My Islands Week by Mark Blackmore
As part of the high-pressure world of investigative journalism, we have to take pages up to the Print Shop several times a week. Normally Lisa or Nick do the honours, and if they are unavailable then Fran. I tend not to do it because, as Lisa has explained, I am too handsome and charismatic to waste on the trip, and I should stay in the office in case we get an unexpected visit from King Charles or Elton John.
It’s not because I would find some way to make an arse of it. Let’s be absolutely clear about that right from the off.
Anyway, today we had enough men down that I had to take some pages to the Print Shop, and through a series of events for which I am entirely blameless, I made an arse of it.
I’m just saying, you can’t fault a chap for the weather. Or the street gradients that Falkland Islanders somehow feel are appropriate for humans to traverse. Yes, I’m blaming you.
When I drove up there, the recent snowfall had iced up Dean Street fairly thoroughly. It quite quickly became obvious that my vehicle didn’t fancy the task much, and long before I reached the Print Shop it stopped cooperating entirely. I lost momentum and started sliding sideways towards a hefty drop into a small field that is, in a rather harrowing coincidence, owned by the partner of Penguin News Editor Lisa Watson. I was already imagining how I was going to shift the responsibility for my vehicle being upside-down to her. Perhaps former Governor Alan Huckle could somehow be blamed? He bloody loved a vehicular somersault, I understand. “Wahey!” he’d shout.
You may take my word for it that nobody could have performed a more accurate textbook response to sliding on ice, so long as the textbook says “At this point gun the car insanely and scream ‘You traitorous wretch, how dare you!’ then start crying.”
With the car teetering on the lip, I decided to bravely abandon it to its fate, and trouser it to the Print Shop for help. And from their warehouse strode a Man, a proper Man, not merely a technical one like me. The Man got in the car, did some Man magic and fixed everything while I stood off to the side and tried to look as if I was helping.
In conclusion my thanks to the Man, and to the Print Shop staff who stopped laughing for long enough to get him to help. Nick and Lisa will now be resuming normal service.
Less experienced readers of this column might feel doubt about the description of my outburst while the car was sliding towards doom yesterday. Surely you just bellowed the c-word 18 times, they might propose.
The sad truth is, as my colleagues can attest, I do often speak in a way that might have passed muster in a foppish 18th-century coffeehouse, but which deserves nothing more than a quick slap in the modern world. I have a case in point, obvs.
Tonight I went to pick up my wife from KEMH. She had a late shift finishing at around 9pm, so usual form is to park outside and read works of great literature until she comes out. I don’t play with my phone because I don’t have a phone. That’s a whole other thing I’m not getting into right now.
It turns out, on this occasion there was a misunderstanding. My wife got a lift home with a colleague. And she couldn’t call me because I don’t have a phone. It’s not weird actually, stop focusing on the side details. So, as I sat there, a man approached the car and knocked on the window. Startled, I looked up from The World According to Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson and lowered the window.
“Your wife called to say she’s already at home,” he said.
“Goodness,” I said. “What a remarkable sequence of events this has been for everyone.”
Now, people don’t talk like that, do they? I know I’m overcompensating for a natural leaning towards never saying anything at all, ever, but why can’t I find the middle ground? Luckily my messenger simply frowned and backed away, but honestly if he had punched me square in the face, is there a court in the land that would have convicted?
These are the kind of reasons I tend to avoid human interaction. I even use animals for my byline photo nowadays in an effort to become a sort of mystery columnist, but it’s not really working. I delivered some papers to a store last week and a lady pointed to a byline photo of an otter and said “Is this you?” It wasn’t me, it was an otter, but I knew what she meant.
Luckily she was full of praise, and was not, as I had feared, a member of the UK Wild Otter Trust, which condemned me so furiously last year. What a strange and wondrous job this has been, that I can accurately write such a sentence.
We are nearly rid of our chickens, who largely went with my wife’s friend Spurs to live on his farm. We have one left, because she escaped and we can’t catch her. Not even my daughter can catch her, and when it comes to chickens that girl is a ninja.
This hen is different though. She’s not quiet or stealthy because she doesn’t have to be. She’s bright orange, shrieks constantly, and moves like a Japanese Bullet train. She also has the stamina to outlast any pursuer, and has for the last few days sprinted tirelessly around my garden, occasionally dropping pellets of poo as she zooms by. She’s so like Paula Radcliffe it’s quite eerie.
One day soon she’ll slip up. Go to sleep or something, and then some lucky member of the local community will be gaining a hen. I’d advise entering her into some sort of athletic competition. I’ve never seen anything like her.
As a postscript, Spurs told us that we had been misinformed about the demise of my vicious old rooster nemesis Jonathan, who apparently still lives, thriving on the blood of innocents. I still bear the scars of our relationship. Quite literally – they are on my shins and calves.
It made me wonder, can Jonathan actually die? When you are that evil, can the body ever rest, or is it forced to endure forevermore by a warped soul that no longer knows anything but bloodlust and hatred and endless spiritual violence?
I’ll just give Elon Musk a ring and ask.
What a busy weekend of events it was for your Friendly Neighbourhood Writer-Man. First there was the official opening of the new Chandlery Express, which all went swimmingly, I felt. I’m not sure about the name though. I would have called it The Chandlerini, or The Chandlerwee. You can have those for free, Seafish, though I’m offended that you haven’t employed me to help with your marketing already.
Then in the afternoon I went to the Pop-up Arts Fair in the Parish Hall. I had actually booked a table here to display my own creative genius, but apparently you aren’t ready for erotic plasticine penguin sculptures. We’ll get there, guys. We’ll get there together.
Finally there was the Farmer’s Week Expo, with lots of stalls and information available, all of which I ignored in favour of collecting free pens. I got a good one that says Royal Falkland Islands Police on the side, before which I’ve scratched ‘Defund the’. Take that, the System!