.
My brother John disagrees. He wept after seeing James Cameron's Titanic. And he's not even ashamed to admit it. I think it's a ploy to earn brownie points with girls. Trying to convince them that he has a sensitive or even human side.
No, a man who openly flaunts his emotions should be chemically castrated and put on the sex-offenders register.
Of course I didn't tell Carolyn this.
"No honey. Daddy doesn't cry..."
I don't think I came across all that convincing. Even to myself. Self- doubt started creeping in.
Was I going to degrade my gender by breaking down like a little girl at the boarding gate?
I don't really have time to reflect on this as I've just heard the car pull up into our driveway.
Maybe I should stuff a couple of Kleenex facial tissues in my jacket pocket.
Just in case.