Englebert Humperdink, Errol Flynn, polar bears and pirates.. and that’s just the half of it…
Having gone through another slice and dice interaction with my friendly local surgeon, I have spent the past week enduring the challenges that naturally follow. They joy of simply breaking wind without bursting stitches is one memory I will hold with me in particular.
Now those of you who know me, know I have had a chequered history with medical procedures and I have given plenty of blow by blow detail in the past. So, this time I thought, rather than give you all the gory details, I might take a different approach. You see, I was examining my wounds as my dressings were being changed and I saw, as I would, an opportunity to perhaps reinvent how these scars came about, with particular consideration to any grandchildren that I may someday be blessed with in the future.
With that in mind, I am going to tell you the ‘true’ story of how my fabulous body was scarred as a result of a particular adventure that I went on many years ago. This is what I will tell the grand kids when they ask about my scars. So, let’s begin with this one off to the side, the nasty raw looking one that’s killing me.
Now I can’t remember the year exactly, but it was a long time ago now and I was given the opportunity to work with the Arctic Restoration and Scientific Evaluation group (A.R.S.E.), an environmental group working to restore the Arctic to its pre-polluted state. For those unfamiliar with the organisation, one of their early technical research projects helped Inuit groups fish more efficiently, using a machine powered by the sun which drills multiple holes in the ice at once, so they could fish on a more sustainable level. The locals called them A.R.S.E. holes, or at least I think they were referring to the ice holes when they shouted this over to us.
Following on from the success of that project, Dr Herman von Tinklebaum, came up with an innovative prototype for an ice transport system using tennis balls, chewing gum and ladies tights, to haul almost anything through the roughest of ice fields. That’s where I came in. It was my job to deliver half a million tennis balls across the vast snowy north in a line of giant baskets hauled by my husky pack.
Alone in the empty wasteland, my husky companions tucked up for the night, I decided to have a tinkle behind one of the largest baskets, when a low snort alerted me to the fact that I was being observed from behind by a rather hungry looking polar bear. Before I had a chance to escape, he came thundering toward me, with only one thing on his mind. I was to be dinner. With no where to run and no weapon to protect myself, I dived headlong into the massive basket of tennis balls, a mere second ahead of the giant bear. He dived in straight after me, thrashing about desperate to eat me for dinner.
When he stood up, I was in his mouth and he shook me from side to side like a seal pup. But something was wrong and he was confused. In his eagerness to gobble me up, he had opened his mouth extra wide before snapping down on me. Fortunately for me, in addition to my cold body, his mouth collected at least 40 tennis balls – which stuck to all of his teeth but one big incisor to the front. That one pieced my side, and gave me the scar I am looking at as I type. The tennis balls saved me and in his moment of confusion, I had to act fast. I don’t know what made me try it, but I was desperate. I grabbed a tennis ball and waved it in front of his face. He was mesmerized and couldn’t take his eyes off it. Like a puppy, he wanted the ball so I threw it over his head. He dropped me like a hot stone and went chasing after the bouncing yellow ball, his new fixation.
Now I know what you’re thinking… lucky escape. But no. His attack had loosened the pack ice beneath me and as I sat there feeling my bloody side and thinking how lucky I had indeed been, the Ice broke away, and drifted southwards off to sea. I spent many months drifting along, surviving on water from the ever-melting mini-iceberg and catching dog fish with my tennis balls to eat. Just when I thought I was never going to be able to eat another dog fish, I awoke one morning to find myself stranded on a beach on a tropical island where I later learned, the MmmBalaWala tribe ruled. The largest scar on my belly comes from my first encounter with a man called Umfeffibollongo (meaning – smart arse), the tribal leader. They found me on the beach with no visible means of transport because my Iceberg had melted in the tropical sun and to them, it was as though I had appeared from space. Umfeffibollongo poked me hard in the belly, driving the spear into my belly button and shouting “MMMBALAWALA.” I later discovered that this tribal name actually meant “MMM, man food.” They were a very literal people.
Sinking to my knees, convinced I had met my end, I looked up to see what looked like a crude tribal tattoo of a face on his calf, that looked very much like Englebert Humperdink. It couldn’t be I thought, but desperate once more to stay alive I would try anything. Facing certain death, I started to sing.
“Please release me, let me go.” I began “For I don’t love you anymore.”
Astoundingly and to a man, the warriors dropped to their knees in praise.
“To waste our lives would be a sin…” and so on to the end of the song, at which point they carried me triumphantly on their shoulders back to the village and not just fixed up my wounds, but bestowed me with many gifts from their collection of things washed up on shore. This included a toilet brush which I still use and treasure to this day, a kettle, a magnifying glass and three packets of pop rock. Now in the interest of keeping it brief, it transpired that a missionary had landed on the island 20 years before. He was promptly eaten but left behind a windup gramophone and an album of Engelbert Humperdinck’s greatest hits. Having never heard music before, the tribe fell in love with the album and treasured it ever since, playing it once a year but only on their annual feast day as it was so special.
I spend three months there, playing every Friday and Saturday at the big Tikki hut or as it later became known the Tikki club, until they agreed (with great sadness) to set me free in their finest canoe with an old pirate cutlass to cut open the coconuts, a supply of coconuts, mangoes, water and dried fish for my journey. In return I promised to get them some other albums.
The cutlass it transpired turned out to be a life saver, as after only a week at sea, I was attacked from below by a very feisty swordfish who I promptly christened Errol Flynn. He sneak-attacked my canoe, driving his sword into my side through the bottom of the boat, (that’s another scar) whereupon I leapt to my feet, grabbed my cutlass and dueled him all through the night. It was a swordfight like no other, me frantically fending off a 400pound swordfish with a cutlass in one hand, while bailing out the boat with the other and at the end we were both exhausted, neither willing to give up until we simply had no fight left in either of us.
My little canoe finally sunk beneath the waves and I was sure I was doomed. However, such was the respect that had built up between Errol and I, he decided to help me and allowed me to cling to his fin as we bobbled along on the waves. It was with great relief that a passing old sailing ship spotted me in the water and hauled me aboard.
Relieved to be out of the water, it was too late when I noticed the Jolly Roger flying high above me. When the captain stood above me and offered me his hook to help me to my feet, I knew I was in trouble. His name was Greenbeard, a name given to him due to a peroxide hair-dying accident with his once ginger beard, and he wore a patch over his left eye. He explained that he had been diagnosed with lazy eye and was trying to get his bad eye to work better in accordance with doctor’s advice. Besides, he liked the look and he was after all, a pirate.
Seeing my toilet brush tucked into my belt, Greenbeard immediately took a shine to it and demanded I hand it over. Apparently, it was just the thing they needed. Life on board a pirate ship filled with an all-male crew eating biscuits, fish and beans, and drinking way too much rum, had apparently left their portaloo in a terrible state.
When I refused, he immediately challenged me to a duel, but being a pirate, he cheated. Before we started he told me, we had to shake hands. I reached out and took his hand, only to find he gut-hooked me with his rusty hook while we shook….
Now there is more, or I should say, there will be for my grand chiddlers to enjoy some day, and that very toilet brush will be in the bathroom with its own tales to tell, along with the coasters I took from the captain’s cabin later in that same day, oh… and a pencil that went to the moon with Neil Armstrong, – but that’s another story.
And thanks for stopping by… I’m on the mend thankfully, hoping to do something meaningful with my life one of these days, now talk to you later, I have to take my meds and get some much needed rest…
While you are here, please check out the links to my writing below: