Thursday, August 30, 2012


Receptionist: "Hello, GP's surgery."
Me: "Hello, I was hoping to speak to Dr Nigel about my vasectomy results please."
Receptionist: "Sorry he's with an important patient at the moment, you'll have to call back."
Me: "I need to speak to him urgently. Can you tell him I have a blog?"
Receptionist: "Oh . . . sorry, sir, I didn't realise. One moment please"

Ten seconds later.

Dr: "Hello? Who is this? I have a VIP in here at the moment you know!"
Me: "Hi Dr Nigel, it's The Jules."
Dr: "The Jules? Oh. Oooohh! Right you are." Muffled voice "Sorry Your Highness, I have to take this call, be back in a moment."

Sounds of doors closing, and a doctor's bum sinking into a chair.

Dr: "Sorry about that. What can I do for you?"
Me: "Well, I was wondering if the results of my vasectomy have come through yet? It's been six months and I got told informally that one of them was okay by your secretary, but it'd be nice to have the official word as it were."
Dr (tapping on computer) : "Well, we're still waiting for you to provide a third sample . . ."
Me: "Third? But I was told you only needed two."
Dr: " Yes,but one of yours was still positive for little swimmers, so we need another to see if you're definitely a Jaffa."
Me: "Say what now?"
Dr: "One of your samples was positive. We need another like we told you in the letter we . . . ah, it appears we have neglected to send you the letter. Sorry about that."
Me (thinking about the lax attitude to contraception that may have been demonstrated round our gaff recently): "Hnnn!"
Dr: "But I presume you're still being sensible with the old . . . " sound of doctor's eyebrows waggling " . . . precautions, right?"
Me: "Weeell . . ."
Dr: "Because it would be daft to take any chances without written confirmation from your doctor, wouldn't it?"
Me: "But you mangled me! You cut 'em, sliced 'em and burnt the tubes with hot metal for three feet in both directions! How can there be a positive sample? It'd be like a throwing a grenade into a bucket of tadpoles and expecting frogs to jump out!"
Dr: "Well, they're notoriously tough, are the human nuts, you know. They can continue producing baby gravy after quite extreme trauma."
Me: "But . . . but . . ."
Dr (chuckling like Dr Hibbert off of The Simpsons): "They can even heal up after a time!"
Me: "But . . . but . . ."
Dr: "And maybe it's because you're a superman, genitally speaking?"
Me: "But . . . well, yes, that's a possibility I suppose."
Dr: "So send us another sample, and we'll see what the results say now. Could just be a blip."
Me (Sighing): "Okay. I'll do one as soon as I've found the La Redoute catalogue."
Dr: "Good. Good. Oh and The Jules?"
Me: "Yes?"
Dr: "Could we ask you to use a specimen jar this time? Don't just send us a sock."
Me: "I suppose. For fussy clinical reasons is it?"
Dr: That, and the fact they're difficult for the lab technicians to wring out."
Me (thinking about the possibility that Bonobo might not be the youngest in the near future, that overtime can only go so far, that savings must be made): Doctor Nigel?"
Dr: "Yes?"
Me: "Can I have my socks back?"

Monday, August 27, 2012

Away with ye!

Two years ago we holidayed in a caravan in Devon.

We came home a day early because the incessant rain was driving us madder than a sock full of sparrows. The children were getting cabin fever, staring at the walls and having grown wearisome of the few feeble indoor toys we'd brought along, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And the children were upset as well.  All three barbecues we managed to have were hasty, opportunistic races against incoming squalls before they efficiently doused the flames, forcing us inside to light the tiny oven if we didn't fancy playing listeria or salmonella roulette. In a futile attempt to defy nature, we went to the beach to build sandcastles, but they dissolved like my willpower before a cold beer making us retreat, shivering and gritty, back to the thin-shelled shelter of our temporary home. There, we quickly grew tired of using our fingers to draw shiny suns in the condensation on the windows and made the decision for a tactical withdrawal.

I grumpily packed up our gear and we drove the three and a half hours home, vowing that the following year we would go abroad.

Which we did.

Unfortunately, the return plane trip involved over two hours of our youngest screaming at the absolute top of her lungs, which made us very popular with the other passengers. We decided then that we wouldn't travel by magical air machine until she was older and less voluble.

This year, after finding out just how expensive a blinking trip to France is just to stay in a caravan for a family of four, we thought we'd risk another holiday in the UK, only this time we would hire a posh cottage so, if we did end up having to shelter from a torrential English summer, we would do so in relative luxury and not go too mentalist on one another.

Things looked promising, weather wise. The temperature rose enough before we went for us to repeatedly have to peel Bonobo from the freezer where she'd been licking the icy drawers in an attempt to cool down:

"Ooh, Bosche flavour, yum."

This boded well for our hols.

Not believing the weather, though, is a typical Englishman's prerogative and so I packed jumpers, wellies and DVDs for the inevitable downpours I knew we would get. Waterproof clothing took up about eighty per cent of the car boot, but I was be-damned if we were going to get caught out again.

And we were off. 

As it turned out we had the sunniest week of the summer, with only one day of rain. I even got sunburn. Luxury!

Anyway, the traffic all the way there ensured we got to appreciate the scenery, parking up on the motorway for long periods before mooching along at a speed that meant we could just about keep ahead of plate tectonics. It did allow me to think about possible diversions we might avail ourselves of whilst on holiday, such as visits to the Eden Project or the Lost Gardens of Heligan, various boat trips and towns, crab fishing and beach days. Helpfully, we passed a truck towing a tableau advertising the delights of Wookey Hole, which sounds like a pornographic version of Star Wars but is actually a popular cave system in Somerset:

Show me your hole, Wookey.

A wooden cage with a dinosaur, pirate and witch in it being towed at 40 mph would make anyone think seriously about stopping off for a visit, especially with the added advertised activities of a fairy garden, cave museum and hand made paper! In the end, I was concerned my heart might not be able to take too much hand made paper so we carried on to our destination, reaching it within an estimated journey time of one hundred years.

The cottage was posh, no doubt about it, and one of a set that were more commonly used by hoitier and indeed toitier sorts than what we am. The private car park had plants in it!  I parked the stained Parentmobile next to a brand new Jaguar and across from a four wheel drive Lexus so large you could hold religious services in it, opening the doors so all could hear the glorious tones of Burl Ives singing Big Rock Candy Mountain because, if I'd had to listen to it eleven times on the way down, then shouldn't everybody else?

Yes they should.

As soon as we entered, we knew we were somewhere special, that we had paid that bit extra for the VIP treatment, because when we opened the fridge the company had left us not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, but eight, count 'em eight!, cartons of almost-milk and nearly-cream for our tea:

Behold! No need to go to the shops!

Arranged just so in order to accentuate their generosity.

We unpacked and proceeded to have a bloody good week, mind.