As I chewed miserably on my half cooked rice I pondered the irony that there are people in third world countries with far better diets than me. The reason for their suffering is that they are poverty stricken, and must walk many miles over a sun baked plain to fetch water and receive U.N handouts. The reason I am consuming such an unappetising meal is that I am too lazy to walk to Tescos. I could have stolen my flatmate’s food but decided against it, one must purge idolatry by suffering it’s consequences. Having replenished the meagre supplies in my cupboard this morning I have come to the conclusion that the George Foreman fat reducing grilling machine is a con. Since setting the damn thing up in my kitchen I have become consumed by irresistible urges for bacon toasties that I am too weak to resist. As a consequence, my fat intake has risen sharply, making the title of the product something of a misnomer. Tonight I shall reverse this trend of culinary incompetence by cooking a Tai stir-fry, and this time I’ll try not to burn the bloody vegetables.
I love it when people make appallingly wrong predictions. I recall listening to this audiotape about mysterious happenings and psychic prophecies back when I was a highly-strung pre-teen. Part of the narrative concerned a famous 16th century woman mystic, Mother Shipton, who had made hundreds of forecasts for future events, many of which had mysteriously come true. She was also famous for being unbelievably ugly, her nose was said to be "of disproportional length with many crooks and turnings.......her stature was larger than common, her body crooked and her face frightful", she had great goggling eyes and her wreck of a nose also gave off a faint luminosity. In the artists impression below she looks disturbingly like Nobby Holder.
One of her prophesies gave me the willies, an actress on the tape with an unnaturally deep voice whispered, ‘but beware, an end to the world will come, in nineteen hundred and ninety one’. Of course, now that I have a modicum of maturity I would be less inclined to swallow this bullshit uncritically and would realise that this lady had chosen the date 1991 for the end of the world, firstly because it happened to rhyme easily, and secondly because it was far enough in the future for her not to get any bad press for centuries. Back then however, it gave me the willies. At this point in life I was so superstitious that I was still sleeping with the covers over my head, because of a Sherlock Holmes story I had read where a snake is forced down a bell rope onto an unsuspecting victim, this might give some indication of my gullibility. Throughout 1991 I became extremely nervy and would peek nervously through the curtains in the belief the apocalypse would arrive at any moment. After all, I reasoned, didn’t the idea seem plausible?. If god were planning an apocalypse he wouldn’t have it on a year that was a round number like 2000, he would have it on a numerically boring year when no-one would be expecting it. In the event, the 1991 Judgment Day theory turned out to be the worst prediction since ‘it’ll all be over by Christmas’ in 1914 and I became a confirmed sceptic.
Last year, a friend of mine was insistent that scouse hostage Ken Bigley was working for Al Qaeda. ‘Think about it’ he would say, ‘in every video the hostage takers release he tells the British government to give in to their demands’, ‘he speaks Arabic and he has connections with the area, its extremely suspect, he’ll turn out to be an Al Qaeda agent, you wait and see’. When events proved him wrong he was unapologetic and next week was telling me the Nick Berg killing was faked by the F.B.I.
Often the most erroneous prediction you can make is ‘I don’t fancy staying out for long, so I’m only going for a couple of drinks’. Nothing proves this better than the story Richard told me about his mum’s birthday. Shopping for one’s parents is always difficult, but there are certain fail-safe gifts one can turn to if things get desperate. Having ferreted around in the bookshop for a while, Richard decided to get his mother a book on bird watching and began to walk back to his house to wrap it. Then his mobile rang, it was his mates inviting him down to the local drinking spot for a couple of pints. ‘What harm can a few beers do’, I imagine he thought and, bag in hand, he wandered off down the road. Eight pints later, and things had gone spectacularly wrong as they are wont to do in this scenario. When reaching the pub, it is extremely hard not to be seduced by the sirens of cheap Stella, good company and high sprits. Feeling nauseous, Richard picked up his bag and puked violently into it, all over the book. Unsurprisingly he was asked to leave the pub and staggered drunkenly back up the hill clutching his bag of vomit. Upon awaking, he discovered that he had fallen asleep in the woods next to a small stream. Horrified, he realised what he had done and inspected the bag and its disgusting contents. Then a moment of inspiration, he took the book out of the bag and washed the soiled pages off in the stream. Having dried it off on the radiator at home the book looked almost presentable and he decided to wrap it up and give it to his mother the following day. The situation had been rescued, and he remained in his mum’s good books until, one night, he came back smashed and woke her up at three in the morning to tell her he was going to convert to Islam.
This week I predict I shall get the majority of my morbidly dull project written. I predict that I shall become an expert in ‘the legal implications arising from the Higgs Report’, and that I shall learn how to cook food without ending up with stomach cramps and indigestion.